Nuzo Onoh is a British author from Enugu in the Eastern part of Nigeria, in what was formerly known as the Republic of Biafra. Their civil war with Nigeria, which she experienced firsthand, had an enormous impact on her writing style. In her books The Reluctant Dead and Unhallowed Graves, you get a deep draught of local Nigerian culture and her writing reflects the oral storytelling traditions of the Igbo tribe. Onoh doesn’t shy away from the gritty details when creating trauma to put her characters through.
She states that her goal is to establish African Horror as bona-fide horror subgenre, rather than the general perception of the term as a negative condition of the continent portrayed by the popular media. It is Nuzo’s hope that soon, African Horror will be recognized and enjoyed as other regional horror— Japanese, Korean, and Scandinavian.
Her latest release, The Sleepless is her first novel. Buy it here. (Beware, if you are put off by injury to animals, skip the first few pages.) Her other works, The Reluctant Dead and Unhallowed Graves, are short story collections steeped in actual practices and chronicle the divergent lifestyles–all dread-inducing–of characters in Nigeria.
Onoh publishes her work on June 28th so her readers will always know when to expect more from her. For more information about Nuzo, please visit her website and follow her on Twitter.
Tananarive Due was born in Tallahassee, Florida is a recipient of The American Book Award (for The Living Blood), NAACP Image Award (for the In the Night of the Heat: A Tennyson Hardwick Novel, with Blair Underwood and Steven Barnes), and the Carl Brandon Kindred Award (for the short story collection Ghost Summer).
Due was also nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for The Between (Superior Achievement in a First Novel) and My Soul to Keep (Best Novel). Due, author of twelve novels and a civil rights memoir, was inducted into the Medill School of Journalism’s Hall of Achievement at Northwestern University in 2010.
Danger Word, a short horror film funded by a successful crowdfunding venture, is based on the post-apocalyptic sci-fi short story of the same name by Due and husband Steven Barnes. The short story has also sparked full length YA horror novels Devil’s Wake and Domino Falls.
Featuring an award-winning novella and fifteen stories—one of which has never been published before— her first short story collection, Ghost Summer is a must read. Keep up with Tananarive on her website, her mailing list, and on Twitter.
I love a female villain. I don’t read about a lot of them, however. Maybe it’s the books I’m choosing but I don’t see it often enough in my opinion. And black female villains? So rare. During an online Twitter party a week ago, I read about how many readers would love to see a black female villain.
Enter The New Mrs. Collins by Quanie Miller. It’s listed as paranormal on Amazon, but I’d venture to say this book steps its toes into the waters of horror. Just a bit. Enough to cause a few ripples.
Deservedly so. The New Mrs. Collins is an unsettling book with a female villain whose origins are initially obscured. Adira doesn’t know what she is (and neither does the protagonist or the reader until much later.). I enjoy when an author is able to make a “What type of monster is this?” background work for a character. I also love to draw my own conclusions in a book, so I like that not everything about the villain is spelled out.
Adira has a great deal of self-hatred, perhaps understandably, but it didn’t make me sympathetic toward her. I did, however, sympathize with our heroine. Leena is jilted on her wedding day and finds out her husband-to-be had taken up with the mysteriously beautiful, poised, and successful Adira. Adira breezes in, making demands that Leena “give in” to what’s happened and try to move on with finding her own happiness.
But she can’t. There’s something wrong with Mrs. Collins and few people can see it. Those who do are quickly dealt with in ways made even more chilling because of the distant, almost carefree manner Adira uses.
Miller’s writing style is strong and self-assured. I found the setting of small town Louisiana realistic and refreshing in a story that isn’t steeped in voodoo. She doesn’t hesitate to include colloquialisms, and glimpses into the African-American lifestyle in the South in her work without explanations for those unfamiliar. Since I am familiar, I enjoyed those gems: quips and witticisms of town matriarchs, creative expletives, the whole town’s involvement in preparations for the wedding, and the town ladies’ open criticism of the other woman.
In addition, I felt the fact Leena had a child, was not something covered in a lot of paranormal stories today. It made a connection to the former fiancé that was unbreakable, also making Leena’s son a pawn in Adira’s game. Miller is also not shy about putting her characters in desperate situations. After the jilting Leena gives the store clerk her engagement ring to pay for her “My world is crumbling right now” snacks.
One of the best things about the book was that these female characters were fighting for something other than a man. Yes, the struggle began because if his abandoning Leena at the altar, and you would think the entire plot struggle would make him crucial in its resolution, but it happily didn’t. (Honestly, I’m struggling to recall his name.) But the story is about the mystery of Adira that Leena can’t leave alone and her determination to uncover her secrets. She knows there’s something wrong with her… something off and she has to solve it.
Even after being warned off, Leena has to get to the bottom of Adira’s origins. Her obsession causes people who were on her side to turn their backs on her. (Another reason I want to call this a horror novel. Leena experiences so much isolation. Most from her legitimate attempts to help other people whom Adira has tried to destroy.)
Finally, Leena discovers Adira’s mother and we find out a little more about the woman’s motivations through a glimpse at her childhood. Again, it didn’t make me necessarily sympathetic toward her, because kids can be creepy. But I did see the genesis of evil, helped along by a heavy dose of parental fear.
I won’t give you anything on what Adira is capable of, that’s part of the fun of this book. But I will say that I would recommend it as a great summer chiller.
Get The New Mrs. Collins on Amazon or find out more about the author on her website.