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Book review

Book review: Wild Fell, by Michael Rowe, ChiZine Publications
January 27, 2015 | 4:25 pm

Latest in a long line of superb dark/weird horrific titles from ChiZine Publications, Wild Fell by Michael Rowe tells the tale of the house of the title on Ontario's Blackmore Island, site of a tragic drowning that has haunted the local town of Alvina, and of other more mysterious events deeper in the past. The book's protagonist, Jameson Browning, purchases the house partly as a refuge from his own ghosts, only to find, sure enough, that other and worse ones await him there. The novel was a finalist for the 2013 Shirley Jackson Award, and Clive Barker, no less, has declared that: "this is...

Book review: The Last Weekend, by Nick Mamatas, PS Publishing
January 22, 2015 | 6:25 pm

Not quite your everyday run-of-the-mill zombie apocalypse, you could say. Yes, it's another rigid, stiff, slow-moving essay in that genre, shambling and groaning its way into your to-read pile. And what a surprise that this sub-genre has grown so fast, proliferating like - well, a zombie plague. Okay, enough of the cheap demi-humor. And no, I didn't really mean any of those crude, brainless, groaning cracks. Nick Mamatas has written - sometimes brilliantly - in many other branches of horror and dark fiction, and this is his stab - or baseball bat bash, or scattergun blast, or drillbit whirl - at...

Book Review: Discoverability by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
January 17, 2015 | 10:47 am

discoverability by Kristine Kathryn RuschThere are lots of books out there about how to market your book. Some of them are good. Some aren't. [easyazon-link asin="1561466190" locale="us"]Discoverability[/easyazon-link] is one of the best I've read, and I appreciate it because it looks at writing as a business, not as a way to game a system to make sales quickly. Since one of my day jobs is as a businesss coach, that appeals to me. This book started as a series of blog posts, and the posts are still available. I read them last year and was excited to see she's expanded on them and updated them for...

Book review: Orpheus on the Underground and Other Stories, by Rhys Hughes, Tartarus Press
January 12, 2015 | 6:32 pm

Tartarus Press, as some Teleread readers at least will know by now, is doing a sterling job of producing a really fine series of contemporary and classic British (and other) dark, weird, strange, and horror fiction, with some excellent and unbelievably cheap ebooks to accompany their high-quality print editions. Latest addition to their list is Orpheus on the Underground, by Welsh author Rhys Hughes, who received a lot of extremely approving recognition for his 1995 Tartarus volume Worming the Harpy and Other Bitter Pills. British writers very often major in whimsy - a sort of literary corollary to that famous well-bred English...

Book review: The Starry Wisdom Library, edited by Nate Pedersen, PS Publishing
December 28, 2014 | 11:03 am

This has to be the weirdest book I've read of late, and I say that as a regular reviewer of weird fiction. The Starry Wisdom Library, subtitled "The Catalog of the Greatest Occult Book Auction of All Time," is an elaborate literary forgery that purports to be a lost catalog for an auction in 1877, held by the fictional house of "occult auctioneers" Messrs. Pent & Serenade, and originally titled "Catalogue of the Occult Library of the Recently Disbanded Church of Starry Wisdom of Providence, Rhode Island," concerning the sale of 44 ''lots" from every period from prehistory to the period...

My top ten titles of 2014
December 26, 2014 | 12:25 pm

year in technologyThe following is my personal list of the top ten titles published in 2014 that I read, and mostly reviewed, for Teleread. It's a personal list and is strictly confined to those new titles that were actually published this year - so apologies to any fine authors and works who don't appear here for that reason. That said, the top ten is also a running order in terms of quality and impact, at least for me. I've graded the works according to how well I judged they were written, and how much they stuck in my mind. Many of these titles...

Book review: Inkblots and Blood Spots, by Michael Bailey, Villipede Publications
December 23, 2014 | 8:25 pm

Michael Bailey's Inkblots and Blood Spots is the second collection of shorter work from this versatile, hugely talented, and very influential dark/weird fiction writer and editor. It sweeps a very wide field, from pure psychological - and body - horror through weird tales to (approximately) straight science fiction and cosmic horror, all with a sprinkling of equally dark and unsettling poems. At the very least, it's not a collection that shies away from testing the boundaries of its genre - if indeed it is delimited to any single genre at all. Michael Bailey's first novel, Palindrome Hannah, owed its title as...

Book review: Leytonstone by Stephen Volk, Spectral Press
December 22, 2014 | 6:25 pm

Stephen Volk has been in the writing game a very long time. He has also been working on films for an equally long time, with screenwriting credits going back as far as Ken Russell's Gothic in 1986 and some notable efforts such as 1988's The Kiss, which makes him better equipped than most any other writer to tackle the early life of Alfred Hitchcock. Leytonstone, his deep dive into a very Hitchcockian childhood, is in fact a novella, initially due for release as a limited signed and numbered hardback, with only 125 copies to be printed, as well as an unlimited...

Book review: Tales of Jack the Ripper, edited by Ross E. Lockhart, Word Horde
December 18, 2014 | 4:25 pm

With Christmas near, the evenings drawing in, the fog pooling in the alleys, and rapt listeners gathering closer round the fire to hear dark tales of quivering horror, now seems a good time to review Tales of Jack the Ripper, Ross E. Lockhart's superlative collection of modern-day stories inspired by one of London's most notorious sons. Or daughters. Or halfbreed offspring of drug-mutated monsters. Or deathless pursuers of fungoid parasites. Or any one of the 19 interpretations of that great unsolved mystery that you'll find in this book. Ross E. Lockhart, an author in his own right, has already built his...

Book review: Zippered Flesh 2: More Tales of Body Enhancements Gone Bad! edited by Weldon Burge, Smart Rhino Publications
December 15, 2014 | 6:47 pm

The first Zippered Flesh anthology from Smart Rhino Publications was a delirious and often disgusting switchback ride through a very dark subgenre of horror. Zippered Flesh 2: More Tales of Body Enhancements Gone Bad! brings together 22 more extremely unsettling tales of ... what it says in the title and subtitle. Actually, that's not entirely true: There's a bit of a drift from the subtitle description, in that a lot of the stories concern body horror but not body enhancements, but then the first anthology was the same and none the worse for it. Perhaps there's a just a shade more repetition and...

Book review: The Nickronomicon, by Nick Mamatas, Innsmouth Free Press
December 5, 2014 | 4:24 pm

You likely won't need a doctorate in post-structuralist hermeneutics to deduce that The Nickronomicon is Nick Mamatas's collection of his shorter Lovecraftian fiction, beautifully put together by Innsmouth Free Press with some really splendidly squamous illustrations from GMB Chomichuk. The whole collection of 13 stories is an engagement with, or an interrogation of the Lovecraftian legacy, typified by the kickoff story "Brattleboro Days, Yuggoth Nights," Mamatas's piece of fake Lovecraft literary archaeology, based on the chance discovery of a postcard sent back and forth between HPL himself and his correspondent Arthur H. Good­e­nough. And the metatextual assault on the Lovecraft corpus...

Book review: The Loney, by Andrew Michael Hurley, Tartarus Press
December 4, 2014 | 4:25 pm

Tartarus Press is becoming one of the most diverse as well as the most accomplished and fastidious independent UK presses devoted to horror and dark fiction, and The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley is absolutely off their ordinary beat and all the more striking for it. Instead of the society and theatrical pieces of Reggie Oliver, or the decadent horrors of Mark Samuels, we have the grim, bleak realm of poor man's English Roman Catholicism, and a chilling coastal setting in the remote Lancastrian preserve of the title - "a dangerous place. A wild and useless lenght of English coastline. A dead...