A Review of “She Walks in Shadows” Edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles (Innsmouth Free Press, 2015).
By Derek Newman-Stille
“She Walks in Shadows” opens up a space of question and critique of Lovecraftian fiction, subversively playing with the tales of H.P. Lovecraft to create a shadow text to his work. The women who wrote this anthology delve into Lovecraftian ideas and modes of expression to pull out the creeping horror of Lovecraft and the power of fear while critiquing Lovecraft’s colonial, racist, and sexist ideologies. They use the power of their own writing to explore those shadowy edges of Lovecraftian manuscripts, pulling the essential otherness out of his texts and playing with the things that Lovecraft would have feared most.
“She Walks in Shadows” is a brilliant example of the power to use othered voices to add to the complexity of a mythos, inserting new perspectives into the fiction of a dead author. Editors Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles collected a series of stories that perform a necromantic act, resurrecting Lovecraft while changing him, modifying him, and allowing his mythos to include voices that he wouldn’t have included. These texts capture the creeping darkness and uncertainty that Lovecraft bled into his work – the cosmic horror that causes readers to question and critique their position in relationship to a universe that is so much larger than us and in comparison to which we are insignificant. They capture the horror of looking into the cosmic void and realising that we are tiny, silent voices in a universe that is largely uninterested in us. These texts explore the horror of insignificance and uncertainty. They capture the power of the complex world to show us our own simplicity… and they show us that sometimes the most complex things about us are our fears.
These texts capture all of Lovecraft’s countercultural potential while disassembling (perhaps even dismembering) Lovecraft’s sexism, homophobia, colonial attitude and racism by proposing a more complex world. These are tales that disturb easy narratives of hegemonic control, that delve into the inky darkness and pull out all of the voices that have been pushed there and silenced by a society that favours only certain voices.
To find out more about She Walks in Shadows, visit Innsmouth Free Press’ website at http://www.innsmouthfreepress.com/blog/books/she-walks-in-shadows/