Categories
The Fright Stuff

2022 Horror Must-Reads

Hey‌ ‌there‌ horror fans, ‌I’m‌ ‌Jessica‌ ‌Avery‌ ‌and‌ ‌I’ll‌ ‌be‌ ‌delivering‌ ‌your‌ ‌weekly‌ ‌brief‌ ‌of‌ ‌all‌ ‌that’s‌ ‌ghastly‌ ‌and‌ ‌grim‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌world‌ ‌of‌ ‌Horror.‌ ‌Whether‌ ‌you’re‌ ‌looking‌ ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌backlist‌ ‌book‌ ‌that‌ ‌will‌ ‌give‌‌ you‌ ‌the‌ ‌willies,‌ ‌a‌ ‌terrifying‌ ‌new‌ ‌release,‌ ‌or‌ ‌the‌ ‌latest‌ ‌in‌ ‌horror‌ ‌community‌ ‌news,‌ ‌you’ll‌ ‌find‌ ‌it‌ ‌here‌ in‌ ‌The‌ ‌Fright‌ ‌Stuff.

Hello all, and welcome to the last month of 2022! It’s been a long (long, long, loooooong) year, on the tail of two other really long (long, long, loooooong) years, and I don’t know about you but I’m feeling a bit burnt around the edges.

But! There is one thing I love about December, and it’s having the chance to share with you some of the books from this year that I loved. Now obviously this was an amazing year for horror, and even with two month’s worth of newsletters I couldn’t tell you about all the incredible horror books I read. But we’ve got three newsletters this month, so I’m going to do my best to highlight a few of the of my favorite horror reads of 2022.

Bookish Goods

seasons creepings holiday greeting decorative block by drewdropsdandelionsus

Seasons Creepings Decorative Block by DewdropsDandelionsUS

Okay so listen. Have you ever seen something that’s just so cute that you go: oh dammit. Use it as a book end, or just to decorate your shelves. All I know is that, wherever you put it, this decorative block with its cutesy holly berry skulls is so adorable that I think it’s literally melting my brain. Why am I so obsessed with a little block of painted wood? The world may never know. But — once again — it’s been a hell of a year, so let’s practice a little unquestioning joy. $20.

New Releases

out of aztlan by v castro cover

Out of Aztlan by V. Castro

V. Castro is back with another short story collection that sounds like a must have! She had me at mutant jellyfish fueled by garbage, personally. I never say no to sea creatures terrorizing humanity. But Out of Aztlan also offers readers mermaids, pirates, vengeance, revolution, an ancient goddess on the rise intent on purifying the planet, and more! You’d be hard-pressed to have missed Castro’s work in recent years. Not only is she an incredible author, she’s also a prolific writer, which is a boon to her fans. So if you’ve been meaning to add one of Castro’s books to your TBR, consider grabbing Out of Aztlan, out this week!

cover of a history of fear by luke dumas

A History of Fear by Luke Dumas

What do you do with a murderer who insists that the Devil made him do it? That’s what Grayson Hale claims about the violent death of his grad school classmate Liam Stewart: it wasn’t really Hale who killed him; it was the devil. When Hale is found dead in his prison cell years later, he leaves behind an account of the murder that, rather than finally providing a disturbed public with answers about Hale’s heinous crime, only raises more terrible questions. Was Hale legally insane after all, poisoned by a family legacy of hate and religious mania? Or did the devil really make him do it?

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

Cover of Echo by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Echo by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

I don’t even know that I have the words to describe how much I love Echo. I mean, not only is it scary, gorgeous, and queer, but it’s also (a bit ironically, considering the subject matter!) the book that got me hiking and rock climbing again. It reminded me of what it feels like to stand on a summit and see the world laid out at your feet. It’s also a terrifying Gothic wonderland of a novel about an evil mountain that possesses those who manage to escape its grasp. I mean, what else could you want? And I love Sam. Poor Sam who, by some miracle, got his boyfriend Nick back alive from the accident that killed Nick’s climbing partner. Only to realize that Nick didn’t come home alone. What follows is a harrowing and at times heartbreaking examination of how we learn to let go of those we’ve lost and carry the grief of that loss.

the cover of Crema

Crema by Johnnie Christmas, illustrated by Dante Luiz with Ryan Ferrier & Atla Hrafney

So technically Crema came out before 2022 as a digital comic, but 2022 marked the publication of the paperback edition and brought this gorgeous, ghostly little comic into my life. Crema is about two women falling in love: a barista, Esme, who sees ghosts when she drinks coffee, and Yara whose family has just sold the café that Esme works at. When a strange ghost man beseeches Esme to deliver a message to help reunite him with his lost love, Esme finds herself following Yara to her family’s coffee plantation in Brazil where an old love story has become a curse, blighting the land. But the older the story, the further from the truth.

Cover of Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes

Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes

Hello, do you have time to talk about what is probably the scariest book I read all year? Honestly, sometimes I think about the scenes in this book and still get creeped out. It’s enough to have you eyeing every under bed space and darkened doorway with distrust. A communications crew on their last repair mission finds themselves at the end of known space, picking up an impossible signal from a legendary lost ship. The Aurora, the luxury spaceliner that disappeared on its maiden voyage, gone without a trace. It’s been 20 years, but if it really is the Aurora they’re picking up, the salvage rights could set the soon to be unemployed crew up for life. Provided they can survive what the ghost ship has in store for anyone who dares to board her.

As always, you can catch me on twitter at @JtheBookworm, where I try to keep up on all that’s new and frightening.

Categories
The Fright Stuff

Bloody, Bloody Backlist: Terrors of 2015

Hey‌ ‌there‌ horror fans, ‌I’m‌ ‌Jessica‌ ‌Avery‌ ‌and‌ ‌I’ll‌ ‌be‌ ‌delivering‌ ‌your‌ ‌weekly‌ ‌brief‌ ‌of‌ ‌all‌ ‌that’s‌ ‌ghastly‌ ‌and‌ ‌grim‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌world‌ ‌of‌ ‌Horror.‌ ‌Whether‌ ‌you’re‌ ‌looking‌ ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌backlist‌ ‌book‌ ‌that‌ ‌will‌ ‌give‌‌ you‌ ‌the‌ ‌willies,‌ ‌a‌ ‌terrifying‌ ‌new‌ ‌release,‌ ‌or‌ ‌the‌ ‌latest‌ ‌in‌ ‌horror‌ ‌community‌ ‌news,‌ ‌you’ll‌ ‌find‌ ‌it‌ ‌here‌ in‌ ‌The‌ ‌Fright‌ ‌Stuff.

Well, folks, the year is drawing to a close. This is our last November newsletter and one of only four editions of The Fright Stuff left until 2023 is upon us! So I thought I’d close out this last month of autumn by spotlighting some fantastic horror titles from the backlist, before we go jumping into “best of”s and “most anticipated”s over the next couple of months.

So let’s get creepy!

Bookish Goods

bloody knife bookmark by siyoboutique

Bloody Knife Bookmark by SiyoBoutique

Can you have too many bookmarks? Personally, I don’t think so. Now usually I amass bookmarks by chance, but I really should start ordering more themed bookmarks to pair with my reading, because there are just so many amazing options. Take for instance this awesome bloody knife bookmark, perfect for pairing with your next slasher read. It’s just so adorable! (In a “just stabbed a babysitter” way.)

$7

New Releases

cover of house of yesterday by deeba zargarpur

House of Yesterday by Deeba Zargarpur

House of Yesterday is my favorite type of haunting story, where grief and ghosts collide. Inspired by Zargarpur’s own Afghan-Uzbek heritage, it’s the story of 15-year-old Sara, who tries to escape from the chaos of her collapsing family life by working on her mother’s most recent home renovation project. But houses are as alive as the people who inhabit them, with much longer memories. What else is a ghost, after all? The house Sara’s working on has old secrets in its bones, and as they manifest themselves as frightening apparitions, Sara is forced to face the darkness of her family’s history, and the realization that her life will never go back to the way it was. How can it, when she’s finally learned the truth.

cover of mine anthology ed by roxie voorhees and nico bell

Mine: An Anthology of Body Autonomy Horror ed. by Roxie Voorhees & Nico Bell

Mine, like the title says, is a collection of stories that highlights, body horror, specifically, the loss of autonomy inherent in it. Sixteen stories explore transformations, possessions, and what it means to have control and/or loose control of our own bodies. Creature Publishing has announced they will be donating all the profits from Mine to the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) to support reproductive freedoms. You know I love an anthology, and if I can indulge my affection for both anthologies and body horror while supporting a good cause, it’s doubly good!

