Monday, September 26, 2022

Shelf Edition: Selena Middleton

Today we welcome Dr. Selena Middleton to Horror Spotlight to share her shelfies!


Welcome, Selena! Do you have any recent favorite Horror Spotlight books?

Two recent favorites are Naben Ruthnum’s novella Helpmeet (from Undertow) and Joe Koch’s short story collection Convulsive (from Apocalypse Party). Considering these two titles together, I think what draws me to them (besides their incredible covers) is that Helpmeet and many stories in Convulsive are stories of transformations that are simultaneously horrific and transcendent. I read a lot of climate fiction for Stelliform Press and my taste in horror is definitely overlapping with what Stelliform’s climate fiction often does. We are currently, as a society, standing at the brink of a systems-level transformation. The ecological, political, and social systems that come out on the other side of the transformation might not be what we expect or even what we want. But books like Helpmeet and Convulsive are almost reassuring in that they both assert that, yes, transformation is difficult and painful—they don’t pretend that transformation is easy or gaslight us for feeling pain and fear—but there is a kind of life on the other side, for some of us.

Both of these books also have passages that are deeply disgusting and I always find it interesting when a work affects me on that level. Finding that line is a way to know a deeply recessed part of yourself, I think. But for me, I find it easier to go there—to the edge of that line—with writers of color, LGBTQ2S+ writers, or writers who are otherwise marginalized. As a reader, I trust those writers to punch up, to create stories wherein the horror isn’t denying someone else’s humanity—unless, you know, it’s denying everyone’s humanity.


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

I’m currently making my way through the last book in Premee Mohamed’s Beneath the Rising series, The Void Ascendant (Solaris). The first two books were great fun and I’ve really enjoyed the dynamic between the two main characters. I’m also excited for Rebecca Campbell’s The Talosite (Undertow), which promises a World War I setting and some Frankenstein-like body horror and of course Campbell’s amazing attention to detail. I had the pleasure of working with Rebecca on her novella Arboreality, which is coming out from Stelliform around the same time as The Talosite and I’m looking forward to some genre whiplash. I’ve also got The Book of Queer Saints from editor Mae Murray, and Red X by David Demchuk in the literal TBR pile beside my bed.

 


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

I get a lot of my recommendations from following writers and publishers on twitter. When the algorithm chooses your books for you that’s a recommendation, right? One of my favorite books of the last few years was one that I’d seen a few times in the feed—Premee Mohamed’s These Lifeless Things. This book combines epistolary narrative and cosmic horror, both of which I love. Also, it’s set in Russia and I did a whole extra degree in Russian lang & lit and spent a summer in St. Petersburg just so I could read more Russian lit and retrace Raskolnikov’s murder walk. So the setting of that book is a major draw for me and I felt like I could recognize St. Petersburg in the surreal, interdimensionally invaded and colonized landscape of that book. But crucially, I fell in love with the dual narrative structure and the ways that the main characters encountered the questions of human survival. What does it mean to survive? What of civilization or even humanity can we lose and still live a worthwhile life? Where is that line? What aspects of life are absolutely essential? The last lines of that book killed me. I had to lie down.

Where do you prefer to shop for books?

I have a few local shops I like: Epic Books and King West Books in Hamilton. I also recently learned of and visited Little Ghosts Bookstore and Cafe in Toronto—a bookstore dedicated to horror. I did spend hours there and will undoubtedly spend hours more. The staff are super friendly and helpful too. It’s so fun to be in a space where people understand the function of horror fiction, and where you get to watch the faces of every horror reader that walks in the door. After the brief shock that this place exists, it’s like immediate ecstasy.


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

I am pretty much trembling with anticipation for Rebecca Campbell’s The Talosite and Premee Mohamed’s short story collection from also from Undertow No One Will Come Back For Us. Also Erika Wurth’s White Horse (Flatiron) and the Indigenous horror anthology Never Whistle at Night (edited by Shane Hawke and Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr. from PRH).

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

Stelliform Press just released The House of Drought, which is a weird haunted or cursed house story set in Sri Lanka. The author, Dennis Mombauer, lives in Sri Lanka and the details he includes are simultaneously orienting to that landscape and deeply unsettling. He has extrapolated from his work in climate change adaptation to create a setting that is both ecologically and emotionally responsive to climate’s effects on water systems. The structure of the house and the structure of the narrative are both disorienting, pointing to the effects of climate and the vulnerability that post-colonial or neo-colonial countries experience. It’s a disturbing book on a few different levels and I’m excited to disturb people in this particular way.


Also I want to invite people to follow Stelliform Press—follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or better yet sign up for our newsletter—because we just received a very nice grant from the Ontario Arts Council to produce a book by a BIPOC Canadian. I can’t share specific details yet, but it looks like the book will be a folk horror title from a very exciting perspective. I can’t wait to tell everyone about it.

