Twelve women. Twelve horrors disguised as love. In Anya Martin's new collection of horror tales: the consequences of a girl wishing her dog could live forever; a romantic college student wakes a gargoyle in Paris; and a lonely woman finds her house infested with insects. History's darker depths are delved in such stories as American jazz singer confronts her lover who has committed terrible war crimes as he descends into madness in post-WW2 Germany; and a couple experiences H.P. Lovecraft’s Resonator machine via found footage from the Velvet Underground. In the publisher's favorite tale: Actress Elsa Lanchester reveals the true story of Bride of Frankenstein involving the preserved brain of Karl Marx’s daughter in 1923 London.
ANYA MARTIN’s debut collection, Sleeping with the Monster, was published by Lethe Press. Her novella Grass was a Dim Shores limited edition chapbook, and was published as Hierba in Spanish translation by Dilatando Mentes Editorial. Her play Passage to the Dreamtime was published by Dunhams Manor Press. Her fiction has appeared in anthologies and magazines including Cooties Shot Required, Tales from a Talking Board, Looming Low, Eternal Frankenstein, Cthulhu Fhtagn!, Giallo Fantastique, Cassilda's Song, Xnoybis #2, Resonator: New Lovecraftian Tales From Beyond, Borderlands 6, Mantid, Daybreak Magazine and Womanthology: Heroic. She blogs at ATLRetro.com and co-produces The Outer Dark symposium and podcast, featuring interviews with contemporary Weird/spec-lit creators, with Scott Nicolay for This Is Horror. Otherwise, she was weaned on Friday Night Frights, has always rooted for the monster, and regrets abandoning her earliest career aspiration—digging for dinosaurs. She listens to punk rock with a heavy side of funk and experimental jazz, cooks dangerously hot curries, and likes hanging with dogs. She’s also half-Finnish, has an anthropology degree from Smith College, and earns her living as a journalist. Her author Website can be found at www.anyamartin.com and her Twitter handle is @anya99.
This collection of twelve stories focuses on love and longing, loss and loneliness, leading women who yearn for something more into strange, murky depths they won’t emerge from unchanged.
I immediately fell for the hypnotic quality of Martin’s writing (and the fact that the first story features a girl who loves her dog and would do anything for him), but the range of her writing is truly a wonder—I had no idea what to expect from story to story.
Martin incorporates elements of cosmic horror and body horror, with stories ranging from the weird to the downright uncanny. Several tales take place in specific historical moments, highlighting real-life horror. There is also homage to classic horror throughout, the most notable of which involves a Turn of the Screw type tale inspired by Shelley’s Frankenstein and the actress who played the Bride.
Martin begins in the normal: a woman noticing a few bugs around her house, a drive down the highway for a weekend trip, a woman starting to realize her relationship might be over. Then she invites the weirdness in, letting the stories breathe and expand into strange creatures of their own. Of course, the monsters aren’t always what you expect, and one character has the startling revelation that if monsters exist, then perhaps men do too—men who will love and appreciate the way she has been waiting for. To take comfort in the existence of something horrifying and strange because it might mean the opposite—I’m still thinking about that one.
My favorite stories of the collection were “Boisea trivittata,” “Window,” “Old Tsah-Hov,” and “Grass,” though I really enjoyed every story and though the collection as a whole was very strong.
I was lucky enough to receive an advance reading copy of this title, and let's just say: this collection is one of the major debuts of the year. An intoxicating blend of weird fiction, horror, and dark fantasy, SLEEPING WITH THE MONSTER is a beautiful and unnerving ode to the strange, to cinema, and to those of us weirdos searching for somewhere to belong. My personal favorite story in the book is "The Un-Bride, or No Gods and Marxists," which is a fantastic homage to Bride of Frankenstein actress Elsa Lanchester. Anya Martin has been steadily building a solid reputation as a fiction author over the last few years, and this collection will no doubt cement her status as one of the leading weird fiction and horror writers out there today. Definitely a book that's worth adding to your to-be-read pile immediately.
Anya Martin's collection "Sleeping with The Monster" is a true gem of darkness and wit. A portrait of 12 women confronted with supernatural situations, it is also a masterpiece of genre and style swirling. If all the references are clear and pointed at, Anya Martin is a genius at twisting them into something completely refreshed and new that satisfies the knowing reader. Sometimes funny, sometimes poetic, sometimes plain Weird, these stories embark us into seemingly familiar narrations that suddenly snap the neck of everything read before. But where Anya Martin's talent truly lies is in her use of the Uncanny. Where many authors desperately struggle with graphic or cosmic Horror, trying to re-live a dying monster, Anya Martin has chosen to turn to Roald Dahl and Shirley Jackson instead (And Anais Nin for the Erotica), turning the mundane, the daily into magic and threat. To me, Anya Martin is an exceptionally original and gifted writer, who needs a much, much wider audience.
Fans of The Weird will find a lot to love in this collection. The relationship in “A Girl and Her Dog” is exceptionally crafted, and has us asking what we would be willing to give to extend the lives of our faithful companions. “Resonator Superstar!” was an interesting take on the Tillinghast resonator through the lens of recreating Velvet Underground and Andy Warhol performance art. “Sensoria” is an excellent goth-industrial Dream Cycle story with plenty of gritty Atlanta love. “Boisea trivittata” is deeply weird and infested by boxelder bugs while an apocalypse happens around the edges of the story. “Old Tsah-Hov” is a King in Yellow story unlike any I have experienced before. Our titular hero is a stray mongrel adopted and civilized by Cassilda and then torn from this comfort by misfortune and his old master, The Street King. A delightfully weird fantasy, and one of many reasons to hunt this collection down.
An interesting collection of horror/weirdesk. I appreciated non-traditional themes and symbology, along with mostly empowering female characters. My personal favorites were: Resonator Superstar!, Boisea Trivittata, Sensoria, and Grass.
I still feel a little unclear on how much I enjoyed this. Some stories felt much stronger than others, to the point that it became distracting. Maybe the author was able to workshop certain ones a bit more? Whatever the case, if you're already a fan of this genre, I think you'll enjoy it. If you're more of a casual reader, it may not be for you.
Anya writes story like Amanda Palmer writes songs. For all the normies who are going, 'Amanda who?', I mean that she can be playful and brutally open at the same time. She puts a lot of herself on the page, which, in this day and age, is a brave and beautiful thing. It's refreshing because it comes across that she's writing for the story, not for a genre, or to please an editor, or a target audience, and it's liberating. This anthology ranges from different points of her career, some were published in zines or chapbooks, and gives you that cool follow-her-along-on-the-journey-and-watch-her-grow experience.