Down Among the Sticks and Bones–A Gothic Tale of Twins

If you discovered a door to another world, would you go through it? What if it gave you the opportunity to change who you are, to escape the pressures of who you’re expected to be? Twelve-year-old twins Jack and Jill face these questions in Seanan McGuire’s Down Among the Sticks and Bones. This book, which came out back in June, is the second book in McGuire’s Wayward Children series. (You can read my review of the first book here.) Rather than being a sequel to Every Heart a Doorway, however, Down Among the Sticks and Bones is more of a prequel that can also be read entirely as a stand-alone. Ostensibly a fantasy story about discovering a dark world full of monsters, the book is really a deep dive into questions of identity and family relationships. Continue reading Down Among the Sticks and Bones–A Gothic Tale of Twins

Ink Stains, Vol. 6–A Dark Literary Journal

 

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure to meet N. Apythia Morges, the head of Dark Alley Press. Among other publishing projects, N. Apythia edits a recurring series of dark literary anthologies called Ink Stains. Released quarterly, each volume includes a collection of unconventional short stories in a variety of genres from black comedy to paranormal fantasy and dark literary fiction. I just picked up the most recent volume, which came out back in October, and found it to be an interesting exploration of short form gothic fiction. Continue reading Ink Stains, Vol. 6–A Dark Literary Journal

A Gift Guide for the Goth in Your Life

The holidays are coming up, and it’s time to start thinking about what gifts to get for your friends and family. I’m guessing that most of my readers have at least one person in their circle who might be described as a goth. If you don’t share their dark and spooky proclivities, it can be hard to know what to get for your black-clad friend. Of course, each goth is an individual and I can’t claim to speak for the whole subculture. But I’ve put together a list of a few things that are fairly universally appreciated among the morbidly-inclined.

Candles

pyropet candleMaybe it’s our nostalgia for centuries gone by, but most goths love hanging out by candlelight. Candles make good presents for everyone, but you know a goth is going to make good use out of it, and not just stick it in the bathroom for decoration. Your loved one may already have plenty of candles of their own, but in my opinion there is no such thing as ever having too many candles! You have tons of options here—get creative with colors, shapes, and scents. For goths living the height of their aesthetic, tall, tapered black or red candles are perfect for candelabra or ornate candlesticks. Yankee Candle has tons of fun colors and scents, from the dark-hued Midsummer’s Night to the vibrant Summer Storm. Or you can get something truly unique like these animal-shaped candles that melt down to reveal a metal skeleton inside! With so many options, you can never go wrong with candles.

Books

Edgar Allan Poe CollectionGoth is a particularly literary subculture, and many of us are avid readers. I know I’m always a big fan of books as presents. Why not give your favorite goth the gift of a good horror novel, or some morbid nonfiction? (I particularly recommend From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty.) If you don’t know specifically what kind of books your goth friend likes to read, it’s always a safe bet to stick to the classics. Does Barnes & Noble have a pretty, new gilded-edged collection of Poe? One can never have too many collections of Poe. Or how about some nice, illustrated Edward Gorey? The possibilities are endless.

Jewelry

Raven pendant
Raven pendant by one of my favorite Etsy sellers, TorchandArrow (a.k.a. the author, Leanna Renee Hieber)

One thing common to most goths is a passion for their aesthetic. We’re decorative folk, and we usually like to adorn our homes, our belongings, and our bodies with the things we find beautiful—which sometimes can differ a lot from other people’s ideas of beauty. One of the best ways to do this for goths of all genders is through jewelry. The more piercings your goth friend has, the more opportunities for presents! If you don’t know your way around industrial bars and spiral gauges, you can always just stick to rings and necklaces. Does your friend like skulls? Bats? Occult imagery? You can find these kinds of things and more at your local Hot Topic, or check out Etsy for something more unique. You can also never go wrong with black or red gems, even from more mainstream jewelry suppliers. We may love the dark, but we’re not opposed to some shine and sparkle!

Makeup

Continuing the decorative theme, makeup is another thing that is often appreciated by goths of all genders. If you’re looking for a practical gift, we tend to burn through those black eyeliner pencils pretty quickly.… Many of us also enjoy experimenting with bold, dark lip colors, if you want to get something more personal. The brand ColourPop has some great (and inexpensive!) liquid lipsticks in all sorts of colors, from dark purples and black or silver. If you’re not sure what your friend’s style is, a gift card to Sephora will never go unappreciated.

Music

HeadphonesMusic is what’s really at the heart of the gothic subculture. Not all goths listen to the same bands these days, but odds are music in general is still an important part of their lives. If you know what they listen to, go ahead and get them that latest album from the band they like. If you really love them, maybe even get them some concert tickets—there are so many great bands that are touring right now! (I’ll take two tickets to Nightwish, please.…) Even just an iTunes gift card will warm a spooky heart.

