Rating: 5 out of 5
Expected publication date: October 19, 2021. Review book provided by author.
Sonora Taylor’s horror short story collection Someone to Share My Nightmares: Stories is a delight to read. It contains something all-too-rare in the horror genre: consensual sex that isn’t punished. For all of its claims of breaking boundaries and taboos, most horror depicts sex as violent or as something that has to be punished. It’s a staple of the genre that in slasher stories, it’s always the people who have or want sex who die first. This book contains horror in which sex is entirely consensual, and the people having it aren’t automatically marked for death (and even if they die after sex, that isn’t why they die). There’s even a little bit of erotica tucked in for fun.
One of the most memorable stories in here for me was the first one, which shares the book’s title: “Someone to Share My Nightmares.” Kristin’s favorite director is one who sees that there are demons in the forest around her town. When he dies, she meets an actor who also feels the same way. There are some great subtleties in here about how one “sees” demons that make this really intriguing.
“Petal, Page, Piel” is chilling and fun, but too short for me to say anything else about without giving things away. Similarly the poem “Metal Meticulous” is also chilling and fascinating.
“Bump in the Night” is hilarious. Tasha has a plumber coming over, but things get a bit wild when the woman arrives! And Tasha has some ulterior motives for calling the woman over… “The Parrot” has some darker humor to it. Melinda just died, and her husband Charles is very angry about it. After all, who’s going to make his breakfast now? A home assistant called Parrot is the key to someone’s handling of his abuse of Melinda. Another humor/horror piece is the short piece “Candy,” in which Martha will do anything for her favorite Valentine’s Day truffles.
Another favorite story is “The Sharps.” Camila planned the perfect summer research getaway to a cabin without her phone or wifi or any other distraction. Now she’s stranded by little monstrous creatures that threaten to eat her if she tries to go outside. When Joseph gets stranded with her, she wakes up to the fact that somehow, she’s going to have to get out. The story is also nice and sexy.
“You Promised Me Forever” is rather different from the others. Carrie was turned into a vampire by Cody, and now the bloom is off the rose. They’re arguing, and Carrie is starting to wonder whether she wants to continue with him any more. This story shows a much more realistic look at the ups and downs of a relationship than most fiction, against a background of drinking blood and avoiding the sun.
My final favorite is “‘Tis Better to Want.” It’s the erotic piece in here, in which Lydia becomes incredibly enamored of the demon Krampus. I love the fact that when she meets him as an adult he doesn’t remember running into her as a child. If he had, and had some sort of “I’ve known I wanted you since you were seven” thing going on, this would have been gross rather than sexy, and that’s the route too many authors take. This story is for those of us who really didn’t give a whit about Tom Cruise’s character in Legend because we were too busy ogling Tim Curry.
I hope this signals a rise in positive depictions of sex in horror. Horror doesn’t always have to come from the sex in order for the sex to be relevant to the story. For now, we at least have Sonora Taylor’s wonderful approach to the issue!
Content note for explicit sex, physical and mental abuse, blood drinking, some blood and violence, and a little bondage.