Some of the books listed deal with taboos like necrophilia, have sensitive subject matter such as sexual assault, and are more extreme in terms of body horror, including experimentation on children/unborn children in a sadistic, cultish family, so proceed with caution!
Meet the Author and the Gurt Dog Press Team
April-Jane Rowan was born with a morbid fascination that she turned into writing so she could explain away her strangeness. Luckily for her, she found she rather liked it, so for many years, she has been creating bizarre, dark tales. When not writing, she can be found lurking in graveyards, libraries and museums. She lives in Sweden with her two partners, Linn Sjölin and Nem Rowan, their triplets, and their pack of beasties.
They are the team behind Gurt Dog Press, currently in its third year of publishing LGBTQ+ SFF and Horror fiction, and B Proud PR, the sister company founded by Linn Sjölin, which is a promotion service for LGBTQ+ stories and authors.
Gurt Dog Press was started by Nem Rowan, an author of LGBTQ+ Fiction. His own work has been published by Less Than Three Press and JMS Books, but has now found a forever home at Gurt Dog. He is a transgender man from the UK, and he is especially keen to bring audiences to fellow trans writers in the Horror genre.
Guest Post: Body Horror Books by April-Jane Rowan
I was recently on C. M. Rosen’s podcast ‘Eldritch Girl’ where she asked me what some of my favourite Body Horror fiction was. Unsurprisingly my mind went utterly blank as it always does and I had forgotten to add favourite books to the notes I had scribbled just before the interview. The minute we had ended the call, I looked at my shelves and suddenly I could think of so many amazing books! I’m eternally cursed that way though, only thinking of what to say after the fact.
So this is my well thought out response, the one I should have given in the interview if my brain had worked fast enough, because these books are wonderful and need to be shared
The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley
This novella starts strange and only gets stranger. It’s about a world where all women have died and all that is left is a bunch of lonely men trying to survive. They are soon joined by creatures made of fungi and it all takes a wild turn from there. This book is Body Horror at its most surreal and won’t fail to make you feel something, whether it’s disgust or confusion!
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
This collection of stories weaves women’s experiences and Body Horror, creating something poignant and modern. Each one is a fairytale for this age and I have no doubt that this book will be dissected in classes in the future. My favourites were The Husband Stitch which is based off the tale The Green Ribbon, where a woman marries and her husband is always curious why she wears a green ribbon at her throat, and Difficult At Parties, which follows a young woman dealing with PTSD from being raped.
The Necrophiliac by Gabrielle Wittkop
This is probably the most polarizing on this list as the title can probably give you an inkling! It is very short, probably considered a novelette, and the story is told in diary entries. It is uncomfortable reading as the actions of Lucien, the Necrophiliac in question, are described in detail. What I love most about this compared to other books featuring this subject is that it is written as a love story. It doesn’t shy away from the aspects of death but it somehow manages to make you see it through Lucien eyes and I was left feeling very sorry for him and his failed romances.
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
I often don’t see this on list of books featuring Body Horror, but what else could it be? A couple that meet as circus performers go on to breed their very own, experimenting with drugs and radiation so their children will be born with birth defects. It’s a family saga unlike any other! Despite not being described as a book about a cult, I think it perfectly illustrates that type of mindset and the terrible fallout from such behaviour. This one is Body Horror at its most unashamed and brash. In fact, I can’t think of a messed up and taboo thing doesn’t happen in this book!
Bunny by Mona Awad
This is one of my recent favourite books and once I had finished it, I had the strong desire to just start reading it all over again. That doesn’t happen often to me! The book follows Samantha as she struggles with her creative writing course at university. What she struggles with the most however is the elite clique of women in her class that all refer to themselves as Bunny. What follows is a surreal tumble down the rabbit hole as she finds herself getting mixed up with this group in more ways than one. This book is just so clever! The prose and metaphors are just so well thought out and every inch of it drips with sarcasm. It’s perfect for people that love Body Horror which is Dark Acadamia.
Beneath the Dead Oak Tree by Emily Carroll
This tiny little zine tells the story of a fox woman and her lover that is hiding more than a few secrets. It’s deliciously gory and told in verse. Emily Carroll is a master at Body Horror comics, her bold art and spooky stories a perfect marriage. This zine uses a bright limited colour palette to offset the dark story and honestly I just want to frame every page.
Thanks for reading and I hope you found some books to add to your TBR here! I have also authored two books that feature Body Horror, so if you are interested, you can check them out here – https://gurtdogpress.com/april-jane-rowan/