Review: ‘Strange Weather’ by Joe Hill

Strange Weather by Joe Hill
William Morrow (October 24, 2017)
448 pages; $17.10 hardback; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Earlier this year, people began calling 2017 “The Year of King.” The “King” in question is Stephen King, who’s had a busy year even for, well, Stephen King: new television series based on his novella The Mist and Mr. Mercedes; a milestone birthday (his 70th) in September; a critical and box office smash hit in IT; two more critically acclaimed adaptations for Netflix in Gerald’s Game and 1922; and a brand new novel, Sleeping Beauties, co-written with his son Owen.

Now, as the year is winding down, it’s King’s other son, Joe Hill, who has stepped up to claim his place in “The Year of King” with Strange Weather, a collection of four short novels and one of the strongest overall works in Hill’s already illustrious career.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Angler in the Darkness’ by Edward M. Erdelac

Angler in the Darkness by Edward M. Erdelac
CreateSpace (April 2017)
384 pages; $14 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Chris Hallock

Versatile scribe Edward M. Erdelac is a whiz at seamless genre-blending, exemplified by his popular Merkabah Rider series featuring a demon-fighting Hasidic gunfighter and his exploits in the Wild West. Erdelac occupies a special place in literature, honoring the tradition of high concept fantasy engineered by luminaries Robert E. Howard and Jules Verne, spliced with the gritty DNA of Elmore Leonard and Joe R. Lansdale.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Hap and Leonard: Savage Season’ adapted by Jussi Piironen

Hap and Leonard: Savage Season adapted and illustrated by Jussi Piironen
Short, Scary Tales Publications/IDW (October 2017)
124 pages; £39.95 signed, numbered hardcover; $17.99 paperback; $7.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Joe R. Lansdale’s “Hap and Leonard” series isn’t the first thing that comes to my mind when considering what books would benefit from being adapted in graphic novel form. Lansdale’s series, about a couple of blue collar buddies whose keen sense of right and wrong gets them into escalating amounts of trouble with bad guys and good guys alike, is elevated by the author’s sharp dialogue and natural storytelling ability—two things which could easily be lost in translation when moving to the more visual medium of comics.Continue Reading

Bev Vincent reviews Gerald’s Game

Stephen King News From the Dead Zone

The Moonlight Man

There’s a lot to like in Mike Flanagan’s adaptation of Gerald’s Game, a book long thought to be unfilmable since so much of it consists of internal dialog, with the main character handcuffed to a bed for much of it.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Goat Song Sacrifice (Death Metal Epic II) by Dean Swinford

Goat Song Sacrifice (Death Metal Epic II) by Dean Swinford
Atlatl Press (May 2017)

201 pages, $13.00 paperback
Reviewed by Anton Cancre

Welcome back to the continuing adventures of David Fosberg, intrepid aspiring purveyor of the metallic arts most black. If you read Book One (The Inverted Katabasis), that is. If not, you’ll probably still be okay. We start off with Davey living la vida nekro in Belgium with his new bandmate, Svart. Surfing couches, drinking beer and playing only the most kvlt riffs as a part of Desekration. New members are discovered and more things happen.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Goblin’ by Josh Malerman

Goblin by Josh Malerman
Earthling Publications (October 2017)
$50 signed & numbered hardcover (limited to 500)
Reviewed by Dave Simms

It’s that time of year again when horror is in the air, a celebrated author is called up, and Earthling Publications churns out another Halloween masterpiece. This year, the newest superstar in the genre, Josh Malerman, takes the helm and delivers one of the best offerings in the history of the series.

Goblin is Derry. It’s Oxrun Station. It’s Cedar Hill. It’s Green Town. It’s all of us in our home towns and yet, it’s something brand new where the greats would likely fear to live. Think of Goblin as Derry’s disturbed little brother.

This book, comprised of a sextet of short novellas, takes the small town motif and shreds it, molding it into something which fills the reader with uneasy pleasure from cover to cover. Malerman, fresh off the success of his second novel Black Mad Wheel and news that Bird Box will soon be a major motion picture, seems to display more skill, more darkness, with each story.

“A Man In Slices” shows how friendship can be a tricky concept. One boy does whatever he can to help his lonely friend, at any cost.

