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Review by Rachel & Andye
THE DEAD HOUSE
by Dawn Kurtagich
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (September 15, 2015)
Program Type: Audiobook
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Hardcover | Audiobook | Goodreads
Welcome to the Dead House.
Three students: dead.
Carly Johnson: vanished without a trace.
Two decades have passed
Horrifying Hymenoptera, frightening faeries, malicious magick, and creepy corpses come out to play in these chilling middle-grade novels.
Steve’s baby brother comes back from the hospital sick (“there was something wrong with his heart and his eyes and his brain”) and needing lots of care, so his parents don’t pay much attention when Steve develops a fear of the wasps in the backyard. The boy finds comfort in a recurring dream in which a compassionate voice offers to make everything better: all Steve must do is say yes, and his dream confidante will turn her promise of a healthy baby into reality. In his (terrifying!) book The Nest, Kenneth Oppel’s language is straightforward, but the emotional resonance is deep. Jon Klassen‘s full-page black-and-white drawings — simple, but with maximum impact, in shades of light, dark, and darker — astutely capture the magnitude of a child’s imagination when he can rely only upon himself. (Simon, 10–12 years)
In Mary Downing Hahn‘s Took, Daniel’s family abruptly leaves Connecticut for a simpler lifestyle in West Virginia after Daniel’s father loses his job. Daniel and his little sister, Erica, find their new dilapidated home and the woods that surround it frightening, and the kids at school tease them with scary tales of a strange old woman, a man-eating razorback hog, and a little girl who disappeared from their house fifty years before. Daniel does not believe these stories, but Erica becomes progressively stranger, withdrawing from her family and obsessing over her look-alike doll, Little Erica. Told alternatingly through Daniel’s first-person narration and a third-person omniscient narrator, the story spookily — and effectively — weaves in the oral tradition of folklore, legends, and ghost stories. (Clarion, 10–12 years)
Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith is a creepy Southern Gothic ghost story focused on the insular 1930s black community of Sardis, Alabama. Folks there believe in equal measure in their God and in folk magick (or “hoodoo”). Twelve-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher doesn’t have a speck of magick in him—or so he thinks. When a Stranger, a nasty, foul-smelling incarnation of evil, comes to town Hoodoo discovers the magick deep within himself and the strength and heart to summon it. Filled with folk and religious symbols, the story is steeped in time and place. Hoodoo’s earnest first-person narrative reveals a believable innocent who can “cause deeds great and powerful.” (Clarion, 10–12 years)
While out grave-robbing one night, Thomas Marsden — star of The Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden — digs up a corpse that looks exactly like him. In his hand the dead boy is holding tickets to a performance by the famous spiritualist Mordecai, along with a note bearing the instruction Speak to no one. As it turns out, Thomas is of faerie descent, and his people have been enslaved by Mordecai. As the last surviving member of the royal line, it’s up to Thomas to break Mordecai’s enchantment. Author Emma Trevayne plays her cards close to the vest, slowly doling out clues; the central drama — Thomas’s decision whether to help the faeries despite having been rejected by them at birth — makes it worth the wait. By the end, the boy’s humanity holds the key to the faeries’ salvation, leading to a satisfying resolution. (Simon, 10–12 years)
A chilling short story collection, two suspenseful novels, and one book that’s a bit of both: there’s something here for every young adult horror fan.
