Marissa Secreto ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Assistant Editor
As fall progresses and the air gets colder, the horror genre becomes more relevant and captivating to those who want a bit of spookiness in their fiction. Readers readily delve into the work of famous horror authors like Stephen King and Mary Shelley. For young adult readers looking for YA horror, Slasher Girls & Monster Boys, a short story collection edited by April Genevieve Tucholke, strives to be just that. While some story selections are strong, others fall short, and seem to be trying too hard to be scary rather than inventive within the horror genre.
Published August 18, 2015, by Dial Books, this short story collection features famous YA authors such as Leigh Bardugo, Jay Kristoff, and Cat Winters. Each story is inspired by different work that has either been influential on the horror genre, or inspirational to the author. Some familiar examples of horror inspirations include Stephen King’s Carrie and Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds and Psycho. Other selections take more unconventional approaches, drawing on titles like the 1930 film All Quiet on the Western Front or Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. By citing the author’s references at the end of each story, readers may guess the inspiration, be introduced to new titles, or be wholly surprised at how the author makes a piece of another genre into a horror story.
The collection aims to be progressive in its telling. As a whole, the collection features eleven female protagonists within the thirteen short stories included. It subsequently seems to lend its hand to a feminist approach, which is refreshing and encouraging to teenage readers.
That being said, these stories easily fall into clichés. It is difficult to identify a YA female protagonist who feels good about her appearance, or who is not bullied by a more popular, prettier girl. Most stories do end up with a twist ending, such as the revelation of characters being dead, or discovering that the object of a crush is the antichrist.
Despite these engaging surprises, the collection does not have much connectivity. The stories do not seem to belong together, except under the illusion that they are supposed to thrill and scare their readers. Some stories succeed in this goal. Others try too hard to be alarming, and reveal the collection as an experimental project providing authors the opportunity to try to write in a new genre without committing to a full novel.
The collection loses its novelty as one reads further. By the fourth or fifth selection, the stories run dry as they become less about inventive plots and characters, and more about how to remake an author’s inspiration—be it horror or otherwise. The stories either scare, or fall far short of doing so, and are instead completely unoriginal.
Short story collections should be tied together in some way, or hold some sort of significance. If one’s sole aim is to read something uncomplicated and mildly spooky, then Slasher Girls & Monster Boys is ideal.