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The Fright Stuff

Happy Birthday, Dracula!

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.

Today in The Fright Stuff, we’re wishing a fond (early) Happy Birthday to one of the great classics of the horror genre: Dracula. That’s right! Bram Stoker’s legendary vampire novel was first published on May 26, 1897, which was 125 years ago this Thursday. Dracula wasn’t the first novel of its kind, of course, being preceded by such vampiric classics as LeFanu’s Carmilla (published serially from 1871 to 1872) and of course John William Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819)— a literary progeny of one fateful, infamous, and rainy Genevan summer three years prior. But Stoker’s epistolary style, riffing on the Victorian fondness for travel accounts and the macabre, created something incendiary that lives long in the memory of its readers.

And its viewers! Over the course of the history of cinema and television, hundreds of films and tv shows have adapted Stoker’s novel in one form or another, paying homage to the towering literary figure that is The Count. From black and white legends like Lugosi, to the technicolor gore of Hammer Horror, to the multitudinous modern adaptations with their varying degrees of faithfulness to or deviation from the text.

Books, films, shows, graphic novels, even an email subscription service that will deliver chapters of Dracula to your inbox in real time (have you signed up for Dracula Daily yet?); this beloved novel, which remains a genuinely creepy read, is as undying as the man himself. So today we pay tribute to the vampire host with the most, by celebrating some of the many wonderful books that would not have been given (eternal) life without him.

Children of the Night: Dracula Adaptations

cover of dowry of blood by s.t. gibson

A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson

If you’ve been reading The Fright Stuff for a little while, chances are you’re familiar with my deep and abiding love for S.T. Gibson’s Dowry of Blood, a queer, polyamorous retelling of the origin of Dracula’s brides. This gorgeously Gothic book is one of my hands down favorite adaptations of Stoker’s novel, and if you haven’t read it yet get ready, because it’s being re-released in hardcover this October, complete with a ravishing new cover.

Cover of The Route of Ice and Salt by Jose Luis Zarate

The Route of Ice & Salt by José Luis Zárate

Speaking of favorite adaptations, last year Innsmouth Free Press released the first English translation of Mexican author José Luis Zárate’s cult Dracula adaptation centered around the captain of the Demeter and his ill-fated crew. Like A Dowry of Blood, The Route of Ice & Salt is another gloriously queer retelling, and Zárate’s beautiful prose shines in the hands of David Bowles careful translation.

cover of Reluctant Immortals by gwendolyn kiste

Reluctant Immortals by Gwendolyn Kiste (August 23)

There are almost criminal depths to which I would sink to get my hands on a copy of this book. Truly. But for now I’ll just (im)patiently sit on my hands and wait for my copy of Kiste’s forthcoming joint retelling of Dracula and Jane Eyre to arrive. That’s right, Reluctant Immortals is two Gothic adaptations for the price of one as Lucy Westenra and Bertha Mason, two of literature’s most done wrong by women, set out to free themselves at last from the men who tried to destroy them.

The New Vampires on the Block

New Cover of Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

One of the most unique vampire novels I’ve had the pleasure of reading, Moreno-Garcia’s Certain Dark Things is praised for, among other things, its rich worldbuilding and fascinatingly varied vampire culture. In Mexico City, street kid Domingo is just trying to survive when he meets vampire-on-the-run Atl. Atl is the descendent of Aztec blood drinkers, on the run from a rival vampire clan. Their meeting happens by chance, but as time goes on, the two find themselves working together to escape the dark streets with their lives (life and un-life?) intact.

Cover of Vampires Never Get Old anthology

Vampires Never Get Old ed. by Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker

You know I never miss the chance to include an anthology if I can squeeze it in, and I’m telling you: if you want a bloody, hungry, fascinating look at where vampire horror is headed in the hands of a new generation of writers, Vampires Never Get Old needs to be on your reading list. Twelve talented YA authors have teamed up to bring you eleven exciting and innovative stories, leaving their own fang marks on the Vampire mythos.

Cover of Youngblood by Sasha Laurens

Youngblood by Sasha Laurens (July 19)

Yet another forthcoming summer vampire pre-order for your TBR! Youngblood has been on my ordering list since it first crossed my radar, which was well before that ridiculously GORGEOUS illustrated cover was released and stole my heart. If teen vampires and vampire boarding schools are your jam, Youngblood is the book for you! Two young vampires from different walks of (un)life take on classism, conservative values, and a dangerous conspiracy as they try to solve the murder of one of their classmates and end up uncovering a dark secret at the heart of Vampirdom itself.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

Fresh From the Skeleton’s Mouth

Speaking of Vampires Never Get Old: Netflix has released the trailer for their new queer teen vampire movie First Kill, based on V.E. Schwab’s short story of the same name. And it looks fangtabulous!

Already read Hailey Piper’s (Stoker Award winning!) Queen of Teeth and find that you’re still hungry for more vagina monster fun? To celebrate her very much deserved win at this year’s Stoker Awards, Piper has teamed up with Nightfire to bring you an all new deleted scene featuring everyone’s favorite toothy vaginal beastie, Magenta.


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

Horror and History in Burn Down, Rise Up

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.

The reason I started adding these sort of “Fright Stuff Book of the Month” newsletters to my monthly roster was to give me the space to focus on one book that I’d read recently that really got to me. Lists are fun, but sometimes I want to sink my teeth into a text, shake it a bit, and see what falls out. Because, as I know you’re all aware, there is some incredible horror being published right now. Particularly by groups whose voices have been underrepresented by the genre in the past. This month’s book pick is one that has stuck with me since I finished it, not just because of all the mold and rot (my favorite), or the sweet Sapphic romance, or that gorgeous neon cover I’m obsessed with.

But also because it’s a vital book, the message and themes of which will always be important and relevant. More so now than ever.

burn down rise up book cover

Burn Down, Rise Up by Vincent Tirado

Burn Down, Rise Up is the debut YA novel of non-binary, Afro-Latine author, Vincent Tirado. Set in Tirado’s native Bronx, the book introduces readers to fifteen year old Raquel, whose life has just been upended by a violent attack that leaves her mother in a coma, infected by some unidentifiable mold-like substance that is slowly killing her. At the same time, Cisco – the cousin of Raquel’s crush Charlize – disappears and eye witnesses identify him as the person who attacked and infected Raquel’s mother. Along with two other teens, Raquel and Charlize must venture into a world of ghosts and dark histories, chasing a dangerous urban legend that may hold the key to saving their loved ones. But only if the girls can survive the Echo Game.

