We Are Wolves: A Horror Anthology. Editors: Gemma Amor, Laurel Hightower, Cynthia Pelayo. Authors of the short stories: Erin Al-Mehairi, Gemma Amor, V. Castro, S.H. Cooper, Cassie Daley, J. Danielle Dorn, Michelle Garza, Lilyn George, Jessica Guess, Eve Harms, Sadie Hartmann, Laurel Hightower, Red Lagoe, Melissa Lason, Beverley Lee, Amanda McHugh, Cynthia Pelayo, Hailey Piper, Sarah Read, Sara Tantlinger, and Sonora Taylor.
Earlier this year, I read the anthology Nevertheless She Persisted, which includes sci-fi/fantasy stories by women — and “We Are Wolves” is the horror equivalent: Stories of women rising up against forces that try to keep them down.
The characters in these stories (and a couple poems) are tired of enduring the passive suggestions and physical abuse and downright murder. “Though Your Heart Is Breaking” involves a man telling Sarah to smile, despite the turmoil inside her. “A Key for Any Lock” involves a popular guy on a college campus sexually assaulting the unnamed narrator. Several stories include murder.
Then the characters move past endurance to fight back, using their power and cleverness. As far as I can remember, in one story — “A Key for Any Lock” — the character tries to use the justice system to gain societally approved justice. But the system fails her. So she goes beyond it. In the other stories, characters don’t try the official system — they seek their own justice. These aren’t episodes of “Law and Order,” these are horror stories.
Justice here is gained by knives, contraptions, claws. The characters are wolves who hunt alone and in a pack with allies. Cliche has us believe that women are “the weaker sex.” Yet that is a box (cage) in which to place women. Of course they are far more complicated and strong than a simplistic stereotype. Stories can entertain us, and some can challenge us. These stories accomplish both.
I felt a couple stories were too rushed, and could’ve used a bit more to build the scenarios. But that’s a blip in the variety of characters and situations crafted by the variety of these talented writers. There’s horror aplenty along the different paths.
The proceeds from the book’s sales are given to organizations that help survivors of assault and abuse. So by purchasing the book, you’re not just getting stories, you’re donating to the packs who are helping those who need help.
Please note the book includes strong content: “abuse, sexual abuse, harm to children, childbirth, bodily harm, self-harm, and child death, as well as more not explicitly listed here. We do therefore advise you to read with caution, even as we encourage you to engage with some of the themes and stories within, many of which are highly personal to the authors who wrote them.” (Quoted from the book’s Foreword, by Gemma Amor.)