I thought I had it all figured out in the start. There are countless stories out there that start out in a similar way. However, this novel really does it’s own thing. I thought it was going to be a werewolf or wendigo type creature. Boy was I wrong. Never expected the climax that actually came!
Hailstone by Rafael Scavone, (List Price: 22.99, Dark Horse Books, 9781506730943, June 2023)
Out of necessity, Laura has chosen to live a simpler, yet, courageous life in a secluded, rustic cabin in the woods on the outskirts of an Italian village. Necessity turns into a reorganization of priorities, which I wholly admire, as Laura shares her thoughts with the reader on living with nature, interacting with others, and what it means to survive. Beautiful.
At the Edge of the Woods by Kathryn Bromwich, (List Price: 26, Two Dollar Radio, 9781953387318, June 2023)
Reviewed by Jill Naylor, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee
After her deadly daughters devour their father’s kingdom, the mermaid princess knows she is too soft to return to the ocean’s depths. Adrift, she decides to travel with the kingdom’s plague doctor, the only person who saw what a monster she truly was even bedecked in sugar and froth in her role of a princess. Together, they journey north into a village of children and saints and discover beauty and horror in equal measure. As always, Khaw writes beautiful, elegant prose of graphic scenes of bodies being taken apart and, sometimes, devoured. Her writing is top-notch and the ending is sweet, without being saccharine, as the monsters in this story stay true to their vicious nature. Highly recommended!
The Salt Grows Heavy by Cassandra Khaw, (List Price: 21.99, Tor Nightfire, 9781250830913, May 2023)
The Insatiable Volt Sisters is straight-ahead horror, but it looks deeply into struggles of defining one’s own legacy despite a troubled heritage. Told from the perspective of four very different women, Moulton’s characters are flawed and struggling, but also courageous and unrelenting in their choice to face darkness and despair head-on. This book is eerie and mysterious…and I could feel Fowler Island dripping off the pages as the sisters reveal/fight the beast within.
The Insatiable Volt Sisters by Rachel Eve Moulton, (List Price: 18, MCD x FSG Originals, 9780374538323, May 2023)
Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee
This Delicious Death follows the story of Zoey and her three friends two years after a disease that renders half the general public "hollow" or cannibalistic monsters. Unlike zombies, however, they’re fine as long as they eat regularly and the world has created synthetic flesh for them to get their ghoul on. So going to the Desert Bloom Music Festival in the desert for one last trip before the friends go their separate ways after high school should be perfectly fine, right? Between being in love with her best friend, the glamourous Celeste and one of their friends going missing and possibly feral, this wasn’t the kind of trip Zoey was expecting. Okay, so I have to say, while i love sapphic stories, it had been hard for me to get into them for a while. This Delicious Death had me hook line and sinker from the very beginning. The world building was fascinating and the story itself was gripping. I cannot wait to sell this one in store!
This Delicious Death by Kayla Cottingham, (List Price: 11.99, Sourcebooks Fire, 9781728236445, April 2023)
Before the most well-known vampire novel of all time, Dracula, was written, there was Carmilla, a queer female vampire from the 1800s. In Carmilla: The First Vampire, Carmilla gets a retelling. It’s the 90s in New York City, and the murders of homeless, queer and trans women have been ignored by cops and uncaring civilians. Though the murderer appears to be monstrous, society and structural inequality are as much to blame. Empathetic, flawed Athena is determined to solve the murders and keep other young women safe when she meets the beguiling, disastrous Violet. Spooky, sexy, and suspenseful, the lesbian vampires of the original Carmilla are blended seamlessly with traditional Chinese lore to create a rich, intense story about geungsi, monster hunters, and murder. The art is stunning, the monsters are terrifying, the vampires are lesbian. What more could you want? It’s sucking fangtastic.
Carmilla: The First Vampire by Amy Chu, (List Price: 19.99, Berger Books, 9781506734644, February 2023)
An interesting read with many twist and turns. Characters and setting were very unique, and I could never guess what would happen next.(Spoilers inbound) This was a weird book, but not in a bad way. The writing was spiritic, with odd inclusions and details, but it all felt intentional. Rob was flawed and different individual, and the writing portrayed that perfectly. Cassie’s chapters felt like reading the mind of a child who sees thing she shouldn’t. All of this felt very intentional, it felt like the book was trying to pack a lot within as few pages as possible, and yet some of the twists and events of the book felt forgotten too easily. Yet, the last couple chapters of the climax had me enraptured and glued to the page. And the book as a whole had a unique premise and storyline, even if there was whole lot in it. A definite need to read for sure.