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

cover of the dead house by dawn kurtagich

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

Told though a series of surviving records, reports, transcripts, and journal entries, The Dead House is the story of two girls and the tragic burning of Elmbridge High School. Twenty-five years after the fire that killed three people, and the disappearance of Carly Johnson, a diary is found in the wreckage of the school that belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s twin. A girl who supposedly never existed. This book takes “unreliable” narrator to a whole other level as Carly and Kaitlyn’s opposing stories emerge, leaving readers to try and figure out what happened all those years ago at Elmbridge, and which of the two narrators is really who she says she is.

cover of serpentine by cindy pon

Serpentine by Cindy Pon

Serpentine is technically more dark fantasy than horror, but I really wanted to include it on this list because ”beautiful young women slowly undergoes a monstrous transformation while discovering her true self” is an A+ trope that we see a lot of in the horror genre, and one that I personally adore. Pon’s novel is inspired by Chinese mythology, and tells the story of Skybright who is struggling to fit into the world around her as she contends with a dark secret that drives a wedge between who she wants to be and who she is becoming.

cover of a head full of ghosts by paul tremblay

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

When the Barretts’ 14-year-old daughter Marjorie develops what appears to be acute schizophrenia, and all medical attempts to help her fail, the family turns to the church for aid. But a local priest’s suggestion that he perform an exorcism on Marjorie is tainted with suspicion when he also invites a camera crew to accompany him. Then tragedy strikes. Fifteen years later, Marjorie’s little sister Merry agrees to an interview about the events of that night, and as buried memories surface, it soon becomes clear that what she remembers, and what she’s been told, are two completely different stories.

cover of ghost summer by tananarive due

Ghost Summer by Tananarive Due

Ghost Summer‘s selection of 15 short stories and a novella really showcases Tananarive Due’s impressive range. It’s an excellent introduction for new readers, and a must-read for already existing fans. From hauntings, to monsters, to buried secrets and dark family histories, Ghost Summer is full of rich, gothic settings and creeping horrors. Also, zombies! And, fair warning, a section of viral/contagion/zombie horror stories in this collection that will for real leave your skin crawling.

Fresh From the Skeleton’s Mouth

Esquire has released their selections for the 22 Best Horror Books of 2022, and there are more than a few Fright Stuff favorites on there!

As always, you can catch me on twitter at @JtheBookworm, where I try to keep up on all that’s new and frightening.

Categories
The Fright Stuff

Terrifying Works of Horror in Translation

Hey‌ ‌there‌ horror fans, ‌I’m‌ ‌Jessica‌ ‌Avery‌ ‌and‌ ‌I’ll‌ ‌be‌ ‌delivering‌ ‌your‌ ‌weekly‌ ‌brief‌ ‌of‌ ‌all‌ ‌that’s‌ ‌ghastly‌ ‌and‌ ‌grim‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌world‌ ‌of‌ ‌Horror.‌ ‌Whether‌ ‌you’re‌ ‌looking‌ ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌backlist‌ ‌book‌ ‌that‌ ‌will‌ ‌give‌‌ you‌ ‌the‌ ‌willies,‌ ‌a‌ ‌terrifying‌ ‌new‌ ‌release,‌ ‌or‌ ‌the‌ ‌latest‌ ‌in‌ ‌horror‌ ‌community‌ ‌news,‌ ‌you’ll‌ ‌find‌ ‌it‌ ‌here‌ in‌ ‌The‌ ‌Fright‌ ‌Stuff.

Welcome all to this, the last full week in November, if you can believe it, and very nearly the end of another year. It’s wild to think how time has somehow both flown by, and dragged on for an eternity. I checked the title page of Echo the other day, because I was sure it had come out at least a year ago. It was published in February…and that’s like the second time that’s happened in the last week.

So before time slips away from us entirely, let’s have some fun! This week’s Fright Stuff theme is horror in translation, so I’ve got some exciting recommendations for you there, as well as a new release from author Jessica McHugh, and something to bring a little light to those of you currently experiencing dark winter nights (and everyone else who just likes fire).

Bookish Goods

horror story candle by novelly yours

Horror Story Candle by NovellyYours

I think we all probably knew that, sooner or later, I would give in and offer you a candle for your weekly bookish good. In my defense, I come from a long line of candle-obsessed women, so I come by my enjoyment of scented wax rightly. And the best part about candles these days is that if you can even imagine a smell, you can find a candle to match. Not to mention that there are themed candles for pretty much all your favorite books and movies. This Horror Story candle is described as smelling like dark woods, cranberry, and blood orange (the “dark woods” smell is seemingly made up of pine and cedar), and would be a lovely accompaniment to a long night of reading scary stories.

$20

New Releases

cover of hares in the hedgerow by jessica mchugh

Hares in the Hedgerow by Jessica McHugh

McHugh’s newest book is the long awaited sequel to her novel Rabbits in the Garden, about 12 year old Avery Norton who makes a gruesome discovery in the basement of her family home and winds up incarcerated in an asylum, at the mercy of the Norton family’s darkest secrets. In Hares in the Hedgerow, Sophie Francis is a 16 year old singer/songwriter who feels adrift in the world, disconnected from those around her. She falls in with a group of misfits who call themselves the Choir of the Lamb, and ends up falling down the same rabbit hole of danger and secrets that once ensnared Avery Norton. The deeper Sophie digs into her own past, the more she reveals the grim truths at the heart of her family tree, and the generational trauma that has trickled down through its roots.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

cover of hybrid child by mariko ohara

Hybrid Child by Mariko Ōhara, translated by Jodie Beck

This is a profoundly weird, body horror-heavy sci-fi novel by Japanese author Mariko Ōhara. In it, Sample B #3, an escaped cyborg who was designed to adapt to his environment by assuming the form of whatever creature he digests a part of, takes refuge in an AI-controlled house that is possessed by the spirit of a murdered child named Jonah. When the house is besieged with Sample B trapped inside, he finds Jonah’s dead body beneath the house and knows there’s only one way out. He consumes Jonah, and the two become one being, undying, that is more than human and more than cyborg.

cover of the dangers of smoking in bed by mariana enriquez

The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enríquez, translated by Megan McDowell

Argentinian author Mariana Enríquez’s collection The Dangers of Smoking in Bed, recently translated into English for Hogarth Press, is a phenomenal collection of horror stories with a sharp sociopolitical edge, all set in contemporary Argentina. Her stories feature witches, ghosts, preternatural obsessions, undead babies, and more. They turn the terrifying and fictional into a commentary on everything from illness, to the way we treat and police female bodies, to the depths of darkness that only the humans can create.

cover of darkness by ratnakar matkari

Darkness by Ratnakar Matkari, translated by Vikrant Pande

Translated into English for the first time, this collection of horror stories from Marathi writer Ratnakar Matkari is perfect for fans of terrifying short fiction. with a new horror on every page — and everything from tormented ghosts, to killer imaginary friends, and an undying woman who cheats death itself, Darkness is meant to keep you up at night, clinging to the light. And if the stories don’t haunt your dreams, that cover might, because it is genuinely creepy! That’s a “shelve it so you can’t see it watching you” cover.

I Rememeber You cover image

I Remember You by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir, translated by Philip Roughton

TW: Suicide mention

Best known for her mystery series about the cases of attorney Thora Gudmundsdottir, Yrsa Sigurdardóttir shows off her horror skills in I Remember You, a terrifying ghost story often compared to the works of Stephen King or John Ajvide Lindqvist. Three friends undertake the renovation of an isolated old house, only to realize that they aren’t as alone in their remote location as they might have believed. There is something in the house with them, and it does not want them there. Nearby, an elderly woman commits suicide and, to the shock of the doctor investigating the death, the woman was apparently obsessed with his missing son. Two seemingly unrelated incidents may have more to do with each other than it would first appear.

