Categories
The Fright Stuff

Set Phasers to Scream

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.

Cover of We Have Always Been Here by Lena Nguyen

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!

Cover of Alien: Into Charybdis by Alex White

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.

Cover of The All-Consuming World by Cassandra Khaw

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.

Cover of Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes

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.

Categories
The Fright Stuff

Ghost in the Mycelium

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’s slightly obsessive mini-essay is brought to you by the fact that Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic has ruined me for life, and now everything is mushrooms. Okay, not really, but there is an idea in Mexican Gothic that I have been turning over in my head since I finished the book and basically it’s this: how is a colony of fungi like a haunted house?

On the surface, Mexican Gothic seems like a familiar set up: Noemí gets a panicked letter from her recently married cousin, Catalina, claiming that something is very wrong in her husband’s isolated ancestral home, High Place. Noemí goes to the rescue and soon finds herself mired in darkness and secrets. But Mexican Gothic takes a sharp, biological twist that had me seriously second guessing my mushroom-based menu choices that week. Because at the moldering, rotting heart of High Place is the dark secret of its patriarch: a horrific immortality founded in flesh and fungi. A house haunted not by spirits, but by mushrooms.

The horror genre’s affection for mushrooms is easy to understand. As far as biological life forms go, fungi (particularly molds and mushrooms where horror is concerned) are as terrifying as they are fascinating. Mold poses a risk to human health, and its easy association with the sort of slow, rotting, delicious decay that horror adores is more than reason enough for its persistence in horror fiction. It’s easily identifiable as a threat. But mushrooms? Mushrooms are an unassuming terror. Even though there are varieties of mushrooms that are so poisonous they can kill you in a matter of hours, and a variety (Ophiocordyceps unilateralis) capable of zombifying its host to increase its chances to spread and prosper, the sight of a mushroom seldom evokes the same visceral horror as rot or mold.

Mushrooms come in compelling colors and grow in a variety of unique and fascinating forms. And even though some varieties like Dead Man’s Fingers (Xylaria polymorpha), which grows with corpse-like accuracy, or the juvenile Bleeding Tooth Fungus (Hydnellum peckii), which “bleeds” bright red liquid until it reaches adulthood, may be visually striking in a way that implies horror or violence, they are more likely to encourage our curiosity and enthusiasm than to frighten us. But mushrooms thrive where the dead and dying are. And while mushrooms growing on your lawn may be proof of a healthy cycle of plant growth and decay, mushrooms growing in your house are probably a bad sign.

What fascinated me about the mushrooms in Mexican Gothic, however, was the way Moreno-Garcia played up the most fascinating facet of fungal biology: fungi communicate. They are intelligent and complex lifeforms capable of spreading their mycelium across the forest floor and creating vast networks of communication. If you’re a Hannibal fan, you might remember that fascinating episode where the killer would put his victims into diabetic comas and use them to grow mushrooms as a means of trying to “connect” them to him. He was trying to tap into the fungi’s ability to form communities, obsessed with the similarities between their communication networks and the functions of the human mind. It was the first thing I thought of when Mexican Gothic reached its heart-pounding final act and revealed the body of the family matriarch, Agnes, entombed in fungus, no longer alive, or herself, but not dead.

Much like the way that Ophiocordyceps unilateralis controls its victim’s mind, Agnes’ mind has been taken over by the unnatural fungus that infects the Doyle family tree. The fungi have become her mind, taking on its functions and capabilities. (Mushroom guy would be thrilled.) It is the fungi that keeps the family patriarch alive. So long as he keeps breeding an heir whose body he can inhabit, he will never truly die, and so the fungi is able to take advantage of Doyle’s patriarchal obsession with inheritance and blood lines, manipulating him into satisfying its own biological drive to propagate in exchange for a perverse immortality. But Agnes is its wellspring. She is the source of the family’s curse, as well as the receptacle of their memories.

In true Gothic fashion, the “ghosts” that have been haunting Noemí since she arrived in High Place prove to have a natural explanation… sort of. They’re recreations of the fungi that permeate High Place; echoes of the past that linger in the fungi’s mycelium. Which is genius, really, because one thing that ghosts are a common metaphor for is memory. So in a way, because there are memories trapped and manifesting themselves in the mycelium, High Place really is haunted. Not by the spirits of the dead, but by the last lingering traces of their consciousness preserved in the house’s biological web. And the longer that Noemí is exposed to the mushrooms spores, the more a part of the web she becomes, the more frequent and vivid the “ghosts” appear. Like in all haunted house stories, the longer you stay inside the more intense the haunting becomes.

Which got me thinking.

In a previous Fright Stuff, I hypothesized about why we are compelled to read and write characters who can see and communicate with the dead. How a desire to know the unknowable leads us to speak to the dead because we want to hear the dead speak back. And it made me wonder if the popularity of mushrooms in horror fiction stems from a similar desire. I mean, yes, there’s the inextricable link between mushrooms and death, and mushrooms as signifiers of death. Not to mention all the creepy things they can do and look like. Mushrooms are ripe for horror. But in Mexican Gothic they’re also a source of communication, not unlike what we seek from the dead. The mushrooms that infect the Doyle family connect them in a complex network of biology and memories, one that stretches out its mycelium and tries to attach to anyone who comes to High Place seeing the truth.

