The Monster Book for Girls is a deliciously versatile anthology of several fantasy and horror themed stories and poems. It contains 33 stories and poems, which will please several readers and fans of speculative fiction.
In the introduction, the editor (Terry Grimwood) tells that he found an old book called The Monster Book for Girls. He loved the title and decided to publish a new monster book. I think it's great that he decided to gather new and mostly unpublished stories (according to the acknowledgements page, only three stories were published earlier), because this kind of themed anthologies give new and established authors a chance to get their stories published.
The stories and poems in this anthology range from subtle fantasy and mainstream to psychological horror and traditional horror. The monsters in this book are versatile in their appearance - most of them aren't the kind of monsters that people usually call monsters, but they're even more shocking than traditional monsters. The readers of this anthology will find out that people can be the worst kind of monsters.
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Here's a bit of information and my thoughts about the stories and poems:
Young Ladies, Beware by Allen Ashley
- A delightfully amusing story in which the Abbess Superior, Ms Petronella Flambard tells young women about monsters. The author has a wonderfully twisted sense of humour.
Real Celebrity by Rachel Kendall
- A great horror story about Gillian Stevens who interviews a celebrity called Lily Amsel.
Escaping the Mirror by Farah Ghuznavi
- A disturbing and thought-provoking tale of a young girl, Diya, and a young man, Minhas, who works as a car driver for her family. This is an excellent story about a difficult subject.
Mother's Pride by Gary Fry
- A well written tale of Oliver and Tanya, their daughter Freda, an old monster book and childhood fears. This story is one of the best stories in this anthology, because the author writes fluently about childhood horrors that haunt a grown-up woman.
A Story of Love by Marc Lyth
- An intriguing tale of Eric's obsession towards a woman called Maria. The ending of this story is brilliant.
Dancing the Skies by Ian Sales
- A touching tale of old and lonely Ronnie who dreams of flying and old times. I liked the way the author wrote about Ronnie. Ronnie is an interesting character. This story is definitely one of favourite stories in this anthology.
Frustrated Fran by Kat Fullerton
- A fantastic poem about a woman who kills her husband.
Take Me Home by Kat Fullerton
- This poem is a bit shorter than the previous one, but it's also fantastic.
Turning by Shay Darrach
- A great tale about Liza and demons. The atmosphere in this story is fantastic.
Sarah's "to-do" List by Samantha Porter
- An interesting short story about Sarah and her dead husband.
She lives in the deep by Rosanne Robinowitz
- A good and well written story about young Suzy. This story is one my favourites, because it's touching and different.
Breaking the Spell by Stuart Young
- An interesting story about Becky who uses witchcraft and thinks that a spell has backfired. This story shows how mean teenage girls can be.
Mighty Spite by Terry Martin
- A nice short poem.
Razor Voices by Kelly Rose Pflug-Black
- A well written story about a woman, her harsh life and drugs. It was interesting that the author wrote about the woman's hard life and also about her friend's (Danielle) life honestly and unflinchingly.
Botched by Lorraine Slater
- A darkly humourous and shocking story about Miranda and cosmetic surgery. This is a brilliant and twisted story about how certain things can go a bit too far and what the consequences are.
Monster Girl by Andrew Hook
- A good story of Yoshi, his life, love doll Mimette and women. I like the way the author writes about Yoshi.
Monster by Nicole Papaioannou
- An interesting poem.
My New Pony by Derek John
- An excellent story about Stephanie, who loses her pony and finds a new pony. I like the way the author writes about the girl's feelings. The ending of this story is perfect.
Getting Warm by Gary McMahon
- A fantastic short story about Becky and Sandra who survived a week of torture in the basement. The atmosphere in this story is superb and I also like the ending.
Susannah by Jessica Lawrence
- An excellent and a bit longer poem, which was inspired by a real life story. This is a really good poem.
The Ides of December by Jessica Lawrence
- This is also a good poem.