Fresh From the Skeleton’s Mouth

I love this conversation over at Tor Nightfire between M. Rickert (Lucky Girl: How I Became a Horror Writer, a Krampus Story) and Stephanie Feldman (Saturnalia) about holiday horror, folklore, the Gothic, and the tradition of adding a little fright to your winter festivities.

Kelsey Ford put together a fantastic list of haunting Native American horror books for the Powell’s blog.

As always, you can catch me on twitter at @JtheBookworm, where I try to keep up on all that’s new and frightening.

Categories
The Fright Stuff

Void Spaces in Horror, or Why a Little Terrible Nothingness is a Good Thing!

Hey‌ ‌there‌ horror fans, ‌I’m‌ ‌Jessica‌ ‌Avery‌ ‌and‌ ‌I’ll‌ ‌be‌ ‌delivering‌ ‌your‌ ‌weekly‌ ‌brief‌ ‌of‌ ‌all‌ ‌that’s‌ ‌ghastly‌ ‌and‌ ‌grim‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌world‌ ‌of‌ ‌Horror.‌ ‌Whether‌ ‌you’re‌ ‌looking‌ ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌backlist‌ ‌book‌ ‌that‌ ‌will‌ ‌give‌‌ you‌ ‌the‌ ‌willies,‌ ‌a‌ ‌terrifying‌ ‌new‌ ‌release,‌ ‌or‌ ‌the‌ ‌latest‌ ‌in‌ ‌horror‌ ‌community‌ ‌news,‌ ‌you’ll‌ ‌find‌ ‌it‌ ‌here‌ in‌ ‌The‌ ‌Fright‌ ‌Stuff.

As readers, we know that when life gets overwhelming and we need to escape, the best thing to do is pick up a book. As horror readers, we know that the terror of a good horror book adds a needed factor of catharsis to our escapism. So when things get stressful (not that I could possibly think of a reason that things might have been stressful here in the U.S. this last week…), the obvious choice is to reach for a horror book.

But there are definitely certain horror books that work best for me when I really need a reprieve. I’m talking, of course, about the terrible, soothing call of the void.

Bookish Goods

go away i'm reading skeleton blanket from everythingafterco

Go Away I’m Reading Skeleton Blanket by EverythingAfterCo

In keeping with this week’s theme of escaping from the world, may I suggest this delightful blanket that will warn away all would-be intruders on your reading time? Made of crushed velvet and lined with sherpa, it’s the perfect cozy blanket to cocoon yourself in when you need a little time away from life to read. Let others interrupt you at their peril! They have been duly warned.

$80

New Releases

cover of strega by johanne lykke holm

Strega by Johanne Lykke Holm, translated by Saskia Vogel

You know when you stumble on a subset of horror and it just becomes an instant obsession? That’s how I feel about alpine horror. So when I spotted Strega on Nightfire’s 2022 horror list, I made a point of preordering a copy straight off. The Olympic Hotel is set high in the mountains, above the tiny village of Strega, and it’s to the Olympic that nine young women, including 19 year old Rafa, are sent to work, preparing the hotel for guests that, inexplicably, never seem to arrive. Until they do, vanishing as quickly as they arrived and leaving only eight young women in their wake.

cover of rootwork by tracy cross

Rootwork by Tracy Cross

Rootwork, on the other hand, is for those of you who prefer your stories to be set in warmer climes at far lower altitudes. Set in 1889, it’s about three sisters, Betty, Ann, and Pee Wee, who live in a small parish in Louisiana and spend their summers with their Aunt Theodora. Theodora is a hoodoo practitioner who teaches the sisters the art that has led to her being both respected and feared by the local community. But just as the girls are coming to enjoy their new found skills, their summer takes a tragic turn that will change their lives forever.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

I have always been drawn to void spaces. There’s just something about all that vast nothingness, bereft of life. Silent, still, and empty. The far reaches of space, the depths of the ocean, the lightless caverns of deep caves, the frozen white expanses of the poles. Anywhere where, when it comes to horror, the sheer scale of the space is sharply contrasted with the harrowing claustrophobia of trying to exist somewhere where life does not thrive and is not wanted.

When I am most stressed — feeling hopeless, trapped, or lost — horror books about deep, dark, void-like spaces allow me to explore the most extreme versions of what I’m experiencing. It helps to ease the pressure, so that by the time I turn the final page I can let go of some of what’s upsetting me. Leaving it to the void.

cover of from below by darcy coates

From Below by Darcy Coates

I promise you I did not make this list just so I would finally have a chance to talk about From Below. But it’s definitely a plus, because this Ghost Ship meets Titanic deep sea horror novel was an instant favorite. It’s intensely claustrophobic, given that our cast is trapped in dive suits, inside a dead ship, at the bottom of the ocean. And every inexplicable thing that happens in the isolated vacuum of the sunken SS Arcadia is made that much more terrifying by the fraught nature of the cast’s presence there. Because while Cove and her dive team might be determined to make their documentary about the previously undiscovered wreck, the metal bones of the Arcadia do not sleep easy, and the dead have other plans.

cover of the luminous dead by caitlin starling

The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling

The Luminous Dead is another one of those books that I am completely obsessed with. Starling had me at “attractive caver gets (literally) in over her head with more than a little help from the equally attractive but untrustworthy person controlling her survival suit, also: giant cave worm things.” Honestly though, where do I even start with how gorgeous and terrifying this book is? Reading it means watching helplessly as Gyre is just dragged through the worst kind of hell, and all the time there’s Em, who seems just as desperate as Gyre is but for different reasons. Reasons that all but guarantee Gyre can’t trust the very woman who can control everything from Gyre’s movement to her emotions with just the push of a button.

cover of the scourge between stars by ness brown

The Scourge Between Stars by Ness Brown (April 4)

Say hello to one of my most anticipated reads for the start of 2023! As you all probably know by now, space horror is my jam and wow am I excited for this novella. The Scourge Between Stars is a bit of a flip on the sci-fi narrative of colonists going forth to seek the stars (and often finding horrors instead) in that it’s actually about what happens after the long dreamed-of colony has failed. Jacklyn Albright is the acting captain of the Calypso, a starship carrying all that remains of humanity. The Calypso is making its slow way back to Earth after humanity’s attempt at colonizing distant space catastrophically failed. And if the lack of food and the dangers of the crushing emptiness of space around them weren’t bad enough, Jacklyn has reason to suspect that there is something alive onboard her ship that shouldn’t be there — an intruder that might kill them all before they ever make it home

As always, you can catch me on twitter at @JtheBookworm where I try to keep up on all that’s new and frightening.

Categories
The Fright Stuff

How Much Do You Trust Your House Plants?

Hey‌ ‌there‌ horror fans, ‌I’m‌ ‌Jessica‌ ‌Avery‌ ‌and‌ ‌I’ll‌ ‌be‌ ‌delivering‌ ‌your‌ ‌weekly‌ ‌brief‌ ‌of‌ ‌all‌ ‌that’s‌ ‌ghastly‌ ‌and‌ ‌grim‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌world‌ ‌of‌ ‌Horror.‌ ‌Whether‌ ‌you’re‌ ‌looking‌ ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌backlist‌ ‌book‌ ‌that‌ ‌will‌ ‌give‌‌ you‌ ‌the‌ ‌willies,‌ ‌a‌ ‌terrifying‌ ‌new‌ ‌release,‌ ‌or‌ ‌the‌ ‌latest‌ ‌in‌ ‌horror‌ ‌community‌ ‌news,‌ ‌you’ll‌ ‌find‌ ‌it‌ ‌here‌ in‌ ‌The‌ ‌Fright‌ ‌Stuff.

Well, another Halloween season has come and gone folks. But we all know that Halloween’s a state of mind, and the creepiest of seasons never really ends. Every day is a horror day in this community, and 2022 definitely has more scares to deliver before the year is done!