“Kamp” is a lighter tale about a man petrified of a seeing a ghost. Everyone in his family has, and he knows his time is coming. How Walter copes with the expectation will make many reader feel a bit better about their own issues with things that go bump in the night.

“Happy Birthday, Hunter” displays the heart and obsession of a man who cannot give up the hunt. Nash’s addiction comes to a boiling point during his 60th birthday party when he decides to kill Goblin’s most prized game in the north woods, a place from which no one ever returns.

“Presto” is a love affair with magic, the oldest and darkest kind where a young boy seeks to learn the secrets behind his favorite performer in a story which channels classic Bradbury.

“A Mix-Up At The Zoo” details the inner struggle of Dirk, a man who switches jobs to become a tour guide in a zoo, a far cry from his other employment in the slaughterhouse. He finds a talent for understanding the mighty beasts within the cages but feels a certain darkness brewing when he drifts off in thought.

“The Hedges.” Those mazes built in corn and the famed topiary in the film version of The Shining emerge here in the final story of the collection. Young Margot claims to have solved the unsolvable creation by Wayne Sherman. What she finds at the end causes her to alert the Goblin Police, a decision which might be worse than keeping the secret to herself.

The mythology about Goblin’s history is richly drawn within these stories and connects them with a style that keeps the pages turning. Malerman has created a town which may even be darker than King, Grant, and Bradbury’s nightmares. Goblin is all Malerman and should be listed on every horror reader’s itinerary of places to visit, with the lights turned low and the night breeze creeping into the room.

An incredible Halloween find for all.

Bev Vincent reviews ‘Sleeping Beauties’ by Stephen King and Owen King

Stephen King News From the Dead Zone

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King
Scribner (September 26, 2017)
720 pages
Reviewed by Bev Vincent

The world has ended in many ways in post-apocalyptic fiction, but Owen and Stephen King have created a scenario unlike any other. It happens all at once, around the globe. Women who go to sleep (or are already asleep when the epidemic begins) won’t wake up. They form cocoons and go into a kind of hibernation. Disturbing sleeping women is a bad, bad idea: they attack anyone who breaks through the gauzy material.

Apparently pitching story ideas is a thing in the King family. Sleeping Beauties came about because Owen King suggested this idea to his father; it sounded like a Stephen King kind of story. The elder King immediately thought of all the possible ramifications of this concept, but told Owen he should write it. Eventually they agreed to work on it together.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Night Moves’ by Mary SanGiovanni

Night Moves by Mary SanGiovanni
Post Mortem Press (July 2017)

216 pages, $16.00 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Anton Cancre

Fair warning: you may be disappointed to find out that Night Moves is not themed around the works of Bob Seger and his hallowed band of Silver Bullet miscreants. However, it does contain seven short stories and two novellas by one of the finest purveyors of weird horror in the business. Continue Reading

Review: ‘Bloodstained Wonderland’ by Christopher Golden and James A. Moore

Bloodstained Wonderland by Christopher Golden and James A. Moore
Earthling Publications (June 2017)
136 pages; $35.00 signed, numbered hardback
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Down the rabbit hole she goes, only this time it’s wrapped in barbed wire and tinged with venom. Bloodstained Wonderland rambles through a nightmarish land which Lewis Carroll could only have imagined if his mind melded with Clive Barker on a weekend bender of LSD and Absinthe.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Paperbacks from Hell’ by Grady Hendrix

Paperbacks from Hell by Grady Hendrix
Quirk Books (September 19, 2017)
256 pages; $15.27 paperback; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction is a history lesson crossed with the world’s coolest (and unlikeliest) museum exhibit. As the title indicates, author/curator Grady Hendrix is our guide, taking us from the post-Rosemary’s Baby boom of paperback horror all the way through the 1990s bust. In between, there’s a whole lotta crazy to cover, and Hendrix is more than game to take us through every twist, turn and trend.