Each of the fourteen short tales of horror in Slasher Girls & Monster Boys, selected by April Genevieve Tucholke, is inspired by at least one other story, film, or song: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Hitchcock movies, Carrie, Zombieland, etc. With such eclectic antecedents, a wide range of approaches to the theme, and settings that span time and cultures, the resulting collection is satisfyingly diverse and compelling. After encountering the horrors here, variously supernatural and disturbingly human, readers may want to leave the lights on. (Dial, 14 years and up)
In Mackenzi Lee’s This Monstrous Thing, set in an early-nineteenth-century alternate-universe Geneva, Alasdair Finch lives with a terrible secret: he’s responsible for the accident that killed his brother Oliver. He’s also responsible for having furtively dug up Oliver’s body and re-animated him entirely with clockwork parts. Now, two years later, an arrest warrant forces Alasdair to flee the city, leaving his monstrous brother behind. This retelling of Frankenstein, set in the year the novel came out—and with Mary Godwin (Shelley’s maiden name) as a character — has all the gothic atmosphere of Shelley’s classic horror story. (HarperCollins/Tegen, 13–16 years)
Sixteen-year-old Luke Manchett, protagonist of Leo Hunt’s 13 Days of Midnight, thinks he’s got it made when his estranged father, host of a popular ghost-hunting TV show, dies suddenly. Luke will inherit millions if he just signs the creepy goatskin contract proffered by lawyer Mr. Berkley. Luke does, and soon regrets his decision when it turns out he has also inherited the secret to his father’s success: necromantic power and a mutinous spirit Host. The frequent dark humor of Luke’s narration is balanced by moments of true suspense and satisfyingly complex relationships. (Candlewick, 13–16 years)
Twelve strangers meet by candlelight to tell ghost stories in Dave Shelton’s Thirteen Chairs. A thirteenth — Jack, a boy who gate-crashes the gathering — listens and waits for his turn. As the tellers finish, they blow out their candles until only Jack is left…but by then he is certain that the stories are more real than anyone has let on. The ghost stories’ varied subjects and the different voices employed in their narration keep the pace moving along nicely. The common theme of the tales — that the dead seek retribution on their killers, or sometimes on bystanders who are just a little too curious — provides low-key chills. (Scholastic/Fickling, 11–14 years)
The Plot: Pram Bellamy has been raised by her two aunts, Aunt Nan and Aunt Dee, in the Halfway to Heaven Home for the Aging. Pram has been homeschooled, which means she has been able to keep her secret -- she talks to ghosts. Oh, it's not scary or creepy; her best friend, Felix, is a ghost. But it is something she knows she has to keep secret.
But a person cannot hide forever: and when Pram is sent to school, she meets Clarence. Like Pram, Clarence's mother is dead. As Clarence and Pram's friendship grows, he shares with her his own secret: his desperate need to find his mother -- his mother's ghost. Clarence is unaware of Pram's secret, but she couldn't help him anyway. Sometimes ghosts come to her, sometimes they don't. She doesn't see Clarence's mother; she's never seen her own mother.
Lady Savant is one of the spiritualists a searching Clarence goes to. She doesn't give Clarence any answers, but she does recognize Pram's power. And she wants it for her own.
The Good: A wonderfully creepy book -- not creepy because ghosts. To Pram, ghosts are not much different from humans. Felix is her best friend, even if she's the only one who can see him.
A Curious Tale of the In-Between starts as an exploration of Pram: telling us a bit about her distraught mother, who took her own life while pregnant with Pram. Telling us a bit about the strange home Pram has been raised in.
And then it turns to creepy and to terror, not because of ghosts or the supernatural, but because of one person who craves the power Pram has. Lady Savant, who is willing to say anything and do anything. People, not what lurks between life and death, or what happens after life, are the threat. But people are also what can save us.
This is a great middle grade book: it's about Pram learning more about herself and her world while making closer connections with friends and family, living and dead. It's also got a sense of place I found delightful even while being scared. Pram's aunts and the home they run are almost like something out of Dickens; the mystery of Pram's parents, even the names used (Pram, Clarence, Felix) make this reminiscent of older stories. Yet it's more that it's a timeless story, not a historical story. And the horror is just enough -- just enough to scare the reader, to make one turn the pages even faster, even, perhaps, to make one skip to the last page just to make sure it ends well.
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This year’s “Horn BOO!,” our annual roundup of Halloween-y books, will satisfy the spook-loving picture-book set. Teen readers — those with a more mature taste in fright, greater immunity to fear, and, in some cases, seriously strong stomachs — should check out these horror novels from the spring and fall 2015 issues of The Horn Book Guide.
Associate Editor, The Horn Book Guide
Alameda, Courtney Shutter
373 pp. Feiwel 2015 ISBN 978-1-250-04467-9
YA Micheline Helsing (of Van Helsing lineage), a tetrachromat, can see the undead, and with her Helsing Corps crew and camera, she exorcises them. But then a powerful ghost defeats the group and leaves them all cursed; they have seven days to break the curse or be damned. Alameda’s alternate–San Francisco setting is vivid, the horror gruesome, and the story action-packed.