We reach out for knowledge and hope something will answer. If not the dead, then who knows. Maybe the mushrooms.

Fresh From the Skeleton’s Mouth

Does the new Fear Street trilogy have you looking to indulge in some ’90s Teen Horror? Then head over to Book Riot for a brief history of teen horror in the 1990s and some spine-chilling recommendations for your TBR!

We’re getting Clown in a Cornfield II! Every great slasher deserves a sequel, so get ready for another corn-filled, candy-flavored kill fest Fall of 2022.

Why have one werewolf story when you can have a whole anthology! The TOC for September’s Were Tales anthology is first class, so make sure to follow Brigids Gate Press for all the details!

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

If I’m Going to Swelter, At Least Make it Gothic

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.

If there is one good thing about the atrocious heatwaves that have been bombarding us periodically up here in New England (and I do mean only one thing), it’s that the heavy, humid heat puts me in a mood for books of a similar… atmosphere? And there’s no subgenre of horror that does, “slowly being suffocated by the air you breath, was that a ghost touching me or just a hot breeze” like the Southern Gothic. Okay, so that’s rather underselling a subgenre that tackles such weighty themes as racism, classism, the consequences of burying your secrets, and the desperation of a once lofty family tree crumbling to dust. Plus there’s an emphasis in the Southern Gothic on ghosts both figurative and literal, and a fondness for crumble manors rotting with memories that I find infinitely appealing.

So grab your fans and a glass of something cold, and let’s get creepy!

Spook Lights: Southern Gothic Horror by Eden Royce

When diving headfirst into a new subgenre and/or a new author, I always like to start with a collection. Short fiction is such a fantastic way to gauge an author’s range or a subgenre’s flavor. You get the opportunity to discover both in Eden Royce’s fantastic collection of southern gothic horror stores. As the book’s synopsis suggests, Royce’s specialty is lavishly Gothic settings that set the stage for the sinister and strange, and as someone who really appreciates a perfectly wrought setting I am certainly a fan. If you enjoy Royce’s collection too, be sure to pick up the second installment, Spook Lights II, or check out Royce’s middle grade Southern Gothic, Root Magic!

Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo

I’m just going to keep sobbing out my love for this book. Summer Sons doesn’t come out until September so I’ve still got two long months to talk it up before you can get your hands on it, and I will take every possible opportunity! It’s deliciously, gorgeously Gothic. It’s queer. It’s heartbreaking and healing at the same time. It’s about love and grief and all the other emotions that tangle us up as human beings and I am obsessed. I want to crawl inside this book and live. Andrew and Eddie have always been together, bound by a shared secret and a dark gift. Until Eddie gets accepted early to their graduate program, leaving Andrew to trail six months behind. When Eddie kills himself shortly before Andrew is supposed to join him, he carves a hole in Andrew’s life, dragging a trail of secrets in his wake. The circumstances of his death are murky, and the deeper Andrew digs the more he realizes how little he knew about Eddie’s new life without him. All around are strangers, and none stranger than the haunt that stalks his shadow, haunting Andrew with the possibility that Eddie’s death was not what it seemed.

Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker

We don’t have a lot of swamps up here. We have bogs. They aren’t as nice, though I imagine that they’re just as good for hiding bodies (or worse things). Whatever the reason, there is definitely a fixed connection between the quintessential Southern swamp and the Gothic. Particularly when it’s a swamp that makes people disappear (and not just when they’re dead). For instance, Sterling’s brother Phin, who disappears into the town swamp one morning following an argument. But Phin doesn’t just vanish into the swamp. He vanishes from the memories of the town altogether. Everyone but Sterling has forgotten he exists, or that in his place a mysterious girl called Lenora May clambered up out of the depths. So it’s up to Sterling to discover who Lenora May truly is, and how she can get her brother back.

Ghost Summer by Tananarive Due

I thought we’d end this list the way we started, with an incomparable collection of Southern Gothic horror short fiction. From hauntings, to monsters, to buried secrets and dark family histories, Ghost Summer is full of rich gothic settings and creeping horrors. Also, zombies! For a more familiar Southern Gothic experience you’ll want Gracetown, one of the four thematic sections of the collection, comprised of “The Lake”, “Summer”, and the titular novella “Ghost Summer”. But all 15 stories in the collection (well, fourteen and a novella) have something to keep horror readers well fed.

Fresh From the Skeleton’s Mouth

Still need more Southern Gothic in your life? Go forth an peruse this list of 12 of the best Southern Gothic titles over at Book Riot!

Nightfire has posted their June rundown of the best horror short fiction and poetry if you’re looking for scares, as well as a list of July’s shiny new releases!

Did you see that the nominees for the 2020 Ladies of Horror Fiction Awards were announced? If you want your TBR thoroughly supplied, be sure to check out their nominee lists for Best Debut, Best Novella, Best Novel, Best Middle Grade Horror, Best Graphic Novel, and Best Collection.

Dawn Kurtagich’s The Teeth in the Mist (one of my favorite YA horror books of all time, complete with evil goat) is getting a sequel! 2023 is a long time away but I can wait! (Not patiently, mind you, but I can wait!)