But most importantly of all this holiday season, don’t forget to give the gift of love and acceptance. You don’t have to get the whole goth thing, but you can still appreciate your gothic loved ones for who they are.

What are you getting for your goth friends this holiday season? If you’re a goth, what else would you add to this list? Share your thoughts in the comments!

The City of Brass Review—A Tale of Deliciously Dark Djinn

My favorite part of being a book reviewer is when I find a brand new author to absolutely fall in love with. I stumbled upon S. A. Chakraborty a few weeks ago at a reading for the New York Review of Speculative Fiction. After hearing her read the first chapter of her debut novel, I immediately went home and requested a review copy so I could find out what happens next. The City of Brass is the first book The Daevabad Trilogy, a new adult fantasy series that delves deep into Islamic mythology, particularly those devious creatures known as the djinn. The book just came out on November 14th, so you can find it at your local bookstore or click the link at the end of this post to buy it online. Continue reading The City of Brass Review—A Tale of Deliciously Dark Djinn

Ramses the Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra Review

Move over, vampires—it’s time for mummies to take the spotlight! This week, Anne Rice is back with the long-awaited sequel to her 1989 book The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned. Twenty-eight years is a long time to wait for a sequel, but was it worth it? I can’t speak to how the new book lives up to any expectations set up by the original, but as my first foray into mummy romance, I quite enjoyed it. Ramses the Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra was co-written with her son, Christopher Rice, and comes out tomorrow, November 21. Continue reading Ramses the Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra Review

Review of The Eterna Solution–Conclusion to a Thrilling Paranormal Epic

It’s time for a new release from my favorite author, Leanna Renee Hieber! If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you know that I’ve been following the Eterna Files series almost since its inception when I reviewed The Eterna Files nearly two years ago. I followed that review up with one for the second book, Eterna and Omega, when it came out last August. And now, I’m here again to give you the goods on the third and final installment of the series, The Eterna Solution. The book comes out tomorrow, November 14. As usual, if you’re local to the New York area, you can come celebrate the release at the Morris-Jumel Mansion in upper Manhattan. Join us at 6:30 on Friday, November 17, for a reading and signing by the author, along with a costume contest, an exhibit of elegant accessories by Wormwood & Gall, and some light refreshments. Continue reading Review of The Eterna Solution–Conclusion to a Thrilling Paranormal Epic

Dracula, Performed

Dracula was always meant to be adapted to the stage. At the time that he wrote his most famous novel, Bram Stoker was working as the business manager for the Lyceum Theatre in London, owned by his friend, the renowned actor Henry Irving. Irving’s performances were often dark and dramatic, and he was best known for playing charismatic villains. It’s even been suggested that he partially inspired the appearance and personality of the Count in Stoker’s novel. Thus, it should come as no surprise that when Stoker finished his masterpiece, he envisioned Irving playing the titular character in a stage adaptation. He even drafted a script and ran through a staged reading of Dracula, or The Undead at the Lyceum, afterwards eagerly asking Irving what he thought. Irving’s answer, however, shut down any hopes Stoker had for his stage production: he summed up his opinion in one word: “Dreadful.”

Continue reading Dracula, Performed

The History of Horror

Sometimes, we just love to be scared. Especially this time of year, when Halloween has us ready to meet some monsters and explore that flimsy boundary between life and death. But fear is only fun when you’re not in any real danger. That’s why horror fiction is so popular and enduring. But how did this tradition start? Today, I want to take you through the history of the horror genre.

Photo by Rosie Fraser on Unsplash

Continue reading The History of Horror

Every Heart a Doorway Review—Macabre Fantasy and Representation

There are many books out there about kids who discover magical worlds and the wonderful adventures they have there. But what happens afterward, when they come back through the rabbit hole and have to return to their normal lives? In Every Heart a Doorway, these children go to a special boarding school where they can share their experiences with those who will understand, readjust to the normal world, and come to terms with the fact that they may not ever return to the land they truly consider home. This novella is the first book in a new series called Wayward Children by Seanan McGuire. I had no idea what to expect going into this book, but it hit almost every sweet spot for me.  Continue reading Every Heart a Doorway Review—Macabre Fantasy and Representation

Review of Haunted Nights—A Halloween Collection

I’ve got another new Halloween book for you! Haunted Nights, a Horror Writers Association anthology edited by Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton just came out two weeks ago, on October 3rd. The anthology collects sixteen never-before-published short stories by major authors including Garth Nix, Seanan McGuire, and Kelly Armstrong all revolving around the central theme of Halloween. Continue reading Review of Haunted Nights—A Halloween Collection