| Macabre, erotic, twisted, haunting, skin-crawling, timely, darkly comedic, elegant.
I devoured these feminist fairytale horror stories over the course of the week during Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford’s testimony before Congress about the sexual assault she [allegedly] sustained at the hands of Brett Kavanaugh. I can’t decide if that was the best possible timing for reading these or a really bad idea, but consuming the horrors committed against women in this medium during that particular week felt cathartic. I had a place to put my revulsion and terror, my tears and my ironic laughter. Machado created a mood that was, in a word, unsettling, and the metaphors paralleling the tales to their real life counterparts crawled under my skin and into my psyche and camped out long after I’d closed the book for the evening. I want this book on the reading list for future Women in Lit classes when they talk about the #MeToo era.
This book isn’t for everyone. Anybody looking for a classic horror or ghost story might be disappointed here. She creates horror with a mood rather than monsters; and with a dose of sci-fi realism that mirrors current society just a bit too closely for comfort, rather than with otherworldly settings and scenery. Since Machado was clearly inspired by the Scary Stories series, I’m hopeful she’ll follow Schwartz’s footsteps and gift us with another volume or two of Her Body. Any writer who wants to take up the task of writing realistic fiction/sci-fi/horror based on women’s issues, sadly, has plenty of material from which to choose.