As for my personal projects, I received Ontario Arts Council funding for my literary horror novel An Ecology of Ghosts, and I’ve been closing in on finishing a zero draft. The book is told from three perspectives—a mother who is a scientist and a South Asian immigrant to Canada, and her two biracial daughters. I draw a lot from my family history and my experience as a biracial woman and how I see the effects of colonization and immigration echoing through the generations. I’m really interested in how that experience mirrors some of the effects of climate change we’re starting to see and it’s been really fun (and also sometimes pretty emotionally difficult) to explore that using horror and the fantastic in general. Does anyone besides naturalists know the history of the Common Buckthorn invasion in North America? Well I’m bringing you buckthorn related horror, as well as disaster queers, doppelgangers, and a very angry bear.

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

I’m on twitter both as myself @eileenglee, and as Publisher and Editor @StelliformPress. You can learn more about Stelliform books at www.stelliform.press. If you want to check out my most horror and horror-adjacent writing that is currently publicly available, I have two recent stories I love: “You Cannot Return to the Burning Glade” in Reckoning, and “When the Snowshoe Hare Turns White” in Nightmare Magazine.



Bio: 
Selena Middleton is a Canadian writer, educator, editor, and a PhD in English literature who sometimes writes under the name Eileen Gunnell Lee. She has stories published in Nightmare Magazine, Escape Pod, Selene Quarterly, Fusion Fragment, and others. She is the Founder, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief at Stelliform Press, a press focusing on long-form climate fiction and non-fiction. Living halfway up the Niagara Escarpment in Hamilton, Ontario, she regularly meets deer, foxes, coyotes, cloaked riders on horseback, and mushrooms of ambiguous intent.

Thank you for joining us today, Selena! Our TBR piles also thank you! 



If you would like to be featured on a future Shelf Edition please leave a note in the comments. We'd love to see your shelves!




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

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Dismal Dreams by Red Lagoe Review

Today Alex recommends Dismal Dreams by Red Lagoe. We hope you'll check it out! 




Dismal Dreams by Red Lagoe

"Red Lagoe, author of Lucid Screams, brings us her follow up collection of horror shorts, Dismal Dreams, with a foreword by Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Devil’s Dreamland, Sara Tantlinger.

Every day is steeped in horror. An inexplicable force deep in the forest. A serpent lurking in the shadows. Or the sinister thoughts forged in the deepest abyss of a tortured mind.

Lagoe offers a gamut of horrific experiences artfully woven into thirteen stories. Explore the darkness within a selfish heart, face death among ghosts, and roar into the snarling maw of a beast. Horror can be empowering if we can survive our most dismal dreams."

Amazon | Goodreads Bookshop


Alex's Review

Supreme. Brilliant. Fantastic. I loved this more than I can even explain. DISMAL DREAMS by Red Lagoe might just be one of the best short story collections I have read so far. Each story, regardless of length, is a powerhouse all on its own. The characters in them are written so well, they are given complex feelings and thoughts, and you care for each and every one of them no matter how long they are on the pages. These stories ended with punches to the stomach and my jaw on the floor. The twists and turns had me all over the place in the best way. Just when I thought I knew what was going to happen, Lagoe took me for a totally different journey. I was disappointed when I turned the page and realized that story was going to be over and simultaneously elated that a new world was about to be painted right in front of me.

These stories are PHENOMENAL! Some of these characters are going to stick with me for a long time. Some of these stories are still on my mind at the forefront days after finishing. My favorites are: "The Creation of Man," "Shutter Stop," "Flicker," "A Cold Day In Hell," "Never Have I Ever," and "Doll House." But each story in here is five stars for me.

GET THIS COLLECTION ASAP!


Thank you for joining us today! Please share your thoughts about Dismal Dreams and 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.




Alex is a Horror Spotlight contributing reviewer. You can find Alex on Goodreads, on Twitter as @finding_montauk and on Instagram as @findingmontauk1.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

New Release Spotlight: September 20

New Release Spotlight is where we shine a spotlight on a few of the diverse horror books being released each week

Rust in the Root by Justina Ireland

Rust in the Root by Justina Ireland

The author of the visionary New York Times bestseller Dread Nation returns with another spellbinding historical fantasy set at the crossroads of race and power in America.

It is 1937, and Laura Ann Langston lives in an America divided—between those who work the mystical arts and those who do not. Ever since the Great Rust, a catastrophic event that blighted the arcane force called the Dynamism and threw America into disarray, the country has been rebuilding for a better future. And everyone knows the future is industry and technology—otherwise known as Mechomancy—not the traditional mystical arts.

Laura disagrees. A talented young mage from Pennsylvania, Laura hopped a portal to New York City on her seventeenth birthday with hopes of earning her mage’s license and becoming something more than a rootworker

But six months later, she’s got little to show for it other than an empty pocket and broken dreams. With nowhere else to turn, Laura applies for a job with the Bureau of the Arcane’s Conservation Corps, a branch of the US government dedicated to repairing the Dynamism so that Mechomancy can thrive. There she meets the Skylark, a powerful mage with a mysterious past, who reluctantly takes Laura on as an apprentice.