Sinister urban legends and Sapphic horror are always catnip for me, so obviously I leapt at the chance to read Burn Down, Rise Up. And it was every bit as fantastic as I expected it to be. But what really struck me when I was reading, and stuck with me long after, was Tirado’s use of Bronx history as the backbone of their novel. I went into this novel knowing nothing about the history of the Bronx, and came out on the other side both astounded by my own lack of knowledge and horrified and enraged once again at how much blatant racism and inhumane cruelty can be acted out in a single location.

But then, the whole point of the Echo Game is that there are points in history so terrible that they leave a permanent mark on the world. After all, what else are ghosts.

Tirado’s novel is a scathing indictment of the worst parts of the Bronx’s history, played out by literally walking their characters through a distorted otherworld where an avatar of every Slum Lord who ever left his tenants in rotting houses or burned them out for profit now rules over a scorched land of wraiths and violence. But it’s also a novel about hope, and perseverance as a community. Fighting back as a community.

In a conversation about the history of the Bronx that took place early in the book, Raquel’s father pointed out that in the aftermath of the Bronx burning, it was the locals who brought the borough back to life: “We had to rebuild the Bronx, literally. A few grassroots organizations formed. They taught residents carpentry so we could actually renovate our homes. We took special care of it because it was ours. And we had no one else – only each other.” (77) And when it comes to defeating the Echo Game and saving her mother, Raquel learns for herself how much stronger she is, how much stronger they all are, when they stand together and fight back.

I said in my May new reads Fright Stuff that if you buy one book this month it should be Burn Down, Rise Up and I mean it. There are a lot of amazing books coming out this month, but this one is something really special. It has so much heart and humanity. Tirado took a dark, awful moment in history, shined a light on the consequences of letting hate run rampant, but also showed their readers that out of the worst, bleakest of times, communities can survive and rise together.

“What else does a phoenix do when it’s done burning?” (76)

Fresh From the Skeleton’s Mouth

Most of you have probably already seen this Best Horror Books of All Time list from Esquire floating around your social media feeds, but if you haven’t be sure to check it out!

Okay, so not all thrillers are horror, but some are! And I can’t resist a book that embodies the phrase “Be Gay, Do Crimes”. So head over to Novel Suspects for a list of YA Thrillers Featuring LGBTQIA+ Folks Getting Into Trouble.

We have a cover reveal for Cale Dietrich’s forthcoming queer slasher novel Pledge, about a fraternity initiation gone murderously awry!

Hailey Piper was on the Sexy Books Podcast, talking about her fabulous horroromance novel Queen of Teeth, which is as romantic as it is gross (goodbye forever peanut butter).


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

We Won’t Go Quietly

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.

Wow. What even was this week? I had an entirely different topic picked out for this newsletter, truth be told. But after what happened here in the U.S. on Monday night, I didn’t have the energy or the mental space for what I originally planned. I’m scared, and pissed off, and heartbroken, and I have been consuming massive amounts of horror, across mediums, just trying to get by.

So fuck it. This week’s Fright Stuff goes out to everyone who’s in the same place as me right now. Everyone who may be sad, and frightened, but also ready to fight back. Because fuck them if they think we’ll just let this happen. That we’ll just go quietly into the future they have planned for us. Every single once of these books is about justice – demanding it, crying out for it, fighting for it tooth and nail.

May you find the catharsis you need, and the will to keep fighting.

Cover of the Do Not Go Quietly horror anthology

Do Not Go Quietly: An Anthology of Victory in Defiance ed. by Jason Sizemore & Lesley Conner

This 2019 anthology from Apex Publishing is thematically perfect for this week’s Fright Stuff, and helped give today’s newsletter its title. Do Not Go Quietly is an anthology of stories across the range of speculative fiction (horror included, obviously!) about resistance. Stories about fighting back and fighting for justice. It’s a fabulous anthology, and horror readers will likely recognize several of the names on this talent-packed TOC, including authors Cassandra Khaw, Maurice Broaddus, E. Catherine Tobler, Lucy A. Snyder, and Christina Sng.

cover of Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle, featuring cartoon of four young people standing in front of a full moon

Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

This gorgeous graphic novel by author Maggie Tokuda-Hall, illustrated by Lisa Sterle, is a must have for fans of werewolves and social horror. Becca has just transferred to an elite San Francisco High School when she finds herself scooped out of new kid purgatory by a group of popular girls with a shocking secret: they’re werewolves! Vigilante werewolves who hunt down the predatory boys in their town who take advantage of girls, more specifically. When Becca allows her new friends to turn her into a werewolf, she finally finds a place and a group to call her own. But an unexpected death soon complicates matters, and the pack’s quest to avenge the girls in their community takes a dark turn.

cover of your body is not your body anthology

Your Body is Not Your Body ed. by Alex Woodroe & Matt Blairstone

This anthology of horror stories and illustrations by over thirty Trans/Gender Nonconforming creators was launched in response to the brutal new laws criminalizing the trans/GNC youth of Texas. And aside from a TOC stacked with talent, if you needed another reason to order your copy, you should know that a portion of the proceeds are donated to Equality Texas to support their work in fighting these hateful legislations. The stories in Your Body is Not Your Body range all over the spectrum of the new weird horror tradition (Tenebrous Press’ specialty), making for a unique and compelling anthology of queer horror, full of rage and defiance.

cover of into the forest and all the way through by cynthia pelayo

Into the Forest and All the Way Through by Cynthia Pelayo

Into the Forest and All the Way Through could not have been an easy book to write, and it is certainly a harrowing book to read. But if you’re looking for a poetry collection that both honors the dead and cries out for justice, this is the book you want. This collection – though horrifying – isn’t actually a horror book, it’s a compilation of true crime poetry that explores the over one hundred cases of missing and murdered women in the Unites States. But Pelayo is a well know horror author, and given the topic of this week’s newsletter, the inclusion of Into the Forest and All the Way Through seemed like an obvious choice. It will break your heart, but their stories deserve to be heard.

the cover of manhunt

Manhunt by Gretchen Felker-Martin

Felker-Martin’s bloody, brilliant Manhunt was one of the first books I thought of when I started compiling this list. But Beth and Fran aren’t on some mission for revenge or justice, at least not at first. They’re just trans women trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world that is somehow even more determined to kill them than our own present day. They range up and down what is left of New England, hunting men who have fallen victim to the plague that turned anyone with significant levels of testosterone into feral, cannibal beasts. Beth and Fran need the men for their organs, the only way to ensure they don’t meet the same fate. But a series of terrible circumstances sends their lives on a collision course with an incipient revolution in the north, and like it or not, they find themselves faced with a choice: keep scavenging at the edges of what’s left of their world, or start fighting back.

