"Welcome to Count Gore De Vol's Tomb of Dark Delights. I'm J. L. Comeau, horror writer and resident Tomb Keeper. I have been charged with the daunting task of sorting and cataloging the Count's vast library of horror, science fiction and fantasy. Take a torch from the wall and follow me down the stone stairway into the darkness deep beneath the Dungeon. It's cold and damp down here--perfect for the kind of reading we're going to do. Never mind the shambling figures in the shadows, they're probably just some friends of ours looking for a good book. If you click on the cover, you'll be taken to a wonderful place where you can buy the book.
Now, let's reach into the musty stacks and see what we can find..."
(Clicking on the covers gives you more information and prices from Amazon.com and other outlets.)
So you’re busy with no time to read? Balderdash!
Turn off the TV and chill with these two excellent short works of supernatural
horror. You’ll thank me. Yep. You’re welcome.
809 JACOB STREET by Marty Young
It used to be that every neighborhood had that one creepy, ill-tended house that childhood imaginations turned into monster’s lairs, just as Scout and Jem Finch imagined their neighbor, Boo Radley, as a monster inhabiting a house of horrors. Most modern new neighborhoods lack these picaresque run-down homes, but in some small American towns the neighborhood haunted house remains. Such is the house at 809 Jacob Street in the small town of Parkton, where parents tell their offspring of strange, dark figures that will snatch bad children in the dark if they venture outside after sundown. Joey Blue is an aged jazzman who roams the streets in an alcoholic fugue trying to escape his own internal boogeyman that drives him to the terrible house on Jacob Street, and what he sees there is…bad. Very bad indeed. Enter the new kid in town, Byron, who is finding it difficult to make new friends. He eventually hooks up with the local teenage outcasts, one of whom decides that their little group is going to investigate 809 Jacob Street and see just what the hell is going on there. And what will they find? Well…it’s bad. Very bad indeed. This is a terrific haunted house story and a fast read at 190 pages. Looking for a chilling supernatural thrill ride? You’ve got it right here. For more about the author, head on over to www.martyyoung.com
FLESH FAILURE by Sèphera Girón
In addition to being a well-known medium who throws a mean Tarot, Sèphera Girón is a celebrated fiction writer whose recent horror novellas have been pushing the edges of current dark literature in terms of audacious themes and increasingly razored prose. In her newest novella from Samhain, FLESH FAILURE, she captures the reader from the first page with a truly chill-inducing story set in 1888 London. Pity poor Agatha, who awakens in a shallow grave from which she agonizingly emerges over the period of a full week to stagger into the foggy, gas-lit London streets lacking all memory of her past or why she was summarily buried and left for dead. She can barely ambulate, for her body is a shambling contrivance of sewn-together body parts, the seams oozing and maggot-ridden, filthy with dirt and detritus of the grave. She finds friendship and solace with her new group of friends, Whitechapel prostitutes who welcome Agatha into their outcast society. They are terrified of a mad killer the press is calling Jack the Ripper, but Agatha has more pressing concerns. She must find what she needs to stay alive, and that is a galvanic charge of electricity. Her memories begin return in a haze as foggy as an East End midnight, propelling her into the dark corridors of London Hospital, a locale that leads her to the terrible place where she was created. This is a great riff on Shelley’s grand monster, a fast-paced novella that can be devoured in the span of an evening. For more about the author, you may visit her online resting place at http://www.sff.net/people/seph/.
