Women in Indie Horror have a powerful voice and if that’s a surprise to you, take note of the popular Best Of Lists from horror reviewers as 2020 comes to a close. You will see these names: Laurel Hightower, Gemma Amor, Samantha Kolesnik, Sara Tantlinger, Gwendolyn Kiste, Cynthia Pelayo, V. Castro, Stephanie Ellis, Jessica Guess, Briana Morgan, and many, many more.
One name I saved for last and special mention. Hailey Piper. Hailey is one to watch. She has had a stellar year of releases starting with the breakout novella, The Possession of Natalie Glasgow. Then it was just one winner after the next: Benny Rose, The Cannibal King (Unnerving), An Invitation to Darkness (Demain Pub), and several short stories in various anthologies.
This recent release rounds out an impressive year for Piper right to the top of the stack. The Worm and His King is the perfect selection for new readers. It showcases Piper’s greatest skill: versatility. I’ve read Hailey’s unique brand of Gothic horror, teen slasher, possession, and even romance (which is tucked neatly into the folds of horror, of course).
Monique lives on the streets, taking shelter when and where she can. Her sense of personal safety has been threatened with the sudden disappearance of her girlfriend, Donna. In a very Alice in Wonderland style, Piper leads readers on a journey through a landscape of madness where nothing is as it seems. Monique follows a stranger into a subterranean “wormhole” where she encounters an underground cult and a plethora of creatures — including the one she suspects has taken Donna.
Our “Alice” in this Wonderland, Monique, belongs in my reader’s heart forever. Her journey of self-discovery and identity apart from Donna is a gut wrenching and beautiful tale of transformation. Thrusting the story forward is that age-old power of love, but I love the way Piper crafted it around a cosmic transcendence. There are some bone-chilling moments. The ending almost breaks your mind.
If this book is any indication of where we’ll find Hailey Piper in 2021, it’s bound to be another year of confirming her as one of indie horror’s brightest stars.