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.

Monday, August 29, 2022

YA/MG Horror Spotlight August 2022

The Horror Spotlight team is putting a spotlight on Young Adult and Middle Grade horror each month. Below we are featuring the books that were released in August!

First up we would like to congratulate team member Cassie on her YA release Brutal Hearts!

Brutal Hearts by Cassie Daley

Brutal Hearts by Cassie Daley

It's 1997 and Leah just can't seem to catch a break.

A year has passed since her fiancé went missing while hiking alone on a mountain, and she can't shake the unanswered questions and nightmares Simon left behind.

On the anniversary of his disappearance, Leah and her new girlfriend Josie return to the trail where Simon disappeared with two of their best friends. Armed with incense, tarot cards, crystals, and snacks, the girls have everything they need to complete the Ritual of Closure to help Leah finally say goodbye to Simon, once and for all.

But the trails are hiding something sinister, and it's been waiting. As night falls around them, the girls find themselves in a deadly game against something vicious and wild that's made a home for itself on the mountain.

It's time to find out what really happened to Simon.

Published July 15th 2022 by Galactic Press | Goodreads | Etsy


Young Adult New Releases

These Fleeting Shadows by Kate Alice Marshall


These Fleeting Shadows by Kate Alice Marshall

The Haunting of Hill House meets Knives Out in a bid for an inheritance that will leave Helen Vaughan either rich...or dead.

Helen Vaughan doesn't know why she and her mother left their ancestral home at Harrowstone Hall, called Harrow, or why they haven't spoken to their extended family since. So when her grandfather dies, she's shocked to learn that he has left everything—the house, the grounds, and the money—to her. The inheritance comes with one condition: she must stay on the grounds of Harrow for one full year, or she'll be left with nothing.

There is more at stake than money. For as long as she can remember, Harrow has haunted Helen's dreams—and now those dreams have become a waking nightmare. Helen knows that if she is going to survive the year, she needs to uncover the secrets of Harrow. Why is the house built like a labyrinth? What is digging the holes that appear in the woods each night?And why does the house itself seem to be making her sick?

With each twisted revelation, Helen questions what she knows about Harrow, her family, and even herself. She no longer wonders if she wants to leave…but if she can.

Published August 9th 2022 by Viking Books for Young Readers | Goodreads | Amazon

Belladonna (Belladonna #1) by Adalyn Grace

Belladonna (Belladonna #1) by Adalyn Grace

New York Times bestselling author Adalyn Grace brings to life a highly romantic, Gothic-infused world of wealth, desire, and betrayal.

Orphaned as a baby, nineteen-year-old Signa has been raised by a string of guardians, each more interested in her wealth than her well-being—and each has met an untimely end. Her remaining relatives are the elusive Hawthornes, an eccentric family living at Thorn Grove, an estate both glittering and gloomy. Its patriarch mourns his late wife through wild parties, while his son grapples for control of the family’s waning reputation and his daughter suffers from a mysterious illness. But when their mother’s restless spirit appears claiming she was poisoned, Signa realizes that the family she depends on could be in grave danger and enlists the help of a surly stable boy to hunt down the killer.

However, Signa’s best chance of uncovering the murderer is an alliance with Death himself, a fascinating, dangerous shadow who has never been far from her side. Though he’s made her life a living hell, Death shows Signa that their growing connection may be more powerful—and more irresistible—than she ever dared imagine.

Expected publication: August 30th 2022 by Little, Brown for Young Readers | Goodreads | Amazon




Middle Grade New Releases

Camp Scare by Delilah S. Dawson


Camp Scare by Delilah S. Dawson

An eerie, twisty ghost story about twelve-year-old Parker, who only wanted a summer of fun and new friendship, and the nightmare she finds instead.

Don't forget your flashlight...

Parker Nelson can't wait for summer camp. She'll have fun and make amazing memories, far away from the bullies who made seventh grade unbearable.

But then something terrible happens: The mean girl who made life a living nightmare is in Parker's cabin. Soon all the other girls turn on Parker, too--no one wants to be her friend. Except Jenny.

Jenny's the only one who is willing to listen. The only one who understands. The only one who feels the same way Parker does: That there's a deep, dark secret to making friends and she's the only one who doesn't know it.

But there's something else Parker doesn't know. Something bad happened at the camp a long time ago, and it just won't stay buried...

