WHO

WHO'S COMING DOWN YOUR CHIMNEY TONIGHT?




Charles Stross, "Overtime"

2018: CTHULHU FOR CHRISTMAS

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Review: THEY STALK THE NIGHT

I always enjoy Brian Moreland's work, particularly so his Winter Horror, and THEY STALK THE NIGHT,  his newest, is a fine blending of Winter Horror,  Folk Horror,  Historical Horror,  with contemporary issues common to current culture [domestic abuse, drug epidemic,  violence,  sexism, psychopathy, etc. ]  Arrayed against these pervasive negatives of the human condition are strong moral characters,  integrity,  familial devotion (mothers, father,  grandparents), and generational shamanic lineage. Mr. Moreland's choice of creature to inhabit this Land of Horror will particularly resonate with fans of Graham Masterton and Algernon Blackwood.  Although it's not specifically named, the resemblance is clear and welcome,  as the author giftedly delineates the nature and capabilities and weaknesses of this predator. 

Kudos also for the STRONG female characters ! and the foil theme of the "bodyguard professional" and his ulterior motives for seeking the position of "security guard" on the Minnesota pipeline construction.

The plot is sound and well-knitted, and characters are linked up in a realistic and satisfying fashion. This author knows Plot and Character, p and both are strongly delineated here.

Caution: gore, violence, sexual assault, p sexism, psychopathy, obscenity, hunting, black-market, willingness to sacrifice others, fatalities [aninal, human], otherworldly Horror.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Review: THE EERIE BROTHERS AND THE WITCHES OF AUTUMN

THE EERIE BROTHERS AND THE AUTUMN WITCHES is a magical delight (in multiple senses), a Middle Grade contemporary fantasy about the importance of family and found family, of friendship and discernment, of discovering purpose and talents and drive. Two twins, just twelve years old, island dwellers, lost their mother in a boating accident two months ago. Their Aunt Jan is their guardian, but even having a loving aunt in loco parentis doesn't ease the grief. Then on a long weekend free from school, the brothers unexpectedly discover Magic is real, and they are inescapably involved. This debut excitement I believe is going to be a wonderful, not-to-be-missed series. Author Higdon is a talented wordweaver with a deep comprehension of his characters and a vividly expressed imagination.

Friday, September 22, 2023

Review: THE GATEWAY IN APARTMENT 8 by Chisto Healy

A snappy, fast-moving, nonstop, VERY scary read [an implacable horror that no one can escape!] which is guaranteed to keep readers wide awake with the lights on and ready to emergency-dial! Set in the horrendous Sunnycrest Apartments (oh, let there be future stories set in this Horrifying establishment! I want to know about the stairwell children....and yes, expand on Fred! And return Leremy, Felicia, Connor, Kevin, Sarah!) [Those are not spoilers.]

A young college student sensibly rents an inexpensive apartment. Sensible would apply, if the entire building didn't intermittently spit tenants into insane asylums because it is grossly, tremendously, haunted! Worse for Sarah, her apartment (8) contains portals in the bedroom and living room closets: portals to the 1980's...and they're two-way. Not the only portal apartment in the Sunnycrest, either.

I really enjoyed being terrified by this novel. I appreciated the Pride themes and the depth of characterization. Plus there were several occurrences I couldn't foresee, turning the story on its head (and thoroughly spinning my head)!

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

FRIGHTFALL 2023!!

