Due to dire circumstance, Matt Riley, his wife, Debi, and their fourteen-year-old son, West, had to move in with West’s Grandpa Abraham. Grandpa insisted the place where he lived was haunted. That was fine with West, because “(he) devoured horror books like they were M&Ms.” I loved the mentions of popular horror podcasts and magazines, as well as a number of today’s most-read writers within the genre.
The Garden of Delight is a sexually charged compilation of stories from Alessandro Manzetti. Most have been previously published, but a few of the tales are new to this collection. All the stories share a similar tone and spirit as they explore human decadance through the centuries. When it comes to sexual relations, nothing is off limits.
Revenge of the Vampir King by Nancy Kilpatrick
Crossroad Press (February 2017)
290 pages; $26.99 hardcover; $14.99 paperback; ebook $4.99
Reviewed by Peter Tomas
Revenge of the Vampir King, a blood soaked tale by Nancy Kilpatrick, is the story of a male vampire, a human girl, and the chaos which surrounds them as they interact with one another. Valada, the princess of the humans, is sent to the vampire king, Moarte, as an unwilling gift by her father Zador, the evil human king. Through a mess of emotions and erotic interactions, the two become wed, and the world around them becomes rife with treachery, confusion, lust, and hurt. They must fight their way to Zador’s throne to end his terrible reign and, with any luck, save their marriage, and the people they love most.
If you live with a cat, you live with a natural born killer. Some prey on dangling bits of string, others go after bigger game. And if they like you, they’ll leave you one of their kills as a little gift. In Stephen Volk’s newest novella, it’s one of these little gifts from a family cat that sends the man of the house, our narrator, down a dark winding memory of an encounter with an alluring woman that shook him from his mundane moorings.
Blood Infernal by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell
William Morrow (January 2016)
576 pages; $19.20 hardcover; $9.99 paperback; ebook $9.99
Reviewed by Peter Tomas
Blood Infernal, James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell’s apocalyptic nail-biter, is a story dripping with tension, religion, and vampirism. The three main characters, which consist of an archaeologist, a military man, and a vampiric priest, are united by a prophecy written in the Blood Gospel, a book Jesus evidently wrote in His own blood during His time on earth. They face off against impossible odds, dangerous individuals, and an array of damned souls, headed by a demon sent from the loving arms of Lucifer himself. The fallen angel is coming back, and only the prophetic trio are capable of keeping him shackled.
Conspiracy of Angels by Michelle Belanger
Titan Books (October 2015)
368 pages; $7.43 paperback; ebook $7.99
Reviewed by Peter Tomas
Zachary Westland is your average amnesiac protagonist, waking up on the shores of Lake Erie with panic in his nerves and a police notice out for his head. Unable to remember his past, he searches frantically for a way to reconnect to everything he can’t remember, encountering a throng of unique and diverse characters as he goes. Many people know him, know of him, and in most cases, want him dead, and he’s clueless as to why. Eventually, he learns that his past is as dark as the looming future is, and that if he doesn’t step up and right his forgotten wrongs, the people he cares about most could suffer vast and painful consequences. The fight for resolution, and his memory, begins.
It’s been a while since I’ve read a good in-your-face horror novel. Don’t get me wrong, I read and enjoyed an abundance of excellent work in 2016, but when I compare them to The Haunted Halls, the latest from up-and-coming horror writer Glenn Rolfe, they’ve all been rather tame.
Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling edited by Jaym Gates and Monica Valentinelli
Apex Book Company (December 2016)
$13.48 paperback; $4.99 ebook
Reviewed by Anton Cancre
Anthologies based on meta-fictive themes can be a bit of a sticky wicket. Sure, we get bored with the same old over and over again, and it is super cool when someone messes with our heads. At the same time, those “look how deft I am at subverting literature” stories are self important in the most boring way possible.
There’s a quote from Benjamin Franklin at the beginning of Behind Her Eyes. It provides a clue, of sorts, as to the devilish nature of the story which follows.
Three can keep a secret if two are dead.
In the thirty years since Richard Christian Matheson burst upon the scene with his brilliant collection Scars and Other Distinguishing Marks, many things have changed. Up until his arrival, the short-short story was the purview of a miniscule handful of writers—Fredric Brown, Henry Slesar, and O. Henry leap most readily to mind—who’d mastered the art of telling a tight, twisted tale with a punch at the end in one thousand words or less, on a fairly regular basis.
Relics by Tim Lebbon
Titan Books (March 21, 2017)
336 pages; $9.76 paperback; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms
The first literary hit of the new year has been born. Tim Lebbon, no stranger to penning stories which shrug off the shackles of genre, has hit 2017 hard with the first of a breathtaking trilogy. Equal parts thriller, horror, and fantasy, Relics takes readers back to his best world creating in the apocalyptic Silence, Coldbrook, and The Nature of Balance, along with the more fantastic in Fallen and Echo City.
Infernal Parade is the second volume compiling stories created by Clive Barker to accompany figures created in conjunction with Todd McFarlane. The first, Tortured Souls, benefited because it began life as a novella that was broken up to go along with the packaging of the various figures. Infernal Parade is a series of character sketches meant to lend a little backstory to the figures, making it feel incomplete when pulled together in one volume.
Lilith’s Demons by Julie R. Enszer
A Midsummer Night’s Press (December 2015)
64 pages, $14.95 paperback
Reviewed by Joshua Gage
For those who don’t know, The Alphabet of Ben Sirach is a medieval rabbinic text famous, amongst other things, for its reference to Lilith. Lilith is the woman that, according to Hebraic lore, God made before he made Eve; she was Adam’s first wife, but refused to submit to him sexually, so she flew off and became mother of demons. Julie R. Enszer builds on this mythos in her book, Lilith’s Demons.
First, some background on The King in Yellow. Prior to season one of HBO’s True Detective series, many folks had never heard of Robert W. Chambers or his book of short stories by the same name. The book is named after a fictional play with the same title. The first half of the book features highly esteemed weird stories, and has been described by critics as a classic in the field of the supernatural. There are ten stories, the first four of which mention The King in Yellow, a forbidden play which induces despair or madness in those who read it.
When you work at Cemetery Dance, you tend to make certain assumptions about the books publishers send to you for review. Sometimes, those assumptions are way off. John Darnielle’s Universal Harvester proved to be one of those instances….in the best possible way.
When I got the book (cleverly packaged in a plastic clamshell case like an old VHS tape, for reasons that would become clear when I read it) and scanned its press sheet, a few things jumped out at me: mentions of the “haunted, open landscape of middle-America;” “ominous and disturbing footage” spliced into a video store’s rental tapes; an investigation into “the origins of these unsettling scenes.” I took these tidbits and began to splice together my own version of the book.