A book review by Ross Jeffery
We are Wolves
Intro – Gemma Amor
Gemma delivers a heartfelt and honest introduction that details where the idea from this anthology comes from, it’s a powerful introduction that perfectly sets the tone for the reader.
The Black Wallpaper – Cynthia Pelayo
A deeply distressing story of never being enough, of never having enough of you to spread about and fearing about where it will all end. Our protagonist we quickly learn is smothered by guilt, a deep rooted guilt of being everything to everyone but never enough for herself – but she desperately craves to change that, and she will, on her own terms. The conclusion of this story leaves a bitter aftertaste.
Though Your Heart is Breaking – Laurel Hightower
Be kind to everyone you meet, because everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. This story kicks serious ass and I was also thinking it would make a stunning little novella (it has the brilliance to it that Whispers in the Dark had). My wife has previously mentioned to me that the dynamic tool in this story has been said to her on numerous occasions, and it’s such a great concept for Hightower to hang the story from. I won’t spoil it for you, but once you’ve read this story, seen the devastation of those few words, they should never pass your lips again, ever!
Angel – Gemma Amor
Angel is a hard hitting story that follows our protagonist after she witnesses the worst neglect case (child abuse) that she’s ever seen, this plays on her mind, on her never ending thoughts that torment her during her waking hours. This tale is also one full of grief, a portrait of grief that is so deftly revealed that if you let it in, it consumes you.
Trouble with Fate – Sarah Read
A delightfully told folklore / mythological tale of birth, told in wonderfully mesmerising prose, I’m not going to lie, I feel this one went a bit over my head but the ride was enjoyable nevertheless.
A Key for Any Lock – S.H. Cooper
Our protagonist has been raped, had her life torn apart, questions and allegations made about her character, why she went there, why she dressed as she did – people judged her, bullied her afterwards, trolled her when the courts found him innocent. But she’s have her long awaited vengeance, because she is ‘a lioness, a black widow, a she-wolf baring her fangs and dragging her still-kicking prey towards her lair.’ The voice of this piece showcases brilliantly those narrow minded views some have of women in our society that were ‘asking’ for it… a fierce story that I really enjoyed, mesmeric prose and powerful storytelling.
The Curse of She, Part 6: The Final Girlfriend – Hailey Piper
An actress is forced to deal with and face what has become of an industry that cherishes the ‘final Girl’ and nothing else, how women are perceived, what they’re allowed to do, and a reminder of how they better not dare to get ideas above what is expected of them. The struggle is real.
The Mutation of Almost Beautiful things – Sara Tantlinger
A beautiful poem about what happens when you give all of yourself to another – the visuals of this poem are breathtaking.
By The Throat – J. Danielle Dorn
A story that deals with elements of lycanthropy like you’ve never seen before, a fabulous little story that almost redefines what we expect from that tired sub-genre of horror.
Where a Witch Goes to Burn – Eve Harms
Another short poem about burning a witch and how her soul finds a new place to call home.
Extra Weight – Laurel Hightower
I enjoyed the construction of this story, the flitting between protagonist and their own personal woe is something that is really powerful and showcases perfectly that everyone is fighting a personal battle we know nothing about.
The Parrot – Sonora Taylor
Another smashing story from Taylor’s pen. This one deals with domestic abuse, technology and revenge. The opening to this story blew me away and set the fuse to the bomb that would blow this story wide open. This story is utterly brilliant, really enjoyed the splicing of horror and technology!
The Silence of Sarah Cross – Beverley Lee
‘In my opinion, girls should have the same opportunities as boys.’
A vampiric story that gives Anne Rice a run for her money, the story brings to mind the fabulous grandeur of ‘Interview with a Vampire’ with its setting and the fabulously written and intelligent prose (which is commonplace with Lee’s work). Our protagonist seems like a woman out of time, with her views on how women should be seen and treated – but when she meets Jean-Sebastien Freniere she is both lost and found in a matter of moments. This story exposes the dangers of silencing women.
Lobster Trap – V Castro
This story uses elements of folklore and mythology to create a beautifully crafted revenge story. Lobster Trap is deftly put across with an almost poetic prose that shows the destructive forces of man on nature, a story of greed and need and what nature is forced to do to survive.
Doll House – Red Lagoe
‘Mama’s eyes ruin everything’ – there was something about this line that really struck a cord with me, this story is crazy good. A negative body image story with an almost munchausen by proxy vibe going on, as our protagonist has to battle her tyrannical mother and her views on the human form whilst being forced to create dolls that look like the image of what the perfect woman should look like (according to her mother, the world and bloody Barbie).
Ruthie’s Garden – Cassie Daley
This story cover a history of physical abuse and how our protagonist overcome it. After a family dinner an elderly mother sees the telltale signs of abuse on her daughter’s flesh, having known physical abuse herself from her late husbands hands, she decides that her daughter needs help and she sets about being the person to deliver her from this beast of a man.
Playing With Gods and Dolls – Erin Al-Mehairi
This was a dark story about the scars both mental and physical of abuse at the hands of family, and how someone survives the hand that has been dealt to them and the family they are born into. I loved the storytelling angle of this one and the ending is perfect.
Room Seven – Gemma Amor
A sinful meeting in a hotel room has dire consequences for the couple who meet there to feed their secret.
Water Babies – Sadie Hartmann
This is my first time reading Mother Horror’s words and I pray it won’t be the last, I really enjoyed this offering, teenage angst and horror combine superbly to create a most haunting of tales that came out of nowhere and scared the life out of me. The ‘thing’ that appears is dealt with so brilliantly that it caused me to shudder, less is more and Hartmann manages to get this across expertly, just enough horror to chill the marrow in your bones!
Woman. Mother. Goddess. Death. – Lilyn George
This story is hard hitting, child abuse, a mother’s revenge and some other unsavoury things – but it has one of the best opening paragraphs to a short story that I’ve read in a long while… stunning!
Poke, Stir, Flesh, Bone – Amanda McHugh
Here we have a fierce Wolfpack a sisterhood, a band of women who are out for revenge, one of their pack has fallen and it rests on the others shoulders to make this right any way they can.
A Marriage of Dust and Blood – Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason
A distressing brilliant and brutal story told with exquisite prose that is full of poetic brilliance, the start of this story is beguiling and it weaves a net that there is no escaping from. These are two new writers to me and I’ll be searching out more of their work.
Welcome Home – Jessica Guess
This was an interesting story where the prose seems to skirt around the subject matter, I for one went along for the ride and enjoyed this interesting take on a trope I’ve read much of recently, well done and well executed!
The Body You Loved – Gemma Amor
A very cool poem to close this most brutal and arrestingly brilliant collections.
We Are Wolves showcases some top-notch talent and all fierce women with stories to tell and fires to burn, it’s a smorgasbord of brilliance, a delightful array of varying horrors that bewitch the reader and haunt long after reading. There are so many great stories in this collection that it’s a breathtaking and deeply enriching reading experience… this wolf pack has bite, watch them run and watch them roar!