FRIGHTFALL OCTOBER 2023

Total Read: 40 October Spooky: 37! "R" indicates "Recommend," "HR" indicates "Highly Recommend"

1. ****The September House HR

2. ****THE EERIE BROTHERS and THE WITCHES OF AUTUMN HR

3.**** Out There Screaming: An Anthology of New Black Horror HR

4. **** The Lover R

5. **** A Haunting on the Hill HR

6. **** The Night House HR

7. **** Becoming the Boogeyman

8. **** **Brainwyrms

9. ** This Thing Between Us

10. Device Free Weekend R

11. ****Black Sheep HR

12. ****They Stalk the Night HR

13. ****Hatchet Girls HR

14. Lavender House R

15. The Bell in the Fog R

16.**** Hokuloa Road HR

17. ****Beneath the Stairs R

18. ***The Hampton House Mystery

19. ***The Haunting R

20. ****Cutter's Deep

21. THE MOVING HOUSE (GHOSTLAND Prequel, Reread) Mount TBR [2019]

22. GHOSTLAND (#1). Mount TBR

23. TAVERN OF TERROR VOL 10 SCARE STREET ARC

24. LAST LIGHT NG ARC/TOUR

25. ELSEWHERE. own. Mount TBR. SF.

26. CHRISTMAS AND OTHER HORRORS. NG ARC Current. Release October 24.

27. THE LODGE. NG ARC MOUNT TBR, own Mount TBR.

28. WALKING AFTER MIDNIGHT PART I. own Mount TBR.

29. WALKING AFTER MIDNIGHT PART III. KU Virtual

30. PROJECT JOTUNHEIM. KU Virtual. SF.

31. HAUNTED SOULS. Own.

32. MACHINE VENDETTA. NG ARC New SF

33. A SEASON OF MONSTROUS CONCEPTIONS. NG ARC Current Release October 31

34. HALLOWE'EN PARTY. Scribd Virtual reread.

35. THE REFORMATORY. NG ARC Current

36. EVERSION. SF.

37. REVENGE OF THE CLOWNS.

38. JIGGLYSPOT AND THE ZERO INTELLECT. NG/KU

39. MIDNIGHT IS THE DARKEST HOUR. LIBBY Virtual

40. SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE ARCANA OF MADNESS. CLP ARC.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Review: WHAT HAPPENED AT HAWTHORNE HOUSE

Release August 25 2023

Wow! WHAT HAPPENED AT HAWTHORNE HOUSE just stunned me, rendered me speechless; and I 'm still pondering. This was my first encounter with author of the short-form Gothic, Hadassah Shiradski; surely it will not be the last. Now I've read some Weird Boarding School/Orphanage riffs [most recently Philip Fracassi's newest, BOYS IN THE VALLEY]; but Ms. Shiradski has managed a particular historical English Gothic rendering quite exquisitely. This is a take-no-prisoners variation which settles into one's imagination, burrows in. I recommend, do read the content warnings before commencing. Matron is awful, but the girls! Way worse! And of course, there's not going to be sweetness and light and an afternoon stroll in an English garden! This is Horror Gothic! And persistence beyond the veil! So beware!

Monday, July 24, 2023

: THE COVENANT SACRIFICE by Lee Allen Howard

This excellently written, compelling, Dark Horror comes with a full complement of Content Warnings....applicable, as it is very Grimdark. Despite that, I couldn't stop; I had to find out "what happens next?" THE COVENANT SACRIFICE confidently provides its readers with multiple villains [wolves in sheep's clothing and in wolves'], so beware: insisting one is of the Light doesn't prove that. There are outright practioners of the Dark Arts, and those who claim goodness but embrace evil. Thankfully, there are also those who are servants of the Light, and those who just hope to live their lives as they see fit, with love of family, friends, and others.

The plot and premise are exceptionally intriguing, and I admire the author's approach to characterization. We really get to know and understand those who populate this novel [even those we wish would just vanish]. There's generational legacy among both the Light and the Dark, so one suspects that rather like Appalachia, whatever the original ancestors have embraced, whether evangelical Christianity, or Dark Arts, or Spiritualism, carries on down through generations.

