Review: In the Shadow of Spindrift House by Mira Grant

In the Shadow of Spindrift House by Mira Grant
Subterranean Press (June 2019)
200 pages; $31.71 hardcover; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

I love haunted house stories where the house is a central character. The Overlook Hotel, Hill House…those are places where malevelonce seems to rise not only from the characters that inhabit(ed) them, or from the actions that took place within their walls, but from the very brick and mortar itself. Mia Grant opens her short novel In the Shadow of Spindrift House with a spooky welcoming chapter that paints her own seaside creation in much the same light.Continue Reading

Review: At Home in the Dark edited by Lawrence Block

At Home in the Dark edited by Lawrence Block
Subterranean Press (April 2019)
326 pages; $14.99 paperback; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

“So here we have seventeen stories,” Lawrence Block writes in the Foreward to At Home in the Dark, “and what they all have in common, besides their unquestionable excellence, is where they stand on that gray scale. They are, in a word, dark.”Continue Reading

Review: The Big Crush by David J. Schow

The Big Crush by David J. Schow
Subterranean Press (February 28, 2019)
125 pages; $40 limited edition hardcover
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

David Vollmand is like a lot of people: he has a job that confines him to a chair and a screen every day; he has a good friend to tip a beer with after work; he has a loyal dog waiting for him at home; and he has an unrequited love from many years ago. Like many people, he finally gives in to temptation and hops on the Internet to see where “the one that got away” got away to.

Unlike many people, reconnecting with an old flame could cost him his
life.Continue Reading

Review: Kingdom of Needle and Bone by Mira Grant

Kingdom of Needle and Bone by Mira Grant
Subterranean Press (December 2018)
125 pages; $40 limited edition hardcover
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Lisa Morris certainly isn’t the first eight-year-old child to fib about her health so her parents won’t cancel a much-anticipated trip to a giant theme park. She is, however, the first child whose fib led to approximately 10 million deaths and a dramatic shift in the way the human immune system works.Continue Reading

Review: Driving to Geronimo’s Grave and Other Stories by Joe R. Lansdale

Driving to Geronimo’s Grave and Other Stories by Joe R. Lansdale
Subterranean Press (October 2018)
272 pages; $26.70 hardcover
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing several Joe R. Lansdale novels, collections and stories in my time. It’s almost to the point where I’ve run out of superlatives to share; where the limitations of my vocabulary and ability make me want to just say, “Here’s a new Lansdale book. It’s good, as usual. Go throw money at it.”

But Lansdale deserves better, and you do, too. So, please follow along as I attempt to find new and interesting ways to heap praise upon Lansdale and his new collection, Driving to Geronimo’s Grave and Other Stories.Continue Reading

Review: Hellraiser: The Toll by Mark Alan Miller

Hellraiser: The Toll by Mark Alan Miller
Subterranean Press (February 28, 2018)
96 pages; $40 hardcover
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Over the years, the Hellraiser mythology has become something of a hash, combining elements of Clive Barker’s original novella The Hellbound Heart with bits from the Hellraiser movies (mainly the first two in the franchise: Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II). Nowhere is this more evident than in The Scarlet Gospels. In Barker’s 2015 novel, the cenobite known as Pinhead (but not to his face; no, never to his face) was a sometimes confusing mix of the elegant sadist from Hellbound Heart and a bloodthirsty, Hollywood-style slasher.Continue Reading

Review: The Weight of Words edited by Dave McKean and William Schafer

The Weight of Words edited by Dave McKean and William Schafer
Subterranean Press (December 2017)
248 pages; $40 hardcover
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Like all great artists, Dave McKean has a style that is immediately recognizable as his and his alone. His unique visuals have graced everything from comic books (perhaps most notably his eight-year run as cover artist for Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series and his collaboration with Grant Morrison on the graphic novel Arkham Asylum) to album covers. book covers….even stamps. So, what happens when you ask a group of authors to filter that style through their own distinct voices?Continue Reading

Review: Bubba and the Cosmic Blood-Suckers by Joe R. Lansdale

Bubba and the Cosmic Blood-Suckers by Joe R. Lansdale
Subterranean Press (October 2017)
200 pages; $31.84 hardcover; $6.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Back in 1994, Joe R. Lansdale wrote a story called “Bubba Ho-Tep” about an elderly Elvis Presley teaming up to fight a mummy with a fellow nursing home resident who thought he was JFK, and I read it and thought, “Welp, it doesn’t get much crazier than that.” Boy, was I wrong.Continue Reading

Review: ‘The Best of Subterranean’ edited by William Schafer

The Best of Subterranean edited by William Schafer
Subterranean Press (July 2017)
752 pages; $37.74 hardcover
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

