When I received my friend Laura Eppinger’s beautiful book, Loving Monsters, I was equal parts excited and hesitant. It is a truly lovely object to behold, pocket-sized with a gorgeous cover in a sort of steampunk Medusa vibe.
And yet… monster stories and I have a hit-or-miss relationship. While I grew up on vampire stories like those of Amelia Atwater-Rhodes and, yes, Twilight, I can’t hang with horror. I didn’t quite know what to expect within these pages, and if I’d be able to stomach it.
After diving in to this collection of stories, I’m glad I threw caution to the wind, because it was well worth it.
(Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author — who is a friend — in exchange for my honest review.)
The stories in Eppinger’s collection dart masterfully between dark humor and utter seriousness as they bring monster myths into the modern day. The monsters in these pages may fit that label, but they are achingly and obviously human in their problems, concerns, and how they interact with the world.
Through this lens of the modern day vampire, haunted house, werewolf, and more, Eppinger interrogates what it means to be human, to be a monster, inviting us to question whether that line is quite so clearly drawn as we like to believe.
Without giving too much away, I feel safe listing the titles of the stories in the collection as a preview to what you can expect in these pages:
- Energy From Living Things
- Five Issues That Didn’t Get Resolved After We Turned Into Vampires
- The Beast
- One Day in the Life of a Haunted Minimalist House
- Unlucky Sometimes
- The Jersey Devil Stays Busy
Each story takes a different angle on the monstrous, from abusive relationships to werewolves to vampires to haunted houses that wish their dwellers had just a bit more, well, stuff. They are page-turningly fascinating while inviting the reader to question what we’ve been taught about the things that go bump in the night, and whether they might not just be us, after all.
In all, every story in this collection had me fully engrossed and eager to see what would happen next. I highly recommend Loving Monsters to fans of the short story, of literary fiction, and to those who love a slice of modern life with a devilish twist.