Manhunt, by Gretchen Felker-Martin, takes place in a world where anyone with high testosterone levels finds themselves turned into feral monstrosities by a plague dubbed t. rex. Following Fran and Beth, two trans women on the hunt for the sources of the precious estrogen that keeps them from meeting the same dark fate, this horror novel takes its readers on a gruesome and visceral tour of a world where the war of the genders has turned darkly literal. From survival in the woods, to a bunker run a trust-fund brat turned despot, to a desperate last stand against a tyrannical TERF militia, the author gives familiar post-apocalyptic notes a whole new tune.
I should stress, firstly, that Gretchen Felker-Martin is an excellent writer, with a distressingly talented ability for writing both physically and emotionally disturbing scenes. If it happens in the story, it happens on-page rather than being hinted at – including scenes of violence, sex, and sexual violence. Not since Stephen King have I read scenes where the description of injuries made me physically turn away from the page – until now. That ability to create such a vivid picture in the readers imagination is paired with the authors excellent characters – I found myself getting attached to awfully quickly; a dangerous idea in a novel where no-one is safe. They were complex, and human, and frequently did terrible things for reasons ranging from understandable to deplorable. There were some truly heart-wrenching scenes with absolutely no gore, no violence – just an emotional impact that hit as hard as a brick.
It may not be for everyone, but readers who like their horror truly horrifying will find themselves in for a terrifying treat at the hands of an author with a dark imagination and the skill to use it to best effect. Manhunt has worked its way under my skin, and is a novel to remember.