Sundial by Catriona Ward, (List Price: $19.99, Tor Nightfire, 9781250812704, March 2023)
Lavalle’s surprising and singular horror/western will appeal to lit fic and genre readers alike with its peculiar and anachronistic, but captivating voice, and its unique wasteland of a setting. It delivers both blood and monsters (human and inhuman) and an affecting exploration of trauma and guilt. This is one that’ll stick with you.
Lone Women by Victor LaValle, (List Price: $27, One World, 9780525512080, March 2023)
Thank you to Johnny Compton for writing such an excellent novel that highlighted an African-American family, but also for explaining what a spite house is. This is an amazing Gothic horror where we have a haunted house situation, the past always seems to catch up to us in the end, and you can feel the spooky ambiance the entire time you are reading! Eric Ross and his two daughters are currently avoiding their past lives and are living out of motel rooms when Eric reads a job listing to stay at a spite house in Texas to try to capture any evidence of supernatural activity. You get MULTIPLE point of views, but it keeps the story moving very well and it is almost seamless. For example, one moment you are reading the POV of the homeowner who is trying to employ Eric and she is finishing up a meeting with a group of ghost hunters and the next chapter is Eric’s POV and it mentions he walks into a meeting room as a group of men are walking out, so it literally picks up where another leaves off. However, there were a few POVs from side characters that I could have done completely without. It was nice to read about the previous tenants of the spite house who had taken the job right before Eric, though. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the twist about why the family is on the run is epic! One negative I would say is that the ending felt a little rushed and it did not hold up as well compared to the rest of the book in my opinion. However, that did not take anything away from how much I enjoyed the novel overall. Eric is a bad dude for staying in that creepy house by himself to try to make a better life for himself and his girls!
The Spite House by Johnny Compton, (List Price: 17.99, Tor Nightfire, 9781250891952, February 2023)
“But really I mean, with kids—they’re small and powerless in the world. They don’t know why things are happening. They’re told what to do, they’re not giving any explanation for why they’re doing this, and everyone is a towering monster to them, you know? And adults are capriciously violent. I think kids live in a world that is really primed for horror. But Horror stories allow them to understand that sometimes you can beat the monsters, you know?” ―Stephen Graham Jones, Interview, Tor.com
What booksellers are saying about Don’t Fear the Reaper
My Heart Is a Chainsaw was one of my favorite books of 2021; it’s knowing, self-referential tone mixed with its wonderful heroine, Jade Daniels, reminded me of my favorite slasher films of times past. I had high hopes for Don’t Fear the Reaper. As a sequel, it should be bloodier, wilder, and more audacious than its predecessor, with both a new antagonist and a few throwbacks to past dangers. Stephen Graham Jones knew this, and boy, do things go off the rails immediately. While “My Heart Is A Chainsaw” had a slow burn to its violence, Don’t Fear the Reaper revels in danger and fear right off the bat. At the center of the chaos is the reluctant Final Girl, Jade, who’d rather just be a supporting player getting her life back together after fighting legal troubles for the last few years. Unfortunately, Jade has to use her wits and horror movie knowledge to get her and her friends out of death-by-hook range, and of course, the horror is happening during the worst blizzard that Proofrock’s ever seen. While buckets of blood drench each page, Jones never forgets to center the violence around the lovable beating heart of the book’s protagonist.
―Whitney Sheppard from The Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, AL | Buy from The Snail on the Wall
The second book in the Indian Lake Trilogy is even better than the first. Jade and Letha are back in Proofrock along with some other familiar faces, and some new ones as well. During the storm of the century, a convoy carrying the serial killer, Dark Mill South crashes. There is a fraction of a sliver of chance that he survived the crash and is heading toward the nearest town, Proofrock. You all know what a fraction of a sliver of chance means in Proofrock, so our favorite final girls have to swing into action. This book starts out really fast and doesn’t stop until the final bloody end.
―Kathy Clemmons from Sundog Books in Santa Rosa Beach, FL | Buy from Sundog Books
The long-awaited follow up to My Heart is a Chainsaw does not disappoint! SGJ takes us back to Proofrock, Idaho right after Jade Daniels – now Jennifer – is released from prison for the first book’s events. Brutal, larger-than-life killer Dark Mill South is on the loose in town at the same time as a debilitating snowstorm hits. In keeping with the vibe of the trilogy, grisliness abounds from the first pages and the slasher film trivia doesn’t stop. I can’t wait for the third and final installment in this series!
