When does a zombie story become interesting again, after the glut that’s thicker than the goo between the undead’s ears? Answer: Dead Aware, a tale that’s enjoyable from start to finish, and was an unexpected pleasure. Told from the points of view of an undead couple—okay, that was enough to hook me from the get-go—Merry’s story chronicles Clara and Max Jacobs from living to dead to undead to… whatever.
The Apocalyptic Mannequin by Stephanie Wytovich
Raw Dog Screaming Press (September 2019)
114 pages, $13.95 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Joshua Gage
The Apocalyptic Mannequin is a collection of poetry about the apocalypse, and those who survived. Wytovich attempts to tap into the emotions of survivors with her poetry, creating a cast of characters who explore their fears and pain; however, while there are some really inventive ideas and clever survivor stories in this collection, the majority of the poems ultimately fall short due to craft issues.
The Films of Uwe Boll, Vol. 1: The Video Game Movies by Mat Bradley-Tschirgi
Moon Books (September 2019)
142 pages; $9.99 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Anton Cancre
You read that right, folks. A book on the films of someone who has been often called one of the worst directors of our times. And it is only Volume One? They are making more? Someone has to watch 11 Uwe Boll films and then watch more of them?
Yup, and that person is Mat Bradley-Tschirgi. May some Being bless him, because this feels like a job of the damned right here.
On matters of horror fiction and what should or should not be defined as such, nobody gets the last word. For some people, a horror story is only as good as its ability to scare. For me, the horror genre is a spectrum, and feeling scared falls somewhere on that emotional spectrum along with a host of other feelings. Judging a book based on its ability to belong in a genre, employing the sole criteria of fear, is too subjective and limiting in my opinion.
Whispers from the Depths by C.W. Briar
Uncommon Universes Press (February 2019)
296 pages; $24.99 hardcover; $17.58 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia
I usually don’t read much fantasy. While a lot of it’s well-written, it’s just not necessarily my cup of tea. However, I thoroughly enjoyed C.W. Briar’s debut collection Wrath and Ruin a few years ago, so I felt more than confident in taking a chance on his fantasy about water witches. I’m happy to say it paid off.
The Fearing, Book Three: Air & Dust by John F.D. Taff
Grey Matter Press (October 2019)
320 pages; $9.99 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann
It’s hard to believe that we’re here. We’ve arrived at Book Three in The Fearing series by John F. D. Taff. There’s only one left! I freely admit, this makes me a little sad. I’m also wondering, is there anyone out there that hasn’t heard of this series? I’ll pretend for a moment that if you’re reading this review, you know nothing about it and this will make me excited to convince you of its epic awesomeness.
I’ve made no bones about my absolute adoration of Betty Rocksteady’s work. Her novellas have all kicked me squarely in the heart-booty and the couple of shorter works I have read in anthologies were great. So, I can save you a little time and just tell you to buy her first collection of short fiction, In Dreams We Rot.
Okay. Clearly some of you need convincing. That’s fine.
I’ll be honest; I’m particularly conflicted on Rami Ungar’s debut novel, Rose. On one hand, I dig the heck out of the story being told here. On the other hand, there are some severe problems with how it is told that rub me very much the wrong way.
Stephen King at the Movies by Ian Nathan
Palazzo Editions (October 2019)
224 pages; $28.93 hardcover
The World of IT by Alyse Wax
Harry N. Abrams (September 2019)
224 pages: $24.49 hardcover; $16.79 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand
If there’s one thing we as horror fans have never been deprived of, it’s Stephen King adaptations. From major novels like The Shining and Misery to minor stories like “The Mangler” and “Secret Window, Secret Garden,” virtually every corner of King’s bibliography has been mined. If you count sequels and remakes, there are more than 80 film and television adaptations of King’s work…and counting.
glass slipper dreams, shattered by doungjai gam
Apokrupha (July 2019)
80 pages; $7.99 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia
Micro-fiction is a difficult genre to master. Like poetry, it’s built on the art of distilled language. Expressions of thoughts, emotions, fear, pain, joy, nightmares, and dreams, conveyed through precise word choice and imagery. And the key word here is precise. Micro-fiction can’t be just short. It must be powerful, evocative, emotional…using the very essence of language.
How to Survive a Horror Movie by Seth Grahame-Smith
Quirk Books (September 2019)
176 pages; $11.99 paperback; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand
It’s the middle of October, just a couple of weeks away from Halloween as I write this, and I find myself (like, doubtless, many of you) in the midst of a horror movie marathon leading into my favorite holiday. Most of what I watch this time of year are classics that I’ve seen a time or two (or ten) before, and — again, I suspect, like many of you — I find myself constantly second-guessing the actions of the characters on the screen.
