Book Review: 'Lady Bits'
Gwen attempts to get her life on track and may have found the answer to success but at what cost? La-La watches the trains go by, saying farewell to the living and the dead. Delaine slides in and out of the past to perfect her murder and learns the sticky truth about time slipping away.
The 2019 Bram Stoker Award nominated short story collection Lady Bits by Kate Jonez contains sixteen stories of the strange, twisted, and gruesome. The stories in this collection center around women who find themselves in terrifying and sometimes supernatural situations. The women in Lady Bits are of all ages, from various backgrounds, and are complex and unpredictable people. Women in horror media are often seen as one-note scream queens, but the characters in Lady Bits break that mold.
Jonez, a Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson Award nominated author, has a talent for creating characters who are authentic in their messy imperfections. The women in Lady Bits are not just heroes or villains or victims but rather a mix. They’re people. The characters have breadth; not all mothers make the best choices, not all old women are sweet grandmothers, and not all young ladies need to be saved. Women are not evil only as wicked queens and witches. Women are not good only as lovely princesses and innocent maidens. Jonez brings each character to life and gives realistic diversity to these characters. So, whether these women are well-meaning or downright devious, they are at their core human.
In the story “Poor Me—And Ted,” suspense rises as the reader witnesses bereaved mother Glory follow through with a terrible plan that is all at once horrendous and heartbreakingly clear. Jonez tells this story through Glory’s inner monologue, a proficient and engaging way to identify with a possible unreliable narrator.
In “Carnivores,” the reader watches Francine, a young woman on the edge of society, struggle with getting by. Tension builds as Francine becomes entangled in an unsavory situation. In this story, Jonez flips common conceptions on their head, making way for an unexpected shock.
For fans of dark fiction, supernatural tales, and bizarre happenings, the aptly titled Lady Bits is an eye-opening collection. These horror stories range from creepy to disturbing. There are monsters, there is magic, and there is death, but Jonez keeps the pain and sweetness of humanity in each of her stories by highlighting the different aspects of who women are and who they can be. Jonez’s superb ability to craft eerie and strange tales is matched by her ability to create unnerving, yet human characters. Lady Bits is filled with frights both tangible and visceral for readers looking for a fresh perspective.
Author: Kate Jonez
Publisher: Trepidatio Publishing, an imprint of Journal Stone
Cover photo courtesy of Trepidatio Publishing/Journal Stone