She Walks In Shadows edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia & Paula R. Stiles is very different from many of the books I’ve reviewed for Zombie Apocalypse Defense Force, before. It’s an anthology put out by an independent press which aspires to tell the stories of female authors whose works relate to or take place in the universe established by H.P. Lovecraft. Any horror fan worth their salt is familiar with Lovecraft’s work, so seeing the premise was enough to get me interested. The kind folks at Innsmouth Free Press were kind enough to send a copy of the book my way to review, and I am eager to share my thoughts with all of you.
They emerge from the shadows, to claim the night ….
Women from around the world delve into Lovecraftian depths, penning and illustrating a variety of Weird horrors. The pale and secretive Lavinia wanders through the woods, Asenath is a precocious teenager with an attitude, and the Ancient Egyptian pharaoh Nitocris has found a new body in distant America. And do you have time to hear a word from our beloved mother Shub-Niggurath?
Defiant, destructive, terrifying, and harrowing, the women in She Walks in Shadows are monsters and mothers, heroes and devourers. Observe them in all their glory. Iä! Iä!
Each piece in this surprising collection brings something new to the table, and subsequently to the Lovecraft mythos. There are modern stories told in the style of Lovecraft, and there are ancient-set stories which fit more obviously into the universe. All of these pieces are well written, and the description contained in these pages is something to be admired. As with their inspiration, this book is a perfect read for when you have a few moments to spend diving into another reality. Lovecraft fans will appreciate the numerous allusions to his work or direct references to events or characters from the tales we already love.
With that being said, this really isn’t a book for me. Only a handful of the stories struck me as page turners. While several had twists and turns, there were many that didn’t feel satisfying at their end and fell flat. By and large, I struggled to keep my focus on the book. In my opinion, the artwork was the most consistently high-quality aspect of the book. A piece that I will single out as an incredibly interesting interpretation is ‘The Thing On the Cheerleading Squad’ by Molly Tazer which can be found on the Innsmouth Free Press website. It was the highlight of this book for me.
If you’d like to give it a try, the book is incredibly affordable on Amazon and Smashwords, as well as via an assortment of other online and in person vendors I’ve outlined below. It goes on sale October 13, in plenty of time for Halloween if you’d like something that rapidly changes flavors but still has a hint of the classic styling of Lovecraft, which endures to this day.