As they’re sent off on their first mission together into the heart of the country’s oldest and most mysterious Blight, they discover the work of mages not encountered since the darkest period in America’s past, when Black mages were killed for their power—work that could threaten Laura’s and the Skylark’s lives, and everything they’ve worked for.

Expected publication: September 20th 2022 by Balzer + Bray | Goodreads | Amazon




The Getaway by Lamar Giles

The Getaway by Lamar Giles

Welcome to the funnest spot around . . .

Jay is living his best life at Karloff Country, one of the world’s most famous resorts. He’s got his family, his crew, and an incredible after-school job at the property’s main theme park. Life isn’t so great for the rest of the world, but when people come here to vacation, it’s to get away from all that.

As things outside get worse, trouble starts seeping into Karloff. First, Jay’s friend Connie and her family disappear in the middle of the night and no one will talk about it. Then the richest and most powerful families start arriving, only... they aren’t leaving. Unknown to the employees, the resort has been selling shares in an end-of-the-world oasis. The best of the best at the end of days. And in order to deliver the top-notch customer service the wealthy clientele paid for, the employees will be at their total beck and call.

Whether they like it or not.

Yet Karloff Country didn’t count on Jay and his crew--and just how far they’ll go to find out the truth and save themselves. But what’s more dangerous: the monster you know in your home or the unknown nightmare outside the walls?

Expected publication: September 20th 2022 by Scholastic Press | Goodreads | Amazon




Direwood by Catherine Yu

Direwood by Catherine Yu

In this velvet-clad 1990s gothic horror, Aja encounters a charming vampire who wants to lure her into the woods—just like her missing sister.

No one ever pays attention to sixteen-year-old Aja until her perfect older sister Fiona goes missing. In the days leading up to Fiona’s disappearance, Aja notices some extraordinary things: a strange fog rolling through their idyllic suburban town, a brief moment when the sky seems to rain blood, and a host of parasitic caterpillars burrowing their way through the trees. Aja’s father, the neighbors, and even her ex-friend Mary all play down this strange string of occurrences, claiming there must be some natural explanation. It seems everyone is willing to keep living in denial until other teens start to go missing too.

Aja is horrified when she meets Padraic, the vampire responsible for all the strange occurrences. His hypnotic voice lures her to the window and tells her everything she’s longed to hear—she’s beautiful and special, and he wants nothing more than for Aja to come with him. Aja knows she shouldn’t trust him, but she’s barely able to resist his enthrallment. And following him into the woods may be the only way to find Fiona, so she agrees on one condition: He must let her leave alive if she is not wooed after one week. Though Aja plans to kill him before the week is out, Padraic has his own secrets as well.

In the misty woods, Aja finds that Padraic has made his nest with another vampire in a dilapidated church infested by blood-sucking butterflies. Within its walls, the vampires are waited on and entertained by other children they’ve enthralled, but there is no sign of Fiona. Before her bargain is up, Aja must find a way to turn her classmates against their captors, find her sister, and save them all—or be forced to join the very monsters she wants to destroy.

Expected publication: September 20th 2022 by Page Street Kids | 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, September 16, 2022

2022 LOHF Writers Grant Recipients

The Horror Spotlight team is honored to announce the recipients of the 4th annual LOHF Writers Grant:

Colleen Anderson
HH Carlan
Lyndsey Croal
Wendy Dalrymple
Morgan Deibler
Lyndsey Ellis
Kim Harbridge
Corinne Hughes
Nadira Jamerson
Alex Luceli Jimenez
Jessica McHugh
Laura Nettles
Stephanie Parent
Grace R Reynolds
Villimey K M Sigurbjornsdottir
Star Sirius
Nicole Willson

Many thanks go out to Steve Stred and the anonymous donors for their incredible generosity in funding this year’s grants. It has been an honor to choose the grant recipients over the last 4 years!

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

When The Reckoning Comes by LaTanya McQueen Review

Today Jen recommends When the Reckoning Comes by LaTanya McQueen. We hope you'll check it out! 





When the Reckoning Comes by LaTanya McQueen

"A haunting novel about a black woman who returns to her hometown for a plantation wedding and the horror that ensues as she reconnects with the blood-soaked history of the land and the best friends she left behind.

More than a decade ago, Mira fled her small, segregated hometown in the south to forget. With every mile she traveled, she distanced herself from her past: from her best friend Celine, mocked by their town as the only white girl with black friends; from her old neighborhood; from the eerie Woodsman plantation rumored to be haunted by the spirits of slaves; from the terrifying memory of a ghost she saw that terrible day when a dare-gone-wrong almost got Jesse—the boy she secretly loved—arrested for murder.