Published August 2nd 2022 by Delacorte Press | Goodreads | Amazon

Empty Smiles (Small Spaces #4) by Katherine Arden

Empty Smiles (Small Spaces #4) by Katherine Arden

New York Times bestselling author Katherine thrills once again in the finale to the critically acclaimed, spook-tacular quartet that began with Small Spaces.

It’s been three months since Ollie made a daring deal with the smiling man to save those she loved, and then vanished without a trace. The smiling man promised Coco, Brian and Phil, that they’d have a chance to save her, but as time goes by, they begin to worry that the smiling man has lied to them and Ollie is gone forever. But finally, a clue surfaces. A boy who went missing at a nearby traveling carnival appears at the town swimming hole, terrified and rambling. He tells anyone who'll listen about the mysterious man who took him. How the man agreed to let him go on one condition: that he deliver a message. Play if you dare.

Game on! The smiling man has finally made his move. Now it’s Coco, Brian, and Phil’s turn to make theirs. And they know just where to start. The traveling carnival is coming to Evansburg.

Meanwhile, Ollie is trapped in the world behind the mist, learning the horrifying secrets of the smiling man's carnival, trying everything to help her friends find her. Brian, Coco and Phil will risk everything to rescue Ollie—but they all soon realize this game is much more dangerous than the ones before. This time the smiling man is playing for keeps.

The summer nights are short, and Ollie, Coco, Brian, and Phil have only until sunrise to beat him once and for all—or it’s game over for everyone.

Published August 9th 2022 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers | Goodreads | Amazon

This Appearing House by Ally Malinenko


This Appearing House by Ally Malinenko 

From the author of Ghost Girl comes another standalone spooky middle grade for fans of Nightbooks and Ghost Squad, about a terrifying house and the girl haunted by her experience with cancer, grief, and healing. Are you brave enough to step inside?

For as long as anyone could remember there wasn't a house at the dead end of Juniper Drive . . . until one day there was.

When Jac first sees the House, she's counting down to the five-year anniversary of her cancer diagnosis, when she hopefully will be declared NED, or "no evidence of disease." But with a house appearing, and her hands shaking, and a fall off her bike, Jac is starting to wonder if these are symptoms--or if something stranger is happening.

Two classmates dare Jac and her friend Hazel to enter the House. Walking through the front door is the way in. It's definitely not the way out. There's something off about the House; Jac can feel it. The same way she knows it's no coincidence that the House appeared for her five-year marker. It wants something from her. And she won't be able to get out until she figures out what.

Published August 16th 2022 by Katherine Tegen Books | Goodreads | Amazon

Daybreak on Raven Island by Fleur T. Bradley


Daybreak on Raven Island by Fleur T. Bradley

From the critically acclaimed author of Midnight at the Barclay Hotel comes a thrilling new middle grade mystery novel inspired by Alcatraz Prison.

Tori, Marvin, and Noah would rather be anywhere else than on the seventh grade class field trip to Raven Island prison. Tori would rather be on the soccer field, but her bad grades have benched her until further notice; Marvin would rather be at the first day of a film festival with his best friend, Kevin; and Noah isn't looking forward to having to make small talk with his classmates at this new school.

But when the three of them stumble upon a dead body in the woods, miss the last ferry back home, and then have to spend the night on Raven Island, they find that they need each other now more than ever. They must work together to uncover a killer, outrun a motley ghost-hunting crew, and expose the age-old secrets of the island all before daybreak.

Published August 23rd 2022 by Viking Books for Young Readers | Goodreads | Amazon

Unmasked (Fright Watch #3) by Lorien Lawrence

Unmasked (Fright Watch #3) 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.

Friday, August 26, 2022

Burn Down, Rise Up by Vincent Tirado Review

Today Heather recommends Vincent Tirado's BURN DOWN, RISE  UP. We hope you'll check it out! 




Burn Down, Rise Up by Vincent Tirado

"Stranger Things meets Get Out in this Sapphic Horror debut from nonbinary, Afro-Latine author Vincent Tirado.

Mysterious disappearances.

An urban legend rumored to be responsible.

And one group of teens determined to save their city at any cost.

For over a year, the Bronx has been plagued by sudden disappearances that no one can explain. Sixteen-year-old Raquel does her best to ignore it. After all, the police only look for the white kids. But when her crush Charlize's cousin goes missing, Raquel starts to pay attention—especially when her own mom comes down with a mysterious illness that seems linked to the disappearances.

