Review: “Among Their Bright Eyes” by Alaya Dawn Johnson

3 of 5 stars.

The personification of self-loathing, especially queer self-loathing, is embodied by the unnamed monster in this tale that purports to be the requested companion of Frankenstein’s monster. The “bride” of Frankenstein is, like the original monster, created from an amalgam of parts from many bodies of both genders. She despises her body and life and is tormented by the happy married-with-a-kid remnant memories of her borrowed male brain.

I am an abomination, a wild assembly of wasted, fetid things–a whore of borrowed parts. How could I want this life? And yet, how can I end it?

The narrating monster especially loathes her dead eyes that she has in common with her more famous partner monster. But she is better at controlling or hiding her murderous rage. She withdraws from humans with their “bright eyes.” One human, Kaapi, seemingly devoted to the male monster, turns out to be a deformed hermaphrodite shunned by those around her. . .

The camaraderie between the two transgender outcasts is both unfortunate in circumstance and treatment, though historically and culturally appropriate.

This tale is included in Creatures: Thirty Years of Monsters edited by John Langan and Paul Tremblay after first appearing in Fantasy Magazine. Previously, I’d read Johnson’s well-written “A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai’i”.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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