“They were dangerous because they were too high on their own fantasies to think straight, and no one would question them.”
I’ll be the first person to admit that I’m not a huge consumer of media that’d fall within the ‘cosmic horror’ sphere; that isn’t to say that I don’t like the subgenre, but my exposure to it has been pretty limited. I actually wasn’t even really sure what cosmic horror was, beyond knowing that H.P. Lovecraft supposedly pioneered the topic, and that he wasn’t actually all that great of a person (which is why I’ve never bothered to do much in the way of reading his work – there are lots of other unproblematic folks to spend my time reading instead!). After doing some investigating, the general idea seems to be that there’s a lot of unknown stuff out there that could potentially be pretty terrifying for us – big yikes, basically!
That said, themes focused on the vastness and possibility of what is beyond our understanding as humans are all really intriguing, so when I heard about Hailey Piper’s new novella, I honestly couldn’t get to my inbox fast enough to request an advanced copy from the publisher (Off Limits Press, who have also recently published another book I loved this year – seeing a theme? If you aren’t already following this great publisher, you need to fix that!).
Piper’s writing talents aren’t new to me either – this is my fourth book that I’ve read by her, and every single one has immediately gone onto being recommended more than a handful of times to friends and people I’ve met in the bookish community. I had the opportunity to chat with her a little bit about her writing, books, and ‘horror’ as a genre in general on the Dead Headspace Podcast, and it was amazing – she’s got so many awesome things coming up in the new year, and I honestly can’t wait to just buy everything she puts out there!
In Worm, we’re tossed into New York City in the early 90s and introduced to Monique, a homeless woman living on the streets and searching for her lost love. Her perspective as a character is completely unlike one I think many people will have read while also remaining very relatable – I don’t like to spoil anything in the books I’m reviewing, so I won’t go into too much detail, but I loved her. She was fierce about protecting and fighting for what she loved, and tough enough to withstand some stuff that I definitely think would’ve sent me running in the opposite direction! I love Hailey’s writing voice, and the way she creates such developed characters in so few pages. Her other novellas have been some of my favorites for the same reason this one has skyrocketed to the top of my 2020 recommendations list: despite the small page count, her books have a heavy impact.
The pacing of this one is perfect – the reader is kept on their toes with just enough information at the start to keep you wanting to know more, and then the author reveals things bit-by-bit all the way up until the very end, neatly tying up answers to any questions left from the beginning. Everything from the characters to the settings are completely fleshed out, and I loved that there were multiple revelations here, sort of staggered throughout the story – not just one big ‘wow’ moment, but many, which work together well rather than detract from one another. I could see every scene in this book in my mind as I read, and I really hope this gets made into a movie someday, because it would be INCREDIBLE to watch!
Overall, this is a novella absolutely packed with layers, and it’ll be a much loved addition to the shelf of any fan of cosmic horror – or even for folks like me, who have less experience with the genre, but are looking for a book that’ll completely blow them away before the 2020 ends! You can order a copy on Amazon here – thanks to the publisher for sending me this one ahead of its release this Sunday (11/15)!
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