In the second volume of Weird Women, editors Lisa Morton and Leslie S. Klinger offer another thought-provoking collection of 16 short horror and science fiction stories by both iconic and overlooked women writers. In "The Lifted Veil" by George Eliot, a man falls under the mysterious and deadly spell of his brother's fiancée. Meanwhile, in "The Dead and the Countess" by Gertrude Atherton, a priest struggles to perform the last rituals for a dead countess. In the collection's perhaps best-known piece, "Spunk," the incomparable storyteller Zora Neale Hurston recounts the suspicious tale of one woman's unusual courtship through the eyes of the porch-gossips who can't stop watching her.
Covering not only 75-plus years but a broad expanse of regional writers, Weird Women: Volume 2 offers a tasting flight of sorts for English-language horror and science fiction enthusiasts. While better-known writers like Harriet Beecher Stowe are included in the anthology, so are gems such as Mrs. S.C. Hall's "The Drowned Fisherman," which have disappeared from the mainstream literary canon. And while most of these stories include macabre subject matter and neo-gothic tones, other pieces, like Edith Wharton's "The Fulness of Life," are more lightly satirical. Most striking, however, are these stories' abilities to masquerade as genre fiction while treading politically and culturally controversial ground. From reevaluations of the femme fatale to condemnations of the unseen evils of men, these "weird" works display their authors' expertise in covertly commenting on the real and gendered horrors that undergird society. --Alice Martin, freelance writer and editor