Author Topic: Alexandra Sokoloff and the search for a great female horror novelist...  (Read 1868 times)

Offline Paul Campbell

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Here's the thing: if I watch a movie and it's just 'all right' then that's fine; after all, it has only been an hour and a half or two hours of my time. But the thing is, of all the forms of entertainment, reading has the slowest delivery. I don't speed read and so, what with working and sleeping and all, even a short novel like "The Harrowing" by Alexandra Sokoloff will be read over a period of 4 or 5 days. That's a lot of investment of one's free time and therefore - call me unfair - but a novel had better be more than 'all right'.

I recently read an interview with and review of Sokoloff in a back issue of Black Static magazine. I have few novels by women writers (especially in the horror genre) and so wanted to discover some new ones -

- and "The Harrowing" is just 'all right'. Or, as the Americans might say, it's got a beat and you can dance to it. Fine. If it was an hour and a half movie. But four or five of my evenings after work? Nuh-uh. It's not just the fact that the story is only ever merely good, the writing too is workmanship. Despite being a short book, there are some 30 chapters and in every other chapter characters 'whirl' and 'gasp'. Must be a record as to how many times these two verbs have ever been used in one work. Doesn't the author's word processing software come with a thesaurus? I'm sure it does, but this kind of by-the-numbers, phone-it-in laziness is symptomatic of the whole book. And more damningly, I was always consciously aware that I was reading; I was never 'in the book' where you achieve that wonderful moment when you forget you're actually reading. Oh, yeah, and how lame was that epilogue?!

I have any number of terrific novels by women on my shelves, but mostly a single book here and there or occasionally two or three by the same author. With the exception of Margaret Atwood and Connie Willis there and no female novelists whom I slavishly follow.

Short story collections by female writers, on the other hand, I have a ton of: Alice B. Sheldon, Lisa Tuttle, Pat Cadigan, Alice Munro, Margo Lanagan, Kelly Link and on and on, including multiple collections by the aforementioned Atwood and Willis. I've recently read some wonderful short stories and a novella by Sarah Pinborough, but have yet to read her novel "A Matter of Blood" released by Gollancz last year (I've heard her Leisure novels released in the States are 'all right'). And Black Static magazine also did a feature on Sarah Langan. Here's hoping ...

... and here's wondering where all the great female horror novelists are.

Offline RossWarren

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Re: Alexandra Sokoloff and the search for a great female horror novelist...
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2011, 08:24:42 pm »
Sarah Langan is brilliant. Her first novel was particularly good.