- 261 pages
- 2023 Release
- Bram Stoker Award-Winning Author
In Sister, Maiden, Monster a new virus tears across the globe–but it’s not COVID. It’s something much worse.
PVG is a virus that has scary symptoms. Patients begin with headaches and nausea that later results in throwing up their own blood. Many of them die. Those that recover are forced to accept their fate: they’ll need to consume either blood or brains from humans to survive.
The story follows three POVs through the timeline of the PVG pandemic. First, there’s Erin, a quiet woman who lives with her boyfriend, goes to work, and doesn’t step outside the Status Quo. Then, there’s Savannah, a sex worker in a brothel who discovers a new turn on: committing brutal murders. Lastly, there’s Mareva, a woman plagued with chronic tumors from childhood who’s desperate to ignore the coming apocalypse.
Described as “unflinchingly gory,” “kink-fueled,” and “compulsive,” readers won’t want to put down Snyder’s latest book, Sister, Maiden, Monster.
If you’ve read horror books in any length, they can be strange. That being said, this is THE strangest book I’ve read. Ever.
It’s taken me some time to come to terms with this book. It’s one of those novels where you finish the last page, look at the back of the cover and think, “what the hell did I just read?”
I read Sister, Maiden, Monster in February, immediately after it’s release, and I’m just writing about it now, if that’s any indication of how long it took me to think about this book. This is one of the rare books that I pre-ordered after reading about it on the Horror Writer’s Association website. The synopsis was weird, but just vague enough that I was interested in picking it up. Immediately upon starting it, I was drawn in. Snyder is exceptionally good at capturing the reader in the first few pages, which I suppose works to her benefit when the really strange stuff starts happening.
Sister, Maiden, Monster is the epitome of horror and it’s mind-bendingly good. The book starts out with a rather speculative mindset, which I think really eases the reader into the story and makes them feel comfortable–or at least, it did for me. I think I was doing fine up until about two chapters into Savannah’s perspective. This is when things started to get uncomfortably weird for me. I think part of the reason for this is that Savannah’s writing tone (and dialogue) are awkward and immature, which is especially jarring after Erin’s perspective flows so nicely. The other part of the uncomfortable weirdness is Savannah’s character’s actions–which I won’t get into, just for the sake of spoilers.
I will say, that though this book is not as gore-y as some other books I’ve read (*ahem Tender is The Flesh*), it made me just as–if not more–uncomfortable. Sister, Maiden, Monster is the kind of book that is WEIRD and makes you think about how weird it is. There’s gore, there’s kink, there’s strange apocalyptic things happening. The third POV of the book is so outrageously out there that I just could NOT look away, no matter how much I sometimes wanted to.
Is this book particularly well written? Not really. There’s nothing special about Snyder’s writing style or her prose. She writing is sometimes clunky and awkward, unlike authors such as Mona Awad, who wrote Bunny, a horror novel about a clique that is chock full of beautiful prose and symbolism. But, the thing about Sister, Maiden, Monster is that this book is more plot-driven than most books I’ve read in the past year. Maybe, ever. Snyder is excellent at shaping the plot and twisting it so that the reader has absolutely no f-ing clue what’s going to happen next. And, perhaps that’s what makes this book beautiful.
I loved that this book was formatted so that each perspective was a third of the book, rather than chapters intertwined with each other. This decision made the plot move along smoothly and it really helped to tie in the absolute smorgasbord of things that are happening in the background behind each character. There were a lot of things I loved, actually. I rather enjoyed that this book had some strange surprises in it, almost like a thriller, but it hit like a sci-fi novel in other aspects. There were a few scenes that I just could not get over (because I was obsessed with them), namely the ending–which I won’t spoil.
And yet, I’ve decided not to rate this book five stars, because it doesn’t meet my personal criteria. There were a few sections that I really struggled to plow through, and then other sections that I couldn’t put the book down. I hate inconsistency like this in a book and it makes me think that the author didn’t utilize beta-readers or that they didn’t listen to reader feedback, which is frustrating. I also didn’t like the grainy texture of the cover of this book, which is a small thing, but it drove me crazy.
However, I do have to say that even though this book wasn’t a five-star read for me, it might still be one of my favorite books. It was memorable, it was weird, and it was unlike anything else I’ve ever read. I would recommend it, but check your trigger warnings first. It probably has all of them.
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