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 Horror Days Are Here Again

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 can’t believe the year is moving so fast, but here it is just about the end of June and once again my favorite day of the month: it’s new releases day! Normally I try to run the new releases newsletter the first Monday of the month but on the 5th this year we’re observing a holiday here in the states, which means no Fright Stuff. So I thought we’d kick this mid-summer must read list off a little early!

If you’ve been keeping track of forthcoming releases for 2021, you are probably aware that these next few months in the run down to the end of the year are absolutely jammed with amazing horror titles. So many that my book budget is screaming under the strain, but I’ve been waiting an age for these titles to drop so sorry in advance to my wallet. Because these books are just too good to miss!

We Have Always Been Here by Lena Nguyen (July 6th)

By now everyone probably knows that I have a slight obsession with space horror. (It’s not slight.) So of course I’ve been counting the days until Nguyen’s We Have Always Been Here is released. 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 ship’s androids to that of her fellow human crew members, 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 the ships occupants in a massive radiation storm amidst a sudden epidemic of paranoia and waking nightmares. After all, when is a simple colonization mission ever really a simple colonization mission?

Also, for the record, that cover is giving me terrifying Dr. Who Diamond Planet flashbacks. UPSETTING.

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix (July 13th)

I had the chance to read The Final Girl Support Group ahead of its release, and it is absolutely fantastic. Seriously, it hits all those slasher fan sweet spots while still managing a serious critique of the subgenre and its place in the modern world. I can’t wait to get my hands on a hard copy just so I can read it in a new medium. We all know who the final girl is, most horror fans can name at least a handful without really having to think about it. She’s the one who survives. She’s the one who fights back. She’s every horror villain’s worst nightmare because her life spells their death. But what happens when the credits roll and the monster IS dead, but the final girl is still left standing? Lynnette is one of a group of former final girls who, years later, are just trying to put their lives back together. Until one by one, someone starts picking them off.

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass (July 13th)

True I just featured this book a couple of weeks ago on one of my pride month lists, but with it’s release date right around the corner I just had to shine the spotlight once again on what promises to be a delightfully creepy YA horror. Being able to see the dead is just a part of who Jake Livingston is, just like being one of the only Black kids in his exclusive prep school, or being less popular than his well-liked older brother. But, unlike humans, the dead can at least be relied upon to be predictable. Most are just harmless fragments of lost life, stuck in a loop of their own death. Sad but safe. Until Sawyer, a powerful vengeful ghost with the ability to put Jake’s very life in danger. In life, Sawyer committed a terrible act of violence, shooting six kids at a local high school and then himself. In death he has plans, and those plans require Jake.

Immortelle by Catherine McCarthy (July 15th)

There’s a reason Off Limits Press is quickly becoming one of my go-to horror presses. They are turning out some incredible horror that you definitely do not want to miss, and that includes their July release, Immortelle, about a mother who will stop at nothing to find the truth about her daughter’s violent death. Elinor, a ceramic artist whose work is inspired by her grandmother’s interest in the supernatural, bends her craft to its own supernatural purpose when her daughter Rowena is murdered. Elinor is sure she knows who is responsible, so she crafts an immortelle out of clay in the shape of a starling to try and capture Rowena’s spirit. As word of her skill spreads, Elinor is soon overwhelmed by requests for immortelles, her power growing with each crafting. And as the dead whisper their secrets and the truth about her daughter’s murder is revealed, Elinor begins to craft her terrible revenge.

Small Favors by Erin Craig (July 27th)

This book. I have been waiting so long for Small Favors and I just know it’s going to be the dark, bee-filled book of my heart. The Blackspire Mountain range is comprised of five sharp peaks bordered by a nearly impenetrable forest. And nestled amidst the Blackspires is the little town of Amity Falls. Visitors are rare and the wood is full of devils. This is Ellerie Downing’s home, and the quiet life she’s always known. But a sudden disappearance raises fears that the monsters the villagers once fought for survival may have returned, bringing with them honeyed promises of desires fulfilled. Asking only the smallest favors in return. Which I’m sure is… totally safe and not at all a cause for concern.


Like I said, this is only the beginning of what promises to be an amazing few months of new horror releases, and the titles I’ve feature here are just a taste. For more July releases make sure to check out this always fantastic list by Tor Nightfire of all the horror they’re looking forward to this year!

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

Happy reading!

Categories
The Fright Stuff

The Chatting Dead

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 think you have to worry about the walking dead, but really it’s the chatting dead you need to watch out for. The horror genre has history’s worth of proof that when the dead start talking, bad things are about to go down. Why does the trope of being able to talk to spirits pop up again and again in the horror genre? I mean, there are obvious storytelling reasons to include chatty dead people in your books. When they can speak for themselves they’re able to drop vital hints or bits of information that the protagonist might need to solve some mystery, escape alive, or even defeat the ghosts themselves. But is there another reason that we’re so involved with the idea of spirits who do more than moan and break your favorite coffee cup?

Maybe the obvious answer, and the one that we see realized in a lot of horror fiction–particularly novels in which grief and grieving are a theme–is that we want to think that the dead are reaching back to us. The ones we’ve lost, the ones who are trapped, forgotten, or wracked by injustice. Maybe it’s a bit like believing in aliens, or looking for bigfoot. We don’t want to believe that we’re alone out here. That we are all there is to the world.

