I recently reviewed Anne Michaud’s ‘Girls and Monsters’ over on Yahoo:
The strength of Anne Michaud’s Girls & Monsters comes from blending dark and disturbing monsters with relatable, honest teenage moments. The first story of Girls & Monsters involves a flesh-hungry mermaid, but the weirdness of the premise is mitigated with the detailed believability of an unrequited teenage crush in a tiny tourist town. A story about a giant spider is mixed with a long-distance crush and sibling conflict, which is all suitably awkward and teenage. The collection is finally uplifting in a family’s escape from zombies. Here, Michaud blends the zombie apocalypse with a teenager’s perspective on her parents’ marriage.
I usually just roll my eyes when bloggers and Tumblrs dictate certain topics should only be posted under a trigger warning. Partly because it implies that that only victims or folks with past traumas can be upset by something offensive like dickwolves, and partly because it reaches precious-snowflake levels in certain places, ahem, Tumblr. … So, readers of horror fiction like Girls & Monsters will be expecting dark, but the second story in the collection is an upsettingly beautiful self-injury story. Michaud’s genius is in blending the mystical and macabre with very real teen moments, and her Scarlet is simultaneously worried about fitting in at her British youth hostel and about being followed by a black dog that no one else can see, for a dark story that stays with the reader. Plus, it begins with one of my very favorite Winston Churchill quotes.
The five stories in this collection, Death Song, Black Dog, A Blue Story, Dust Bunnies and We Left At Night can all stand alone. No characters or locations cross over, but reading the whole book does hint at a complete narrative, a coming-of-age story with girls and monsters.