Unquiet Spirits: Essays by Asian Women in Horror – Review

From hungry ghosts, vampiric babies, and shapeshifting fox spirits to the avenging White Lady of urban legend, for generations, Asian women’s roles have been shaped and defined through myth and story. In Unquiet Spirits, Asian writers of horror reflect on the impact of superstition, spirits, and the supernatural in this unique collection of 21 personal essays exploring themes of otherness, identity, expectation, duty, and loss, and leading, ultimately, to understanding and empowerment.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Black Spot Books for the advance copy of this stunning collection of essays! I was so happy to get to experience the delving into the experience of the Asian women whose minds were picked for these horror reflections. It shows how alike some of our histories can be, but also the immense weight of how different they have been and still are treated. All of this being wrapped up in my favorite genre was an amazing way to present these stories. It was so easy to get into the mindset of the writers and follow along with their specific journeys.

These essays contain myths and legends such as the White Lady, and more Asian folklore like fox spirits. No matter which one– the writers would weave in their personality and upbringing, making each story a unique beast. Some are formal, others written like a letter to a friend. The prose keeps things flowing in a beautiful way that really sends the heavy topics home. Behind the fictional monsters are ever-present behemoths like struggling with trauma, coming of age, and societal and familial expectations. These things shaped all of the women included here, and their hearts bleed onto the page… opening long-closed scars to share with the readers.

Though I cannot fully relate to the lives of the writers of these essays– the issues they spoke on are universal. I think this is a must-read, not just for horror fans, but for those that are trying to gain insight on cultures that are different than their own. If we listened to more of these stories, the world would be a much kinder and pleasant place. I really respect the editor of this book for getting this group together, and I very much enjoyed hearing all of their voices and finding common ground between us. I hope to read more novels like this one in the future.

5/5 stars


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