The Cemetery Dance Interview: The Haunting of Gwendolyn Kiste

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Author Gwendolyn Kiste
Gwendolyn Kiste

Gwendolyn Kiste is a three-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Haunting of VelkwoodThe Rust MaidensReluctant Mortals, and most recently, a short story called “Your Mother’s Love Is An Apocalypse” in the Mother Knows Best: Tales of Homemade Horror anthology, foreword by Sadie Hartmann, edited by Lindy Ryan. Kiste has also won the Lambda Literary Award and received the This is Horror award for Novel of the Year.

She doesn’t just tell any old ghost stories. Kiste’s books, like The Haunting of Velkwood, orbit themes of self-identity, complacency, and unbreakable bonds. To her, “Everyone’s life is like a haunted house.” Perhaps that’s why her books linger, giving readers a ghostly book hangover.

Kiste spoke to Cemetery Dance about The Haunting of Velkwood, gothic horror, themes of complacency and accountability in her latest novel, and, of course, ghost stories (her specialty).Continue Reading

Review: My Darling Dreadful Thing by Johanna Van Veen

cover of My Darling Dreadful ThingMy Darling Dreadful Thing by Johanna Van Veen
Poisoned Pen Press (May 2024)
384 pages
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

My Darling Dreadful Thing by Johanna Van Veen exceptionally invokes gothic tropes such as unearthing buried secrets at a dire cost, and relics of her predecessors to craft a chilling, sapphic love story that is possessive, haunting, and beautiful.Continue Reading

Review: Horror Movie by Paul Tremblay

cover of Horror MovieHorror Movie by Paul Tremblay
William Morrow (June 11, 2024)
288 pages
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

In his classic, fatalistic tone, Bram Stoker Award-winner Paul Tremblay cleverly assembles a haunting level of empathy between readers, the narrator, and characters in Horror Movie. At times the story felt all-too real, which will appease fans of Tremblay’s previous work like A Head Full of Ghosts (2015) and The Pallbearers Club (2022). Down the road, maybe even a few weeks from now, the characters’ names from Horror Movie may evade you but you’ll never escape the reality-bending and unsettling “horror void.” Continue Reading

Review: Grasshands by Kyle Winkler

cover of GrasshandsGrasshands by Kyle Winkler
JournalStone Publishing (January 2024) 
216 pages; $16.95 paperback; $6.95 e-book
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

In Kyle Winkler’s Grasshands, the line between reality and nightmare trembles, unsteady, before dispersing into scattering spiders.

“Farce lands first. Tragedy knocks later.”

Throughout this read, I often thought of Ray Bradbury, who wrote stories like Fahrenheit 451, emphasizing the power of knowledge and caution against its misuse and exploitation. Winkler revived Bradbury’s calling card of creating characters who grappled with the pursuit of knowledge, whether for the exposure of hidden truths or devotion for discovery and conjured an unputdownable biblio-horror novel. Continue Reading

Review: Hitchcock’s Blondes: The Unforgettable Women Behind The Legendary Director’s Dark Obsession by Laurence Leamer

cover of Hitchcock's BlondesHitchcock’s Blondes: The Unforgettable Women Behind The Legendary Director’s Dark Obsession by Laurence Leamer
 G.P. Putnam’s Sons (October 2023)
335 pages; $21.10 hardcover; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

Alfred Hitchcock’s legacy has, until recent years, mostly been portrayed through the rosy lens of Hollywood. Many consider Hitchcock one of the fathers of horror and a worthy contender amongst the greatest directors of all time. He’s remembered for his brilliance and astute demeanor, evoked throughout the evolution of cinema-from silent films to “talkies” to color to the big screen.Continue Reading

Review: This Wretched Valley by Jenny Kiefer

cover of This Wretched ValleyThis Wretched Valley by Jenny Kiefer
Quirk Books (January 2024)
309 pages; $18.99 paperback; $11.99 e-book
Reviewed by Haley Newlin


Some monsters live outside the shadows, beneath the sun, sitting beside you, watching and plotting.

Jenny Kiefer’s debut, This Wretched Valley, will appease horror readers who crave fright outside the typical haunted house or killer’s dimly lit basement. Many hair-raising, nail-biting scenes occur in broad daylight, and exploring an uncharted rock in the valley leaves the team isolated from surrounding campers or hikers. Not that many visit that wretched valley, anyway. Not after all the disappearances over the years. Continue Reading

The Cemetery Dance Interview: Clay McLeod Chapman

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photo of author Clay McLeod ChapmanClay McLeod Chapman writes books, comic books, children’s books, as well as for film and television. His most recent novel, What Kind of Mother and Ghost Eaters are grief horror stories. Chapman’s vibrant personality and energy are magnetizing, and seemingly contradictory to his writing material. Todd Keisling and I joked that the Whisper Down The Lane author is “like a cup of coffee” — rejuvenating.

