Dead Girl, Driving and Other Devastations
Carina Bissett
Trepidatio Publishing (March 8, 2024)
Reviewed by Nora B. Peevy

If the cover artwork by Mario Nevado doesn’t draw you in, the first story in Carina Bissett’s collection, Dead Girl, Driving and Other Devastations will. Imagine the most decadent dessert you’ve ever devoured, every delicious, delectable silky bite melting on your tongue times ten. Imagine the most sinful kiss you’ve ever had with your lover in a dark and forbidden place and that’s how yummy Ms. Bissett’s work is. She’s also intelligent, playful, and hilarious, so be prepared to laugh aloud. I envision Ms. Bissett writing this sassy, feminist fabulist collection in five inch red stiletto heeled boots—which make excellent weapons, by the way—with a typewriter on top of a shiny baby grand piano, a red silk scarf tied around her neck, and the softest, most, supple, powerful red biker jacket a woman could possibly wear, with a pair of black jeans with enough room to kick anyone’s tush, and a deadly axe with a freshly oiled blade, sharp enough to cut the fine steel of a unicorn’s hair resting against the bench, tapping away on her typewriter in the tune of “I just might kill you ‘B’ flat.”

From the first tale, “Dead Girl, Driving,” I was a story addict and wanted more of the drug. She turned every traditional fairytale upside down and twisted it into a great feminine triumph of revenge and power. I wish I’d had these stories growing up, instead of the unamenable princesses and twittering birds. Those stories conditioned me to wait for a Prince Charming to come in on a white horse to be my salvation. Oh pity the weak woman! Instead, Ms. Bissett’s stories teach young woman to create their own vision of happiness, be their own saviors, and destroy every patriarchal myth still lurking on our bookshelves. Ms. Bissett’s tales are about making our own rules.

Every girl should be gifted a copy of Dead Girl, Driving and Other Devastations at their high school graduation. It’s an empowering message. And every grown man or young male could benefit from these tales too. Women are not just objects that need “saving” or to follow “the patriarchy.” It’s wonderful there are so many men breaking free from the shackles of this idea, but society could benefit by teaching future generations this lesson, so we never go back to the princes of the world with the twittering birds and the young helpless princesses. Instead, we should be like the dead girl resurrected and happy away from her abusive boyfriend, the young daughter who builds a mechanical bird to escape her father’s confines, or a person who creates their own magic carpet to ride, instead of waiting for a prince. If you haven’t read Dead Girl, Driving and Other Devastations, you should give it a whirl. It just might inspire a tale or two of a lifetime for yourself, your daughters, your female relatives or at least, make your head spin and inspire a little more devious and delightful escapism in this world, which we could all use a little more of in a mundane, repetitive nine to five existence. Buy your own copy and learn how to weave your magic carpet today.

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.