Content: Rampant Homophobia. Religious fanaticism and persecution. Animal Sacrifice. Human Sacrifice. Human/Insect Metamorphosis. Rape. Physical Abuse. Emotional Abuse. Bullying. Dark Arts.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Review: THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG WITH AUNTY BETH by Mark Towse

I'm here to tell you, there IS something WRONG with Aunty Beth, and with a whole lot of other people populating the stories in this collection. Well, they spring from the imagination of Mark Towse--why should I be surprised? Daytime reading only: do not enjoy a meal, do not read while alone, do not leave doors unlocked nor windows open.

My favorite stories in this collection: There's Something Wrong With Aunty Beth [of course];
The Fruits of Labor [whoa whoa whoa];
My Name is Mark Kellis [again, whoa],
Music Man [speechless]
Bucket of Chicken [A whole lot of Sleepless Nights ahead]
The Undertones [I knew it all along!!]

Cosy Street is WAY TOO SCARY
and Long Distance Call is SAD.

A Bad Harvest. This may be my favorite in the entire collection. Why? It's way saddening, gory, reeks of despair, but man, Poetic Justice.
Retail Therapy: I'm with George. 100% Right On.
Time For A Change: Ah ha, definitely a special favorite among my favorites. Poetic Justice again, and Sisterhood.
Mount Pleasant Home: Painful story, but: Poetic Justice, and Schadenfreude.
Just A Fly: really unexpected, not for the faint of heart; but the protagonist's early views are precious (especially considering his object) and suffused with lyrical imagery.
Time To Reflect: Weeks if not months of sleepless nights will follow. It's all your fault, Mark Towse.
The Bedroom Window: and umpteen more months of sleepless nights!!
Make Me Shine: I begged and begged and begged the story NOT to turn out this way. Shouldn't have cold chills on a sunny afternoon. No forgiveness, Mr. Towse.
The Candle Maker: YEARS of Sleepless Nights!!!

I'm noticing a couple patterns throughout these stories, and I wonder if these are continuing themes with Mr. Towse:

1. A character commits a certain act, out of peer pressure or rage or envy--for whatever reason--expecting a certain limited outcome. But it never works that way: like a stone causing ripp!es in a pond, the consequences are bound to be widespread and drastic.

2. Regret and remorse are useless. You can whine for forgiveness all you want, it's not coming; but retribution sure as Hades is.

3. The Crack in the Ceiling. Never just a crack, it's an always enlarging portal.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Review: THE LADY'S MAID'S BELL by Edith Wharton 1903

<><>>> I read this first in February, and determined I need to read all of Edith Wharton's ghost tales. On first read, I was primarily struck by the fright (plenty), and the unpleasant character of the lady's husband. On second read, I gleaned more and differently: I noticed how the Narrator's physique and description, following her recovery from the dread Typhoid, make her appearance similar to that of her employer, who seems to fulfill the typical description of a Victorian "Fainting Lady." (The Narrator assumes Heart Failure, but I deduce Consumption. ) Nonetheless, the Narrator and the Lady both exude an ethereal appearance and, I think, are or were closer to Death and so are unintentionally open to seeing across the Veil separating Life from Death. Also on reread, I am more disgruntled at the lack of closure of the puzzle. Why had the Lady's Maid of twenty years' duration passed? What did she hold against the Lady's unpleasant alcoholic husband? Why wasn't he frightened to death? What secret did the ghost attempt to impart to the Narrator? All in all, a fine rendering in the classic 19th century Ghost Story tradition! >>

Monday, April 24, 2023

Review: HOLLY HORROR by Michelle Jabes Corpora

Whoa! This YA novel is distinctly SCARY!! [Yes, there was internal Screaming involved! More than once!!] I was totally engrossed by the author's treatment of divergence, that is, those who experience beyond the accepted five senses [Evie and Aunt Martha] as opposed by those who go 100% the rational route. Anyone who has ever experienced feeling "different" from the crowd [as we are all avid readers, we're already "set apart"] can riff on Evie's (and her Aunt's] feelings, experiences, and attempts to find her own path in a world that doesn't respect what it doesn't see.

