Tamora Pierce's Reviews > The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares

The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares by Joyce Carol Oates
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Jan 02, 12

bookshelves: adult, contemporary, horror, short-stories
Read in December, 2012

** spoiler alert ** Strangely one-note for an author as reputable as Oates, since the resolutions for each story are roughly similar in tone and no character really changes except to deteriorate. "The Corn Maiden" is the best and longest story, written in a very "literary" way (which I find annoying--I like Oates so much better when she writes YA). It's about three girls kidnapping and torturing a child-like younger girl and the experience of the girl's mother and the substitute teacher initially accused of the crime. The girls' leader is the antagonist who comes up with the plot and supplies a twist, a much-neglected upper-class girl living with her grandmother after being abandoned by her parents. Oates is cynical about police treatment of the single mother of the missing girl and the suspect and about the school's treatment of the suspect, and rightly so.

The other stories are as much commentaries on contemporary society and social values as they are horror stories. Stephen King Ms. Oates is not going to be. I wish she would go back to writing for teens!
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