Brooks, Kevin The Bunker Diary
260 pp. Carolrhoda Lab 2015 ISBN 978-1-4677-5420-0
Ebook ISBN 978-1-4677-7646-2
YA In a fictitious diary, sixteen-year-old English runaway Linus tells of his kidnapping and imprisonment in an underground bunker, where he, along with five other captives that gradually fill the other cells, endures evil punishments. Gripping, terrifying, and full of abominable actions, this provocative contemporary-set Carnegie Medal–winner is not for the faint-hearted, but thrill-seekers and realistic-horror enthusiasts will find the sharply written narrative compelling.
Delaney, Joseph A New Darkness
344 pp. Greenwillow 2014 ISBN 978-0-06-233453-4
Ebook ISBN 978-0-06-233455-8
YA The first in an unillustrated follow-up trilogy to the Last Apprentice series shows Tom taking over the late Spook’s work. The narration alternates between Tom’s voice and his would-be apprentice Jenny’s; Tom resists the idea of a female Spook. Last Apprentice fans will find the same creepy imagery and a few surprises, and the backstory is clear enough for those new to the series.
Garcia, Kami Unmarked
387 pp. Little, Brown 2014 ISBN 978-0-316-21022-5
Ebook ISBN 978-0-316-21023-2
YA Legion series. In Unbreakable, Kennedy, love interest Jared, and their ghost-and-demon-fighting team, the Legion, accidentally released the powerful demon Andras. Now they must locate the final Legion member and the Vessel that will contain and bind Andras again — ASAP, because Andras has possessed Jared. With a tighter focus and a tension-heightening nonlinear structure, this second volume is even stronger than its predecessor.
Higson, Charlie The Fallen
535 pp. Hyperion 2014 ISBN 978-1-4231-6566-8
YA Enemy series. Higson’s fifth zombie apocalypse series entry focuses on survivors quartered in London’s National History Museum. One group sets out to retrieve medical supplies; others struggle to trap a traitor working among them. Followers of this violent series about kids battling endless horrors will relish the moment-by-moment action and cameo appearances by characters featured in previous volumes (those still alive, that is).
Monahan, Hillary Mary: The Summoning
250 pp. Hyperion 2014 ISBN 978-1-4231-8519-2
YA At the insistence of ringleader Jess, a group of friends attempts to summon urban legend Bloody Mary — and succeeds. The violent spirit attaches herself to narrator Shauna, who desperately seeks to rid herself of the ghost, discovering Mary’s tragic history, another haunting victim, and Jess’s secret motives along the way. Readers of supernatural horror are in for a gory, fast-paced thrill ride.
Pillsworth, Anne M. Summoned
320 pp. Tor Teen 2014 ISBN 978-0-7653-3589-0
YA At an arcane bookstore in (fictional) Arkham, Massachusetts, Sean finds a clipping directing him to a reverend seeking an occult apprentice. But when Sean attempts the reverend’s test, he mistakenly summons a Lovecraftian monster that threatens Sean and his family. A deliberative pace keeps the action at a slow boil, but fans of Lovecraft and his grotesque chthonic horror will enjoy the dark atmosphere.
Stolarz, Laurie Faria Welcome to the Dark House
368 pp. Hyperion 2014 ISBN 978-1-4231-8172-9
YA After submitting their darkest personal nightmares to a writing contest, Ivy and six other teens win a chance to meet famed horror movie director Justin Blake. Ivy hopes that dredging up those haunting memories will help her process a significant trauma. But the contest quickly turns deadly. Truly terrifying plot twists unfold at a breakneck pace, shifting quickly from character to character. Impressively fearsome.
From the September/October 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. These reviews are from The Horn Book Guide and The Horn Book Guide Online. For information about subscribing to the Guide and the Guide Online, please click here.
Review by Sara
by Alexandra SirowyAge Range: 12 and up Grade Level: 7 and upHardcover: 400 pagesPublisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (August 18, 2015)Goodreads | Amazon
Romance, friendship, and dark, bone-chilling fear fill the pages of this summertime thriller in the spirit of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
years ago Stella and Jeanie
Review by Jackie
The Lost Girl
by R. L. Stine
Series: Fear StreetHardcover: 272 pagesPublisher: St. Martin's Griffin; First Edition edition (September 29, 2015)Language: EnglishGoodreads | Amazon
Generations of children and teens have grown up on R.L. Stine's bestselling and hugely popular horror series, Fear Street and Goosebumps. Now, the Fear Street series is back with a chilling new
I am trying to get back into the swing of reading multi volume manga series again. It has definitely gotten more difficult for me to maintain any level of enthusiasm when there is a wait of months, sometimes many, many months, between volumes. When my favorite series go on hiatus, or get canceled by the US publisher, it breaks my heart. I love comics, I get all caught up in the stories and the characters, and when all of that grinds to a premature halt, it stings. I’m not a happy camper, and I’m reluctant to become invested in other series. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy the Harlequin manga adaptations so much; it’s usually only volume and you’re done. I was also burnt out on all of the series I had been following. Now, though, I feel the urge to dip a toe back into the manga waters. I’d like to finish up some series that have concluded, and maybe test drive a few new ones. Tokyo Ghoul looked interesting, so I decided to give it a spin.
