The Horror Zine Review
by Rachel Coles
|Paperback: 268 pages
Publisher: JournalStone (February 10, 2012)
Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
by Rachel Coles
Review by Jeani Rector
Pazuzu’s Girl by Rachel Coles is a unique story, and that is positive praise indeed when I can say I have never read anything quite like it. As the editor of The Horror Zine, I see a lot of fiction. But none quite like Pazuzu’s Girl, and so this book is a standout.
For one thing, some of the characters are right out of the popular role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons, and Coles brings these characters to life beautifully. Pazuzu is the demon of the southwest wind known for bringing famine during dry seasons, and locusts during rainy seasons. Pazuzu was said to be invoked in amulets which combat the powers of his wife, the malicious goddess Lamashtu, who was believed to cause harm to mother and child during childbirth. Although Pazuzu is himself an evil spirit, he drives away other evil spirits, thereby protecting humans against plagues and misfortunes.
As the title suggests, the main protagonist is Pazuzu’s daughter, a rebellious but likeable goth teen with the unusual name of Morpho (the reason that name was chosen is revealed later in the book). Having been uprooted many times to move during her short life in order to escape the “ex-wife,” she decides she wants to stay in her new town when she meets a fellow high school student named J. D.
Nothing is as it appears on the surface in Pazuzu’s Girl. When J. D. comes to the rescue to save Morpho from being beaten and raped by jocks after school, he is killed. Or is he? There is an underworld where humans can go to be transformed.
And in the end, the “ex-wife” Lamashtu, the evil destroyer of mothers and children, comes to collect Morpho. It was she who destroyed Morpho’s natural mother, and it is she who returns to finish the task in all her evil glory by pursuing Morpho.
Pazuzu’s Girl is a fascinating book, filled with plagues of grasshoppers and visits from moths and butterflies. It moves along at a brisk pace and never relents in its grip of the reader. The characters are extremely well written; they jump off the pages in a realistic fashion. The reader gets to know and likes the characters, and the contrast of good and evil is so apparent that there is no mistaking who to root for.
Not only that, but the girl Morpho seems very real. All too often “goth girls” are written by authors who have never been exposed to real goth girls and so the characters seem artificial. Not so with Morpho. Rachel Coles nails it. Morpho’s character is convincing and likeable and is the real “goth girl deal.”
Pazuzu’s Girl has it all: great plot, great action, and great characters. And best of all, great demons.
Although technically a Young Adult novel, it is sophisticated enough to be enjoyed by adults as well. I recommend Pazuzu’s Girl for any fan of fantasy or Dungeons and Dragons; for that matter, any fan of a walloping good read.
You can buy the book HERE.
About the author
Rachel Coles is a medical anthropologist living and working on public health in Denver, Colorado. She lives with her husband Adam and young daughter Rosa. She started writing horror stories because her daughter loves scary stories.
Visit Rachel HERE
About the reviewer
While most people go to Disneyland while in Southern California, Jeani Rector went to the Fangoria Weekend of Horror there instead. She grew up watching the Bob Wilkins Creature Feature on television and lived in a house that had the walls covered with framed Universal Monsters posters. It is all in good fun and actually, most people who know Jeani personally are of the opinion that she is a very normal person. She just writes abnormal stories. Doesn’t everybody?
Jeani Rector is the founder and editor of The Horror Zine and has had her stories featured in magazines such as Aphelion, Midnight Street, Strange Weird and Wonderful, Dark River Press, Macabre Cadaver, Ax Wound, Horrormasters, Morbid Outlook, Horror in Words, Black Petals, 63Channels, Death Head Grin, Hackwriters, Bewildering Stories, Ultraverse, and others. Her book Around a Dark Corner was released in the USA on Graveyard Press in 2009.