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The stares, the snickers, the constant teasing from the students at Roanoke High School—combined with her own self-doubt and absentee parents—finally takes its toll on Mildred Waco. Stumbling upon the Crossroads Magicks shop, Mildred decides she will no longer simply endure the bullying and skeptically buys a revenge curse.
But when she begins to lose control and Roanoke students are found brutally murdered, Mildred realizes that she may have bought more than she bargained for. With time running out, Mildred will have to stop the terrible forces she’s unleashed or lose her soul forever.
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.
Ah, space. The final fright-tier. These are the voyages of the starship Fright Stuff as she ventures deep into the furthest reaches of dark, creepy space. And most likely gets eaten. Or stranded on some remote planet. Or possessed/terrorized/murdered by a haunted/evil space ship that was definitely abandoned for no good reason and should definitely be boarded without a second thought. (I see you, Event Horizon.)
I honestly don’t know how I’ve gone almost a year writing Fright Stuff without doing a newsletter on space horror yet, to be honest. I have a lot of genre niches that I would happily drown myself in, but aside from the Gothic, the one thing that always gets me going is the vast, terrifying depths of definitely-not-haunted space.
We Have Always Been Here by Lena Nguyen
Dr. Grace Park is a psychologist stationed on the survey ship Deucalion, bound for the distant planet of Eos on a colonization mission. There are thirteen crew members, not including herself, all highly trained and educated specialists, all part of a team meant to assess Eos’ potential for colonization. But Dr. Park might not have been the best choice for this mission. She’s the opposite of a people person, and prefers the company of the ships androids, whereas the other humans can’t stand the androids and certainly don’t trust them. As you might expect, things start to deteriorate rapidly once the survey ship reaches Eos, stranding its occupants in a massive radiation storm amidst a sudden epidemic of paranoia and waking nightmares. We Have Always Been Here is high on my to-read list, and I am particularly excited to see how Nguyen explores the complex relationship between humans and artificial lifeforms, which seems even more fraught than usual on the Deucalion!
Alien: Into Charybdis by Alex White
I can hear you saying “Jessica, no. Please. No more Alien.” But shhhhhhhh. Just one. Because not only is Into Charybdis my favorite Alien novel, it’s also a gripping sci-fi horror in its own right that will appeal to lovers of space horror whether they’re Alien fans or not. Part of the reason that I love Into Charybdis so much is that White takes the themes of greed, corporate corruption, and militaristic capitalism (among others) that have been apart of the franchise since the beginning and weaves a nail-biting action horror novel in which the iconic xenomorphs are actually the least scary monster in attendance. A communications crew arrives on a distant planet to set-up environmental systems for the new Hasanova Data Solutions colony, a massive, deep space data bank. But this new station has old bones, and something even older is lurking beneath the surface, waiting to be rediscovered. And when a strange new organism is unleashed on the surface by an unknown vessel, what should have been a routine tech operation quickly devolves into chaos and terror.
The All-Consuming World by Cassandra Khaw (September 2021)
I’m sorry, did you not say that you wanted even more A.I. vs. humans in your space horror? Because listen, I can already tell that this September release from Cassandra Khaw is going to be so good. Starring a cast of former criminals, as broken as they are dangerous, The All-Consuming World pits its unusual band of protagonists against a universe ruled by powerful, evolved A.I. who will do anything to maintain their control. The answer to defeating them and regaining control of the universe lies with the secret at the heart of a plant called Dimmuborgir, but between their own traumas and a fleet of something called “sapient ageships” (just contemplating what that might mean is conjuring up some horrible potential concepts), the odds seem insurmountable. I fell head over heels for Khaw’s sinister Nothing But Blackened Teeth recently, so I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.
Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes (January 2022)
Y’all, I am so excited. Dead Silence has been giving me Event Horizon vibes since I first read the synopsis and I am so ready to add another legend to my collection of deep space haunted house favorites. The Aurora has been missing for 20 years. She was a luxury ship destined to carry the rich and famous through the stars, and had on board hundreds of crew members and guests – the elite of the elite – when she disappeared. All now presumed dead. That is, until an unexpected emergency signal from the legendary phantom pings Claire’s salvage ship and tempts them with the richest treasure yet pulled out of deep space. But, like all good haunted houses, what looks like a fine prize from the outside turns into a hellscape on the inside. The Aurora, seemingly abandoned, floats empty among the stars, her decks full of horrors. When Claire’s crew starts experiencing violent hallucinations onboard the ship, Claire has to fight against her own mind to keep them all safe and get them off the Aurora before they join the ranks of the missing.
Fresh from the Skeleton’s Mouth
Grady Hendrix’s amazing slasher tribute novel, The Final Girl Support Group, is getting adapted into a series for HBO! And horror fans rejoice because it’s being directed and produced by (among others) Andy and Barbara Muschietti of IT (parts 1 and 2) fame!
There are so many great books to read and so little time, right? If you’re looking for some shorter reads to fill out your list, check out these horror recommendations for titles under 200 pages!
This Nightfire thread of horror recommendations is broken down by geographic region and will have you screaming your way across America in no time!
Speaking of Nightfire, can we please take a minute to shout about ths GORGEOUS (and delightfully pink/blue/teal) cover reveal of Catroina Ward’s forthcoming novel, Sundial. It’s amaaaaaaaazing. I am strangely compelled to rub my face on it.
As always, you can catch me on twitter at @JtheBookworm, where I try to keep up on all that’s new and frightening.