Review: Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones

cover of Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham JonesNight of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones
Tor (September 1, 2020)
136 pages; $11.99 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

So Shanna got a new job at the movie theater, we thought we’d play a fun prank on her, and now most of us are dead, and I’m really starting to kind of feel guilty about it all.

Stephen Graham Jones packs a lot of information about his new book Night of the Mannequins into that opening sentence. You get a hint of events to come, a clear idea of the tone, and an important clue about the attitude of the narrator, all in less than 40 words. That, my friends, is talent.Continue Reading

Review: A Little Amber Book of Wicked Shots by Robert McCammon

cover of A Little Amber Book of Wicked Shots by Robert McCammonA Little Amber Book of Wicked Shots by Robert McCammon
Borderlands Press (Spring 2020)
146 pages; $30 limited edition signed & numbered hardcover (750 copies; sold out)
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Borderlands Press has a built an outstanding back catalog of titles with its Little Books Series, attracting an array of legendary-or-heading-there authors including Charles L. Grant, Jack Ketchum, Josh Malerman, Sarah Pinborough, Caitlin R. Kiernan, and a host of others. These tend to sell out quickly—including the entry we’re looking at today, A Little Amber Book of Wicked Shots by Robert McCammon. So, while today’s review may not serve as a call for you to rush out and buy this book—I mean, I ain’t sellin’ mine, and I doubt many others will, either—let it be a lesson for you to get on the Borderlands Press mailing list so you can start grabbing these titles when they are released.Continue Reading

Review: The Darkling Halls of Ivy edited by Lawrence Block

Cover of The Darkling Halls of IvyThe Darkling Halls of Ivy edited by Lawrence Block
Subterranean Press (May 2020)
328 pages; $50 limited edition hardcover
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

A life in academia always struck me as a somewhat safe, even enviable career choice. I mean, what could be so bad about a career dedicated to increasing knowledge—your own, and that of others? What could be bad about a workplace where you’re surrounded by books and intelligent colleagues, and you’re encouraged to pursue whatever niche interest catches your eye?

Turns out there’s a lot that can be bad about it. Continue Reading

Review: Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus

Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus
Henry Holt and Company (February 2020)
304 pages; $12.39 hardcover; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Liv is a teenage girl, a high school freshman living with the typical teenage drama that comes with trying to find your crowd, not to mention your own identity. Unfortunately for Liz, she has more than the usual obstacles standing in the way of acceptance and self-confidence; she has to carry the burden of being the daughter of the man who went missing, showed up raving and naked in the middle of town, and then disappeared again.Continue Reading

Review: Blackwood by Michael Farris Smith

Cover of Blackwood by Michael Farris SmithBlackwood by Michael Farris Smith
Little, Brown and Company (March 2020)
304 pages; $27 hardcover; $13.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

If you’ve been to the South you’ve seen kudzu, the suffocating green vine that will envelop anything that stands still long enough. It fills gullys and blankets hills. It climbs telephone poles and encircles trees. It’s got a deep foothold in the region, and it’s tough. I once saw a car that had plunged nose-first into a kudzu-filled ravine, its taillights the only thing visible through the green webbing — webbing strong enough to catch the car like a net and keep it from hitting the ground.

Were the kudzu to disappear one day, to turn brown and crumble the way other, lesser plants do, there’s no telling what would be revealed. Abandoned pickup trucks. Forgotten general stores and shotgun houses. Animal bones by the millions. And secrets…so many secrets.Continue Reading

Review: Jane Goes North by Joe R. Lansdale

Jane Goes North by Joe R. Lansdale
Subterranean Press (March 2020)
232 pages; $40 limited edition hardcover
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

I took a few road trips in my youth. While they were marked with plenty of shenanigans and questionable decisions (as was most of my youth), none of them came close to the craziness experienced by the women in Jane Goes North, Joe Lansdale’s new novel from Subterranean Press. It’s probably a good thing, too; Lansdale’s women barely flinch in the face of the inconveniences and dangers he tosses at them, while I would have crumbled like a cheap cookie.Continue Reading

Review: The Sky Done Ripped by Joe R. Lansdale

The Sky Done Ripped by Joe R. Lansdale
Subterranean Press (December 2019)
296 pages; $95 signed limited edition hardcover; $40 trade edition hardcover; $6.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

I think that, sometimes, in the midst of all the discussion about craft and theme and structure, we—meaning writers and readers and reviewers—forget that this stuff is supposed to be fun. It’s so refreshing, then, when an author like Joe R. Lansdale comes along, manuscript in hand and shit-eating grin on his face, to remind us of that very fact.Continue Reading

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