In what is already being looked back on as a groundbreaking ten-year run, Subterranean magazine published a staggering array of stories featuring one elite, award-winning author after another. Three years after the last issue was published, The Best of Subterranean arrives as an overdue celebration of one our finest, most lamented genre magazines.Continue Reading

Review: ‘The Process (is a Process All its Own)’ by Peter Straub

The Process (is a Process All its Own) by Peter Straub
Subterranean Press (July 2017)
96 pages; $40.00 hardcover
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

The majority of slasher fiction—whether it’s short stories, books, or movies—tends to focus on the hunt. Here’s a group of thinly-sketched victims, cannon fodder to be creatively knocked off one-by-one; and here’s a killer, often silent, usually masked, his or her motivations as mysterious as their identity. What comes after is, more often than not, a by-the-numbers recreation of the stalk-n-slash formula that’s been a staple of horror since the 1970s.*Continue Reading

Review: ‘Final Girls’ by Mira Grant

Final Girls by Mira Grant
Subterranean Press (May  2017)
111 pages; $40.00 hardcover; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Mira Grant mixes a diverse set of influences ranging from The Matrix to A Nightmare On Elm Street to produce her fresh, tautly-written new novella, Final Girls.

Continue Reading

Review: ‘Infernal Parade’ by Clive Barker

Infernal Parade by Clive Barker
Subterranean Press (February  2017)
81 pages; $275.00 lettered edition; $60.00 limited edition; $3o.oo Trade Edition
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Infernal Parade is the second volume compiling stories created by Clive Barker to accompany figures created in conjunction with Todd McFarlane. The first, Tortured Souls, benefited because it began life as a novella that was broken up to go along with the packaging of the various figures. Infernal Parade is a series of character sketches meant to lend a little backstory to the figures, making it feel incomplete when pulled together in one volume.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Dead on the Bones: Pulp on Fire’ by Joe R. Lansdale

dead_on_the_bones_by_joe_r_lansdaleDead on the Bones: Pulp on Fire by Joe R. Lansdale
Subterranean Press (December 2016)
296 pages; $40.00 hardcover
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

“I was living in a pulp writer fury, a storm of imagination.”

That’s how author Joe R. Lansdale describes his early years, that delicate time when a steady diet of television shows, comic books and Edgar Rice Burroughs novels cemented his desire to become a writer. Dead on the Bones: Pulp on Fire is full of stories in which Lansdale seeks to honor those early influences that have given him—and, in turn, his readers—so much.Continue Reading

Review: 'Freedom of the Mask' by Robert McCammon

freedom_of_the_mask_designFreedom of the Mask by Robert McCammon
Subterranean Press (May 2016)
528 pages; $24.26 hardcover; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

The Matthew Corbett books have historically been hefty affairs—Speaks the Nightbird, the first in the series, clocked in at over 800 pages, and the others have gone 400 or more. The lone exception was the fifth book, 2014’s River of Souls, which was a lean 256 pages. It’s my personal favorite of the series, the perfect mix of Robert McCammon’s incredibly detailed world building and action/thriller pacing.

Freedom of the Mask has put some of the weight back on—my advance copy hit 530 pages—but maintains the breathless pace of its predecessor. There’s enough story packed in it for two books, but it’s filler-free, and for good reason: there’s a ticking clock hanging over McCammon’s head now. He’s announced that the series will go nine books and no further, which puts us deep in the overall Corbett story arc at this point. McCammon is very calculated in the way he handles each book’s immediate plot while moving all the pieces toward the series conclusion. Continue Reading

Review: 'This Year's Class Picture' by Dan Simmons

This_Years_Class_Picture_by_Dan_SimmonsThis Year’s Class Picture by Dan Simmons
Subterranean Press (March 2016)
54 pages; $20 hardcover; $50 signed, numbered limited edition
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

The limited edition hardcover treatment for a short story might seem like overkill, but some pieces deserve to be highlighted on their own. Such is the case with This Year’s Class Picture, a classic zombie tale by Dan Simmons that first appeared nearly 25 years ago in John Skipp and Craig Spector’s stellar anthology Still Dead: Book of the Dead 2.

Ms. Geiss is dealing with the aftermath of the zombie uprising as best she can – staying vigilant, fortifying her sanctuary, keeping a watchful eye out at all times. She’s also trying to maintain some sense of normalcy, albeit through some rather extreme measures. Ms. Geiss was a fourth grade teacher in another life and another world; a dedicated educator who chose the school she taught in for years as her safe place during the end of the world; a woman who now maintains and attempts to teach a small class of undead children in her former classroom.Continue Reading