Pride Month saw the release of horror collection, Unburied, which aimed to showcase LGBTQIA+ talent in dark fiction and all its glorious subgenres. Disclaimer – my own story appears in the collection but there is plenty to shout about without tooting my own horn.
I found that the women writers in the collection really shone and displayed such an outstanding range across many subjects and tropes. I also found that the stories put queer characters in the spotlight as heroes and protagonists as they should have always been. There is such a varied range of genres and subjects covered in this dark fiction anthology, all dark, all spine-tingling. Editor Rebecca Rowland’s proceeds from Pride Month have gone to Rainbow Railroad, and the anthology is available here.
Firstly, Sarah Lyn Eaton’s “When the Dust Settles” throws us into the recovery of a miner who has lost limbs and we journey with her through recovery. This one tugged at my heartstrings as someone who has experienced a similar thing, along with all the phantom pain, your brain fighting against the physical limitations of your body, feeling that sense of being broken and incomplete, the last thing you want is your recovery to turn into sci-fi terror. Not only was “When the Dust Settles” an empowering queer read, I felt like it was an empowering disability read, and something I never knew I craved.
Laura DeHaan’s “Open Up and Let Me In” gave me a continual flow of goosebumps on the back of my neck. We follow an unreliable narrator as we are thrust into the mind of a grieving woman and uncover the events that led up to her trauma, gently guided by the strange image of her wife coaxing us to the truth. DeHaan’s mastery of psychological storytelling leaves us reeling as we reach the climax.
“Razor, Knife” by Elin Olausson is the creepy twins story we all deserve. Elin’s story, “The Moor”, featured in issue 045 of Luna Station Quarterly, but her Unburied story truly holds a candle to the creepy kids trope we all love. In it, we follow Twiggy and Bell and all their wildness and unpredictability when a new family moves into the local church. The rest involves dark nights, creepy graveyards, and a lusting for something you cannot have.
Christina Delia’s “Moi Aussie” takes down the Golden Age of Hollywood, specifically the men in it. We hear stories of how women were treated in Hollywood then, and even now, but in this story we see two lesbian ghosts as they implement punishment on Hollywood’s worst offenders. This story sang with ambiance and music, bringing the reader into the dark and devilish world of Hollywood.
Azzurra Nox’s story, “Some Kind of Monster”, takes us into the belly of the beast… literally. Nox’s ability to keep us guessing was showcased in this story. Although one of the shorter tales from the selection, we’re led on a path that keeps us wondering what is real, and what the nightmares bring.
Finally, the outstanding “1,000 Tiny Cuts” by Veronica Zora Kirin is a standout of the collection. The story slowly creeps up on you and before you know it, you’re living the nightmare, too. Detailed glimpses into a relationship as it descends into terror shape this tale, and draws on the all-too-familiar anxieties we have about our loved ones and how much love can blind us to red flags. Kirin is a master of pace, tension, and action. We might be seeing this one winning some awards in the future!