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Book review

Book review: The Sea of Ash, by Scott Thomas, Lovecraft eZine Press
February 19, 2015 | 12:25 pm

There's weird. Then there's WTholyF full-on all-out batshit weird. Then there's Scott Thomas. His The Sea of Ash, the second title from Lovecraft eZine Press, is an experience in strange and dark imaginings quite unlike any you're liable to have encountered - outside of acid-induced hallucinations in the Surrealist gallery at MoMA on Halloween, anyway. Scott Thomas is brother to Jeffrey Thomas, creator of the Punktown cycle, and I strongly suspect that a Transdimensional Emergency Support Team is in transit to Reality Incursion Site A at the Thomas homestead right now, to contain whatever horrors their young minds let into...

Book review: The Orphan Palace, by Joseph S. Pulver, Chomu Press
February 13, 2015 | 2:25 pm

I've written before on Teleread about Joseph S. Pulver's extraordinary, dark/psychedelic prose, specifically in the context of his short story collection Blood Will Have Its Season. This is him delivering same at novel length, and it sustains all the momentum and firepower of his prose (mostly) all the way through its 354 pages of narrative. The Orphan Palace is vaguely classifiable as horror/weird fiction, although it jumps genres with glee. Menaces and monsters from the cosmic horror of H.P. Lovecraft, Frank Belknap Long, Robert W. Chambers and others do crawl through its pages (as well as a talking rat called D'If), but...

Book review: The House of Oracles and Other Stories, by Thomas Owen, Tartarus Press
February 4, 2015 | 6:24 pm

One of the many areas that Yorkshire-based independent Tartarus Press does so well is translations of celebrated and lesser-known non-English authors of classic weird, strange, dark, and fantastic tales. Thomas Owen definitely fits this category. The House of Oracles and Other Stories collects a representative sample of short fiction from across the career of this Belgian master of the fantastic, a near contemporary of the better known Jean Ray and sadly neglected in Anglo-Saxon circles - at least, till now. Thomas Owen (1910-2002), real name Gérald Bertot, trained as a lawyer, and began his writing career with crime fiction, but like Jean Ray,...

Book review: The Broken Road: From the Iron Gates to Mount Athos, by Patrick Leigh Fermor, John Murray
February 2, 2015 | 6:25 pm

Patrick Leigh Fermor's peregrinations across Western, Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe have become almost as legendary as his wartime exploits with the Greek Resistance. The Broken Road: From the Iron Gates to Mount Athos is the long-awaited third volume of his reminiscences of his teenage walking tour from Holland to Constantinople in the 1930s. Long-awaited because after the termination of his second volume of travel reminiscences, Between the Woods and the Water, no one knew if the journey would ever reach its intended goal, and when Patrick Leigh Fermor died in 2011, mystery surrounded the condition of the notes and literary remains...

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 business 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...

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