cover image She Said Destroy

She Said Destroy

Nadia Bulkin. WordHorde, $16.99 trade paper (258p) ISBN 978-1-939905-33-8

Bulkin’s superior debut collection contains 13 weird and disturbing stories, three of which are Shirley Jackson Award finalists. In the creepy “Pugelbone,” a community living in warrens has decayed in terrible ways, and a woman tries to get her young daughter back after protecting her against a creature that’s haunted the woman since she was a child. In “And When She Was Bad,” the lone, and utterly lonely, survivor of a massacre by a winged creature takes an unusual sort of revenge, turning the “final girl” trope on its head. In the oddly bittersweet “Endless Life,” the ghost of a maid, mistaken for the spirit of a ruthless general, haunts room 305 of the Hotel Armitage and fades into obscurity as the hotel crumbles around her. Bulkin takes roads less traveled, uncovering the things that squirm in the dark while daring readers to look away. There are visceral elements, but she doesn’t need to rely on blood and gore to convey a sense of horror, and haunting, lyrical prose elevates these sterling tales. Bulkin serves up cerebral horror with plenty of bite. (Aug.)