Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Spotlight on New Releases: January 31

Welcome to Spotlight on New Releases where we shine a spotlight on a few recent horror releases!

The Drift by C.J. Tudor

The Drift by C.J. Tudor

Three ordinary people risk everything for a chance at redemption in this audacious, utterly gripping novel of catastrophe and survival at the end of the world, from the acclaimed author of The Chalk Man

Hannah awakens to carnage, all mangled metal and shattered glass. During a hasty escape from a secluded boarding school, her coach careened over a hillside road during one of the year's heaviest snowstorms, trapping her inside with a handful of survivors, a brewing virus, and no way to call for help. If she and the remaining few want to make it out alive, with their sanity--and secrets--intact, they'll need to work together or they'll be buried alive with the rest of the dead.

A former detective, Meg awakens to a gentle rocking. She is in a cable car suspended far above a snowstorm and surrounded by strangers in the same uniform as her, with no memory of how they got there. They are heading to a mysterious place known to them only as "The Retreat," but when they discover a dead man among their ranks and Meg spies a familiar face, she realizes that there is something far more insidious going on.

Carter is gazing out the window of the abandoned ski chalet that he and his ragtag compatriots call home. Together, they manage a precarious survival, manufacturing vaccines against a deadly virus in exchange for life's essentials. But as their generator begins to waver, the threat of something lurking in the chalet's depths looms larger, and their fragile bonds will be tested when the power finally fails--for good.

The imminent dangers faced by Hannah, Meg, and Carter are each one part of the puzzle. Lurking in their shadows is an even greater threat--one that threatens to consume all of humanity.

Expected publication: January 31, 2023 by Ballantine Books | Goodreads | Amazon

Blood Circus by Camila Victoire

Blood Circus by Camila Victoire

In this world, death is a performance—and she is on stage.

At the end of the twenty-first century, climate change and famine almost ended humanity—until the discovery of the Klujns, a barbaric, humanoid species with strangely colored eyes and even stranger abilities. Their crystal claws and bones fertilize barren soil, and their tender meat is a super-protein. Klujns are both humans’ saviors and natural-born enemies, meant to be hunted and used.

When sixteen-year-old Ava finds herself on the wrong side of a military fence erected to protect the North American Territory, she’s captured by Klujns and made to participate in the Blood Race, a macabre tradition where young human hostages compete to the death for Klujn amusement. At first, she is terrified, but as Ava observes Klujn behavior that contradicts what she’s learned, she begins to wonder: Are Klujns as different as she was led to believe? And, as she fights for her life, does it matter?

Inspired by the dark, bohemian influence of the circus she traveled with for five years, Camila Victoire delivers a twisted coming-of-age tale that combines elements of fantasy, magical realism, and suspense. Blood Circus will capture fans of Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games and Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone. Its masterful worldbuilding, plot twists, and boundary-pushing Blood Race are wholly immersive—and compel readers to call their own long-held assumptions, values, and belief systems into question.

Expected publication: January 31, 2023 by Blackstone Publishing | Goodreads | Amazon

One Girl In All The World by Kendare Blake

One Girl In All The World by Kendare Blake

#1 New York Times best-selling author Kendare Blake returns to New Sunnydale in this sequel to In Every Generation, set in the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Into every generation, a slayer is born. One girl in all the world . . . maybe.

Frankie Rosenberg is the world's first slayer-witch, but she doesn't have that slay-life balance figured out just yet. After all, being the newest slayer means that another slayer had to die. Frankie and the Scooby gang are still reeling from the deadly explosion that rocked the annual slayer retreat―and grappling with new evidence that some slayers may have made it out alive. And even though they defeated bloodthirsty vampire the Countess, it doesn't mean Sunnydale is free from the forces of evil.

Something has reawakened the Hellmouth―and is calling old friends home. Someone is performing demon magic in the shadows, opening portals between dimensions. Everyone has demons to contend with―of the metaphorical and the very real (occasionally very hot) variety. And an oracle warns of a new evil on its way: the Darkness.

Could this be what attacked the slayers? And is it coming for Frankie?

Expected publication: January 31, 2023 by Disney-Hyperion | Goodreads | Amazon

Jen is one of our Horror Spotlight admins. Jen manages the technical side of the Horror Spotlight website. She also keeps a spotlight on new diverse horror releases, middle grade horror, and young adult horror each month.

