Review: Mestiza Blood by V. Castro

cover of Mestiza Blood by V. CastroMestiza Blood by V. Castro
Flame Tree Press (January 25, 2022)
240 pages; $26.95 hardcover; $16.95 paperback; $6.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

After a string of successful releases, Hairspray & Switchblades (Unnerving Press) Goddess of Filth (Creature Publishing) and Queen of the Cicadas (Flame Tree Press) V. Castro unleashes her first short story collection, Mestiza Blood.

A short story collection of nightmares, dreams, desires, & visions of the chicana experience

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Review: Burner by Robert Ford

cover of Burner by Robert FordBurner by Robert Ford
Blurred Images Press (November 2020)
230 pages; $12.99 paperback; $.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

In Burner by Robert Ford, readers are introduced to two characters, Iris and Audrey. We follow their story through “then” and “now” timelines told in short, bingeable chapters that switch back and forth between the two women.

If you read the preface, you will know that Burner deals with a heavy subject and has the potential to cause emotional trauma, so I recommend reading the preface. Bob Ford does a great job setting early expectations.Continue Reading

Review: The Queen of the Cicadas by V. Castro

cover of Queen of the Cicadas by V. CastroThe Queen of the Cicadas by V. Castro
Flame Tree Press (June 22nd, 2021)
224 pages; $14.95 paperback; $6.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

There are so many important themes to unpack in V. Castro’s The Queen of the Cicadas, that I almost don’t know where to start. First, I’ll entice you with some plot details. There is a dual narrative which involves a present-day wedding ceremony at a farmhouse and a story from the past that takes place at the same location.Continue Reading

Review: The Secret Skin by Wendy Wagner

cover of The Secret Skin by Wendy WagnerThe Secret Skin by Wendy Wagner
Neon Hemlock (October 2021)
102 pages; $11.57 paperback
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

“Last night I dreamed of Storm Break, dear Lillian, for the first time since we escaped that salt place.”

June Vogel returns to her family’s estate on the Oregon Coast after being away for six years. In the tradition of all atmospheric, Gothic storytelling, Wendy Wagner sets the stage perfectly in the prologue, hinting at family tragedy and secrets that will be revealed in time. But with only one hundred pages used to tell the tale, readers don’t have to wait long.Continue Reading

Review: The Boy with the Spider Face by AJ Franks

cover of The Boy with the Spider Face by AJ FranksThe Boy with the Spider Face by AJ Franks
Crystal Lake Publishing (November 26, 2021)
126 pages; TBA paperback; TBA e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

In this young adult, coming-of-age horror novella, AJ Franks imagines what life would look like for a teenage boy with an actual spider-face. The story unfolds rather quickly with the protagonist, Jeff Pritchet, struggling to lead a normal life but realizing that nothing will be easy for a boy with his unique condition. At school, Jeff befriends “the new kid” which introduces a combination of subtle queer themes and very heavy-handed racism.Continue Reading

Review: The Strange Things We Become and Other Dark Tales by Eric LaRocca

cover of The Strange Things We Become and Other Dark Tales by Eric LaRoccaThe Strange Things We Become and Other Dark Tales by Eric LaRocca
Off Limits Press (September 2021)
128 pages; $13 paperback; $6.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

Nobody could comfortably follow an act in indie horror fiction like Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke, except Eric LaRocca with another release.
Things Have Gotten Worse… broke every record for sales and reviews I have ever seen for an indie release. That book was released in June and just three months later, here we are with The Strange Things We Become.Continue Reading

Review: The House of Little Bones by Beverly Lee

cover of The House of Little Bones by Beverly LeeThe House of Little Bones by Beverly Lee
Self-Published (September 2021)
126 pages; $8.99 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

As far as this reader knows, The House of Little Bones is Beverley Lee’s first novella-length release. At just under two hundred pages, fans of Lee’s literary prose and gothic storytelling style will love this fast-paced chiller.Continue Reading

Review: Cackle by Rachel Harrison

cover of Cackle by Rachel HarrisonCackle by Rachel Harrison
Berkley (October 2021)
304 pages; $19.99 hardcover; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

Cackle by Rachel Harrison is a mixed bag of emotions. The story centers on Annie Crane, a woman looking for a fresh start after her boyfriend moves their relationship into the friendzone. She leaves the city for a quaint, little rental in a small town.

