Runaway Bride

Here’s something crazy. A novel that’s a sequel to a movie that is itself a sequel to a movie based on a novel from the year 1818. It’s also a book that blends Mary Shelley’s mythos with J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis

It’s a crazy book all right, but most of all—it’s a book about monsters with a feminist twist. “The instant my eyes opened,” explains the heroine, “my own consciousness began to colonize the femina incognito.”

As it turns out, the Bride of Frankenstein (named Pandora by author Elizabeth Hand) is a righteous babe. Right from the first page she asserts her gender politics: “From the moment I knew fire and was thus born, my goal has always been to steal fire, and power, for myself. I am no man’s creature and no man’s possession.” 

And because she’s such a spitfire, the ensuing scenes between her and Frankenstein’s original monster sparkle with emotional electricity. Even though they share the same ungodly experience, the pair has a lot of issues to work out between themselves. 

Like Zeus, Dr. Frankenstein creates Pandora as the most beautiful of all living things. Despite the stink of death and the scars up and down her body, she is so lovely that men are driven to maim, murder and betray all other men in order to possess her. “Witness Pandora!” announces her number one ally Dr. Pretorius. “She is the future of Womankind! Beautiful as a mountain stream, strong as a mountain.” 

Unlike her mythological namesake, however, Pandora doesn’t negligently unleash a torrent of monsters from a box. She takes ownership of her situation immediately. “Whatever I unleash upon men,” she says, “I will do so knowingly.”

After rejecting her soulmate (see the original Bride of Frankenstein movie from 1935 for more details), Pandora flees to nearby Berlin, by way of Neverland, to live life as the sensational she-corpse. She has no problem fitting into Berlin’s Weimar culture of intellectuals, artists and dissidents. After all, Frankenstein gave her beauty and the wit to use it. He also gave her a driving thirst for knowledge and a keen impulse for self protection. 

Once in Berlin, the runaway bride meets her spiritual sister—Futura, the iconic mechanical woman from the 1927 movie Metropolis. Both Pandora and the fembot know they are victims of man’s perverse hubris. They know first hand that the giving and taking of life is far too important a matter to be left to the likes of men. 

But they have a plan. Maybe if they work together, the two “monsters” can figure out a redemption for humanity. The beautiful corpse and the magnificent machine might be able to author a New Eve—born of man their betrayer and their ultimate triumph over him.  

[The Bride of Frankenstein: Pandora’s Bride / By Elizabeth Hand / First Printing: 2007 / ISBN: 9781595820353]

The Rutting Season

Central Pennsylvania is a creepy place. I’ve been there and I’m convinced the entire area is full of hobgoblins, trows and other madmen.

With his novel Dark Hollow (first published in 2006 as The Rutting Season), author Brian Keene unleashes a sex-starved satyr into the woods surrounding the small Pennsylvania borough of Shrewsbury. The results, as you’d expect, are both horrible and rape-y. 

Satyrs are horny motherfuckers, says Keene. “Half goat and half man, their primal attributes and wild sex drive embodies the uninhibited forces of nature.” To paraphrase Aleister Crowley: “They rave and they rape and they rip and they rend everlasting, world without end.”

Satyr’s will mate with anything—including all sorts of wild animals, livestock and household pets—but they prefer human women as partners. That’s why the men of Shrewsbury are in a panic. While they sleep at night they know a caprine devil prowls the neighborhood streets tooting his magical shepherd’s flute.  

It’s impossible for the ladies to resist the hypnotizing midnight music. One by one they rise from their beds to join the forest orgy hosted by Hylinus, the legendary horndog with BDE. Says the author: “It was the spring equinox, the season of sex. The rutting season.”

But how does a beast from Greek mythology pop up in Central PA in the first place? Here’s the scoop: Years ago, the Satyr was summoned by a local farmer (and amateur wizard) named Nelson LeHorn. He simply wanted the woodland deity to bless his crops and help breed his livestock. 

Things didn’t go as planned, however. Released from his magical labyrinth, Hylinus ignored the farmer’s wishes and savagely raped his wife and daughters. For the past 20 years, the Satyr has been hiding in the nearby woods stewing in his lustful juices.  

Now, after two decades of unspeakable carnal debauchery, the endgame begins. A group of friends decide to assail LeHorn’s Hollow and kill the creepy goat monster. The odds of them succeeding are slim. Imagine a vigilante militia comprised of King of the Hill stumblebums (specifically Hank, Dale, Bill and Boomhauer) and you get an idea of how hopeless their mission truly is. 