You can also find Jen on her blog Book Den, Twitter as @bookden, Instagram as @bookdenjen, on Goodreads, and Letterboxd.

Friday, January 27, 2023

The Secret Skin by Wendy N. Wagner | Book Review

 Today Laurie recommends THE SECRET SKIN by Wendy N.Wagner. We hope you'll check it out!


The Secret Skin by Wendy N. Wagner

"The Secret Skin by Wendy N. Wagner is a sawmill gothic that begins with June Vogel’s return to Storm Break, her family’s estate. Things in the great house aren’t what they used to be. Doors slam in the night. Faucets turn on, untouched. Something is always watching, whatever June does. And when her brother returns with his new bride, deceit and betrayal threaten to destroy everything she loves."

Amazon | Goodreads 

Laurie's Review

The Secret Skin is a quick gothic read. It has all the spooky things you’d expect in a gothic and a few surprises too!

June returns to the family estate, a looming mansion on the coast, to care for her 9-year-old niece while her brother takes a long honeymoon with his new bride. The house appears to welcome her but the staff is cold and haughty as ever. And the kid? Well, Abigail isn’t too thrilled about any of it. “I have promised to hate you.” Haha, this kid is such a little punk. I loved her.

Before long doors start slamming, Abigail exhibits some strange supernatural powers and June feels eyeballs following her everywhere. It’s great fun and very spooky. Abigail and June develop a sweet relationship and spend their days out of the house as much as they can for obvious reasons. When the brother Frederick and his brand-new bride Lillian return early, things start to go awry. June and Lillian become fast friends and maybe a little more, the past haunts them all, and when you can hear a house breathe you might want to start running!

There is much going on here, almost too much for its 102-page count. While I enjoyed it for its brevity because some books are simply too long and drone on forever, I think I could’ve read another 200+ pages of this story and been happy about it. It’s one of those books I’d like to fall into and sit for a while. With that said, it doesn’t feel incomplete, and it doesn’t leave you hanging. I’m just being greedy.

Thank you for joining us today! Please share your thoughts about THE SECRET SKIN as well as any recent reads in the comments below.

We are currently accepting horror fiction and horror adjacent fiction written by diverse authors in print and epub format ONLY. If this is you, please visit our review submission page here.

Laurie is one of our Horror Spotlight Admins. Laurie creates our review posts and coordinates review requests.

You can find Laurie on her blog Bark’s Book Nonsense, on Twitter as @barksbooks, on Instagram as @barksbooks, and on Goodreads.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Your Mind Is A Terrible Thing by Hailey Piper | Book Review

Today Cassie recommends YOUR MIND IS A TERRIBLE THING by Hailey Piper. Check it out!


Your Mind Is A Terrible Thing by Hailey Piper

"Communications specialist Alto’s shift aboard the starship M.G. Yellowjacket turns hellish after waking from a tryst to learn every crewmate has vanished. Worse, a sinister presence has crawled aboard the ship. It’s violent, destructive, and it can reach into your thoughts to make you see and feel what it wants.

Anxiety-ridden Alto might be the least-qualified person to face a creature that can hack minds like computers. Only a perilous journey to the ship’s bridge can reunite comms specialist with crew and give them a chance to call for help.

But the intruder only scratches the surface of this crisis, and discovering the truth will bring Alto face to face against a nightmare beyond flesh and thought.”

Amazon | Goodreads 

Cassie's Review

I was so excited when Hailey Piper announced a spacey horror book, omg! This was everything I could've hoped for and more, tbh. I wasn't sure what to expect and even several chapters into it, you don't really know what's going on. It's not til pretty close to the end that things start to fully make sense and come together, and I loved the way the tension and terror built up - alongside extremely well-placed comedy and sweetness by little sidekick Zelany, who is probably one of my favorite characters in a book ever, I love him so much, lol.

I also loved the unlikely pairing of gory brainguts and mental health subtext -- just so good, the whole thing. A lot packed into a tiny package, and one of my top reads of the year! It's like if Star Trek & a horror movie had a book baby in novella form -- love it so much!