And of course there’s the fact that of all the questions science has yet to answer, what becomes of us after death is still one of the greatest unkowns. We know what happens to the body, physically, and many horror authors make stunning and graphically memorable use of the decaying of the dead. But what about the rest of us? These big, squishy brains that give us such hell when we’re alive; do they just go out like lights? Every thought we ever had, all our dreams, emotions, and wants. There’s so much up there, and the thought that it all just stops beggars belief. So it makes sense that, more than just telling ghost stories or believing in ghosts, we want them to talk to us. To reach out. To make contact and prove that something of ourselves survives the end of our days.

Dozens of ghost hunting shows on the Travel Channel can’t be wrong! We talk to the dark because we want to hear the dead talk back. Though, as this week’s recommendations will show, you have to be careful when putting out a call to the dead. You never know who’ll answer.

cover image of The Library of the Dead by T. L. Huchu

The Library of the Dead by T.L. Huchu

Ropa speaks for the dead. In fact, she dropped out of school to make carrying their messages to the living her full time job. She’s a ghostalker. After all, she’s good at it, it pays, and generally it’s safe enough. But then a young child goes missing, taken from a dark corner of what Ropa considers her territory, and the dead are whispering chilling warnings about children sucked dry of their life and their joy. Ropa could chose to walk away. This could be someone else’s problem. But these children disappeared on her turf, and she can’t in good conscience turn her back while someone declares open season on the children of her city. So Ropa sets out to find a monster, and discovers a secret Edinburgh, full of unknowns, spirits, demons, and strange magics, where the very fabric of reality seems to bend.

The Whispering Dead by Darcy Coates

In the midst of a storm, hunted by unknown men with guns who want her dead, a woman on the run takes shelter in an abandoned groundskeeper’s cottage at the edge of a cemetery in the town of Blighty. Frankly, I think it sounds positively peaceful, but then again I have noisy neighbors. And technically, so does Keira. Because while to others the cemetery would appear still and silent, Kiera can hear the dead whispering all around her. The cemetery is alive with the ghosts of those recently, and not so recently, departed, led by a woman who died before her time who begins to haunt Keira when she realizes that the living woman can see her. With the clock of her life running down, Keira races to unearth the dark secrets of Blighty’s past that will not let the woman’s spirit rest.

Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis (August 24th)

Katrell makes her living talking to the dead, ironically. And it’s not much of a living, either. While clients are happy to pay her for access to their dead loved ones they don’t pay well. Let alone well enough for Katrell to pay her way and support her mother and whatever boyfriend her mother has kicking around. Still money is money. Which is why, when a ghost tells Katrell to stop summoning the dead, that terrible things will come of it, she ignores the warning. Besides. It’s dead. What do the dead have to do but moan vague warnings at the living for entertainment? Or so Katrell thinks. Until she accidentally raises a client from the dead, rather than just summoning their spirit, and catches a glimpse of a life beyond poverty. There is money to be made in making the dead undead, and she decides to seize the opportunity with both hands. But the bigger the magic the higher the price, and the dark is circling. Waiting for Katrell to fall.

Fresh From the Skeleton’s Mouth

If you can believe it (I hardly can) the end of June is nearly upon us! I’m not sure where the month went, but summer is really flying fast. And every month seems to bring with it a veritable pile of exciting new horror books. Check out this June new releases list from Ladies of Horror Fiction to make sure that you didn’t miss anything you were looking forward to!

Nightfire has a wonderful interview with Paul Tremblay on their blog, discussing putting story first, writing atmosphere, and the paperback edition of his amazing, deeply moving 2020 novel, Survivor Song.

Categories
The Fright Stuff

Horror Pride 2: The New Books Cometh

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 two of celebrating queer horror here on The Fright Stuff! I hope everyone is having a wonderful Pride, and getting plenty of reading done in between events! Fun fact: I didn’t plan it this way, but there is actually one new queer horror book on this list for every month from July through November. So. You’re welcome. Let’s all pretend that I was actually that organized on purpose.

Really, though, it worked out that way because there are so many fantastic queer horror titles coming out this year! More than are even listed here because I literally ran out of words to tell you about them all. We may still be short on in-person Pride events this year (for good reasons, obviously), but at least we have books!

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass (July 13th)

Being able to see the dead is just a part of who Jake Livingston is, just like being one of the only Black kids in his exclusive prep school, or being less popular than his well-liked older brother. But while being a teenager can be an endless series of threats–social, emotional, physical–some more serious than others, at least the dead can be relied upon to be predictable. Most are just harmless fragments of lost life, stuck in a loop of their own death. Sad but safe. Until Sawyer, a powerful vengeful ghost with the ability to put Jake’s very life in danger. In life, Sawyer committed a terrible act of violence, shooting six kids at a local high school and then himself. In death he has plans, and those plans require Jake.

The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould (August 3rd)

There are a lot of amazing horror books coming out this summer (Seriously. My bank account weeps.), but this one is particularly high on my radar. Two girls–Logan, whose dads are the stars of the popular TV ghost hunting show ParaSpectors, and Ashley, a Snakebite native whose boyfriend has gone missing–face off against a small town full of secrets, slipping slowly into chaos. The ghost of Ashley’s boyfriend has begun haunting her and the only only one she can trust is Logan, even as their investigation into the town’s secrets threatens everything they believe they know about Snakebite, their families, and themselves.

Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo (September 28th)

Sometimes friendships end quietly. Transitions in our lives nudge us apart from the people we thought we knew better than everyone, and who we thought we’d know forever, and we just drift apart. It’s so gradual you don’t even notice it happening until they’re gone. Andrew and Eddie were best friends, closer than brothers. And when Eddie left to start his graduate program, Andrew knew that he’d be only six months behind him. Until that day, a few days before Andrew was supposed to leave for Nashville, when Eddie died by suicide and left behind a life that Andrew realizes he knew nothing about. A secret life full of strangers and grisly phantoms, lies, secrets; a dark, ugly family history and an Eddie he never knew who spent his days bouncing from a cutthroat academic world to a seedy underground world of vice and violence. Now it’s up to Andrew to discover who his friend really was before Eddie’s secret life can consume him as well.

Flowers for the Sea by Zin E. Rocklyn (October 19th)

Are you tired of me talking about this book yet? Not sorry! I’m so excited about this book. I finally have an ARC on my Kindle and it is just staring me down, waiting for me to finish my pre-determined reading list for this month. Though if any book can tempt me to break from The List, it will probably be Flowers for the Sea. Survivors of a flooded land exist in isolation, fighting for their continued survival on an ark. Supplies are dwindling, hungry, terrifying sea monsters circle – in other words, circumstances are NOT ideal. Among the survivors is Iraxi, pregnant with a child that may not be entirely human. The future of the ark and its survivors is uncertain, and Iraxi’s own fate may be darker still.

Queen of Teeth by Hailey Piper (November 1st)

Jessica, is there anything that Hailey Piper writes that you won’t buy? Probably no. Particularly when it has to do with vagina dentata – because you know that’s going to be wild. Also have you seen that cover? It’s so pink! I love it! When Yaya Betancourt discovers that she has spouted teeth in her vagina, she assumes that it is a side effect of a pharmaceutically-induced genetic condition that she and thousands of others developed in the womb with a little help from AlphaBeta Pharmaceutical. Whoops. But when she realizes that ABP is determined to hunt her down after her incident of toothy sprouting, and when her condition suddenly… worsens, Yaya has to consider the possibility that there may be another, darker motive behind ABP’s pursuit.

Quick Note: If you don’t want to wait until the trade paperback release in November, there are still a few weeks to pre-order a special hardcover edition!

Fresh from the Skeleton’s Mouth

Speaking of forthcoming queer horror: have you seen the newly released cover for Gretchen Fleker-Martin’s Manhunt? (2.22.22 from Nightfire) Seriously, this book is going to be… well I’d normally say bananas, but that would be the wrong fruit for this context.

One of my favorite horror podcasts Books in the Freezer has released their Pride Month Special so be sure to tune in for even more queer horror recommendations!

This gorgeous story by Allyson Shaw was published in the most recent issue of Fireside Magazine, is available on their website, and is 100% everything that I love.

Over at Book Riot, Steph Auteri has curated a list of must read horror comics to add to your summer reading list.


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

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The Fright Stuff

Happy (Scary) Pride, Horror Fans!

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 Pride, everyone! Pride’s always a month to celebrate, but I have to admit that I love it just that much more when you add a little (or a lot) of horror. And thanks to this glorious horror boom that we are currently experiencing, I have a wealth of incredible titles to choose from! Which is why I’m going to split this list in two, so we can have two weeks of queer horror recommendations.

This week, I’m going to highlight some of the amazing queer horror titles from the last few years, and believe me when I tell you that this is just a sample of what’s out there. Which is why I’m going to share a couple of lists in the news section at the bottom with even more titles for you to peruse.

Let’s talk books!

The Worm and His Kings by Hailey Piper

I’m a big fan of anything Piper writes at this point, but this was particularly my brand of horror. Set in the New York City of the ‘90s, where it’s easy for people to just disappear and never to be seen again, Worm’s protagonist Monique is on a quest to find her missing girlfriend, Donna. But she’s not the only one who has disappeared in recent days, and as other impoverished women start to vanish from the city streets, Monique begins to hear rumors of monsters stalking the city’s underbelly. In order to save Donna, Monique must follow the rumors deep into the world below New York, a subterranean kingdom of creatures, cultists, and an even more terrible, ancient evil lurking there in the dark.

The Route of Ice and Salt by José Luis Zárate

Okay, so, not actually from the last few years. Technically Zárate’s cult vampire novella was published in 1998, but this gorgeous translation by David Bowles finally made this title available to English-language readers just this year. So I’m counting it! The Route of Ice and Salt is a queer retelling of a small portion of the plot of Bram Stoker’s Dracula: the journey of the doomed Demeter. Varna to Whitby is a route the steadfast captain of the Demeter has traveled many times, alone among his men, dreams full of longings and pleasures he cannot permit himself. But something about this journey is different. Wrong. Rumors spread that something evil is stalking the captain’s ship and the crew are uneasy, looking to their captain to protect them.

