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The Twelve Books of Christmas: Part Twelve

December 24, 2018 11 comments

My twelfth book of Christmas is not actually published until February, but it can be pre-ordered now – and arrive in time for Valentine’s Day, so there’s another holiday covered. You’re welcome.

Following on from the success of Colonial Horrors, I have assembled another anthology of pioneering horror stories, this time from female authors. More Deadly than the Male includes a story by Mary Shelley, of course, but there are some surprises as well. When she was not writing about the March family in Little Women and its sequels, Louisa May Alcott took time out to write one of the first mummy tales. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote several ghost stories, one of which is also in the collection. British readers of a certain age will remember Edith Nesbit’s classic The Railway Children with affection, but may not be aware of her extensive horror output. There are also obscure names like Vernon Lee (Violet Paget, adopting a male nom-de-plume in order to be take seriously) and forgotten ones like Alice Rea.

The publication date is well chosen, since February 2019 will be the tenth annual Women in Horror Month, while March is Women’s History Month. All of the ladies in this collection led surprising and inspiring lives: some were remarkable only for the fact that they made their mark in the male-dominated world of literature, while others achieved far more.

Most surprising of all, perhaps, is the claim made in a BBC online article that at the height of the 19th-century fashion for horror stories, more than 70% of published tales were written by women. They often brought a psychological dread to their horror, as well as some social commentary: Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wall-Paper” is a vivid portrait of psychological disintegration on the one hand, and on the other a savage indictment of the so-called “rest cure” – effectively a form of solitary imprisonment which kept women from embarrassing their families, under the guise of paternalistic concern for the delicate nature of the “weaker sex.”

Here are extracts from some early reviews:

“Davis (Colonial Horrors) has done thoughtful literary excavation, and the stories he has selected are a trove of fantastic gems.”
– Publisher’s Weekly

“An incredible collection of lesser-known ghost stories from female writers of the 18th and 19th centuries.”
– Goodreads

…and here is a link to the book’s page on the Pegasus Books web site.

This concludes my twelve books of Christmas. Thank you for reading, and I hope you have found something interesting – and perhaps some  inspiration for a last-minute gift – among them. Links to various online retailers can be found on the My Books page, but if you find them at a brick-and-mortar store, your purchase will help them as well as helping me.

Merry Christmas to all, or the compliments of whichever season you celebrate at this time of year. May 2019 be a year in which unity triumphs over division, compassion over hate, and understanding over fear. And may it be a year in which more people discover, or rediscover, the joy of reading.

Click here for Part One: Colonial Horrors.

Click here for Part Two: Nazi Moonbase.

Click here for Part Three: Werewolves – A Hunter’s Guide.

Click here for Part Four: Theseus and the Minotaur.

Click here for Part Five: The New Hero, vol. 1.

Click here for Part Six: Knights Templar – A Secret History.

Click here for Part Seven: The Lion and the Aardvark.

Click here for Part Eight: Thor – Viking God of Thunder.

Click here for Part Nine: Tales of the Frozen City.

Click here for Part Ten: Blood and Honor.

Click here for Part Eleven: The Dirge of Reason.