Things do not go well. Annie is consumed with her feelings about the break-up and her new job at the local high school is only adding to her lack of self-esteem. None of her new co-workers make her feel welcomed and the students in her class are not cooperative.

Then she meets Sophie and everything begins to change.Continue Reading

Review: Rookfield by Gordon B. White

cover of Rookfield by Gordon B. WhiteRookfield by Gordon B. White
Trepidatio Publishing (October 15, 2021)
108 pages; $12.95 paperback; $5.95 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

An unusual horror story set during a global pandemic, Rookfield hits close to home.

A man named Cabot, seriously lacking in self-awareness and full of privilege, is looking for his son and estranged wife in a small town called Rookfield. Leana apparently fled to the small town under marital duress. It’s suggested that perhaps Cabot and Leana didn’t see eye to eye when it came to the ways they would be handling the pandemic and the protection of their son’s health and safety.Continue Reading

Review: Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

cover of Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra KhawNothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw
Tor Nightfire (October 19th, 2021)
128 pages; $19.99 hardback; $10.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

It’s one of the most beloved horror tropes: A group of friends travels to an abandoned building rumored to be haunted. The friends are either going to film a documentary, or just see what happens when they attempt to spend the night.

Horror ensues.Continue Reading

Review: Queen of Teeth by Hailey Piper

cover of Queen of TeethQueen of Teeth by Hailey Piper
Strangehouse Books (August 2021)
198 pages; $14.95 paperback; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

You might be surprised to learn that Queen of Teeth is the debut novel from Hailey Piper. Her name is everywhere! How can this be her debut? Well, up until this book’s release, Piper has had a string of successful book releases in the novella page count range: The Possession of Natalie Glasgow, Benny Rose the Cannibal King, The Worm and His Kings, a short story collection, and a Short, Sharp, Shocks from Demain Publishing called An Invitation to Darkness. There is also a variety of short fiction published in dozens of anthologies and magazines. Through this whirlwind of storytelling, Piper has gathered unto herself a massive fanbase. Personally, I show up for anything with her name on it. I’m a sell-out for Piper’s unique brand.

Queen of Teeth is special. Her first novel and what a way to crush a debut!Continue Reading

Review: Red X by David Demchuk

cover of Red X by David DemchuckRED X by David Demchuk
Strange Light (August 31st, 2021)
272 pages; $17.95 hardcover; $12.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

I’m officially a fan of authors breaking the fourth wall within their novels in order to communicate directly to their readers in their own voice. I’m here for it. Red X is the second book I’ve read this year to use this literary device.

This book wouldn’t have been the same experience without Demchuk’s personal and vulnerable account of his own struggles as they relate to the story.Continue Reading

Review: My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

cover of My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham JonesMy Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones
Saga Press (August 31st, 2021)
416 pages; $26.99 hardcover; $12.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

“Do you like scary movies?”- Scream (1996)

Sometimes movies take their inspiration from books and sometimes books are inspired by movies. In the case of My Heart is a Chainsaw, author Stephen Graham Jones lets his “horror movie fan” flag fly inside the soul of his teenage protagonist, Jade Daniels.Continue Reading

Review: Of Men and Monsters by Tom Deady

cover of Of Men and Monsters by Tom DeadyOf Men and Monsters by Tom Deady
Crystal Lake Publishing (May 28th, 2021)
120 pages; $10.99 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

Of Men and Monsters is the perfect summer read. It’s short, accessible, and capitalizes on all that wonderful coming-of-age nostalgia so many of us love and crave.Continue Reading

Review: Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo

cover of Summer Sons by Lee MandeloSummer Sons by Lee Mandelo
Tor.com (July 20th, 2021)
384 pages; $22.99 paperback; $0.00 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

Summer Sons takes a long, hot, minute before it reaches down to stir up all those horror vibes simmering just under the surface.

The story centers on the relationship between Andrew and Eddie. Their seemingly indestructible bond is threatened when Eddie decides to go away for school. Ultimately, Andrew feels like he needs to be with Eddie no matter the cost but before they can reunite, Eddie takes his own life.Continue Reading