Read enough horror, and you start feeling like you can predict where a book or story is going to go within a few pages or chapters. I’m not saying that all horror is predictable or formulaic; just that enough of it is that some reviewers (like me) might find themselves getting a little cocky after a few successful predictions. Then someone like Chad Lutzke comes along with a novella like Stirring the Sheets, and gleefully knocks you off your high horse.
If you follow Brian Keene on social media, you probably noticed he’s been teasing us all a lot lately. I don’t mean teasing in a mean, name-calling, bullying kind of way; I mean he’s been dangling a mysterious new project in front of us like a carrot on a stick. Finally, during a May 11 telethon that featured a rap battle and Keene wearing tights, among other things (oh, and that raised over $21,000 for the Scares That Care charity!), the beans were spilled: Keene has joined forces with Serial Box and a room full of talented horror writers to produce a new prose fiction series called Silverwood: The Door.
Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.
While The Godfather Part III is not the most revered entry in that series, that Al Pacino line is one of the franchise’s most memorable quotes. The idea behind it—the notion that people play certain inescapable roles in their life, no matter how hard they may try to change—is the basis for quite a bit of crime fiction, and it forms the backbone of Laird Barron’s new novel, Blood Standard.
I had certain expectations for Unbury Carol. That was foolish. I should know by now, after reading much of Josh Malerman’s output (except, somehow, the one that got everybody talking about him to begin with: Bird Box), that he is not going to deliver the expected. So, when I allowed the title and the synopsis and the cover to lead me to expectations of a western/horror hybrid that would be a dark cross between a fairy tale and a Hammer movie…well, I should have known that wasn’t what I was going to get.
Mary SanGiovanni is a prolific author and podcaster, and she’s getting ready to add another title to the list: editor. Recently, SanGiovanni announced that she is joining forces with respected publisher Thunderstorm Books to form a new, female-centric imprint. In the following interview, SanGiovanni discusses her approach to creating and curating this new line of horror fiction
Over the years, the Hellraiser mythology has become something of a hash, combining elements of Clive Barker’s original novella The Hellbound Heart with bits from the Hellraiser movies (mainly the first two in the franchise: Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II). Nowhere is this more evident than in The Scarlet Gospels. In Barker’s 2015 novel, the cenobite known as Pinhead (but not to his face; no, never to his face) was a sometimes confusing mix of the elegant sadist from Hellbound Heart and a bloodthirsty, Hollywood-style slasher.
Quiet horror is, to me, the most effective style of horror, especially when it comes to written horror. Shocks, gore, jump scares—when done right, those things work in the moment. But quiet horror, when done right, lingers. Stays with you. Comes back to you at the worst (i.e., the best) possible times, like when you’re just about to drift off to sleep and you hear a soft thump behind the closet door, or when you catch a glimpse of something out of the corner of your eye that disappears when you look straight at it. Shock hits you and then wears off a second later and you’re laughing, shaking your head, saying “They got me again.” Quiet horror hangs around, and when it comes back to you, nobody is laughing.
Robert McCammon Previews The Listener
The Listener Preview Event
The Alabama Booksmith, Birmingham, Alabama
December 5, 2017
by Blu Gilliand
More than a dozen devoted fans (some driving from more than three hours away) braved a rainy Alabama night to gather at The Alabama Booksmith for a “preview party” for Robert McCammon’s upcoming Cemetery Dance novel The Listener.
The Weight of Words edited by Dave McKean and William Schafer
Subterranean Press (December 2017)
248 pages; $40 hardcover
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand
Like all great artists, Dave McKean has a style that is immediately recognizable as his and his alone. His unique visuals have graced everything from comic books (perhaps most notably his eight-year run as cover artist for Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series and his collaboration with Grant Morrison on the graphic novel Arkham Asylum) to album covers. book covers….even stamps. So, what happens when you ask a group of authors to filter that style through their own distinct voices?
Bubba and the Cosmic Blood-Suckers by Joe R. Lansdale
Subterranean Press (October 2017)
200 pages; $31.84 hardcover; $6.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand
Back in 1994, Joe R. Lansdale wrote a story called “Bubba Ho-Tep” about an elderly Elvis Presley teaming up to fight a mummy with a fellow nursing home resident who thought he was JFK, and I read it and thought, “Welp, it doesn’t get much crazier than that.” Boy, was I wrong.
Unspeakable Horror 2: Abominations of Desire edited by Vince Liaguno
Evil Jester Press (October 2017)
404 pages; $14.99 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand
In his introduction, accomplished author and editor Vince Liaguno describes the theme of Unspeakable Horror 2: Abominations of Desire as “desire gone awry.” This theme winds through a strong slate of stories selected by Liaguno for his follow-up to the Bram Stoker Award-winning collection Unspeakable Horror (2008). As we often see in real life, these stories portray desire as a catalyst for more than pleasure; often, desire leads to unintended consequences, bad decisions, and terrible results.
John Brhel and Joe Sullivan grew up consuming the short, sharp shocks of horror fiction anthologies in the ’80s and ’90s. After several successful writing projects, they’ve finally found the perfect way to channel their love of twisted tales in their new anthology, Corpse Cold. They took the project to Kickstarter. and, with just under a week left ’til the deadline, they’ve blown past their $3,000 goal.
Brhel (who, when he isn’t writing short stories, writes the “My First Fright” column for Cemetery Dance) took a few minutes to answer some questions about the origins and approach to Corpse Cold.
(Interview conducted by Blu Gilliand)
Kevin Lucia has been creating strange stories for a long time. It’s a passion project for him, borne out of a love for reading and an overwhelming desire to share the people, places and things that dominate his dreams and nightmares. His work has appeared alongside many genre greats in numerous anthologies and magazines, and now he’s looking to take his efforts to the next level with the pursuit of his very own Patreon. Recently I swapped a few emails with Kevin about his latest project (among other things—he is, after all, the Reviews Editor for Cemetery Dance magazine and Cemetery Dance Online). Enjoy!
Joe Hill‘s compelling quartet of novellas, collectively titled Strange Weather, hits shelves tomorrow, riding a wave of anticipation and positive reviews (including our own). Strange Weather is the latest example of what has become a hallmark of Hill’s career: versatility. The author roams from horror to fantasy to sci-fi….from comics to prose to screenplays…..from massive 700-page epics to to short novels to short stories….fearlessly and effortlessly. Likewise, our discussion covers a lot of ground, beginning with his latest release, then touching on his comics work before teasing a bit about what’s in the future.
Earlier this year, people began calling 2017 “The Year of King.” The “King” in question is Stephen King, who’s had a busy year even for, well, Stephen King: new television series based on his novella The Mist and Mr. Mercedes; a milestone birthday (his 70th) in September; a critical and box office smash hit in IT; two more critically acclaimed adaptations for Netflix in Gerald’s Game and 1922; and a brand new novel, Sleeping Beauties, co-written with his son Owen.
Now, as the year is winding down, it’s King’s other son, Joe Hill, who has stepped up to claim his place in “The Year of King” with Strange Weather, a collection of four short novels and one of the strongest overall works in Hill’s already illustrious career.