New Anthology Highlights Horror by Black Women
by Sumiko Saulson
Imagine horror where black characters aren’t all tropes and the first to die; imagine a world written by black sisters where black women and femmes are in the starring roles. From flesh-eating plants to flesh eating bees; zombies to vampires to vampire-eating vampire hunters; ghosts, revenants, witches and werewolves, this book has it all. Cursed drums, cursed dolls, cursed palms, ancient spirits and goddesses create a nuanced world of Afrocentric and multicultural horror. Black Woman Magic is a collection of terrifying tales by seventeen of the scary sisters profiled in the reference guide 100 Black Women in Horror. The anthology is edited by Sumiko Saulson and published by Mocha Memoirs Press.
“Black Woman Magic is the natural spiritual root for our ancestral legacy in life. It is protection, warrior work, praise/worship, love or it is root-work meant to hex those who harm, cause mischief or to even bring about life lessons and mores. Black Magic Woman is badassness others want,” said Kai Leakes, author of the short story Sisters.
The new anthology runs the gamut from sleek urban fiction to hot horror erotica to gut wrenching terror to mystical dark fantasy. Within the urban fiction horror genre you’ll find Kai Leake’s story of vampire slaying siblings with a little something extra. Kenesha Williams’ Sisters is a tale of a magical detective hot on the trail of a serial killer who only seems to pick off the worse in society. Black and Deadly is Dicey Grenor’s epic Black Lives Matter revenge fantasy about a black goddess hellbent on justice.
“In the 21th century there are very still few characters like us, and out of this small pool many are post-modern “Step-and Fetchit” stereotypes. This is why speculative fiction is so important. This genre helps us to see outside reality, to say: what if? It helps us to imagine and create spectacular, wondrous realms, step back and find the beauty and wisdom there, and then transform our own space,” said Valjeanne Jeffers, author of the short story The Lost Ones.
Sometimes things are both scary and sexy, such as in The Lost Ones, Valjeanne Jeffers’ hot tale of a love-crazed werewolf, his soulmate, and a case of mistaken identity with a wayward succubus. Or Cinsearae’s Killer Queen, the story of a mysterious lady in yellow with a trail of dead would-be lovers and the detective who can’t seem to decide whether to nail her or “nail her,” and Dark Moon’s Curse, Delizhia Jenkins’ story about a player who meets a deadly supernatural femme fatale who is more than his match and may be the end of him.
“It’s always an honor to be included in a project like Black Magic Women. Most of us are in our own corner, writing and promoting, so this project gives us a chance to catch up on each other,” said Return to Me author Lori Titus.
Love gone wrong haunts Return to Me, Lori Titus’ tale of a newly empowered witch and the woman who asks her to cast a love spell on her wayward husband. Family love is found in the zombie apocalypse in the bittersweet story Trisha and Peter by Kamika Aziza. Grandma’s gift comes with unexpected consequences, usually found in the darkest corners of the Twilight Zone, in Crystal Connor’s Bryannah and the Magic Negro, and a young sorceress must learn to control her powers or risk destroying those she loves in Nicole Givens Kurtz’ magical tale Blood Magnolia.
“In a world where Black Women are portrayed to either be mammys, angry, or sassy, I’m so happy for a project like Black Magic Women where we get to be the heroes and maybe even the villains. So many times, because of our lack of portrayal in the media, it seems as if all Black Women characters must be paragons of virtue lest we “shame the community”. Embracing both sides of someone’s humanity, the good and the bad, is to allow them to be fully human. We shouldn’t have to be one end of the spectrum or the other, like all people, we are varying shades of gray and I think this anthology will show that,” said Kenesha Williams, author of Sweet Justice.
Some stories are not for the faint of heart. Sumiko Saulson’s Tango of a Telltale Heart is the story of an African drum engraved with Welsh incantations by the slave daughter of a plantation owner, giving it but one power – to avenge rape, but at a terrible cost. Left Hand Torment by R.J. Joseph tells the tale of Dominque, a young woman who’s marriage prospects at the Quadroon Ball soon turn into the darkest of imaginable horrors. Alternative is a work of horror-science fiction by Tabitha Thompson about a new miracle birth control with grisly and unwanted side effects. Labor Pains by Kenya Moss-Dyme pits a mystical madwoman against her sociopathic killer husband.
And sometimes you just don’t know who to trust. In Nuzo Onoh’s Death Lines, a young woman born with no lifelines on her palms trusts no one, because death is clearly stalking her. Here, Kitty! by L.M. Moore is the story of a sweet old lady, her beloved pet and a friendly stranger. The Prizewinner by Alledria Hurt is about a domestic, her employer, a strange, enticing woman, and a garden of surprisingly unique prizewinning flowers. Last, but certainly not least, is Mina Polina’s Appreciation, a story about an office crush that turns into something more painfully intimidating than anyone could have expected.
Black Magic Women, a horror anthology showcasing eighteen stories by different black female authors, is an outgrowth of a five year old project called Black Women in Horror Fiction originally organized by Iconoclast Productions for Women in Horror Month (2013). Originally a blog series consisting of interviews with and biographies of black women who write horror, in 2014 it became a reference book called 60 Black Women in Horror. February 2018 marks the release of a new, more comprehensive list, 100 Black Women in Horror. The new list is also slated for a February 15 release.
About the Author: Sumiko Saulson is Sumiko Saulson is a horror, sci-fi and dark fantasy writer, winner of the StokerCon Scholarship from Hell and 2nd Place Carry the Light Sci-Fi Short Story Award. Born to African-American and Russian-Jewish parents, she is a native Californian and has spent most of her adult life in the Bay Area. She ranked 6th place in the Next Great Horror Writer Contest.