Penny Dreadfuls were popular, cheaply produced 19th century magazines filled with brutal and sensationalist tales. In her uncompromising second collection of poetry, Vancouver poet Shannon Stewart revisits their grisly spirit through a series of meditations that examine the media’s obsession for luridness, be it tabloids or “respectable” newspapers. At the centre of the book is the story of accused serial killer Robert Pickton. In poems of great psychological risk-taking, Stewart tracks the missing women of Vancouver’s East Side and describes—using a voice by turns gritty, funny, shrewd, and broken-hearted—how the gruesome details of their reported murders seep into her role as a mother and wife. Fable-like, ribald, and packing a powerful anti-puritanical punch, Penny Dreadful furnishes us with unsentimental X-rays of the contemporary world and its sundry terrors.