Labyrinth Lost Review–A Bruja Bildungsroman

labyrinth-lost-coverAlex hates being a bruja, but after she accidentally banishes her entire extended family to the underworld, learning to control her powers may be her only hope of getting them back. After hearing this premise, I knew that Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova would be just my kind of book. Back in October, I wrote about seeing Zoraida speak at the Boston Teen Author Festival, where she discussed the recent release of Labyrinth Lost and how her cultural upbringing influenced the novel, particularly in her portrayals of magic and death. After getting my copy signed, I added it to the top of my to-read pile and soon found that it more than lived up to my expectations. Continue reading Labyrinth Lost Review–A Bruja Bildungsroman

Dark Tales of Native American Folklore

Thanksgiving is just around the corner for me and my fellow American readers, and with this holiday usually comes cartoonish depictions of Native Americans feasting beside pilgrims at a banquet celebrating their friendship. But though most Americans will spend this time of year stuffing themselves with turkey and cranberry sauce, probably few could name the specific tribe the Pilgrims encountered, let alone anything about their culture.

"The Friendly Skeleton" Painting by Richard Hook (First People website. Copyright Richard Hook)
“The Friendly Skeleton” Painting by Richard Hook (First People website. Copyright Richard Hook)

It’s important to remember that North America was inhabited by a variety of different peoples, each with their own rich culture and history long before the first European settlers arrived, though since that time they have faced discrimination and erasure. We also need to acknowledge that the stories and voices of these people are often left out not only from our history books, but also from our studies of literature. Oral story-telling has played a significant role in many of the cultures indigenous to America, and the folktales and legends passed down from generation to generation are part of a wide body of literature belonging to this underrepresented group. One of the things I hope to do with this blog is discuss the Gothic in wider terms than merely the most popular themes and works from the Western European tradition. A while back, I discussed some of the dark myths and monsters of the Jewish tradition. This week, I want to highlight some of the legends and tales from Native American folklore that I find most fascinating. Continue reading Dark Tales of Native American Folklore

Review of Hide and Seek by Splatterpunk Author Jack Ketchum

hide-and-seek-coverA couple of months ago, I met author Jack Ketchum at the Morbid Anatomy Museum where he was giving a lecture on his books and film adaptations as part of the American branch of the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies lecture series. As Ketchum spoke and showed clips from his films, I realized I’d been missing out on a rather significant aspect of the horror genre. Jack Ketchum has been credited as one of the major influences in bringing elements of slasher horror from film to books, creating a genre that some have referred to as “splatterpunk.” Generally, an excess of gore is not really what I go for in my horror, but the Miskatonic Institute talk had me intrigued. I decided to pick up one of Jack Ketchum’s books. Unfortunately, none of his big-name works—Off Season, The Lost, The Girl Next Door, The Woman—were immediately available from my library. Instead I landed on the audiobook of one Ketchum’s books that has not yet been made into a movie, Hide and Seek. Continue reading Review of Hide and Seek by Splatterpunk Author Jack Ketchum

The Haunting of Hill House Review

haunting-of-hill-house-coverA couple weeks ago, I wrote about a few particularly popular haunted houses in literature in celebration of Halloween. As I was writing that post, I realized that the haunted house genre is a real gap in my reading repertoire. Luckily, the book club at my local bar (yes, the bar has a book club. It’s awesome) was reading Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House for our October meeting. I quite enjoyed the book, and I wanted to share a few of my thoughts with you below. Continue reading The Haunting of Hill House Review