―Andrea Richardson from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA | Buy from Fountain Bookstore
About Stephen Graham Jones
Stephen Graham Jones is the New York Times bestselling author of The Only Good Indians. He has been an NEA fellowship recipient and been recipient of several awards including: the Ray Bradbury Award from the Los Angeles Times, the Bram Stoker Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, the Jesse Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction from the Texas Institute of Letters, the Independent Publishers Award for Multicultural Fiction, and the Alex Award from American Library Association. He is the Ivena Baldwin Professor of English at the University of Colorado Boulder.
A gothic ghost story set in Vietnam. A modern family who have been torn apart by time and a house possessed by its former occupants. Haunting is the perfect word for this story. I was engrossed from the very beginning and now that I have finished it I can’t stop thinking about it.
She Is a Haunting by Trang Thanh Tran (List Price: $18.99, Bloomsbury YA, 9781547610815, February 2023)
Absolutely fucking terrifying. Hendrix does it again in this hilarious yet terrifying novel that combines generational trauma and denial with a not-your-average haunted house. Honestly, I’m unsure if my sibling and I could survive the level of haunting that plagues Louise and Mark; the characters themselves have you questioning whether they will make it to the very end! I had to read this in broad daylight to get through it all. Unique and horrifying, every detail will send goosebumps up your arms and chills down your neck. Not to mention you’ll never look at puppets or squirrels the same way.
How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix (List Price: $28, Berkley, 9780593201268, January 2023)
Bad Cree is the perfect mix of mystery, horror, and suspense. Johns uses the importance of dreams in Cree culture to cover several issues involving corporate greed, trauma, and familial grief. Also, her use of symbolism throughout the book makes for an ethereal experience for the reader and she highlights the strength that can come from the female bonds of sisterhood/motherhood throughout the plot. This is an incredibly enjoyable debut that is as creative as it is moving.
Bad Cree by Jessica Johns (List Price: $28, Doubleday, 9780385548694, January 2023)
Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee
“I think urban legends, myths and folktales constantly tell us that what you know is not all, and you shouldn’t be arrogant enough to think that what your five senses can sense is all there is to feel and perceive and think.” ―Bora Chung, Interview, The Korea Herald
What booksellers are saying about Cursed Bunny: Stories
Cursed Bunny is a fantastically weird and thought-provoking collection of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy stories that had me ruminating long after I had finished them. Bora Chung takes the bases of human nature (and a lot of the worst ones) and puts them on display like an open wound for the reader. Along with covering individual issues like greed, despair, or love… the stories also tackle societal issues regarding feminism and poverty as well. This book is perfect for horror fans that also enjoy literary fiction.
―Stuart McCommon from Novel in Memphis, TN | Buy from Novel.
A fantastic, Korean story collection that includes nightmarish tales you won’t be able to put down. Bora Chung is bringing a new depth of not only gore and terror to traditional horror but also something more provocative as well. Tales that range from heads emerging from toilets, body horror that you’ll remember for days, and even some more sci-fi elements as well, this story collection is not for the faint of heart. An unforgettable book that’ll keep you thinking for days.
―Grace Sullivan from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA | Buy from Fountain Bookstore
Delightfully gruesome, disarmingly weird, and incredibly sharp; Bora Chung’s debut collection Cursed Bunny is an incredibly memorable trip into the mind of an amazing new voice. From a head growing out of a toilet wanting to be free, a snared fox that bleeds gold, or the titular cursed bunny; each of Chung’s amazing stories reads like a dark fable that would give the Grimm brothers a run for their money. With themes of gender, greed, and technology, Cursed Bunny is a must read for those who take their humor black and their ideas big. So very good!
―Caleb Masters from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks
About Bora Chung
Bora Chung has written three novels and three collections of short stories. She has an MA in Russian and East European area studies from Yale University and a PhD in Slavic literature from Indiana University. She has taught Russian language and literature and science fiction studies at Yonsei University and translates modern literary works from Russian and Polish into Korean.
Anton Hur was born in Stockholm, Sweden. He won a PEN Translates award for Kang Kyeong-ae’s The Underground Village and his translation of Sang Young Park’s Love in the Big City was longlisted for the Booker International Prize in 2022. He lives in Seoul.