Double Feature Review: Stephen King at the Movies & The World of IT

cover of Stephen King at the Movies by Ian NathanStephen King at the Movies by Ian Nathan
Palazzo Editions (October 2019)
224 pages; $28.93 hardcover

The World of IT by Alyse Wax
Harry N. Abrams (September 2019)
224 pages: $24.49 hardcover; $16.79 e-book

Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

If there’s one thing we as horror fans have never been deprived of, it’s Stephen King adaptations. From major novels like The Shining and Misery to minor stories like “The Mangler” and “Secret Window, Secret Garden,” virtually every corner of King’s bibliography has been mined. If you count sequels and remakes, there are more than 80 film and television adaptations of King’s work…and counting.Continue Reading

Review: How to Survive a Horror Movie by Seth Grahame-Smith

Book cover of How to Survive a Horror Move by Seth Grahame-SmithHow to Survive a Horror Movie by Seth Grahame-Smith
Quirk Books (September 2019)
176 pages; $11.99 paperback; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

It’s the middle of October, just a couple of weeks away from Halloween as I write this, and I find myself (like, doubtless, many of you) in the midst of a horror movie marathon leading into my favorite holiday. Most of what I watch this time of year are classics that I’ve seen a time or two (or ten) before, and — again, I suspect, like many of you — I find myself constantly second-guessing the actions of the characters on the screen.Continue Reading

Review: Blood Sugar by Daniel Kraus

Blood Sugar by Daniel Kraus
Hard Case Crime (October 8, 2019)
224 pages; $9.95 paperback; $6.15 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Depending on your reading habits, you may be familiar with Hard Case Crime in a couple of different ways. If you read horror exclusively, you may know Hard Case Crime as the publisher of two Stephen King novels: The Colorado Kid and Joyland (neither of which are horror, although Joyland does incorporate some supernatural elements). If you’re the kind of reader who makes room for more than one genre on your bookshelves, you may know Hard Case Crime as a publisher specializing in a mix of original and reprint pulp crime novels. I’m a Hard Case Crime fan from way back, so when I read they were combining my love of crime fiction and Halloween stories in a novel called Blood Sugar, I was all in.Continue Reading

Review: Monster, She Wrote by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson

Monster, She Wrote by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson
Quirk Books (September 2019)
352 pages; $14.01 paperback; $11.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Quick, name two classic female horror writers. I’ll wait while you blurt out “Mary Shelley and Shirley Jackson.” While there’s no doubt that both of those two have more than earned their place in horror history, there are multitudes that belong alongside them, but whose names have been lost to history. That’s a wrong that Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson are here to right. Their new book, Monster, She Wrote, sheds light on over a hundred women who, as the cover says, “pioneered horror and speculative fiction.”Continue Reading

Review: In the Shadow of Spindrift House by Mira Grant

In the Shadow of Spindrift House by Mira Grant
Subterranean Press (June 2019)
200 pages; $31.71 hardcover; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

I love haunted house stories where the house is a central character. The Overlook Hotel, Hill House…those are places where malevelonce seems to rise not only from the characters that inhabit(ed) them, or from the actions that took place within their walls, but from the very brick and mortar itself. Mia Grant opens her short novel In the Shadow of Spindrift House with a spooky welcoming chapter that paints her own seaside creation in much the same light.Continue Reading

Review: The Buzzard Zone by Ronald Kelly

Book cover showing a zombie eating fleshThe Buzzard Zone by Ronald Kelly
Macabre Ink (November 2018)
272 pages; $85 limited edition; $13.99 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Right out of the gate, Ronald Kelly makes a point about zombies I’d never thought of before—wherever a pack of rotting corpses roams, a kettle of buzzards is sure to follow. Makes sense, just as it makes sense that savvy survivors would watch for buzzards, using their presence as a signal to avoid areas of potential trouble.Continue Reading

Review: We Live Inside Your Eyes by Kealan Patrick Burke

We Live Inside Your Eyes by Kealan Patrick Burke
Elderlemon Press (April 2019)
227 pages; $9.99 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

I’ve long considered Kealan Patrick Burke to be something of a throwback. I imagine him as one of those long-ago pulp writers who used to churn out stories by the fistful, back when there were magazine racks brimming over with periodicals hungry for tales. Like them, Burke never seems to run out of ideas, always finding fresh approaches to the tropes of his chosen genre. To see what I mean, look no further than his new collection We Live Inside Your Eyes, a batch of scary stories that run the gamut from quietly unsettling to downright terrifying.Continue Reading

Interview: Francois Vaillancourt on illustrating Stephen King’s REVIVAL

Artwork for the LetterPress Publications edition of Stephen King’s Revival by Francois Vaillancourt.

