Review: Yours Cruelly, Elvira by Cassandra Peterson

cover of Yours Cruelly, Elvira, by Cassandra PetersonYours Cruelly, Elvira by Cassandra Peterson
Hachette Books (September 2021)
305 pages; $22.99 hardcover, $14.99 ebook, $29.65 audiobook (or 1 audible credit)
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

Q: If your new memoir Yours Cruelly, Elvira is adapted into a movie, who would you want to play you?
A: Dolly Parton! We have the same…uhm.. assets.

Quote from Barnes & Noble Virtually Presents: Cassandra Peterson Celebrates Yours Cruelly, Elvira (Sept. 21, 2021).

I had the immense pleasure of reading Cassandra Peterson’s new memoir, Yours Cruelly, Elvira, and attending a live event celebrating the release.

Two opportunities I know I’ll never forget. I mean, it’s damn near impossible to forget the cheeky, tassel-twirling queen of Halloween.Continue Reading

Review: The Potted Plant by Thomas Gloom

cover of The Potted Plant by Thomas GloomThe Potted Plant by Thomas Gloom 
Gloom Publishing (October 2021)
134 pages; $7.99 paperback, $2.99 Kindle, $6.08 audiobook (or 1 Audible credit) 
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

Thomas Gloom’s eco-horror novella, The Potted Plant, immediately pulled me in with a cover that:

1) sneaks in an animation of Gloom’s author persona, who is never without his shades — and which I’m sure also depicts the narrator of the tale; and

2) parallels what I imagine was a lot of fans’ gateway into the horror genre — Little Shop of Horrors. Continue Reading

Review: Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder

cover of the book Nightbitch sitting alongside a plate of bloody meat
Photo by Haley Newlin

Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder
Doubleday (July 2021)
256 pages; $20.49 hardcover; $12.99 e-book
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

“Too much power makes a woman dangerous. And that was her project, creation and power.” — Rachel Yoder

Rachel Yoder’s Nightbitch is a horrifically brilliant mirage of Jekyll and Hyde meets the estranged relationship of women and society. The story follows a stay-at-home mother, aka Nightbitch (we never get her real name), who spends her days resenting the role she feels trapped in as a constant caregiver. She longs for the simplest of things — a shower, a glass of wine, to return to her artwork. Instead, Nightbitch plays trains with her son, cleans up his strand of messes in the house, and deals with his tantrums.

On top of it all, Nightbitch develops a thick coat of hair at the base of her neck, not to mention a matching tail.

In her transformation, Nightbitch finds an animalistic, protective connection to her son — who she begins to see as a pup — she hadn’t had before, and an odd sense of individuality.

Nightbitch is one of the most bizarre books I’ve ever read. And yet, it’s among the most intelligent stories, alluding to the style of Mary Shelley, Shirley Jackson, and Franz Kafka.

Without outright belonging to the horror genre, Yoder lines the pages of Nightbitch with bloodthirst and an unsettling craving for carnage. And the best part, these animalistic qualities are all woman, or, rather, a grim and poetic depiction of the unspoken rage, exhaustion, and longing crashing the joys of motherhood.

While reading, I constantly felt torn between liberation and questioning Nightbitch’s sanity — a complicated and wildly entertaining tug-and-pull.

Nightbitch is certainly not for everyone, and it has a heavy philosophical weight. Though I enjoyed the literary qualities, I’d definitely have to be in the mood for such an interpretive read.

I wish more universities, particularly those studying feminist literary theory, would share this book with students. It’s a hell of a metaphor for modern femininity and the accompanying pressures.

I recommend Nightbitch for readers who enjoy literary fiction with dark fantasy and horror elements, such as monsters or the combination of lore and philosophy.

Review: Take Your Turn, Teddy by Haley Newlin

cover of Take Your Turn, Teddy by Haley NewlinTake Your Turn Teddy by Haley Newlin
New Degree Press (December 2020)
382 pages; $18.04 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

Haley Newlin’s Take Your Turn, Teddy is a dark, psychological horror story exploring the manifestations of early childhood trauma. Newlin uses themes of domestic violence, anxiety, and isolation to create a provocative landscape, The Shadow, for her characters to encounter and battle. A disturbing glimpse of how a broken spirit can unleash powerful demons of the soul. Absolutely captivating, I couldn’t put it down.Continue Reading