Stardust Review–A Neil Gaiman Fairytale

When I first started writing this blog, I had barely read any Neil Gaiman. Now, I am slowly making my way through his oeuvre. My latest read was Stardust, one of Gaiman’s earlier novels. I had heard about this story before, mostly in terms of the movie adaptation (which I still haven’t seen), but it’s not usually the first book that comes to mind when you think “Neil Gaiman.” I was pleasantly surprised, then, to find how much I enjoyed this book, especially compared to how disappointed I’ve been with some of his more celebrated works. Continue reading Stardust Review–A Neil Gaiman Fairytale

Horror Stories for Each of the Passover Plagues

Tonight is the first night of Passover—the Jewish holiday commemorating the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt and freedom from slavery. The story is one of triumph and celebration, but in some ways it’s also one of the darkest tales in the Jewish tradition. You know the story: Moses is called upon by God to free the Israelites, so he approaches the pharaoh with the demand, “Let my people go!” Each time that the pharaoh refuses, God afflicts the Egyptians with a new plague intended to terrify them into releasing their slaves. The ten plagues are the stuff of nightmares—both realistic dangers, like disease and infestations, and supernatural terrors, like rivers of blood and unnatural darkness. Whether you are celebrating Passover this week or not, enjoy these ten short stories to go along with each plague inflicted upon the Egyptians:

The plague of locusts from the 1890 Holman Bible

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Zombie Romance–A Trend I’m Not Sad to See Die

Tall, dark, and decaying? Yeah, that’s not my type. In the post-Twilight era, after the vampire genre had been worked almost to death, there was a rush to find the next hot creature for supernatural romance. A few years ago, zombies made a pretty serious bid for that prestigious position. Leading the way was Daniel Waters’ Generation Dead, published back in 2008, which quite cleverly presented zombies as the next marginalized group in our society—second-class citizens who are not protected by the law and who are feared and hated by the dominant group. When goth girl Phoebe falls in love with a zombie, she discovers social awareness along with the thrills of infatuation. Another popular one was Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion (2010) which was made into a rather successful movie in 2013. This book is told from the perspective of a zombie named R who bites off more than he can chew when he begins to fall for a human girl. Other books followed, including Lia Habel’s Victorian spin on the zombie romance genre, Dearly, Departed. But while I thoroughly enjoyed reading some of these books, the genre as a whole still squicks me.

Continue reading Zombie Romance–A Trend I’m Not Sad to See Die

Sea of Secrets Review—A Gothic Romance Spin on Hamlet

Oriel’s life seems like a fairy tale when she finally escapes her emotionally abusive father to go live with some loving—and wealthy!—long-lost relatives. But when she meets Herron, the dark and brooding young duke, she learns that this paradise may not be as perfect as it seems. Could someone in her new family really be a murderer, as the duke suspects? Find out when you read Sea of Secrets by Amanda DeWees! Last year, I picked up a couple of works by this spectacular self-published author of Victorian Gothic fiction, including her short Christmas tale Upon a Ghostly Yule. As a bit of a spin-off from Sea of Secrets, this short story introduced me to the Reginald family and hinted at their myriad scandals. It was about time, then, that I finally picked up Sea of Secrets itself. Continue reading Sea of Secrets Review—A Gothic Romance Spin on Hamlet

Review of Seven Black Diamonds—A Tale of Faery Terrorists

Faeries and humans are at war in the newest series by young adult fantasy author Melissa Marr. If the author’s name sounds familiar to you, it may be because I’ve been raving about getting to cross swords with Melissa earlier this month at Glimmerdark. It might also be because Melissa Marr’s debut series Wicked Lovely was widely popular, and helped to push the niche genre of faery-based urban fantasy to the forefront. Now, Melissa Marr returns to faeries again, but with some striking differences from her earlier works. Seven Black Diamonds is the story of a fae sleeper cell sent to undermine the humans by hiding among them. Its sequel, One Blood Ruby, comes out later this month. Continue reading Review of Seven Black Diamonds—A Tale of Faery Terrorists