The Ravenous Dark by A.M. Strickland

There are not enough dark fantasy polyamory stories in my life. Which is probably why I bought The Ravenous Dark before I even knew what it was really about. Throw in some magic and undead spirits and honestly what else do you need? In Thanopolis, undead spirits are used to control and guard the magically gifted. People like Rovan, whose life was upended when her magic was revealed. Now, surrounded by deceit and danger, she finds herself falling for both a rebellious princess, and the very spirit that now controls her body and soul. But can she trust them? Or will a dangerous secret that threatens all of Thanopolis force her to choose: give into her heart, or betray those she loves.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

If you’re looking for something more romantic, delightfully queer, and more moderately scary (versus scare your pants off scary) for your Pride TBR, Aiden Thomas’ Cemetery Boys is the book for you. Yadriel is determined to prove to his traditional family that he is a real brujo so that they will finally accept his true gender. But when he sets out to find and free the spirit of his murdered cousin he accidentally summons the ghost of resident school bad boy, Julian Diaz, who now refuses to leave him alone. Until Yadriel helps Julian find out what happened to him, Julian is determined that he isn’t going anywhere.

A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson

Why have only one Dracula retelling on a list when you can have two? Plus, I could (and will if you let me) talk about this book forever. A Dowry of Blood is the story of Dracula’s brides, told from the perspective of Constanta, the first of three brides whom Dracula creates to be his companions over the course of the novel. It is written as a farewell letter to the man she loved and hated in equal measure, detailing a hundred lifetimes of tenderness, abuse, and the unexpected love that develops between her and her fellow brides. This is one of the best books I’ve read this year, and one of the most beautiful.

Fresh from the Skeleton’s Mouth

Looking for more Queer Horror recommendations? Over on Book Riot, Rah Froemming-Carter’s Hallowqueen list from a few years ago has a range of titles from newer books to horror classics. Tor also has this great list of “Five Horror Novels that Move Beyond the ‘Bury Your Gays’. Trope” And when in doubt there’s always the massive lists (of varying quality) on Goodreads like this Queer Horror one.

MacMillan Library is giving away an ARC of one of the most anticipated horror releases of the year: Catriona Ward’s The Last House on Needless Street. I read this one recently and believe me if you love psychological horror you do not want to miss this title. Plus you might also win a super cute enamel black cat pin!

Cat Scully has threaded some amazing middle grade horror titles that you should add to your TBR!

If you’re looking forward to Hailey Piper’s Queen of Teeth as much as I am, there’s still time to pre-order a hardcover edition from Rooster Republic Press! Pre-orders end June 30th.


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

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The Fright Stuff

Sunny Days, Short Nights, and Horror Delights

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.

Next Monday is a holiday here in the States which means no new Fright Stuff, so I thought we’d take this last newsletter in May to prep your TBRs for June! This summer is going to be positively packed with horror, not to mention the various other denominations of dark fiction. I could not be more excited! (My bank account, on the other hand, is afraid. So afraid.)

I know we usually associate horror with all things autumnal, but there’s just something about summer that makes me crave horror. It’s all summer camps, isolated lake cabins, and sea monsters, and I love it. (What, you’re summer doesn’t involve sea monsters?) So as the weather warms up in the northern hemisphere, and my toes finally remember what it’s like not to be frozen for months on end, I’m thinking ahead to long summer days and piles upon piles of new horror reads.

Let’s get started!

Bacchanal by Veronica G. Henry (June 1)

You know how much I love carnival and circus horror, but be forewarned: Veronica Henry’s June release may be called Bacchanal, but it’s no party. The titular Bacchanal Carnival conceals a terrible evil behind the veneer of a traveling Depression-era carnival, roaming the South. But Eliza Meeks, its newest member, is unaware of the danger. To her, the carnival is her only way out of Baton Rouge, and she quickly finds herself at home among the troupe of performers, carnies, and barkers, many of whom are far stranger than Eliza and her unusual gift of speaking to animals. She has no idea that an ancient demon resides at the heart of Bacchanal, preying on the innocent, or that she may be the only one capable of defeating it.

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten (June 15)

I don’t even have words for how excited I am about this book. I basically just spend my days refreshing my Barnes & Noble order page, waiting for it to ship… Okay I exaggerate. But seriously this is going to be complete catnip and I’m so ready. I blame Angela Carter for the fact that I’m helpless in the face of any dark fantasy fantasy retelling of Red Riding Hood. She ruined me, and Whitten is going to finish the job. Red is a Second Daughter, the first in centuries, which means that her one purpose in life is to be sacrificed. The Wolf in the Wood holds the world’s gods captive and every second daughter born is sacrificed in hopes that he might release them. But what she finds in the depths of the Wilderwood is a tangle of lies, and everything she thought she knew about her world comes undone.

(Oh. This one is going to hit me right in the obsessed Dragon Age fan feels, I can already tell.)

The Queen of the Cicadas by V. Castro (June 22)

At this point if V. Castro writes a book I barely stop to read the synopsis before I buy. Her books are just THAT good. This one, in particularly, I’m super excited for! In 2018, Belinda Alvarez returns to south Texas to attend her best friend’s wedding at a picturesque farm that happens to be the site of an eerie urban legend: La Reina de Las Chicharras. The Queen of the Cicadas. A murdered farmworker in the 1950s made a deal with an Aztec goddess of death to live again and take her vengeance on those who hurt her and those who forgot her. Now, as the legend unfolds, Belinda finds that her life – and that of the farmhouse owner, Hector – is entwined with that of the murdered woman, Milagros. As the two become immersed in the past it becomes clear that Milagros’ fate may be theirs as well.

