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.

Review: The Best Bad Things by Katrina Carrasco

The Best Bad Things by Katrina Carrasco
MCD (November 2018)
400 pages; $17.70 hardcover; $13.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Most years, come November, I’m looking to cleanse my palate after a month of Halloween-related horror book and movie bingeing. I usually turn to crime fiction (even though I find that horror and crime are closely intertwined — but that’s an essay for another day). Today, I’m looking at my first post-Halloween read, a story of Victorian-era opium dealing called The Best Bad Things.

Alma Rosales is a former member of the Pinkerton Agency, an early version of our nation’s F.B.I. Rosales has been dismissed from its ranks following a disastrous mission that left her partner dead. She’s made her way to Port Townsend, a Pacific Northwest hotbed of various illicit activities, particularly drugs and prostitution. She’s there to infiltrate and upend one of the area’s leading opium distribution networks, a move that could go a long way to restore her standing in the Agency.

Jack Camp is a roughhousing dockworker and member of that network — a member with aspirations of being much more than a footsoldier. He’s got a plan to find out who is stealing product from his boss, Nathaniel Wheeler, and to head off the authorities that are sniffing around Wheeler’s operation. If it works, his plan will greatly improve his standing in the organization.

Thing is, Alma Rosales and Jack Camp are the same person.

In Alma Rosales, author Katrina Carrasco has created an unforgettable lead, a walking powder keg of raw emotion whose every move is driven by her appetites for sex, for power, and for violence. Alma is playing two sides in just about every facet of her life, and her ability to maintain control while juggling dual identities and agendas is awe-inspiring.

Carrasco is juggling a lot here, too, and it’s sometimes a little difficult to keep up with the narrative. But hang with it — the tight, often beautiful prose will keep you invested even when the plot is hard to rein in, and Carrasco is eventually able to wrangle her runaway storylines into a satisfying conclusion.

The Best Bad Things is an intricately twisty, immensely enjoyable piece of crime fiction; a debut by a promising novelist worth watching.

FANGORIA Has Risen from the Grave

For a while there, it looked like we’d lost her.

After a rocky period of unfulfilled subscriptions and digital-only issues, Fangoria — a horror institution as venerable as Rick Baker, Jason Voorhees or Stephen King — appeared to be gone for good. Former editor-in-chief Ken Hanley threw the last shovelful of dirt on the coffin in early 2017 when he Tweeted, “For those wondering: there will likely never be another issue of Fangoria, especially in print, unless there’s new ownership.”

But we should have known, right?

We know what happens in horror movies. A beat after the monster is declared dead and the heroes turn their backs on it…there’s a sign of life.

Sooner or later, the monster always comes back.Continue Reading

Review: Silverwood: The Door

Review by Blu Gilliand

There’s collaboration, and then there’s art by committee.

Art by committee rarely works. The committee might have formed in order to pursue a common goal, but it’s typically made up of people with different agendas and different ideas on how to reach that goal. These individuals are often more interested in how this committee is going to elevate them to the next, more important committee than whether or not this committee achieves its goal.

Collaboration also involves individuals working together in pursuit of a common goal, but the difference lies in the approach. Collaborators blend their ideas and visions and voices in service of that goal. The idea isn’t to stand out, but to choose the right ingredients to achieve the best possible end result.

Silverwood: The Door is a collaboration…and a successful one, at that.Continue Reading

Review: Driving to Geronimo’s Grave and Other Stories by Joe R. Lansdale

Driving to Geronimo’s Grave and Other Stories by Joe R. Lansdale
Subterranean Press (October 2018)
272 pages; $26.70 hardcover
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing several Joe R. Lansdale novels, collections and stories in my time. It’s almost to the point where I’ve run out of superlatives to share; where the limitations of my vocabulary and ability make me want to just say, “Here’s a new Lansdale book. It’s good, as usual. Go throw money at it.”

But Lansdale deserves better, and you do, too. So, please follow along as I attempt to find new and interesting ways to heap praise upon Lansdale and his new collection, Driving to Geronimo’s Grave and Other Stories.Continue Reading