“Your Slaughterhouse, Your Killing Floor” is a visceral story about love, betrayal, and revenge, which unspools from the opening of a joke – ‘A girl walks into a bar.’ The story’s structure jumps around between a series of close up scenes, and introspective sections; often returning to the joke and its opening line. This anchors the story, which is often deliberately chaotic, by providing a repeating line and theme. By using this repetition, the story allows the reader to collect themselves after another bout of zinging, explosive imagery, and encounters with a timeline which rarely allows the reader to gain a firm grip on reality.
Sunny Moraine’s story follows its unnamed female narrator as she careens through a messy, passionate love affair with another woman. Both of the women have extraordinary powers. Their relationship begins with a fistfight and ends with an apocalyptic collapse. In other words, it’s complicated. Moraine uses intensely physicality, and often violent, imagery to build a poetic language which emphasises the intense emotion the two characters feel. It is a joy to see this kind of language used to show the female leads active in the creation of violence and passion, rather than static objects on which violence and sex are visited.
As in her story “Eyes I Dare Not Meet In Dreams” Moraine brings a strong feminist line to “Your Slaughterhouse, Your Killing Floor”, particularly in passages like:
They teach us not to be angry, she says. Y’know? Heard it in a Women’s Studies class in college, and yeah, there was some bullshit in there, but that rang so true, like a fucking bell in my fucking head. They teach us not to be angry. No one likes a bitch.
However, through the narrator’s interior monologue, the story shows how a single person’s conception of feminism and justice can be multi-layered, conflicted, and difficult to articulate; especially when feminism intersects with violence and romance.
“Your Slaughterhouse, Your Killing Floor” is yet another valuable addition to the ‘monstrous women of SFF’ feminist sub-genre. And it’s a complex story of what happens when love is damaged by revenge and manipulation, but still somehow persists. Read it alongside “Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies” by Brooke Bolander and “A Fist of Permutations and Wildflowers” by Alyssa Wong.