Raquel and Charlize team up to investigate, but they soon discover that everything is tied to a terrifying urban legend called the Echo Game. The game is rumored to trap people in a sinister world underneath the city, and the rules are based on a particularly dark chapter in New York's past. And if the friends want to save their home and everyone they love, they will have to play the game and destroy the evil at its heart—or die trying.!!"

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop


Heather's Review

Fantastic!!

Monsters, mold, mayhem, mystery! I could add some other M words like Marvelous, but I will stop bothering you with that!

I adored this book, I adored the characters, I adored the mystery. I adored the whole back story holding it together.

The characters are stubborn and loving and fight for the people they love and the place they live.

It's definitely a fun story! You should definitely check out! These are the books high school me would have ate up. I'm glad the younger generation of kids of color get to see themselves kicking butt in books!!



Thank you for joining us today! Please share any thoughts about Burn Down, Rise Up or any other 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, August 25, 2022

Shelf Edition: Teresa Ardrey

Today our team member Teresa is here to show off her shelves and make some recommendations. Welcome, Teresa!

Do you have any recent favorite Horror Spotlight books?

Recent as in read this year, not necessarily published this year (though some are). Pictured here:


Transmuted by Eve Harms
 

To Offer Her Pleasure by Ali Seay 

Below by Laurel Hightower 

The Ghost Sequences by A.C. Wise 

The Hunger by Alma Katsu 

Your Body is Not Your Body from Tenebrous Press 

Sometimes We’re Cruel by J.A.W. McCarthy 

Tidepool by Nicole Wilson

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

The majority of my TBR is Horror Spotlight! But I will keep the list to lucky 13! 

The Festering Ones by S.H. Cooper

Diet Riot ed by SonoraTaylor and Nico Bell

The Valancourt Book of World Horror Stories Vols 1 and 2

Sister Séance by Aimee Parkison

The Night by Rodrigo Blanco Calderon, Translated by Daniel Hahn and Noel Hernandez Gonzalez

Eve Written by Victor LaValle, Art by Jo Mi-Gyeong, Colors by Brittany Peer, Letters by Andworld Design

The Law of the Skies by Gregoire Courtois, Translated by Rhonda Mullins

We Are the Ones Possessed by Adrian Ernesto Cepeda

Fauna by Christiane Vadnais, Translated by Pablo Strauss

Ghosts of You by Cathy Ulrich

When Other People Saw Us They Saw the Dead ed by Lauren T. Davila

 


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

Mostly Twitter, really.  I joined Twitter to talk about books and managed to find a community that has actually read many of the same books as me, which was rare before, so when something new is recommended, I listen. Also, I am in two book clubs and I frequently do buddy reads, both of which have given me plenty of books to pick up that I would not have heard of otherwise.

A few that were recommended that I loved are Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, The Fourth Whore by EV Knight, An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon, and Flowers from The Sea by Zin E Rocklyn.

Where do you prefer to shop for books?

I try to mostly buy my books either direct from the publisher or author, if they are small/independent.  And I frequent my local indie bookstore Whitty Books, which has an amazing horror section. I mostly get my graphics and comic books from Comix Experience.   

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

House of Hunger by Alexis Henderson

Leech by Hiron Ennes

Soft Places by Betty Rocksteady

The Spite House by Johnny Compton

The Vineyard, Written by Brian Hawkins, Art by Sami Kivelä, Colors by Jason Wordie, Letters by Taylor Esposito

 

I am sure there are so many more, but I sometimes have a hard enough time keeping up with current books.  Future me can discover more and it gives her something to look forward to.


Thank you for joining us, Teresa! 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 contributing reviewer at Horror Spotlight. You can find Teresa on Goodreads, on Twitter and at Divination Hollow.


 

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Three Days In The Pink Tower by EV Knight

We are changing up our review format and will be posting complete reviews of recommended books by our team members and will no longer be doing a weekly review roundup at this time. Each of our team members has their own unique review style and we hope you enjoy the variety. Today Laurie is recommending EV Knight's newest release. We hope you'll check it out! 




Three Days in the Pink Tower by EV Knight

"Josey Claypool begins the summer before her senior year at a carnival, where a fortune teller with milky-white eyes gives her a foreboding tarot reading. She’s spooked, but nothing could prepare her for the following day when two strange men show up at her front door.

Josey is kidnapped at gunpoint and brought to a pink cabin in the woods where she is held prisoner. In her darkest moment, the fortune teller appears and gives her a deck of tarot cards, which she must cast and interpret in a fight for her life.