Survive the Night by Riley Sager (June 29)

Okay, so, I’m REALLY excited about this book. Playing up the isolation of a world before cellphones, and the vast emptiness of rural highways, Sager sets the stage for what promises to be a heart pounding new thriller guaranteed to keep us guessing! Charlie Jordan is a grief-stricken college student sharing the long ride home to Ohio with another student she barely knows. Josh claims that he’s hurrying home to help care for his sick father, and Charlie is fleeing her survivor guilt after her best friend fell prey to the Campus Killer, a serial offender stalking the college grounds. But trapped in a car with Josh on an empty highway in the middle of the night, Charlie starts to have doubts about her traveling companion. Now Charlie loves movies, she’s even named after a Hitchcock heroine, so it could just be her murder-fueled imagination talking. But there are holes in Josh’s story, and something in the trunk he doesn’t want her to see.

Fresh From the Skeleton’s Mouth

Speaking of Summertime horror, is anyone else impatiently counting the days until Netflix’s three film Fear Street series?

If you’re looking for something to watch while you wait, Melissa Baron over at Book Riot has a list of 13 horror movie and TV adaptations that you can stream now! And in other Book Riot news, we’ve got a giveaway going for a chance to win an iPad Mini! Enter here!

V. Castro wrote a fantastic piece for the Nightfire blog on The Vision, Voice, and Authenticity of Chicana Horror.

Okay so not technically book related, but I know how popular the original movie is with the horror community so: Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler and Kathy Najimy are all officially returning for a Hocus Pocus sequel and I am basically one giant scream of joy.


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

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The Fright Stuff

More Secrets Than Stop Signs

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.

Everyone can close their eyes and conjure an image of a small town without much effort. Clusters of houses, some small, some big, old, and empty, set back from dusty, cracked streets that the local municipality can’t be bothered to resurface. The cracks always come back anyway. It’s faded, but still pretty. People passing through, stopping at the one gas station in the middle of town (probably right next to the diner), will remember it as “quaint.”

But any horror reader could tell you that no matter how pretty or idyllic the surface, no place hides secrets deeper or darker than a small town. So this week on The Fright Stuff we’re celebrating some recent and forthcoming works of small town horror that explore the claustrophobic nightmare of a town in crisis, when everything it’s tried to keep hidden comes slithering up through the cracks.

The Whispering Dead by Darcy Coates

On a dark and stormy night (yes, literally), a woman on the run takes shelter in an abandoned groundskeeper’s cottage at the edge of a cemetery in the town of Blighty. Frankly, I think it sounds positively peaceful but then again I have noisy neighbors. And technically, so does Keira. Because while to others the cemetery would appear still and silent, Kiera can hear the dead whispering all around her. The cemetery is alive with the ghosts of those recently, and not so recently, departed, led by a woman who died before her time who begins to haunt Keira when she realizes that the living woman can see her. With the clock of her life running down, Keira races to unearth the dark secrets of Blighty’s past that will not let the woman’s spirit rest.

My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones (August 31)

I honestly don’t have words for how excited I am for this book. All I know is that it had me at slasher homage, and August can’t come too soon. Most people think of small towns as intimate places where “everyone knows everyone” and everyone is at home. But when you are an outcast – the one person who doesn’t belong in a town that everyone else calls home – a small town can be the loneliest place in the world. Jade Daniels is the outcast in Proofrock, a small lake town slowly being overrun by gentrification. In her anger and her loneliness, Jade turns to horror for comfort, letting herself get lost in a world of masked killers and revenge. But when Proofrock’s wealthy newcomers begin dying in bizarre ways, Jade realizes that there is a familiar pattern to their deaths. A pattern that only she can see, and that may foretell a massacre in the making.

The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry

Lauren’s small town of Smith’s Hollow has a serious amnesia problem. Because they forgot that a year ago her father was found murdered with his heart ripped out, and even though the bodies of two girls have just been found torn apart, Lauren knows that it’s just a matter of time before they’re forgotten too. The police will never find the killer, and everyone will just move on. But somewhere out there in the woods a monster lurks and Lauren is determined to track it down before it can kill anyone else. She’s not going to “just move on” like everyone else, even if hunting the monster means uncovering frightening truths about the small town she calls home.

White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson (September 14)

For Marigold, recently arrived from her California hometown by the sea, Cedarville is supposed to be a new beginning. But there’s something sinister lurking beneath the renovated façade of their new house, tucked between its rundown neighbors like a beacon of revitalization and change. Things move on their own, doors open, lights turn off. Marigold sees shadows, hears voices, and there’s a bad smell inside the house that no one else seems to notice. The more Marigold learns about the house, however, the more she realizes that the danger isn’t contained just within its walls. All of Cedarville is haunted by secrets from its past that will no longer be contained.

The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould (August 17)

In Courtney Gould’s forthcoming small town horror, two girls–Logan, whose dads are the stars of the popular TV ghost hunting show ParaSpectors, and Ashley, a Snakebite native whose boyfriend has gone missing–face off against a small town full of secrets, slipping slowly into chaos. Ashley’s boyfriend was only the first in a string of teenage disappearances, only the dead have returned, and even the weather has turned unnatural. What’s more, the dead are not sleeping easy. The ghost of Ashley’s boyfriend has begun haunting her and the only one she can trust is Logan, even as their investigation into the town’s secrets threatens everything they believe they know about Snakebite, their families, and themselves.

