Review: Take Your Turn, Teddy by Haley Newlin

cover of Take Your Turn, Teddy by Haley NewlinTake Your Turn Teddy by Haley Newlin
New Degree Press (December 2020)
382 pages; $18.04 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

Haley Newlin’s Take Your Turn, Teddy is a dark, psychological horror story exploring the manifestations of early childhood trauma. Newlin uses themes of domestic violence, anxiety, and isolation to create a provocative landscape, The Shadow, for her characters to encounter and battle. A disturbing glimpse of how a broken spirit can unleash powerful demons of the soul. Absolutely captivating, I couldn’t put it down.Continue Reading

Review: In Nightmares We’re Alone by Greg Sisco

In Nightmares We’re Alone by Greg Sisco
Off Limits Press (March 2021)
260 pages; $16 paperback; $6.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

As far as introductions to an author’s work goes, I can’t think of a better offering than a collection of three, novellas differing in style and substance but sharing the same universe and characters.

All three tales in In Nightmares We’re Alone are told from a first person POV. Greg Sisco takes readers through a character’s own, personal nightmare as they are living it. . .alone. But they’re not really alone, are they? We are with them.Continue Reading

Mother Horror’s Top Twenty Horror Books Written by Women

banner reads women in horror

February is Women in Horror Month. Officially. But unofficially, genre buffs read horror fiction all year. It’s not even something to consider or be super intentional about, but of course the focused, extra attention women get during WiHM is important.

Eventually, the Women in Horror Month movement will take off in a more expansive direction allowing people to promote WiHM whenever and however they desire. But for now, it’s important to join together and amplify women who write horror loudly and proudly with a unified voice this month.Continue Reading

Review: Hearts Strange and Dreadful by Tim McGregor

cover of Hearts Strange and Dreadful by Tim McGregorHearts Strange and Dreadful by Tim McGregor
Off Limits Press (February 15, 2021)
276 pages; $16 paperback; $6.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

My favorite book series for the longest time was “The Little House” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. These books were set in the American Midwest in the late 1800s.
Hearts Strange and Dreadful transports us to New England in 1821 and I, for one, could not have been more eager to make the trip back in time to this familiar era.Continue Reading

Review: The Searching Dead by Ramsey Campbell

The Searching Dead by Ramsey Campbell
Flame Tree Press (February 16th, 2021)
256 pages; hardcover $24.95; $14.95 paperback; $6.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

“The Three Births of Daoloth” series is a trilogy that was previously released in hardcover, limited editions by PS Publishing. Now, the series is getting a reprint by Flame Tree Press and is poised to get a whole new fanbase for this epic, cosmic horror story.Continue Reading

Review: Eight Cylinders by Jason Parent

cover of Eight Cylinders by Jason ParentEight Cylinders by Jason Parent
Crystal Lake Publishing (November 2020)
124 pages; $10.99 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

Fast cars are not my thing. That whole Fast and Furious movie franchise? Nope. Never saw those. The cover of this book with that muscle car tearing through a desert landscape and the title Eight Cylinders doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest. What does appeal to me is this slim (just over one hundred pages) novella is written by Jason Parent and published by Crystal Lake Publishing. I’m a big fan of both. Crystal Lake consistently publishes quality horror and Parent has a unique storytelling style that I enjoy. Last year, I celebrated his short story, “Russian Dollhouse” from the Midnight in the Graveyard anthology.Continue Reading

Review: The Cipher by Kathe Koja

cover of The Cipher by Kathe KojaThe Cipher by Kathe Koja
Meerkat Press (September 15th, 2020)
236 pages; $17.48 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

There’s kind of this unofficial debate among readers concerning those who enjoy unlikable characters and those who need protagonists to be tolerable in order to invest in their story.

I like despicable, flawed people. I think protagonists should be as varied as the people we encounter in real life. I don’t need to like people in order to emotionally invest in their stories — sometimes, hating them is just as fun as loving them.Continue Reading

Review: The Worm and His Kings by Hailey Piper

cover of The Worm and His Kings by Hailey PiperThe Worm and His Kings by Hailey Piper
Off Limits Press (November 15th, 2020)
116 pages; $13.00 paperback; $6.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

Women in Indie Horror have a powerful voice and if that’s a surprise to you, take note of the popular Best Of Lists from horror reviewers as 2020 comes to a close. You will see these names: Laurel Hightower, Gemma Amor, Samantha Kolesnik, Sara Tantlinger, Gwendolyn Kiste, Cynthia Pelayo, V. Castro, Stephanie Ellis, Jessica Guess, Briana Morgan, and many, many more.

One name I saved for last and special mention. Hailey Piper. Hailey is one to watch. She has had a stellar year of releases starting with the breakout novella, The Possession of Natalie Glasgow. Then it was just one winner after the next: Benny Rose, The Cannibal King (Unnerving), An Invitation to Darkness (Demain Pub), and several short stories in various anthologies.Continue Reading

Interview: Catching Up with Ronald Malfi

banner graphic that says Cemetery Dance Interviews

photo of author Ronald Malfi
Ronald Malfi

For me, an avid reader of horror who reads nothing but books in this genre day in and day out, Ronald Malfi is among the legends. He is the award-winning author of several novels, novellas, and two short story collections, and I feel like I have only scratched the surface of his work.

