Review: This Is Where We Talk Things Out by Caitlin Marceau

cover of This is Where We Talk Things OutThis Is Where We Talk Things Out by Caitlin Marceau 
Dark Lit Press (September 2022)
114 pages; paperback $13.00; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

Imagine that every event in your life is unwound, beaten down to bones, and restructured from top to bottom. The funereal routine repeats again and again until you can’t tell your truth from the rescript. That’s how life was for Miller — growing up with a narcissistic mother who was MIA most of the time and emotionally manipulative whenever present.  Continue Reading

Review: Lucky Girl, How I Became A Horror Writer: A Krampus Story by M. Rickert

Lucky Girl, How I Became A Horror Writer: A Krampus Story by M. Rickert
Tordotcom (September 2022)
108 pages; $13.69 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

The holiday season screams merriment and cheer, a time for friends and family, and a time to compartmentalize evil. But what if something far more sinister than an old family spat is at work? We’ve heard its name and feared its wicked horns, obscene tongue, and fiendish fangs: Krampus.Continue Reading

Review: How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix

cover of How to Sell a Haunted HouseHow to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix 
Berkley (January 2023) 
432 pages; $19.60 paperback; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

Grady Hendrix’s new release, How To Sell A Haunted House, looms over the haunted house trope with puppets, gore, and restless spirits, but the family lies and sheer shock of how it unfolds will make readers eat this story up right down to the bone.Continue Reading

Review: The Vessel by Adam L. G. Nevill

cover of The Vessel by Adam L.G. NevillThe Vessel by Adam L.G. Nevill 
Ritual Limited (October 2022) 
170 pages; $10.99 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

In his eleventh book, The Vessel, Adam L.G. Nevill summons readers with another eerie folk horror story with his usual ethereal atmosphere, creative conjurings of terror, and family at the heart of it all. Only this time, Nevill offers a cinematic approach — removing access to the character’s inner dialogue.Continue Reading

Review: Bela Lugosi’s Dead by Robert Guffey

cover of Bela Lugosi's DeadBela Lugosi’s Dead by Robert Guffey
Macabre Ink (April 2021)
264 pages; $17.99 paperback; $4.99 ebook 
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

Universal monsters Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolf Man and others, primarily produced between the 1930s and 1950s, still stand today as not only icons of horror but pop culture.

And yet, so many of the horrifically haunting films featuring these creatures, including Bela Lugosi’s infamous bloodthirsty Count Dracula, have been buried away and forgotten. Continue Reading

Review: We Can Never Leave This Place by Eric LaRocca

cover of We Can Never Leave This PlaceWe Can Never Leave This Place by Eric LaRocca
Trepidatio Publishing (June 2022) 
106 pages; $19.95 hardcover; $12.95 paperback; $5.95 e-book
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

In perhaps his bleakest, most grisly tale yet, Eric LaRocca challenges gothic horror’s most visceral and twisted minds, namely The Brothers Grimm.

We Can Never Leave This Place is a screeching, bloody curtain that will hang over readers from start to finish. On the first page, Mara says, “From baby teeth to virginity, to live is to regularly suffer loss,” and it’s here where LaRocca offers a hint of the bloodshed to come. Continue Reading

Review: Little Eve by Catriona Ward 

cover of Little EveLittle Eve by Catriona Ward
Tor Nightfire (October 2022) 
288 pages; $17.98 hardcover; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

Catriona Ward, the author of The Last House On Needless Street and Sundial, backs readers into a corner with seething screams, venomous fangs, and hot splashing blood in her latest release, Little Eve. Continue Reading

Review: Lute by Jennifer Thorne

cover of LuteLute by Jennifer Thorne 
Tor Nightfire (October 2022) 
288 pages; $24.99 hardcover; $13.99 ebook 
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

This is all one big horrifying party and I’m the hostess.

In Jennifer Thorne’s Lute readers follow Nina, a mother of two, and via marriage the “Lady of Lute.” With a war-torn backdrop, ritualistic nature, and an unseen ruler of the island, Nina struggles to understand the annual custom referred to as “The Day.”

The Day dates back thousand of years. At the heart of it is the tithe stone, where barbaric rituals took place. Where the “sacrificial rock” descended time and again, smashing through hair, skull, and brain matter. 2,000 years before Druid predicts oversaw the sacrifices of The Day and it was an honor to give up your life.

Over the years, the means of the day became more humane. But the island held its haunted shade and saw tragedy after tragedy. The island takes who it deems fit, children, mothers, fathers, and the people of Lute submit to it. Provide offerings.

Nina soon learns that accepting the people of Lute, becoming one of them is a condition of her and her children’s survival. As Nina steps into the role of Lady Treadway on The Day, she witness a number of accidents and supernaturally cruel slaughters. In every wobble, trip, or move, Nina feels the covenant’s presence, like a snake ready to strike.

I do wish Thorne would’ve held readers in the chaos of the final thirty minutes of The Day. This part really puts readers’ nerves on needle-thin tripwire. But the reveal, an uncovered emissary of death, was earth-shattering, and emblematic of a woman’s ferocity and the will to live.

