Literature’s Strangest Chapters on Death

Death is a strange chapter in everyone’s story. Yet as we read through action-packed novels like the Game of Thrones series where a character dies almost every chapter, literary deaths may start to seem commonplace and we give little thought to how they are presented. For gothic authors, however, a character’s death is an opportunity to explore that fascinating, unknowable state and our relationship with it. What does it mean to be dead? How will this death impact the story? And how should we feel about it? Sometimes the only way to answer these questions is by employing some truly unique literary techniques. Below are three of my favorite unusual depictions of death in literature: Continue reading Literature’s Strangest Chapters on Death

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

Glimmerdark 2017: A Rundown of This Faerie Festival’s First Year

Last weekend, a three-day long faerie revel took over a hotel in Princeton, New Jersey. This misfit faerie festival known as Glimmerdark is one of the newest conventions created by goth/geek/steampunk event coordinator Jeff Mach. A few weeks ago, I gave you all a preview of what I was looking forward to at this event. I would say that although the convention hit a few organizational snags, it met most of my expectations and I had a delightful time—as I always do at Jeff Mach Events.

I got captured by a towering Green Man at Glimmerdark!

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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

Gothic Tropes: The Evil, Exotic East

As Gothic fiction rose to prominence during the height of British imperialism, it should come as no surprise that both fear of and fascination with foreign cultures would seep into the literature of this time period. Orientalism was pretty entrenched in all genres of English literature during this era, but the significance of the Other made it especially appealing to writers of Gothic fiction. The Other is a person whose identity can be defined in opposition to the Self, and is thus a convenient target on which to project fears, taboos, and other unknowns. In this case, the inhabitants of the East (Turks, Arabs, Indians, the Chinese, and others in between) differed from the average English reader in race, in culture, and often also in religion. Set among these differences, unspeakable evil, unknowable magic, and improbable events gained more weight and credulity. What might seem unbelievable in England could very well take place in a faraway land with strange people. In this way, cursed Indian treasures, tyrannical Arabian leaders, and mysterious Eastern mystics became staples of the Gothic genre.

Odalisque with Slave by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. This painting was inspired by descriptions of a harem in the letters of eighteenth-century writer, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.

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Preview of Glimmerdark: A Brand New Dark Faerie Convention

What better way to dispel the midwinter blues than to disappear into a magical world of freaks and faeries for a weekend? Glimmerdark is a brand new convention run by Jeff Mach, who organizes cons throughout the northeast including the world’s largest steampunk event. My favorite Jeff Mach Event, the indoor Renaissance festival known as Wicked Faire, had its final run last year and Glimmerdark has sprung up in its place. The new con has been described as a “misfit faerie festival” and “a hotel party unparalleled in all space and time.” The multi-genre convention encourages people of all worlds and genres to venture into Faerie and enjoy a weekend of performances, workshops, and alluring crafts and creations for purchase. The convention takes place the first weekend of February in Princeton, NJ, and I’ve been invited to attend as press. I’ll be writing up a run-down after the convention, but I wanted to give you all a little taste of what I’m looking forward to most.

Glimmerdark promotional image by Encore Design
Glimmerdark promotional image by Encore Design

Continue reading Preview of Glimmerdark: A Brand New Dark Faerie Convention

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

Books I’m Excited for in 2017

The new year has begun, and that means it’s time for another annual roundup of new releases that I’ll be eagerly anticipating throughout 2017. Last year I only got around to reading a handful of the books that made my 2016 list, so this year I’m hoping to make more of an effort to keep on top of these releases. Check out some of these upcoming gothic reads: Continue reading Books I’m Excited for in 2017

2017 Blog Resolutions

New Years is the perfect opportunity for me to take stock, not only of my own life, but also of my blog and what direction I want it to be going in. This time last year, I posted my very first set of blog resolutions for the new year. Overall, I think I did fairly well with my first full year of blogging. I certainly read a wide range of books and engaged with some amazing authors. Some of the goals I made last year became less important to me as the year went on. For example, now that I’m working full time, posting multiple times a week became an impractical goal. Instead I focused on maintaining a steady schedule of high-quality weekly posts. Now it’s time to start thinking about the year ahead. Here are some of my goals for 2017:

Happy New Year 2017

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“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!