There were so many other books I could have included, given the space. So much horror has been written by marginalized authors to try and give voice to or make sense of the cruelty and injustice that they face.

We fight horror with horror, at the end of the day.

Fresh From the Skeleton’s Mouth

There’s More of Us Than You Know is a forthcoming (June 13) queer horror anthology benefitting the Trevor Project, and there’s still time to preorder your copy!

On a lighter note: have you SEEN the faux clinch/pulp cover that Alexis Castellanos painted for Isabel Cañas’ The Hacienda? It’s so gorgeous, and I desperately wish Berkley would consider using it for a mass market edition.

If you’re as excited as I am about T. Kingfisher’s forthcoming What Moves the Dead (July 12), you can now download a sneak peek from your preferred ebook vendor, courtesy of Nightfire!

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


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

May I Offer You A New Horror Release?

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 May, folks! Though I can barely believe it here we are again: it’s new releases day. Time flies when you’re having scary fun! Every month so far this year has been jam packed with amazing new horror books, and May is proving to be no exception. I’ve picked out my top must-have titles for the month, and I can’t wait to share these exciting forthcoming titles with you!

burn down rise up book cover

Burn Down, Rise Up by Vincent Tirado (May 3)

THIS BOOK, ya’ll. If you order one horror book in May (not that I expect most of you are one new book a month readers) I highly recommend it be Tirado’s forthcoming YA horror. Behind that oh-so-gorgeous neon cover is a story about the horrors of the past and how they bleed into the present. When sixteen-year-old Raquel’s life is suddenly upended by an attack that puts her mother in a coma, she finds herself teaming up with her once childhood friend Charlize, whose missing cousin might be tied to both Raquel’s mother and the other disappearances that have plagued the Bronx for the last year. Tied to the Echo Game. An urban legend, the fodder of Creepypasta-esque reddits, a stupid dark of the night challenge undertaken by the drunk or the brainlessly bold. But it’s a game that the two girls may have to play themselves if they hope to save their loved ones and their home.

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas book cover

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas (May 3)

So most of us are by now aware that any synopsis in which a heroine ignores the rumours about the “sudden demise” of her husband’s first wife is probably not a story that’s going to end well for her. At least not without fight. 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 country side. Of course, when is Convenient Husband’s Country Estate every 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 when other people saw us they saw the dead edited by lauren t davila

When Other People Saw Us, They Saw the Dead ed. by Lauren T. Davila (May 5)

New anthology alert! This forthcoming BIPOC horror anthology from Haunt Publishing features the work of a host of amazing authors, blending elements of the Gothic, horror, fantasy, folklore and more. Anthologies like When Other People Saw Us, They Saw the Dead not only give voice to marginalize authors, they also offer readers an opportunity to experience a wide variety of authors all in one place. Many of whom might be new to them! I’ve found so many authors whos work I love by reading anthologies like this one, so if you’ve been looking to expand your must-buy authors list When Other People Saw Us, They Saw the Dead is a great place to start.

cover of your mind is a terrible thing by hailey piper

Your Mind is a Terrible Thing by Hailey Piper (May 7)

Can you say space horror?! I never get tired of horror books set in the vast expanse of space. All that nothingness, all that darkness, all those pressure-locked confined spaces? Mmm so good. So obviously the cherry on the new book sundae here is that Hailey Piper’s forthcoming Your Mind is a Terrible Thing is set in space! I love that Piper’s horror is always weird in the most delightful and unexpected ways (hello Queen of Teeth), so I can’t wait to see where she takes us next. When every crew member on board the starship M.G Yellowjacket suddenly disappears except for communications specialist Alto, what should have been an ordinary shift in an ordinary workday takes a frightening turn. Something has made its way onboard the Yellowjacket, something with the ability to dig into the minds of crewmembers and control what they think and feel. Alto’s only chance is to risk a journey through the now infected passages of the Yellowjacket to reach the bridge and reunite with what remains of the crew before things get even worse.

cover of hide by kiersten white

Hide by Kiersten White (May 24)

I’ve been a fan of Kiersten White’s work ever since her historical YA horror The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, and I’m so excited find out what she does with one of the best and most classic of horror settings: the abandoned amusement park/creepy carnival. Abandoned places are already inherently creepy, and if you add rides that play eerie songs and entirely too many clowns in the decoration motifs, you get prime horror fodder. Hide, is about a high stakes game of – you guessed it – hide and seek. The goal: successfully hide for one whole week, playing least in sight in an abandoned amusement park in hopes of winning enough money to change your entire life. For Mack, to whom hiding to survive is second nature, it sounds too good and too easy to be true. Until the other contestants of the game start disappearing, forcing the survivors to band together if they hope to make it out alive.

Fresh From the Skeleton’s Mouth

If you’re looking for even more May new releases, make sure to check out Nightfire’s fantastic list of all the horror books they’re excited about in 2022.

And for backlist TBR additions, Addison Rizer has pulled together a fabulous list of genre blending horror novels for Book Riot.

As part of their ongoing celebration of National Poetry Month, Ladies of Horror Fiction interviewed Jessica McHugh (A Complex Accident of Life) about her gorgeous blackout poetry.

Fantasy Café interviewed S.A. Barnes for Women in SF&F Month about her recent novel, Dead Silence, and her love of messy, imperfect heroines.


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

Grab Your Flamethrowers, it’s Alien Day!

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.

Surprising exactly none of you who have been reading this newsletter over the last year or so, my favorite horror franchise, hands down and of all time, is Alien. And when I love a franchise, I LOVE franchise. Even the bits of it that maybe don’t work as well as the rest (looking at you, Resurrection). But without a doubt, my favorite part of the Alien franchise, after the films themselves, has to be the novel series. What started as novelizations of the early films by Alan Dean Foster, and grew into a two part series of novels (first from 1992-1998 and then from 2005-2008), has seen a new boom of titles in recent years. A third series of novels, starting in 2014 and really gathering momentum in the last two years, has begun to shape the franchise’s main storylines in new and thrilling ways.

