Book Club Nominees

6 Books by Trans Authors

by @ferris, curator of HOWLS Book Club nominees for May’s “Trans-Scribed Terrors” category

This list is intended as a diverse selection of horror stories written by transgender authors. As a trans person and a horror fan I feel there is a lack of mainstream discussion surrounding works by trans and gender non-conforming writers, though thankfully that seems to be slowly improving. HOWLS has proven to be a very welcoming group to all kinds of readers and I’m excited to open up this discussion with the group.

Cover of Taiping Tales of Terror by Julya Oui.

Taiping Tales of Terror by Julya Oui

Set in typical storytelling around the campfire, here are thirteen boys retelling these tales of terror in one night. But as the session draws to a close they realize they started out with only twelve.The stories in this collection are works of personal gratification, nostalgia, and reverence and they serve as an homage to the author’s hometown and her favorite horror writers. They take place in various timelines and are written as stories within stories ranging from a headless ghost that returns as a grim reaper, a bird-like creature on the loose, a were-tiger out to seek vengeance, a vampire that decimated an entire village and other restless paranormal entities that walk among us. (Amazon)

Julya Oui was recommended to me by another HOWLS member and the cover and blurb for this book immediately stood out. I’m a fan of Southeast Asian horror films, particularly the long oral tradition of folklore many of them represent. I also have to admit that I’m a sucker for a story within a story.

Bookshop* | Goodreads | Amazon

Cover of The Drowning Girl by Caitlin Kiernan.

The Drowning Girl by Caitlin Kiernan

India Morgan Phelps—Imp to her friends—is schizophrenic. She can no longer trust her own mind, convinced that her memories have somehow betrayed her, forcing her to question her very identity. Struggling with her perceptions of reality, Imp must uncover the truth about an encounter with a vicious siren, or a helpless wolf who came to her as a feral girl, or something that was neither of these things, but something far, far stranger… (Amazon)

This book comes up a lot on the HOWLS Discord but I hadn’t looked into it until recently. Stories of struggles with mental health and identity are nothing new to most queer people – these things affect most of us daily. Finding out that Kiernan partly grew up and now resides in my home state of Alabama has me even more intrigued for a look into the point of view they bring to this story.

Bookshop* | Goodreads | Amazon

Cover of The Bayou by Arden Powell.

The Bayou by Arden Powell

Small-town Louisiana, 1935.

When Eugene was twelve, a girl from town disappeared. Everyone said the gators must have got her when she strayed too near the bayou. No foul play, just a terrible accident. But Eugene can’t shake the conviction that Mary Beth’s death had something to do with the man who used to haunt her—the man no one else could see. (Amazon)

Truthfully? I love horror set in swamps, probably due to my real-life fear of any large body of water, much less a murky bayou. This book has murder, monsters, swamps, and author whose bio states that “everything they write is queer.” Sounds like fun to me!

Goodreads | Amazon

Cover of The Merry Spinster by Daniel M. Lavery.

The Merry Spinster by Daniel M. Lavery

Adapted from the beloved “Children’s Stories Made Horrific” series, The Merry Spinster takes up the trademark wit that endeared Daniel M. Lavery to readers of both The Toast and the bestselling debut Texts from Jane Eyre. Sinister and inviting, familiar and alien all at the same time, The Merry Spinster twists traditional children’s stories and fairy tales with elements of psychological horror, emotional clarity, and a keen sense of feminist mischief. (Amazon)

Daniel M. Lavery has been writing on various platforms and is known for his honesty and off-beat humor, particularly when it comes to navigating the world as a trans person. In this collection he brings his unique approach to an old fairy tale favorite, and who doesn’t like a good fairy tale every now and then?

Bookshop* | Goodreads | Amazon

Cover of Are You Loathsome Tonight? By Poppy Z. Brite.

Are You Loathsome Tonight? By Poppy Z. Brite

Poppy Z. Brite, an acclaimed horror fan favorite, is known for going to the edge and back—and this collection of stories, many set against the backdrop of the author’s native New Orleans, explores the outermost regions of murder, sex, death, and religion. (Amazon)

Billy Martin, aka Poppy Z. Brite, is considered an author of transgressive fiction. His work is often violent but, once the shock wears off, also deals with subjects like the juxtapositions of violence and love, acceptance, and the dark sides of human desire, all of which I think are appealing in some way to most people whether they’re willing to admit it or not. Yes, this brings yet another collection into the running, but I couldn’t bring myself to leave PZB out.

Bookshop* | Goodreads | Amazon

Cover of Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon.

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

Vern – seven months pregnant and desperate to escape the strict religious compound where she was raised – flees for the shelter of the woods. There, she gives birth to twins, and plans to raise them far from the influence of the outside world. But even in the forest, Vern is a hunted woman. Forced to fight back against the community that refuses to let her go, she unleashes incredible brutality far beyond what a person should be capable of, her body wracked by inexplicable and uncanny changes. (Amazon)

I knew nothing of Rivers Solomon when I came across this book. The blurb really grabbed me and when researching the author I found that they describe themself as “a dyke, an anarchist, a she-beast, an exile, a shiv, a wreck, and a refugee of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.” Intersectionality is important in queer communities and this is a perspective I’d really like to explore. 

Bookshop* | Goodreads | Amazon

And The Winner Is…

Out of these six books, HOWLers voted to read The Drowning Girl by Caitlin Kiernan. Join HOWL Society on Monday, May 23, 2022 to begin discussion! 

*The HOWLS affiliate storefront pays a 10% commission to HOWL Society and gives a matching 10% to independent bookstores

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