This is the second volume that I’ve read. The story is finally starting to pick up some momentum for me. The world building is getting more complex, and Kaneki has more to worry about than how he’s going to keep himself fed. The Ghoul Investigators are descending on the 20th Ward, searching for ghouls trying to blend into human society. When Kaneki witnesses the brutal murder of a customer of the café he works at by the ghoul police, he is distraught over his sense of helplessness. After Touka takes matters into her own hands, and fails to achieve the vengeance she sought, Kaneki asks her to show him how to use his kagune, or weapon. While he still refuses to kill humans, at least he’ll be able to defend himself or his friends if they are attacked.
The investigators are a shady bunch, and Mado is one creepy dude. It will be interesting to see how Kaneki and Touka keep from meeting an unpleasant end from them, because they are as ruthless as the ghouls. The series is starting to click for me as Kaneki struggles to fit into both human and ghoul society. He is so passive that I didn’t find him a compelling character at first, but now that he is determined to not be a doormat, I am hoping that he blossoms into a stronger individual. I don’t have prior knowledge of this series, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it progresses.
I am not overly wild about the art, maybe because so many of the characters are so unpleasant to look at. It does have a dark vibe that is perfect for the story, but it isn’t a favorite of mine.
Review copy provided by publisher
About the book:
Ghouls live among us, the same as normal people in every way—except their craving for human flesh. Ken Kaneki is an ordinary college student until a violent encounter turns him into the first half-human half-ghoul hybrid. Trapped between two worlds, he must survive Ghoul turf wars, learn more about Ghoul society and master his new powers.
Unable to discard his humanity but equally unable to suppress his Ghoul hunger, Ken finds salvation in the kindness of friendly Ghouls who teach him how to pass as human and eat flesh humanely. But recent upheavals in Ghoul society attract the police like wolves to prey, and they don’t discriminate between conscientious and monstrous Ghouls.
Tales from the Crypt fans who’ve been dying to introduce the next generation to episodic horror will be all over The Bedsby Tales (Jacob Duane Johnson, March 2015), a series of short stories for middle graders with some interactive elements. “Episode 1: Thoughts of Unknown” begins with a dubious welcome from a shadowy-creature storyteller in a creepy lair (“Well hello there my little friend, I’ve been expecting you. Run into any, problems along the way?” *menacing chuckle*).
The story in rhyme begins: “There’s something creepy about a house in the night. / Mysteries of emptiness and absence of light.” The narrator, Kevan Brighting, a 2014 BAFTA nominee for games performer, does his best Vincent Price (and with those rhymes it’s difficult not to think of “Thriller,” but not in a bad way). There are good sound effects, too: creaky floorboards, rattling wind, ticking clocks, and tinkly, haunting music.
The visuals are shadowy mostly black-and-white cartoon illustrations, with a shifting cinematic perspective; moving down a long corridor or up a windy staircase, for example, or zooming down from the ceiling and toward a small key hole in a door. When you finally reach the destination — a little boy’s room — there’s a pause in the narration and a wordless scene plays out, complete with scary monster (and it is pretty scary; then there’s another one, too, under the bed, which is even scarier). The story picks back up and moves swiftly to its everything’s-ok-for–now denouement. Then we’re back to our crypt-master who sets the stage for next time.
In the interactive mode (you can also set it to auto play), listeners are occasionally stopped to perform tasks inside the creepy house: prying up floorboards to unearth a key; pulling portraits off the wall to find a clock’s hand; using that hand to set the time at midnight (that one’s the most fun); using the key to enter the boy’s room. It works well, pacing-wise, and lets kids play a somewhat active role (though seasoned app or e-book users may not find enough interactive bells and whistles).
