Holly Messinger: The Curse of Jacob Tracy

Reminds me almost equally of TV’s Deadwood and Angel – impressively researched post-Civil War setting with a complex supernatural ecosystem in a series of nearly self-contained novellas that gradually advance a larger plot. Novel finds some degree of closure, but more seems indicated, and I’m eager for follow-on.

Mark Z Danielweski: House of Leaves

House of Leaves, is more or less, a purported transcription by a guy named Johnny Truant of a manuscript he finds in a dead man’s apartment. He gradually becomes convinced the work of transcribing it is causing a malevolent supernatural presence to manifest in his life. Truant is nothing if not an unreliable narrator. HeContinue reading “Mark Z Danielweski: House of Leaves”

Chuck Wendig (ed.): Don’t Read This Book

I picked up Don’t Read This Book because it featured a few dark fantasists I like and several more I was curious about. Foremost among the latter was editor Chuck Wending, whose @ChuckWendig twitter account and http://terribleminds.com/ramble/blog/, which jointly offer irreverent entertainment and lean, mean writing advice, have zoomed him to the top of myContinue reading “Chuck Wendig (ed.): Don’t Read This Book”

Greg Ketter: Shelf Life: Fantastic Stories Celebrating Bookstores

Greg Ketter, owner of Minneapolis’ DreamHaven books describes this volume as a labor of love, and that’s evident. But its thematic focus is so narrow that it’s probably better dipped into than read straight-through: it’s a bit too easy to play spot-the-trope (haunted bookstore, haunted books, store-of-books-never-written, store-of-books-that-warp-reality), and I found the quality uneven. IContinue reading “Greg Ketter: Shelf Life: Fantastic Stories Celebrating Bookstores”

Dia Reeves: Slice of Cherry

I liked Reeves’ first novel Bleeding Violet so much that I ordered her second in advance of its publication date. And then I didn’t read it until now thanks to a quandary familiar to me: I didn’t want the new book to be the same as the one I just read, but I wanted toContinue reading “Dia Reeves: Slice of Cherry”

Brom: Krampus

Krampus mixes a familiar, if competently drawn, macho fantasy of a down-on-his-luck guy trying to win back his estranged bride with the conflict between Christianity and Norse beliefs, personified in the opposing midwinter present/punishment dispensers, jolly Saint Nicholas and the frequently frightful Krampus. The odd blend is seasoned by a generous spatter of grue. IContinue reading “Brom: Krampus”

Caitlin R. Kiernan: Trilobite

I loved Threshold and it scared the bejeezus outta me, but I’m not sure that I completely got it. It’s a bit of a puzzle box. It’s not the sort of book where one version of “objective reality” is an applicable concept, and it’s about the unknowable more than about the unknown. But throughout IContinue reading “Caitlin R. Kiernan: Trilobite”

Caitlin R. Kiernan: Threshold

Threshold is dark and rich and strange, and no superficial description is going to do it justice. Its bones are a Stumbling Onto That Which Should Not Be Disturbed tale in a mode not completely un-Lovecraftian. Kiernan isn’t as resolutely xenophobic as Howard P., but perhaps no less sanguine about the outcome of encounters withContinue reading “Caitlin R. Kiernan: Threshold”

Johan Harstad: 172 Hours on the Moon

I think I stumbled on Johan Harstad’s 172 Hours on the Moon when I was looking for John Barnes’ Losers in Space; both novels share the plot element of young people trying to get off of Earth to boost their social standing. Aside from that, they could scarcely be more different. In the alternate historyContinue reading “Johan Harstad: 172 Hours on the Moon”