Book Review: Sister, Maiden, Monster by Lucy A. Snyder

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

Sister, Maiden, Monster by Lucy A. Snyder

Mogsy’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Genre: Horror

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Tor Nightfire (February 21, 2023)

Length: 272 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

A deadly pandemic. Lovecraftian gods. Graphic sex and violent gore. Sister, Maiden, Monster is an apocalyptic tale of cosmic horror unfolding in the middle of an outbreak of PVG, or polymorphic viral gastroencephalitis. Told in three parts, it follows the lives of a trio of women who each take on the title roles in their own unique way.

The night Erin was diagnosed with PVG started off as the best day of her life. Her boyfriend Gregory had just proposed, and they had celebrated with a sushi dinner and a fancy desert, but by the end of that night, Erin had fallen horribly ill. After waking up in the hospital, she discovers she was one of the lucky ones who survived, but having been infected and recovered also means the virus has irrevocably changed her forever. For one, she now must consume brain matter for sustenance, and can become volatile if her cravings aren’t brought under control. Living with Gregory is out of the question now, of course, and forget about ever starting a family.

Next we meet Savannah, a sex worker and dominatrix in whom the virus had manifested in very different ways, turning her into a rampaging murderess who gets off on brutally killing off her clients. Believing she has been raised to a higher calling by her new gods to be an archivist, she revels in being a repository for the memories and experiences of the people she’s devoured.  And in the third section, readers follow Mareva, Erin’s coworker who has become sickly and suffers from multiple tumors, but as it turns out, everything that is happening to her might be just a single symptom of a grander plan.

While each character is affected differently by the infection, there are nevertheless parallels between their struggles. The story’s themes are also undeniably feminist, concerning the female experience as the narrative explores the choices of the three women and the manner in which they deal with the changes to their lives. Erin, Savannah, and Mareva are all connected to each other in some way, so even though the stories may seem disjointed at first, eventually the book progresses through the three different parts and we start to see the threads that bind them together and perhaps even begin to glean the ultimate purpose behind the virus.

Getting inside the minds of the three women was also fascinating, but they were often dark places to be. Fair warning, this book is not for the faint of heart. Full of visceral horror with gory descriptions that can hedge into the downright disgusting, I can see that being a contentious issue for some readers, not to mention there’s also a fair amount of sexual content—very messy, very graphic sexual content.

There’s not much else to say about this one without running the risk of spoiling things, except that it’s definitely not going to be for everyone. Reasons to avoid it might be 1) if you are not a fan of body horror or splatterpunk type books due to some of the extreme violence and gore, or 2) if like me you are getting a little tired of pandemic-themed books. It feels like every other book I pick up these days involves a deadly outbreak, but alas I don’t see this post-COVID trend ending any time soon. On the other hand, if you’re interested in trying out a different sort of feminist fiction and enjoy horror stories that are gross and weird, Sister, Maiden, Monster might be right up your alley.

17 Comments on “Book Review: Sister, Maiden, Monster by Lucy A. Snyder”

  1. Pandemic-oriented stories have become more a nuisance than anything else, making me wonder why authors cannot find other means to create a post-apocalyptic scenario. Add to this the “disgusting” scenes you quotes, and I think I might happily skip this one…
    Thanks for sharing! 🙂


    • Writers write about what they know, and unfortunately the whole world has been through the pandemic and now everyone has an idea for a story. For better or worse I think we’ll be seeing more pandemic oriented stories for years to come!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I just mentioned on Tammy’s review of this one that I’ll likely pass it by for now but can remember a time when I was younger that I’ve have loved to give this a try. Based on some of the descriptions I was comparing it to my memories of some early Clive Barker. Not sure if those are valid comparisons, though.


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