Released February 25, 2021
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“Older women make killer lovers…”
Blake Swanson answered an ad for a job as a farmhand, but when he arrives for his interview, Lily, the widow who placed the ad, seduces him. He forgets everything but Lily as he falls down a rabbit hole of sex and terror.
Eva Bright is following a true crime scoop for a book, and infiltrates a cult run by a woman named Lily Maenad via a job posting. Working as Lily’s assistant, Eva knows she’s stumbled into something bigger than a doomsday cult. Lily isn’t just some nut in the woods trying to convince people she’s the next Messiah.
Eva teams up with a hopeless young man who has been drained by Lily, but are they enough to stop the terrors going on?
Horror reading and publishing has been going through a renaissance. Many readers are getting away from those doorstop horror novels and opting for the slim, fast paced novellas. Novellas have been really changing the way that we read and write horror because it shows that a story can be 100 pages long and have impact and that the plot does not have to go on for 300 pages to be a great story. The novellas being published by Unnerving are a perfect example of this. With their Rewind or Die novellas, they have published many great novellas and writers. “She Ain’t Pretty” is number 25 in the series.
The story starts with Blake needing a job and applying to help a widow, Lily, as a farmhand. As soon as he interviews, it turns into Lily seducing him and making him her servant. Blake did not know that Lily is actually running a sex cult when he arrived, but Eva did. She is on assignment to write a nonfiction, tell-all book about Lily and her cult. She applies for an assistant position to get close to the lady, and when she starts to peel back the layers of the cult, she realizes that escape is her only choice.
I was totally immersed in Renee Miller’s novella from pretty much the beginning. When it is revealed early on that this was all a cult, and that the entire novella was going to be sex and horror, I was hooked. There are some really gruesome scenes and discoveries, and even though the final resolution feels a little anticlimactic, there is no way that I can put this book down and just forget about it.
For as great as novellas have been, the one downfall is when you have a story like this and you just want more. I want more of Lily’s backstory. I want more of the farm. I want more characters that have crossed her and not survived. This could be a doorstop horror novel, 400 pages novel, and I would love it just as much.
I received this as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.