The author doesn’t give anyone a happy ending. The women are distressed, the men are gloomy and the stain of Hylinus remains. “I have tasted the nectar of your women,” he tells the menfolk of Shrewsburg. “They have presented themselves to me and we have rutted beneath the moon. Forever, when they orgasm, my name will be on their lips. This is my curse upon thee.”

[Dark Hollow / By Brian Keene / First Deadite Printing: June 2012 / ISBN: 9781621050308]

Footsteps on the Rooftop of the World

British explorer Lieutenant Colonel Charles Kenneth Howard-Bury did not see the “Wild Man of the Himalayas” during his trek to Mount Everest in 1921. He only saw strange footprints in the snow. But he did, by accident, attach an enduring name to the iconic snowman. 

Gardner Soule, the author of Trail of the Abominable Snowman, explained it this way: In Howard-Bury’s dispatch to a newspaper in Calcutta, India, his mention of the wild man was somehow garbled. He meant to say: “Mehteh Kang-mi.” This in Nepalese meant simply “manlike wild creature.” But in Calcutta, when the telegram was received, it read instead: “Metch-kangmi.” “Metch” in Tibetan means filthy, dirty or smelly. “Kang” means snow. “Mi” means man. Metch-Kangmi was translated, by a newspaper columnist in Calcutta, as the Abominable Snowman. 

From that moment, when Howard-Bury’s telegram was received, the Western world began to be interested in the Abominable Snowman. Said Soule: “It was such a wonderful name for an unknown animal that it has stuck till this very day.”

Of course, people knew about the elusive snowman years before he was ever given a name. Another British explorer named William Knight spotted him back in a 1903 expedition. Said Knight at the time: “He was a little under six feet high, almost stark naked in the bitter cold, pale yellow all over with a shock of matted hair on his head, small patches of hair on his face, highly splayed feet and large formidable hands. His muscular development in the arms, thighs, legs and chest was terrific.”

In 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and his Sherpa partner Tenzing Norgay were the first men to reach the top of Mount Everest. They saw plenty of mysterious footprints in the snow, but they never saw any weird man-like beasts skulking in the flora. Hillary later wrote about his expeditions in a 1962 memoir called High in the Thin Cold Air: “The yeti was a fascinating fairy tale,” he wrote, “born of the rare and frightening view of strange animals, molded by superstition and enthusiastically nurtured by Western expeditions.”

I admit, the narrative is a little bit jumbled in Soule’s 1966 textbook—especially in the beginning. But in his defense he was attempting to parse a lot of disparate information about the Abominable Snowman. It won’t surprise anyone that he neither confirmed nor denied the existence of the beast. All he could do was embrace the romance of such a creature. 

“The yeti could be a 100- or 200- or 400-pound monkey or ape or bear or it could be a cave man or it could be anything in between. Whatever is eventually found,” he concluded, “will be a major zoological discovery. The existence of an intelligent ape or a Neanderthal man would be one of science’s major all-time discoveries.”

[Trail of the Abominable Snowman / By Gardner Soule / First Printing: January 1966 / ISBN: 9780399606427] 

Little Brothers Are Watching

Little brothers are annoying. They break things, they whine incessantly and they leave LEGO bricks all over the floor. All you can do is wait until they grow up and hope for the best. Like they say in Finland: Boys will be boys no matter how long you fry them in oil. 

The titular little brothers in this 1988 doorstopper are something else entirely. They’re ratty little humanoid things with fangs and razor-sharp talons. Over the years they’ve developed a taste for human flesh. 

“My ancestors—the Mi’ kmaq—call them untcigahunk (translation: younger or older brothers) because they look pretty much like people,” explains John Watson. “But they’re small, ugly and vicious. Supposedly the Great Spirit created them before he created Man.”

Now living underground, the untcigahunk come to the surface every five years for a little nasty fun. “When I was young,” continues Watson, “my grandfather would tell me stories about them. I always felt in some way like they were a small bit of revenge for what white colonizers did to my people.”

Old Man Watson might be right. There are a lot of white people living in Thornton, Maine, and twice a decade a spike in deaths plagues the small town. Who can really say, ultimately, what motivates the untcigahunk? The fact remains: They show up on a regular basis. And when they do, they bring death with them. 

