7 Stories of “Monstrous” Women, aka my favorite kind

Picture: A still from ” Ginger Snaps (2000), a freaking good horror movie about becoming a woman <3. Source Link

This is a purely subjective and non-exhaustive list. I’ve thought a lot about stories where we let women be monstrous, in a literal and figurative sense. The ones I’ve read, the ones I’ve loved, are listed below. Hopefully it will inspire you to pick one up – if you haven’t already.

7. “The Lady of the House of Love” by Angela Carter, from The Bloody Chamber

The whole of The Bloody Chamber is on my TBR, but this story is still one of my favorites. It is a vampire story, but not a scary one. Instead, it’s more melancholic. Beautifully written and an interesting turn on the vampire story, it’s a great short story.

6. Select stories from The Penguin Book of Irish Folktales, edited by Henry Glassie

Selkies, fairies, ghosts, witches, banshees, Irish folklore has a lot of monstrous women and female creatures. There are other ways to access these tales, but this book compiles as many folktales as it can into a really interesting collection.

5. Carmilla, by Sheridan Le Fanu

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Does anyone else remember the Carmilla youtube series where Carmilla and Laura are college roommates and they fall in ~love~? If so, you should check out the original. No outward lesbians in the book, though I remember there were undertones. Still, vampires, high society, corpses, and caskets, what’s not to love!

4. Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado

One of the most popular books in this genre, which is deserved, this collection of short stories deals in science fiction, the strange, and the weird. Told in such skillful ways, these stories, and one that I think is long enough to count as a novella, are enchanting.

3. White is for Witching, Helen Oyeyemi

I forgot how I found this book, but I’m glad I did. It’s a story about a haunted house, Pika, and, I would say, what girls inherit from their mothers. It’s so interesting, so well told, portrays a queer relationship, and really got me at the end.

2. The girls, by Emma Cline

 In this one, no one is technically a monster, but a book inspired by the Manson Family is surely counts as evil. Cline paints a picture of the girls in this fictional cult family from the eyes of adult Evie, who meets them the summer she is 14. It’s beautiful and purposefully gross and heartbreaking. It’s one of my favorites.

1. We have always lived in a Castle, by Shirley Jackson

THIS book. THIS book. I can’t say enough how weird and cool and creepy and amazing this book is. It’s another one where *technically* there is no monsters, BUT it counts because this is my list and I say so. Mary Katherine and her sister Constance and their grandfather live on their family’s old estate after the rest of their family died under ~mysterious circumstances~ and …things ensue. It’s unsettling and pulls you into this sort of creepy fairytale world competely. I read it again and again.

All these stories show women on all sides. Not just as dainty need-to- be-saved’s or heroic I-will-save’s, but also as the darkness, the evil. The thing that scares you so much you can’t forget it, and sometimes you don’t want to. That’s why I love these stories. Without thinking too deeply about it — and using phrases that create a dichotomy I don’t love — in a scary story, it’s a lot more interesting to read about the “bad” girl than the “good” girl, even if the former will eat your heart out.

Thanks for reading!

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By katelyn Rose Conroy

Katelyn Conroy is an emerging writer from Long Island, New York, who currently resides in New York City. She currently attends CUNY City College's MFA program and will graduate in the Spring of 2021. She has been published in The Bridge: Bluffton University Literary Magazine and Manhattan Magazine.


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