"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.)
Genre fiction is not always labeled as such, but let’s call it what it is.
This week I present two collections of mind-blowing fantasy from award
winning literary authors who are not considered genre writers, but whose
work is certainly speculative fiction.
VOICES IN THE NIGHT by Steven Millhauser
Like most readers, I first read Millhauser's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, MARTIN DRESSLER, which I enjoyed so much that I have read every published word of author's marvelous fiction I have been able to find. As a fan of short fiction, I have loved all of Mr. Millhauser's collections, and VOICES IN THE NIGHT contains magical gems of lyrical fiction meticulously crafted by one of the great masters of the form. Grounded in the familiar everyday world and told in a clear, declarative voice, these stories take flight in realms of magic surrealism. The opening tale, "Miracle Polish", begins with a humdrum premise: a door-to-door salesman sells a rather jaded customer a bottle of polish that, when applied to the customer's mirrors, changes the way the man sees himself. A few stories are stunning recreations of classic fairytales such as Rapunzel, and other tales take the reader down strange, otherworldly pathways, such as "Mermaid Fever," in which a the body of what seems to be a mermaid washes up on a beach, reminiscent of Ballard’s “The Drowned Giant”. The titular story, "Voices in the Night" tells of a young Jewish boy who hears what he believes to be the voice of God, is absolutely unforgettable. Beautifully written and realized, this collection is absorbing and entertaining literary fantasy.
FICCIONES by Jorge Luis Borges
This volume collects two of Mr. Borges’s previous collections, THE GARDEN OF FORKING PATHS and ARTIFICES, both of which perfectly illustrate this author’s genius and talent for fantastic fiction. Haunting, beautiful, strange, and wonderful, these seventeen tales are puzzleboxes of magical content that strike a fine balance upon spirited high-wire dreamscapes. Enter a dreamlike library that contains an infinite collection of books, a world where the bulwark of society hinges upon a strange lottery system, labyrinths of mirrors and misdirection, follow a spy on a bizarre assignment where nothing is as it seems, and much, much more. This author’s lifelong interest in the folly of human belief systems is central to each tale in this dizzying collection that highlights the immense conceptual and literary virtuosity of a writer whose fiction has influenced the trajectory of not just fantasy and magical realism, but fiction in general.
I have a horror triple header for you this week, TombRats, although I’m
reviewing only two books—pretty tricky, check it out!
THE REBORN by Brett J. Talley/BITERS by Harry Shannon
This is the fourth installment of Journalstone’s Doubledown Series, a cool flip-book containing two full works of horror fiction. On one side of the book, you will find Brett J. Talley’s excellent horror/science fiction thriller, THE REBORN, which is currently shortlisted for a Bram Stoker Award™ for Superior Achievement in a Novel. THE REBORN is set in the year 2050, a scary apocalyptic future in which the most notorious murderers from past history are being reborn to continue their carnage. Operatives known as Shepherds are tasked with hunting down and aborting any fetus that contains a certain DNA marker indicative of a dangerous reincarnation. The western coast of the United States has been obliterated by nuclear warheads, leaving the rest of the country broken and in disarray. It is in this hellscape that Shepherd Marcus Ryder, a veteran of the war that has destroyed most of the world, must track down and terminate the DNA-tainted unborn. Gritty and realistic, THE REBORN is fascinating high-concept tale beautifully written. Now, flip the book over and you will have Harry Shannon’s zombie novella “Biters”, a sly noir of a zombie story. Buck Ryan is one of the last survivors in the wake of a zombie apocalypse, a world in which the zombie hordes have taken control and only the fittest of the fit can survive. Ryan encounters a post-apocalyptical femme fatale in a G-string, Sarah, in a strip club and, together, the two beat feet toward the ocean, where it is said that zombies don’t fare well. But there’s something about Sarah—can she be trusted? Probably not, but she’s a hot number. Buck Ryan is used to taking risks and beating the odds, but his luck may be running out. Readers looking for some fast-moving and graphic zombie fun will enjoy BITERS.
FORSAKEN by J. D. Barker
This is an absorbing tale in which the past and the present are on a collision course that will affect a horror writer and his family. Thad McAllister is a successful horror author whose current novel is about the infamous Massachusetts witch trials. The story that McAllister is writing, the basis of which is taken from an old leather journal from the Burning Times, has been coming to Thad quite easily, nearly writing itself. The story concerns a woman who has been jailed for practicing witchcraft. Thad’s novel, RISE OF THE WITCH, contains a horrific female character, a terrifying protagonist worse than anything he has previously imagined. But Thad begins to wonder if he has unknowingly invited a supernatural entity to emerge into the present when strange occurrences begin to happen in his household. It turns out that Thad’s wife, Rachael, has secrets of her own, and she believes that she might be the one who is causing the strange events happening in their home that have been escalating, threatening the lives of her husband and her child. Tracking seamlessly between the 1600s journal of Clayton Stone and back to the present horrors being experienced by the McAllister family, author J. D Barker has conjured a modern cauldron of horrors based on historical fact. For more about this book and its author, head on over to www.jdbarker.com.
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.
About the Tomb Keeper (Or, who is this person of mystery)
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!