Todd Keisling’s Devil’s Creek recently made it onto the Final Ballot for the Bram Stoker Award in Superior Achievement in a Novel, and there’s good reason for that. It’s very likely the best thing I read in 2020, and also one of my favorite contemporary horror novels, period. Reviewers have compared it to Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, and while usually I might roll my eyes slightly at such a comparison, in this case it’s very apt.
His Own Devices by Douglas Wynne
Promethean (March 4, 2021)
246 pages; $4.99 Kindle
Reviewed by Chris Hallock
Generations before cyberspace was a practical application, the pioneers of weird fiction toiled in artificial worlds beset by shadowy cabals and god-like monstrosities. Imagine the possibilities open to Clark Ashton Smith or Algernon Blackwood had the tendrils of the internet penetrated early twentieth century life, offering another vast dimension for them to explore in their eldritch tales.
Alessandro Manzetti has quickly made a fairly large stamp on the genre. I remember hearing his name some a couple years ago, seeing something from him pop up here and there. Now, dude’s name is moving mountains. Whitechapel Rhapsody is a marvelous example of why.
Junji Ito is one of Japan’s top horror manga creators. His short story collection Shiver — which at almost 400 pages of length is longer than average for manga — gives a glimpses into what makes him so popular.
Wicked Women: An Anthology by The New England Horror Writers edited by Trisha J. Wooldridge & Scott E. Goudsward
NEHW Press (November 2020)
242 pages; paperback $14.99; e-book $4.99
Reviewed by Dave Simms
February is Women in Horror Month, a time to celebrate those who have altered the dark landscape and pioneered the path forward into nightmares anew and fresh trails into the abyss. Note: this shouldn’t just be one month — it’s tough to highlight all of the new stars in the genre while looking back to those who paved the way.
Many Restless Concerns by Gayle Brandeis
Black Lawrence Press (February 14, 2020)
160 pages; $17.95 paperback
Reviewed by Joshua Gage
Most horror readers are familiar with Elizabeth Batharoy, one of history’s most famous murderers and the source of much vampire lore. Much less is known about her victims, which leads readers and historians to a lot of speculation as to who these young women were and what drew them towards Batharoy’s clutches. In her newest poetry collection, Many Restless Concerns, Gayle Brandeis uses hybrid text techniques to give voice to these victims, channeling the idea of a collective voice, or chorus, as the persona in this really dark and enticing collection.
The House that Fell from the Sky by Patrick Delaney
Oblivion Publishing (September 2020)
566 pages; $28.99 hardcover; $17.99 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms
This is a great fall book — perfectly placed for those who miss the weird horror of Ray Bradbury and Bentley Little but are aching for something new. Patrick Delaney has arrived with a strong entry into horror that is tough to classify here — is it weird horror, cosmic horror, or something else? Read on. The journey (quite long at 566 pages) is a wild and rewarding one.
My favorite book series for the longest time was “The Little House” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. These books were set in the American Midwest in the late 1800s.
Hearts Strange and Dreadful transports us to New England in 1821 and I, for one, could not have been more eager to make the trip back in time to this familiar era.
Devil’s Night: Bite-Sized Horror for Halloween by Pippa Bailey and Myk Pilgrim
Pugnacious Press (May 2020)
111 pages; $9.99 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Anton Cancre
I generally don’t spend time talking about the personalities of writers when reviewing their work. Here, though, personality is the point of the whole thing. Pippa Bailey and Myk Pilgrim have established themselves as playful, boisterous members of the horror community over the years they have been a part of it. They walk that line between the dark and the heart and the weird little dancey places in between very well and it comes across clearly that this is just who they are.
“The Three Births of Daoloth” series is a trilogy that was previously released in hardcover, limited editions by PS Publishing. Now, the series is getting a reprint by Flame Tree Press and is poised to get a whole new fanbase for this epic, cosmic horror story.
Hanna Schroy is a cartoonist and illustrator living in Austin. She has participated in a multitude of self-published anthologies including Girls! Girls! Girls! curated by Alex Perkins and Thicker Than Blood curated by Mengmeng Liu. She is a long-time dance enthusiast and recent amateur gardener. Her newest endeavor is the middle-grade graphic novel Last Dance.
Fast cars are not my thing. That whole Fast and Furious movie franchise? Nope. Never saw those. The cover of this book with that muscle car tearing through a desert landscape and the title Eight Cylinders doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest. What does appeal to me is this slim (just over one hundred pages) novella is written by Jason Parent and published by Crystal Lake Publishing. I’m a big fan of both. Crystal Lake consistently publishes quality horror and Parent has a unique storytelling style that I enjoy. Last year, I celebrated his short story, “Russian Dollhouse” from the Midnight in the Graveyard anthology.
Kathe Koja has long been regarded as one of the true artists in dark fiction, weaving horror into stories and novels that blur the lines of genres and realities. From her Stoker winning The Cipher back in 1991, she has upended what’s to be expected from the genre. Of course, she’s also diverted on occasion into historical fiction, young adult, suspense, and simply plain weird fiction over the years. In Velocities, some of her best has been collected, ranging from “Pas De Deux” from 1995 to “Urb Civ” from 2019 — a stunning array of styles and stories that, while accessible, reach into surreal corners of our reality and others, almost as if creeping down into the hole in The Cipher itself.
Velveteen & Mandala opens with a young woman named Velveteen waking up in the crowded tank where she lives. With her is another young woman named Mandala. They live in a dystopian Japan, where fighter planes fly overhead and zombies (called corpses or deadizens) roam. It’s never fully explained how the world came to be this way, though there are some references to how humans have messed up the environment. At any rate, these two young women have a job to do: kill the zombies.
The Masque of the Red Death (Fine Art Edition) by Edgar Allan Poe and Steven Archer
Raw Dog Screaming Press (January 13, 2021)
72 pages; $26.95 paperback; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Anton Cancre
I know what you are thinking: we can all get this story for free. At the very least, we can get it in a collection with plenty of other stories and poems by Edgar Allan Poe. Why would anyone want to pay $27?