The Howard family knows firsthand how deadly the creepy little buggers are. After all these years, Bill continues to mourn the death of his wife following a vicious untcigahunk attack. And Kip, the youngest of his two sons, is still in shock after seeing his mother slashed to ribbons. 

More than his father, Kip is having a particularly hard time getting over the tragedy. After years of counseling (and a little encouragement from Watson) he decides to confront the untcigahunk for some therapeutic revenge. “If I run into any of those things,” growls the 12-year-old little boy, “well, then, they’d just better watch their asses!” 

Kip and Watson descend into the untcigahunk underground lair with a bunch of inadequate supplies (a canteen full of water, a flashlight and a hunting knife). Watson is carrying a long gun, but he knows how hopeless their expedition really is. Fifteen shotguns, he figures, wouldn’t be enough to stop an onrush of subterranean monsters.

Meanwhile, there’s a ton of subplots going on in Thornton. There’s a romance brewing, a little infidelity, racism, abusive bullying, juvenile delinquent high jinx, sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. It’s the era of primetime MTV and the climate is jacked with a soundtrack of Ratt, Van Halen and Judas Priest. 

Don’t get too involved with these subplots, however. All of them (every single one!) go unresolved and unfulfilled. Once the story goes underground, everything above ground becomes irrelevant. But is that a bad thing? Probably not. Like all good monster novels, Little Brothers is absolutely resolute. The untcigahunk are the stars here. Don’t be distracted by anything else.

[Little Brothers / By Rick Hautala / First Printing: March 1988 / ISBN: 9780821722763]

Rivers’ World

According to Sir Reginald Rivers, the co-owner of Rivers and Aiyar Time Safaris, hunting dinosaurs wasn’t too dangerous. “Especially if you made all your moves smoothly and correctly, and didn’t commit foolish mistakes like catching a twig in the mechanism of your gun, or stepping on the tail of a sleeping carnosaur or climbing a small tree that a dinosaur could pluck you out of.” 

It wasn’t dinosaurs and other animals that caused problems during time travel safaris. It was the human beings. Said L. Sprague de Camp, the author of Rivers of Time: “Tyrannosaurus rex was a mere inconvenience compared to the assortment of Homo sapiens traipsing through the Mesozoic era.”  

To prove his point, de Camp sat down and wrote nine time travel adventures featuring dinosaurs and an assortment of idiots, including big-game hunters, animal-rights activists, millionaires, bankrupt millionaires, playboys, playgirls, scientists, college professors, journalists, artists, taxidermists, chefs, religious leaders and survivalists. 

Possibly the biggest idiot was Willow Lamar, an animal-rights activist affiliated with S.T.L.O. (Suffer the Little Ones). She joined the safari to protect dinosaurs from trophy hunters. Rivers had to remind her: “The beasts my clients hunt are all long extinct. Your efforts wouldn’t bring any dinosaurs or mastodons back to life.” She didn’t see it that way of course. “Killing for fun is a crime against the universe!” she snapped.

Another dumbass was Clifton Standish, a guy who wanted to return to the “caveman era” to hunt dinosaurs the way his ancestors did. The first day of the safari he showed up wearing nothing but a jock strap made of fur. 

A psychic once told Standish that he was a barbarian in an earlier life—and he fucking believed it. “I’m a barbarian at heart!” he said. “I’ve always wanted to roam the earth as a true barbarian should!” During the hunt he could be heard yelling “Yield thee, civilized degenerate weakling!”

First of all, cavemen and dinosaurs didn’t exist at the same time. Despite stories from comic books and movies, the two species lived in two separate prehistoric periods—they never crossed paths.

And secondly, the mystic-for-hire totally mislead Standish. “Maybe I ought to get in touch with that psychic who told Standish he’d been a barbarian in an earlier life,” mused Rivers. “Of course, if you believe in reincarnation, 50-odd centuries ago everybody was a barbarian, so that’s what you’d have had to be.”

The most compelling story in Rivers of Time is “The Big Splash.” On this particular safari, Reginald Rivers takes a bunch of scientists 65-million years into the past to the edge of the Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction event (otherwise known as the K-T Event).

De Camp does a good job describing what it was like just before the earth was struck by a 10-km asteroid. The adventure ends in a flash, and the time travelers have to hustle to escape the oncoming big bang.  

