Coming-Of-Age Tales (Books on the Darker Side) by Del Howison

Cover of Boy's Life, the novel by Robert McCammon“Coming-of-age” is generally perceived as taking place over the period when an adolescent makes the mental and emotional leap to adulthood. But very often that is not the case, especially in certain genres, such as horror, when the emotionally stunted individual can just as easily be an adult. In literature, like a summer’s end, youth is over after one great adventure that comes too quickly, and the adults that emerge from that traumatic season are many times filled with their own emotional trauma that will never go away. That’s good for the reader but bad for the character. If handled incorrectly Coming-of-Age can be soapy and boring. But in the hands of a skilled ink slinger, it is an exciting and breathtaking journey filled with emotional intensity. Even a misspent youth has a learning curve, and these stories take you through it. I’m going to mention a few of my favorites that I hope you will read if you haven’t already.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.