ECUADOR: Jawbone by Mónica Ojeda

I will argue, straight up, that Jawbone by Mónica Ojeda is a horror novel that women can get through (though not unscathed), but most men just would not be brave enough to handle.

It’s a multilayered psychodrama, starting with a schoolgirl kidnapped by her teacher, and unwinds a teetering and uncomfortable tale, building on different times, different narrators, different writing styles, slowly piecing the story together. A group of teen girls at a good school start working themselves up into a collective madness, as their teacher fights with her own inner demons. It builds on campfire horror stories, Lovecraftian horror, creepypastas, and cults, all of this tied into primal urges, puberty, human bodies, trauma, and mothers and daughters.

Think of the vulnerability and instability of puberty and teens as a girl, but writ large into psychological horror. I thought it was an astoundingly good book, and it so unsettled me that I am never going to read it again – and I mean that as a compliment.

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