An Extreme Horror End-of-the-World Story
Author: Lucy A. Snyder
Sister, Maiden, Monster is a truly weird book – a splatter-fest of lesbian sex, woke politics, cannibalism, Christian-bashing, and the apocalypse, H.P. Lovecraft style. At turns I both hated and loved it.
It starts, as all end-of-the-world stories must, with the normal. Erin just got engaged to her long-time live-in boyfriend. It’s a strange proposal – an “everyone is doing this and so we should too” proclamation that both Erin and future hubbs go along with. Something’s not right in paradise, but before we can think too much about the social pressure to get married, Erin is vomiting up blood and the newest plague has begun. By the time she gets out of the hospital, she is diagnosed and quarantined as a type 3. To survive, she must eat brains. It’s not a super great mix with general society. Under the watchful eye of the government, Erin goes to work and stays away from people. Except Betty, that is. Betty is a beautiful type 2 (meaning she drinks blood to survive) and apparently Erin’s true love. What’s a little illegal sex and literal brain popping gore during the apocalypse?
Meanwhile, as Erin is slowly morphing into something ungodly, and somehow eating her girlfriend’s brain during sex and not killing her, another woman across town is about to have her own weird experience. Savannah is a type 5 – a slayer. She’s got a message from the gods, who speak in her head, mostly through a dead monk. It’s her job to purge the world of the unwanted while the other types slowly “archive” the rest of humanity. Savannah really, really likes her calling. The problem is, it will lead her to Mareva, who is so not down with the new world order.
Mareva is our last character, the one who shows us the connection from the beginning of the plague to the literal end of the world and the coming of the gods. Is this plague we are dealing with? Invasion? Revelation? Mareva is the unlucky girl who gets to find out and literally birth the new world.
What you think is going to be the story in the beginning – the usual last-man-on-earth plague-survivors jaunt – turns into weird erotica (and I mean weird, because the sex literarily involves liking raw brains and drinking blood), to an Edward Lee style slaughter-fest that leaves us desperate to bleach our minds and purge our imaginations, to something altogether in the realm of bizarro fiction. It’s at turns putrid, deeply evil (shiver – Savannah really likes her killing and her sacrilege), and somehow engaging. But don’t be confused, here, because Sister, Maiden, Monster is blasphemous; the author isn’t above a diatribe directed against Christians during this morphing, stygian transformation of the world. It’s hard to read. It’s disturbing and deliberately in-your-face profane. And yet, I kept reading. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that anyone else does . . . but I was intrigued by the creativity that underpinned the maliciousness. I’d also paid for the audio book . . . so there was that too.
And finally, after the slow start with Erin talking about how her dream was never the forced white-picket-fence-and-kids-dream and Savannah’s gratuitously sociopathic killings and cannibalism, we get passed the preaching and into the meat of the story. And this is where it’s good, and wild, and entertaining. Now, don’t get me wrong, you will still want to pour bleach in your eyes, but there is something unique here. It’s the product of a warped, diseased imagination that, despite everything, tells a good story if you can stomach watching it unfold.
I’m torn on this one. When we finally got to the story, it was good. Different. Disturbing. New. If there had been more of this in the beginning, and less floundering and cynical worldview preaching, and more plague and hints of what it all means, then this could have been a five-star story. As it is, I strongly advocate caution. If you’re easily disturbed or triggered or depressed, avoid this at all costs. There is no light at the end of the tunnel here. If you’re feeling especially mentally healthy and can take it – and like extreme horror – Sister, Maiden, Monster is an end-of-the-world story you should check out. Just beware of the attempted indoctrination and all the Christian bashing before the story finally gets started and goes full H.P. Lovecraft. Oh, and do not eat calamari while reading (shudder).
Now I’m off to read Winne the Pooh or something to cleanse my mind and purge my imagination.
– Frances Carden
Follow my reviews on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/xombie_mistress
Follow my reviews on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/FrancesReviews