I have my theories about why we’re seeing this new uptick in Alien novels, but then again, I have a lot of theories about the Alien franchise, period! However, this week’s newsletter isn’t about my tinfoil hat Alien conspiracy theories (maybe next time), because tomorrow, April 26th (4/26), is Alien Day! And I can think of no better way to celebrate than by highlighting the three exciting new Alien novels set to be released this year.

Cover of Alien: Colony War by David Barnett

Alien: Colony War by David Barnett (April 26)

Originally published on April 19th in the U.K., this newest installment of the Alien novel series will be out tomorrow in the U.S. just in time for Alien Day! I am particularly excited for this book since it’s a (mostly) direct sequel to Alex White’s Alien: Into Charybdis, which I absolutely adore. Cher Hunt is determined to find the person responsible for the death of her sister Shy, a casualty of the deadly incident at the Hasanova Data Solutions Colony. Together with Chad McLaren, whose mission— like that of his wife Amanda Ripley— is to prevent further weaponization of the Xenomorphs and a synthetic called Davis, Cher travels to a drilling facility on LV-187. The drilling facility has been destroyed and all its personnel slaughtered. With the blame laid on British military forces, and the Colonial Marines inbound, tensions between Earth’s political factions are strained to a breaking point; only their crumbling alliances keep the whole interplanetary colonial system from devolving into a full out war. And things only get worse when the British and Colonial forces on LV-187 suddenly find themselves overrun by xenomorphs.

Cover of Alien: Inferno's Fall by Philippa Ballantine and Clara Carija

Alien: Inferno’s Fall by Philippa Ballantine and Clara Carija (July 26)

Co-written by Ballantine and Carija, the second Alien novel we can expect this year, Alien: Inferno’s Fall, will plunge us back into the fallout from the colony war. Set on a mining planet colonized by the Union of Progressive Peoples (the UPP), Shānmén, Inferno’s Fall is about the sudden and devastating arrival of an all too familiar horseshoe-shaped vessel that appears over the mining colony one day and unleashes an (equally all too familiar) black rain on to the planet’s surface. What follows is a series of violent and catastrophic transformations that threaten to wipe the colony out completely. Trapped on such a distant planet, and with the various military forces tied up trying to shoot each other out of space, the colonists’ only hope for rescue lies with the crew of the Righteous Fury: the Jackals. A mix of ex-Colonial and Royal marines, the Jackals are led by recurring Alien franchise character (and love of my life) Zula Hendricks, and their mission— much like McLaren and Ripley in Colony War— is to put an end to the weaponization of the xenomorphs. And, in the case of Shānmén, to rescue what few survivors they can from a planet being consumed by an ancient mutative force.

Cover of Aliens: Vasquez by V Castro

Aliens: Vasquez by V. Castro (October 25)

And last, but oh most CERTAINLY not least, closing out this years run of shiny new Alien novels is the much anticipated Aliens: Vasquez, by V. Castro. Already a known star of the horror genre, V. Castro will be scaring readers anew as she recounts both the long awaited backstory of fan favorite Jenette Vasquez, and the future of Vasquez’s children, who will follow in her footsteps for better or worse. Vasquez’s life has never been easy. Even before the marines, and before that fateful mission to Hadley’s Hope, her life was a constant struggle for survival. When the Colonial Marines offer her an out after life in a street gang lands her in prison, Vasquez decides to take her chances in space, even though it means giving up her children and letting them be raised by her sister.

Fast forward years after the tragic incident on LV-426 and Vasquez’s twins are all grown up, but their lives have taken very different turns: Leticia has joined the Colonial Marines, like her mother and so much of her family before her, while Ramon has launched himself into the ranks of Weyland-Yutani. The two are separated by distance and circumstance, until an unnamed planet with untapped potential puts Leticia and Ramon on a collision course not only with each other, but also with a deadly Xenomorph outbreak.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

Fresh From the Skeleton’s Mouth

Lauren P. Dodge was a guest on Books in the Freezer’s most recent episode, talking about Southern Gothic horror.

It’s National Poetry Month, and Eva Roslin wrote about celebrating poetry for the Ladies of Horror Fiction blog. And the Ladies of Horror Fiction team has put together a list of their favorite dark poetry collections!

Goodreads is holding a giveaway for 50 ARCs of Reluctant Immortals by Gwendolyn Kiste, and it ends TODAY (4/25)! So don’t forget to go enter before the clock winds down!


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

Beyond the Sea(weed)

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.

You all know I love ocean horror. I have made no secret of my obsession with all things scary and saltwater. Be it salty Gothic, toothy creature terror, or watery witchcraft, I want to put it in my eyeballs. I also – and I promise that I’ll explain how this is relevant, so stick with me – really, really love seaweed. I like to look at it. I like to touch it. I like to eat it! It’s a fascinating organism, that I find both beautiful and tasty. Lucky for me, next week is Seaweed Week here in Maine! Seaweed Week is not paying me for the free advertisement, by the way. I just really adore this niche little festival. Especially since it involves eating a lot of tasty seaweed snacks.

So since I have salty salty seaweed on the brain, I thought we turn sea-ward (SEA what I did there?) for this week’s horror recommendations. Get your reading lists ready! In the meantime I’ll be over here ordering a shameful amount of Dulse and Lemon bonbons.

the kelping by jan stinchcomb cover rewind or die

The Kelping by Jan Stinchcomb

The Kelping is one of the many titles that make up Unnerving Books’ retro-inspired Rewind or Die horror series. And the only book I’ve found so far that has really Significant Seaweed! One of the characters is actually piled with it as part of a weird small town folk ritual. Wickerman but make it cold and slimy? Doctor Craig Bo lives a charmed life in a charming coastal town, with his wife, kids, and thriving dermatology practice. But as we know, that sort of perfection is usually only, wait for it… skin deep. (You’re welcome). After being crowned Sea King of Beachside at a local festival, Craig’s life takes a strange turn. Something unknown is growing on his skin, his son is telling horrible tales about mermaids in museum attics, and his wife Penelope has been keeping dark secrets about her own connection to the sea.

