February 2015 is the 6th annual women in horror month.
February is the month of love and romance. When I think of February and Valentine’s Day, I visualize Cupid. With his bow and arrow. Arrows are weapons that penetrate flesh and draw blood. Sooo… that brings me to another tidbit about February—it is also Women in Horror Month. How to blend the love and hate, the kisses with the kills?
Well, there are great women writers who have managed to do both, where looks can be deceiving and love is often blind. The female characters in these stories are good and bad, sweet and salty. They will dish out whatever they are backhanded. They have dark feelings and fears that every woman can identify with in some capacity.
Gillian Flynn wrote Gone Girl, a novel about one wreck of a marriage. Nick hits a rock in the marital road when his wife, Amy, goes missing. Nick becomes the prime suspect. Toward the second half of the book, we see that there is more to Nick’s story than meets the eye. I’d say Cupid hit his mark with Nick and Amy, but the wicked arrow went way too deep.
Helen Oyeyemi’s Mr. Fox, tells the story about Mr. Fox, a husband and writer who likes to gruesomely kill off his heroines. His fictional muse, Mary Foxe, lives in Mr. Fox’s alternate reality and in his writings. However, Mary becomes so real that his wife, Daphne, suspects him of having an affair and Mr. Fox is left with an ultimatum; who to kill and who to love. Cupid was so confused; he drew his arrow, closed his eyes and hoped for the best.
In Rebecca, by Dauphine du Maurier, Cupid shot a poison tipped arrow at Maximilian and Rebecca. Rebecca was a treacherous woman and she tormented her husband while her “skull-faced” housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers stood loyally at her side, even after Rebecca’s death. The story’s young narrator is never named and she marries the widower, Maximilian De Winter, a wealthy Englishman, and moves into his estate haunted by Rebecca and reigned over by the sinister Mrs. Danvers. (I would argue that Mrs. Danvers was possessed by the dead Rebecca.)
Anne Rice’s The Mummy, introduces us to Julie Stratford and her dysfunctional British family. Julie’s father is a shipping magnate and the sarcophagus of Ramses II arrives at the family home where the mummy awakens from his sleep. Enter Cupid whose arrow strikes Julie and Ramses like Cleopatra’s asp. Enter Cleopatra, who rises from the dead with half a brain and goes on a murderous rampage. Look out, Cupid.
These women of horror have mastered the suspension of disbelief, the supernatural or preternatural, and the love triangle. They incorporated love and jealousy, passion and death, hope and remorse. I can identify.