Anthologies are so much more than a simple compilation of short stories; they are the sweet fruit growing within the ever-growing tree of literature. With so many writers and stories in one book, an anthology allows readers to get a broader taste of storytelling; and I believe The Dummies’ Guide to Serial Killing: And Other Fantastic Female Fables did just that. It delves deep into the theme of female strength, producing works that will make the reader laugh out loud or leave them with nail biting anticipation of what will befall the protagonist. But most importantly, this anthology brings the need for more strong female leads into the forefront of the reader’s consciousness.
These are a few notable works that I found to be cutting edge and thought provoking within this anthology:
The Dummies’ Guide to Serial Killing: And Other Fantastic Female Fables casts aside the simple damsel in distress, stereotypes with a tale from the book’s namesake by Danuta Reah. At first the story felt like an encapsulation of American Psycho with the character’s irrational thought process and urge to become a serial killer. However, the plot twist was a pleasant surprise and really did justice to the theme Fantastic Female Fables. This prose really challenged the continued story-line of psychological thrillers simply by making the female a cold and calculating killer that would rival Hannibal Lector himself.
Looking at the Wall by Mary Brown was a poetic look at age’s transition. It traverses the inner thinking of an elderly woman who appears to be senile because she stares at a wall for long periods of time. But to this woman, the walls are engraved with memories, like the smudges of her grandchildren’s fingertips. One quote that really resonated with me was “Time doesn’t matter to those who have arrived.” This signifies that she has lived a long life and realized that as death approaches she understands the importance of appreciating life around her. This story briefly explores a topic every parent experiences, the change from caregiver to the person being cared for.
Spring Creek Sun’s Entertainment Contributor, Dean Moses, also penned a heartfelt tale for The Dummies’ Guide to Serial Killing: And Other Fantastic Female Fables. His story, F for Finality uncovers the complex relationship of a grieving mother and daughter. The strength of a mother, like the resilience of many strong women, is seen as cold and borderline cruel. But the reader is given a peak behind the veil of motherhood and what it takes to hold a family together through the eyes of a stubborn daughter. This story brings to light the sacrifices mothers make and society’s misconception of what makes a strong woman.
Car Park Girl by Josephine Greenland was an absolute delight to read because it retold the story of Rapunzel as a post-apocalyptic thriller. The short story maintained the nuances of the fairy-tale while giving the reader a science fiction view of Rapunzel’s world rather than a child’s fantasy.
There are a multitude of stories in this book that capture the reader’s imagination, such as a retelling of old folklore, exploring the relationship between mother and daughter, and entering the mind of an elderly woman. There is science fiction, romance, adventure, and fantasy that blend well with one another. This anthology did a great job of maintaining its theme without making the reader feel bored of the same topic or appear like a feminist manifesto. This is definitely an anthology to read in the subway or while cozying under a warm blanket during a fall rainstorm.