It’s there, in that duality and range both on and off the page, where Chapman’s talent lies.

Chapman spoke to Cemetery Danceabout What Kind of MotherGhost Eaters, fellow horror authors, and his upcoming projects. Continue Reading

Review: The Maker’s Box by David Barclay

cover of The Maker's BoxThe Maker’s Box by David Barclay 
9 Swords (March 2022)
89 pages; $6.99 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

Stephen King’s dreamscape fantasy Rose Madder meets the precise cleverness of Richard Chizmar’s Gwendy’s series in The Maker’s Box.

I’d never read anything from Barclay before The Maker’s Box, but now I’m blood-thirsty for more. Continue Reading

Review: The Scarecrow Man by Miguel Goncalves

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cover of The Scarecrow ManThe Scarecrow Man by Miguel Goncalves
Dark Pine Publishing (September 2023)
40 pages; $4.75 paperback; $0.00 e-book
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

Do you dare enter the Scarecrow Show? 

From the pages of Devil’s Reject (by Dark Pine Publishing) comes Miguel Goncalves’s short story, “The Scarecrow Man,” where the line between reality and nightmare blurs into a devilish dance of psychological horror and crime fiction. As I devoured this debut, I couldn’t shake the echoes of Robert Bloch’s Psycho and A24’s cinematic masterpiece Pearl. Continue Reading

Review: Vampires of El Norte by Isabel Cañas

cover of Vampires of El NorteVampires of El Norte by Isabel Cañas
Berkley (August 2023)
371 pages; $19.58 hardcover; $14.99 e-book; $20.25 audiobook 
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

Some things are too precious to lose. 

Nena and Nestor were inseparable as children. They even shared their first kiss. To Nena, Nestor’s voice is like coming home, but her father wishes to marry her to a wealthy rancher’s son to acquire more land for the family.

She didn’t always dread the idea of marriage, not when she envisioned it with Nestor.Continue Reading

Review: Silver Nitrate by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Del Rey (July 18, 2023)
336 pages; $19.99 hardcover; $25.94 paperback; $22.05 audiobook; $13.99 e-book

Reviewed by Haley Newlin

Silvia Moreno-Garcia makes her much-anticipated return to horror (after Mexican Gothic) with her latest release, Silver Nitrate. It wasn’t just the Twilight Zone and Psycho-reminiscent imagery on the cover that pushed me to read Silver Nitrate; it was also because of its emphasis on oldies horror in the same vein as Hammer films and the rare chance to learn about Nazism in Mexico.

Continue Reading

Review: The Unhallowed Horseman by Jude S. Walko

cover of Unhallowed HorsemanThe Unhallowed Horseman by Jude S. Walko 
Blue Falcon Productions LLC (Oct. 2021) 
319 pages; $25.67 hardcover; $14.99 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

“Villainy wears many masks, none so dangerous as the mask of virtue” – Washington Irving

Jude S. Walko’s The Unhallowed Horseman scrupulously reimagines the infamous tale of a silent secluded valley, a place laced with superstition and scandal, called Sleepy Hollow. Continue Reading

Review: Looking Glass Sound by Catriona Ward

cover of Looking Glass SoundLooking Glass Sound by Catriona Ward
Tor Nightfire (August 8, 2023)
352 pages; $25.19 hardcover; $20.53 paperback; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

Catriona Ward lures readers with charming coming-of-age humor and strife in her latest novel, Looking Glass Sound, reminiscent of Stephen King’s “The Body.”

Those who’ve read Ward’s previous work, Little Eve and The Last House on Needless Street (favorites of mine), know the loveable and exciting are a facade. And the truth, particularly a harsh one, leaves readers black with poison, bitten by the spider, trapped in her intricate web. Twitching with metaphysical dread, desperate for answers.Continue Reading

Review: Dead of Winter by Darcy Coates

cover of Dead of WinterDead of Winter by Darcy Coates
Poisoned Pen Press (July 11, 2023) 
352 pages; $14.39 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

Darcy Coates upholds her reputation as a deft storyteller with a knack for conjuring atmospheric page-turners in her latest release, Dead of Winter, “an icy homage to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.” Continue Reading

Review: Graveyard of Lost Children by Katrina Monroe

copy of Graveyard of Lost ChildrenGraveyard of Lost Children by Katrina Monroe
Poisoned Pen Press (May 2023)
368 pages; $15.17 paperback; e-book $6.49
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

Katrina Monroe has done it again.

Much like in her debut, They Drown Our Daughters, Monroe’s latest release, a modernized and stylish gothic grim, Graveyard of Lost Children doesn’t just scare. It lurks, prods, then manifests into a hellish dreamscape where reality bends and breaks. And it all starts with the skull-splitting cry of life of a baby.Continue Reading