Last year’s dark fantasy underdog breakout, Hekla’s Children, brought the subgenre to life again with a mix of heavy action, horror, and fantasy, with a style that read quicker than a demon on a blood-slicked luge to hell. James Brogden became known in the mix of genres as a voice to be reckoned with, but second novels can be a downfall.
Nothing You Can Do is the first collection from genre writer Ed Kurtz., containing seventeen stories of hardboiled crime. Most of them have been previously published, with the exception of the final story, which appears here for the first time.
Unless you are a hardcore Ed Kurtz fan, chances are pretty good you haven’t read more than a handful of these tales.
I can’t think of a better way to describe Tony Tremblay’s debut novel, The Moore House, than with the author’s own words of warning from one character to another in the actual story…
Straight from the success of last year’s The Forgotten Girl, Rio Youers bursts back onto the scene with another high-octane thriller that stretches the bounds of reality in a tale which blurs the lines between horror, thriller, mystery, and fantasy. Those familiar with his writing will be treated to another smooth ride that will keep the pages flying.
Every once in a while, a book comes along to remind you how much fun reading can be. Thrillers usually fill that void pretty well. Add in some darkness, and opening the covers can feel like a rollercoaster ride designed by Rod Serling when arguing with Clive Barker.
There’s something decidedly different about Joe Hill, besides the obvious relation. His novels and short stories defy categorization, often eschewing the conventions of horror and tropes of speculative fiction in favor of something much more… interesting.
The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay
William Morrow (June 26, 2018)
288 pages; $21.59 hardcover; $12.99 e-book
Reviewed by Jonathan Reitan
Before you know it, and in just one breath, you’ve already read the first 50 pages of Paul Tremblay’s summer release The Cabin At The End Of The World. It’s that good.
Haunted house stories have been run into the ground and, in most cases, should be boarded up due to the tropes that lazy writing cannot fix. In recent years, only a few have managed to introduce something new. Examples include House of Leaves, The Unseen, and The Haunted, each bringing a new wrinkle to the subgenre.
Tim Lebbon knows how to spin a tale that envelops the reader in a world they know, and then twists that reality into a unique playground for his characters to battle monsters and create stories which always sidestep cliché.
After a couple of straight-up thrillers, Lebbon returned to the land of weird horror with Relics last year, a novel that detailed the hidden world of the Kin, creatures who existed alongside humans yet are rarely seen. Fairies, nymphs, and monsters beyond description fought for their survival against enemies both human and supernatural.
Cold Cuts by Robert Payne Cabeen
Omnium Gatherum Media (July 2017)
228 pages; $12.99 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by C.W. Briar
Monster stories generally work best when approached in one of two ways. The first is to have a well-executed tale where intriguing characters clash with a unique creature. The other is for the story to double-down on clichés and formulas, preferably with a more tongue-in-cheek tone. Cold Cuts by Robert Payne Cabeen is squarely the latter.
Noir fiction can be a mixed bag in today’s market. Many of the writers seem content to channel Raymond Chandler and roll through a murder-by-numbers plot with the most clichéd characters. Thankfully, a few breathe new life into the mix. Sam Wiebe is one of them. Last year’s The Invisible Dead introduced private investigator Dave Wakeland in the underused but vibrant setting of Vancouver. Coupled with the PI’s journeys into northern Washington State, the book feels fresh and avoids the pseudo-early twentieth century language and tropes.
Sonya and Callie just want to go out for a date. What they don’t want is to find themselves surrounded by men who seem incapable of doing anything but spout lame pick up lines and force themselves on anyone or anything they come across. What follows is a surprisingly harrowing ordeal of survival that reminded me quite pleasantly of Jack Ketchum’s Ladies’ Night.
In her first collection in several years, Elizabeth Massie returns with a thrilling collection of short stories. The Bram Stoker-winning author has put together eighteen tales, several of which are new to readers, and there’s not a clunker in the bunch.
You know what I was just thinking we don’t have nearly enough of? Hyper-violent, dystopian, post-apocalyptic sword and sandals-style fantasy with a hefty seasoning of Shakespearean drama. Luckily, we have Jess McHugh’s Nightly Owl, Fatal Raven swooping in to pluck out our eyes.
And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe by Gwendolyn Kiste
JournalStone (April 2017)
210 pages; $15.95 paperback; $3.95 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms
Remember this name. Gwendolyn Kiste will one day rule the world of dark short fiction if there’s any justice. Every once in a while, a new voice emerges and takes the genre by storm. Several have broken the surface lately and shown tinges of greatness to be, but rarely is one “born” with a style and substance this mind-boggling.