But now Mira is back in Kipsen to attend Celine’s wedding at the plantation, which has been transformed into a lush vacation resort. Mira hopes to reconnect with her friends, and especially, Jesse, to finally tell him the truth about her feelings and the events of that devastating long-ago day.

But for all its fancy renovations, the Woodsman remains a monument to its oppressive racist history. The bar serves antebellum drinks, entertainments include horrifying reenactments, and the service staff is nearly all black. Yet the darkest elements of the plantation’s past have been carefully erased—rumors that slaves were tortured mercilessly and that ghosts roam the lands, seeking vengeance on the descendants of those who tormented them, which includes most of the wedding guests.

As the weekend unfolds, Mira, Jesse, and Celine are forced to acknowledge their history together, and to save themselves from what is to come."

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop


Jen's Review

I love reading debut horror, and I'm excited to read more from LaTanya McQueen.

When the Reckoning Comes is atmospheric and chilling. I mention this often, but when it comes to horror, ghost stories are my favorite. The ghosts are used brilliantly in When the Reckoning Comes, but they are also what makes the story confusing. It's hard to distinguish what's actually happening in the physical world, but the hauntings are so effective in telling the story McQueen wants to tell.

I read When the Reckoning Comes with the Ladies of Horror Fiction discord group. It was the group read pick for February, and it was the perfect choice. I listened to it on audio which I recommend because the narration is fantastic.




Thank you for joining us today! Please share your thoughts about When the Reckoning Comes and 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.




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.


Tuesday, September 13, 2022

New Release Spotlight: September 13

New Release Spotlight is where we shine a spotlight on a few of the diverse horror books being released each week!

The Depths by Nicole Lesperance

The Depths by Nicole Lesperance

A tropical island full of secrets. Two Victorian ghosts, trapped for eternity. And a seventeen-year-old girl determined not to be next.

Eulalie Island should be a paradise, but to Addie Spencer, it's more like a prison.

Forced to tag along to the remote island on her mother's honeymoon, Addie isn't thrilled about being trapped there for two weeks. The island is stunning, with its secluded beaches and forests full of white flowers. But there's something eerie and unsettling about the place.

After Addie meets an enigmatic boy on the beach, all the flowers start turning pink. The island loves you, he tells her. But she can't stop sleepwalking at night, the birds keep calling her name, and there's a strange little girl in the woods who wants to play hide-and-seek. When Addie learns about two sisters who died on the island centuries ago, she wonders if there's more to this place, things only she can see.

Beneath its gorgeous surface, Eulalie Island is hiding dark, tangled secrets. And if Addie doesn't unravel them soon, the island might never let her go.

Expected publication: September 13th 2022 by Razorbill | Goodreads | Amazon




Glorious Fiends by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam

Glorious Fiends by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam

When infamous hot mess vampire Roxanne resurrects her deceased best friends, she’s confronted by a dream-dwelling Guardian of the Underworld, who demands that she replace them in his afterlife with three equally nefarious creatures—or he’ll drag her there instead.

Reunited with Medusa and Mx. Hyde, Roxanne and her macabre girl gang must become monster hunters themselves and fight for the future of their friendship.

Gory, sexy, silly, touching—Glorious Fiends asks who the real monsters are, and if the bonds that we think are solely human are really ours alone. This Hammer-inspired odyssey is a nostalgic trip through ‘80s horror tropes—with modern sensibilities.

Expected publication: September 13th 2022 by Underland | Goodreads | Amazon




Lucky Girl, How I Became A Horror Writer: A Krampus Story by M. Rickert

Lucky Girl, How I Became A Horror Writer: A Krampus Story by M. Rickert

Ro, a struggling writer, knows all too well the pain and solitude that holiday festivities can awaken. When she meets four people at the local diner—all of them strangers and as lonely as Ro is—she invites them to an impromptu Christmas dinner. And when that party seems in danger of an early end, she suggests they each tell a ghost story. One that’s seasonally appropriate.

But Ro will come to learn that the horrors hidden in a Christmas tale—or one’s past—can never be tamed once unleashed.

Expected publication: September 13th 2022 by Tordotcom | 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, September 9, 2022

We Are Here to Hurt Each Other by Paula D. Ashe

Today Teresa recommends We Are Here to Hurt Each Other by Paula D. Ashe. We hope you'll check it out! 





We Are Here to Hurt Each Other by Paula D. Ashe

"With these twelve stories Paula D. Ashe takes you into a dark and bloody world where nothing is sacred and no one is safe. A landscape of urban decay and human degradation, this collection finds the psychic pressure points of us all, and giddily squeezes. Try to run, try to hide, but there is no escape: we are here to hurt each other."

