Epeolatry Book Review: Mother Knows Best: Tales of Homemade Horror, ed. Lindy Ryan

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Title: Mother Knows Best: Tales of Homemade Horror
Author: Various, ed. Lindy Ryan
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Black Spot Press
Release Date: 7th May, 2024

Synopsis: From mama trauma to smother mother, this all-new women in horror anthology features stories about the scariest monster of them all— our mothers.

As advertised, this book definitely fits the description. Monstrous mothers, abusive but still human mothers, controlling mothers, neglectful mothers—this book is full of them. The horror is anything but shy, as some of these stories truly are horrific. I was wincing a few times and reading through my fingers.

One of the worst mothers in the book (a high bar to say the least) is in “Mother, Daemon, Ghost” by Stephanie M. Wytovich. Shockingly abusive, with witch-like powers, this mother has devoted herself to controlling and diminishing her daughter, Chloe. Chloe grew up in a nightmare and escaped at her earliest opportunity, only to find out years later that she hadn’t really escaped at all. I enjoyed this one because it was quite scary, and the writing was very strong.

Another story that really stood out to me was “The House Mother” by Kristi Demeester. It differed from the others by being told from the mother’s point of view, rather than the daughter’s.  Marion is a different type of mother—she is the “mother” of a sorority house. This story has an unsettling, eerie quality that made it a strong entry for this anthology.

“Within the Pink Paisley Walls,” offers another rather unusual mother-figure. I won’t say too much as this one is best left to be discovered as you read, but suffice it to say that it’s not what you expect.

And I would be remiss not to mention Gwendolyn Kiste’s “Your Mother’s Love is an Apocalypse.” Told in the second person, with the most unusual mother figure of all, it is an excellent book-end to the collection.

I highlighted the more unusual mother-figures in this anthology because eventually, I started to feel a little tired of reading about yet another evil mother. I know that evil mothers is the theme, and there is a good attempt at variety. Poems are sprinkled throughout which add assortment and break up the stories. The anthology delivers on its promise, but might be best read over several sittings instead of at one time.

All of the stories are creepy and scary. Each one made me uncomfortable like a horror story should. While some could have benefited from more explanation or clarity, overall, it’s a solid collection full of horror about mothers.

/5

Available from Amazon and Bookshop.

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