Bookish Goods

Pennywise Planter by MyUrbanCrafts

Pennywise Planter by MyUrbanCrafts

In keeping with this week’s Riot Recommendations theme: once you’re sure that your house plant doesn’t intend to murder you (or perhaps as a bribe to make sure that it doesn’t!) consider replanting it in this delightfully creepy Pennywise planter, inspired by the film adaptation of Stephen King’s IT. Because the only thing creepier than a possibly evil plant is a creepy-ass clown staring at you from across your living room. You’re welcome.

$28

New Releases

Cover of Aliens: Vasquez by V Castro

Aliens: Vasquez by V. Castro

V. Castro gives vivid life to the backstory of Alien’s character Jenette Vasquez, including how she came to be one of the Colonial Marines on that ill-fated mission to Hadley’s Hope. Jenette’s life has always been a fight for survival. Imprisoned for a murder she didn’t commit, when the Colonial Marines offer her a chance to not only get out of jail but get off of Earth entirely, Jenette takes it. Even though it means leaving behind everyone she loves, including her two newborn children. Fast forward years after the tragic incident on LV-426 and Jenette’s twins are all grown up, but their lives have taken very different turns. Until an unnamed planet with untapped potential puts Leticia and Ramon on a collision course, not only with each other, but with a deadly Xenomorph outbreak.

cover of a sliver of darkness by c.j. tudor

A Sliver of Darkness by C.J. Tudor

I’m always excited to get my hands on a new short fiction collection, especially if it’s from an author whose work I haven’t had a chance to get acquainted with. Collections are one the best ways to get an idea of an author’s style as well as some of the genres and themes they like to experiment with. C.J. Tudor’s debut short story collection, A Sliver of Darkness, is an excellent example as it features a whole range of frightening and strange tales about everything from suspect hat boxes to dinners at the end of the world. So if you enjoyed Tudor’s novel The Chalk Man, be sure to pick up a copy of the new collection, out tomorrow!

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

Do you ever wonder about your house plants? Like, what do they really think of you? Sure you remember to water them (most of the time) and they’re not dying. And yeah, you really need to change out their soil and repot some of them sometime soon. But, again, they’re still alive. So what if you kind of forgot to water them for like two weeks that one time. You were busy, and they recovered! And sure both the aloe and the spider plant are throwing out babies in a desperate plea for bigger pots. But it’s not like you’re going to wake up in the middle of the night and find them ringed around your bed, plotting your murder. Right? Right. (Probably.)

The plants in these books, however, are definitely out to kill you.

Cover of This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

If you haven’t read This Poison Heart yet (or it’s recent sequel This Wicked Fate) I highly recommend adding this delightful dark and fantastical YA series to your list. Plants are at the very heart of this book — from Briseis’ magical ability to grow plants from seed to full bloom with just a touch of her hand (a gift that also renders her immune to some of nature’s most deadly poisons) to the amazing and at times frightening gardens that surround the estate that she mysteriously inherits from an Aunt she never knew existed.

cover of eden by tim lebbon

Eden by Tim Lebbon

I finally get to talk about Eden in a newsletter, yay! It’s one of my favorite works of eco-horror, and is about an uncomfortably near future where the planet has been ravaged by climate change. And humanity’s attempts to save the planet by setting aside Virgin Zones — massive swaths where people have been driven out where the land has been given back to nature — has backfired in frightening ways. Of the zones, Eden is the oldest and the most mysterious. Mainly because people who go into the zone tend not to come out again. Which doesn’t bode well for our cast of adventure racers as they set out to cross the zone in record time, not realizing that Eden has secrets she’ll kill to keep.

cover of evil roots killer tales of the botanical gothic edited by daisy butcher

Evil Roots: Killer Tales of the Botanical Gothic ed. by Daisy Butcher

Part of the British Library Tales of the Weird series, Evil Roots is a collection of stories from writers of the 19th and early 20th century, all about the great and sinister evils of plants. Readers will likely recognize several of the names on the table of contents, such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Arthur Conan Doyle, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, H.G. Wells, M.R. James, and more. Each story explores some strange, scary, and often lethal aspect of plant life, be it carnivorous plants of the deep jungle or unsettling experiments involving the merger of botany and biology. It’s a fantastical and frightening homage to the stories that birthed the Killer Plant trope we know and love today.

Bonus Short Story Recommendation!

cover of all the fabulous beasts by priya sharma

“The Sunflower Seed Man” from All the Fabulous Beasts by Priya Sharma

Listen, I love this collection from top to bottom. But this freaking story has to be the scariest of the lot. I read it ages ago and it STILL gives me the willies just thinking about the Sunflower Man. It’s a breathtaking story about grief and what we think we’d do to get back the ones we love. I know I’ve recommended this collection a few times in The Fright Stuff, but believe me when I say: buy it for “The Sunflower Seed Man,” stay for all the unforgettable stories that Sharma spins.

Fresh From the Skeleton’s Mouth

Your November horror shopping list is here, courtesy of Tor Nightfire!

The 2021 Shirley Jackson Award winners have been announced!

Worried you might have missed out on some great horror books this year? Check out Vulture’s picks for the best horror books of 2022.

As always, you can catch me on twitter at @JtheBookworm, where I try to keep up on all that’s new and frightening.

Categories
The Fright Stuff

Happy Halloween to All Monsters Big and Small!

Hey‌ ‌there‌ horror fans, ‌I’m‌ ‌Jessica‌ ‌Avery‌ ‌and‌ ‌I’ll‌ ‌be‌ ‌delivering‌ ‌your‌ ‌weekly‌ ‌brief‌ ‌of‌ ‌all‌ ‌that’s‌ ‌ghastly‌ ‌and‌ ‌grim‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌world‌ ‌of‌ ‌Horror.‌ ‌Whether‌ ‌you’re‌ ‌looking‌ ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌backlist‌ ‌book‌ ‌that‌ ‌will‌ ‌give‌‌ you‌ ‌the‌ ‌willies,‌ ‌a‌ ‌terrifying‌ ‌new‌ ‌release,‌ ‌or‌ ‌the‌ ‌latest‌ ‌in‌ ‌horror‌ ‌community‌ ‌news,‌ ‌you’ll‌ ‌find‌ ‌it‌ ‌here‌ in‌ ‌The‌ ‌Fright‌ ‌Stuff.

Happy Halloween, my favorite ghosts and goblins!

I don’t know whether I’m celebrating the holiday, or the fact that October is finally over (it has been a MONTH, y’all), but all I know is I’ve got more chocolate than any one person should reasonably consume and a bunch of horror content to catch up on. I hope your Halloween brings you joys and scares in equal measure, and, of course, plenty of candy!

This week in The Fright Stuff, it’s a Halloween celebration for all ages in the Riot Recommendations section! And a couple of exciting new releases will usher us out of a terrifying Halloween season and into what promises to be an equally horror-filled November.

Bookish Goods

adopt a ghost terrarium by inkandecho

Adopt a Ghost – Needle Felted Graveyard Terrarium by InkandEcho

So this is more “something delightful and cute creepy to decorate your bookshelves with” than something actually bookish. But I’m mildly obsessed with cloche terrariums lately, so indulge me. Hauntingly themed terrariums are all over Etsy, and they range from tiny, affordable felt ghosts in equally tiny jars, to large, gorgeous displays that can cost hundreds of dollars. This creepy cutie is the perfect size for your bookshelf, in the mid-range for prices, and well worth the money — especially since you can choose between a classic ghost or a “thicc bottom” ghost. Just flip through the photos on Etsy, and you’ll see what I mean, and I promise it’s so worth it to consider booty-fying your ghost adoptee.

