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Fist of the Spider Woman: Tales of Fear and Queer Desire

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  228 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Traditional horror has often portrayed female characters in direct relation to their sexual role according to men, such as the lascivious victim or innocent heroine; even vampy, powerful female villains, such as the classic noir “spider women,” use their sexual prowess to seduce and overwhelm married men. Fist of the Spider Woman is a revelatory anthology of horror stories ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Arsenal Pulp Press (first published January 1st 2009)
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Oct 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Where does one / live when one fits nowhere but in fiction / and insanity?" - Elizabeth Bachinsky

Fist of the Spider Woman is an anthology of 16 horror and erotic stories and poems by queer women. This was my first time reading an anthology with erotic stories, so it was an interesting experience and a fun read. This book is unique, and I appreciate that it introduced me to a lot of new authors.

I didn't love everything, but there were a lot of solid stories in here. My top 5 were Shark by Kestr
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
May 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
3.0 Stars
I loved the premised behind this anthology. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy the stories as much as I hoped. Most of the stories in the collection were extremely vulgar and sexually violent. Written by a diverse group of female authors, these erotic horror stories predominantly featured queer, lesbian & trans women. I would cautiously recommend this one to other readers with a high tolerance for difficult subject matter who are looking to read some dark & twisted diverse horror.

Robin Bonne
3.5 Stars. Erotic horror written by queer women is something I need more of in my life. This was a quick little anthology that I read in one sitting.
Taz S
Nov 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
When I picked it up, I did not realize this book was anthology was centered around horror and niche kinks/fetishes featured in almost all stories. Once I realized this, it became a better read, especially for around Halloween-time. The stories range from oozing sexiness, filthy and heartwarming, to hair-raising, eerie, trauma inciting and almost grotesque (sometimes in the same tale). Many trigger warnings!
Mar 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Hot and scary. And hot. And scary.
Erotic horror by, for, and focusing on queer women is a phenomenal concept. It inspires/collects pieces which are carnal and strange--like the opening story, Milks' "Slug," which commits entirely to its title; like the editor's penultimate "Here Lies the Last Lesbian Rental in East Vancouver," with a rich queer history and remarkable central tableau. (Other particular favorites: Evans' "In Circles" has a dynamic which speaks directly to my id; Barnes's "Shark" has a convincing sense of place and ...more
Barbara McEwen
2.5 stars - I like the idea behind this collection, I am just not sure it came together as well as it could have. The title and blurb promise fear and desire, the horrific and erotic. It is erotic no doubt, I blushed a lot! A lot of the fear is just plain violence though. I mean violence is definitely a fear of women and a very real fear of queer people but the writing already out there has plenty of sexual violence. It is a collection though and there are some stories I thought were very good. ...more
mad mags
"My terror is terror's ubiquity."

(Trigger warning for rape. Also, some of the individual story descriptions may contain vague spoilers. Read at your own risk!)

In Fist of the Spider Woman, fifteen daring authors frankly ask themselves, "What am I afraid of?" The aim is not to quell our fears, but to embrace them. In doing so, their work takes on an entirely different form than the familiar thrills of contemporary Hollywood horror films.

Between the blurbs on the back cover and the wonderfully cree
Amanda Michele
Jan 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Strange gays with strange ways on strange days
Shelves: horror, lgbtq
One of the questions this collection claims to answer is, "What do queer women fear?" Looking broadly at these stories, I think it's safe to say that queer women fear being trapped, stripped of autonomy, and made to enjoy it. Of course, not every story follows such a specific pattern, but the way that recurring themes, like control and freedom and the femme fatale, are spun throughout makes the collection cohesive and puts the tales in dialogue with one another.

Fist of the Spider Woman is parti
Jan 07, 2019 rated it liked it
This collection was a little darker than I expected — somehow, I wasn’t expecting actual horror stories, and I thoroughly regretted reading some of these at night. While it wasn’t quite my cup of tea, I really appreciated the fact the queer content in here was expansive in its definition of “queer.” Whereas other collections I’ve read focus very narrowly on the individual letters of LGBTQIA+, a good portion of these explored varied kinds of relationships and kinks as well. That’s not something I ...more
What is this book: A short story anthology, collected around the theme of the intersection between fear and queer desire (presumably you got this from the title). Pretty kinky horror-erotica (Horrotica?) - it's pretty hot, and it's all on-page. (But of course it's horror- a lot of associated trigger warnings apply). Available on hoopla!

What I liked about it:
-All of the short stories were reasonably short! This is perhaps just a personal preference but I have found I enjoy not having to skip tie
Gorgeous, twisted, and erotic: it’s a strange but tantalizing combination that is the collection Fist of the Spider Woman. Edited by the ever-fabulous Vancouver-based writer, filmmaker, and performance artist Amber Dawn, this book of “tales of fear and queer desire” is probably the most unique anthology I’ve ever read. It’s queer not just in the LGBTQ sense, but also in that older, more fundamental meaning: strange, odd, unsettling. With over half of the contributors hailing from Canada (nine ou ...more
Adrian Brown
I am such a scaredy-cat. I couldn't even finish this one. Horror is not my jam. Not even horrotica, which this is...not even queer horrotica.