But in a twist (there’s always a twist isn’t there?), a Stenonychosaurus leaps into the time machine at the very last moment. The “Steno,” being smarter than most reptiles, figured out a way to avoid the extinction event. And that, dear readers, was how the Steno eventually evolved into a dinosauroid, the reptilian equivalent of man. 

[Rivers of Time / By L. Sprague de Camp / First Printing: January 1993 / ISBN: 9780671721954]

The Curse of Dracula

By all accounts, Bela Lugosi didn’t have a happy ending. Career missteps, financial problems, addiction and bad health followed the actor to his grave in 1956. 

There are a flock of fans who would rather forget about Lugosi’s final days and remember instead his better days—back when he was Count Dracula, the iconic bloodsucking smooth operator. For these fans, Never Cross a Vampire by author Stuart Kaminsky helps rehabilitate Lugosi’s tainted reputation and romanticizes his twilight years. And you know what? That’s okay with me. 

The story begins when Boris Karloff contacts a private investigator named Toby Peters. Karloff is worried about his old friend. Someone has been playing games with Lugosi for over a month, sending messages written in animal blood through the mail saying, “He who mocks the vampire deserves his fate” and “Respect what you represent or suffer for it.” Most recently, someone mailed Lugosi a hat box containing a bat with a tiny stake through its heart. It was an old Hollywood story: Movie stars being harassed by over zealous fans. 

Clues point toward the Hollywood lair of the Dark Knights of Transylvania, a secret and exclusive organization dedicated to the vampiric lifestyle. Peters figures that one of these wannabe vampires is probably responsible for baiting Lugosi. He’s right. 

But who can it be? Is it Count Sforzni, the leader of the coven? The sexy Morticia Addams doppelgänger? The somber owner of a Cantonese restaurant? Or the elusive sun-deprived librarian? Maybe it’s Doctor Vampire, a stand-up comedian who dresses in Dracula drag during his nightclub shows?

The Lugosi case eventually intersects with a seemingly unrelated investigation involving William Faulkner. The famous author (currently in Hollywood working on a project for Warner Bros.) is accused of murdering a talent agent. The Faulkner case appears to be just a distracting subplot until the P.I. realizes that he’s the one linking the two mysteries together.   

The denouement comes late one night in a haunted house during a thunderstorm. In a surprising (not surprising) twist, it is Bela Lugosi, as Dracula, who brings the culprit(s) to justice. “Just another effective performance,” says the stately actor with a big self-satisfied smile on his face.

[Never Cross a Vampire / By Stuart Kaminsky / First Printing: January 1980 / ISBN: 9780312564711]

Battle Bots

Mazinger Z (1972), Getter Robo (1974), Mobile Suit Gundam (1979) and Appleseed (1985) were some of the seminal manga titles that introduced giant robots to Japan and the rest of the world. 

Not everyone was hip to Japanese comic books back in the early 70s. Many kids in the U.S. discovered a version of giant robots in 1979 when Marvel Comics started publishing Shogun Warriors. Author Van Allen Plexico was one of those kids. 

Plexico even dedicates his latest novel to the talent behind the Shogun Warriors series. He writes: “This book is for writer Doug Moench and artist Herb Trimpe, who showed us all the way.” Trimpe, in particular, was the undisputed master of robots and monsters at Marvel in that era. 

A quick note here: “Happy” Herb Trimpe had his fans, no doubt about it, but in no way was he in the same league as Go Nagai (Mazinger Z) or Masamune Shirow (Appleseed). I think we can all agree that Marvel’s “American Mecha” couldn’t hold a candle to Japan’s mecha invasion. 

Regardless, Validus-V is the result of Plexico’s childhood love of giant robots and giant monsters. His book wouldn’t exist without Shogun Warriors, Transformers, Godzilla—and a host of other ancillary mecha and daikaiju merch.  

The novel begins in 1978 when a fistful of 300-foot creatures converge on the shores of Monster Island (a.k.a. Johnston Atoll, a radioactive reef southwest of Hawaii). These giant monsters include a centipede, a bat, a Bigfoot-like beast and a mighty lizard named Tyranicus.

Thankfully, there’s a quartet of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em robots nearby: the titular Validus-V, Tornader-X (and its alter ego Rednator-Oh), Z-Zatala and King Karzaled. Together they possess enough power to destroy all monsters.

