Review: Close to Midnight edited by Mark Morris

cover of Close to MidnightClose to Midnight edited by Mark Morris
Flame Tree Press (October 2022)
304 pages; $26.95 hardcover; $16.95 paperback; $6.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Opening an anthology of horror stories is like opening your candy bag after a long night of trick-or-treating: you hope the chocolate treats and peanut butter cups outweigh the licorice and Circus Peanuts.

With Close to Midnight, out this month from Flame Tree Press, editor Mark Morris fills up readers’ bags with king-sized candy bars, proving his is the house to go to on Halloween night.Continue Reading

How I Spend My Halloween: V. Castro

banner reading How I Spend My Halloween

If you know anything about Cemetery Dance, you know that the arrival of October…The Spooky Season…is a very special time of year for us. To celebrate, we’ve invited some of our favorite spinners of spooky tales to share their favorite Halloween traditions and memories with us.

Today we’re joined by V. Castro, Mexican American author, full-time mother, Latinx literary advocate, and co-founder of Fright Girl Summer, a platform to amplify marginalized voices. Continue Reading

How I Spend My Halloween: Stephen Graham Jones

banner reading How I Spend My Halloween

If you know anything about Cemetery Dance, you know that the arrival of October…The Spooky Season…is a very special time of year for us. To celebrate, we’ve invited some of our favorite spinners of spooky tales to share their favorite Halloween traditions and memories with us.

Today we’re joined by Stephen Graham Jones, whose novel My Heart is a Chainsaw took the horror genre by storm last year and will, in true slasher tradition, be followed by at least two sequels.
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Review: Southern Fried & Horrified by Ronald Kelly

Southern Fried & HorrifiedSouthern Fried & Horrified by Ronald Kelly
Stygian Sky Media (September 2022)
245 pages; $70 limited edition hardcover; $15.95 paperback
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Veteran horror author Ronald Kelly has a new book out, and — as expected — it’s chock full of unusual and horrific elements like rats scratching in bedroom walls, and women with second sight having troublesome visions, and eerie encounters with sketchy clowns.

Things is, this book is nonfiction.Continue Reading

Review: Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

cover of Daisy DarkerDaisy Darker by Alice Feeney
Flatiron Books (August 30, 2022)
352 pages; $23.99 hardcover; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

They call Alice Feeney “The Queen of Twists.” It’s an apt title — Daisy Darker‘s revelations come at nearly a twist-a-chapter clip — but don’t let it fool you into thinking Feeney’s work is all about the gimmick. Her latest novel stands strong on its characters and setting; the constant game-changing revelations are the icing on an already delicious cake.Continue Reading

Review: Black Mouth by Ronald Malfi

cover of Black Mouth by Ronald MalfiBlack Mouth by Ronald Malfi
Titan Books (July 19, 2022)
448 pages; $15.99 paperback; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

When an evil once thought vanquished rears its ugly head again, a group of childhood friends reunite to confront it, hoping to put an end to it — and to some raging personal demons of their own — once and for all.

That’s the premise of Ronald Malfi’s new novel Black Mouth, and if you think it sounds familiar, you’re right. Serious Stephen King vibes permeate this book, from the obvious parallels to IT to the overtones of “The Man in the Black Suit” that color the Magician character. However, while Malfi is treading familiar ground here, he’s carving his own path, and it’s a journey well worth taking with him.Continue Reading

Review: Jacked: A Crime Anthology edited by Vern Smith

cover of JackedJacked: A Crime Anthology edited by Vern Smith
Run Amok Books (July 1, 2022)
242 pages; $18.99 paperback
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Jacked: A Crime Anthology features stories that cover a wide swath of the crime genre, giving readers the chance to indulge in their favorites while also discovering some new approaches to classic crime tropes.Continue Reading

Review: John Carpenter’s Night Terrors: Sour Candy by Kealan Patrick Burke and Jason Felix

banner that reads The Comic Vault

cover of Sour CandyJohn Carpenter’s Night Terrors: Sour Candy by Kealan Patrick Burke and Jason Felix
Storm King Productions (March 2022)
104 pages; $17.99 paperback
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Back in 2015, I had the pleasure of reviewing Kealan Patrick Burke’s then-new novella, Sour Candy. You can see the full review here, but I’ll include the plot summary from that review below:Continue Reading

Review: Secret Identity by Alex Segura

cover of Secret IdentitySecret Identity by Alex Segura
Flatiron Books (March 15, 2022)
368 pages; $27.99 hardcover; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

“It was barely eleven and Carmen Valdez already wanted to die.”

Doesn’t exactly sound like someone working at their dream job, does it? Carmen Valdez knows that being the secretary for the owner/editor-in-chief of Triumph Comics isn’t what she wants, but she’s hoping it’s at least a foot in the door…a first step on her journey to writing comic books for a living.Continue Reading

Review: Devil House by John Darnielle

cover of Devil HouseDevil House by John Darnielle
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (January 2022)
416 pages; $20.16 hardcover; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Diving into John Darnielle’s Devil House is akin to entering a hedge maze: there are twists and turns ahead, and a few dead ends, and there will be times where you feel a little lost, but for the most part it’s a worthy journey.Continue Reading

Review: Seth’s Christmas Ghost Stories (2021 Set)

Seth's Christmas StoriesSeth’s Christmas Ghost Stories (2021 Set)
Biblioasis (October 2021)
$9.50 each paperback; $25 set of three
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Reading a ghost story on Christmas Eve was once as much a part of traditional Christmas celebrations as turkey, eggnog, and Santa Claus.