$44

New Releases

white horse book cover

White Horse by Erika T. Wurth

Haunted by a bracelet imbued with her mother’s spirit, and the monstrous entity it conjures, Kari James’s life is upended by a past she was determined to leave behind. Left with no choice but to revisit parts of her life she hoped to forget, Kari sets out to discover how her mother came to haunt the bracelet. White Horse is the kind of gritty, character-driven, emotional horror that you won’t easily forget. It’s as much about grief, inherited traumas, and the ability to forgive as it is about ghosts and monsters.

cover of the world we make by n.k. jemisin

The World We Make by N.K. Jemisin

The sequel to The City We Became is here!! Or it will be tomorrow, anyway. We rejoin the cast — Brooklyn, Manny, Bronca, Venezia, Padmini, and Neek — in the aftermath of the first book. They’ve managed to save New York for now, but it’s a tenuous peace at best. Not only is the Enemy still at large, but a new threat has emerged in the form of a mayoral candidate who wields hateful rhetoric like a cudgel, striking out at the most vulnerable parts of the city and its population in a bid to whip the city into a frenzy of hate and prejudice. The future of New York will be a grim one unless the avatars can find some way to push back the darkness.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

Halloween is for everyone, regardless of age! Even those of us who are past our trick-or-treating days can still celebrate this creepiest of days with our own Halloween rituals, be it parties, scary movies, or eerie adventures. So this week I’m spotlighting stories for every age, from an adorable Halloween children’s book about being yourself to a spine-tingling collection of Halloween-themed horror fiction.

cover of the witch's cat by sonica ellis

The Witch’s Cat by Sonica Ellis, illustrated by Harriet Rodis

Just me, a grown reader, considering starting a collection of children’s books that make me smile because how FREAKING cute is this book? Just look at that little baby black cat, I can’t stand it. Her name, by the way, is Pepper, and she’s the blackest black cat. Which makes it hard to make friends. Maybe it’s because everyone thinks black cats are cursed. Or because she is a witch’s cat. But all Pepper wants is to find some friends who won’t be afraid of her, and who will like her for just who she is.

cover of ghost squad by claribel ortega

Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega

I think I’m going to make it a mission next year to read more middle grade horror. And at the top of my reading list has to be Claribel A. Ortega’s spooky, sweet MG novel about best friends fighting to save their home. Set during the Halloween season, Ghost Squad is about Lucely Luna and her best friend Syd, who have to band together with Syd’s witch grandmother and her adorable cat to fight a host of malicious spirits that Lucely accidently unleashed on St. Augustine. Any chance that Lucely, Syd, Babette, and (the aptly named tabby cat) Chunk have to save the town relies entirely on the bonds between them.

cover of the missing season by gillian french

The Missing Season by Gillian French

Representing the home team this week is Maine author Gillian French and her 2019 YA horror novel, The Missing Season. Set amidst an intense Halloween prank war played out every year by the teens of Pender, The Missing Season is about what happens when that old town story about a monster in the marsh turns out to be more than an urban legend. The Mumbler is a monster, who comes back each October to steal children from the town of Pender. Or at least that’s what Clara’s new classmates tell her, not that she believes them. Still, as Halloween approaches, even Clara can’t deny that there’s something…off about Pender. Something that maybe can’t be dismissed as nothing more than a Halloween myth.

cover of literally dead anthology edited by gaby triana

Literally Dead: Tales of Halloween Hauntings ed. by Gaby Triana

Speaking of cute covers, how adorable is the cover of Literally Dead? If you’re looking for some genuinely creepy horror to celebrate the holiday, I highly recommend this new collection of 19 short stories that pay homage to all our favorite parts of the Halloween season! Featuring works from well known horror writers like Lee Murray, Gwendolyn Kiste, Sara Tantlinger, Jonathan Maberry, and more, Literally Dead is the perfect book for a cozy Halloween evening at home, tucked up with a bowl of candy that you bought for yourself because dammit we’re adults and we deserve Reese’s peanut butter pumpkins.

As always, you can catch me on twitter at @JtheBookworm, where I try to keep up on all that’s new and frightening.

Categories
The Fright Stuff

Bloody Bloody Backlist: 2014 Horror Books

Hey‌ ‌there‌ horror fans, ‌I’m‌ ‌Jessica‌ ‌Avery‌ ‌and‌ ‌I’ll‌ ‌be‌ ‌delivering‌ ‌your‌ ‌weekly‌ ‌brief‌ ‌of‌ ‌all‌ ‌that’s‌ ‌ghastly‌ ‌and‌ ‌grim‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌world‌ ‌of‌ ‌Horror.‌ ‌Whether‌ ‌you’re‌ ‌looking‌ ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌backlist‌ ‌book‌ ‌that‌ ‌will‌ ‌give‌‌ you‌ ‌the‌ ‌willies,‌ ‌a‌ ‌terrifying‌ ‌new‌ ‌release,‌ ‌or‌ ‌the‌ ‌latest‌ ‌in‌ ‌horror‌ ‌community‌ ‌news,‌ ‌you’ll‌ ‌find‌ ‌it‌ ‌here‌ in‌ ‌The‌ ‌Fright‌ ‌Stuff.

A happy almost-Halloween to you! The big day is only a week away now, so if you haven’t laid in your stock of candy yet, get thee to a supermarket. In the meantime, I’ve got some exciting new releases and great backlist titles both for you this week, so let’s get creepy!

Bookish Goods

gothic literature stickers by bookishstickerclub

Gothic Literature Stickers by BookishStickerClub

I have to make a confession: I have a Sticker obsession. My book carts both have so many stickers and magnets, I’m nearly out of room! Which is why I am definitely, absolutely…probably not going to order this delightful set of Gothic inspired quote stickers. But if anyone else would like to indulge, there are seven to a set: one Gothic Literature sticker, and six stickers featuring quotes from famous works of Gothic literature.

$5

New Releases

cover of they were here before us by eric larocca

They Were Here Before Us by Eric LaRocca

It’s tiiiiime! Copies of They Were Here Before Us are singing their way to readers and I can’t wait for you all to experience this book. It’s a series of unnerving vignettes that share a thematic heart, forming a single story of death, bodily destruction, and love. I’ve had the chance to read it and it’s amazing. Odd, dark, disgusting but beautiful — it’s everything I’ve come to expect from LaRocca’s work.

But reader be duly warned: I highly recommend heeding the content advisories in Doug Murano’s “Word of Warning” at the beginning of the book, BEFORE you read.

cover of sign here by claudia lux

Sign Here by Claudia Lux

So irreverent dark comedy is probably one of my favorite subsets of horror. There’s nothing I like more than laughing (however uncomfortably!) at something even when horrified. The main character of this book is a mid-level office worker in Hell — which officially sounds like the worst office experience ever, and that’s saying something — just trying to make a career for himself by getting people to sell their souls. I’m obviously onboard. This particular denizen of Hell, Peyote Trip, is on a mission: get one last member of the rich, secretive Harrison family to sell their souls. But it seems even Peyote underestimated just how secretive the Harrison’s were, and when he sets his plan in motion, he kicks off a domino effect of dangers and exposed closet skeletons that could ruin the Harrisons entirely. Not to mention Peyote’s best laid plans.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

cover of annihilation by jeff vandermeer

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Many of you are probably familiar with the first book in VanderMeer’s Southern Reach series, but if you haven’t read it yet I highly recommend adding Annihilation to your reading list. Especially if you’ve only seen the movie thus far. No judgement! I watched the movie first, too. But the book is so different and so gorgeous and weird that I honestly suggest forgetting everything you think you know about the story and picking it up. Our narrator, the Biologist, is one of four women who form the 12th expedition into the mysterious Area X, looking for answers about what it is, where it came from, and what it wants. Inside Area X they find a world in which biology has exploded into strange new forms of production, mutation, and growth, not just in the world around them but in their own bodies, as Area X creeps beneath their skin and transforms them into something…new.

cover of nnedi okorafor's lagoon

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

Lagoon is one of those genre straddling books that probably leans more towards science fiction in style, but that possesses plenty of horror to make readers of either genre happy. After all, it’s impetus is an alien invasion. First Contact. And all the horrors that ensue whenever the human race encounters something new that frightens it. Lagoon follows this fraught encounter between humanity and extraterrestrial life, as a massive object falls from the sky and lands in the ocean off the coast of Lagos. The descent of this impossible object unites the lives of three strangers — a marine biologist, a rapper, and a soldier — as they band together to save their country and their world.

cover of after the people lights have gone off by stephen graham jones

After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones

And last but absolutely not last, 2014 brought us Stephen Graham Jones’ brilliant horror collection, After the People Lights Have Gone Off. If you have read one of Jones’ novels before, but have yet to read any of his short fiction, you are missing out. And this collection of stories, which won the This Is Horror award for Short Story Collection, and was nominated for both a Bram Stoker Award and a Shirley Jackson Award in the same category, is definitely where you should start. Fifteen tales of the supernatural and mundane turned terrible, both rendered in equally horrific detail.