The problem, however, is that the human-piloted robots are a fractious bunch. Honestly, they’re too busy fighting amongst themselves to tackle the impending monster mayhem. Similarly, the towering colossi from Johnston Atoll aren’t united either. It’s hard to have a raging mecha battle when there’s no strategic alliance between combatants. 

Like a lot of classic mecha manga (and anime), the fate of the world ultimately rests in the hands of a young kid. Up until this point, 16-year-old David Okada was merely preoccupied with doing homework and avoiding bullies—he had zero experience piloting a bionic war machine. But that changes quickly. Through a combination of luck, opportunity and necessity, he becomes an awesome robot pilot. “Clearly you’re some kind of prodigy,” notes a colleague. 

There’s a lot more going on here, of course. I didn’t even mention the escalating galactic war or the rampaging 40-foot ants living on Monster Island. Ultimately, Validus-V is greater than the clash of giants and aliens. Plexico knows that a story about robots and monsters is really about all the people caught in the confluence.   

[VALIDUS-V / By Van Allen Plexico / First Printing: July 2022 / ISBN: 9798841938194]

Slime Ball

In one single day, a large viscous slime ball crushes a small coastal town in England. The local police are useless, the Royal Army and Marines are flummoxed and a Royal Navy surface combatant is sunk. The citizens of Shingleton are unquestionably doomed. 

But hold on a sec. There are three local teens who have a crazy idea about stopping the titular toxic creature. They just have one problem: no one will listen to their cockamamy plan. 

First, an Army sergeant makes fun of the kids’ monster theories. Then a Marines commander doesn’t like them wasting his time. “Chemical disaster over, I guess. Kids to the rescue,” he says patronizingly. Even a random geezer on the street tells the trio to mind their manners. “Why are you being stupid and winding people up?” he barks. “Typical of today’s youth, aren’t you? No respect. No sensitivity. Nothing.”

Meanwhile, the giant gob of sludge is rampaging down main street with impunity. It starts the day as a wiggly little worm and ends up being an 80-meter bulbous monstrosity. In just a short amount of time it destroys everything in its path. “This isn’t Shingleton any more,” says one of the teenagers. “This is Slime City!”

Everybody is asking the same unanswerable questions. What the heck is it? Where did it come from? Is it hungry? Does it have real intelligence or is it simply being controlled? Is it the wrath of God? Is it evil? 

Eventually a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense arrives to address the situation. According to him, the crawling slime is the result of experiments directed at producing a substance that would destroy household and industrial waste and eliminate the use of landfills. 

Unfortunately, the toxic chemical spilled out of an underground storage facility. But don’t worry, says the PR flak, with enough bombs and bullets, the problem will be contained. One more question from the mob: “When did the Ministry of Defense get involved with household waste? It’s not their job, is it?”

No, it’s not—and teens Jake, Laura and Chris have a theory. Instead of being an urban waste parasite, the monster was created as a weapon of war and the attack on Shingleton was a test of its capabilities. 

At the end of the novel, the super friends confront the MOD spokesman with their evidence. “Don’t try to cover this up,” they say, “we’ll call the press and tell them everything we know.”

Do as you wish, replies the Ministry of Defense rep with a shrug. “Who would listen to a bunch of kids?”

[Night of the Toxic Slime / By Anthony Masters / First Printing: January 2000 / ISBN: 9780439996402]

Webb of Horror

I don’t know much about author Stanley B. Webb. Was he born on a gas giant somewhere in the Jovian system? Maybe. Does he own an insectarium filled with deer flies and mosquitoes? It wouldn’t surprise me. Is he a distant relative to the recently deceased and legendary singer Loretta Lynn (née Webb)? I have no idea. 

There is one thing I definitely know about Mr. Webb. He has a heathy sense of humor. How could he not? His latest short story collection is modestly called Monster Garbage and Other Trash

It’s a cute (and funny) title, no doubt about it. But Webb’s writing isn’t trivial at all. Whether he’s writing about sea monsters, dinosaurs, space aliens, giant bugs, robots or killer plants, he knows what really scares us. 

Many of the stories in this volume sound like something you’d hear around the campfire at night. They’re short and spooky with an obligatory kicker at the end. Summer camp counselors take note. “Old Town Halloween,” “Parlor,” “The Anti-Christmas Tree” and the titular “Monster Garbage” are all examples of this age-old story structure. These are my least favorite things in the anthology. 

