Bound in Flesh is a trans horror anthology that brings together thirteen body horror stories to explore the extreme limits of flesh, gender, and humanity. From people exploring their desires, as weird and body horrific as they might be, to those just looking to exist in a body, there’s a huge amount of variety in the stories in this anthology, despite the fairly niche theme of trans body horror, both in terms of plots and general vibes.
The opening story, ‘Wormspace’ by LC von Hessen, is a great way to set the tone, delving into weird desires and changing your body (and has a fantastic ending). One of my favourite stories in the collection is ‘The Haunting of Aiden Finch’ by Theo Hendrie, due to the way it uses the format of transition-charting videos to tell a horror story, one which is perhaps more slow burn and ominous than others in the book and with some creepypasta vibes. ‘Mama Is A Butcher’ by Winter Holmes takes a story of acceptance with a Frankenstein-type theme and makes it a friendship story, with the sort of lingering ending that you want from good body horror where the image feels seared into your head.
Though not all of them jumped out at me quite as much, there weren’t any stories that I didn’t like in the collection or any that I found too hard to get into. There’s some really great, twisted ways in which the stories use body horror as a lens to consider transness, for example if you are forcibly shape-shifted into the wrong gender, but also stories like the closing piece, ‘Looking For The Big Death’ by Taliesin Neith, in which the body becomes a different kind of place, something to desire death but also, it seems, resist it, and being trans is just a part of that complexity.
Trans horror is one of the best kinds of horror (of course) and this anthology shows some of the wealth of options for using trans writers using body horror as a way to tell stories, whether directly or not about being trans. There’s lots for body horror fans and lots for trans horror fans, and plenty to wince at in general.
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