Cover of Flowers For the Sea by Zin E Rocklyn

Flowers for the Sea by Zin E. Rocklyn

If you haven’t read Flowers for the Sea yet, I absolutely recommend making it a part of your summer TBR. It’s not a particularly long read, if you’re someone who prefers novellas or likes to alternate between short and longer books. It’s such a good piece of weird, cosmic, salt-soaked fiction. Part fantasy, all horror, full of rich worldbuilding and writing so descriptive that readers can almost feel the hot, sticky, stifling interior of the survivor’s ship, Flowers for the Sea is about a world underwater, at the mercy of monsters.Though the survivors of this fallen world, adrift on the floating remains of their world, can be fairly monstrous themselves. Iraxi, isolated, despised, and heavily pregnant, knows all too well the crimes that her fellow passengers fear their souls will be measured against when they die. The story that she spins for readers, as her fated pregnancy nears its end, lays out a history of prejudice and cruelty, setting the stage for her own revenge.

Cover of Trouble the Waters anthology

Trouble the Waters: Tales from the Blue Deep ed. by Sheree Renée Thomas, Pan Morigan, and Troy L. Wiggins

My love of anthologies is right up there with my love of seaweed. Though I really enjoy reading longer works by authors whose work I admire, anthologies offer the chance to experience a whole host of authors, both new and familiar, often working along the same theme but interpreting it in a variety of different and interesting ways. Plus, an anthology is also the perfect way to find new authors, and Trouble the Waters’ TOC is loaded with talent! This ocean-themed SFF/Spec Fic anthology features work by several authors that horror readers will recognize, including Nalo Hopkinson, Linda D. Addison, and Maurice Broaddaus, and though some of the stories may be more sci-fi or fantasy than horror, I’m sure there will be plenty to keep dark fiction readers entertained.

our wives under the sea book cover

Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield (July 12)

I’m really excited about this forthcoming book by Julia Armfield. I mean, I love pretty much every work of sapphic spec fic ever, but I particularly love the concept of Our Wives Under the Sea. It’s about Miri, who’s wife Leah was part of a disastrous deep-sea mission that Leah was lucky enough to survive. But the longer Leah is home, the more Miri doubts that Leah really ever returned at all. It soon becomes clear the person Miri thought was her wife is not the same Leah that went off to sea. Only Leah really knows what happened during the mission on the ocean floor, and only Leah knows what she might have brought back with her. Their life together before the accident is gone, and if Miri is right about her “wife”, then the real Leah may be lost as well.

cover of blackwater by jennifer arroyo and ren graham

Blackwater by Jeannette Arroyo and Ren Graham (July 19)

Blackwater isn’t actually sea horror, it’s more sea-adjacent horror. SeaSIDE horror. It’s set in a coastal town, and it gets bonus points because that town is in… wait for it… Maine! Yes, as always, Jessica is a sucker for a little hometown horror, so I absolutely can’t wait to get my hands on this forthcoming graphic novel from Arroyo and Graham. It’s about two boys —Tony Price, a popular athlete desperate for his father’s approval, and Eli Hirsch, whose quiet nature along with the strain placed on his health and social life by his autoimmune disorder have left him isolated. They unexpectedly become first friends and then something more as they navigate life in their spooky little town, from the supernatural to the super mundane (high school, right?).

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

Fresh From the Skeleton’s Mouth

Looking for more book recommendations?

Be sure to check out this Book Riot list by Emily Martin for some of the most anticipated horror books of Spring 2022!

Or get unsettled with this list of 2022 Gothic fiction from Taiwo Balogun over at Tor.


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

Mountains Bright and Terrible

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.

This week I want to share my love for a recent horror title that not only introduced me to an exciting voice in international horror but also – kind of ironically, given the subject matter – rekindled my love of hiking.

Now I’m a casual hiker at best, but it’s sort of an unavoidable hobby when you grow up in a valley, surrounded by some of the best hiking in your state. (Okay so maybe I’m a little biased). The teachers used to get permission to pull our whole class out of school for a day at least once a year and take us on a “field trip” to one of the nearby peaks for a hike. And though our summits are a LOT shorter than the alpine peaks in this month’s book recommendation, the view was still pretty amazing. Nothing beats standing on an exposed summit, feeling small and infinite at the same time.

But I got older, and we moved away, and I sort of lost touch with my outdoorsy side. This year, however, thanks in part to the little flame of wanderlust that this book set alight in my brain, I’m climbing the walls Exorcist-style waiting for warm enough weather to get out to the mountains. Which is why this month’s must-read horror recommendation absolutely has to be Thomas Olde Heuvelt’s gorgeous, epic mountaineering horror novel, Echo.

cover of Echo by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Echo by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Heuvelt’s novel was originally published in Dutch in 2019, and was translated by Moshe Gilula for its English debut with Tor Nightfire earlier this year. If you’ve read the synopsis, you know that Echo is about a journalist and mountaineer – Nick Grevers – who survives a tragic encounter with a remote mountain, the Maudit. But in the aftermath of the (supposed) accident that killed his climbing partner and left Nick’s face grievously scarred, he begins to suspect that something far more sinister than a fall may have taken place up there on the face of the mountain. Something he cannot remember. Something that might have come home with him.

If you’ve only read the published synopsis, then you won’t yet know about the other main character in Echo: Sam. Sam is Nick’s boyfriend. He’s also the only one who believes that something dark and more dangerous than grief is haunting Nick. Together they journey back to the valley below the mountain, searching for answers to what happened up there, and for a way to save Nick before the shadow of the Maudit swallows him completely.

I have to laugh, because I don’t think the goal of a book about an evil mountain is to leave its readers with the urge to then go climb a mountain. Logically, you’d probably want to do the opposite. Go away from the mountains. Go down in elevation. But Heuvelt’s lush, lyrical prose renders the many alpine landscapes of Echo in such breathtaking beauty that it’s hard to imagine how you wouldn’t be inspired. Which isn’t surprising when you consider Heuvelt’s own background as an avid mountaineer. And in the contrast between Nick’s love of the mountains and Sam’s fear of them, Heuvelt’s descriptions of the mountains in Echo embody the Gothic sublime, detailing landscapes both awesome and terrible at once:

“I hated the way they closed in on us. The way there were leaning over the plane. Tearing right through the storm, jagged like a predator’s teeth.” (15)

“The Zinalrothorn is a splendid peak, a tremendous monolith that, like the ruins of an ancient castle wall, towers above the surrounding glacial basins […]” (47)

But at its heart, Echo isn’t solely about a cursed mountain. In fact, it’s really not about the Maudit at all. It’s the story of two people – two messy, imperfect people who couldn’t be more different – who love each other. Two people caught up in impossible, cosmic forces beyond their control. It’s a story about grief as much as ghosts. I have always preferred my horror to have an abundance of heart. I want to be as likely to cry as I am to get the creeps when reading, and Heuvelt gave me both.