This week I present two books that prove the point that genre literature
does not have to be noisy or gory to be excellent. Talent is a wonderful
A QUIET NIGHT OF FEAR by Charles L. Grant
Who can recall the great hey-days days of horror that saw such great authors as Stephen King and Charles L. Grant emerge from a field of mucky garbage that included really dumb giant crab and rat monster novels? Me! Richard Matheson ushered in a new wave of grand horror storytelling and, as genres tend to do, horror split into distinct sub-genres. Two distinct types of horror emerged in the 1980s, a graphic, gore-drenched style called Splatterpunk, helmed by bad boys Skipp and Spector, and Quiet Horror, a literate, atmospheric style championed by Charles L. Grant and his contemporaries. The late, great Mr. Grant’s chilly brand of terror, exemplified by his award-winning Shadows series of anthologies, ran into the 1990s and included some of the finest horror fiction of its day. His collection of novellas entitled Nightmare Seasons won the World Fantasy Award, and his unforgettable short story, “A Crowd of Shadows” won one of his two Nebula Awards. One of the most talented and versatile genre authors of his generation, Mr. Grant also produced the occasional science fiction/horror hybrid tale such as this, A QUIET NIGHT OF FEAR. In this novel published in 1981, Carole Drake, editor for a large publishing company, finds herself enveloped in a nightmare when she takes a vacation in a seaside resort called Starburst. When vacationers begin dying, it becomes evident that time-travelers are involved and the killer may not be human. Suspenseful and atmospheric, this is a literary treat for fans of “quiet horror”, and a splendid example of Mr. Grant’s deft and mesmerizing fiction.
BUILT TO SERVE by G. O. Clark
G. O. Clark’s poetry is a pure joy to read. His newest collection, BUILT TO SERVE, takes a look at the burgeoning world of robots, many of which you will recognize instantly. The robots in this book get up to some interesting hijinks, such as the robots onboard a space ship that party down while the humans rest in cryogenic slumber. Here you will find old-style steampunk robots and familiar fictional robots. I never thought of the Tin Man as a robot, but I suppose he was, and his sad last moments are revealed. R2D2 becomes a frat party fixture, and my personal favorite robot, the terrifying Gort of The Day the Earth Stood Still fame, gets his moment herein. A Luddite robot finds itself trapped in a unending conundrum, we discover how robots feel about electricity, and so much more. This slim volume is a veritable treasure trove of delights, something I have come to expect from this brilliant award-winning poet. Be prepared to smile.
Spring may be getting near, but its' cool as rigor mortis down here in the Tomb,
where I’m offering two grand volumes of Gothic weirdness from two of my favorite
THE UNTOLD TALES OF OZMAN DROOM by Robin Spriggs
There are certain authors whose prose styles are instantly recognizable and whose voices are so distinct that imitation is futile. Robin Spriggs is one of those authors, and his new collection (following the triumphant DIARY OF A GENTLEMAN DIABOLIST) continues the humorous, dreadful and always entertaining Gothic musings of a most exceptional and elegant gentleman of letters and dark shadows, the elusive Ozman Droom. This compilation of stories and poems further elucidates the life and times of a mysterious man who might very well be a modern prophet, but whose writings are certainly delightful, strange, and often horrific. Fans of the recent hit television series True Detective will enjoy cosmic bleakness and Baroque weirdness narrated by a man who may or may not be a sorcerer, actor, madman, or, perhaps…the author himself? Curious footnotes accompany each entry, but who can vouch for their authenticity or accuracy? Not I. Case in point: Page 147, a revelatory short story titled “Spurlos Vershwunden”, footnote—“This story is neither here nor there. And so are you.” Exactly! Fanciful, sly, and always brilliant, author Robin Spriggs evokes a splendid world of eccentric darkness that is his and his alone. For more about the author, visit his online realm at www.robinspriggs.com.
SAVAGING THE DARK by Christopher Conlon
Christopher Conlon’s fiction is absorbing and beautiful, no matter how horrendous the subject matter. In his latest novel, SAVAGING THE DARK, Mr. Conlon revisits the theme of inherent horror, the awful recognition that the most terrible thing in the world might well be ourselves. Told in a riveting first person point of view, this is the story of a woman named Mona Straw. Her life is perfect. She is married to a wonderful man, she lives in a beautiful home, and her career as a middle school teacher is fulfilling and successful. But Mona has a secret— there is another man in her life whom she loves with a blistering intensity that burns away everything else in her existence. His name is Connor. He is a beautiful, green-eyed, blonde Adonis that consumes Mona’s every thought and desire. He is eleven years old, and he is Mona’s kidnapped and rope-bound captive. She loves him so much, and it is taking every bit of self-control she can muster not to kill him. SAVAGING THE DARK is a harrowing journey into the depths of madness told in lyrical prose by one of the most accomplished and readable authors of dark fiction working today. Take a deep breath and enter the darkness. For more information about the author, click on www.christopherconlon.com.
