Tell Me I'm Worthless by Alison Rumfitt
This is a quick review of Tell me I'm Worthless by Alison Rumfit.
Tell me I'm worthless is truly a book that is out there on its own. I have to say that this book blew me away a bit. It is completely out there and Alison Rumfitt has a style all of her own. This was one of those books which I found hard to put into words. It's traumatic, horrifying and full of defiance. I tell you, it is one of the most difficult books that I have talked about due to the fact that you don't want to give too much detail in the way of storyline and I have absolutely nothing to compare this book to. Right, let's get on with it shall we?
Three years ago, Alice spent one night in an abandoned house with her friends Ila and Hannah. Since then, things have not been going well. Alice is living a haunted existence, selling videos of herself cleaning for money, drinking herself to sleep. She hasn't spoken to Ila since they went into the House. She hasn't seen Hannah either.
Memories of that night torment her mind and her flesh, but when Ila asks her to return to the House, past the KEEP OUT sign, over the sick earth where teenagers dare each other to venture, she knows she must go. Together Alice and Ila must face the horrifying occurrences that happened there, must pull themselves apart from the inside out, put their differences aside, and try to rescue Hannah, who the House has chosen to make its own.
Cutting, disruptive, and darkly funny, Tell Me I'm Worthless is a vital work of trans fiction that confronts both supernatural and real-world horrors as it examines the devastating effects of trauma and the way fascism makes us destroy ourselves and each other.
Publisher: Cipher Press
Okay! WTF did I just read?
Tell me I’m Worthless deals with a number of topics that infect society today, particularly the creeping infection of nationalism and how it invades society. Most of this is done with the pervading perspective of the house of Albion and it’s insidious prescence on the sideline, it’s influence becoming ever more pervasive and urgent as the story moves towards its final act and we discover the secret of its walls. Tell Me I'm Worthless is Alison Murfitt's debut in the horror genre. Or is it horror? Or is it an attack on TERFs and fascism? Is it a call to arms for trans rights? I have absolutely no idea! It's all of these things and more and is one of the most angry books that I have read in a long time.
Honestly, this book is something else, I don't know how to describe it. It is something akin to a car crash. On the one hand harrowing, and on the other inexorably fascinating.
The story revolves around Alice, a transwoman who makes her money by doing stints of internet porn. The other part of the narrative is from the point of view of Ila who has become part of the TERF army.
However, there are two more presences that haunt the narrative in the book. Firstly, Albion, the haunted house who stalks the story in the sidelines, exerting its malevolence on the events of the story. The other is that of Hannah who mysteriously disappeared one night when the three friends dared to stay in the haunted house of Albion. Whilst not having a point of view, she also haunts the consciousness of the story and is a spectral presence in both the lives of Alice and Ila.
The story itself is a hallucinogenic horror tale that uses the influences of Shirley Jackson and Angela Carter amongst others and completely rewrites the rules of horror. It goes places that you don't expect, taking you on a phantasmagorically, nightmarish journey through Brighton to the paved coblestones of hell. It literally chews you up and spits you out the other side, leaving you dazed and confused as to what the heck is going on.
Be warned. This book is intense! It deals with all sorts of issues such as sexual violence. There’s transphobia in there as well as facist ideologies. The violence in it is extreme and shocking. It uses language that is offensive and graphic. However, this is not done in an exploitative way and illustrates the insidious malice of the issues raised in the book.
The book deals with a number of topics that infect society today, particularly the creeping infection of nationalism and how it invades society. Most of this is done with the pervading perspective of the house of Albion and it’s insidious prescence on the sideline, it’s influence becoming ever more pervasive and urgent as the story moves towards its final act and we discover the secret of its walls.
Tell Me I'm Worthless is truly an extraordinary piece of fiction. It uses imagery that is both horrifying and harrowing. The book itself goes in many different directions at once, pulling you along with it and opening the doors to differing ideas and discourse on the state of modern Britain.
Be warned, this is not a safe book. It’s not a cozy little horror book with the regular tropes that you can identify and feel like the world is good. No, this is an angry shout back to those forces that want to dehumanise and demonise difference. Even the title of the book is an angry screaming retort to the fascists and the hate mongers, daring them to tell me I'm Worthless.
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