No matter how awful your experience of COVID-19 was, in Sister, Maiden, Monster, Lucy A. Snyder goes all out to speculate how it could have been so, so much worse.

Sister, Maiden, Monster follows the progress of a deadly pandemic, from the perspective of three different women. Erin, recently engaged to Gregory, is quarantined due to her illness, and finds a new relationship with a woman. She also develops an appetite for brains. Literally, she wants to chomp away on the old gray matter. If at this point, this seems like it’s too much, you might want to step away…

You’re still here? Good. So the next part follows Savannah, a sex worker, who gets off on brutally murdering people to appease her new gods. And then in the final part, we discover the true, horrific nature of the pandemic through Mareva, Erin’s quiet, former colleague. And oh man, Mareva has a hell of a role to fulfill in all this madness. This book has such a brutal ending, but the last line made me laugh out loud. 

Sister, Maiden, Monster is absolutely not for the faint-hearted. It is disgusting (in a good way); Synder creates some incredibly messy images. The intensity really ramps up as the novel progresses.

I loved how the characters were interlinked, and came back around. Erin especially has an incredible story arc. In some respects, you have to suspend belief to fully immerse yourself in this novel, but at the same time certain things will seem disturbingly familiar. 

For example, the first section made some really strong points in the first section concerning how birth control responsibility is placed on the women. Women who catch the disease are instructed to get an IUD to prevent conception, but Erin’s question whether male victims are given vasectomies is dismissed as ridiculous. 

As is so often the case, I felt my reading experience was enhanced by fantastic audiobook narrators. Arielle DeLisle, Katherine Littrell, and Lindsey Dorcus all delivered great performances, and ensured that the story felt authentic, despite how ridiculous things became.

If you like weird, gory horror with a feminist bent and some twisted sapphic relationships, you will love Sister, Maiden, Monster. This book is not for the faint-hearted, and I loved it. 

Sister, Maiden, Monster is released on February 21st, 2023.

Thanks to Macmillan Audio/Tor Nightfire for the ARC

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