There are six stories coming in the current “season” (the first episode is free). They’re definitely creepy, but not too terrifying. Good for young horror fans who can take the tingles or slightly older ones who don’t like blood and gore.
The new version of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, launched under the Archie Horror imprint around last Halloween, isn’t exclusively about how adolescence is horrific, but the latest issue can’t help but circle some of that territory.
I have been reading up a storm, but I’ve been lax on writing reviews. Here’s a quick catch up post with short reviews.
Hello, I Love You by Katie M Stout
This dragged for me, and I didn’t think there was any chemistry between Grace and Jason. I read this mainly for the setting, but the school might as well have been anywhere, which was a big disappointment. Cultural details were sparse and shallow. I didn’t get a feeling that Grace was in a foreign country, and the fact that everyone she interacted with spoke English didn’t help make this unique or different. It also bugged me that Jason and his sister were the only Koreans to use Korean names.
The Surgeon and the Cowgirl by Heidi Hormel
C / C+
Both protagonists were all about “Me, me, me!” and it felt like it took forever for them to mature. I’m not completely convinced that they will ever effectively communicate, which made the ending rushed and not completely believable.
What Once We Feared by Carrie Ryan
Not enough here to even call this a short story. Lots of potential, but it fell flat because it felt so incomplete. This should have been called a teaser, not a short story.
Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire
Fun, quirky read that somehow combines ballroom dance with mythological critters.
Verity comes from a long line of cryptozoologists, but her true passion is for competitive dance. She’s spending a year in Manhattan to pursue her dance career, as well as to keep an eye on the beasties living in the big city. When Dominic, a member of Covenant, arrives in town, his kill all non-humans before even asking them how their day is going attitude gets on Very’s nerves. Both Dominic and the sudden appearance of a snake cult in the sewers under the city have made her life extremely complicated.
Though it got a little draggy in places, and was over the top in others, overall Discount Armageddon was a fun adventure.
Hello from Julie! I am so excited to share a guest post today from Kali Wallace, a fellow 2016 debut author, whose YA horror novel, SHALLOW GRAVES, will be published by Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins in January 2016. I was so fascinated by everything Kali had to say about writing YA horror, I asked her to share her insights with all of us here at PubCrawl. I’m so happy she said yes! So here’s Kali, with everything you want to know about writing horror!
The funny thing about writing a horror novel is that approximately 87% of the people you meet will tell you to your face they don’t want to read it.
Oh, there’s rarely anything malicious in this declaration. Sure, there are always a few “I only read serious books about serious topics” types with tiny minds who can’t fathom how a book about horror things can also be about other things, but nobody cares what they think. I ignore them.
For the most part the reaction from future non-readers is more along the lines of, “Oh, I don’t know if I could read that. It sounds–” And this added in an apologetic, almost conspiratorial tone, as though imparting a terrible secret from which I could have been protected, had circumstances differed: “–too upsetting.”
I fell into writing horror backwards, much the same way the unwary first-act hanger-on in a horror movie falls backwards into a vat of mysterious glugging liquid the remaining cast will assure themselves is simply oddly chunky water until the third act. I don’t really think of myself as a horror writer, because I write all kinds of other things too, some (a few) of which are not (very) horrifying at all (mostly). But I did write a horror novel.
It happened like this. One time I went to a garage sale and found ninety-nine Stephen King paperbacks on sale for a penny each, so I borrowed a crinkled dollar bill from my mom, took the books home, and retreated to a dark corner of my bedroom where I spent three weeks constructing a paper nest using only the shredded pages of Misery and my own spittle, and I lived there for five years, eating nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and anxiety. When I emerged I could never write anything again without ominous symbolic settings and existential dread and rotting corpses.
Or maybe it happened like this. When I wrote my first novel, I didn’t sit down at my computer and think, “I want to scare somebody’s pants off today!” I sat down and I thought:
wouldn’t it be funny if monsters were teenagers
i mean like really angsty teenagers the kind who feel bad a lot
and they’re gross monsters not sexy monsters nobody likes them
everybody has feelings
One of those anecdotes is the 100% true story of how I accidentally wrote a YA horror novel.