Much better are the stories that seem like chapters from longer works. In fact, I would encourage the author to revisit some of the following stories and expand them into book-length adventures. 

“The Scavenger” solves the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle, a rural family wages a forever war against genetically engineered agricultural crops in “The Field of Vengeance” and in “Hellhole Fishing” a sea creature emerges from the remnant of a prehistoric lake. I also enjoyed “Chopper City” because it reminded me of The Omega Man, my favorite movie of all time. 

In my opinion there are two stories that rise above all the rest. “The Day of the Deer Flies” is a surprisingly intimate account of a nature-run-amok attack. A seemingly coordinated strike of deer flies and mosquitoes turns the Adirondack Mountains into a combat zone. For 11 pages, the author is very explicit with his descriptive language—maybe a little too explicit for some people. When you read the story, you’ll know what I mean. 

The other highlight of Monster Garbage and Other Trash is “Captain Baxter’s Journal,” an apocalyptic tale about the inevitable global warming crisis and the mind-boggling audacity of one scientist’s solution. 

Even though everybody is desperate to reverse the ravages of nature, Captain Baxter has doubts about his given assignment. “My conscious mind fails to recognize my surroundings,” writes Baxter in his ongoing captain’s log, “but my soul knows where I am. It’s hubris for any man to think that he can correct nature. I hate feeling that my ship is on a mission that will further harm the world.”

[Monster Garbage and Other Trash / By Stanley B. Webb / First Printing: March 2022 / ISBN: 9798432722485]

Old Monsters Never Die

Frankenstein’s monster is over 200 years old and Dracula will be celebrating his 600th birthday soon. Imhotep has been around since the 27th century BCE and the Creature from the Black Lagoon is a throwback to the Devonian period. These monsters (and others) have been with us for a long time—and according to the contributors to Classic Monsters Unleashed they’re not going away anytime soon. 

Take, for instance, Tim Waggoner’s story “Old Monsters Never Die.” The Moonborn were a race of shapeshifters as old as mankind itself. From the very beginning they were our greatest predator and I have no doubt they will continue to prey upon us long into the future. 

The mummy from Rena Mason’s story “Rapt” was originally a Han Dynasty doyenne. Married to a Wu Kingdom chancellor, Lady Mei’s beauty and kindness was legendary. Historians called her the Helen of Troy of China. 

But as all jilted wives know, shit happens. For some reason Mei’s husband poisoned her, killed her family and did his best to erase her very existence. Two-thousand-plus years later, Lady Mei rises from her grave to exact her long-awaited revenge. “She understood at last, the power of everlasting love.”

Some of my other favorite stories in this collection include a prequel to the Creature from the Black Lagoon movie (“She-Creature from the Golden Cove” by John Palisano), a twisted version of The Phantom of the Opera (“The Viscount and the Phantom” by Lucy A. Snyder), the return of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (“Hacking the Horseman’s Code” by Lisa Morton) and a clever mashup of Ralph Ellison and H.G. Wells (“The Invisible Man: The Fire This Time” by Maurice Broaddus). The Seanan McGuire contribution is also quite good. But then again, everything I’ve read by her has been excellent. 

More than anything, I was happy to see multiple retcons of Bride of Frankenstein included in this Classic Monsters anthology. In fact, I’m beginning to think that it’s impossible to pen a bad Bride of Frankenstein story.

J.G. Faherty’s “Beautiful Monster” takes the Bride’s iconic “jigsaw puzzle body” to a completely different level and Dr. Frankenstein constructs the Bride using a Tinder-like app in “Something Borrowed” by Lindy Ryan (“I like this one’s eyes,” says the original monster as he swipes right). 

Author F. Paul Wilson imagines Frankenstein’s monster with the brain of a woman. I am so powerful now, she tells herself. So very powerful. “I will not be mistreated any more. I will not be looked down on and have doors shut in my face simply because I am a farm girl. No one will say no to me ever again.”

My favorite of these stories was written by Carlie St. George (“You Can Have the Ground, My Love”). The Bride, now known as “the Widow” or “Elizabeth,” knew that she was a monster. But she also knew she wasn’t Frankenstein’s original lumbering giant. She didn’t want to be a morbid recluse like him. “I’d like to walk this world,” she says. “I will discover my own story—and challenge the whole terrified trembling world to listen.”

[Classic Monsters Unleashed / Edited by James Aquilone / First Printing: July 2022 / ISBN: 9781645481218]