Thank you for joining us today! Please share your thoughts about YOUR MIND IS A TERRIBLE THING as well as any recent reads in the comments below.

We are currently accepting horror fiction and horror adjacent fiction written by diverse authors in print and epub format ONLY. If this is you, please visit our review submission page here.

Cassie is one of our contributing reviewers. Find her online at her website ctrlaltcassie.com, Twitter as @ctrlaltcassie, Instagram as @readinginaprism, or over at her Etsy store, where she has amazing original art prints, cross stitch kits, bookmarks, and more!

Friday, January 20, 2023

Briardark by S.A. Harian | Book Review

Today Heather recommends BRIARDARK by S.A. Harian. Would you look at that beautiful cover?!

Briardark by S.A. Harian

"Survival and cosmic horror collide in this new series, perfect for fans of LOST and House of Leaves.

For Dr. Siena Dupont and her ambitious team, the Alpenglow glacier expedition is a career-defining opportunity. But thirty miles into the desolate Deadswitch Wilderness, they discover a missing hiker dangling from a tree, and their satellite phone fails to call out.

Then the body vanishes without a trace.

The disappearance isn’t the only chilling anomaly. Siena’s map no longer aligns with the trail. The glacier they were supposed to study has inexplicably melted. Strange foliage overruns the mountainside, and a tunnel within a tree hollow lures Siena to a hidden cabin, and a stranger with a sinister message…

Holden Sharpe’s IT job offers little distraction from his wasted potential until he stumbles upon a decommissioned hard drive and an old audio file. Trapped on a mountain, Dr. Siena Dupont recounts an expedition in chaos and the bloody death of a colleague.

Entranced by the mystery, Holden searches for answers to Siena’s fate. But he is unprepared for the truth that will draw him to the outskirts of Deadswitch Wilderness—a place teeming with unfathomable nightmares and impossibilities.”

Amazon Goodreads 

Heather's Review

This book was a trip! A trip I don't want to take!

I love books like this. Books like what? I bet you are asking yourself.

It starts off fine with a lovely expedition, and then we no longer know which way is up or which way is down. The author is able to show that without confusing you, and that takes a lot of skill.

The characters are great with their own lies and backstories they interweave and mesh so well together.

My least favorite thing about this book is that I have to wait for the next one, but trust me, I will be waiting for it.

Thank you for joining us today! Please share your thoughts about BRIARDARK as well as any recent reads in the comments below.

We are currently accepting horror fiction and horror adjacent fiction written by diverse authors in print and epub format ONLY. If this is you, please visit our review submission page here.

Heather is a contributing reviewer and will be helping out with various projects. Find her online at Goodreads, Twitter as @HSquared_13, and on Instagram as @h.hellion.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Shelf Edition: HV Patterson

Today we welcome writer and blogger Helen Patterson to Shelf Edition! Thank you for joining us, Helen.

Do you have any recent favorite Horror Spotlight books?

There are so many incredible books out there that I had trouble narrowing it down! I highly recommend: Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado, The Good House by Tananarive Due, Crime Scene by Cynthia Pelayo, Bunny by Mona Awad, Hell Hath No Sorrow Like a Woman Haunted by RJ Joseph, Flowers for the Sea by Zin E. Rocklyn, The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion by Margaret Killjoy, Queen of Teeth by Hailey Piper, Kindred by Octavia Butler, and The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones.   

Which Horror Spotlight books do you currently have on your TBR?

It’s a VERY long list. I’ve had a bit of trouble with self-control this year. I want all the books! But there are a few from my endless TBR I’m determined to read next year. In novels, I’m excited for The Devourers by Indra Das, Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor, Dance Among the Flames by Tori Eldridge, The Devil Takes You Home by Gabino Inglesias, Reluctant Immortals by Gwendolyn Kiste, and White Horse by Erika T. Wurth (not pictured).

In addition to novels, I love short fiction. One of my New Year’s Goals is to read one short story a day in 2023, starting with the anthologies and collections on my TBR including Black Cranes: Stories of Unquiet Women edited by Lee Murray and Geneve Flynn, Your Body is Not Your Body edited by Alex Woodroe and Matt Blairstone, Moonflowers and Nightshade edited by Samanta Kolesnik, The Book of Queer Saints edited by Mae Murray, Other Terrors: An Inclusive Anthology edited by Vince A. Liaguno and Rena Mason, and Skin Folk by Nalo Hopkinson.