Review of Ghost Machine: A Gothic Steampunk Novel

Miss Ella Rosenfeld has been committed to Auttenberg Asylum for her hallucinations of ghostly apparitions. But even more frightening than the idea of going mad is the possibility that the ghosts are real, and they are warning Ella about the fate that awaits her in the asylum. Ella’s first frightening night at Attenberg sets the scene for the rest of Ghost Machine: A Gothic Steampunk Novel by Kristen Brand. When the author first contacted me to request a review, I knew from the subtitle that this book would be right up my alley. Ghost Machine flawlessly blends various elements of both steampunk and the gothic in everything from the setting to the style and characters. With two genres that are both known for their melodrama and tendency to go over the top, Kristen Brand does a remarkable job of staying grounded and keeping the all too common campiness to a minimum. Ghost Machine is a gem among the many self-published ebooks of Amazon, and I am grateful to the author for bringing this one to my attention! Continue reading Review of Ghost Machine: A Gothic Steampunk Novel

The Cuckoo’s Calling Review

the-cuckoos-calling-coverI love when two of my favorite things get combined—in this case, murder mysteries and the author of my favorite children’s series! The Cuckoo’s Calling is the first book in the Cormoran Strike series that J. K. Rowling publishes under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. If you’re not familiar with Rowling’s adult works, I will warn you: these books are nothing like Harry Potter. Do not approach them expecting magic and child-appropriate language. You can, however, expect the same great quality of writing and complex character development.  Continue reading The Cuckoo’s Calling Review

“Upon A Ghostly Yule” Review—Another Victorian Christmas Tale!

Upon a Ghostly YuleTalk about a Ghost of Christmas Past! “Upon a Ghostly Yule” is a festive short story by Amanda DeWees, one of my new favorite authors who writes traditional-style Gothic novels, such as the one I reviewed earlier this year, With This Curse. Last year, she published this yuletide tale which continues in a similar vein. Set in the mid-nineteenth century, “Upon a Ghostly Yule” is a sort of companion story to one of Dewees’s other novels, A Sea of Secrets, though it functions as an entirely independent piece. Much like Leanna Renee Hieber’s “A Christmas Carroll,” this story is the perfect blend of ghosts, romance, and holiday cheer.  Continue reading “Upon A Ghostly Yule” Review—Another Victorian Christmas Tale!

Leanna Renee Hieber’s Heartwarming Holiday Story, “A Christmas Carroll”

A Christmas Carroll coverWho doesn’t love a good Christmas ghost story? Especially when that ghost story is also a love story! And of course, it’s even better when that story is a companion novella to a series you’re (not so) patiently waiting for the next book in. You’ve heard me rave all year about Victorian fantasy author Leanna Renee Hieber and her newly re-released Strangely Beautiful saga. Books one and two have been re-edited and published by Tor in a beautiful single volume, which I reviewed back in April. The next book, a prequel called Perilous Prophecy is slated to be reissued next June. In the meantime, Leanna’s short novella “A Christmas Carroll” is just the thing to tide us over, and it’s appropriately festive for the season! Continue reading Leanna Renee Hieber’s Heartwarming Holiday Story, “A Christmas Carroll”

Winter Horror Tales

As we head into December, one thing is becoming clear: Winter is coming. This ever-popular slogan from Game of Thrones plays off of one of humankind’s most primal fears—the dread of these cold, dark months with their long nights and desolate landscapes. Throughout human history, the coming of winter heralded many physical dangers, from getting caught out in freezing temperatures to running out of food. But winter also brings out a less tangible terror, and the cold season has captured the imaginations of a number of horror writers. This week, I’d like to share with you a few of my favorite short stories to read curled up in bed while the snow swirls outside:

Winter is coming.... (Image from Carlo Scherer on Flickr)
Winter is coming….
(Image from Carlo Scherer on Flickr)

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