I wish that had been the case with my family growing up. Don’t get me wrong, I love our traditions, but mixing in a ghost story would have been perfection. But I have to be honest — even as a young card-carrying, Fangoria-buying, Stephen King-reading horror fan, the idea of reading a ghost story at Christmas never occurred to me. If it had, I have no doubt I would have gravitated to these “Seth’s Christmas Ghost Stories” sets from Biblioasis.

Biblioasis, a literary press based in Windsor, Ontario, has been releasing these editions for a few years now. They’re a smaller (4×6) size, so they’re perfect for stockings, and each year they focus on a different set of Christmas ghost stories. Past entries include such tales as “The Signalman” by Charles Dickens, “The Apple Tree” by Daphne du Maurier, and “The Story of a Disappearance and An Appearance” by M.R. James.

The 2021 set includes the following stories, each presented as its own paperback book:

  • “An Eddy on the Floor” by Bernard Capes: A man is appointed doctor of a local prison, where he meets a frightened inmate who is begging to be moved from next to a boarded-up cell that no one will let the doctor see.
  • “The Doll’s Ghost” by F. Marion Crawford: A young girl drops her doll down a staircase and prepares a grave for her fractured companion. Doll doctor Mr. Puckler comes to the rescue, but soon his daughter goes missing — and a strange voice begins to call out to him in the night.
  • “Mr. Jones” by Edith Wharton: Jane Lynke inherits a beautiful country estate, but someone named Mr. Jones has instructed the caretakers to deny all entry. Meanwhile, Mr. Jones himself is nowhere to be found.

As good as the story selection is, the design of each book is the star. Seth’s evocative covers and black-and-white interior illustrations provide the perfect accompaniment to the stories. His clean style elicits a ton of atmosphere without being hyper-detailed. In his work I see the brilliant use of shadow a la’ Mike Mignola, combined with the dark whimsey of Tim Burton.

Come Christmas Eve, you might find me dimming the lights and gathering the family to listen (and look at) one of these tiny terrors. Come the day after Christmas, I’ll be hitting the Biblioasis website to start building out my collection. Highly recommended for the horror lovers looking for something special in this post-Halloween season.

Celebrating OCTOBER NIGHTS with author Kevin Lucia

October Nights banner

This October, Kevin Lucia fulfills a dream with the release of a new collection of Halloween-themed short stories, October Nights. Crystal Lake Publishing will be releasing the collection on October 22, so this seemed like the perfect time to ask the author a few questions about his work, and to pick his brain about his — and our — favorite holiday, Halloween.

Continue Reading

HALLOWEEN KILLS: Tim Waggoner writes the book on Michael Myers

cover of Halloween Kills by Tim WaggonerAfter a long, COVID-prompted delay, Michael Myers is set to once again stalk movie (and television! ) screens in Halloween Kills, the sequel to the 2018 reboot/sequel Halloween.

Being the literary types that we are here at Cemetery Dance, we’re just as excited for the novelization of Halloween Kills as we are for the film. I reached out to author Tim Waggoner, the man tapped by Titan Books to pen the novelization, to see if he’d take us inside the process of bringing the Boogeyman to life on the page, and he was glad to oblige.Continue Reading

Review: Sleepless by Romy Hausmann

cover of Sleepless by Romy HausmannSleepless by Romy Hausmann
Flatiron Books (October 19, 2021)
336 pages; $23.99 hardcover; $13.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Nadja Kulka was convicted of a serious crime as a child, did her time, and is doing her best to move on. She lives a quiet, lonely life, happy for even the slightest attention given her by the closest thing she has to a friend — a woman named Laura. Laura’s been keeping to herself lately, but when something in her life goes horribly wrong, she runs to Nadja for help.

Soon, Nadja finds herself entangled in the violent aftermath of an extramarital affair gone wrong. Nadja, Laura, and Laura’s husband, Gero, all have their own agendas and objectives, and it all comes to a head with life-altering consequences.Continue Reading

Review: Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

cover of Rock Paper Scissors by Alice FeeneyRock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney
Flatiron Books (September 7, 2021)
304 pages; $23.49 hardcover; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Something’s very wrong with Mr. and Mrs. Wright.

Yeah, Alice Feeney went there. The troubled couple at the center of her new novel, Rock Paper Scissors, are the Wrights, Adam and Amelia. They’ve grabbed their dog Bob and headed to a remote chapel-turned-bread-and-breakfast in the Scottish Highlands, where they hope to spend a snowy weekend piecing their faltering marriage back together., If you’re guessing that the only thing that holds more secrets than the Wrights is a remote chapel in the Scottish Highlands, you’re absolutely Wright. Uh, “right.”Continue Reading