“This house is full of m-m-my mess!
This house is full of m-m-mistakes!
This house is full of m-m-madness!” -Kate Bush, “Get Out of my House”
When Tell Me I’m Worthless vividly describes a character being horrifically mangled by a malefic haunted house, half-alive but all too aware, I let out a sigh of relief because it was a reprieve from the rest of this RELENTLESS fucking book. Alison Rumfitt’s horror novel plunges directly into Britain’s pulsing, oozing guts — not unlike David Cameron did that pig — and vivisects it, using a cursed mansion as a microcosm of all its transphobia, racism, sexism, and long history of atrocities. There’s a small but unforgettable (unforgivable?) cast of POV characters: Alice (a trans woman), Ila (a TERF and Alice’s ex), and the worst house in the world. Learning the ins and outs of their psyches is emotionally exhausting, a little exhilarating, and frequently shocking. They all feel horribly familiar… Despite purposeful (and beautifully written) allusions to Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and mythic Albion, Tell Me I’m Worthless‘ burrowing, ever-present terror is blisteringly contemporary: a bigoted house sucks, but not as much as the rise of right-wing extremist terrorism, encroaching global fascism, and racist sissyfication hypno porn. Integral to Tell Me I’m Worthless‘ unforgiving claustrophobia is the fact that if you put the book down, you aren’t free. There are the same headlines, the same Twitter alerts, and the same 4chan randos IRL.
“The fascists are already here.”
Three years ago, Alice spent one night in an abandoned house with her friends, Ila and Hannah. Since then, Alice’s life has spiraled. She lives a haunted existence, selling videos of herself for money, going to parties she hates, drinking herself to sleep.
Memories of that night torment Alice, but when Ila asks her to return to the House, to go past the KEEP OUT sign and over the sick earth where teenagers dare each other to venture, Alice knows she must go.
Together, Alice and Ila must face the horrors that happened there, must pull themselves apart from the inside out, put their differences aside, and try to rescue Hannah, whom 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 examines the devastating effects of trauma and how fascism makes us destroy ourselves and each other.