Review: Something is Killing the Children Vol. 1 by James Tynion IV and Werther Dell’Edera

cover of the graphic novel Something is Killing the Children. Illustration of a child standing alone in the woods.Something is Killing the Children Vol. 1 by James Tynion IV and Werther Dell’Edera
BOOM! Studios (May 2020)

128 pages, $13.41 paperback; $12.74 e-book
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Something has been taking the children of Archer’s Peak. At first it was just one girl, and the police assumed it was a typical family kidnapping perpetrated by an uncle. But then, young James and his friends have a sleepover, and when it’s over, James is the only survivor. There are bodies and blood. The whole town is in chaos. Then, a stranger with an uncanny knowledge of things who talks to her stuffed-animal octopus arrives and says she’ll take care of things. Something is Killing the Children is a really strong series from writer James Tynion IV and artist Werther Dell’Edera.Continue Reading

Review: The Harrowing of Hell by Evan Dahm

cover of The Harrowing of Hell by Evan Dahmf HellThe Harrowing of Hell by Evan Dahm
Iron Circus Comics (August 2020)

128 pages, $15 hardcover
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

In Christian theology, The Harrowing of Hell is the story of Jesus Christ descending into Hell after his crucifixion and rising, triumphant, three days later on Easter. Evan Dahm has taken this story, as well as some details from apocryphal gospels, and created a very dark graphic novel that, while still religiously based, is sure to appeal to horror readers as well.Continue Reading

Review: Twelve – Poems Inspired by the Brothers Grimm Fairytale by Andrea Blythe

cover of Twelve by Andrea BlytheTwelve: Poems Inspired by the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale by Andrea Blythe
Interstellar Flight Press (September 7, 2020)

64 pages, $9.99 paperback; $5.99 e-book
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Andrea Blythe is a well-recognized name in speculative poetry. She is a widely published author, as well as a podcast host. Blythe is most known for her work with fairytales and folktales, and her newest collection, Twelve, based on the Brothers Grimm fairytale of the twelve dancing princesses, is a potent and exquisite addition to her already impressive body of work. Continue Reading

Review: On Quiet Earth: A Zombie Apocalypse Novel by Chris Kelly

cover of On Quiet Earth by Chris Kelly. Shows a decomposing human zombie.On Quiet Earth: A Zombie Apocalypse Novel by Chris Kelly
Severed Press (May 2020)

155 pages, $9.95 paperback
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

At first glance, On Quiet Earth reads like a typical zombie survivor novel. The plot is formulaic—survivors band together, try to outrun zombies, and live in a post-apocalyptic world. What makes Kelly’s take on this genre unique is his sparse prose which, coupled with the psychological aspects of the book, make for an interesting zombie read.Continue Reading

Review: A Route Obscure and Lonely by LindaAnn LoSchiavo

A Route Obscure and Lonely by LindaAnn LoSchiavo
The Wapshott Press (December 2019)

60 pages, $7.50 paperback
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

A Route Obscure and Lonely is a unique artifact in horror poetry. It’s primarily in blank verse, and while formal horror poetry isn’t rare, what makes LindaAnn LoSchiavo’s poetry unique is that she doesn’t let the form control her poems. While many formalist horror poets fall back on outdated tropes and clichés in their writing, LoSchiavo is able to use those tools and make a very rhythmic poem, while also using modern ideas and imagery to update her poems to 21st century pieces.Continue Reading

Review: Tea with Death: A Gothic Poetry Collection by Abigail Wildes and Jeanna Pappas (Illustrator)

cover of Tea with Death by Abigail Wildes and Jeanna PappasTea with Death: A Gothic Poetry Collection by Abigail Wildes and Jeanna Pappas (Illustrator)
Alban Lake Publishing (February 2020)

101 pages, $19.99 hardcover
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Gothic poetry is an interesting concept. Originally a nineteenth century invention and an offshoot of Romantic poetry, Gothic poetry was pretty much any poem that had elements of gothic literature. However, it was popularized by Romantic poets such as Keats and Coleridge, and became its own subgenre of poetry. Almost two hundred years later, it’s interesting that this subgenre of poetry is seeing a slight resurgence. Obviously, the advent of Gothic music and the Gothic subculture in the 1980s influenced this, but many speculative poets are returning to older models of poetry for inspiration. One such poet is Abigail Wildes, whose newest collection is Tea with Death.Continue Reading

Review: Bone Parish, Vol. 1 by Cullen Bunn (Author), Alex Guimaraes and Jonas Scharf (Illustrators)

Cover of Bone Parish Volume 1Bone Parish, Vol. 1 by Cullen Bunn (Author), Alex Guimaraes and Jonas Scharf (Illustrators)
BOOM! Studios (May 2019)

112 pages, $10.83 paperback; $9.13 e-book
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Bone Parish is described as a “chilling necromantic horror story.” The Ash is a new, popular drug sweeping the underground scene of New Orleans. As with any new drug, rival gangs and interests are fighting over the supply, while few know the true secret of its origin — it’s made from the ashes of dead bodies. The visions The Ash produces are spectacular and unique, literally allowing the user to experience someone else’s life, until they overdose and die from the high. Writer Cullen Bunn is able to combine the traditional Gothic milieu of New Orleans with a horror story of necromancy and a typical drug dealer anti-hero story into one really interesting experience for the reader.Continue Reading

Review: The Bedlam Philharmonic and Other Poems by Steven Withrow

The Bedlam Philharmonic and Other Poems by Steven Withrow
Lulu.com (March 2020)

