It’s the middle of October, just a couple of weeks away from Halloween as I write this, and I find myself (like, doubtless, many of you) in the midst of a horror movie marathon leading into my favorite holiday. Most of what I watch this time of year are classics that I’ve seen a time or two (or ten) before, and — again, I suspect, like many of you — I find myself constantly second-guessing the actions of the characters on the screen.Continue Reading
Let’s face it: No matter how little we may want to admit it, we’re all at least a bit broken. Something, somewhere in each of us shattered at some time or another. We’ve all felt displaced, alone, in the face of the feeling. The Place of Broken Things is centered around looking at those broken places both within us and without and about placing them in the world.Continue Reading
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
“Somewhere out there is a true and living prophet of destruction and I dont want to confront him. I know he’s real. I have seen his work.” No Country for Old Men, Cormac McCarthy
Sometimes the right story, told by the right author, finds itself in your hands at just the right time. I received Grind Your Bones to Dust by Nicholas Day as a printed manuscript, three hole punched, brad at the top and the bottom holding the many pages together. It felt special when I held it.
Flipping through, I saw illustrations; striking, intentionally scribbly illustrations of man and beast.
I already knew from reading Nick’s short story collection, Nobody Gets Hurt and Other Lies, what I should expect from his first novel:
As I devoured this book, I had the distinct feeling that every single word was chosen with meticulous care and concern; no words were added flippantly, wastefully or without great intention. This kind of mindfulness from the author has a mesmerizing effect on me as a reader. This book is so compelling and gripping, my very life was suspended and held in tension until I finished.
Told in four parts, the first three parts are told almost as isolated events. There are small connective threads of familiarity, either with characters or the storyline, woven through so that you know that at some point everything is going to come together and it will be epic. That apex moment of all the points of light intersecting is in part four. The brilliance of it all is breathtaking; literally, the most masterful climax and conclusion. I have never read its equal.
It would be utter ruin if I were to overshare any of this book’s unique storyline. Part One starts right off with the protagonist, Louis Loving, fleeing a strange horror in the middle of the night. You have never encountered predators such as these in all your horror journeys.
Part Two features a villain so unfathomably evil…I could say with confidence that James Hayte is the single most wicked character to ever terrify me in literature. Second only to Cormac McCarty’s the Judge in Blood Meridian. There are murderous deeds committed you will never want to read again, and Nicholas Day writes them in such a way that you are unlikely to ever forget a single one. Part of me wishes I could scrub them from my mind and part of me wants to applaud Day for being the kind of author who absolutely knows how to write exceptionally memorable acts of violence. He understands that sometimes full detail is not required to project a horrifying act into a reader’s mind. Things can be suggested with just the right words, and it’s more unsettling than full disclosure could ever be.
One of my favorite characters is Billings, a supernatural raven who speaks in these prophetic parables and mysteries. Billings and James somehow find each other and the two of them together are some of my favorite storytelling moments.
Part Three is the introduction of some important characters who are going to lead us back to Part One. This portion of the story provides the reader with some of the best dialog I’ve ever read. Truly some profound words are exchanged and I found myself wanting to either commit everything to memory or furiously scribble down notes, so I did both. It’s in Part Three that I read one of the scariest horror fiction moments I’ve read to this day. It reads like an intense scene in some indie horror movie that is talked about for generations. Once you read it, you’ll know—that’s the scene Sadie was talking about. Like already said, Part Four is Nicholas Day showing us what he’s made of.
He writes like a man possessed, as if the very story you’re reading has somehow taken over Day’s being and poured itself out onto the page. I don’t know if Nicholas Day sold his soul at a crossroads to bring us Grind Your Bones to Dust, but this book feels like the result of a pact made with the Devil to bring us the finest horror has to offer. I’m thankful this is his first novel, because it is this reader’s opinion it will propel him farther out into the industry and we can plan to enjoy many more novels from him. I’ll be standing in line.
