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Experiments in Human Nature / Monica O'Rourke

Two Backed Books / January 2008
Reviewed by: Jeff Burk

If there is any justice in the publishing industry, Monica O’Rourke’s latest collection of short stories, Experiments in Human Nature, will propel her to the very top of the field.

Primarily known to readers for the most hardcore horror, her stories explore the darkest elements of humanity and are written with strong prose and fierce underlying intelligence.

As the title suggests, most of the stories in Experiments in Human Nature are concerned with horrors that exist (or can exist) in the real world. Child abuse, rape, and cannibalism are common enough in her stories that they could be considered themes — although vampires, witches, and ghosts also make plenty of appearances. This diversity keeps the reader constantly off guard, never knowing what to expect from the next story.

What immediately sets O'Rourke's stories apart from other horror writers is her choice of subject matter. She writes from a decidedly female perspective, with tales focusing on fears associated with children, body image, and the loss of identity associated with relationships. She addresses many topics ripe for horror that her male contemporaries are likely to neglect. This lends the stories in Experiments a strong feeling of originality and the reader is not left with the sense that they've been there, done that.

In a genre commonly accused – and frequently guilty – of exploiting violence and sexuality, Experiments in Human Nature stands as a shining example of how these topics can – and perhaps should – be handled. O'Rourke holds up a mirror and shows the world its sometimes painful reflection. This collection is an essential addition to the discerning horror fan's shelf and one that’s certain to win O’Rourke legions of new fans.

Purchase Experiments in Human Nature by Monica O’Rourke.

Posted on Thursday, October 23, 2008 at 01:13PM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

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