My introduction to his storytelling was the collection, We Should Have Left Well Enough Alone. The first story stood up and punched me square between the eyes, making me a fan for life! I highly recommend it. Later, I went on to read December Park (one of my favorite coming-of-age novels with an intense murder-mystery-thriller storyline) and Bone White (a creature-feature with heart, high-stakes, and themes of loneliness/isolation).

I’m excited that I have more Malfi books to look forward to both from his back catalog of fan-favorites and new releases. We talk about those books and more in this interview.
Continue Reading

Review: WYRD and Other Derelictions by Adam L.G. Nevill

cover of WYRD and Other Derelictions by Adam L.G. NevillWYRD and Other Derelictions by Adam L.G. Nevill
Ritual Limited (October 2020)
106 pages; $7.99 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

In the third collection of horror stories from Adam Nevill, something is missing. The “who” and the “what” and the “why” aspects of the story have been intentionally omitted from the narrative and it’s up to you, the reader, to discover and discern these things for yourselves.

Doesn’t that sound…

Horrifying?

Because it is.Continue Reading

Review: Captain Clive’s Dreamworld by Jon Bassoff

Cover of Captain Clive's Dreamworld by Jon BassoffCaptain Clive’s Dreamworld by Jon Bassoff
Erasherhead Press (October 2020)

234 pages; $15.95 paperback; $5.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

For anyone that’s ever lived in a small town where everyone knows each other and seems to hold secrets about their next-door neighbors, idyllic town horror is a satisfying trope. Truth is always stranger than fiction and if you live in one small town long enough, you’re bound to uncover some of the strange history and unusual happenings. Sometimes what appears to be perfectly quaint is really just good at hiding its seamy underbelly.

It’s not difficult to suspend disbelief in order to buy into the old adage, “Nothing is as it appears to be.” Or another fitting favorite, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”Continue Reading

Review: Ring Shout by P. Djéli Clark

cover for Ring Shout by P. Djeli ClarkRing Shout by P. Djéli Clark
Tor.com (October 13, 2020)

176 pages; $15.99 hardcover; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

I read a brief tagline for Ring Shout that was along the lines of, “a dark fantasy historical novella that gives a supernatural twist to the Ku Klux Klan’s reign of terror” and I was sold. I love everything the tagline promises: Dark Fantasy. Historical Fiction. Novella. Supernatural. Give me all of those things.

Ring Shout not only delivered on these promises, but it also flew past all of my expectations making this book a solid contender for my favorite book of 2020.Continue Reading

Review: The Loop by Jeremy Robert Johnson

cover of The Loop by Jeremy Robert JohnsonThe Loop by Jeremy Robert Johnson
Saga Press (September 29, 2020)

320 pages; $26.99 paperback; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie Hartmann

You know, if I didn’t have to sleep, eat, or tend to the family during this stay-at-home order, I would have sat and read this one straight through. This book is everything.

Cue some strange intro music like the eerie riffs from X-Files or the digital notes of that synthesized melody from Stranger Things and settle into this binge-worthy genre mashup. Best known for his bizarro-horror style and flavor, Jeremy Robert Johnson is an unexpected hero for the coming-of-age conspiracy thriller genre.Continue Reading

Review: The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry

cover of The Ghost Tree by Christina HenryThe Ghost Tree by Christina Henry
Berkley (September 8, 2020)

432 pages; $13.99 paperback; $11.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie Hartmann

Christina Henry entices readers to travel back in time to a small town called Smith’s Hollow. It’s the 1980s. We follow best friends Lauren and Miranda, their longtime friendship seemingly in transition. Miranda is looking to make friends with older boys who drive while Lauren resents being dragged along as a third wheel. 

Wrapped in this compelling coming-of-age story is something more insidious than teenage boys. Two girls Lauren’s age are found murdered, their bodies mutilated, in the backyard of one of her neighbors. Continue Reading

Review: The Raven by Jonathan Janz

The Raven by Jonathan Janz
Flame Tree Press (September 8, 2020)

256 pages; $24.95; $14.95 paperback
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

Perhaps the most interesting thing about horror is the vast variety in its sub-genres. So many tropes fit under the horror umbrella; I truly believe there’s something for everyone. I passionately believe the horror genre is plenty sufficient to cover any thirst for diversity in your reading. 

My top-shelf writers of horror, the mega-talented, often write books categorized in the full spectrum of the genre. The opposite of the one-trick pony, these authors are part and parcel of horror fiction. 

Jonathan Janz is one of those authors writing bestsellers that cover a lot of ground. Supernatural, paranormal, creature-features, noir, gothic, you name it and Janz has tried it; successfully.Continue Reading