There's a great side theme too that initially arises as backstory but later in the novel surfaces as highly significant and it's precious how author Michelle Jabes Corpora wove it in, so gently and subtly so that the significant consequences are gradually revealed, sneaking up on readers. There are indications this will be a Series; I definitely hope so! I'm really enthralled with these characters and hope to see much more of their "normal" and Paranormal adventures!

Monday, April 17, 2023

Review: HELL'S HIGHWAY by Ian Fortey and Ron Ripley

Release April 17 2023

Climb aboard this nonstop thrill ride from accomplished horrormeisters Ian Fortey and Shane Ryan. Former Marine, cynical "tough guy" Shane Ryan of New Hampshire is once again pulled in to a quest not his own, this one not even occurring in his native New England, but hundreds of miles across the Canadian border, along the notoriously infamous 401 Highway. Shane's close friend, Detroit Homicide Detective Jacinta Perez, summons Shane's input on a bizarre, escalating, series of murders of Michigan residents, all near 401. Worryingly, not all the killers are alive; and Shane's lifelong ability to see and interact with Ghosts is crucial to prevent further fatalities.

Violent, gory, breathlessly Suspenseful; I can't wait to read the next in this new Series!

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Review: IT FOUND US by Lindsey Currie

IT FOUND US is an engrossing, fast-paced, Paranormal Thriller with a very scary cover and spooky character. Aimed at middle graders, I found it very enjoyable [and scary], but also heartwarming as the twelve-year-old amateur sleuth works with her older brother and best friend to solve a multilayered mystery, including a vanishing. The author skillfully weaves in an actual early 20th-century tragedy as the basis for the contemporary events. Just as important are the characters' evolution, and the process by which families are solidified by recognizing the worth of each family member and of the family as a totality. Totally worth reading: give it a go!

Monday, March 27, 2023

Review: THE SPITE HOUSE by Johnny Compton

Release: February 7 2023

A magical, extraordinary, unforgettable, debut novel! Already a favorite of my 2023 reading (and of 2023 releases). Resonating on themes Historical, geographical, ethnic, cultural, of bigotry reversed by compassion, rage overcoming demise, love overcoming death, devotion and determination: THE SPITE HOUSE is magical in many senses. All these characters (present and past) are rolling at 1000%, emotions, intent, and intellect wide open! So many layers of stories are wrapped up together and woven into one intense experience for the wide-eyed reader with imagination cranked to the max. Just perfect. Never forget.

Now can we please have a sequel in which Eric, Dess, and Stacy acquire Pa-PaFred's land/house in Odessa? And in which we learn more about Fred's life and secrets??

Monday, February 13, 2023

Review of THE RESIDENCE by Andrew Pyper

THE RESIDENCE is a stunning novel of Historical Fiction, seamlessly woven into the factual framework of American mid-19th century History. Although it is also a novel of the Supernatural, this element stems from Historical facts and the suspension of Disbelief is subtly contrived and becomes natural in the course of events' progression.

The character depth and development is quite extraordinary and the character arcs are readily comprehensible . The Supernatural elements are not superficial but intrinsic, terrifying not just in the present of the characters, but even more so in its prophecies for America's future.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Review: THE WHITE by Matt Micheli

Review: Frozen Horror is quite possibly my absolute favorite subgenre of Horror. Whether in exotic locales (Antarctica, Arctic Circle) or nearly so (Alaska, Scandinavia, Siberia, Northern Canada), or right here "At Home," there's such an Implacability about it and there's so many methods by which humans can be destroyed: Snow piles, blizzards, black ice, avalanches, extreme low temperatures, hypothermia.... Author Matt Micheli delightedly offers yet another Frozen Horror possibility, and this is one that's wildly creative, totally implacable and inescapable, and inexpressibly tragic. Naturally, I devoured it!

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Review: CAN YOU SPOT THE LEOPARD?