There are a thousand different kinds of horror stories, but the kind I wrote is a contemporary teen fantasy story covered with blood. It’s all monsters and dark magic and dark evil monster magic and teenagers encountering and/or using dark evil monster magic. It’s full of death and pain and terrible things happening. Claws, too. There are claws. Did I mention the blood? It is a bit scary in places–at least, I hope it is. It would be disappointing if I deployed that many carefully chosen adjectives and it didn’t give people at least a bit of a spine-tingle.
It isn’t tooupsetting as an accidental by-product, the unintended consequence of a writer meddling with forces she cannot control. Being upsetting is, in fact, the entire point. I wrote it that way on purpose. I have my reasons, and it’s not entirely because I am a ravenous creature of shadow and darkness who survives by consuming the nightmares of my young readers. Not entirely.
There’s an oft-misquoted-but-rarely-quoted-correctly passage about fairy tales from English writer G.K. Chesterton (from Tremendous Trifles, 1909):
“Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.”
We know this to be true, no matter how many misguided parents and school boards try to deny it: Children and teenagers don’t need books to tell them that there is evil in the world. They know that before they crack open any book. Children and teenagers don’t need books to tell them the world is scary and unfair and that bad things happen all the time. They already know all of this. There are adults in their lives who wish them harm. Kids know this. There are monsters who wear friendly faces and are enabled by the people and institutions who ought to be protecting the helpless instead. They know.
Children and teenagers aren’t separate from the world. They are part of the world, right in the middle of it, right in the middle of all the violence and unfairness and cruelty it has to offer. For young readers, just like adult readers, stories can be both an escape from the world and a way of connecting to and understanding the world, both a shield and a lens, often at the same time.
That’s no small thing. It is the exact opposite of a small thing. It is the entire reason literature exists, and it isn’t less true or less important because the intended audience is under eighteen. I would even argue–if anybody ever wanted to argue with me about this, which nobody does–that it is even more true and more important for children’s and young adult literature. You never know who is going to pick up your stories and find something that resonates, and you never know what it will mean to them, and you never know if that reader on that particular day will need the escape or the understanding or both.
Okay, let’s be honest: It’s usually both.
I can’t write stories so steeped in the grit and struggle of realism they are indistinguishable from real life. I also can’t write stories that imagine life to be fantasies of summer kisses and bosom friendships. Those are all perfectly wonderful types of stories, and I love to read them and am thankful they exist in the world, but they are stories for other people to write.
Me, well, I can do ominous thunderstorms and branches scraping on dark windows. I can do the metallic taste of fear at the back of the throat. I can do people who aren’t really people and monsters who aren’t really monsters. I’m really good at describing spooky graveyards. In fact that’s my #1 life skill, ranked even higher than my formidable talent at making up silly nicknames for cats: describing spooky graveyards.
Blood and guts, monsters and magic, murderers under the floorboards and ghosts in the walls, shocking scares and sleepless nights–the trappings of horror are what makes it vivid, visceral, and oh so very fun, but it is, after all, spectacle. It’s stage-setting strung up around what really matters: a story about life and death. A story that offers a spark of life in a world where life is unwelcome and makes you think, “Oh. Oh. Everything is terrible. There is no hope. What now? What the hell do we even do now?”
Horror stories, when done well, aren’t powerful because life is cheap, but because life is precious. And because life is precious, we get carried right along when characters faced with monsters and mayhem have to fight for it, for themselves and their families and maybe people they’ve never met, against horrors and nightmares and impossible odds, as they feel fear and despair and hope and anger and grief and every human emotion in between. The fantasy is in the details, but the realism is in the emotion, and it’s the emotional realism that leaves a mark long after the story is over.
Stories are how we make sense of the world, and the world is terrible and wonderful, frightening and hopeful, beautiful and ugly, and it is, alas, full of monsters. Lucky for us, it’s also full of people who know, or want to believe, even if they aren’t quite convinced, that monsters can be faced and fought and sometimes, maybe, maybe, they can also be defeated.
Kali, thank you so much for being our guest here today on PubCrawl! Readers, now it’s your turn–do you like to read horror? Do you like to write scary stories? Please share your thoughts in the comments!
For most of her life Kali Wallace was going to be a scientist when she grew up. She studied geology in college, partly because she could get course credit for hiking and camping, and eventually earned a PhD in geophysics. Only after she had her shiny new doctorate in hand did she admit that she loved inventing imaginary worlds as much as she liked exploring the real one. Her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, F&SF, Asimov’s, Lightspeed, and Tor.com. She was born in Colorado and spent most of her life there, but now lives in southern California. Shallow Graves, her first novel, will be published by Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins in January 2016.