Fresh From the Skeleton’s Mouth

Rachel Harrison was a recent guest of the Monster, She Wrote podcast, talking about “lady” werewolves and her newest book, Such Sharp Teeth!

If you’re as excited as I am for the release of Unthinkable: A Queer Gothic Anthology (and the rerelease of its sibling anthology, Unspeakable), be sure to register for the online launch event being held on October 27th!

Did you see the video of the line around the block at the opening of Butcher Cabin Books in Louisville this weekend? Horror readers are the best!

As always, you can catch me on twitter at @JtheBookworm, where I try to keep up on all that’s new and frightening.

Categories
The Fright Stuff

THAT Gothic Novel. You Know the One

Hey‌ ‌there‌ horror fans, ‌I’m‌ ‌Jessica‌ ‌Avery‌ ‌and‌ ‌I’ll‌ ‌be‌ ‌delivering‌ ‌your‌ ‌weekly‌ ‌brief‌ ‌of‌ ‌all‌ ‌that’s‌ ‌ghastly‌ ‌and‌ ‌grim‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌world‌ ‌of‌ ‌Horror.‌ ‌Whether‌ ‌you’re‌ ‌looking‌ ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌backlist‌ ‌book‌ ‌that‌ ‌will‌ ‌give‌‌ you‌ ‌the‌ ‌willies,‌ ‌a‌ ‌terrifying‌ ‌new‌ ‌release,‌ ‌or‌ ‌the‌ ‌latest‌ ‌in‌ ‌horror‌ ‌community‌ ‌news,‌ ‌you’ll‌ ‌find‌ ‌it‌ ‌here‌ in‌ ‌The‌ ‌Fright‌ ‌Stuff.

Welcome to week three of our descent into Halloween! If you can believe it, it’s officially halfway through the month of October, and the long awaited day of horror is nearly upon us (though I like to think that every day is a day of horror in this apartment). I’ve got some Gothic goodies for you this week, along with a couple of exciting new releases for your October TBR. Which, if it’s anything like mine, is probably getting a bit out of control in this our creepiest month of the year.

Bookish Goods

spook your shelf gothic tropes mug by cardiganlibrarian

Spook Your Shelf Gothic Tropes Mug by CardiganLibrarian

In keeping with this week’s theme, I offer you this delightful Gothic tropes mug. After all, you can never have too many mugs! One of the best things about the Gothic genre are the tropes — the iconic elements that make Gothic novels so instantly recognizable and beloved. I’m particularly fond of the “Attic? What Attic?” trope.

$17

New Releases

cover of where black stars rise by nadia shammas illustrated by marie enger

Where Black Stars Rise by Nadia Shammas and illustrated by Marie Enger

Can you say: eldritch horror graphic novel? Another addition to what has been an amazing year for horror graphic novels, Where Black Stars Rise is a brilliant, psychological, cosmic nightmare in which a therapist in training finds herself following her schizophrenic patient into an alternative dimension where the King in Yellow reigns. Dr. Amal Robardin thought her patient Yasmin was just obsessed with Robert Chambers’ horror collection The King in Yellow, and that the book was responsible for Yasmin’s violent night visitations by a presence that Amal assumes is nothing but a vivid delusion. When Yasmin disappears, Amal has no choice but to follow the trail Yasmin left behind if she hopes to find her patient.

cover of the year's best dark fantasy and horror volume three by paula guran

The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror: Volume Three ed. by Paula Guran

The next volume of The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror is out this week! Volume three includes the work from well known authors like Alix E. Harrow, Zen Cho, Stephen Graham Jones, Tananarive Due, and many more, for a total of 23 recent works of dark fiction that go above and beyond to thrill, charm, and terrify their readers. Paula Guran has pulled together 23 stories to mark the passing of another exciting year of fiction, so if you’re looking for a way to find new authors, or to see what your favorites have been up to, make sure to preorder your copy today!

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

THAT Gothic novel. You know the one. With the young woman, alone, trying to make her way in the world. The job or marriage she can’t refuse. The man who wants her that she shouldn’t trust. The big house and all its secrets. Sometimes there’s a dead/suspiciously absent wife. And an attic. Something laughs in the dark. Something dark lurks behind closed doors.

Jane Eyre was my first Gothic novel, and the first time I read it, I was I think maybe 13 years old. I was also instantly obsessed, and I’ve never looked back since. For me it’s the epitome of THAT Gothic novel, and while there are plenty of Gothic novels before and after Jane Eyre that fit the description above, I thought that this week we’d celebrate some horror books that were inspired by Bronte’s unforgettable novel! (Or one of its many literary offspring!)

Cover of Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood

Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood

I loved this novel. It was such a fantastic dark fantasy take on Jane Eyre that was genuinely creepy at times! Fans of the original will recognize a few beloved lines and familiar scenes, but even when paying homage to her source text, Blackwood has created something wholly original and unique. Andromeda is a debtera without a license, making her little better than an eternal apprentice in the eyes of the world. If she wants to continue to work, she’s going to need a patron. So when Magnus Rochester hires her sight unseen to cleanse his house of the Evil Eye, despite her lack of licensure, Andromeda decides to take her one chance at a future and run with it. Be she could never have predicted the degree of horror lurking inside of Magnus’ home, nor the youth and charm of her new employer. With both her life and heart in danger, Andromeda will have to work fast if she hopes to save Magnus from the curse that threatens to tear them apart.

The Hacienda Book Cover

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

Now, The Hacienda was clearly inspired by du Maurier’s Rebecca, which really makes it Jane Eyre’s grandchild, I guess? But it’s definitely THAT Gothic novel. Also, to be clear, any novel that mentions the love interest’s mysteriously dead wife right in the synopsis is not a novel that’s going to go well for it’s lead character. But Beatriz can’t be blamed for the choice she made. Her father was executed in the overthrow of the Mexican government and her home destroyed, so when a handsome and wealthy Don proposes, she takes her chances with financial security and an estate tucked safely away in the countryside. Of course, when is Convenient Husband’s Country Estate ever really the safe haven that a Gothic heroine expects? San Isidro, for instance, is filled with strange voices, strange goings on, and plenty of helpful, familial gaslighting. Cue the entrance of the young (and probably handsome) priest who comes to the rescue, and you’ve reached peak tropey Gothic delight.

Cover of The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

You know, right up there with “mysteriously dead wife,” I feel like “forbids you from entering his house entirely” is probably not a good sign for the longevity or happiness of your marriage. Unless of course you’re Jane Shoringfield. As far as she’s concerned, the fact that Augustine Lawrence is wealthy, charming, and best of all, a recluse who doesn’t even want her to set foot in his house, makes him the perfect model husband. Until, that is, Jane ends up stranded on his doorstep on their wedding night. And what she finds inside Augustine’s house throws all her careful planning into disarray. So much for best laid plans, because there is something very, very wrong in Lindridge Hall.

As always, you can catch me on twitter at @JtheBookworm, where I try to keep up on all that’s new and frightening.

Categories
The Fright Stuff

Short Reads for Short Days and a Sneak Peek at Eric LaRocca’s They Were Here Before Us

Hey‌ ‌there‌ horror fans, ‌I’m‌ ‌Jessica‌ ‌Avery‌ ‌and‌ ‌I’ll‌ ‌be‌ ‌delivering‌ ‌your‌ ‌weekly‌ ‌brief‌ ‌of‌ ‌all‌ ‌that’s‌ ‌ghastly‌ ‌and‌ ‌grim‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌world‌ ‌of‌ ‌Horror.‌ ‌Whether‌ ‌you’re‌ ‌looking‌ ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌backlist‌ ‌book‌ ‌that‌ ‌will‌ ‌give‌‌ you‌ ‌the‌ ‌willies,‌ ‌a‌ ‌terrifying‌ ‌new‌ ‌release,‌ ‌or‌ ‌the‌ ‌latest‌ ‌in‌ ‌horror‌ ‌community‌ ‌news,‌ ‌you’ll‌ ‌find‌ ‌it‌ ‌here‌ in‌ ‌The‌ ‌Fright‌ ‌Stuff.

