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Body horror is one of the scariest subgenres of horror. Not only does it often have the gross imagery, it taps into the idea no scarier than loss of control than of oneself. This probably goes double for women who have several institutions who want to control their bodies. So it proved to be an appropriate time for Joyce Carol Oates to gather a number of out top female writers to produce A Darker Shade Of Noir: New Stories of Body Horror by Women Writers.

Many stories expand on the idea of body horror. Megan Abbott uses her ability to tap into the dark side of adolescence in "Red Ribbon". Her use of mood is impeccable in following a young girl uncovering dark secrets in her neighborhood haunted house. Aimee LaBrie's "Gross Anatomy" finds a way to make necrophilia even more disturbing. Tananarive Due tells an emotionally harrowing story with the idea of possession in "Dancing".

Three stories meld with classic monsters. In "Frank James", Aimee Bender has fun with the Frankenstein story, particularly the name of the creature, as a woman builds something out of growths from her own body. Yumi Dineen Shiroma's "Her Heart May Fail Her' gives a different point of view to two of Dracula's victims. Cassandra Khaw has fun with the werewolf genre in "Muzzle".

Others fit into the quesy form we know. In "Metempsychosis, or The Journey Of The Soul", Margaret Atwood finds a way to deliver a POV both humorous and horrifying with from a snail living in a woman. A sexual encounter in Lisa Tuttle's "Concealed Carry" leads to a gun growing in a woman. Both Raven Leilani and Joanna Margaret explore director David Cronenberg's body horror theme with art, applying ideas of gender and race.

One section, titled Out Of Body, Out Of Time, deals with stories in the past. Elizabeth Hand tackles the Blue Beard myth with a 19th century acting troupe in "The Seventh Bride, or Female Curiosity". The editor's contribution, "Chair Of Tranquility: From the Diary of Mrs, Thomas Peele, Trenton New Jersey, 1853" takes a look a therapy of the time known as "the rest cure'.

A Darker Shade Of Noir gives us some of the top writers of our time, working at the top of their game, many ina genre they haven't worked in before, proving that matters little when you understand the story telling craft. Many serve as a feminist allegory that never allows the politics to get in the way of the prose. They take characters who can be seen as victims and empower them in the way they survive.


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