I’ll be honest, when I first got wind of this book, I expected little more than a portfolio of lurid paperback covers accompanied by a plot synopsis for each book, maybe a spotlight or two on some of the more prolific authors, and perhaps a closer look at some of the publishers who were churning the stuff out. And you know, I would have been fine with that. But Hendrix has given us so much more. An accomplished author in his own right (My Best Friend’s Exorcism, Horrorstör), Hendrix digs deep and writes with passion. You need look no further than his introduction, in which he writes about the book that served as his “gateway drug” into the world of paperback horror. It’s better heard from him, but let me just toss out the term “Gestapochauns” as an appetizer. Yeah, you’re thinking there’s no way that could mean what you think it means, but it does.

Rather than go year-by-year, Hendrix has organized the book by the themes and subgenres that defined the period. So, we move from “Hail, Satan” to “When Animals Attack” to “Real Estate Nightmares” to “Inhumanoids” to….well, you get the idea. Each of these chapters are written with a historian’s observational skill coupled with a fan’s passion and a professional’s touch. Hendrix hits the requisite high points like David Seltzer’s The Omen, James Herbert’s The Rats, and Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door (and it’s infamous skeleton cheerleader cover!), but he revels equally in obscure gems like Eat Them Alive by Pierce Nace and Slay Bells by Joe Gibson and Blood Snarl by Ivor Watkins. 

Hendrix recognizes that the covers were often the best thing about these books, so he’s written several “Coroner’s Report” asides spotlighting particularly prolific artists and their contributions.

I often look at my own, growing library and keep a mental list of my “essentials,” the books I absolutely could not do without. Paperbacks from Hell is now on that list. As a reference book, as a celebration, and as an appreciation, it’s one of the best books about the horror genre that I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. I’ll honestly be stunned if I ever meet a horror fan that disagrees. This gets my highest possible recommendation.

Bev Vincent explores It (2017) – Chapter 1

Stephen King News From the Dead Zone

Welcome to the Losers’ Club by Bev Vincent

There are a lot of monsters in Derry, Maine during the summer of 1989. These are in addition to the lurching leper, the toothy creature from the painting, a boy who lost his head during the Easter Explosion of 1908 and, of course, Pennywise the Dancing Clown.

The monsters to which I refer are the citizens of this long-troubled, perhaps cursed town. They include people who drive past without offering to help a boy being savagely beaten by bullies, the mother who lies to her son about his health to control and manipulate him, and the sexually abusive father. To the extent that there are adults in Derry (and in some ways, this reality resembles the world of Charlie Brown where grown-ups are seldom seen and hardly ever heard), they are abusive, neglectful or emotionally absent.
Continue Reading

Review: ‘Behold! Oddities, Curiosities, and Undefinable Wonders’ edited by Doug Murano

Behold! Oddities, Curiosities, and Undefinable Wonders edited by Doug Murano
Crystal Lake Publishing (July 2017)
280 pages; $16.99 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Chad Lutzke

This is Crystal Lake Publishing’s second anthology with Doug Murano acting as editor—the first being Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories. It’s also their second anthology that brought in some very big names, which no doubt aided in healthy sales, securing a nice spot at the top of Amazon’s anthology charts. The ironic thing is, those big names (Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, and Ramsey Campbell) brought the weakest stories to an otherwise very solid collection. Continue Reading

Review: ‘The Truants’ by Lee Markham

The Truants by Lee Markham
The Overlook Press (July 2017)
256 pages; $6.99 paperback; $12.99 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

The Truants is Lee Markham’s debut novel and, in some ways, it shows.

I admit I had a love-hate relationship with this book. It was a bit esoteric for me and the author had an annoying habit of just listing the character’s actions. For example…Continue Reading

Review: ‘Meddling Kids’ by Edgar Cantero

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
Doubleday (July 2017)
336 pages; $18.32 hardback; $13.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

If you need to ask where the title of this book comes from, you’re probably too young to understand the references within (unless you enjoy classic reruns of the great cartoon), but not too young to enjoy this fun story, which is pure entertainment. Continue Reading

Review: ‘Hellboy: An Assortment of Horrors’ edited by Christopher Golden

Hellboy: An Assortment of Horrors edited by Christopher Golden
Dark Horse Books (August 29, 2017)
216 pages; $10.19 paperback; $8.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

For this, the fourth Hellboy prose anthology and the first in almost 10 years, editor Christopher Golden decided to recruit only authors who had never published a Hellboy story in prose before. The result is a fresh crop of tales that showcase the depth and richness of the world Mignola has created.Continue Reading