Happy Hauntings, everyone! Welcome to the second week of October. Here in New England, the temperatures are getting cooler, the leaves are getting crunchier, and the days are getting shorter. And while the long, dark hours of the night are a perfect time for reading horror, between the shortening days and the incoming holiday season, it does start to feel like there’s just not enough time. So if you’ve been starting to feel the pinch lately, and your reading time is taking a hit, one of this week’s Riot recommendations might do the trick! They’re all exciting recent indie horror titles under 200 pages.

I’ve also got a special treat for you: an excerpt from Eric LaRocca’s delightful and disturbing forthcoming title They Were Here Before Us! So make sure to stay tuned at the end of the Riot Recommendations section for a sneak peek!

Bookish Goods

sleepy hollow horror quotes notebook by theliterarylabrador

Horror Novel Quotes Journal by TheLiteraryLabrador

Yes it is I, returning to you once again with a (somewhat) Legend of Sleepy Hollow-themed item. A handful of years ago, I started keeping a reading journal because all my recent reads were starting to blur together. Journaling became a habit, and now I’m always on the lookout for fun journals (book themed when possible) to jot down book details and quotes in, and hey ho what do you know: I found a horror novel-themed one! It even has quotes from famous horror novels inside the covers, so not only can you keep track of your current read, but you might pick up a few new ones as well!

$21

New Releases

cover of hellsans by ever dundas

HellSans by Ever Dundas

This novel. Oh wow, this novel. HellSans is a brick of a sci-fi horror novel about a dystopic future where mainstream society is a chemically placated population of “blissed” out people living lives carefully monitored by robot companions meant to help everyone be “their best selves.” A custom typeface known as HellSans is everywhere, and fills readers with a peaceful sense of euphoria, keeping everyone content. Except for those who are allergic to it. HSAs are outcasts, discarded from society and left to deal with their debilitating reactions to the ever present HellSans. The novel is told from the dual perspectives of two women living in this stratified society, one who played a role in its creation, and one with the key to its salvation.

cover of little eve by catriona ward

Little Eve by Catriona Ward

By now I’m guessing that Catriona Ward is at least on most of your radars, if not yet on your bookshelves. Her deeply psychological The Last House on Needless Street was released in the U.S. last year by Tor Nightfire, followed by the Southwestern horror of Sundial earlier this year. But if neither of those suited your fancy, I recommend checking out her newest U.S. release, the gloriously gothic Little Eve. Set on an isolated island off the coast of Scotland, Little Eve is about a clan preparing for the arrival of a being know as The Adder, who they believe will bring about the end and rebirth of the world. And when it comes, the Adder will choose one of their own to gift with its powers. Eve is determined that chosen one will be her, but a murder and an unwelcome visitor from the mainland may spell disaster for her plans.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

cover of we are here to hurt each other by paula ashe cover

We Are Here to Hurt Each Other by Paula D. Ashe

I’ve said before how much I love collections as one of the best ways to get familiar with an author’s work— their style, their voice, the themes and images that inspire and inform their work. The synopsis of We Are Here to Hurt Each Other promises 12 tales of a “dark and bloody world” and wow does Ashe deliver. Grotesque and disturbing, the collection explores the depths to which a person can be driven and the limits to which they’ll go. These stories will sink their claws into you and good luck getting them out again. We Are Here to Hurt Each Other tops out at 152 pages, making it the perfect choice for a short autumnal afternoon.

cover of crime scene by cynthia pelayo

Crime Scene by Cynthia Pelayo

I’ve been a fan of Cynthia Pelayo since I first read Loteria, and after the heartbreaking beauty that was Into the Forest and All the Way Through, I leapt at the chance to read her newest book. Crime Scene (out October 13th) is a story told in narrative verse in the model of an epic poem. Starting with Report 0001, readers follow the journey of a hero, Agent K, in the quest to solve a girl’s brutal murder. We all know how the story goes, a missing young woman, a gruesome death, another crime to be investigated but too often left unsolved. But Pelayo challenges our complacency with this narrative, urging us, through Agent K’s eyes, to invest ourselves in the case, to let ourselves feel the tragedy, the grief of the loss, the painful hope that maybe, someday, there will be answers. At 128 pages, Crime Scene is a short read, but a devastating one.

cover of they were here before us by eric larocca

They Were Here Before Us by Eric LaRocca (October 25)

You might have noticed that Eric LaRocca is a frequent flyer on this newsletter, for a couple of reasons: 1) Eric’s work is honestly some of the most unique, disturbing, delightfully queer horror that I’ve had the joy of reading, and 2) They are an amazingly prolific author. I am honestly in awe. But also delighted by how frequently I get to add a new LaRocca to my TBR! They Were Here Before Us is the newest novella — a “novella in pieces” — and it’s a series of unnerving vignettes that share a thematic heart, forming a single story of death, bodily destruction, and love. I’ve had the chance to read it and it’s amazing. Odd, dark, disgusting but beautiful — I definitely recommend ordering a copy, and at 104 pages, it’s the perfect book for a busy fall day.

But reader be duly warned: I also recommend heeding the content warning at the beginning for “graphic depictions of dismemberment, disembowelment, interspecies necrophilia, heavily implied interspecies love affairs, and art-as-torture.”

Keep scrolling for a sneak peek of They Were Here Before Us!

ALL THAT REMAINS IS YOURS TO KEEP

I can still so distinctly recall the moment when it first happened to me: the crucial, soul-defining moment when I realized that I loved her and loved her in such a way that I understood I could never fully possess her as I had always intended.

Perhaps “love” wasn’t exactly the right word.

In fact, perhaps “love” was far too benign of a word given the intensity of my feelings for her.

After all, the word “love” usually implies that there are two consenting individuals, both capable of giving and receiving respect, admiration, esteem, tenderness. Though she might have once loved me — might have cared for me, nurtured me the way I had hoped, the way I had dreamed and wanted — that opportunity was now decidedly nonexistent, considering the fact that she was dead and had been dead for several weeks when my parents first stumbled upon her corpse in a shallow ditch not far from a busy motorway.

For my siblings and I, she was our first cradle, our bassinet — the very framework of our existence. All thirty of us were more than grateful for her body as we had already begun to make
our home, our refuge, our haven from the delicate intricacy of her cadaver. Her nostrils were our secret passageways where we could lose ourselves, where we could wander aimlessly until we were found. Her lips were our velvet cushions, luxurious pillows where we could sleep and dream until our next feeding. Her pried-open, ever-vigilant eyes — our relaxing sauna, far more preferable and far more tepid than any mountain spring. Her flesh — our holy communion, our sacred bond, the thing that kept us tethered as a family.

We had gorged ourselves on her body’s offerings day in and day out, our parents sometimes feeding us with bits of her they had taken and tucked away for safekeeping. For a family of beetles, we were keenly aware just how fortunate, how privileged we were to maintain such a luxurious environment. Our parents often regaled us with tales of former residences where they had to make do with the corpse of a shrew or the rotted body of a small possum. To find a human so healthy and in such excellent condition as she hadn’t been dead for too long was a work of pure magic, an object of enchantment.

Of course, as I look back on the moment when it first occurred to me that I loved her and loved her in earnest, I comprehended that those feelings, those sentiments, were present as long
as I had been a living thing — a measly insect that crawls, creeps, and chews its way through the brawn of existence.

After all, her body was all I had ever known.

Still, as I looked back and recalled the moment I had first described these feelings as “love,” I realized I had always been innately curious as to how such a radiant, mesmerizing creature ended up flat on her back in a small ditch hidden away in the darker corner of a lonely thicket. I couldn’t help but wonder what had happened to her. I wondered why she always appeared frightened, her eyes and mouth permanently open as if forever caught in the moment of some terrible surprise. I wondered why parts of her silky auburn hair were now crusted black with bits of dried blood as dark as motor oil.

I yearned to know her secrets. Perhaps the most beguiling and mystifying one had to do with the fact that her stomach was always distended. Our parents assured us that this was normal and that all different types of bodies often decompose in such a way that causes them to bloat obscenely or inflate with gases.

