Patrick and Brennan had the pleasure of hosting Jessica Guess, Author of “Cirque Berserk”, on this week’s episode of Dead Headspace Podcast! We also invited her to share with us her Top 5 Recommended reads and Top 5 Recommended movies to watch right now. Check out her answers below, and read through to the end for a chance to win a FREE GIVEAWAY copy of Jessica’s Book, “Cirque Berserk”.
I want to start by thanking Patrick, Brennan, and the Dead Head Reviews team for having me on their podcast this week. We had an awesome conversation about diversity and inclusivity in publishing, horror movies, and my novella Cirque Berserk. For listeners, I know that sometimes there’s a desire to read or watch more diverse stories, but it’s not always so easy to find them. I wanted to share a few recommendations to get you started in expanding your horror horizons.
Below are some books and movies written, directed by, or staring people for marginalized groups that will satisfy any horror junkie.
– Jessica Guess
5 Recommended Reads from Jessica:
- My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite – This novel was one of my favorite reads of last year. Unconventional and chilling, Braithwaite weaves a tale of family duty, sibling rivalry, and murder set in Nigeria. It tells the story of Korede, whose main job, besides working at the hospital is to clean up her sister’s murder-y messes. Ayoola is beautiful and desirable but just can’t seem to stop killing her boyfriends.
- The Last Final Girl by Stephen Graham Jones – Stephen Graham Jones is a familiar name in the horror community, and he doesn’t need my recommendation, but he’s getting it anyway. This novel inspired Cirque Berserk in some ways because it made me see that you can write a slasher in a way that feels like you’re watching a movie. Styled in some parts like a script, Jones’ novel feels like a trip to the drive-in in the ‘80s to see your favorite slasher; only, he’s wearing a Michael Jackson mask.
- The Book of Night Women by Marlon James – This recommendation may be surprising to some people because it’s technically not classified as a horror novel, though I’m not sure why. This book is terrifying. It’s heartbreaking. It literally tore me apart while reading it and I had to take a week to recoup. The Book of Night Women is the story of Lilith, a headstrong teenage slave living on a sugar plantation in 1700’s Jamaica. Being Jamaican myself, the novel hit me in a way that I’m still not sure I recovered from. There are scenes from this novel that scared me more than any Stephen King book. It’s brutal, bloody, and reveals the true horror of slavery in the Caribbean.
- Benny Rose the Cannibal King by Hailey Piper – Hailey Piper is one of my Rewind or Die sisters and her novella, Benny Rose the Cannibal King is one of my favorites in the series. Part urban legend, part slasher, part zombie tale, this novella has enough blood and gore for any horror fan. It has some of the quintessential conventions of an 80’s slasher, but Piper finds ways to subvert old tropes and make them new. The story is refreshing, original, and it’ll keep you up at night.
- Invisible Chains by Michelle Renee Lane – Lane’s novel is the second on the list that takes place during slavery, but this time in the antebellum South of the United States. Personally, I like a little romance with my horror, and if that’s you as well, then this novel is for you. Packed with suspense, mysticism, and historical horror, Invisible Chains is a bone-chilling read for any horror or dark fantasy fans.
5 Recommended Horror Movies from Jessica:
- Sweetheart (available on Netflix and Amazon) Sweetheart was one of my favorite movies of 2019. So much so that I wrote about it for my blog. Written and directed by J.D. Dillard, Sweetheart tells the story of Jenn, the seemingly sole survivor of a shipwreck. She washes up on a deserted island with little hope of rescue, but things go from bad to worse when she realizes she’s not alone. I don’t want to spoil too much but there is a lot to like about this movie.
- Tigers Are Not Afraid (available on Shudder) Whenever you have children involved in a horror movie, the tension is automatically high. Add to that the real-life peril of children living amidst a cartel warzone where parents disappear without a trace and schools are closed because of raining bullets. Issa López could have stopped there and had a perfectly fine drama about the effects of violence on children, but she goes further by adding ghostly elements and magical realism creating a truly haunting movie.
- The Purge: Anarchy (available for rent on Amazon) I wrote about The Purge Anarchy when I did my review of The First Purge a few years ago, but I’ll echo my sentiments here. Though many might dismiss the Purge movies as a mindless bloodbath or excuse to show murderous mayhem, I couldn’t disagree more. The Purge series, especially The Purge: Anarchy and The First Purge are allegories about race and class in America. The messages are especially relevant today.
- Little Monsters (available on Hulu) If you like zombie movies, then Little Monsters is for you. It stars Lupita Nyong’o as Miss Caroline, a kindergarten teacher who is stuck with her class on a farm during a zombie outbreak. She is accompanied by Dave, an unfit chaperone who has a crush on her and is not very good at taking care of children. This movie is a fun zombie flick for those who like horror-comedies.
- Doctor Sleep (available for rent on Amazon) Another one of my favorites from 2019. I know that Stephen King adaptions don’t really need that much buzz, but I have to shout this one out for tow reasons: Rose the Hat and Abra. This sequel to The Shining does a great job of standing on its own while paying homage to its predecessor, but Rose the Hat is the villain that nightmares are made of and Abra, the Black, teenage heroine of the story is captivating to watch. Danny Torrence is the star of this movie but Abra and Rose steal the show.
Jessica Guess is a writer and English teacher who hails from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She earned her Creative Writing MFA from Minnesota State University, Mankato in 2018 and is the founder of the website Black Girl’s Guide to Horror where she examines horror movies in terms of quality and intersectionality. Her creative work has been featured in Luna Station Quarterly and Mused BellaOnline Literary Review. Her debut novella, Cirque Berserk, is available for purchase on Amazon. You can get weekly content from Jessica by joining her Patreon at www.patreon.com/JessicaGuess.
GIVEAWAY DETAILS BELOW
TO ENTER THE FREE GIVEAWAY AND WIN A COPY OF JESSICA GUESS’S “CIRQUE BERSERK” NOVELLA:
Leave a comment below telling us which of Jessica’s Top 5 Books you’ve recently read and enjoyed, or which of her Top 5 Books you’re looking forward to reading!
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