Review: Shiver by Junji Ito

banner that reads The Comic Vault

cover of shiver by junji ito

Shiver by Junji Ito
VIZ Media (December 2017)
400 pages; $22.99 hardcover, $15.99 ebook
Reviewed by Danica Davidson

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.Continue Reading

Review: Wicked Women: An Anthology by The New England Horror Writers

cover of Wicked Women showing a witch-like characterWicked 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.Continue Reading

Review: Many Restless Concerns by Gayle Brandeis

cover of Many Restless Concerns by Gayle BrandeisMany 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.Continue Reading

Review: The House that Fell from the Sky by Patrick Delaney

cover of The House that Fell from the Sky by Patrick DelaneyThe 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.Continue Reading

Review: Hearts Strange and Dreadful by Tim McGregor

cover of Hearts Strange and Dreadful by Tim McGregorHearts Strange and Dreadful by Tim McGregor
Off Limits Press (February 15, 2021)
276 pages; $16 paperback; $6.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

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.Continue Reading

Review: Devil’s Night: Bite-Sized Horror for Halloween by Pippa Bailey and Myk Pilgrim

cover of Devil's Night Bite-Sized HorrorDevil’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.Continue Reading

Review: The Searching Dead by Ramsey Campbell

The Searching Dead by Ramsey Campbell
Flame Tree Press (February 16th, 2021)
256 pages; hardcover $24.95; $14.95 paperback; $6.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

“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.Continue Reading

Review: Last Dance by Hanna Schroy

banner that reads The Comic Vault

cover of Last Dance by Hanna Schroy

Last Dance by Hanna Schroy
Iron Circus Comics (January 2021)
200 pages; $11.99 paperback
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

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.Continue Reading

Review: Eight Cylinders by Jason Parent

cover of Eight Cylinders by Jason ParentEight Cylinders by Jason Parent
Crystal Lake Publishing (November 2020)
124 pages; $10.99 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

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.Continue Reading

Review: Velocities by Kathe Koja

cover of Velocities by Kathe KojaVelocities by Kathe Koja
Meerkat Press (April 2020)
200 pages; $13.69 paperback; $7.49 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

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.Continue Reading

Review: Velveteen and Mandala by Jiro Matsumoto

cover of the manga Velveteen & MandalaVelveteen & Mandala by Jiro Matsumoto
Vertical (August 2011)
344 pages; $16.99 paperback; $13.99 digital e-book
Reviewed by Danica Davidson

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.Continue Reading

Review: The Masque of the Red Death (Fine Art Edition) by Edgar Allan Poe and Steven Archer

cover of the masque of the red death fine art editionThe 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?Continue Reading

Review: Last Case at Baggage Auction by Eric J. Guignard

cover of last case at baggage auctionLast Case at Baggage Auction by Eric J. Guignard
Harper Day Books (August 2020)
156 pages; $24.95 hardcover; $9.95 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Eric Guignard has fast become one of the most reliable “new” writers in horror and other speculative genres in recent years. His Doorway to the Deadeye and a ultra-cool anthology Pop the Clutch cemented his reputation, not to mention his more academic studies of authors plus the 5 Senses of Horror study/anthology.

Last Case at Baggage Junction is a weird bird but a fine read that demands to be read carefully, although it can easily be devoured in one sitting. Part noir, part horror, it burrows deep into the reader’s psyche as it weaves a deceptive tale that lingers long after the final page.Continue Reading

Review: Horror Fiction from Gothic to Post-Modern – Critical Essays edited by Michele Brittany and Nicholas Diak

cover of Horror Fiction from Gothic to Post-Modern: Critical EssaysHorror Fiction from Gothic to Post-Modern – Critical Essays edited by Michele Brittany and Nicholas Diak
McFarland and Company (February 2020)
236 pages; $45 paperback; $20.99 e-book
Reviewed by R.B. Payne

Horror fiction is a popular genre for millions of readers, but are these tales of terror and fear worthy of academic analysis? Of course they are! And, under the sheltering wings of StokerCon®, the Ann Radcliff Academic Conference brings literary scholarship to gruesome and terrifying horror books, comics, art, cinema, music, poetry, television, and video games.Continue Reading

Review: Aftermath of an Industrial Accident by Mike Allen

cover of Aftermath of an Industrial Accident by Mike AllenAftermath of an Industrial Accident by Mike Allen
Mythic Delirium Books (July 2020)
238 pages, $15.95 Hardcover
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Anyone familiar with horror and dark fantasy knows the name Mike Allen. He’s been a Nebula, Shirley Jackson, and World Fantasy Award finalist. He’s won three Rhyslings from the SFPA. He’s edited a number of award winning books and anthologies. It’s no surprise, therefore, that his newest collection, Aftermath of an Industrial Accident, is an incredible read. This collection of horror and dark fantasy poetry and short fiction needs to be on the shelf of any horror reader.Continue Reading