Polly Schattel
Trepidatio Publishing (February 24, 2023)
Reviewed by Nora B. Peevy

Hetta D. Salter is a disgruntled female film professor without tenure in a small poverty-stricken college in the Appalachian Mountains. Her students are overprivileged and uninterested in learning. The head of her department is the stereotype of the over privileged white male, and unwilling to listen or treat a woman in his film department as an equal. Frustrated and belittled by the class struggle of the Appalachian hills and unable to help her favorite student Tanner, the only student who actually wants to attend class, but cannot afford to because he comes from a poor marginalized family, Hetta decides that her superior, Hensley, must be dealt with immediately. Tanner desperately wants to make a film, and Hetta wants to nurture his raw talent. Tanner introduces Hetta to an interesting site on how to summon a demon through an experimental film, and Hetta takes this as the perfect teaching opportunity for Tanner and the perfect opportunity for her to complete her first film, but the plan soon goes awry when the directions are not followed.

Polly Schattel wields her pen with attitude, spunk, and a dry, snarky humor, giving us a peek inside college departmental politics, but also what it is like to be a woman in the good old boys’ club, and what it is like to not come from a life of privilege. She does this through the lens of horror, a genre that lends itself perfectly to addressing social and political issues. I expect to see a lot more important current issues addressed in her writing. This is an entertaining and timely read addressing the drug crisis, the poverty in the Appalachian Mountains, the death of the liberal arts department, women’s issues, and college departmental politics. You don’t want to miss out on this delicious good read.

About Nora B. Peevy

Nora B. Peevy is a cat trapped in a human’s body. Please send help or tuna. She toils away for JournalStone and Trepidatio Publishing as a submissions reader, is a co-editor for Alien Sun Press, the newest reviewer for Hellnotes, and has been published by Eighth Tower Press, Weird Fiction Quarterly, and other places. Usually, you can find her on Facebook asking for help escaping from her human body or to get tuna. Tuna is nice. Cats like tuna.

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