A '70s street punk and a new millennia stuntwoman team up to fight evil angels and their minions, who are quietly destroying humanity. Irreverent and funny with heart-pounding action, The Unnoticeables is a hard-rocking summer read. Best read while wearing an old Ramones T-shirt. Books mentioned in this post The Unnoticeables Robert Brockway Sale Hardcover [...]
This book is one off-the-beaten-track for me. It's definitely a MG chapter book, and skews quite a bit younger than the books we usually review here -- but I'm reviewing it anyway, because I'm excited that I'll have the opportunity to meet the... Read the rest of this post
Title: Gyo (2-in-1 Deluxe Edition) Genre: Horror Publisher: Shogakukan (JP), Viz Media (US) Artist/Writer: Junji Ito Serialized in: Big Comic Spirits Original Release Date: April 21, 2015 While most reviewers this week are eagerly digging into Junji Ito’s newly licensed anthology work Fragments of Horror, I’m going back to a shiny hardcover re-release of one ... Read more
Christopher Lee was the definitive working actor. His career was long, and he appeared in more films than any major performer in the English-speaking world — over 250. What distinguishes him, though, and should make him a role model for anyone seeking a life on stage or screen, is not that he worked so much but that he worked so well. He took that work seriously as both job and art, even in the lightest or most ridiculous roles, and he gave far better, more committed performances than many, if not most, of his films deserved.
I meant to have a new blog post in January, but after doing Knott’s and going to see family, I was a bit worn out to be honest. But that is neither here nor there, I have a few shows coming up soon, plus working on new art along with commissions. Without further ado, let us begin with some shows.
Long Beach Comic Expo is coming up on February 28 and March 1st at the Long Beach Convention Center. I love doing show and hope to see everyone there.
Then it is off to do the 3rd Annual Spook Show on March 7th at the Halloween Club in La Mirada. I did this show last year and had a blast; great music, horror, and food.Finally I will be ending March with two big shows. First up is Monsterpalooza on March 27th-29th at the Marriott Burbank Hotel and Convention Center. Well I won’t be there, but Shawn will be there representing me. So please stop by and say hello to him.And the reason I won’t be there is because I shall be going to Emerald City Comicon on March 27th-29th for my second year at the Washington State Convention Center. I had an amazing time last year and can’t wait to go back, maybe this time I will get a chance to look around. Now for a quick look at a new piece I have of a dark fairy with wings and horns. She playfully sits on a stone block in front of a doorway. Is she here to stop you from entering or to entice you to your doom? Available as a print at my store.That is it for now, I am off to pack up for the shows. Take care and keep creating.
The Boy Who Drew Monsters is a perfectly spooky, fascinatingly creepy tale set on the coast of Maine. I absolutely love Donohue's imaginative writing, and the story of Jack Peter, who refuses to leave his home and spends his time drawing monsters, does not disappoint! Books mentioned in this post The Boy Who Drew Monsters [...]
I guess you know I'm not a "real" old-school Science Fiction person - "real" Science Fiction people can make it through H.P. Lovecraft. I can't. I've tried. It's not his labyrinthine sentence structure and 19th century word choices - I've read a lot... Read the rest of this post
I read Rot & Ruin last year and loved it. It was one of my top 10 reads for the year. I loved how Benny and Tom’s relationship changed as they faced one life-threatening adventure after another, and how Benny grew from an angry, petulant teen in to a courageous young man. When he learned the truth about First Night, when the zombie plague wiped out most of human population, he finally saw his brother in a new light and forgave him for abandoning his mother. It’s one best bonding moments in young adult fiction, but really, the whole book is about Benny learning how to come to terms with his feelings for his brother.
Dust & Decay didn’t work as well for me. It’s still a page turner, with loads of pulse-pounding action, but the deeper emotions from Rot & Ruin are lacking until the very end. After seeing the plane at the end of the previous book, Nix and Tom want to go and find it. Where there is a functioning plane, there must be an enclave of survivors with more technology than they have. Lilah doesn’t like being in town, and Benny’s just along for the ride. The closer it comes time for them to leave, the less certain he is that he really wants to go. Nix, however, has nothing left in town since her mother died, and she wants to see what’s out beyond the fence. She’s tired of being afraid and she’s tired of living with a bunch of people who are terrified at the thought of expanding out into the Ruin.