Depending on your reading habits, you may be familiar with Hard Case Crime in a couple of different ways. If you read horror exclusively, you may know Hard Case Crime as the publisher of two Stephen King novels: The Colorado Kid and Joyland (neither of which are horror, although Joyland does incorporate some supernatural elements). If you’re the kind of reader who makes room for more than one genre on your bookshelves, you may know Hard Case Crime as a publisher specializing in a mix of original and reprint pulp crime novels. I’m a Hard Case Crime fan from way back, so when I read they were combining my love of crime fiction and Halloween stories in a novel called Blood Sugar, I was all in.Continue Reading
I started watching Art of the Dead on a Wednesday morning. Within the first minute, Richard Grieco filled my screen and nostalgia filled me. He just purchased a new painting of a menacing lion and he wants his family to see it. Like a good story, the movie has you asking questions right away, and something very odd is happening. By the time five minutes have passed, you’ll either be saying, “What the fu…,” you’ll be engrossed, or you’ll be giggling. I sort of went through all three at that point. Continue Reading
James A. Moore returns to the blood-drenched streets of Black Stone Bay in the third novel of this thrilling series. For those familiar with the spectacular Halloween series from Earthling’s Paul Miller, you know this annual offering is always a special treat. There’s never been a miss in the fourteen entries by the publisher, and this one is no exception. Continue Reading
When someone opens a Barry Hoffman novel, they know the story and characters will leave a scar. Like Jack Ketchum and the best of Richard Laymon, Hoffman never shies away from the ugly side of humanity and the horrors they inflict upon one another. His novels, which include the stellar Eyes series, have always tackled tough subjects, and he continues the trend with this story, one that was influenced by the rash of sexual assaults on college campuses across the country in the past year. Continue Reading
Quick, name two classic female horror writers. I’ll wait while you blurt out “Mary Shelley and Shirley Jackson.” While there’s no doubt that both of those two have more than earned their place in horror history, there are multitudes that belong alongside them, but whose names have been lost to history. That’s a wrong that Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson are here to right. Their new book, Monster, She Wrote, sheds light on over a hundred women who, as the cover says, “pioneered horror and speculative fiction.”Continue Reading
The cover of A Lush and Seething Hell depicts two figures standing in some brambles; a darkness looms behind them, above them, all around them. It’s a menacing tower of darkness bearing down, but also rising up. Upon closer inspection, the figures aren’t so much standing as they are cowering.
I know because I stared at the cover and the title for awhile before I ventured past it to get at the meaty insides. And it’s that posture of cowering I remembered after I finished this book. Continue Reading
In the 1800s, it’s easier to kill and get away with it—if that’s your thing. Walking into a saloon, collecting body parts, and leaving out the front door doesn’t exactly trigger sirens and a team of forensic scientists, but there’s always someone you’re likely to run into that’ll try and put a stop to your slaughtering ways. Continue Reading
Did Scott Thomas peek inside our horror-loving brains while we weren’t looking and use what he found there to write the most appealing book just for us? He might have. In fact, the more I sit here with all my review notes, the more I’m convinced he overheard us talking about all our favorite things to read about and he used ALL OF THEM in this one book: Violet. Continue Reading
Today is publication day for Stephen King’s new novel, The Institute, which I reviewed last week. Book release day is always a big one for fans. However, that’s not the only thing happening today. Season 3 of Mr. Mercedes launches on AT&T Audience Network, and it’s a good one! [Note: Everything I’m going to discuss in this review is covered in the trailer, more or less.]Continue Reading
Patrick Freivald has released a new short story collection from Barking Deer Press entitled In the Garden of Rusting Gods. An established novelist, Bram Stoker Award-nominee (and, with Andrew Wolter, winner of the Richard Laymon President’s Award in 2015), he writes horror for both young adult and adult audiences alike. His short fiction has mostly tended toward science fiction horror, which he excels at, so for readers wanting their fix, his collection will fit the bill. Continue Reading
Let’s get this out of the way right up front. Yes, It Chapter Two is nearly three hours long. Did it feel like it? Not in the least. Because my phone was turned off during the press screening I attended on Tuesday evening, I had no sense of the passage of time, but I never felt the movie dragged. Not for a moment. I saw it on an IMAX screen, the first time I’ve seen anything on a screen that big in many years. It’s hard to say if it’s worth the premium, but the experience felt immersive to me.
The movie is R-rated, with good reason. It’s pretty darned scary, and very, very bad things happen to cute little kids. I admit, without reservation, that I was jolted into yelling out loud on at least a couple of occasions, which hardly ever happens to me. While the movie has more than its fair share of jump scares, it’s also tense, full of dread, and frightening.
It Chapter Two picks up exactly where we left off two years ago, with the young Losers in the aftermath of their battle with Pennywise, promising to come back if the killings in Derry, Maine start again.