micro reviews of queer specfic & nonfiction. diversions into out-of-print annals. occasional digressions.

Halloween reads (ghosts, monsters, ghouls, and also the terrors of true stories)

Here's a quick roundup of my top October readers, generally grouped by seasonal spookiness and heebie-jeebies.

fungus-eaten rabbit on book cover

What Moves the Dead by T Kingfisher

Kingfisher takes the imagery of despair and decay in Edgar Allan Poe's Fall of the House of Usher and turns it into a spine-chilling tie-in novella replete with eldritch horrors. There was also some unexpected and fun trans worldbuilding via a POV character from a speculative historical country.

abstract dystopian shadow-bureacracy shapes shown in red and black on book cover

They by Kay Dick

Recently republished and lauded (maybe... wrongly) as one of the first truly “gender-neutral” and “bisexual” novellas (despite being published well after some ground-breaking sci-fi that plays much more directly with both gender and bisexuality), it was kindof more... philosophically queer, than anything. But! Eerie dystopia! Artists and dilettantes fleeing a strange government-adjacent threat to creative life! A fun read.

drag queen esque green hand, scaly and webbed, splays pink fingernails on book cover

Queer Little Nightmares ed. David Ly & Daniel Zomparelli

Fantastic collection of horror shorts. A few standouts (Andrew Wilmot's sci-fi piece about technological glamours prompted me to immediately order Wilmot's published novel), but no true duds in this one. Also appreciated the inclusion of poetry (notably, two pieces by Kai Cheng Thom). Other reviewers have noted that the collection was less horny than expected — it's definitely less sexy, more freaky.

spooky vulva art on book cover

Unreal Sex ed. Adam Zmith & So Mayer

Fantastic collection of erotic shorts across a few speculative genres (including horror). Once again a few standouts but no duds. And maybe a better option for anyone looking for queer romance or erotica with a horror flavor. Lots of monsters in this one.

blood-dripping hand reaches over a city framed in decorative flowery illustrations on book cover

The Bruising of Qilwa by Naseem Jamnia

Not an obvious shoe-in for this list, but it does deal with blood magic and has some gruesome scenes, as well as a throughline of dread, so although it's marked as “dark fantasy,” it felt like it had more roots in horror at a number of points. Still, this novella is deceptively rich for its size, packed with complex navigations of refugee identity, queer coming-of-age and trans adulthood, and colonial violence. “What if someone took the idea of bloodbenders from Avatar: the Last Airbender” and really ran with it.

collage imagery of eyes, mouths, and hands on book cover

Virology: Essays for the Living, the Dead, and the Small Things in Between by Joseph Osmundson

Nonfiction! But, you know what! The COVID-19 epidemic is certainly a horror all its own. Osmundson's essay collection explores queerness through the lens of epidemics (old and new), via personal and intellectual writings on COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS. A really interesting collection of work, with a scientific and humane bent.

Honorary mentions:

#y2022 #roundups #adultfiction

I'm a data journalist and media educator based in the Pacific Northwest. Follow what I'm reading live on Storygraph. You can subscribe to this blog via email or via the Fediverse @stetting@write.as. Find me at @petrinkae on Twitter or on Mastodon.