Things go wrong almost from the moment they step into the Ruin. They are attacked by wild animals, keep stumbling upon zombies, and run into creepy individuals that make even Tom uneasy. The predicaments they find themselves in are exciting, and I constantly wondered how they were going to get out of them unscathed. It really was hard to put the book down.
The disconnect for me is with the villains. They are one-dimensional, and that made them boring. They are all bad, for no reason. They don’t have an interesting backstory to explain their brutal ways, and because they are defined only by their evil deeds, with no real reason why they are committing these atrocities, there was nothing compelling about them. I love a bad guy that has some depth, that I can feel even a twinge of compassion for, because something happened to turn them into monsters. The only thing that happened to these guys is the same thing that happened to everyone else, but most of the surviving humans don’t run around killing children and anyone else weaker than them.
There is a terrible, horrible thing that happens near the end that also spoiled some of my enjoyment, but after reading George RR Martin, the demise of favorite characters doesn’t pack quite the same punch as it used to. Until that moment, there wasn’t much emotional connection to the story for me, and that’s why Dust & Decay fell a bit flat for me. That being said, it’s still an adrenaline rush, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Flesh & Bone.
Review copy read at Scribd
Six months have passed since the terrifying battle with Charlie Pink-eye and the Motor City Hammer in the zombie-infested mountains of the Rot & Ruin. It’s also six months since Benny Imura and Nix Riley saw something in the air that changed their lives. Now, after months of rigorous training with Benny’s zombie-hunter brother Tom, Benny and Nix are ready to leave their home forever and search for a better future. Lilah the Lost Girl and Benny’s best friend Lou Chong are going with them.
Sounds easy. Sounds wonderful. Except that everything that can go wrong does. Before they can even leave there is a shocking zombie attack in town. But as soon as they step into the Rot & Ruin they are pursued by the living dead, wild animals, insane murderers and the horrors of Gameland –where teenagers are forced to fight for their lives in the zombie pits. Worst of all…could the evil Charlie Pink-eye still be alive?
In the great Rot & Ruin everything wants to kill you. Everything…and not everyone in Benny’s small band of travelers will make it out alive.
I just told Ray Russell at Tartarus Press that I think the impending release of The Strangers by Robert Aickman is the publishing event of the year. That's not hyperbole. Aickman's stories are among my favorite works of 20th century art, and I always thought the canon was complete. Indeed, I thought that once Tartarus had brought all of Aickman back into print that I was done with being insanely grateful to Tartarus. But no!
The Strangers and Other Writings includes previously unpublished and uncollected short fiction, non-fiction and poetry by Robert Aickman. Dating from the 1930s to 1980, the contents show his development as a writer. Six unpublished short stories, augmented by one written for broadcast, follow his fiction from the whimsical through the experimental to the ghostly, with ‘The Strangers’ a fully-formed, Aickmanesque strange tale. The non-fiction samples Aickman’s wide-ranging interests and erudition: from the supernatural to Oscar Wilde; from 1940s films to Delius; from politics to the theatre; from Animal Farm to the canals.
Included with the book is a DVD of the documentary film Robert Aickman, Author of Strange Tales:
Featuring rare film, photographs and audio recordings, the film sheds new light on Aickman’s role in the development of the ghost story, his interest in restoring the British canal system and his wider involvement with the arts. Jean Richardson and Heather and Graham Smith share their memories of Aickman’s friendship, and writers Jeremy Dyson and Reggie Oliver evaluate Aickman’s literary legacy.
Reviewed by Krista
SISTERS OF BLOOD AND SPIRITby Kady CrossSeries: Sisters of Blood and Spirit (Book 1)Hardcover: 288 pagesPublisher: Harlequin Teen (March 31, 2015)Goodreads | Amazon
Wren Noble is dead—she was born that way. Vibrant, unlike other dead things, she craves those rare moments when her twin sister allows her to step inside her body and experience the world of the living. Lark
Nothing beats the morbid delight begot from a good old-fashioned bad dream. It’s the stuff memorable horror movies are made of. There’s no denying, being tantalised and terrified go hand in hand. But what about those bad dreams that leave you thrashing in a bed of sweat-soaked sheets and screaming for salvation? Nightmares can plague […]