In the 1800s, it’s easier to kill and get away with it—if that’s your thing. Walking into a saloon, collecting body parts, and leaving out the front door doesn’t exactly trigger sirens and a team of forensic scientists, but there’s always someone you’re likely to run into that’ll try and put a stop to your slaughtering ways.
Did Scott Thomas peek inside our horror-loving brains while we weren’t looking and use what he found there to write the most appealing book just for us? He might have. In fact, the more I sit here with all my review notes, the more I’m convinced he overheard us talking about all our favorite things to read about and he used ALL OF THEM in this one book: Violet.
Patrick Freivald has released a new short story collection from Barking Deer Press entitled In the Garden of Rusting Gods. An established novelist, Bram Stoker Award-nominee (and, with Andrew Wolter, winner of the Richard Laymon President’s Award in 2015), he writes horror for both young adult and adult audiences alike. His short fiction has mostly tended toward science fiction horror, which he excels at, so for readers wanting their fix, his collection will fit the bill.
“We Are What We Wish We Could Forget”
“Let’s Kill this Fucking Clown”
Let’s get this out of the way right up front. Yes, It Chapter Two is nearly three hours long. Did it feel like it? Not in the least. Because my phone was turned off during the press screening I attended on Tuesday evening, I had no sense of the passage of time, but I never felt the movie dragged. Not for a moment. I saw it on an IMAX screen, the first time I’ve seen anything on a screen that big in many years. It’s hard to say if it’s worth the premium, but the experience felt immersive to me.
The movie is R-rated, with good reason. It’s pretty darned scary, and very, very bad things happen to cute little kids. I admit, without reservation, that I was jolted into yelling out loud on at least a couple of occasions, which hardly ever happens to me. While the movie has more than its fair share of jump scares, it’s also tense, full of dread, and frightening.
It Chapter Two picks up exactly where we left off two years ago, with the young Losers in the aftermath of their battle with Pennywise, promising to come back if the killings in Derry, Maine start again.
“Great Events Turn on Small Hinges”
When The Institute was announced in January, the book’s description had people wondering if it would have ties to Firestarter or the Dark Tower series. Kidnapping kids with psychic powers sounds like what happened to the Breakers at Algul Siento, and Charlie McGee underwent extensive testing at a compound run by the Shop to determine the range of her pyrokinesis.
In fact, The Institute isn’t connected to those earlier works—or really to anything else in King’s work. The organization that runs the Institute in remote northern Maine (in TR-110, for those keeping track) isn’t the second coming of the Shop. The covert group has been operating for over sixty years. The kidnapped children, ranging from eight to sixteen years of age, aren’t being used to bring down the Beams supporting the Dark Tower. The one story that comes to mind when reading King’s latest is his 1997 novella “Everything’s Eventual,” which ultimately turned out to have Dark Tower implications, although that wasn’t clear at the time.
Eddie Ryder is a reluctant protagonist who owns his departed father Big Eddie’s car garage, but it’s a burden he did not wish for. He used to be a member of a biker gang called the Hell Riders. On top of being repulsive in many ways, they’re also devoted to racism. Eddie still respects most of their code, not out of choice, but out of necessity and survival.
Rattlesnake Kisses by Robert Ford and John Boden
Apokrupha (July 2019)
216 pages; $12.99 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia
This, it appears, is the summer of Robert Ford and John Boden. Both have other releases stirring up notice in the weird/horror world—Ford with his novel (co-written with Matt Hayward) A Penny for Your Thoughts, and Boden’s recent release, the weird western Walk the Darkness Down. At this point, it should come as no surprise that the authors of The Compound (Ford) and Jedi Summer (Boden) continue to produce high-quality horror/weird fiction. Because of this, one would expect that a story co-written by them would offer double-barrels of emotionally gut-wrenching fiction featuring empathetic-but-doomed characters in weird situations. Rest assured, Rattlesnake Kisses fulfills that expectation, and then some.
The Fearing, Book Two: Water & Wind by John F.D. Taff
Grey Matter Press (August 20, 2019)
130 pages; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie Hartmann
The Fearing is an epic, apocalyptic horror story by “King of Pain” John F. D. Taff, told over the course of multiple, individual book installments published by Grey Matter Press. Book One is titled Fire & Rain, which I reviewed for Cemetery Dance in June. Here’s a quote from the review:
And this is where Taff is a damn genius. He proves time and time again that in just a few pages, in just one scene, he can manipulate the feelings of his readers and make us care about these people on the page like THAT *snaps fingers*.
If readers haven’t yet discovered the magic of Steph Post’s enthralling writing, Miraculum is a fine place to start, a novel that should put her on the map with a style somewhere between Gillian Flynn and John Connolly, but with a mark all her own.
The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson
Penguin Books (July 9, 2019)
224 pages; $8.99 paperback; $11.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia
The Saturday Night Ghost Club, by Craig Davidson, isn’t exactly a ghost story. Nor does it feature any overtly supernatural events. However, it is, at heart, about the essence of hauntings. About the things which haunt us, even if they’re buried so deeply, we don’t even remember them.
If you enjoy keeping up with all the new releases in horror, then no doubt you heard about 2018’s The Nightmare Room by Chris Sorensen. Book #1 of the Messy Man series received a warm welcome from the horror industry with glowing reviews across the board from multiple sources, including me! I loved The Nightmare Room. having this to say about it:
…a really well written haunted house story that’s easy to follow and scary enough to leave the light on or read during the day. I loved it! This is a must have for your horror collection.
Our War by Craig DiLouie
Orbit (August 20, 2019)
400 pages; $17.74 hardcover; $16.99 paperback; $13.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia
This may be one of the most important books you’ll read this year. I say that without an ounce of hyperbole. Given the current climate of our country and its cultural, political, and social polarization, Craig DiLouie has written a heart-breaking, terrifying novel which—I desperately hope—will only be a warning, and not someday viewed as prophetic.
Weird fiction is making a massive comeback. Several authors are breaking out of a box they never felt comfortable being trapped in. Cody Goodfellow has never fit in any box. He can nail commercial fiction, straight up horror and other genres with ease, and has done so several years.
Fantasy with horror or horror with fantasy is tough to nail down (unless your last name happens to be Martin or King). There has been a resurgence recently in the genre due to Game Of Thrones and King’s Dark Tower series, but true stars are tough to find among the mess of copycats. Finding something truly original and fun to read is tougher than pulling a thread of gold from a ton of dragon poop. There are treasures out there, though, and a new one just emerged.
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White
Delacorte Press (September 2018)
304 pages; $8.27 hardcover; $19.99 paperback; $10.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie Hartmann
What a treat that a signed hardback copy of this book showed up in my mailbox just a few weeks before I learned that Kiersten White had won the 2018 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a YA Horror novel. Hearing such glowing reviews made me eager to read this popular retelling of a classic, horror favorite.