CAN YOU SPOT THE LEOPARD is a gloriously photographed, poetic narrative of African animal life, for children (also appealing for adults; the photography made me want to travel on an African--viewing, never hunting--safari!). It may be a little advanced to read to the very young, but even toddlers can enjoy the animals photos, and the rhyming poetry will encourage children who can read. It's also a great coffee-table book.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Review: IT LOOKED LIKE US

IT LOOKS LIKE US is a superb YA Supernatural Horror/Thriller set in Glorious Antarctica, and I totally devoured it. If you've enjoyed John Carpenter's The Thing and/or read the original story, John W. Campbell's "Who Goes There?", you'll readily identify the trope: shapeshifters on the Last Continent. Only instead of a team of dedicated, single-minded, scientists plus military and/or corporate security, this is a small experimental group of high-schoolers on Winter Break, performing (untrained) unscientific sampling of ice cores, at the behest of a Billionaire tech baron very closely resembling a certain real-life example. [Extremely closely resembling, which makes for frequent chuckles and head-shaking.] The author is really good at exemplifying the young folks' characters, especially protagonist Riley. You just know "it'll all go tremendously wrong!," but still you can't help cheering these youngsters on. Quite subtly terrifying, actually, rendered more so because Riley's diagnosed anxiety disorder panic attacks can create hallucinations: are these events real, or aggravating brain glitches?

I particularly enjoyed the author's in-depth understanding of Riley's psychological issues; I expect she is quite possibly neurodivergent, and she is so extensively delineated I felt for the duration like I lived inside her skin. Another exciting aspect is the unraveling of the reasons behind this make-work Antarctic expedition [all that expenditure! Where's the Science?] and the way the author utilizes it to draw out carefully the character (or lack of) of the funding Billionaire financing the expedition. So realistic, so despicable! The type of villain whose nefarious schemes always prevail.

I'm definitely adding IT LOOKS LIKE US to the Reread shelf and holding my breath in anticipation of more from author Alison Ames!

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Review: HOW TO SELL A HAUNTED HOUSE by Grady Hendrix

Release January 17, 2023

Review: HOW TO SELL A HAUNTED HOUSE is a highly perturbing novel, both due to its terrifying Supernatural elements (by themselves those would be enough to make me "all shook up") but by the depths of, if not exactly depravity, then of foolishness, selfishness, and gross generational deception, throughout several extended families. Those themes I found both griefworthy and highly depressing. However, the talent of Grady Hendrix lifts the novel far above simple Horror and severe family dysfunction and makes it compelling and engrossing.

Caution: contains references to child fatality, self-muilation, gore, physical and psychological pain, surgery, dolls, puppets, fire, drowning.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Tour: ALL THE BLOOD WE SHARE by Camilla Bruce

Release: November 22 2022

Review: 5🌟:

ALL THE BLOOD WE SHARE is a finely melded Historical Fiction character study with Frissons of Supernatural and Spiritualism, that fascinating fad and telling trend of the 19th century, on both sides of the Big Pond (Atlantic Ocean). The renamed "Bender" family, fugitives for their lives, remind me of an ill-driven team of oxen, in which it's every animal for itself, and nothing is accomplished. With these personalities and this degree of conflict, it's no surprise that tension and Suspense ratchet continuously, and self-destruction is the mode du jour.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Review (Tour) BISHOP by Candace Nola

I found BISHOP a tremendously exciting story, packed to the brim with maximum suspense, adventure, life-and-death action, close calls, fatality.
Especially if you love the Alaskan Wilderness, Native American legends and mythology, shapeshifters, strong familial bonds, protagonists struggling against impossible odds, themes of Man vs. Nature and Man vs. Supernatural, there's so much excitement and engrossing suspense right here.
BISHOP is a wild nonstop adventure featuring so many of my favorite themes, reading it was like discovering a Christmas/Yule pine, guarding presents stacked head-high!

BISHOP