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Brainwyrms Solidifies Alison Rumfitt As One Of The Most Stunning Voices In Modern Queer Lit

'Brainwyrms' Solidifies Alison Rumfitt As One Of The Most Stunning Voices In Modern Lit

Bryanwyrms cover and Alison Rumfitt
Courtesy of Macmillan

The trans author holds zero punches as she takes readers for a relentless, gruesome ride through TERF hell.

As I began writing for Pride earlier this year, I set out with a desire to read literature by queer authors and uplift the new and exciting voices in genre, and I’m excited to say I’m doing exactly that today when discussing trans author Alison Rumfitt’s Brainwyrms.

Allow me to step back for a moment. I also love horror, so naturally when I stumbled on Rumfitt’s first novel Tell Me I’m Worthless on a random Reddit thread that spoke glowingly I was intrigued. As I normally take on books, I went in as blindly as I could. All I knew was that it was a haunted house story from a trans author. What I got was one of the most brutal, beautiful books I had ever read. Rumfitt talked about the perspective of being a trans person in today’s often terrible world in ways that have to be read to be believed. She highlighted a world so often unseen while also delivering one of the most terrifying books I have read this year.

So when I learned her sophomore novel was coming this month I leaped at the opportunity to be swept back into a transgressive and grotesquely beautiful world of Rumfitt’s making. I will simply state that Brainwyrms did not disappoint.

**Readers should be well warned that Rumfitt does not hold punches. This book has heavy trigger warnings for the following: Transphobia, Sexual Violence, Pregnancy, Body Horror, Incest, Dysphoria, Drug Use, Pedophilia, Hate Crimes, Gore, Excrement, Violence, Vomit, Domestic Abuse, Death, Child Death, Rape, Adult/Minor Relationship, Terrorism, and Murder**

The beauty of a horror novel is in the discovery so in this review, I will do my best to spoil little to nothing at all about the beautiful nightmare that unfolds on the page. Frankie is a trans woman who recently survived a terrorist attack on her workplace, a gender clinic for youths. She develops a relationship with the mysterious Vanya, who is struggling with their own hidden trauma. As the connection deepens Frankie tries to discover her paramour's secret only to uncover something darker and deeper than she could ever imagine.

Littered throughout the narrative are hints that coalesce into an increasingly clear picture of the TERF hell our characters are living through. There is even the inclusion of a prominent real-world TERF that many will recognize without much context. By the book's final page, we have gone through the past and present traumas of our queer characters, and we have seen how the world can feel like — and is — out to get them. Here real-world threats take on a cosmic metaphor as a Lovecraftian element is leaking through every orifice of the world (quite literally).

Again, this book is not for the squeamish or the prudish. It's shocking, kinky, and unabashedly transgressive. It's also a terrifying mediation on the creeping threat of stochastic terrorism being targeted at queer and trans people. But as someone who craves transgressive art, who wants the filth over the glamor, who wants to see queer folk be unapologetically themselves, this is the kind of novel that I craved and want anyone and everyone to read. Alison Rumfitt is one of the best authors in the queer space, point blank and this follow-up proves it.

Though... maybe just listen to her when she tells you mid-narrative that the next chapter is going to be a lot

Brainwyrms releases on October 10th wherever you normally pick up your books!

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Derry Paver