Revelations: The Third Level by Jack Finney

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

Author photo of Jack Finney
Jack Finney

Ironically, in my quest to discover other horror writers besides Stephen King, (I adore King’s work but at that time, I was reading him exclusively), it was King himself who helped lead the way. Somewhere in the middle of that quest I finally, for the first time, read his non-fiction treatise on the horror genre, Danse Macabre (which you should all do, right now). Continue Reading

Review: Shades by Geoff Cooper and Brian Keene

Shades by Geoff Cooper and Brian Keene
Poltergeist Press (January 2020)
194 pages; $10.99 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia

By the time I stumbled into the horror scene, Shades was a long-out of print Cemetery Dance title, and I was sad I’d missed the boat. I love coming-of-age stories, and this one looked awesome. Imagine my delight when I learned Poltergeist Press was re-releasing it in paperback and ebook. It went right on the birthday list, and lucky me, it showed up in the mail on that blessed day.Continue Reading

Review: Beyond the Gate by Mary SanGiovanni

Beyond the Gate by Mary SanGiovanni
Lyrical Underground (November 2019)
197 pages; $15.95 paperback; $8.69 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia

If you’re a fan of cosmic horror and you’ve yet to delve into the work of Mary SanGiovanni, you need to rectify that, immediately. Without a doubt, SanGiovanni is one the best writers on the cosmic horror scene today. And best of all, SanGiovanni hasn’t been content to rehash old Lovecraftian gods. She’s invented her own mythos full of eldritch beings and malevolent aliens, a dizzying pantheon of epic proportions that is fresh, original, and contemporary. Her Hollower trilogy is still one of my favorites, and I still maintain that Thrall is simply one of the most original novels of cosmic horror I’ve ever read.Continue Reading

Review: A Wind of Knives by Ed Kurtz

A Wind of Knives by Ed Kurtz
Independently Published (December 2019)
140 pages; $7.99 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia

A Wind of Knives by Ed Kurtz is a grim beauty to behold. One part realistic western reminiscent of the late Ed Gorman’s work; one part rumination on the nature of love and the desperate ties which bind us together; all parts sad, brutal, and tragic. This isn’t a Saturday afternoon spaghetti western in which the good guys wear white and the bad guys  wear black, with blazing six guns and stalwart heroes riding off into the sunset. It’s a melancholic story of a man fueled by revenge and the deep, aching pain that not only comes from loss, but also from the deepest kinds of betrayal.Continue Reading

Into the Abyss with Kevin Lucia, CW Briar and Thomas McDonough

Into the Abyss creepy logoKevin Lucia stays plenty busy teaching, editing reviews for Cemetery Dance, writing horror fiction, and raising kids. So, naturally, he decided to develop a new YouTube show devoted to horror to fill his “spare time.”

Welcome to Into the Abyss, coming at you every week from Lucia’s “horror cave” and featuring CW Briar and Thomas McDonough as co-hosts. The guys break down horror movies, talk about books, and generally welcome us all into their horror-centric get-togethers.

We’re big fans of the show here at Cemetery Dance, and we think you’ll all enjoy it, too. In this special episode, Cemetery Dance Managing Editor Blu Gilliand sent the guys a few questions to help them introduce themselves and their show to you! Check out the full video below.Continue Reading

Review: Shapeshifters: A History by John B. Kachuba

Shapeshifters: A History by John B. Kachuba
Reaktion Books (June 2019)
208 pages; $15.78 hardcover
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia

As an English teacher and lover of myths and folklore, nonfiction works on the historical and mythical backgrounds of monsters and such is right up my alley. I love reading how strange beliefs, customs, and folktales serve as the roots of some of our more famous monsters and horror fiction beasties. So, as you can imagine, when Shapeshifters: A History by John B. Kachuba showed up on my doorstep, I was pretty excited. Continue Reading

Review: The Night Doctor and Other Tales by Steve Rasnic Tem

The Night Doctor and Other Tales by Steve Rasnic Tem
Centipede Press (December 2019)
336 pages; $20 unsigned limited edition (700 copies) hardcover
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia

I first encountered Steve Rasnic Tem’s work in the inaugural edition of the Greystone Bay series. “In a Guest House” was a startlingly quiet piece, humming with the same undercurrent of unease that can be found in the best Twilight Zone episodes. After that, I continued to encounter Tem’s work here and there, especially as I collected classic horror anthologies from the eighties and nineties. I loved the quiet restraint I found in his work, so when I happened upon a review copy for The Night Doctor and Other Tales, his most recent short fiction collection, I dived right in.Continue Reading

Revelations: Ramsey Campbell

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

Author Ramsey Campbell
Author Ramsey Campbell

I read my first Ramsey Campbell novel, Creatures of the Pool, in October 2010. A little over ten years ago. Yes, I know. A little late to the party, right? But, like so many other horror authors, Ramsey Campbell was just another name I’d heard spoken reverently as “an author all aspiring horror authors should read.” Continue Reading

Review: The Last Christmas: A Repairman Jack Novel by F. Paul Wilson

The Last Christmas: A Repairman Jack Novel by F. Paul Wilson
Crossroads Press (September 2019)
370 pages; $25.94 hardcover; $18.06 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia

It can be a dicey thing when an author brings back one of their beloved series characters after closing off that character’s series with such a satisfying conclusion. In the back of your head, as a reader, you’re thinking, “I just want one more adventure with one of my favorite literary characters.” And yet, when that does happen…there’s enough anxiety to give you pause. Maybe the story just won’t read the same as the others. Maybe it won’t have that same snap the other installments had, or, if the author is creating a new adventure in the middle of an already completed series, maybe the story will cause too many continuity errors to be thoroughly enjoyable. Continue Reading

Revelations: Peter Straub

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

Author Peter Straub
Peter Straub

As an aspiring writer, you often don’t realize the influences certain authors have over your developing style and voice. You’re busy reading books and stories which really excite you, writing away in your own little world, and in many ways, you can’t see the forest for the trees.

I’ve been especially prone to that over the years. I tend to read many books simultaneously at frenzied paces (I’ve often said I read like other people breathe), and it’s sometimes hard to keep track of where I draw my inspirations from. It was once said Rod Serling was the same. When Ray Bradbury actually accused Serling of stealing his work for The Twilight Zone, some said Serling could never completely deny it, because he’d read so many things so quickly, he always had difficulty attributing a source to his story ideas.Continue Reading

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