Amazon | Goodreads 


Teresa's Review

I have been thinking about this book for a week now.  I will be thinking about it for longer.  The language is just so beautiful.  I typically say something here, like “I want to live in the language, I want to wrap myself up in these words and luxuriate in them, find comfort in them.”  But, there isn’t comfort in these pages. Not that kind of comfort. They are visceral and brutal in their beauty.  They cut to the bone, even in their seemly mundanity, the way they shine a light onto everyday horrors, magnifying the darkness that surrounds us all, even if we don’t want to believe it.  Some of the stories drop you into the middle of scene, but the world is already so rich, you aren’t left wondering where you are, what you are witnessing. You are in the story.  You are a part of the story. And the story molds you, becomes a part of you.

Some stories have elements of the supernatural, but most are based in a terrible reality where We [really] Are Here To Hurt Each Other.  Siblings who love each other so much they break each other in their protectiveness, or neglect. The things we do to ourselves in order to see what truly lies beneath. The pain we inflict on others to raise ourselves up.  The lengths cult members will go to feel absolution. What we can endure to find the real answers?  What a wife will do to please a husband?  What happens when the ones made to protect us are the ones who destroy us?  These stories are not pretty, they are not safe.  But they are exquisite. Do yourself a favor and SAV. OR. THEM. 

Please take care and read the Content Warnings in the front of the book if you need them and decide to embark on this masterpiece of a journey into the darkness and violence that inhabits every one of us.   



Thank you for joining us today! Please share your thoughts about We Are Here to Hurt Each Other and any recent reads with us 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.




Teresa is another new team member. Teresa is a contributing reviewer and runs our Shelf Edition feature each month. You can find Teresa on Goodreads, on Twitter as @teresa_ardrey, when she's not hiding in a corn maze.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

How To Be Eaten by Maria Adelmann Review

Today Audra recommends How To Be Eaten by Maria Adelmann. We hope you'll check it out! 




How to be Eaten by Maria Adelmann

"This darkly funny and provocative novel reimagines classic fairy tale characters as modern women in a support group for trauma.

In present-day New York City, five women meet in a basement support group to process their traumas. Bernice grapples with the fallout of dating a psychopathic, blue-bearded billionaire. Ruby, once devoured by a wolf, now wears him as a coat. Gretel questions her memory of being held captive in a house made of candy. Ashlee, the winner of a Bachelor-esque dating show, wonders if she really got her promised fairy tale ending. And Raina's love story will shock them all.

Though the women start out wary of one another, judging each other’s stories, gradually they begin to realize that they may have more in common than they supposed . . . What really brought them here? What secrets will they reveal? And is it too late for them to rescue each other?

Dark, edgy, and wickedly funny, this debut for readers of Carmen Maria Machado, Kristen Arnett, and Kelly Link takes our coziest, most beloved childhood stories, exposes them as anti-feminist nightmares, and transforms them into a new kind of myth for grown-up women."

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop


Audra's Review

Fairytale retellings always feel like a comfortable and cozy venture to me. I love the shared knowledge that starts us all on the same level as the story, and then the magic comes when that veneer is lifted away and something entirely new is spun out of the expected. The obvious foremother here is Angela Carter and her inimitable The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories, which I'd be remiss not to mention since How to Be Eaten takes on some of the same source material. My personal interest in fractured fairytales was jumpstarted when a librarian read my class The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, which I still highly recommend, and was more recently revived by Her Body and Other Parties: Stories, a more modern iteration that is also interested in the feminist underpinnings Carter made so famous. This is barely scratching the surface of fairytale retellings, and all of this is really just to say that writing in this arena comes with a fair amount of baggage and expectations.

Adelmann's take on the trope centers on a therapy group attended by Ruby (a girl who once had a disturbing encounter with a wolf), Bernice (whose husband told her not to go into his secret room), Gretel (who can't quite remember the truth of her childhood kidnapping), Ashlee (the winner of a reality dating TV show), and Raina (who once had help from a man to spin garbage into gold).

Exploring the aftereffects of the intense and inevitable trauma of situations found in fairytales is a genius idea. I love the concept that these women all became celebrities because of their experiences and have lived in the public eye ever since. Whatever truth they thought they knew about their experience has been mangled by the sensationalizing and rumors and half-truths kept alive by the media and hungry voyeurs. The fairytale you thought you knew is already a lie—so good! The characters are stuck in repetitive and damaging loops and are not fully able to shake off their trauma because it keeps being foisted back upon them, and no one really gets it. Except maybe they can understand each other? It is a thoughtful and timely take on age-old stories that gets at something new and universal about experiencing and internalizing trauma.

The book reads almost more like connected short stories than a full novel, and I may have enjoyed the conceit more if that were the case. As a novel, the threads loosen and don't hold together by the end. There are two main disconnects. The first is between the traditional fairytale stories that have fantastical components such as talking wolves and the modern realism of others like the reality dating show. While reality TV is obviously not really real in its own way, this book doesn't leverage that insight to make a clear point about it.

The second disconnect for me was that some of the women's stories were actually connected to each other while others were not at all. Some of the stories were given a lot more space, giving me time to really connect with the character, and others were held back for a big reveal (view spoiler). It all ended up feeling like disconnected ideas that were Frankenstein-ed together without a full exploration of their common ground.

