Shagging the Boss
Rebecca Rowland
Filthy Loot Press (June 30, 2022)
Reviewed by Elaine Pascale

Shagging the Boss could not be more in my wheelhouse. It is the type of story I truly enjoy because it contains three of my favorite elements: the uncanny, a synthesis of the setting and theme, and monsters.

Basically, something is wrong. And right off the bat, the reader knows something is wrong. But that something is not clearly defined at first. There is no evidence that would lead one to alert the authorities, yet there is enough unease to put you on edge. For example, the titular boss says things that straddle a line; his words can be interpreted multiple ways. Maybe he is making a joke; maybe he is engaging in harassment, or worse. It puts the reader (and the narrator) in the position of not being sure if they should feel happy, scared, relieved, and instead the emotions are toggled through like a psychological roulette wheel.

The setting of Shagging the Boss also really made the story for me. The world of publishing is ripe for gaslighting and can sometimes, unfortunately, prey on the desperation of authors. The narrator goes to work for Xanadu Publishing. As a child of the 80s, I excitedly imagined Olivia Newton John on roller skates, but soon realized it wasn’t that Xanadu. Not only is the narrator in the ingenue position where she is supposed to accept her mentor’s style and suggestions without question, she is also a woman who is not used to hurting a man’s feelings. When the uncanny becomes very real, and the boss crosses lines, I found myself wanting to shake her into becoming more aggressive. I then recognized that I am also guilty of disassociating and shutting down in the presence of bad situations.

In addition to the context of the publishing industry, Shagging the Boss also contains loving attention to the minutiae of its environment. I was particularly enamored with the description of textures, most notably a shag rug. The imagery of the rug connected so well with hidden secrets, loss of bodily possession, and with “sweeping things beneath.”

Finally, Shagging the Boss is a monster story and a unique one at that. While I will always love my vampires and werewolves, I greatly appreciate stories that contain the more unusual monsters.

I recommend adding Shagging the Boss to summer reading lists. My only complaint is that I wanted a bit more, but wanting more is a good thing.

About Elaine Pascale

Elaine Pascale had been writing her entire life. She lives on Cape Cod with her husband, son and daughter. Her writing has been published in several magazines and anthologies. She is the author of Blood Lights, and If Nothing Else, Eve, We’ve Enjoyed the Fruit. Elaine enjoys a robust full moon, chocolate, and collecting cats.