Interview with Valentine Wolfe

Valentine Wolfe is a gothic metal band that I first encountered at the final Wicked Faire last year. Since then, I’ve been able to catch snippets of their performances at various Jeff Mach Events over the past year, but finally got to listen and dance to a full set of theirs—at a Harry Potter convention of all places—during the goth night at MISTI-Con 2017. The band is based out of North Carolina and consists of Sarah Black, whose soprano vocals give their music its ethereal quality, and Braxton Ballew, who rocks out on the electric upright bass. Their music is particularly popular in both the goth and steampunk scenes, and they perform at a number of conventions up and down the east coast. To get an idea of what their music is like, check out the video of their rendition of “Annabel Lee” below and read on for my interview with Sarah and Braxton:

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Review of Morbid Curiosity—A Game to Get You Talking About Death

Death—It’s at the center of both Gothic literature (as one of the primal fears driving the atmosphere of dread) and the gothic subculture (as inspiration for its music, art, fashion, and overall aesthetic). But outside of the goth world, death can be a difficult topic to broach. Death and dying are taboo, especially in American society, and no one seems to want to talk about the one fate that awaits us all. That’s why Kimberly Mead created the game Morbid Curiosity to get everyone talking about death.

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Review of Amberlough–A Blend of Grit and Decadence

In my continued quest to branch out into new genres, I found a book so different from what I normally read that I hardly know how to describe it. Lara Elena Donnelley’s debut novel, Amberlough, is a fantasy political thriller with a noir aesthetic. I attended the launch party back in February and was immediately intrigued by the chapter Lara read to the crowd. Unusual and intriguing characters, a twisting and unpredictable plot, and a world so different and yet poignantly similar to our own—Amberlough is not to be missed if you’re looking for something new and unique to read! Continue reading Review of Amberlough–A Blend of Grit and Decadence

Poems to Read in a Graveyard, Part 2

Last year, I wrote up a list of five death- and graveyard-themed poems to ponder as you enjoy a solitary stroll through someone’s final resting place. Now that graveyard picnic season has come once again, I figured it was time to add to this list. When researching for my previous post, I discovered that the tradition of graveyard poetry was far more robust than I had previously realized, and I kept finding more poems that I wanted to share. As before, my collection contains works by a few of the pre-Romantic “Graveyard Poets,” as well as a couple of poems by later Romantic poets. Enjoy!

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Steampunk World’s Fair 2017: Where Goth and Steampunk Meet

Last weekend, I went to one of the largest steampunk events in the world, Jeff Mach’s Steampunk World’s Fair. For those who are unfamiliar, steampunk is an alternative fashion/music/literature scene, which can essentially be summed up as Victorian futurism—imagine a world where, on the cusp of the industrial revolution, technology advanced through steam power and gears instead of electricity and computers. The fashion blends corsets and top hats with brass and goggles, while the literature tends to feature dirigibles, automatons, and mad scientists. And the first weekend in May is when hundreds of steampunks from around the country take over two hotels in the middle of Piscataway, New Jersey. I’ve been attending Steampunk World’s Fair for many years, and two weeks ago I gave you a preview of what I was looking forward to at this year’s convention in particular. Read on to see how last weekend lived up to my expectations. Continue reading Steampunk World’s Fair 2017: Where Goth and Steampunk Meet

Review of As Time Goes By–A Mary Higgins Clark Mystery

Time to delve back into a long-loved genre! I used to read a lot of adult mystery/suspense novels in middle school and early high school before I fell too deeply into my young adult sci-fi and fantasy reading hole. I remember especially loving the prolific Queen of Suspense, Mary Higgins Clark. So last week while browsing through audiobooks available from the library, I decided to start my foray back into the genre with one of my old favorites. I picked one of her more recent novels, As Time Goes By, which is part of her Alvirah and Willy mystery series.  Continue reading Review of As Time Goes By–A Mary Higgins Clark Mystery

Preview of Steampunk World’s Fair 2017

The biggest steampunk event of the year is just around the corner! Steampunk World’s Fair is one of Jeff Mach’s most popular events and the largest steampunk convention in the world. Earlier this year, I attended and wrote about my experience at two of Jeff Mach’s brand new conventions: the fairy-themed Glimmerdark and the three-day goth party that was Dark Side of the Con. Now it’s time to return to one of my old favorites. I have been attending Steampunk World’s Fair for about five years, and it never fails to impress. The convention takes over two hotels in Piscataway, New Jersey, and will be taking place next weekend, May 5–7.

Tea and a Cthulhu cookie from a World’s Fair past
While I was thrilled to attend two events this year with a more overtly dark aesthetic, I always feel at home at Jeff Mach’s steampunk events, despite not quite ascribing to that subculture myself. Goth and steampunk have much in common, which I’ve written about at length for the Steampunk Tourist blog. In short, though, I can always rely on a steampunk convention to bring me together with other people who enjoy literature, Victorian fashion, and tea. Below, I’ll share with you a few things that I’m looking forward to at this year’s SPWF in particular: Continue reading Preview of Steampunk World’s Fair 2017

The Gothic in Shakespeare

Yesterday, April 23, was Shakespeare’s birthday—and also his death day! In honor of the Bard, I figured I would take this opportunity to discuss his connection with the Gothic tradition. William Shakespeare was writing his plays and poems two centuries before the advent of the Gothic novel. However, his influence on the genre has been much attested, and proto-Gothic elements can be seen in a number of his plays. In this post, I will highlight these aspects in three of his darkest plays:

Goth Shakespeare, courtesy of my excellent Photoshop skills

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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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