In this work of speculative autofiction, award-winning author EV Knight reclaims the narrative of her own past in an exploration of trauma, agency, and survival."

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop


Laurie's Review

A few reviewers have already said this book is not an easy one to read (or review) and they’re not exaggerating. The author has bravely taken her own horrific lived experience of her kidnapping and rape to fuel this story of trauma leaving readers with a novella of strength, survival, and retribution. She could’ve written a memoir but instead, she said fuck those guys and fuck those people who attempt to victim blame and she took all of that justifiable rage and wrote this book instead. If you’re in a good spot to handle the content, it’s a powerful read worth your reading time.

Josey is a pretty teen who has a bright future ahead of her when, one terrible day, everything is derailed by two vile men and a gun. But before all of that happens, we get to know Josey. She’s flirty and free and enjoying her life. The story opens at a carnival where Josey gets lost in a mirrored not-so-fun house and has a disturbing encounter with a creeper. Already shaken, she visits a tarot reader whose reading is unsettling, to say the least. This sets up everything that is to come and also envelops you in Josey’s surroundings as well as the inner workings of her mind. The sounds, the smells, and the experiences put you quite firmly in her world and fill you with a relentless feeling of anxiety and dread that will cling to you long after you turn the final page.

I had to read this story in small doses because it is a lot to take in but in no way do I regret reading it. The writing is quite beautiful and the weaving in of the tarot is such a compelling and thoughtful part of the story. The cover, a haunting artistic rendering of the (dreaded) Tower card, tells you a bit about what you’re in for here in a way that ties in with elements from the story inside. It’s all so well put together. Three Days In the Pink Tower is an exploration of trauma that looks intimately at the disgusting face of evil and allows the writer to take back her power. It’s an important book that I hope many will take the time to read. 


Thank you for joining us today! Please share your 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.



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.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

New Release Spotlight: August 23

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

Reluctant Immortals by Gwendolyn Kiste

Reluctant Immortals by Gwendolyn Kiste

For fans of Mexican Gothic, from three-time Bram Stoker Award–winning author Gwendolyn Kiste comes a novel inspired by the untold stories of forgotten women in classic literature--from Lucy Westenra, a victim of Stoker’s Dracula, and Bertha Mason, from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre--as they band together to combat the toxic men bent on destroying their lives, set against the backdrop of the Summer of Love, Haight-Ashbury, 1967.

Reluctant Immortals is a historical horror novel that looks at two men of classic literature, Dracula and Mr. Rochester, and the two women who survived them, Bertha and Lucy, who are now undead immortals residing in Los Angeles in 1967 when Dracula and Rochester make a shocking return in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco.

Combining elements of historical and gothic fiction with a modern perspective, in a tale of love and betrayal and coercion, Reluctant Immortals is the lyrical and harrowing journey of two women from classic literature as they bravely claim their own destiny in a man’s world.

Expected publication: August 23rd 2022 by Gallery / Saga Press Goodreads | Amazon


Cool S by Die Booth

Cool S by Die Booth

Tracy Forrest has it all. A great boyfriend, loyal best mate, good job and new house. But something is missing. There’s a wistful longing for good times gone by that Trace just can’t lay to rest. When she spots a ubiquitous and mysterious teenage doodle in an old schoolbook, she becomes obsessed with finding out what it is.

You know Cool S?
Yeah, you do.
Cool S. Super S. Pointy S. THE S. That thing we all doodled on notebooks and schoolbooks and pencil cases, maybe graffitied on a park bench or a bus stop if you were frisky.

Ever wondered what it was? Where it came from? What it means?
Well, I’m here to tell you. Are you sure you want to know?

Cool S. Some things should stay lost.

Expected publication: August 25th 2022  | Goodreads | Smashwords




Ashthorne by April Yates

Ashthorne by April Yates

In the aftermath of WWI, Adelaide Frost is on the run from a family who do not understand her. Hoping to do some good, she signs up to become a nurse at Ashthorne, a manor house newly designated as a convalescence home for injured soldiers. She quickly falls in love with the owner’s daughter, Evelyn, who hides a warm heart beneath a chilly exterior. But Evelyn has her suspicions about what’s really happening at the hospital, and as Adelaide helps her investigate, it soon becomes apparent that there are more inhabitants residing at Ashthorne than first thought.