A Study in Solitude by Jessica Lawrence
- This is also a very good poem. I have to admit that I like the author's writing style very much.
The Woman by Tony Lovell
- A story about Elly and her parents who lives near the woods. It's also a story about the relationship between Elly and Linda. This is a great story.
Think Belsen by Terry Grimwood
- A shocking and darkly humorous tale about Anna's weight problems. This story is one of my favourites, because it's a brilliantly twisted story about a difficult subject.
The Trauma Book by Stephen Bacon
- A story about a woman who finds a folder full of papers among her husband's things. The folder is called The Trauma Book. The woman also gets strange phone calls, which disturb her. This story is also a favourite of mine.
Don't give me that face by Sarah Hillary
- An interesting short poem about a mother who raises her child.
The spirit level by Sarah Hillary
- This is a good short story, which is only two pages long. Although it's short, it's a carefully written.
Rosemary by Mark Howard Jones
- An intriguing story about a woman who becomes attracted to a man.
Young Woman, Menaced by Spider by Jamie Rosen
- A great story about Umbilica who faces a spider. It's nice how much information and atmosphere the author has managed to add to this mini short story.
Tequila Mockingbird by John Travis
- A marvellous story about a foul mouthed mockingbird and an old woman who watches her neighbourhood. This is one of my favourite stories.
Alison, Alone by John Forth
- A beautifully written story about a lonely young woman called Alison who loves old books and stories. She meets an old man, who's an artist. This is one of the most beautifully and touchingly written stories in this anthology - in other words, it's a real gem of a story.
Sacrament by Regina de Búrca
- A fascinating story about Tara Lynch in a Catholic boarding school and the horrors of puberty. I think it's nice that the author has combined Catholicism and puberty related things without preaching.
Spiral by David Rix
- A compelling story about two campers and scientific exploration in Iceland on the shore of Svartavatn lake. In my opinion David Rix writes about things like scenery and atmosphere beautifully, so this story is clearly in a league of its own and it's one of my favourite stories in this anthology. (In my opinion Spiral is an almost Lovecraftian story.)
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It was interesting to read these stories and poems, because several authors were unknown to me (for example, I'd never heard of Derek John, John Forth, Jessica Lawrence, Kelly Rose Pflug-Black, Marc Lyth, Lorraine Slater and Farah Ghuznavi). After reading this collection it's easy to say that all the authors are talented and can write good stories. It would be interesting to read more stories from these authors.
In my opinion The Monster Book for Girls is an excellent collection of dark fairy tales and weird stories for adults. Although it's a monster book for girls, it can be recommended for boys too. I'm sure that several guys and men will like it. As a guy I can say that it's an extremely good anthology.
I have to admit that this anthology was a pleasant surprise - when I began to read this collection I never thought that I'd like it as much as I did, because I had some reservations about the quality of these stories. Fortunately all the stories were fascinating and some of them were exceptionally good.
It's difficult to choose the best stories and poems, because all of them are good and worth reading. If I had to choose only five stories, I'd probably choose Gary Fry's Mother's Pride, Ian Sales' Dancing the Skies, Terry Grimwood's Think Belsen, David Rix's Spiral and John Forth's Alison, Alone, but choosing only five stories isn't fair, because the other stories are also good. For example, Derek John's My New Pony is a brilliant story about a young girl who misses her horse and finds a new pony, which has a slightly mysterious past. Kelly Rose Pflug-Black's Razor Voices is another example of a good story, because it's full of raw power. I must also mention that Farah Ghuznavi's Escaping the Mirror is an amazing story about a young girl's life and fears. Stephen Bacon's The Trauma Book is a shockingly addictive story and Gary McMahon's Getting Warm is a powerful and memorable story.
The best thing about this anthology is that all the stories are different and the authors have had the courage to write about difficult subjects: obsession, murder, pedophilia, childhood fears, menstruation, sadness, dementia etc. Read more ›