Growing Some Backbone

Growing Some BackboneA review of Marie Bilodeau’s “Hellmaw: Eye of Glass.” (The Ed Greenwood Group Inc., 2016)

By Derek Newman-Stille

There’s nothing quite so monstrous as finding a detached human head and spine in a back alley. Only something truly monstrous could do that kind of harm to a human being… but what if the detached head and spine ARE the monster and the victim at the same time? What if it has wriggled out of another world into a complicated interaction between humans and daemons?

Marie Bilodeau’s “Hellmaw: Eye of Glass” is a mixture of mystery, urban fantasy, and a taste of horror. Evoking dismemberment, Bilodeau complicates ideas of body horror by creating a sympathetic dismembered body in a complicated relationship with the world of “whole” bodies around her and the relationships they represent to each other and to her understanding of the world. However, Jaeda doesn’t think of herself as an incomplete body. She recognizes that there is a wholeness in bodies even when they don’t conform to a society’s expectations of “normalcy” and “wholeness”. 

Jaeda is the centre of a series of mysteries – those of the conspiracy theorists who have created an online chat forum about unusual circumstances, the police detective who is trying to discover what happened to the head and spine that went missing from the morgue… but most of all, she is a mystery to herself. Awakened without existing memories of her home world or her life before becoming a head and spine, Jaeda is uncertain about herself and how she relates to the people and cultures around her, but she is driven by a fundamental curiosity and this curiosity, that sense of wonder about everything around her, allows her to develop friendships across species because every experience is new to her.

“Hellmaw: Eye of Glass” is a clash of species and diverse bodies that leaves everyone uncertain and fundamentally changed. This is not a body horror story, this is a story of bodily wonder and mystery.

To discover more about the work of Marie Bilodeau, visit her website at

To find out more about the Hellmaw series, visit or

Derek Newman-Stille

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