A romantic Gothic treat perfect for fans of Sarah Waters and The Haunting of Bly Manor, Ashthorne is the debut novella by Derbyshire author April Yates, who was inspired to tell this story by the Ice Age art carved into the walls of local caves.

Expected publication: August 23rd 2022 by Ghost Orchid Press | Amazon | Goodreads




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 3, 2022

What We've Been Reading #135

Today our team members recommend Laurel Hightower's recent release, a "The Stepfather" inspired novel by Stephanie Sparks, and a backlist title by Catherine Cavendish.




Below by Laurel Hightower

HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO TO HELP A STRANGER?

While driving through the mountains of West Virginia during a late-night snowstorm, a recently divorced woman experiences bizarre electrical problems, leaving her with little choice but to place her trust with a charismatic truck driver. But when an unexplainable creature with haunting red eyes gets between them, she is forced to make one of the toughest decisions of her life. Will she abandon the stranger who kept her safe—or will she climb down below, where reality has shapeshifted into a living nightmare?

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop

Audra's Teaser Review

"A delightfully creepy creature feature, this novella is a one-sitting read that will keep you guessing."

Read Audra's entire review at Goodreads.




The Stepchildren by Stephanie Sparks

Jamie Riley had always suspected that something was wrong with her stepfather. Burt Valentine wasn’t just a man on the hunt for the perfect life — he was a fugitive family annihilator who murdered his own wife and children.

After Jamie escapes his violent attack, she learns years later that Burt had infiltrated and destroyed other families too, leaving a trail of physically and emotionally broken stepchildren.

As adults, Jamie and the other survivors come together in group therapy where they discover that Burt has died in prison. All too familiar with her stepfather’s M.O. of faking his death, Jamie refuses to believe he’s dead, and the only way to be sure is to break into a funeral home to see his corpse.

But as it turns out, even in death, stepdaddy dearest still has a few deadly surprises left for his wayward stepchildren.

Inspired by The Stepfather movie franchise, THE STEPCHILDREN is a psychological horror novel that explores what happens to the child survivors of a serial killer whose evil continues to haunt them.

Goodreads | Amazon  |  Bookshop

Alex's Teaser Review

"THE STEPCHILDREN by Stephanie Sparks is a quick read and fast-paced horror story in the vein of the beloved late 80s franchise, The Stepfather. The twist? It is from the perspective of multiple surviving stepchildren."

Read Alex's entire review at Goodreads.




Wrath of the Ancients by Catherine Cavendish

Egypt, 1908: Eminent archaeologist Dr. Emeryk Quintillus has unearthed the burial chamber of Cleopatra. But this tomb raider’s obsession with the Queen of the Nile has nothing to do with preserving history. Stealing sacred and priceless relics, he murders his expedition crew, and flees—escaping the quake that swallows the site beneath the desert sands...

Vienna, 1913: Young widow Adeline Ogilvy has accepted employment at the mansion of Dr. Quintillus, transcribing the late professor’s memoirs. Within the pages of his journals, she discovers the ravings of a madman convinced he possessed the ability to reincarnate Cleopatra. Within the walls of his home, she is assailed by unexplained phenomena: strange sounds, shadowy figures, and apparitions of hieroglyphics.

Something pursued Dr. Quintillus from Egypt. Something dark, something hungry. Something tied to the fate and future of Adeline Ogilvy...

Goodreads | Amazon 

Laurie's Teaser Review

"It’s the perfect book to curl up with on a cold night next to a few candles or a fireplace (if you’re lucky enough to have one) or a cooperative beast and I think many readers will enjoy the story especially if you’re interested in ancient Gods and curses."

Read Laurie's entire review at Goodreads.


Thank you for joining us today! We hope you found something to add to your tbr list. Please share your 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.



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.

Monday, August 1, 2022

2022 LOHF Writers Grant


The Horror Spotlight team is excited to announce the 4th LOHF Writers Grant! This will be the last year the grant will be a "Ladies of Horror Fiction" grant. Read on for more details from Steve Stred!

Letter from Steve Stred

The End (?)

Way back in 2018, I had an idea.

Back then – pre-Covid times – I saw constant chatter on the various social media platforms that numerous awards were always going to “old white dudes.” It’s true. If you go take a look a historical winners of book awards, music awards, movie awards, TV awards, heck even sports awards – white dudes clean up. And the same was so for Grants/Scholarships etc.

