Author: Richard Matheson
When Woman was published in 2005, Richard Matheson was 79 years old and universally regarded as one of the most important genre writers of all time. Known for classic novels like I Am Legend, Stir of Echoes, and What Dreams May Come, as well as for penning some of The Twilight Zone's best episodes, the New Jersey native is a horror icon. So imagine the excitement that came from hearing Matheson announce that Woman would be his first pure horror book since the 1971 chiller Hell House.
And imagine the overpowering disappointment that longtime Matheson fans felt once they'd finished the novella's 125 pages and realized that their favorite writer had truly lost his old magic. Woman's premise is very promising: One night, while arguing over everything from politics to TV shows, men and women suddenly manifest their resentments in bloody, violent ways against members of the opposite sex. Devoid of any overt supernatural elements, Woman has a gritty, realistic set-up.
But then Matheson spends more than half of the book beating readers' heads in with preachy dialogue that never ends. The experience of completing Matheson's worst effort is akin to sitting in a lecture hall, listening to a bunch of unlikable blowhards debate over feminism and male oppression, and ultimately feeling unsatisfied once they all literally start killing each other. —Matt Barone