Home Horror BooksFiction Samantha Kolesnik Impresses Again with ‘Waif’ from Grindhouse Press

Samantha Kolesnik Impresses Again with ‘Waif’ from Grindhouse Press

by Waylon Jordan

Author Samantha Kolesnik’s sophomore novella, Waif, is now available, and she’s pulled out all the stops, presenting a body horror novel that will grip you to its final page.

The novella’s official synopsis reads:

Angela has everything she thought she ever wanted—a successful husband, a lavish house, and a bottomless fortune.

But the sight of a strange man in a grocery store one night reawakens her dormant sexuality and soon Angela embarks on a dangerous descent into the world of underground pornography and back-alley plastic surgery.

As the stakes get higher, long-buried memories resurface and Angela finds herself enamored with Reena, a fetish film performer. With some help from a queer gang called The Waifs, Angela is forced to make the decision between her unhappy upper-class life and the treacherous world of underground film.

Waif is an unsettling book. From almost the first page, it is clear that the reader is not supposed to be comfortable. Angela’s uncertainty and burgeoning sexuality send tremors through Kolesnik’s audience, but she’s not the only one. As I read the book, I could not help but feel that each character walked into my living room and stared at me, daring me to look away from them, and I squirmed in their presence.

Kolesnik seems to enjoy this type of fiction. Her previous novella, the award-winning True Crime, was splattered in gore as vivid as her central character’s trauma. Both that book and Waif challenge the reader. This isn’t something to approach lightly. You should know that, going in, you will be tested, much as Angela is tested.  The only real question is if your resolve is as steely as hers.

The author pulls no punches here. The horror is real, and the descriptions of body modifications and the desires of those willing to pay for something “special” feel gritty and raw. She doesn’t waste a word of the story. Each seems chosen carefully for the maximum amount of impact. Moreover, the book is so cleverly written that you will walk away feeling that you’ve read things much worse than you have.

In truth, while Kolesnik explores the dark world of underground fetish porn and back alley “experimental” plastic surgery, she gives only the briefest glimpses to her audience. It is a tease, and an effective one at that. In the tradition of classic slasher films, only some of the splatter you thought you saw was really there, and Waif is better because of it.

The author also manages to tell an impressive story about the virtues of found family, a theme often explored in decidedly queer fiction, but never quite in this way. Angela’s is a family forged in blood, sex, and no small amount of violence. It is something that strengthens you only after it depletes you completely. It asks more of you than anyone else ever could or would and teaches the virtue of survival over all else.

It is a potent mixture from a unique voice in indie horror fiction.

December is a tough time for book releases. The year is closing out and so many have already written their “Best Of” lists, but I urge my fellow reviewers and critics to give Waif a chance before you ring in the new year. This is a novella that is worthy of attention, and cements Kolesnik’s already well-earned reputation as a storyteller to watch.

You can purchase Waif on Kindle for only $3.99 and in paperback for $12.49. It’s the best money you’ll spend on a book this month.