Still, it's an interesting concept and a welcome addition to the world of fairytale retellings.

My thanks to Little, Brown for my advance copy of this one.



Thank you for joining us today! Please share your thoughts about How to Be Eaten and any recent reads with us 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.





Audra and her horror hound, Ouija, help manage the Horror Spotlight Instagram page, and our monthly release update post. When not ghost hunting or rollerskating, she also contributes articles and helps maintain the website. You can find Audra on Instagram as @ouija.reads, Twitter as @audraudraudra, and Goodreads.

Friday, September 2, 2022

Cassie Recommends Four Poetry Works

👀 Cassie has four poetry recommendations for you today! 




Strange Nests by Jessica McHugh

"...the secret of dying arrived scrawny. it's growing stronger & fatter though & whispers, “go mad.”

Beyond ancient gates, among thorny overgrowth and carnivorous blooms, a raven called Death waits tirelessly for its chance to roost within us. Using scraps of love, remorse, anger, and pain, it weaves. With erasure, memory, and discovery, it binds. And from the garden of wounds that grows within our broken hearts, it builds Strange Nests.

In the follow-up to her Bram Stoker and Elgin Award nominated collection, A Complex Accident of Life, Jessica McHugh uses poetry, design, and illustration to unearth the horrific, consumptive, and transformative nature of grief from the pages of the Frances Hodgson Burnett classic, The Secret Garden"

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop


Cassie's Review

This is my second collection of blackout poetry by Jessica McHugh, and I am officially OBSESSED with her work - not that I wasn't already, but gosh. It's so cool seeing the things that stand out to the author on each page, and seeing the way they arrange and form the words to create a cohesive whole that has its own meaning & message. I honestly can't get enough, and will be buying & reading every single collection - or book - she puts out moving forward. Don't miss this one!!



Monstrum Poetica poetry by Jezzy Wolfe

"When was the last time you walked through the woods? Checked under your bed? Walked down into your basement alone? Monstrum Poetica by Jezzy Wolfe is an invocation of boogeymen, a graveyard seance, a summons to horrors both large and small. This is a collection of poems that bite, scratch, snarl, and bleed. Filled with magnificent beasts and the sounds of cracked bones and broken teeth, Wolfe takes her readers through the folklore and mythology behind some of the world's most terrifying creatures.

Here you'll meet jinn, vampires, werewolves, and wendigos, tangle with mermaids, wraiths, aswang and hellhounds. It's a dance of specters and spiders, a logbook of limbs and lost persons. If you're lucky, you'll learn what to do when the lights flicker, when the lightbulb goes out, when darkness becomes your only friend, and the next time you hear a whisper, or feel the hot breath of fear on your neck, you'll remember what do, where to go...

Because this is a book that teaches you how to hunt monsters, how to track fiends, how to bathe in the blood and digestive juices all of things that go bump in the night. Carry this manual with you. Hold it close, memorize its contents for these poems are warnings, a resounding alarm. I suggest you head them. They might just save your life. "

Amazon Goodreads | Bookshop

Cassie's Review

RDSP is absolutely KILLING IT with their poetry books, honestly. I've read quite a few of them so far, and am always just blown away - and MONSTRUM POETICA is no different!

This was so cool because it's a collection of actual monsters throughout cultures and history. There's a little tidbit about each one, the legends and things that are told about them and where they originated - and then some poetry to go along with it inspired by the things you just learned (or may already know). So unique and so fun, I think this is perfect for not just fans of dark poetry, but of creatures & cryptids & things that go bump in the night in general!



Every Poem A Potion, Every Song A Spell by Stephanie Parent

"In Every Poem A Potion, Every Song A Spell, Stephanie Parent navigates grief and despair through poetry inspired by childhood fairytales. Each poem is a lens providing insight through a woman's internal struggle with identity and perseverance through adversity, the fight it takes to overcome despair, the strength of independence, and the hope that lingers, even still, despite it all. These poems invite the reader to pause and reflect on the fairytales we thought we knew as a child and to draw our gaze inward, searching for our own answers, our own truths, in this world we have come to abide.

-Lindsey Heatherly, author of GOLDEN HOUR MINUS THE GLOW (2021) "

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop

Cassie's Review

I just love dark poetry *SO MUCH*, wow. Especially when the darkness is woven together with fairytales! This was such a unique collection - I've read lots of collections with a sort of similar theme of magic or fantasy or fairytales, but none done quite like this. I love the focus on tales from all corners of the world -- there were some I hadn't heard of before and I really enjoy books that help me learn something new or make me want to research something outside of reading, which this definitely did!

The poems in this were beautiful - I had several marked with 5 stars, and didn't give anything below 4 overall throughout. Sometimes collections by even folks I really adore the writing from can contain a couple misses, so to have such a solid collection here was a great way to spend my reading time!