If you’ve bought a limited edition book from Cemetery Dance in the last decade or so, chances are extremely high that Brian James Freeman and Kate Freeman had a hand in making that book a reality. Recently, Brian announced the formation of a new small press, LetterPress Publications, which he and Kate will use to continue pursuing and creating their own publishing passion projects. (Fear not, Brian remains an integral part of the Cemetery Dance family!) They’re off to a great start with their debut* project, a special limited edition of Stephen King’s 2014 novel Revival.Continue Reading

Review: At Home in the Dark edited by Lawrence Block

At Home in the Dark edited by Lawrence Block
Subterranean Press (April 2019)
326 pages; $14.99 paperback; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

“So here we have seventeen stories,” Lawrence Block writes in the Foreward to At Home in the Dark, “and what they all have in common, besides their unquestionable excellence, is where they stand on that gray scale. They are, in a word, dark.”Continue Reading

Interview: Christian Haywood on Adapting Stephen King’s “L.T.’s Theory of Pets”

By now you’ve likely heard of Stephen King’s “Dollar Baby” program, in which he grants the rights to adapt one of his short stories to fledgling filmmakers for a buck. Frank Darabont is perhaps the best-known graduate of the “Dollar Baby” program, having adapted King’s short story “The Woman in the Room” before going on to helm one of the most acclaimed King adaptations of all time, The Shawshank Redemption (not to mention the undervalued, in my eyes, adaptation of King’s The Green Mile).

Writer/director Christian Haywood is among the latest “Dollar Baby” filmmakers. He and his crew have launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the filming of their version of King’s story “L.T.’s Theory of Pets.” Recently, he answered a few questions for us about the project.Continue Reading

Review: The Big Crush by David J. Schow

The Big Crush by David J. Schow
Subterranean Press (February 28, 2019)
125 pages; $40 limited edition hardcover
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

David Vollmand is like a lot of people: he has a job that confines him to a chair and a screen every day; he has a good friend to tip a beer with after work; he has a loyal dog waiting for him at home; and he has an unrequited love from many years ago. Like many people, he finally gives in to temptation and hops on the Internet to see where “the one that got away” got away to.

Unlike many people, reconnecting with an old flame could cost him his
life.Continue Reading

Review: Kingdom of Needle and Bone by Mira Grant

Kingdom of Needle and Bone by Mira Grant
Subterranean Press (December 2018)
125 pages; $40 limited edition hardcover
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Lisa Morris certainly isn’t the first eight-year-old child to fib about her health so her parents won’t cancel a much-anticipated trip to a giant theme park. She is, however, the first child whose fib led to approximately 10 million deaths and a dramatic shift in the way the human immune system works.Continue Reading

Review: Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias

Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias
Broken River Books (October 2018)
212 pages; $15.99 paperback; $7.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Coyote Songs opens with a father-and-son fishing trip. Don Pedro and his son, Pedrito, have their lines in the water, and have entered that peculiar lull familiar to everyone who’s ever been fishing—that time when relaxation and anticipation are jockeying for attention. As author Gabino Iglesias writes:

When fishing, nothingness was full of possibility, quietness was a timeless inhalation before a scream, and inaction was just a fuse of indeterminate length before an explosion.

It doesn’t take long to get to the explosion, which arrives in the form of a devastating act of violence that is the novel’s true beginning. From there, Coyote Songs splinters into many stories. In this excellent Book Riot interview, Iglesias noted that he needed “a plethora of shoulders on which to place the weight of something as big as pain, migration, suffering, justice, bilingualism, multiculturalism, and syncretism.” So we follow Pedrito on his quest for revenge; a coyote who initially helps children cross the border, but is soon led to his true, sacred mission; a young man, fresh out of jail, who almost immediately finds himself back on the run; an artist looking for new, impactful ways to channel her vision; and a pregnant woman who lives in fear of the thing growing inside her.

Some of these stories come together while others follow separate paths, but they are all united by the author’s raw eloquence. There are moments of pure beauty here, punctuated with jarring scenes of uncomfortable violence. There are scenes that would be at home in any contemporary crime blockbuster, and there are moments that would highlight any midnight creature feature.

It’s entertainment, yes, but it’s far from mindless. Coyote Songs bristles with the anger, disappointment and frustration that so many feel in their day-to-day lives, and Iglesias does not hesitate to point fingers at the source of those emotions. This may put some people off, and that’s a shame. His is a voice among those that are shouting to be heard—a voice we cannot afford to ignore, even though the truths he tells are often ugly and uncomfortable to hear.