Lute is a masterful merriment of folk horror and murder mystery. Thorne captures the shock and terror of horror fan-favorites like The Wicker Man and Midsommar. But the ending, the bizarre shift The Day transpires in Lord Treadway (Hugh), felt like an ode to classic mystery novels like Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.

Lute is a shining thread that links readers to the imaginative mind of Thorne, reminiscent of Ari Aster, the tonic of an unputdownable mystery, and folk horror in the same vein as Adam Nevill’s writing.

Thorne conjured a read that feels like watching the world explode in beautiful obliteration. It’s a haunting and simultaneously hopeful reminder that we live in defiance of death each day, and on the island of Lute, the siren of The Day, of “The Shining One’s,” will always call.

I’ll eagerly await whatever Jennifer Thorne has to offer us hungry readers next.

Review: Ghost Eaters by Clay McLeod Chapman

cover of Ghost EatersGhost Eaters by Clay McLeod Chapman
Quirk Books (September 2022) 
304 pages; $19.79 hardcover; $16.79 paperback; $12.99 ebook
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

Ever hear the tale of Erin Hill? She ground her lover into a pill.

Richmond, Virginia, grows each year. Shedding its skin, turning plantations and civil war confederacy points into trendy restaurants and shops. But the dead are always in the room.

When Erin’s lifelong friend and on-and-off boyfriend, Silas, overdoses, life as she knows it caves in all around her. She should’ve helped him more, been more patient with his relapses, his erratic behavior.Continue Reading

Review: Daphne by Josh Malerman

cover of DaphneDaphne by Josh Malerman
Del Rey (September 2022) 
272 pages; $24.99 hardcover; $13.99 ebook
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

The small town of Samhattan has a secret. A thing everyone knows but nobody questions.

That is until high school baller Kit and her friends play a game of “Ask the Rim.” The rules are simple: ask the rim a question, you shoot the basketball, a swish is a yes, a miss a no.

And the rim never lies.

What was Kit thinking when she asked the rim about the local legend of a “freak” named Daphne?Continue Reading

Review: Gallows Hill by Darcy Coates

cover of Gallows HillGallows Hill by Darcy Coates
Poisoned Pen Press (September 2022) 
384 pages; $12.99 paperback; $4.99 ebook
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

Deep in the hills of a small town, a cloud of birds explode into the sky. Their screeches disturbed as though their shelter surged jolts of pain into them.

It’s haunted. Well, some thought so. Others say Gallows Hill was cursed, laced with a poisonous vestige of murder and betrayal.Continue Reading

Review: Mary: An Awakening of Terror by Nat Cassidy

cover of Mary: An Awakening in TerrorMary: An Awakening of Terror by Nat Cassidy 
Tor Nightfire (July 2022) 
416 pages; $19.79 paperback; $12.99 ebook
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

Nat Cassidy’s Mary: An Awakening of Terror opens with one of the most genuine author’s notes I’ve ever read. Cassidy details a close relationship with his mother, who, like many of us, was a Stephen King fan. Upon seeing the film poster of De Palma’s 1976 film adaptation of Carrie, starring Sissy Spacek, Cassidy was “messed up bad.” Continue Reading

Review: Suburban Hell by Maureen Kilmer

cover of Suburban HellSuburban Hell by Maureen Kilmer
G.P. Putnam Sons (August 2022) 
336 pages; $15.30; $11.99 ebook
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

What’s a little demonic exorcism among friends?

Things are pretty good in a small Chicago suburb. The kids play together, parents help one another watch the kids, and the neighbors constantly hold potlucks and holiday cookouts.

Four friends, Amy, Liz, Jess, and Melissa, hold wine nights to break away from the pretentious PTA crowd and their long stories of kitchen renovations. Liz, the softie of the group, and the most “together” hostess, suggests the crew build a “She Shed.” Ever the go-getter, Liz begins construction immediately, and the women “christen” the site with pinot and chardonnay, unknowingly disturbing a restless entity.

And then the nightmare ensues. Continue Reading

Review: What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher 

cover of What Moves the DeadWhat Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher 
Tor Nightfire (July 2022)
176 pages; $17.99 hardcover; $6.99 e-book
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

The dead don’t walk.

There is a place secluded by an untenable smog, a 30-foot drop lake, and shrouded with acrimonious fungi. Some say it is the place the devils dance on moors. Others say at this ancestral residence, The House of Usher, they can hear the worms in the earth, craving flesh. Continue Reading

Review: Cults: Inside the World’s Most Notorious Groups and Understanding the People Who Joined Them by Max Cutler with Kevin Conley

cover of CultsCults: Inside the World’s Most Notorious Groups and Understanding the People Who Joined Them by Max Cutler with Kevin Conley
Simon & Schuster (July 2022)
416 pages; $22.63 hardcover; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

We’ve seen it for generations: a well-spoken, charismatic person derails the ingrained ideals of humanity. Take the most horrific war leaders of World War II, like Adolf Hitler or Benito Mussolini. Both men, with bloodied hands and a lack of empathy to such outlandish extents that many have argued exemplified psychopathy, not only led their armies down a wretched road of antisemitism, barbarity, and murder but did so with their recruits’ eagerness and even enthusiasm.

The same question is often asked throughout history, whether regarding dictators, crime bosses, or cult leaders: Why do people go along with this?Continue Reading