My queer ladies book club read this one for October. I got about halfway before I had a full-blown PTSD flashback\panic attack...which is when I quit. I still enjoyed the conversations at book club. We all agreed that it was an uncomfortable read because you would read something that really turns you on but squigged you out at the same time. We also had a
Rachele Maria
Oct 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
I am not even sure what to say about this book! It is part erotica and part horror in the form of queer short stories. Some of the stories are cheeky scary and so e of them are really actually scary. A much better read than fifty shades of grey. But I'm guessing because I'm never gonna read that. This book was perfect to read around Halloween. ...more
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
loved this book! I've enjoyed all stories and was very happy to read sex scenes with a trans guy. my favourite is the slug one so weird!!!! ...more
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I surprised myself by enjoying this collection tremendously - surprised because when I first started it, I had been taken aback by how incredibly violent and sexually explicit the stories were. "When they say Tales of Fear and Queer Desire, I didn't realize they meant tales of such extreme Fear and Desire," I said to myself. And compared it to American Psycho levels of graphic sexualized torture and murder - except in this collection, queer women's perspectives are centered and the violence is o ...more
Nov 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Usually, I don't read horror, but I liked the fairy-tale-esque cover and hoped for some speculative fiction or fantasy worlds. It wasn't quite that. I admired the mixture of poetry and prose. My favorite story was by Nomy Lamm. I thought that did the best job of exploring the hysteria of what people WANT queers to be afraid of (transitioning lovers, codependence, sex work, poverty, disability) and what we're really afraid of (getting mind-controlled by government agents into contributing to our ...more
Dec 01, 2020 added it
Stopped reading about a quarter of the way through because it was too triggering for me. I do hope to go back and finish one day, but right now is not the time.

So far, I was split pretty evently on the book. I'm glad I read reviews beforehand to understand just how gruesome and disturbing some of the stories are. That being said, they were still too much for me, as evidenced by my unconscious reaction to them.

I appreciate what this collection is doing, but it certainly is not for everyone, espec
Jan 02, 2021 rated it it was ok
I was hoping for more horror but this ended up being heavy on the kinky erotica which isn't my thing. I enjoyed a few of the stories, and there was one about Bloody Mary that was legitimately terrifying but for the most part I wasn't entertained. All of the poetry went over my head and I truly couldn't wait to finish this book. I fully wanted to support LGBTQ authors and I glad that I did but these stories just weren't for me. ...more
Auroara Draminski
It has a really good premise. I was really looking forward to reading this collection.

But the stories were not impressive. They were not very scary, not very erotic, not very inventive, and lacked plot. The representation was the only part that most of the stories did well.

I really hate how mean this review sounds, but I have found way more interesting fiction on erotica websites.
May 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Yikes. The one good story was the explicitly lesbian one. Two others were memorable but not in a good way. Didn’t know this was erotica when I checked it out from Overdrive so that probably contributed to my unhappiness. Again, yikes.
It was a little hit/miss at first, but some of the later stories were great. My favourites were In Circles, Sido, All You Can Be, Crabby, Shark and Here Lies the Last Lesbian Rental in East Vancouver.
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbt, canadian
just gobbled up this book of short stories
May 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
Disturbing and violent short stories that left me feeling dissatisfied.
Feb 17, 2019 added it
Shelves: unfinnished
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeneen Jensen
Oct 17, 2019 rated it liked it
It had a really interesting premise and I was very excited for it, but it fell a bit short and failed to warn readers of potential triggering stories such as incest, etc.
Jul 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
An anthology of horror and erotic short stories and poems written by queer women, "Fist Of The Spider Woman" is a definitive break from my usual reading material. This was my first time reading an erotic collection, especially one where horror and erotica were melded together so seamlessly. While it may be rather explicit or vulgar for some readers, I believe it to be altogether a very worthwhile read.

The anthology can perhaps best be described by the the following lines from Elizabeth Bachinsky
Fist of Spider Woman is an anthology centred around the theme of horror, fear and queer desire. This is honestly a very difficult book to critique due to the disjointed and weird, out there nature of the stories. Stories ranged from slug porn, BDSM, vampires, kidnapping and forced imprisonment to having sex with ghosts, all centring around erotic relationships of power. Overall I thought the premise of the collection was quite good. However, the execution wasn’t as strong due to the disjointed c ...more
Jan 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
AVAILABLE APRIL 2009 Traditional horror has often portrayed female characters in direct relation to their sexual role according to men, such as the lascivious victim or innocent heroine; even vampy, powerful female villains, such as the classic noir “spider women,” use their sexual prowess to seduce and overwhelm married men. Fist of the Spider Woman is a revelatory anthology of horror stories by queer and transgressive women and others that disrupts reality as queer women know it, instilling bo ...more
Richard Van Camp
Apr 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most important anthologies I've ever read because it's hot and horrific and I felt like I was invited into a garden filled with blades, razors, silk and secrets. I loved it. All of the stories in here blew me away and I actually made myself only read one story each day. I never wanted it to end.

I pray that Arsenal Pulp Press and Amber Dawn keep adding volumes to this series because it's magnificent.

I'll be thinking about so many of these stories for years and years.

Bravo to ev
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Amber Dawn is a writer, filmmaker and performance artist based in Vancouver. She is the author of the novel Sub Rosa (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2010), editor of the Lambda Award-nominated Fist of the Spider Woman (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2008) and co-editor of With a Rough Tongue: Femmes Write Porn (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2005). Her award-winning, genderfuck docu-porn, "Girl on Girl," has been screened in eigh ...more

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