I read this digitally but will be buying a physical copy so I can highlight all the bits I liked best - and such a cool cover! Definitely gonna be a great addition to my poetry shelf.



Field Guide to Invasive Species of Minnesota poems by Amelia Gorman

"Gorman's Field Guide to Invasive Species Minnesota is a poetic journey into the strange and wonderful world known previously only to the wild. Take a walk through the woods of Minnesota, past the Salton Sea, into the high grass of the prairie, beyond the rivers and creekbeds, into a world of the near-future where nature rules all. After all, the biggest ecological danger of invasive species is the monoculture they create."

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop


Cassie's Review

Okay, so look: I'll be the first to admit I don't know a dang thing about nature, nor do I specifically know a dang thing about nature in Minnesota. Does that mean that a couple of these plant references went over my head, maybe? Sure. Does that mean I enjoyed the collection any less? Nope!

The writing in this was so pretty, which is probably a weird way to describe a collection that seems to mostly metaphorically (and sometimes literally?) be about destruction & nature taking over the world - but it is what it is; gorgeously written, and perfect for an afternoon read in the sun.



Thank you for joining us today! Please share your thoughts about any or all of these works of poetry 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 and contributes website content. 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!

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Horror Spotlight Four-Year Anniversary Celebration!

Today we are kicking off our four-year anniversary! We will be celebrating our anniversary throughout the month of September. We hope you will join us for a two-week readathon, a #HorrorSpotlight group read, and a movie night!. More details below!

Readathon #SpotlightReadathon

#SpotlightReadathon Graphic

Our #SpotlightReadathon is September 1–15. For this readathon we invite you to read diverse horror books from your TBR or use it as an excuse to pick up some new releases! We are providing prompts for this year's readathon, but all diverse horror books count! 

  1. Author You've Never Read
  2. New Release
  3. Book That's Been on Your TBR
  4. Small Press/Indie Book
  5. Book with Your Favorite Horror Trope

Share what you are reading across social media using the hashtag #SpotlightReadathon.

#HorrorSpotlight Group Read

What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher

Our group read for September is What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher.

The readalong discussion will take place on our Horror Spotlight discord server.

The readalong begins today September 1, and discussions will take place throughout the month of September (and beyond for anyone who wants to keep the discussion going!)

You can join in any time during the month. We often have group members who will join in mid-month or later.

We use spoiler tags to hide any spoilers so feel free to jump in when you are ready!

#HorrorSpotlight Movie Night

We will be hosting a #HorrorSpotlight movie night Wednesday, September 21 at  4:30 PT/7:30 ET. More details to follow! The link to our watch party will be posted on the Horror Spotlight discord server on the night of the movie.

We are looking forward to celebrating with you!! Let us know if you have any questions!



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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

The Forest by Lisa Quigley Review

Today Kathy & Audra recommend Lisa Quigley's THE FOREST. We hope you'll check it out! 




The Forest by Lisa Quigley

"Everyone in Edgewood believes their annual tithes at the fall festival are what purchase Edgewood’s safety, but as Faye and her husband prepare to take over as town stewards—a long tradition carried out by her family for generations—they learn the terrible truth: in order to guarantee the town’s safety, the forest demands an unthinkable sacrifice.

In the midst of everything, Faye is secretly battling debilitating postpartum anxiety that makes her all the more terrified to leave the safe cocoon of her enchanted town.

When everyone turns against her—including her own husband—Faye is forced to flee with her infant son into the forest. She must face whatever lurks there and, perhaps most frightening of all, the dark torments of her own mind.

The Forest is an adult folk horror novel appealing to fans of 'The Lottery' by Shirley Jackson and Bird Box by Josh Malerman, with a hint of The Changeling by Victor LaValle. It is Quigley’s debut novel."

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop


Kathy's Review

Lisa Quigley’s debut novel The Forest is disturbing, but I found myself anxiously turning the pages to discover the answers to questions that no mother should ever have to face.

Quigley uses a unique style of dividing the chapters into “the present” and “before the forest” to develop two frightening questions: what would a mother do to save the life of her newborn baby, and would a mother sacrifice the life of her baby to save the people that she loves? She uses foreshadowing to subtly plant these questions into the readers’ minds to create so much fear and anxiety that they will probably read all afternoon to find answers.

The Forest begins in “The Present.” The town of Edgewood has always been safe and protected. The community preserves this lifestyle by sacrificing their most valuable possessions in exchange for the protection from the surrounding forest. As the fall festival approaches, Faye realizes that her family and community, especially her mother and husband, expect her to sacrifice her newborn Jonas at the festival since it is her most valuable possession. Faye refuses to let that happen and secretly plans an escape through the forest. She drugs her husband Charlie so that he will not wake up and notice she has fled. When her mother confronts her at the bottom of the stairs, Faye knocks her unconscious.

Faye’s escape is perilous as the townspeople attempt to capture her and Jonas. She uses some man-made camouflage shelters, a family member’s aid, and a dark and wet underground tunnel to protect her until she can reach the surface. Faye faces numerous obstacles as she tries to keep a step ahead of her captors.

