Review: Whispers from the Depths by C.W. Briar

Whispers from the Depths by C.W. Briar
Uncommon Universes Press (February 2019)
296 pages; $24.99 hardcover; $17.58 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia

I usually don’t read much fantasy. While a lot of it’s well-written, it’s just not necessarily my cup of tea. However, I thoroughly enjoyed C.W. Briar’s debut collection Wrath and Ruin a few years ago, so I felt more than confident in taking a chance on his fantasy about water witches. I’m happy to say it paid off. Continue Reading

Review: glass slipper dreams, shattered by doungjai gam

cover of glass slipper dreams, shatteredglass slipper dreams, shattered by doungjai gam
Apokrupha (July 2019)
80 pages; $7.99 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia

Micro-fiction is a difficult genre to master. Like  poetry, it’s built on the art of distilled language. Expressions of thoughts, emotions, fear, pain, joy, nightmares, and dreams, conveyed through precise  word choice and imagery. And the key word here is precise. Micro-fiction can’t be just short. It  must be powerful, evocative, emotional…using the very essence of  language.Continue Reading

Revelations: Robert Aickman’s “Strange Stories

Banner for Revelations, the column written by Kevin Lucia for Cemetery Dance

Author Robert Aickman
Robert Aickman

I remember my first Robert Aickman story vividly. It was in February. Early in the morning. As the snow fell outside on an already white winter morning, I sat very still in my favorite chair, reading “The School Friend,” and wondering…just what was I reading? A story about a long-lost friend returning after her father’s death, to comfort her old school friend, who had fallen into a lonely life? Or was this friend something…more? Continue Reading

Review: I Know Everything by Matthew Farrell

Cover of I Know EverythingI Know Everything by Matthew Farrell
Thomas & Mercer (August 2019)
334 pages; $11.99 paperback; $5.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia

Suspense/thrillers with “twist” endings usually telegraph said endings, especially if you’ve read enough of them. The victim is really the killer, the killer is really the victim, or the last person you’d expect (because at this point, that trope is as well worn as any horror trope, making us immediately suspect the last person you’d suspect), or actually, it’s the person we thought was the villain all along. It’s why I tend to stick to supernatural horror in my reading these days, because I usually find the mystery in those stories more engaging.Continue Reading

The Mask: A Halloween Serial Novel by Kevin Lucia

Cemetery Dance reviews editor/columnist Kevin Lucia is writing a Halloween serial novel one day at a time on his blog. We thought it might be something our readers would enjoy as we count down to our favorite holiday!  Check out Kevin’s essay on the origins of The Mask, and follow the links at the end to read along.

 

The creepy mask that inspired Kevin Lucia's serial novel The Mask.Two weeks ago, I found the weirdest mask in our school’s dirt cellar.

The dirt cellar—which began life as a fallout shelters in the fifties—is where all sorts of things get stored. Things like old desks, cabinets, bookshelves, toilets, tables…you name it. Boxes of old textbooks, old televisions, all the things a school might store over the years instead of throwing out, just because they “might” be needed sometime in the future.

I’m down there all the time. I’m a scrounger by nature, (I learned it from my Dad, who learned it from his father, who was a teen during the Depression), and I’m always looking for something to add to my classroom. In this case, I was looking for Halloween decorations, because seasonal decorations are also stored in the dirt cellar.
And I found this weird rubber mask. With bulging eyes, stringy black hair, and a gaping black mouth. Inspiration struck, and I decided to take the mask (its rubber felt weird between my fingers) and hang it on my classroom door in the center of Halloween wreath as my own “Marley Knocker.”

Continue Reading

Kevin Lucia on Walking Lazarus — The Movie

The premise of my column “Revelations” is a reflection on fiction I encountered during a specific time in my career; fiction which changed the way I thought about horror, or influenced me in some way. The column has wandered from contemporary writers to masters of the genre, and it will at times wander off the “horror map” and into that hazy borderland of “speculative fiction.”

An author I’ll eventually feature is speculative fiction writer T. L. Hines, and how he shaped my thoughts about speculative fiction, most especially in terms of flawed characters, and how those flaws made those characters stronger. Today, however, I’m writing about Tony’s current project, and that’s his indie effort to bring his first novel, Waking Lazarus, to cinema lifeContinue Reading

Review: Rattlesnake Kisses by Robert Ford

Rattlesnake Kisses by Robert Ford and John Boden
Apokrupha (July 2019)
216 pages; $12.99 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia

This, it appears, is the summer of Robert Ford and John Boden. Both have other releases stirring up notice in the weird/horror world—Ford with his novel (co-written with Matt Hayward) A Penny for Your Thoughts, and Boden’s recent release, the weird western Walk the Darkness Down. At this point, it should come as no surprise that the authors of The Compound (Ford) and Jedi Summer (Boden) continue to produce high-quality horror/weird fiction. Because of this, one would expect that a story co-written by them would offer double-barrels of emotionally gut-wrenching fiction featuring empathetic-but-doomed characters in weird situations. Rest assured, Rattlesnake Kisses fulfills that expectation, and then some.Continue Reading

Review: The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson

The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson
Penguin Books (July 9, 2019)
224 pages; $8.99 paperback; $11.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia

The Saturday Night Ghost Club, by Craig Davidson, isn’t exactly a ghost story. Nor does it feature any overtly supernatural events. However, it is, at heart, about the essence of hauntings. About the things which haunt us, even if they’re buried so deeply, we don’t even remember them.Continue Reading

Review: Our War by Craig DiLouie

Our War by Craig DiLouie
Orbit (August 20, 2019)
400 pages; $17.74 hardcover; $16.99 paperback; $13.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia

This may be one of the most important books you’ll read this year. I say that without an ounce of hyperbole. Given the current climate of our country and its cultural, political, and social polarization, Craig DiLouie has written a heart-breaking, terrifying novel which—I desperately hope—will only be a warning, and not someday viewed as prophetic. Continue Reading

Revelations: Reverend Peter Laws

Banner for Revelations, the column written by Kevin Lucia for Cemetery Dance

Portrait of Reverend Peter Laws
Reverend Peter Laws

When I proposed “Revelations” to the fine folks at Cemetery Dance, my intent was to examine writers I’d encountered during a specific period in my career. Writers’ whose work had impacted me on a profound level, changed the way I thought about horror, and changed the way I wrote. Never once did I imagine I’d stumbled onto something profound or unheard of. Continue Reading

Review: Boomtown by James A. Moore

Boomtown by James A. Moore
Twisted Publishing (April 2019)
354 pages; $30 hardcover; $18 paperback; $7.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia

Though I’ve heard a lot about Jim Moore’s recurring character Jonathan Crowley, I’ve never read him. Now that I have, I can add another recurring character (joining F. Paul Wilson’s Repairman Jack and Peter Laws’ Matthew Hunter) to my list of “must read characters.” Boomtown is a fast-paced, smooth-reading weird western which hits all the right notes, and now I want to find every Crowley story and read them, yesterday.Continue Reading

Review: The Seven Deadliest edited by Patrick Beltran and D. Alexander Ward

The Seven Deadliest edited by Patrick Beltran and D. Alexander Ward
Cutting Block Books (May 2019)
232 pages; $13.38 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia

Normally, an anthology based on the seven deadly sins would get a bit of a side-eye from me. I hate to say this, but my thoughts would immediately leap to contrived and cliched attempts to take “sins” and turn them into horror stories built out of shock value, nothing more. Continue Reading

Review: The Line Between by Tosca Lee

The Line Between by Tosca Lee
Howard Books (January 2019)
384 pages; $17.10 hardcover; $17.00 paperback; $13.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia

I’ve been reading Tosca Lee’s work since her amazing and soul-shuddering debut novel, Demon: A Memoir, and have been a fan ever since. Her lyrical prose and sense of style is always a delight, and over the years she’s become a master at pacing the thriller novel. Her stories move at a furious clip, yet she still manages to weave clever plot twists and craft believable, intimate character portrayals.Continue Reading

Revelations: Robert McCammon

Banner for Revelations, the column written by Kevin Lucia for Cemetery Dance

Author Robert McCammon

(Before we begin, a moment of shameless self-promotion: For a limited time, the ebook of my novella quartet, Through A Mirror, Darkly, is free on Amazon. That’s a price you can’t beat! Grab it while you can.)

I have friend and colleague Bob Ford to thank for introducing me to Robert McCammon’s work. I’m not sure exactly when I stumbled across his blog entry about Boy’s Life, but it must’ve been late summer or early fall 2010, because I read Boy’s Life for the first time not long after. And, I can say—without an ounce of hyperbole—that novel impacted me more than any novel I’ve ever read. It changed me, fundamentally, as a writer. I made me realize the limitless possibilities of speculative fiction. Continue Reading

Revelations: The Repairman Jack Saga by F. Paul Wilson

As I’ve written this series, I’ve found it necessary to achieve a tenuous balance in my recommendations and recountings of the horror which has impacted me as a reader and writer. I’ve bounced a lot between the descriptions  “fun and fast-paced” and “literate and full of substance.” The truth of the matter (as I’ve come to discover it) is this: good fiction and, even more importantly, a good reading diet, shouldn’t ever cater to one end of the spectrum exclusively. Stories should move us emotionally, they should make us ponder the world around us, our existence, and life in general. They should say something about the human condition. Continue Reading