May Horror Round-Up

May Horror Round-Up

Myrrh - Polly Hall (Titan Books) Pick of the Month

Polly Hall’s new book Myrrh took a little while to launch for me, partially because of the incredibly fragmented prose that alternates between narrators every page or two. We meet Myrrh, a young biracial woman who wants to seek out her birth parents, if only the wicked goblin who sits on her chest and shouts derogatory obscenities at her would silence. Second is Cayenne, who meets a loving older man with a daughter from a previous relationship, only to grow jealous of their bnd, bored of the marriage, and envious of passing mothers with children. The book weaves multiple narratives at an accelerating pace as we meet new characters and view quick snapshots of lives whose full scope does not become visible until the last forty pages of the book. What we end up with is a haunting portrait of identity, self-doubt, and longing, and testament to the depravities we will engage in just to find someone to love us. 

Empire of the Wild - Cherie Dimaline (William Morrow)

Billed vaguely as a folk horror story, Empire of the Wild reads like what it is: the first attempt at an adult novel by a young adult author. This is not to its detriment exactly, but instead it leans heavily on standard narrative conventions, has a plot that is filled with twists and turns better found on television serials, and lacks much excitement, surprise, or historical depth in its employment of indigenous folk horror. This may sound like I’m trashing the book, but I’m really not: I read it cover-to-cover in a matter of days, and Dimaline is a more than competent popular novelist who has adequately conveyed the kind of loss marriages can incubate while also tying it to the larger systemic theft of First Nations land. But, in reality, there is not much here, and while I suspect a sequel is coming, it would be hard to recommend this unless you are a stickler for the folktales it loosely references.

The Cull: Volume 1 - Kelly Thomson and Mattia De Lulis (Image Comics)

While out in single issue format last year, I would recommend picking up this first collected edition for what has become a new ongoing series (though don’t expect it to last more than a few more collected editions). Thompson’s storytelling drops you in the middle of a fake student film meant to cover the search for our primary character’s younger brother. Eventually, the crowd of teens strays too far into a cave and arrives in another, though strangely adaptive, world. Cull has a Lovecraftian backdrop to what is largely an effective coming-of-age teen story, complete with world ending monsters, annoying parents, and multiple dimensions (maybe, we’ll see). More than anything, this is a fun book and the kind people wait for each month to see how bad things can get next.

Crave - Maria Llovet (Image Comics)

The single issue run of this miniseries just concluded and does not come out in a collected edition until October, but it is a worthy entry here. Another one of Maria Llovet’s teen horror-masquerading-as-sexual-terror, sort of a genre all its own. It follows a group of sorta adults at an elite school responding to an app that answers all their dreams, while also recording their data. It feeds on many of the same themes that her earlier series Heartbeat did and is a great example of the house narrative and style she is starting to develop. There are no surprises for fans of her work, but the joy is in watching a brilliant author and writer do what she does best.