Echo is one of those horror books that’s so excruciatingly gorgeous that it sticks to your memory like glue long after you turn the last page. I think of this book on a weekly basis, at least, and even though I just had the pleasure of reading it for the first time in January, I can already feel the need for a re-read.

So if you’re looking for something unforgettable to add to your Spring TBR, look no further than Thomas Olde Heuvelt’s Echo. Just make sure you have your hiking books ready. You might want them by the time you’re done.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

Fresh From the Skeleton’s Mouth

Have you SEEN the cover reveal for Alexis Henderson’s forthcoming novel House of Hunger? It’s so goooooooooooooorgeous.

V. Castro was on Latino Slant the other day talking about her forthcoming novel, Aliens: Vasquez.

Over at Ladies of Horror Fiction, Cassie has some amazing dark poetry collections to recommend based on your favorite horror themes!

Apex Magazine is fundraising for a compilation anthology of all the dark and weird fiction they published in 2021, if you’re looking to throw a little love at an indie publisher.


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

April Scares Bring May Nightmares

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 April folks! It’s the first Monday of a new month and that means it’s time for my favorite newsletter of the month: New Releases! Or, in which I do my best to get you all to buy more books so that my book buying habit looks less out of control by comparison.

Not but really, this is turning out to be such an amazing year for fiction, particularly for horror, and I really do enjoy going through my new releases spreadsheet every month and putting this list together. The hardest part is having to choose! So, as always, I’ve tried to squish as many amazing April titles into this week’s Fright Stuff as I can. So have those readings lists handy!

Fun fact: I didn’t realize until I started jotting down dates that most of these books come out at the end of April. Apparently it’s just going to be a really amazing week for new releases!

Cover of Scout's Honor by Lily Anderson

Scout’s Honor by Lily Anderson (April 5)

If you loved the mixed humor and horror of Anderson’s Undead Girl Gang, you will definitely want to add her new novel Scout’s Honor to your TBR. It’s about an organization called the Ladybird Scouts, who masquerade as a proper ladies society when in fact they’re trained monster hunters sworn to protect humanity. Prue is a legacy Scout, descended from a long family history of hunters. Their prey? Mulligrubs, weird interdimensional parasitic monsters who feast on human emotion. Prue walked away from the Scouts when her best friend was killed in a hunt, and she has no intention of returning. But monster slayer is in her blood, and when a heist-esque plan to infiltrate the Ladybirds goes seriously sideways, she finds herself left with only one choice. In order to save her town and everyone she loves, she’ll finally have to confront that past she’s been running from for three long years.

Cover of The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon

The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon (April 26)

Opps. Here comes Jessica’s obsession with Frankenstein adaptations. I can’t believe this one almost slipped under my radar! The author of positively chilling fiction, Jennifer McMahon, has a new novel that starts in 1978. Renowned psychiatrist Hellen Hildreth splits her life between her acclaimed work with the mentally ill at her treatment center in Vermont and her role as grandmother and caretaker for her grandchildren Vi (Violet) and Eric. When one day Helen brings home a strange, quiet girl named Iris, the three children soon become inseparable. Together they form a Monster Club, cataloging and hunting the monsters that – according to Vi, are all around them. Fast forward 41 years to 2019, and Lizzy Shelley arrives in Vermont to hunt down a monster responsible for the disappearance of a young girl. She’s the host of a monster-hunting podcast, but her personal history with monsters goes far deeper than simple streaming content.

the fervor book by alma katsu cover

The Fervor by Alma Katsu (April 26)

I try not to double up on the same novels two weeks in a row, but it didn’t seem right to leave such a highly anticipated novel off my list of April new releases! The Fervor is set in a Japanese American interment camp in Idaho during WWII, where Meiko Briggs and her daughter Aiko are being held. Though Meiko’s husband is an enlisted pilot, she and her daughter were still forced out of their home and into the camp as potential threats to the American government. But more than human evil is at work in the camp, as a mysterious disease begins spreading among the prisoners and brings with it a team of suspicious doctors who may do more harm than good. And there’s a demon. A creature from Meiko’s childhood, and if she hopes to save her daughter’s life, as well as her own, Meiko will have to join forces with other inhabitants of the camp in a stand against the evil that threatens them all.

cover of the lighthouse by fran dorricott

The Lighthouse by Fran Dorricott (April 26)

Let’s see. I love lighthouses. Check. Remote isolated islands in the north of pretty much any country. Check. Friends groups that are likely to collapse in mess and ugly ways under pressure (i.e. when people start disappearing). Check. Yeah, suffice to say I am really excited about Fran Dorricott’s The Lighthouse. NOW, technicalities: technically, you can already get The Lighthouse as an ebook. It’s been available since it was released in the UK in February. However, if you are a print lover like myself, the paperback will be available here on April 26th. The Lighthouse is about six friends who travel to a remote island in northern Scotland for a reunion in a stunning, abandoned building with a notorious history of mysterious deaths. (Someone needs to fire their travel agent, frankly.) When one of their party disappears, and then suddenly reappears, terrified and full of secrets about the island he won’t – or can’t – share, their trip takes a very abrupt and dangerous downward turn.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

Fresh From the Skeleton’s Mouth

As always, I can only fit so many books in a single newsletter, so if you’re looking for even more April reads, be sure to check out Tor Nightfire’s excellent list of all the new releases they’re excited about in 2022.

Over at Book Riot, Emily Martin has put together a list of 25 of the most influential horror novels of all time.

Publisher’s Weekly considered themes related to the home and the unknown space (et al.) in their list of 2022 Gothic and Horror titles.

There’s an ‘It’ prequel series in the works at HBO Max! No saying for certain yet if it will actually happen, or get hung up somewhere in the process, but I’m still extremely excited!

There’s also going to be a Shining Girls adaptation starring the fabulous Elisabeth Moss!


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

Screaming into Spring

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.

Someone pinch me, it cannot really be the last week of March already. This was a really fun month for The Fright Stuff, but I honestly don’t know where the time went. My poor TBR stack for Women in Horror month is only half finished. Woe to my good intentions. That being said, spring is finally around the corner for the Northern Hemisphere and I am so ready to get out of the house and take my reading with me! So— lest I let Women in Horror Month slip away from me entirely— I thought we’d celebrate the warming weather with some exciting new horror books by women set to be released in the coming spring and summer months.