As spring is about to arrive in the Northern
Hemisphere, your cranky and stanky old TombKeeper is chillin’ with some cool
genre fiction. Join me!
THE WARLORD OF THE AIR by Michael Moorcock
I think steampunk fiction is fun, and one of the finest and earliest practitioners of the genre is venerable Science Fiction Grandmaster Michael Moorcock. This is the first volume of an acclaimed steampunk trilogy called Nomad of the Timestream, which has not been available in the United States for more than a decade, but has now been published for American readers by Titan Books. THE WARLORDS OF THE AIR finds Captain Oswald Bastable, formerly of the 53rd Lancers and Special Air Police, catapulted from his place in time in the North East Frontier in the year 1902 and into the future of 1973. Bastable heads for London, where he is soon airborne aboard the airship Loch Etive. While the British Empire seems to enjoy and abundance of peace and prosperity, anarchy is fomenting under the leadership of barbarian warlord named Shaw, whose principles and values make Bastable question his own cherished beliefs. Nobody does steampunk as well as Michael Moorcock, in my opinion. THE WARLORDS OF THE AIR is perfect summer reading! Enjoy!
A DANCE IN BLOOD VELVET by Freda Warrington
The publicity surrounding A DANCE IN BLOOD VELVET says it’s “like Twilight meets Downton Abbey”, and I have to say that’s a dead-on description. Award-wining British fantasy author Freda Warrington conjures a lush gothic romance in the second volume of her vampire series, The Blood Wine Sequence. This book finds Charlotte alone and adrift, having forsaken humanity except for when she kills to feed. Her passionate attachment to her vampire lover, Karl, will burn for an eternity it seems, but there are forces trying to drive them apart. An evil magician has come into possession of a book that will help him control the vampires, and Karl and Charlotte find themselves in the center of the battle. Charlotte is also struggling with having given up her humanity for Karl, while Karl’s ex-lover, Katerina, has arisen from her icy grave, and will do anything to reclaim Karl as her own. Fans of romance and vampires will enjoy A DANCE IN BLOOD VELVET, but I do strongly suggest you read the first novel I the series, A TASTE OF BLOOD WINE to catch up on events.
To get even more information about these titles, including some of the best prices on the Internet, just click on each of the book covers and you'll be connected to
To visit the individual writer's website, just click on any underlined name. J. L. (Judy) Comeau is an award winning short story writer whose work has appeared internationally in major horror and dark fantasy anthologies such as the Borderlands series, Best New Horror, The Years' Best Horror, the Hot Blood series, and the Dark Voices series in the UK. She is an active member of the Horror Writer's Association, and she lives in the Washington, DC area where she also teaches short story writing. Click on
FIREBIRD to read one of her most anthologized stories. To learn more about the Horror Writer's Association, just click on their logo!
About the Tomb Keeper (Or, who is this person of mystery)
To visit the individual writer's website, just click on any underlined name.
J. L. (Judy) Comeau is an award winning short story writer whose work has appeared internationally in major horror and dark fantasy anthologies such as the Borderlands series, Best New Horror, The Years' Best Horror, the Hot Blood series, and the Dark Voices series in the UK. She is an active member of the Horror Writer's Association, and she lives in the Washington, DC area where she also teaches short story writing. Click on FIREBIRD to read one of her most anthologized stories.
To learn more about the Horror Writer's Association, just click on their logo!