So, I had an idea. I had been thinking of releasing a book and giving the profits to a worthy cause. At first I was thinking Autism research because my awesome nephew, Gabe has high functioning Autism. After chatting with my sister, she said that while it was a nice gesture, the reality was, if the donation wasn’t massive, it wouldn’t accomplish much. True.

And then I swung my sights back to the world of books. I wanted to help. People needed help. How could we connect the dots?

Back then, I was DMing with Toni from LOHF and threw it out there – would the LOHF partner up with me to offer a Grant? I wanted a Grant that had no caveats or attachments to it. Cash in hand. Many Grants and Scholarships (and no ill-will towards them when I say this) have specific actions attached. You must use the funds to pay for a writing course, or a conference registration and so on and so forth.

That’s fine and great. But to me, I wanted this help to go to whatever aspect the recipients needed help. It could be editing costs, cover art costs, writing software or, at the end of the day, groceries, bills or babysitting to free up time. Whatever the need, some funds to help.

So, when Toni replied that the LOHF would be on board, I was OVER THE MOON! As much as this little essay so far seems to be STEVE based, I never wanted this to be about me. I wanted this to be about the awesome writers out there and something to help them achieve their goals and dreams.

In year one, we had one Grant. Each year since, it’s grown.

But so too has the LOHF, who’re – at this exact time – metamorphosing and transforming into something bigger, brighter and even more spectacular. That group and I, share a similar philosophy, which ultimately boils down to this; ‘More We and less I.’ We’re stronger as a group when we all work together to help and make sure we all succeed.

Over the years, the recipients have done some amazing things, and that wouldn’t have been possible without the tireless work of the LOHF crew. Some have come and gone and others have been there since the start, so I won’t try and list them all here – instead, I’ll just say – from the bottom of my heart, thank you for taking this on. From creating the application form to sharing the application links and reading through the submissions and ultimately choosing who would receive them each year – wow! So much work and you’ve all done it behind the scenes and making sure things went off without a hitch.

To every single author who applied – thank you as well. I wish I was a bajillionaire and every application would’ve been able to be chosen – but thank you for putting yourself out there as well as sharing and telling others about this.

To the Grant recipients – thank you for applying and believing in us as well.

To all of the Grant Sponsors – a huge, huge thank you! I funded the first one on my own and then sponsored a Grant in each year since. But to all of you who stepped up and sponsored additional Grants each year, just know it brought a tear to my eye. You’re all a bunch of solid folks.

Which brings us to the beginning of what I wrote here and the ending. This will be the final year of the LOHF Writers Grant. With the changes occurring, it made sense for us to end it here. As such, with things changing, this year we decided to keep the sponsors anonymous. We always want things to be transparent and fair, but with the changes happening, this was the only way, and to us it made sense.

Applications will open and recipients will be chosen and awarded as with the last years.

Then what?

I’m not sure. At this point, I’d like to keep doing something similar. The reality is – I simply can’t take on an entire Grant system on my own. I run on a bare minimum of time and energy as is and I really can’t manage to do that as well, and I also wouldn’t want myself to be the only one determining the Grants.

I’ll be reaching out to a few different places and see what we can figure out.

In closing, thank you to everyone who embraced this crazy fun Grant over the last four years. Likes, shares, retweets, tags, applications, recipients, etc. It was all a blast and I’m so happy with how this came together.

Good luck to those applying!

Until we meet again.

Steve

Eligibility Requirements

The LOHF Writers Grant is inclusive to all women and non-binary femmes who have reasonably demonstrated a commitment to writing in the horror genre. All grant provided funds must be used in a manner that will help develop the applicant’s career.

The applicant must not have received the LOHF Writers Grant within the previous three years.

Application Process

In order to apply for the LOHF Writers Grant, you must fill out the LOHF Writers Grant Application by 11:59pm CST August 31, 2022.

Selection Process

Grant recipients will be selected by members of the LOHF Writers Grant Committee consisting of non-disclosed members of Horror Spotlight.

Grant Disbursement

Grant recipients will receive the LOHF Writers Grant in the amount of $100. The Horror Spotlight team will announce the recipients of the LOHF Writers Grant on September 15, 2022. At that time, the LOHF Writers Grant Committee will also notify Steve Stred of the recipients.

Contribute to the Writers Grant

If you would like to contribute to this year's LOHF Writers Grant or future grant projects, contact Steve Stred via email for more details.


The Horror Spotlight team assists with the selection of the LOHF Writers Grant recipients. All funding and disbursement of funds are at the sole discretion of the grant donors.

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