Get those readings lists ready!

the fervor book by alma katsu cover

The Fervor by Alma Katsu (April 26)

Alma Katsu is back with what promises to be another enthralling historical horror novel. The Fervor is set in a Japanese-American internment camp in Idaho during WWII, where Meiko Briggs and her daughter Aiko are being held. Though Meiko’s husband is an enlisted pilot, she and her daughter were still forced out of their home and into the camp as potential threats to the American government. But more than human evil is at work in the camp, as a mysterious disease begins spreading among the prisoners and brings with it a team of suspicious doctors who may do more harm than good. And there’s a demon. A creature from Meiko’s childhood, and if she hopes to save her daughter’s life, as well as her own, Meiko will have to join forces with other inhabitants of the camp in a stand against the evil that threatens them all.

siren queen by nghi vo book cover

Siren Queen by Nghi Vo (May 10)

First of all, I am obsessed with that cover. In an Old Hollywood powered by dark magic and fateful bargains, Luli Wei is a young actress desperate to come out on top of the heap. And she won’t be cornered into the sidelined characters and stereotyped parts usually reserved for Chinese American actresses. The price of fame is dear, and it may cost Luli everything, from her identity to the woman she loves. But if she can navigate this treacherous landscape of ancient magics and blood sealed bargains, and avoid the fate of the luckless starlets who came before her, Luli could see her dream’s realized. She could be a star— whatever the cost.

cover of this wicked fate by kalynn bayron

This Wicked Fate by Kalynn Bayron (June 2)

As someone who recently fell madly in love with Bayron’s This Poison Heart, I am so so excited for the sequel to to come out this summer. I mean, that ending! I need resolutions! Delightfully queer and darkly magical, this series is a must read for those who prefer their horror Gothic, overgrown, and full of secrets. Following the dramatic conclusion of the first novel, in This Wicked Fate Briseis is on the hunt for the last piece of the deadly Absyrtus Heart— her only chance at saving her mother. But doing so means relying on blood relatives who are little more than strangers to her, and navigating a whole new world of secret power and hidden enemies. And speaking or beautiful covers, I mean we can just bask for a second in the glow of that gorgeously neon bit of perfection?

the daughter of doctor moreau

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (July 19)

As you might expect, I am beyond excited about the new Silvia Moreno-Garcia book. Obviously I was a huge fan of Mexican Gothic, and I’m picking up so many of the same(ish) vibes from the synopsis of The Daughter of Doctor Moreau. Carlota Moreau lives a safe but sheltered life. Her whole world is the isolated confines of her father’s estate. But beneath that idyllic surface lies the reality of her mad/genius father’s work, funded by the unknown whims of his rich patrons, the Lizaldes. When their son, Eduardo Lizaldes, suddenly appears at Moreau’s gates, his presence proves the unknown variable that threatens to upend Carlota’s tranquil life, and bring the only world she’s know crashing down around her.

Cover of The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean

The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean (August 2)

I love the whole premise of The Book Eaters. The idea that you could magically retain all a books knowledge by eating it just resonates with something deep in my bookworm heart. To the book eaters, books are fine cuisine, and each genre and form has its own unique flavor. But the ability to ingest a book’s knowledge by eating loses its shine somewhat when there are limits on what knowledge you are allowed to obtain. Devon, a member of an old and reclusive clan know as The Family, is not allowed to eat the same tales of adventure and daring do as her brothers. Instead, like other book eater women, she’s only permitted to dine on fairy and cautionary tales, leaving her caught off guard when the real world proves to have sour endings and her son is born not with a hunger for books but with a rare and dark appetite for human minds.

Fresh From the Skeleton’s Mouth

Over at Book Riot, Nusrah Javed is your guide to the subgenre of social horror.

The Nightfire blog has you covered with February’s best horror short fiction and poetry, Medieval horror books for those of you who need a break from dying in Elden Ring, and an interview with author India Hill Brown about the ghosts of segregation in horror fiction.

And can I get a drumroll for this last piece of news, please, because if you haven’t heard: V. CASTRO IS WRITING AN ALIEN BOOK!!! Castro will be bringing Alien loving hearts everywhere the background of fan favorite Aliens character Jenette Vasquez in Aliens: Vasquez, out October 25th.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must return to screaming.


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

Belief, Grief, and The Shadow Glass: An Interview with Author Josh Winning

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.

This week I had the absolute joy of of interviewing author Josh Winning, whose forthcoming novel The Shadow Glass (out March 22) is an 80’s fantasy nostalgia dream full of horror and magic that – as someone practically raised on 80’s fantasy films – has stolen my whole heart. I finished that book with so many (admittedly nerdy and obsessive) questions, and I can’t thank Josh Winning enough for indulging me by answering some of them.

The Shadow Glass is about a man who grew up in the shadow of his father’s fame – and infamy – trying to come to terms with the legacy he’s inherited now that his father is dead. But when the characters from his father’s movie suddenly come to life, Jack finds himself in the middle of an impossible battle to save an imaginary world, before both it and his own world are consumed by darkness.

Inside The Shadow Glass

Belief is a key element in a lot of fantasy fiction, and a recurring theme in a lot of the 80’s fantasy films that clearly inspired The Shadow Glass. But even though belief is also a central and critical theme in the book, Jack starts out the story as a sort of non-believer. Or, maybe more accurately, an ex-dreamer who has forgotten how to believe. Why was that journey for Jack – the journey to believe again – the story that you choose to tell?

JW: I think you hit the nail on the head there – Jack has forgotten how to dream. He’s become so cynical and jaded, he lacks any vision whatsoever. It’s crippled him. The idea of belief resonated with me because I think belief and love are interlinked. If you really believe in something — whether it’s a cause, or a TV show, or a certain philosophy — you probably love it, too. You become a fan. And that love is unifying.

There’s no love in Jack’s life, for himself or anybody else. It could be because he doesn’t believe in anything. He has no line in the sand. Nothing to champion and hold aloft as something that defines him. Basically, he has to commit to something, anything, in order to come back to life.

One final thought on that: I think belief is such an adult “problem” – as one character says in the book, when we grow up, we forget how to believe without question. We demand proof and explanation. I think there’s real power in being able to suspend our disbelief, or to believe in something without question. It’s what makes books, movies and TV shows so compelling — they force us to believe!

