cover image Unshod, Cackling, and Naked

Unshod, Cackling, and Naked

Tamika Thompson. Unnerving, $4.99 e-book (254p) ASIN B0B89JG7QP

This powerful collection of 13 intimate horror shorts from Thompson (Salamander Justice) derives its scares by pushing mundane Black experiences into unsettling territory. Several pieces dive into simultaneously validating and terrifying expressions of Black female rage, among them “These Parts,” which features a surprising breakthrough of monstrousness, and “I Am Goddess,” about the revenge of a mistreated wife. Both “The Turn” and “The Bats” follow socially isolated protagonists whose separation becomes their salvation as the rest of the human world devolves into chaos. Sensitivity to the feelings of animals is another recurring theme, most notably grounding the horror of “And We Screamed.” The Blackness of Thompson’s narrators is occasionally nearly incidental, as in the queer monster tale“Angry Slash of Blood,” but most stories use it as a key part of the setup or to engage cultural realities like the appearance standards for Black women in largely white contexts, which is explored in the body violence of “Under the Crown,” about a reluctant beauty pageant contestant. Readers of any background will find that these stark terrors hit close to home. (Jan.)