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:
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:
A 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
A 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
Halloween is looming closer and closer, which mean it’s time to start prepping your Netflix queue for a spooky movie marathon! Of course there are the fun classics like Hocus Pocus, Halloweentown, and The Nightmare Before Christmas (which has a few literary references of its own). But if you really want to get in the mood, you might want to opt for something a bit darker. Grab some popcorn, a buddy, and nightlight because I’ve compiled a list of book-based horror films that will make you scared to close your eyes at night! Continue reading 10 Literary Horror Films to Watch This Halloween
Now that summer is officially over, do you know what season it is? It’s Halloween season! I’m a firm believer in beginning my celebrations of the greatest holiday of the year at least a month in advance. You may be mourning the end of summer or feeling distracted by a new school year, but that’s no reason you can’t start getting excited for the night when the veil between the worlds is thinnest! To that end, I’ve complied a list of ghost stories below that will help get you into the “spirit” for Halloween. (See what I did there?)
Every time Willow falls asleep, she wakes up back in the twisted world of Ashwood Asylum. Her haunted dreams are the subject of Ashwood, a young adult horror novel by debut author C.J. Malarsky. I requested a copy of this book many, many months ago, shortly after it was first published in 2015. Now the book is being re-launched by Fantasy Works Publishing this week! The new paperbacks will be available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble starting on September 7, and you can even find some signed copies at Kinoyuniya NYC. The ebook will be available at Amazon, iTunes, Smashwords, Kobo, and Nook. Continue reading Review of Ashwood–A Haunting Debut Horror
What if the most dangerous thing you could do was to look outside? This question is the premise of Bird Box, a horror novel by Josh Malerman. I’ve been on a real horror kick lately and am loving getting back in to the genre. This book in particular was such a new and unique example of the genre for me, and it reminded me just how much is out there that I haven’t read yet. Bird Box blends elements of horror, thriller, post-apocalyptic survival, and sci-fi/fantasy. It takes the fear of the unseen to a whole new level: the fear of seeing!
Continue reading Bird Box Review: From Fear of the Unseen to Fear of Seeing
Happy 4th of July! On this day in 1776, the founding fathers declared their intention to create a nation that would be independent from Great Britain. Though as they signed the Declaration, I doubt any of them were thinking about creating an independent literary tradition. Nonetheless, as our country began developing its own political and economic system, it also began developing its own culture—and that includes its own literature. American Gothic, apart from being an infamous painting of a dreary farmer couple, is a unique subgenre in the Gothic tradition that is markedly American. Today, I thought I would celebrate this patriotic holiday by sharing with you the history of the American Gothic tradition and some of its most prominent members.
Teenage British ghostbusters… need I say more? I’ve been a fan of Jonathon Stroud’s writing since I picked up the first book of the Bartimaeus Trilogy many years ago and started laughing out loud in the bookstore. I was thrilled to discover that Stroud was back at it with a new series, this time about one of my favorite topics—ghosts!
The Screaming Staircase is the first book in Stroud’s Lockwood & Co. series. It takes place in a modern British setting in which history has been altered by the emergence of The Problem—several decades ago, the appearance of ghosts increased drastically and their deadly touch became a serious threat to society. To combat this threat, a number of ghost-hunting agencies emerged, employing psychically sensitive children and teenagers to investigate hauntings. Lockwood & Co. is one such agency, though unlike the others it employs no adult supervisors or managers, allowing the teens to fend for themselves. Continue reading The Screaming Staircase Review—Teenage British Ghostbusters