The Ladies of Horror Fiction team is pleased to present the 2021 Ladies of Horror Fiction Award Nominees for Best Debut.
The nominees are:
The Other Black Girl, Zakiya Dalila Harris
When the Reckoning Comes, LaTanya McQueen
Queen of Teeth, Hailey Piper
The Forest, Lisa Quigley
Tidepool, Nicole Willson
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
Get Out meets The Stepford Wives in this electric debut about the tension that unfurls when two young Black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of New York City book publishing.
Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she’s thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust.
Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.
It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there’s a lot more at stake than just her career.
A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary that is perfect for anyone who has ever felt manipulated, threatened, or overlooked in the workplace, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.
When the Reckoning Comes by LaTanya McQueen
A haunting novel about a black woman who returns to her hometown for a plantation wedding and the horror that ensues as she reconnects with the blood-soaked history of the land and the best friends she left behind.
More than a decade ago, Mira fled her small, segregated hometown in the south to forget. With every mile she traveled, she distanced herself from her past: from her best friend Celine, mocked by their town as the only white girl with black friends; from her old neighborhood; from the eerie Woodsman plantation rumored to be haunted by the spirits of slaves; from the terrifying memory of a ghost she saw that terrible day when a dare-gone-wrong almost got Jesse—the boy she secretly loved—arrested for murder.
But now Mira is back in Kipsen to attend Celine’s wedding at the plantation, which has been transformed into a lush vacation resort. Mira hopes to reconnect with her friends, and especially, Jesse, to finally tell him the truth about her feelings and the events of that devastating long-ago day.
But for all its fancy renovations, the Woodsman remains a monument to its oppressive racist history. The bar serves antebellum drinks, entertainments include horrifying reenactments, and the service staff is nearly all black. Yet the darkest elements of the plantation’s past have been carefully erased—rumors that slaves were tortured mercilessly and that ghosts roam the lands, seeking vengeance on the descendants of those who tormented them, which includes most of the wedding guests.
As the weekend unfolds, Mira, Jesse, and Celine are forced to acknowledge their history together, and to save themselves from what is to come.
Queen of Teeth by Hailey Piper
Within forty-eight hours, Yaya Betancourt will go from discovering teeth between her thighs to being hunted by one of the most powerful corporations in America.
She assumes the vagina dentata is a side effect of a rare genetic condition caused by AlphaBeta Pharmaceutical, decades ago, when she and several thousand others were still in the womb.
But, when ABP corporate goons upend her life, she realizes her secondary teeth might be evidence of a new experiment for which she’s the most advanced test tube… a situation worsened when Yaya’s condition sprouts horns, tentacles, and a mind of its own.
On the run and transforming, Yaya may be either ABP’s greatest success, or the deadliest failure science has ever created.
The Forest by Lisa Quigley
Everyone in Edgewood believes their annual tithes at the fall festival are what purchase Edgewood’s safety, but as Faye and her husband prepare to take over as town stewards—a long tradition carried out by her family for generations—they learn the terrible truth: in order to guarantee the town’s safety, the forest demands an unthinkable sacrifice.
In the midst of everything, Faye is secretly battling debilitating postpartum anxiety that makes her all the more terrified to leave the safe cocoon of her enchanted town.
When everyone turns against her—including her own husband—Faye is forced to flee with her infant son into the forest. She must face whatever lurks there and, perhaps most frightening of all, the dark torments of her own mind.
The Forest is an adult folk horror novel appealing to fans of ‘The Lottery’ by Shirley Jackson and Bird Box by Josh Malerman, with a hint of The Changeling by Victor LaValle. It is Quigley’s debut novel.
Tidepool by Nicole Willson
If ye give not willingly, the Lords will rise…
In 1913, Henry Hamilton disappeared while on a business trip, and his sister, Sorrow, won’t rest until she finds out what happened to him. Defying her father’s orders to remain at home, she travels to Tidepool, the last place Henry is known to have visited. Residents of the small, shabby oceanside town can’t quite meet Sorrow’s eyes when she asks about her brother.
When corpses wash up on shore looking as if they’ve been torn apart by something not quite human, Sorrow is ready to return to Baltimore and let her father send in the professional detectives.
However, after meeting Ada Oliver, a widow whose black silk dresses and elegant manners set her apart from other Tidepool residents, Sorrow discovers Tidepool’s dark, deadly secret.
With this discovery, some denizens of Tidepool—human and otherwise—are hell-bent on making sure Sorrow never leaves their forsaken town.
Lovecraftian dark fantasy gets a modern treatment in this terrifying debut novel.
The Ladies of Horror Fiction Award winners will be announced later this month!