52 pages, $6.99 paperback
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Steven Withrow is a poet, author, and teacher from Falmouth. He is also a reporter for the local Enterprise newspapers. His poems for children and adults have appeared in journals and anthologies worldwide, including the National Geographic Books of Animal and Nature Poetry, Calliope, and Cape Cod Poetry Review. He visits schools and libraries throughout New England working with students and teachers in reading and writing verse. He is a graduate of Roger Williams University and Emerson College. His newest collection is The Bedlam Philharmonic and Other PoemsContinue Reading

Review: Keeping Score: Angry Tanka by Susan Burch

Cover of Keeping Score: Angry TankaKeeping Score: Angry Tanka by Susan Burch
Velvet Dusk Publishing (December 2019)

46 pages, $8.99 paperback
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Susan Burch is a prominent composer of English Language Tanka.  She began writing tanka in April 2013 after reading winning contest poems on the Tanka Society of America website. She loved the brevity of the form and submitted to Ribbons, which published her first tanka and encouraged her to keep writing. Since then she has placed in Mandy’s Page’s tanka contest, the World Tanka Competition, Diogen contests, the Haiku Poets of Northern California contests, the British Haiku and Tanka Awards, the TSA’s Sanford Goldstein tanka contest, and most recently, the Fleeting Words tanka contest. Her most recent collection is keeping score: Angry Tanka.Continue Reading

Review: The Apocalyptic Mannequin by Stephanie M. Wytovich

Cover of The Apocalyptic Mannequin by Stephanie WytovichThe Apocalyptic Mannequin by Stephanie Wytovich
Raw Dog Screaming Press (September 2019)

114 pages, $13.95 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

The Apocalyptic Mannequin is a collection of poetry about the apocalypse, and those who survived. Wytovich attempts to tap into the emotions of survivors with her poetry, creating a cast of characters who explore their fears and pain; however, while there are some really inventive ideas and clever survivor stories in this collection, the majority of the poems ultimately fall short due to craft issues.Continue Reading

Review: Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare by Stephanie M. Wytovich

Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare by Stephanie M. Wytovich
Raw Dog Screaming Press (December 2017)

162 pages, $14.52 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Stephanie M. Wytovich is an American poet, novelist, and essayist. Her Bram Stoker Award-winning poetry collection, Brothel, earned a home with Raw Dog Screaming Press alongside Hysteria: A Collection of Madness, Mourning Jewelry, An Exorcism of Angels, and her newest collection, also nominated for the Stoker Award, Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare.Continue Reading

Review: When the Night Owl Screams by Michael H. Hanson

When the Night Owl Screams by Michael H. Hanson
MoonDream Press (October 2017)

154 pages, $12.95 paperback; $1.99 e-book
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

When the Night Owl Screams is a collection of dark fantasy and horror poetry. It’s a wonderfully designed book with a very appealing cover, and features some very clever ideas. The poems, however, are clunky. Ultimately, this is a weak collection of poems.Continue Reading

Review: Frankenstein in Baghdad

Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi
Penguin Books (January 2018)

288 pages, $10.87 paperback; $11.99 e-book
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Ahmed Saadawi is an Iraqi novelist, poet, screenwriter and documentary film maker. He won the 2014 International Prize for Arabic Fiction for Frankenstein in Baghdad, which was recently translated into English and published by Penguin.

Frankenstein in Baghdad is a Dickensian novel, focused on multiple characters. The titular character, also known as Whatsitsname, comes into being when Hadi, a junk dealer, collects the body parts of bombing victims throughout Baghdad and sews them together in order that there be a body to bury and perform holy rituals for. This piecemeal body gains consciousness and begins to take revenge on the people who are responsible for the death of its individual parts; however, once an individual part is avenged, it begins to disintegrate, requiring the body to constantly be updated with new parts. This starts a vicious cycle of finding parts quickly enough to replace the disappearing parts, and soon the bodies of terrorists and criminals are used, which causes a madness in the creature. Continue Reading

Review: Zombie Apocalypse in Ditmas Park

Zombie Apocalypse in Ditmas Park by Kristine Scheiner
CreateSpace (May 2017)

32 pages, $6.99 paperback
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Zombie Apocalypse in Ditmas Park: A NYC Coloring Book Adventure for Ghoulish Hacks to Chillax is exactly what it sounds like. New York is invaded by zombies, and the rich blew up the bridges, so Brooklyn is left to fend for itself. Readers follow the adventures of the Scheiner sisters as they prepare for a Zombie Apocalypse Party. What ensues is a joyful romp through a zombie-filled wasteland rich with in-jokes that would make any zombie fan or New Yorker proud.Continue Reading

Review: The Lay of Old Hex by Adam Bolivar

The Lay of Old Hex: Spectral Ballads and Weird Jack Tales by Adam Bolivar
Hippocampus Press (October 2017)

328 pages, $20 paperback
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Adam Bolivar is a Romantic poet, specializing in the composition of metered and rhymed balladry, a traditional poetic form that taps into haunted undercurrents of folklore to produce spectral effects seldom found in other forms of writing. His poetry has appeared on the pages of such publications as Spectral Realms and Black Wings of Cthulhu VI, and a poem of his, “The Rime of the Eldritch Mariner,” won a Rhysling Award for long-form poetry. His collection of weird balladry and Jack tales, The Lay of Old Hex, was published by Hippocampus Press in 2017.Continue Reading