I loved this debut novel, and I recommend it for its suspense, family secret, and outcome.


Audra's Review

A folk horror novella that centers on a small town and the ugly secret behind its perfect facade.

With chapters that alternate between the present (Faye running through the forest, trying to escape her hometown with her infant son) and the past (what happened before she flees), this one keeps you turning pages—I just wanted to know what was going to happen to Faye and her son! The back-and-forth also gives you time to slowly understand the scope of the story, which incorporates a dark fantastical mindset alongside the very real horrors of postpartum depression and fear for the life of one's child.

There are some definite cultish vibes here, in the sense of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" or Harvest Home, where an idyllic veneer covers a dark truth and those who benefit from it are willing to ignore the grotesque reality. For me, Faye's time in the forest felt a bit repetitive and I wish that the story could have focused more on the events of the climax, which come a bit out of nowhere and are too neatly tied up at the end.

Overall, this is a strong, emotive debut that reveals Quigley as a new voice in horror fiction.

My thanks to the publisher for my review copy of this one.



Thank you for joining us today! Please share your thoughts about The Forest and any recent reads with us 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.




Audra and her horror hound, Ouija, help manage the Horror Spotlight Instagram page, and our monthly release update post. When not ghost hunting or rollerskating, she also contributes articles and helps maintain the website. You can find Audra on Instagram as @ouija.reads, Twitter as @audraudraudra, and Goodreads.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

New Release Spotlight: August 30

Welcome to New Release Spotlight where we shine a spotlight on a few of the diverse horror books being released each week!

Number One Fan by Meg Elison

Number One Fan by Meg Elison

She created a beautiful world. Now he wants it all.

On her way to a speaking engagement, bestselling novelist Eli Grey gets into a cab and accepts a drink from the driver, trusting that everything is fine. She wakes up chained in the stranger’s basement. With no close family or friends expecting her to check in, Eli knows she needs to save herself. She soon realizes that her abduction wasn’t random, and though she thinks she might recognize her captor, she can’t figure out what he wants. Her only clues are that he’s very familiar with her books and deeply invested in the fantastical world she creates. What follows is a test of wills as Eli pits herself against a man who believes she owes him everything—and is determined to take it from her.

Terrifying and timely, set against the backdrop of convention culture and the MeToo reckoning, Number One Fan unflinchingly examines the tension between creator and work, fandom and source material, and the rage of fans who feel they own fiction.

Expected publication: August 30th 2022 by MIRA | Goodreads | Amazon


Suburban Hell by Maureen Kilmer

Suburban Hell by Maureen Kilmer

A Chicago cul-de-sac is about to get a new neighbor...of the demonic kind.

Amy Foster considers herself lucky. After she left the city and moved to the suburbs, she found her place quickly with neighbors Liz, Jess, and Melissa, snarking together from the outskirts of the PTA crowd. One night during their monthly wine get-together, the crew concoct a plan for a clubhouse She Shed in Liz's backyard--a space for just them, no spouses or kids allowed.

But the night after they christen the She Shed, things start to feel . . . off. They didn't expect Liz's little home-improvement project to release a demonic force that turns their quiet enclave into something out of a nightmare. And that's before the homeowners' association gets wind of it.

Even the calmest moms can't justify the strange burn marks, self-moving dolls, and horrible smells surrounding their possessed friend, Liz. Together, Amy, Jess, and Melissa must fight the evil spirit to save Liz and the neighborhood . . . before the suburbs go completely to hell.

Expected publication: August 30th 2022 by G.P. Putnam's Sons | Goodreads | Amazon


Unmasked by Lorien Lawrence

Unmasked by Lorien Lawrence

The third book in the spine-chilling Fright Watch series follows the local monster mask maker—and a mask that comes to life on Halloween nightHaving suffered from anxiety attacks since she was eight years old, creating monsters has become a sort of therapy for Marion Jones: When she sculpts and paints, her fingers don’t tingle, the heaviness lifts from her chest, and she can actually breathe. So instead of grabbing pizza and milkshakes after school like most other kids in South Haven, Marion holes up in her room, working away on her monsters. And it’s paid off, because she’s just finished her first full-face mask: a gruesome sea monster she’s named Winston.
 
However, Halloween arrives with a Super Blue Blood Moon, and its powers somehow manage to bring Winston to life. To make matters worse, Marion’s crush, Tyler Dash, becomes the object of Winston’s possession as soon as he tries on the mask, turning him into a red-flannel and Converse high-top wearing Creature from Connecticut. Marion has no choice: She has to follow Tyler to the Halloween dance to try and stop him. Will she be able to figure out what’s happened to Tyler and stop the monster from wreaking further havoc on the school? Or has she made a real-life monster that’s here to stay?

Expected publication: August 30th 2022 by Amulet Books | 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.

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