Five books to read while waiting for Stranger Things season 2.

I have an upside down shaped hole in my heart now that I have binge watched the eight episodes of the new Netflix throwback Sci-Fi/Horror series, Stranger Things.  If you are already missing Eleven and the world of Hawkins, Indiana maybe some of the following books will help feed your brain along with your Eggo addiction.

Eleven

Illustration by Justin Chase Black

The Girl With all the Gifts by M.R. Carey – A young girl who is held at gun point and strapped to a chair in order go go about her daily business which is just to go to class. Perhaps a kindred spirit of Eleven?

The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer – A mysterious plot of land only known as Area X is explored time and again by scientific expeditions, only to have the members never return or return with severe mental health issues. Now in its 12th expedition, The Biologist (as she is only known) details her experience in collecting specimen and mapping this very strange region. Annihilation is the first in the trilogy.

The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips – Josephine goes into work every day, entering an endless string of numbers into a database (or The Database). She does not question this task as the money is very good. However, the office walls seem to come alive, her husband mysteriously disappears and she keeps having very odd encounters with a co-worker called Trishiffany. What is this business anyway?

Wytches, Vol. 1 by Scott Snyder  – This trade collects the first six books of the Wytches comic. A chilling story about a family who moves to a new town for a do-over, only to find their past haunting them. Creepy trees? Check!

Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older –  Maybe you would like a touch of NYC with your paranormal? Brooklyn is being overtaken by the evil-doings of a bad anthropologist. High school student Sierra Santiago must quickly learn about the magic of her Puerto Rican heritage in order to save her neighborhood and possibly the rest of the world. She’s a Shadowshaper who can contact the spirit world through art.

Honorable Mentions: Go read all of the early 90s Christopher Pike books and R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series. Also, check out Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane as I have a feeling Lettie Hempstock and Eleven would be BFFs for sure. I think it goes without saying Stephen King’s The Body, Firestarter and Carrie also embody the feeling of Stranger Things.

If you would like a print of this amazing illustration of Eleven please visit Throwing Chicken on Etsy. While you are at it, give them a like on Facebook as well!

 

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Review: Psychopomp and Cirumstance by Adrean Messmer

Thank you to Sage’s Blog Tours for providing an eBook copy of Psychopomp and Circumstance by Adrean Messmer so I could participate in this blog tour with the following review.
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I cannot begin this review without first addressing this amazing cover art. It took me back to a time when I was thoroughly unsettled by the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark artwork, yet could not look away. It pairs very well with the story found inside.

It starts off with a mysterious Facebook post by Nell. She can’t recall writing it, nor does she even understand the reference to something called the Sewercide Man. She is quickly able to do some damage control before her friends see it and question her sanity. Nell proceeds to do what most of the newly graduated kids in the town of Bandon do, go party at Zack’s house. It seems that Nell and her group of friends (frienemies?) are the ones who have no clear plan on what path to take now that they no longer have high school to wake up for.

The Sewercide Man begins to make his presence known first to Nell through visions of his creepy crooked face and disheveled umbrella. As he makes his appearances more frequently, a virus-like wave of violent behavior takes over the town. We find out that the Sewercide Man is a deceased serial killer who terrorized Bandon many years before. His moniker made up by Nell’s friend, Kelly, as a child which she has uttered to no one. As you make your way through the novel, you get a point of view from several of the group and their run-ins with this sickness of murder, and what now seem to be somewhat cognizant zombie versions of their friends and other folks around town. We are left with our head spinning over who is really dead, who is going to make it, who is a disease induced hallucination?

The book was a quick read and I really did not want to put it down. However, it did come with a couple of faults. There may have been a touch too many POVs, thus making it a little hard to keep up with who was dating who or why someone was seeking another’s home in refuge. I would also like to see more care with the transgender character. I think the trope of finding out someone is trans by surprise through a sex scene needs to be retired out of respect for the trans community.

We have a lot of work to do in supporting women in publishing, but especially when that genre is horror. I am excited to see what Adrean Messmer puts on the page next.

Review: Brother by Ania Ahlborn

I received a copy of the ebook Brother from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  I am reviewing in honor of the 7th annual Women in Horror Month.
Brother

At one time I watched quite a lot of horror movies. I wasn’t too terribly picky about sub-genre and often liked a slasher or serial killer flick, a la Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Wrong Turn or Last House on the Left.  Brother by Ania Ahlborn was the first novel I have read which put that type of imagery to the page as I have not read much horror.

Brother could be classified in such horror files as hick-lit or grit-lit. The novel opens with the screams of a girl and our main character, Michael Morrow, trying to ignore them, as he is tired of them.  See, Michael’s mother, Claudine seems to have a need to kill young women. All members of the family have their role in the catch, kill and clean-up and if anyone deviates from the plan, they’ll be the next victim. The setting in West Virginia, deep in the heart of Appalachia, adds a lush layer of creepiness.

Michael is nineteen and his older brother, Rebel, takes him into town to the local record store.  Reb is trying to date one of the clerks and hopes he can make a man out of Michael by introducing him to the other employee, Alice. Michael struggles with attempting to date as he doesn’t know how to be with anyone other than his family, talking about himself without exposing his truth. No one wants to date the guy who hangs women by meathooks in the cellar no matter how much he hates his job.

As even darker family secrets bubble up and Rebel’s behavior becomes more erratic, Michael must make the decision if he is going to stick things out in West Virginia. Should he continue to be a loyal member of the Morrow family and protector of his sister Misty, or should he try to escape and make something of himself outside of West Virginia?

This was an intense read. I am not one to be too affected by horror films, but the way my brain processes printed word, it caused nightmares. Trigger warnings for just about any type of trauma apply while reading Brother. I honestly could not put it down as I was eager to see how the story would resolve. It was an easy read, but I do recommend it if you like a slasher flick and want a different way to experience that type of story. It was also nice to see a woman succeed in this genre usually dominated by men.