Horror Blog: “Teratisms”


“Teratisms” by Kathe Koja is the story of a brother and sister forced to look after their monstrous sibling, Alex, who has a taste for flesh. As they drive through Louisiana, the tensions rise and the constant need to watch Alex force the siblings to make a bitter choice.

A teratism is apparently “a congenital malformation or anomaly” which applies to Alex, but note that the title is plural, which infers that the brother and sister (Mitch and Randle) are anomalies too. They’re anomalies because they can’t live normal lives and must watch after their horrible brother. They’re alienated from the rest of society.

Sadly, I think the characterization needs work. There isn’t much to Mitch and Randle besides their adversarial relationship and exhaustion with looking after Alex, and while their frustration is understandable, it becomes tiring to watch them bicker. The biggest disappointment is with Alex, who is little more than a prop. I would’ve liked to know more about him, more about his history and his behavior. I’ve heard good things about some of Koja’s other stories, so I’ll have to check them out to compare.

— Mike Malan, Blogger

Editor’s Note: Mike Malan recently graduated from Lewis University with a degree in English with a sub-speciality in Creative Writing. Mike especially enjoys writing gothic, Poe and all things that chill your bones. He is a dark writer but you can find him dabbling in politics. He is also interested in the editing process and hopes that you will enjoy his work.