Fresh from the Skeleton’s Mouth

S.T. Gibson (A Dowry of Blood) and Lauren Blackwood (Within These Wicked Walls) are joining forces at 8pm EST on May 20th on Gibson’s Instagram to talk about gothic lit and reimaginings!

This awesome horror subgenre chart that the Horror Writers Association made is both delightful and extremely useful. Also, does anyone else really REALLY want a poster version for their reading room?

Don’t forget to browse our Horror Archive over at Book Riot if you’re looking for your next great horror read!

Speaking of Book Riot, we’ve got a giveaway going for a chance to win an iPad Mini! Enter here!


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

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The Fright Stuff

Don’t Mess With Horror Moms

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.‌

It’s true that the horror genre doesn’t always have a good track record when it comes to mothers. There’s an abundance of dead or monstrous mothers in horror that can definitely be blamed on the fact that the genre’s literary roots are sunk deep into the fertile, dead-and/or-absent-mothers soil of fairy tales and Gothic Romanticism. But for every absent or terrible mother-figure in the horror genre, there’s a badass mom going to (often bloody) extremes to protect her family, or to exact revenge on those who hurt them. So since yesterday was Mother’s Day here in the states, and since there are so many incredible recent and forthcoming titles about motherhood that I can’t wait to share with you, this week’s Fright Stuff is dedicated to the horror moms who get it done. No matter what it takes!

Dark Lullaby by Polly Ho-Yen

Dark Lullaby was one of those impulse buy books where the minute I read the synopsis I went straight to my buyer of choice and added it to my cart. Toted as Black Mirror meets The Handmaid’s Tale, Dark Lullaby is set in a near future society where parenting is strictly monitored and children not being reared to the exacting requirements of the Office of Standards in Parenting are Extracted. Kit thinks she knows the risks when she decides to have a child, and that she can live up to the depends of the OSIP. But when she comes under the Office’s scrutiny she has to decide how far she will go to protect her family.

crossroads by laurel hightower cover

Crossroads by Laurel Hightower

Any book about the tragic death of a child is going to be a harrowing read, and Crossroads is as much about grief as it is about ghosts. Chris’ son Trey dies in a tragic car crash and takes her whole world with him. Until the day a drop of her blood falls on her son’s roadside memorial and changes everything. That night Chris sees her son’s ghost outside her window – or so she believes. But is it really her son? Or does something far more sinister lurk behind the face of the child she lost? And how deeply will Chris entangle herself with these dark forces if it means seeing Trey alive again?

Sorrowland cover

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

Rivers Solomon’s newest book – hot off the presses from its May 4th release! – is about the metamorphic nature of motherhood, and what one mother will do to protect her children from the world in which she was raised. Vern fled the strict religious compound in which she grew up when she was seven months pregnant and took shelter in the woods, where she gives birth to twins. But the community she fled will not give her up so easily, and when Vern is forced to fight back against them her body begins to undergo a series of strange and frightening metamorphoses.

Immortelle by Catherine McCarthy

You’ll have to wait a couple of months for Catherine McCarthy’s forthcoming novel Immortelle (July 15) but it is definitely going to be worth the wait. Elinor, a ceramic artist whose work is inspired by her grandmother’s interest in the supernatural, bends her craft to its own supernatural purpose when her daughter Rowena is murdered. Elinor is sure she knows who is responsible, so she crafts an immortelle out of clay in the shape of a starling to try and capture Rowena’s spirit. As word of her skill spreads, Elinor is soon overwhelmed by requests for immortelles, her power growing with each crafting. And as the dead whisper their secrets and the truth about her daughter’s murder is revealed, Elinor begins to craft her terrible revenge.

Flowers for the Sea by Zin E Rocklyn

Zin E Rocklyn’s Flowers for the Sea (October 19) is yet another reason to wish that October would hurry up and get here this year! I’m so excited about this book. Survivors of a flooded land exist in isolation, fighting for their continued survival on an ark. Supplies are dwindling, hungry, terrifying sea monsters circle – in other words, circumstances are NOT ideal. Among the survivors is Iraxi, pregnant with a child that may not be entirely human. The future of the ark and its survivors is uncertain, and Iraxi’s own fate may be darker still.

Fresh from the Skeleton’s Mouth

Nightfire has published their list of May horror releases!

Okay so this is not exclusively book horror related, it’s more horror in general. But Pride month in the horror community is my hands down favorite time of the year, and this To “Die” For t-shirt from Mixtape Massacre and Gayly Deadful is so gorgeous I could “die”. (Ba dum tish) And, most importantly, all Profits from the sales of this tee or sticker will be donated to the Transgender Law Center. So buy so rainbow horror gear and do good works!

We have some creepy new horror content for you over at Book Riot, from Kelly Jensen’s delightfully nostalgic post of Goosebumps swag to Rey Rowland’s list of must-read horror anthologies! And if you missed my recent historical horror newsletter, it’s been added to the site. So go forth and fill your TBR!

Speaking of Book Riot, we’ve got a giveaway going for a chance to win an iPad Mini! Enter here!


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