I’m also going to try to read more essays, nonfiction, and science about horror and other spooky things in 2023, starting with It Came from the Closet: Queer Reflections on Horror edited by Joe Vallese.    


Where do you find recommendations? Are there any Horror Spotlight books that have been recommended to you that you loved?

Social media has been a huge help in finding indie/diverse writers. I just got on Twitter and Instagram at the end of 2021, and it’s been such a great resource for learning about books and writers I may never have heard of otherwise. I also love reading through anthologies and online magazines and following up on authors whose stories I really enjoyed. 

Running Dreadfulesque (a site where I promote women in horror) has also been a very cool way to discover new writers! I’ve had writers and publishers reach out for review requests, and I’ve ended up really loving their work. It’s been a real pleasure to review and promote indie authors.

Out in the “real world,” Women in Horror Book Club at Whitty Books and my friends in the Tulsa community have introduced me to several amazing new writers. My mom is an avid audiobook consumer, and I’ve had a few great suggestions from her. I also love randomly picking up books at the excellent Tulsa Public Library. I think everyone should go to their local library and browse a few times a year if they can. I’ve found some real gems that way!

Books I really loved which were recommended to me this year include: Never Have I Ever by Isabel Yap, Sundial by Catriona Ward, The Babysitter Lives by Stephen Graham Jones, and Jawbone by Mónica Ojeda.

Where do you prefer to shop for books?

I prefer to shop locally or, when convenient, buy directly from authors. In Tulsa, I absolutely love Whitty Books, an independent bookstore focusing on speculative fiction and books you may not find in mainstream bookstores.

Book events and conventions are a great way to find books. I went to StokerCon in 2022, and one of my favorite things about the convention was getting to buy books directly from authors and from publisher/small press tables. I’ll be going to the Ghoulish Book Festival in San Antonio this year, and I’m excited to get more amazing books from the vendors and writers there!

Are there any upcoming Horror Spotlight releases you're excited about?

So many! I’ve just finished reading an ARC of Unquiet Spirits: Essays by Asian Women in Horror edited by Lee Murray and Angela Yuriko Smith, and it’s just a fantastic collection of essays. Sister, Maiden, Monster by Lucy A. Snyder–just look at that stunning cover art! The Haunting of Alejandra by V. Castro featuring La Llorona. I love T. Kingfisher, so I’m looking forward to A House with Good Bones. If you haven’t read Stephen Graham Jones’ My Heart is a Chainsaw, I’d recommend picking it up before the sequel Don’t Fear the Reaper comes out early 2023. Another sequel I’m looking forward to is Hailey Piper’s Even the Worm Will Turn (sequel to The Worm and His Kings). Jessica Johns has a debut novel called Bad Cree coming out soon which I just preordered. The English translation of Mariana Enriquez’s Our Share of Night is also coming out this year.

I’m also looking forward to Under Her Eye from Black Spot Books–partly because I have a poem in it!   

In regards to your own work, tell our readers a little bit about what’s new and/or coming up for you.


2022 was the first year I really started taking myself seriously as a writer and writing, revising, and submitting my work. It’s been a great year overall. My favorite fiction piece I’ve published recently is a dystopian story called “D.E.B” set in a future where disembodiment is mandatory. That was included in Mine: An Anthology of Body Autonomy Horror from Creature Publishing which just came out December 2022. My favorite poem I wrote in 2022, “Mother; Microbes,” originally published in the Monstroddities anthology from Sliced Up Press, was selected for Brave New Weird: The Best New Weird Horror, Vol 1, out soon from Tenebrous Press.

Upcoming, I have a poem, “My Husband’s House,” out in Under Her Black Eye from Black Spot Books next year. I also just received an exciting acceptance for my horror story, “Living Death Beneath the Waves,” about a shape-shifting monster luring an unsuspecting victim into her clutches. That will be in an anthology coming soon! 

In 2022, I did a lot of author interviews and book reviews on Dreadfulesque, but I’d like to add more movie reviews and diversify the content more in 2023. 