And of course, The Shadow Glass isn’t just about Jack’s childhood fantasy world coming to life, it’s about all the other people whose lives The Shadow Glass touched. Fandom plays an important role in The Shadow Glass. We’re told that the movie was a critical flop, yet it was the influence and persistence of its small but devoted fanbase that kept the film’s memory alive and raised it to cult status. We also see the dark side of fandom – I mean one of our main villains is basically the epitome of a gatekeeping fandom troll. How did the culture around fandoms and fantasy fans give part of your inspiration for the novel?

JW: It’s funny, I never intended to write about fandom, but fandom has become so huge in the past few decades, mostly thanks to the internet, that it’s sort of omnipresent. It filtered into my writing without me necessarily being aware of it. I think I was interested in exploring just HOW people express their love for the thing they’re a fan of, and how that expression could be interpreted as positive or negative. How it can unite or divide.

In the book, Toby represents the positive side of fandom, while Wesley Cutter represents the (ahem) less positive side. They’re basically there to show Jack the two paths open to him, and the real battle is in him figuring out which to choose: embrace The Shadow Glass or destroy it?

Speaking of people: Bob, Jack’s father is a very complicated, very human character who, despite having died before the story began, is an omnipresent figure in The Shadow Glass. He’s the one who gave Jack the world of Iri when Jack was just a baby and introduced him to magic and the power of belief, but at the same time, he’s the one who darkened Jack’s perception of the world and is, in a way, the reason that Jack stopped believing. So Jack’s grief seems to be as much about the loss of that version of himself as it is about the loss of his father. What made you gravitate towards grief as a theme in The Shadow Glass?

JW: A lot of my writing tends to revolve around grief, I guess because I lost my mom when I was 21, so I know the ripple effects grief can have. And it never goes away. It’s a part of you forever, which is probably why I find it endlessly fascinating.

It’s, sadly, something we’ll all experience at some point in our lives, and we all react to it differently. In a sense, Jack has been grieving his whole life (for reasons that become clear in the book), but he only confronts grief head-on when his father dies. I think grief is one of the biggest catalysts for change. It certainly changed me.

Let’s talk about horror! This is a horror newsletter, after all, and horror is most definitely a component of The Shadow Glass. That scene at the convention? That was horrifying! I’m still cringing. Which of course means I really relished every gruesome little moment. And obviously, given how dark some of those 80’s fantasy films were (I’m looking at you NeverEnding Story, with your Swamp of Sadness), horror is just a natural fit for this story. Was it that history of dark elements in fantasy what made you lean into horror with The Shadow Glass?

JW: For starters, thank you! I hoped that convention scene would pack a gory punch. Also, I love horror! I’m naturally drawn to it and I love coming up with monsters and scary set-pieces.

Luckily, like you said, the genre of The Shadow Glass lends itself completely to darkness — films like The NeverEnding Story and The Dark Crystal never skimped on the scares, and that’s precisely why we love them. There’s REAL peril, IMPOSSIBLE stakes, MASSIVE danger. The really fun part of writing The Shadow Glass was coming up with ways that that type of horror could play out in an “adult” version of those supposedly child-friendly 80s flicks.

Stepping away from The Shadow Glass for a moment, there’s been a lot of talk lately about what kids should and shouldn’t read. And while right now the target is LGBTQ+ stories, there are also a lot of “concerned” adults who believe that kids should be “protected” from stories that they deem inappropriately scary or violent. But a lot of the 80’s fantasy films that inspired The Shadow Glass, beloved films that many of us grew up with, are, as I said, very dark and even frightening. Do you think encountering these darker narratives as a child helped shape you as a writer of dark fiction? And what do you think the importance is, if any, of letting kids have access to dark or “scary” stories?

JW: Those films were 100% my gateway drug to horror. Whenever I think about how fantastically dark they are, I remember Jim Henson saying that he didn’t think children should feel completely safe 100% of the time. I sort of agree. Those movies provided a safe space for us to explore unsettling ideas and situations, where we could experience real peril without having to actually live it.

I don’t have kids so I can’t say who should or shouldn’t be “protected” from dark stories, all I know is that I WAS that kid who watched The Dark Crystal on repeat and I turned out OK!

And to return to your first observation, I think LGBTQ+ rep is SO important in fiction for all ages – I searched for it desperately as a kid and I’m STILL searching now. It’s great that we’re seeing more representation, but the balance is still far from redressed, especially with the persistent hysteria of thinking like, “What if reading gay material turns my teenager gay?!” Look, they’re either gay or they aren’t. It really is as simple as that.

Pop Quiz Finale!

The Shadow Glass is clearly a love letter to 80’s fantasy movies, so which one is your favorite? Your go-to, must-have, desert island pick?

JW: That’s so harrrrrd! For a long time it was Labyrinth, but recently The NeverEnding Story has overtaken it. It has it all — including an absolutely audacious final act that shatters the fourth wall and invites us as viewers into the story. It’s basically a perfect movie.

What fictional world would you let yourself be pulled into/bring to life if you had the chance?

JW: Realistically, Thra is probably a bit scary for me, so maybe Fraggle Rock or that cloud city where the Care Bears live.

Who is your favorite fantasy villain?

JW: The Goblin King in Labyrinth. He has so much going for him! The hair! The voice! The junk! And ‘As The World Falls Down’ is an absolute masterpiece of a song.

How about your favorite 80’s fantasy soundtrack? (The synth-ier the better)

JW: Hands down The NeverEnding Story. So synth, so evocative, so chilling. And the theme tune still slays. But the Willow score is also hugely underrated, I really recommend seeking that one out, too.

Who are you must-read horror authors that Fright Stuff’s reader’s should go check out?

JW: Adam Cesare is a genius (if you haven’t read Clown in a Cornfield, get on it!), and I love Kat Ellis’ YA horror novels, particularly Wicked Little Deeds (Burden Falls in the US). Plus obviously no shelf is complete without Paul Tremblay, Grady Hendrix, and Stephen Graham Jones.

How about the best dark fiction book you’ve read so far in 2022?

JW: All the White Spaces by Ally Wilkes is a masterpiece in drip-feed terror. I’m still kind of not OK, three months after finishing it…


This was such a fun newsletter to work on, I hope it brings you some joy as well! The Shadow Glass will be available at your favorite book retailer tomorrow, March 22nd, so if we’ve whet your appetite don’t forget to order your copy!

Fresh From the Skeleton’s Mouth

Over at Book Riot we’ve got horror novels where the supernatural takes a back seat, and 10 horror novels set underground.

Neon Hemlock Press has announced their 2022 Novella Series! And as always it looks beyond amazing.


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