Regardless, I will always recall the moment when I was crawling my way across her belly and I felt a distinct sense of affection, an indescribable feeling of joy and how it seemed to overcome me almost instantly. It wasn’t because I felt safe or because I knew my parents cared for their brood in such a way that meant we would never want for anything as long as we lived. Although those feelings were quite frequent and were well founded given the love we were afforded, the thought that suddenly came crashing into my mind had nothing to do with that.

It was a tremendous, remarkable moment — when I realized that I loved her and loved her for far more than the mere use of her body as my home, my shelter. It wasn’t long until I found myself scurrying across her face and weaving in between her nostrils, playing a game with myself that I knew she might appreciate if she were able to see me in all my glory.

A curious part of me wondered if she might be disgusted with me, if she might despise me for all I had taken from her or simply detest me for the fact that I was a mere bug — a small, pathetic insect undeserving of such beauty, such magnificence, such grace. After all, my parents had ravaged her and made a nest, a viable home in her body for their starving, insatiable young.

To her, we might have been monsters. Perhaps we were. But she didn’t object. How could she?

As always, you can catch me on twitter at @JtheBookworm, where I try to keep up on all that’s new and frightening.

Categories
The Fright Stuff

On Your Marks… Get Ready… Read Horror!

Hey‌ ‌there‌ horror fans, ‌I’m‌ ‌Jessica‌ ‌Avery‌ ‌and‌ ‌I’ll‌ ‌be‌ ‌delivering‌ ‌your‌ ‌weekly‌ ‌brief‌ ‌of‌ ‌all‌ ‌that’s‌ ‌ghastly‌ ‌and‌ ‌grim‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌world‌ ‌of‌ ‌Horror.‌ ‌Whether‌ ‌you’re‌ ‌looking‌ ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌backlist‌ ‌book‌ ‌that‌ ‌will‌ ‌give‌‌ you‌ ‌the‌ ‌willies,‌ ‌a‌ ‌terrifying‌ ‌new‌ ‌release,‌ ‌or‌ ‌the‌ ‌latest‌ ‌in‌ ‌horror‌ ‌community‌ ‌news,‌ ‌you’ll‌ ‌find‌ ‌it‌ ‌here‌ in‌ ‌The‌ ‌Fright‌ ‌Stuff.

I hope ya’ll are ready, because this is going to be one wild month for the horror genre. Yes, it’s finally October! Halloween season. The penultimate month in the horror calendar and so, as you might expect, the busiest month in horror publishing. If you thought there were a lot of amazing new releases to keep up with in September I can only say, with love and respect: buckle up, and kiss any semblance of control over your TBR goodbye.

In fact, in this first week of October alone there are so many new horror books coming out that this week’s Fright Stuff is going to be entirely dedicated to exciting new releases. So let’s kick this creepy season into gear!

Bookish Goods

haunted house book nook by woodsmokedesigns

Haunted House Book Nook by Woodsmokedesigns

I have wanted to do one of these adorable shelf adornments as my bookish good pick for ages and have been trying to land on one that’s cute, detailed, and affordable for us mere mortals. Then I spotted this adorable haunted house book nook by Woodsmokedesigns! The longer I look at it the more adorable details I spot, it comes with an LED array so you can light it up, and if you were so artistically inclined, I dare say you could even undertake the challenge of painting it to make this little haunted world your own!

$34

New Releases

cover of such sharp teeth by rachel harrison

Such Sharp Teeth by Rachel Harrison

At this point, Rachel Harrison is definitely one of my insta-buy authors. After falling head over heels in love with Cackle last year, I have been eagerly awaiting Harrison’s next horror novel, and now Such Sharp Teeth is finally here! (Or it will be tomorrow, anyway.) That means it’s werewolf time! When an animal strike during a late night drive turns into a vicious attack, Rory Morris counts herself lucky to have gotten away with her life. But soon after the attack, Rory starts to notice strange changes in how she looks and acts: unnatural strength, an aversion to silver, and a fixation on the moon. Rory reluctantly returned to her hometown to help her struggling sister, but now she’s turning into a monster and even those she loves most may not be safe around her.

cover of the sacrifice by rin chupeco

The Sacrifice by Rin Chupeco

If you love haunted, mysterious islands in the middle of the ocean from which unfortunate visitors never return, wow do I have a book for you. All white sands and lush green jungle, Kisapmata seems, on the surface, like a perfect oasis. That is, of course, if you like ghosts, monsters, curses, and a sleeping god who, on waking, could crack the whole world like an egg if it so chose. The locals know well enough to steer clear of Kisapmata, and manage to keep most of the tourists out of harm’s way as well. When an overbearing team of Hollywood producers and their entire crew descend on the island with the intention of monetizing its tragic past, however, the only local who steps in to try and protect them from Kisapmata’s dangers is Alon, a teen who knows the island better than anyone living. But even Alon’s knowledge of Kisapmata and its secrets may not be enough to protect the crew from the island’s curse.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

cover-of-hollow-by-shannon-watters

Hollow by Shannon Watters and Branden Boyer-White, illustrated by Bernice Nelle

I can’t believe I’m finally going to get my hands on Hollow. I’ve been making heart eyes at this graphic novel since I found out about it, and I honestly can’t wait. I just know it’s going to join Mooncakes and Blackwater to form the perfect, autumnal, cozy graphic novel trifecta of my heart. Izzy Cane has just moved to Sleepy Hollow with her family, and she can’t understand why the people she meet keep having such a bad reaction to her last name. And it only gets worse when she bumps into local teen celebrity Vicky Van Tassel of THE Van Tassels. Vicky, who is stick to death of the legend and her family’s part in it. But now the horseman rides again, and regardless of how Vicky and Izzy feel about the legend— or each other— if they want to survive they’ll have until Halloween night to break the curse that drives the Horseman to put an end to the Van Tassel line.

cover of jackal by erin e adams

Jackal by Erin E. Adams

When Liz Rocher returns to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, it’s not to reminisce about her past. The mostly white town wasn’t a comfortable place to grow up as a Black girl, and it’s still not somewhere she prefers to spend her time. But her best friend is getting married, so for one weekend Liz commits to putting up with Johnstown, and its inhabitants, for the sake of her friend. When the other woman’s daughter, Caroline, suddenly vanishes during the reception, however, Liz finds herself in the middle of a town-wide search for the missing child, confronted with memories she’d almost forgotten. Caroline isn’t the first Black girl to go missing in Johnstown. It happened when Liz was young, and now its happening again. In an effort to get to the bottom of the town’s secrets and bring Caroline home, Liz begins researching Johnstown’s past, only to find that the deeper she digs the darker the truths she uncovers.

cover of earthdivers #1 by stephen graham jones and davide gianfelice

Earthdivers #1 by Stephen Graham Jones, Illustrated by Davide Gianfelice

Stephen Graham Jones (of The Only Good Indians and My Heart is a Chainsaw fame, among many, many other excellent works of horror) has teamed up with illustrator Davide Gianfelice to create a new comic series about time travel and murder that you won’t want to miss. Set in 2112, Earthdivers is about a world decimated by an ongoing climate crisis, where civilization has collapsed and what little remains of humanity has all but given up. Except, that is, for a small band of Indigenous survivors, who make an incredible discovery hidden deep in the desert: a portal through time, and the means of changing the world as they have known it. So they send one of their own to the past, tasked with a dangerous mission to kill the man responsible for it all. To kill Christopher Columbus.

Fresh From the Skeleton’s Mouth

If you want a look at all the amazing horror that has or will come out this year, as always be sure to check out Tor Nightfire’s excellent list of all the horror they’re excited about in 2022!

Have you seen the trailer for Knock at the Cabin yet? Based on Paul G. Tremblay’s The Cabin at the End of the World, it will be in theaters in February of 2023 and it looks amazing!

Aside form being the studio responsible for the gorgeous new adaptation of Interview with the Vampire, AMC has more horror incoming for its viewers. And one of their two new series is based on authors Victor LaValle’s novel The Devil in Silver!

As always, you can catch me on twitter at @JtheBookworm, where I try to keep up on all that’s new and frightening.