Reed's Recommendation Corner: Moonflowers & Nightshade, Edited by Samantha Kolesnik


The title text frames a woman standing in brambles wearing a white dress. Her hair is pulled loosely in a pony tail and it obscures her face.
Moonflowers & Nightshade, Edited by Samantha Kolesnik

Horror comes in all genders, all sexualities. Sometimes, horror is the person you meet at the bar, even as they save your life. Sometimes, it's the communities we live in, and the lengths we will go to to make sure that our oleander is award-winning. Sometimes, it's standing between life and death, and learning you don't know everything about the person you choose to spend the rest of eternity with. 

This short story collection has a little bit of everything in it for the horror lover. Revenge. After life. Angels. Devils. Fairy courts with strange appetites. I was really impressed with the breadth of stories in this collection, and the way they are presented. I was glad there were no introductions for these stories - they definitely didn't need them. They spoke for themselves. I couldn't put it down, and some of the stories infected my dreams (as good horror should). 

This collection's writing was deliriously beautiful. There were turns of phrase that haunted me, so much so that I actually got a highlighter out (gasp!) and made sure to note of them. I'm going to include a few of them here, without context, because I definitely think they deserve to be called out. 

First, from "We Have Made a Home Beyond Death" by Tiffany Morris:

We were Lazarus perfect in our becoming, springlike, bringing forth flower garlands twisted from our uncertain revenant hands.

Two souls lost in an accident, moving beyond their demise and keeping house in between the border of life and death. I enjoyed the mystery of the life before and how they continue after. We never really know about the people we are with. 

From "Consummation of the Wasp" by Christina Ladd: 

My nameless place was filled with wings and crawling.

This particular quote made me think of Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth. The sensuality of this particular piece made me shiver, even as I was horrified by this young girl at a party of college students.  

There is another, surreal story: "Common Oleander" by Rae Knowles which highlights the fact that horror can be just be what is normal for some. It's seeing it from the outside, watching as two women bring someone into their garden, to help them take care of it, and the consequences of his arrival. 

The story "Dex" by Ali Seay really hit my heart. As someone who was abused, this story skirted close to trauma territory. There were times in my healing work that I felt like I needed revenge against the person who hurt me - and this beautiful woman finds her nonbinary avenger. 

Altogether, this collection was beautiful, haunting, and full of the kind of literary word play that really made my heart sing.