13 female horror writers you should read

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Helen Oyeyemi (Image by Saneesh Sukumaran)

9.) Helen Oyeyemi

Novelist Helen Oyeyemi is perhaps best known for her gentle, fairytale-like narratives. Read her work for only a short while, however, and you will soon learn that Oyeyemi has no qualms about exploring the ugly side of humanity. Having been born in Nigeria, grown up in London, and lived throughout Europe and North America, Oyeyemi has a lifetime of experiences that inform her work.

Her novels include Witch is for Witching, a Gothic tale of women, history, and a rambling English house; Mr. Fox, in which an author becomes inextricably linked with his complicated fairy tales; and Boy, Snow, Bird, an unsettling tale that takes its cues both from Snow White and the racial upheavals that have plagued American history.

Where to start
Boy, Snow, Bird. Oyeyemi’s 2015 novel follows Boy Novak, a woman who enters small town Massachusetts in 1953. After marrying Arturo Whitman, she becomes a step-mother to his daughter, Snow. Later, she gives birth to Bird, another daughter. However, Bird is dark-skinned. Though Boy is initially accused of infidelity, it soon becomes clear that the Whitmans are light-skinned African-Americans passing for white. What follows is a moving tale of race and estranged family, in which Boy finds herself becoming a wicked stepmother.