The Worm and His Kings
The Worm and His Kings - Hailey Piper (2020)
Reviewed by Yvonne Miller
The Worm and His Kings is quite frankly a phenomenal novella. It excels with its powerful characterisation. First and foremost, it is a novel about acceptance and identity. Monique, our protagonist, is a trans woman who has spent her entire life trying to fit in, to the detriment for her inner self. She tries to rectify that, an action that results in physical trauma. This is a story that highlights a world full of prejudice and hate. A cosmic horror novel that had me intrigued but also had me searching for answers beyond the story, beyond the deeper meaning, beyond everything I thought I knew.
Imagine losing the woman you love, not through death, but abduction. Abduction from a hideous monster that could slice through you with one swipe. The Worm and His Kings, with its sharp narrative and first-person point of view catapulted me into Monique’s shoes. Her thoughts and feelings, the pain and anguish. Hailey Piper flicked the switch on my anxiety and didn’t switch it off until the last page. Be prepared to have one feeling pulse through you – a feeling of unnerving tension.
Life hasn’t been the same for Monique since Donna, the love of her life, was taken. There is gossip surrounding the circumstances of women like her disappearing. She knows deep within her heart that Donna just wouldn’t take off. She’s been there for her during the hard times and wouldn’t just give up. Memories of doctors, scalpels and searing hot pain are embedded in Monique and only Donna got her through that. They have an unbreakable bond, and she needs to bring her back home. The characters that Monique interacts with during her task build up the impossible and the inevitable all at once. I had so many questions, it's healthy to question the inconceivable but man did it hurt my head!
The Worm and His Kings is a story told in the present with flashbacks thrown in to give the reader context. The author never gives us massive amounts of information about Monique’s and Donna’s life together, but I had a taste for how they were, what they were passionate about and just how strongly they believed in something. This was a testament to just how acute and stunning the author’s skills were. Now back to the main timeline, and we should know that life doesn’t carve an easy way to the ending for us, and Monique’s journey is no different.
The Worm and His Kings was never going to be a maudlin read but always promised to be heart-wrenching. The confusion, the grief and an existence not meant for this world. All Monique wants in this shamble of a world is to have a happy life with the one she loves…move on from this disastrous experience, but what if...
Moving on was never on the table?
Hailey Piper writes horror and dark fantasy, and is a member of the Horror Writers Association. She is the author of The Worm and His Kings, The Possession of Natalie Glasgow, Benny Rose, the Cannibal King, and others. She lives with her wife in Maryland, where she haunts their apartment making spooky noises. Find her on Twitter via @HaileyPiperSays and on Instagram via @haileypiperfights