The Place of Broken Things by Linda D. Addison and Alessandro Manzetti
Crystal Lake Publishing (July 2019)
88 pages; $11.99 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Anton Cancre
Let’s face it: No matter how little we may want to admit it, we’re all at least a bit broken. Something, somewhere in each of us shattered at some time or another. We’ve all felt displaced, alone, in the face of the feeling. The Place of Broken Things is centered around looking at those broken places both within us and without and about placing them in the world.
I Know Everything by Matthew Farrell
Thomas & Mercer (August 2019)
334 pages; $11.99 paperback; $5.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia
Suspense/thrillers with “twist” endings usually telegraph said endings, especially if you’ve read enough of them. The victim is really the killer, the killer is really the victim, or the last person you’d expect (because at this point, that trope is as well worn as any horror trope, making us immediately suspect the last person you’d suspect), or actually, it’s the person we thought was the villain all along. It’s why I tend to stick to supernatural horror in my reading these days, because I usually find the mystery in those stories more engaging.
“Somewhere out there is a true and living prophet of destruction and I dont want to confront him. I know he’s real. I have seen his work.” No Country for Old Men, Cormac McCarthy
Sometimes the right story, told by the right author, finds itself in your hands at just the right time. I received Grind Your Bones to Dust by Nicholas Day as a printed manuscript, three hole punched, brad at the top and the bottom holding the many pages together. It felt special when I held it.
Flipping through, I saw illustrations; striking, intentionally scribbly illustrations of man and beast.
I already knew from reading Nick’s short story collection, Nobody Gets Hurt and Other Lies, what I should expect from his first novel:
As I devoured this book, I had the distinct feeling that every single word was chosen with meticulous care and concern; no words were added flippantly, wastefully or without great intention. This kind of mindfulness from the author has a mesmerizing effect on me as a reader. This book is so compelling and gripping, my very life was suspended and held in tension until I finished.
Told in four parts, the first three parts are told almost as isolated events. There are small connective threads of familiarity, either with characters or the storyline, woven through so that you know that at some point everything is going to come together and it will be epic. That apex moment of all the points of light intersecting is in part four. The brilliance of it all is breathtaking; literally, the most masterful climax and conclusion. I have never read its equal.
It would be utter ruin if I were to overshare any of this book’s unique storyline. Part One starts right off with the protagonist, Louis Loving, fleeing a strange horror in the middle of the night. You have never encountered predators such as these in all your horror journeys.
Part Two features a villain so unfathomably evil…I could say with confidence that James Hayte is the single most wicked character to ever terrify me in literature. Second only to Cormac McCarty’s the Judge in Blood Meridian. There are murderous deeds committed you will never want to read again, and Nicholas Day writes them in such a way that you are unlikely to ever forget a single one. Part of me wishes I could scrub them from my mind and part of me wants to applaud Day for being the kind of author who absolutely knows how to write exceptionally memorable acts of violence. He understands that sometimes full detail is not required to project a horrifying act into a reader’s mind. Things can be suggested with just the right words, and it’s more unsettling than full disclosure could ever be.
One of my favorite characters is Billings, a supernatural raven who speaks in these prophetic parables and mysteries. Billings and James somehow find each other and the two of them together are some of my favorite storytelling moments.
Part Three is the introduction of some important characters who are going to lead us back to Part One. This portion of the story provides the reader with some of the best dialog I’ve ever read. Truly some profound words are exchanged and I found myself wanting to either commit everything to memory or furiously scribble down notes, so I did both. It’s in Part Three that I read one of the scariest horror fiction moments I’ve read to this day. It reads like an intense scene in some indie horror movie that is talked about for generations. Once you read it, you’ll know—that’s the scene Sadie was talking about. Like already said, Part Four is Nicholas Day showing us what he’s made of.
He writes like a man possessed, as if the very story you’re reading has somehow taken over Day’s being and poured itself out onto the page. I don’t know if Nicholas Day sold his soul at a crossroads to bring us Grind Your Bones to Dust, but this book feels like the result of a pact made with the Devil to bring us the finest horror has to offer. I’m thankful this is his first novel, because it is this reader’s opinion it will propel him farther out into the industry and we can plan to enjoy many more novels from him. I’ll be standing in line.
Depending on your reading habits, you may be familiar with Hard Case Crime in a couple of different ways. If you read horror exclusively, you may know Hard Case Crime as the publisher of two Stephen King novels: The Colorado Kid and Joyland (neither of which are horror, although Joyland does incorporate some supernatural elements). If you’re the kind of reader who makes room for more than one genre on your bookshelves, you may know Hard Case Crime as a publisher specializing in a mix of original and reprint pulp crime novels. I’m a Hard Case Crime fan from way back, so when I read they were combining my love of crime fiction and Halloween stories in a novel called Blood Sugar, I was all in.