I’m also working on a horror/fantasy/romance novel set in the Colorado wilderness near Estes Park. The protagonist has to try to placate the ghost of a girl she accidentally killed while dealing with her developing feelings for a half-human entity and the return of an old enemy.

Where can people find you on social media and/or find your work?

I’m on Twitter @ScaryShelley and on Instagram @hvpattersonwriter. I also have a linktree (linktr.ee/hvpatterson) with links to all my work, including the site I run promoting women in horror, Dreadfulesque.

Teresa creates the Shelf Edition posts and is a contributing reviewer at Horror Spotlight. You can find Teresa on Goodreads, on Twitter and at Divination Hollow.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling | Book Review

Today Cat recommends THE LUMINOUS DEAD by Caitlin Starling. It's full of claustrophobic creepiness. Have you read it?

The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling

"A thrilling, atmospheric debut with the intensive drive of The Martian and Gravity and the creeping dread of Annihilation, in which a caver on a foreign planet finds herself on a terrifying psychological and emotional journey for survival.

When Gyre Price lied her way into this expedition, she thought she’d be mapping mineral deposits, and that her biggest problems would be cave collapses and gear malfunctions. She also thought that the fat paycheck—enough to get her off-planet and on the trail of her mother—meant she’d get a skilled surface team, monitoring her suit and environment, keeping her safe. Keeping her sane.

Instead, she got Em.

Em sees nothing wrong with controlling Gyre’s body with drugs or withholding critical information to “ensure the smooth operation” of her expedition. Em knows all about Gyre’s falsified credentials, and has no qualms using them as a leash—and a lash. And Em has secrets, too . . .

As Gyre descends, little inconsistencies—missing supplies, unexpected changes in the route, and, worst of all, shifts in Em’s motivations—drive her out of her depths. Lost and disoriented, Gyre finds her sense of control giving way to paranoia and anger. On her own in this mysterious, deadly place, surrounded by darkness and the unknown, Gyre must overcome more than just the dangerous terrain and the Tunneler which calls underground its home if she wants to make it out alive—she must confront the ghosts in her own head.

But how come she can't shake the feeling she’s being followed?”

Amazon | Goodreads 

Cat's Review

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

I don’t read a lot of sci-fi horror, but when I do, I’m often blown away. The Luminous Dead was no different, and yet while I acknowledge the obvious writing ability of Starling, whose debut was this ambitious title, I couldn’t quite love it as much as I wanted to. Gyre has her reasons for lying to get herself on a high-paying caving expedition, but she discovers her surface team – those responsible for monitoring her progress – is only one woman, and so she begins to question everything she knows about the job. Honing in on the psychological effects of isolation and the stress of being trapped underground, it ticked many of the boxes I have about slow burning horror. It was great in how Gyre’s mental state deteriorated over the course of the book, as well as the complex relationship between her and her employer. Gyre and Em were the only two characters here, their interactions through voice comms. This created an unequal dynamic, where one person had more power over the other, and the second was wholly dependent, but despite the loose “romance” aspect born under unhealthy circumstances, I still wanted those kids to get together. It might just be I don’t read enough books where F/F relationships are present, and that’s on me.

Due to the setting being static and removed from the outside world, details on the alien planet and the state of the universe were pretty sparse. Instead it was comprised of claustrophobic darkness, the journey long and uneventful most of the time, with a tremendous amount of effort put into the specifics of caving. Gyre’s body being integrated to her suit was one of the elements that made me squirm, but it was brilliant, as was the intensity of her struggle in later parts. My biggest complaint is how long it took to get there; I reached the half way point, that being around two hundred pages, and had to keep myself from putting it down permanently. In hindsight I’d admit it was a good thing I didn’t – it’s not often I read something with over four hundred pages and only two characters. That in itself was memorable.

In conclusion: Taking place on the planet of Cassandra-V, The Luminous Dead accompanied Gyre as she descended into an unfamiliar cave system under the employ of a mysterious woman. It went hard on caving info, with the bulk of it focused on Gyre’s mental health as she attempted to complete the mission. There was bloat, my enjoyment reaching highs and lows, and I believe it could’ve benefitted from being tightened up a bit. Still, Starling’s prose transported me into the dark along with Gyre, witnessing the far-away rumble of a Tunneler.

