Review: “Death in the Mouth: Original Horror by People of Color” edited by Sloane Leong and Cassie Hart

Release Date: October 1, 2022
Genre: Anthologies, Horror


What is horror to those living in the margins?

Where terror is systematized and in the very air everyone happily breathes?

A misheard word.

The thud of boots.

An impossible color.

A foreign growth.

Death in the Mouth is a collection of horror stories and art showcasing BIPOC and ethnically marginalized storytellers from around the world. You’ll read stories featuring grotesque manifestations of dread, the enveloping sludge of grief, and the insectoid itch of deep-seated fear. Embodiments of mania and displacements of faith. Harrowing ecstasy and debilitating hope. Transgressions of the body, the spirit, and the community. Unique and terrifying alien mythology from the future. Quiet, creeping absurdities. Weird urban legends from secondary worlds.

In this anthology, Sloane Leong and Cassie Hart bring you an incredible range of stories and illustrations that celebrate the voices of those overlooked to show you the terrifying and exquisite scope of what horror can be.

My Thoughts

What began as a kickstarter is now a full-fledged short story anthology. And it’s an absolute must-read for fans of horror.

“What is horror?” The cover copy poses this question and the opening illustrations answer in a beautiful, vivid way. In fact, the illustrations scattered throughout are shocking and gorgeous. I can’t pick out a single piece I love more, but if anyone ever decides to sell individual prints I’d bet they’d make a mint.

The stories are also great. There is a balanced mix of lesser known voices and heavy hitters here with writers known in YA, adult SFF/H, and short speculative fiction. I read a lot of short spec fic—as you probably already know—and most of these names were at least familiar to me, but those of you who aren’t active in that space will have the joy of discovering a ton of fantastic creatives.

The full list of authors and artists is below and each deserves to be consumed, preferably at night and smothered in a soft blanket to keep the chills from overwhelming you. However, there are a few stories that I strongly recommend you read. Yah Yah Scholfield, a FIYAH alum whose work I always seek out, has a story that begins with “I am seven years old when my father nearly drowns me.” and only gets more intense from there. Catherine Yu’s debut novel Direwood just came out and is hella good (I’m reviewing it in the coming months for Locus Magazine), and if you need a taste of her work check out her story, about a girl with a “Dreadful Secret” she tries to keep hidden away in a balloon. Another story with a fantastic opener is Amarantha Sepulveda Durán’s: “When you were born, your mother built you from coral and corpses and blood from her opened veins. She cut her heart out to bring you to life, and setting you free bound her in chains.” I mean, come on! It’s been a while since I’ve gotten to read a new Darcie Little Badger short story, and this one about a mysterious mountain and people who go missing is a wonderful return.

I could go on and on, but really, I’ve told you everything you need to know. Buy it now. Now! To paraphrase Death in the Mouth, horror truly is our inheritance and birthright.

Jolie Toomajan – “Water Goes, Sand Remains”, with art by Jabari Weathers

Yah Yah Scholfield – “They Will Take Up Serpents”, with art by Makoto Chi

Isha Karki – “Welcome to Labyrinth”, with art by Natalie Hall

Endria Richardson – “Wind Up Teeth”, with art by Tsulala

Johnny Compton – “No Hungry Generations”, with art by Pierre Roset

Arasibo Campeche – “Drowned in Mindfulness”, with art by Michael Deforge

K-Ming Chang – “The Three Resurrections of my Grandfather”, with art by Sloane Hong

Reno Evangelista – “Her Apocrypha”, with art by Jess Hara

Catherine Yu – “Balloon Girl”, with art by Joy San

Daphne Fama – “The Pleiades”, with art by Alicia Feng

Beatrice Iker- “They’ll Keep You Gestated”, with art by Molly Mendoza

Cassie Hart – “She”, with art by Weiwei Xu

C Pam Zang – “Alice or Rose or Aurora or Allerleuirah or Belle, on the Occasion of the Burial of the Beast”, with art by Charlotte Gomez

P. H. Low – “Tongue is a Void”, with art by JaeHoon Choi

Kelsea Yu – “The Obedient Son”, with art by Audrey Murty

JL Akagi – “Henry Watanabe and the Wandering Hand”, with art by Bhanu Pratap

Amaranta Sepulveda Durán – “The Mother-Wound”, with art by Vivian Magaña

Sloane Leong – “Paradise”, with art by Solomon Enos

Rivers Solomon – “Some of us are Grapefruit”, with art by Junko Mizuno

Ras Cutlass – “Melinda and the Grub”, with art by Naomi Butterfield

R.S.A. Garcia – “A Bonfire in the Night”, with art by Zhang Hetian

Jessica Cho – “On Tattered Wings”, with art by Lina Wu

M. L. Krishnan – “The Eggshell Sanctuary”, with art by Julie Benbassat

Priya Chand – “Never Lie to Me” with art by Congming

Karin Lowachee – “The Black Hole of Beaumort”, with art by Allissa Chan

Darcie Little Badger – “Homebody”, with art by Apolo Cacho

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