Review: Under Her Skin edited by Lindy Ryan and Toni Miller

cover of Under Her SkinUnder Her Skin edited by Lindy Ryan and Toni Miller
Black Spot Books (April 5, 2022)
145 pages; $14.95 paperback; $5.99 e-book
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

There has been a recent movement in horror writing to promote previously underrepresented voices, which should absolutely be encouraged and supported. Many anthologies have been put together regarding various voices in horror fiction, but little has been done with horror poetry, until now. Lindy Ryan and Toni Miller recognized the dearth of poetry anthologies championing women’s voices in horror poetry, and have edited Under Her Skin, which is a strong anthology and one that I hope is the first of many such anthologies.

What makes this anthology unique is that the well-known and award-winning women horror poets are almost all excluded from the table of contents. There are a few known Stoker and Elgin winners and nominees, but certainly not all of them. Furthermore, the known voices that are included are not given prominence in the anthology. In fact, no poet is given more than two or three poems in the anthology total, which means that the anthology is doing exactly what it says it’s going to do — display and promote the underrepresented voices in horror poetry, specifically those of women. This makes for a really diverse anthology and makes for a spectacular collection of poems.

The poems, themselves, are a mixed bag of all sorts of forms, styles, voices, etc. It’s clear that Ryan and Miller aimed to cast their nets wide to capture all facets of horror poetry in this anthology. The poems very much run the gamut of horror, from body horror like “Something That Needs Destroyed” by Linda M. Crate to the folk horror of “These Men Are All One Monster” by Cassondra Windwalker to the monster horror of “The Last Woman” by Tiffany Michelle Brown. All of these poems, however, contain a socio-political theme that the editors seem to want for their book, which gives a sense of unity among the diverse voices. The curation of this anthology is really strong, and the editors should be commended for finding the necessary balance required in making a great anthology.

As with any anthology, reader personal taste will dictate success or failure. There were a few poems that weren’t as strong as others in this collection, and a few voices that could be developed further, but over all this was a tight collection, and the overwhelming majority of the poems were successful. On top of that, the quantity of writers, known and unknown, as well as the diversity of voices makes this all but required reading for anyone interested in the various directions horror poetry can and will take. This was a great collection and highly recommended reading.

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