Thank you for joining us today! Please share your thoughts about THE LUMINOUS DEAD as well as any recent reads in the comments below.

We are currently accepting horror fiction and horror adjacent fiction written by diverse authors in print and epub format ONLY. If this is you, please visit our review submission page here.

Cat is a contributing reviewer. Find her online at Twitter as @ResiRedGames.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Spotlight on New Releases: January 17

Welcome to Spotlight on New Releases where we shine a spotlight on a few recent horror releases!

City of Nightmares by Rebecca Schaeffer

Gotham meets Strange the Dreamer in this thrilling young adult fantasy about a cowardly girl who finds herself at the center of a criminal syndicate conspiracy, in a city where crooked politicians and sinister cults reign and dreaming means waking up as your worst nightmare.

Ever since her sister became a man-eating spider and slaughtered her way through town, nineteen-year-old Ness has been terrified—terrified of some other Nightmare murdering her, and terrified of ending up like her sister. Because in Newham, the city that never sleeps, dreaming means waking up as your worst fear.

Whether that means becoming a Nightmare that’s monstrous only in appearance, to transforming into a twisted, unrecognizable creature that terrorizes the city, no one is safe. Ness will do anything to avoid becoming another victim, even if that means lying low among the Friends of the Restful Soul, a questionable organization that may or may not be a cult.

But being a member of maybe-cult has a price. In order to prove herself, Ness cons her way into what’s supposed to be a simple job for the organization—only for it to blow up in her face. Literally. Tangled up in the aftermath of an explosive assassination, now Ness and the only other survivor—a Nightmare boy who Ness suspects is planning to eat her—must find their way back to Newham and uncover the sinister truth behind the attack, even as the horrors of her past loom ominously near.

Expected publication: January 10th 2023 by Clarion Books | City of Nightmares on Goodreads | City of Nightmares on Amazon

What Lies in the Woods by Kate Alice Marshall

They were eleven when they sent a killer to prison . . .
They were heroes . . . but they were liars.

Naomi Shaw used to believe in magic. Twenty-two years ago, she and her two best friends, Cassidy and Olivia, spent the summer roaming the woods, imagining a world of ceremony and wonder. They called it the Goddess Game. The summer ended suddenly when Naomi was attacked. Miraculously, she survived her seventeen stab wounds and lived to identify the man who had hurt her. The girls’ testimony put away a serial killer, wanted for murdering six women. They were heroes.

And they were liars.

For decades, the friends have kept a secret worth killing for. But now Olivia wants to tell, and Naomi sets out to find out what really happened in the woods—no matter how dangerous the truth turns out to be.

Expected publication: January 17th 2023 by Flatiron Books | What Lies in the Woods on Goodreads | What Lies in the Woods on Amazon

Ghost 19 by Simone St. James

Ghost 19 by Simone St. James

A woman moves to a town where she becomes obsessed with watching the lives of her neighbors while stuck in a house that refuses to let her leave in this first ever short story from the New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Cold Cases.

Is there something wrong with Ginette Cox? It’s what everyone seems to think. When a doctor suggests that what she might need is less excitement, she packs up and moves from New York City to a house in suburban NY: 19 Howard Ave.

The town offers Ginette little in the way of entertainment in 1959, but at least she has interesting neighbors. Whether it’s the little girl with her doll or the couple and their mother-in-law, Ginette watches them from her window and makes up names and stories for them.

But it’s not all peaceful in suburbia. Ginette finds it hard to sleep in her new house. There are strange and scary noises coming from the basement, and she is trapped, either by a ghost or her own madness.

But when Ginette starts to think a murder has taken place and a mysterious man starts making terrifying appearances outside her window, it’s clear she must deal with whatever isn’t allowing her to escape this house…

Published January 3rd 2023 by Berkley | Goodreads | Amazon

Jen is one of our Horror Spotlight admins. Jen manages the technical side of the Horror Spotlight website. She also keeps a spotlight on new horror releases, middle grade horror, and young adult horror each month.

You can also find Jen on her blog Book Den, Twitter as @bookden, Instagram as @bookdenjen, on Goodreads, and Letterboxd.