Every Woman Knows This is a very personal, very pointed collection of stories that reflect Laurel Hightower’s experience of the world as a woman. Experiences that are common enough she can comfortably state that commonality in the title (and yes, she is explicit in her belief that this stands for all women, so please step aside with any gender essentialism). These stories hit on everything from dealing with stalkers to the perils of motherhood to always having to clean up after some manchild that never listens to reason and climbs down into an abandoned submarine just to poke around for a bit BECAUSE OF COURSE HE DID, and every one of them hits right in the gut.
Admittedly, I’m a Lucy Snyder fan. Ecstatically so. Still, I’ve been found wanting of her longer fiction for awhile now. Thankfully, I now have Sister, Maiden, Monster to shove into my brainmeat.
A new virus has found itself among and within humanity. It changes us in ways we don’t really understand. We follow three women, Erin, Savanna, and Mareva as they find their place in this new world of murder, brain devouring, and grotesque teratomas. Unfortunately, there isn’t much more I can say without giving away the fun.
I ADORE SUSAN SNYDER. Like, seriously. My girl has so much personality clawing its way through these pages. You don’t even know.
But, fine. Let’s back up a tick.
Encyclopedia Sharksploitanica is a movie guide book. You know the type. Movies are listed. Reviews are given. Yawn. We’ve been here a thousand times.
What makes the difference here is the abject joy and love Susan has for sharks in general and these stupid movies that have taken up so much video, TV, and streaming space in our consciousness. Have you seen her Sharksploitation Sunday YouTube channel? You should. She is cute and fun and a great time to hang out with while she talks about sharky stuff. This book has all of that same personality and exuberance, but in a more compact and oddly more silly format.
Horror hot take: I’m not that into Aliens as a film. But I dig the heck out of Jenette Vasquez’ take no crap, tear everyone to bits attitude. Without question, I absolutely adore the heck out of everything I have read from V. Castro. While Vasquez ended up being quite different from what I expected, it also ended up being much better.
In 2020 Kim Vodicka gifted us with The Elvis Machine, one of the most compelling, and honest collections of the year. This time, she is focusing on Ted Bundy. It would be easy to go with straight depictions of the murders. Instead, Kim pictures herself as both the fangirl obsessed with Bundy and as his victim. She delves deep into the squishy desire to be both a dehumanized thing of flesh to be used and an object of adoration.
Max Booth III has set himself up as the king of turning the worst ideas on the planet into absolute gold. Two old friends arguing in a basement because one thinks he is a werewolf? Killer. A family stuck in their bathroom? Heartbreaking. A father and a son dig up their own corpses from the back garden…
Yup, that is the elevator pitch here. At best, a minute-long gag filling space in a cheap anthology film. WEIRD! CREEPY! DONE! And we move on with our lives.
But not Max. Nope. He manages to turn it into a stupidly engaging book.
I dug the hell out of Laurel Hightower’s previous book, Crossroads. It had that heart I am always looking for, a fair amount of “messeded up,” and an attitude that took zero percent of my guff. So, of course, when I found out that she had a new one coming out, and that it involved Mothman, I was down as a clown in D-town.
Bugs, amiright? Creepy little bastards. Skittering around on too many legs. Staring at us with too many eyes. Click-clacking their chitinous carapaces from the dark corners. Then they have the nerve to squirt out all those gloppy bits when you squish them. EW!
Alessandro Manzetti always does a great job of evoking a narrative with his poems. He has figured out a great balance of information given and withheld within the swirling images his poems paint that hints at the larger narrative beyond what we are given. I love it. So, when he has a narrative stretched over fifteen poems, you know I’m in.
Most likely, you know Chuck Tingle. Also incredibly likely, you have never read more of his work than the covers. Which is a shame, because Dr. Chuck Tingle is honestly a hell of a writer. But, if you are too scared of a little butt pounding, then maybe his first foray into full-out horror will get you to give the dude a chance. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Revelation: The Poppet Cycle Book 1 by Donna J.W. Munro
Omnium Gatherum (January 2021}
229 pages; $14.99 Paperback; $3.99 ebook
Reviewed by Anton Cancre
In the decently distant future, most population centers of the United States of North America are domed cities where even the poorer members of society live in relative ease and comfort. Poppets, the reanimated and mechanized bodies of the deceased, have taken over most manual labor. Outside of the domed cities lies the chaos of the wilds. Ellie, the assumed heir of the company that makes and runs the Poppets, is about to learn that life within and without the domes is far uglier and more complicated than she realizes.
Max Booth III is carving a niche out for himself as the king of premises that should not, in any way whatsoever, work. Yet, somehow, he does it. Every frickin’ time. Even with that anthology that every editor on the planet curses him for. I’ll be damned if he doesn’t pull it off again with We Need to Do Something.
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.
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 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?