Review: Stay Crazy by Erica Satifka

I received an advanced copy of Stay Crazy from the author for review.  Official release date is August 16, 2016. StayCrazy

To start off, I am not usually a sci-fi reader but when the genre crosses over with something that I can relate to, I am intrigued. When I saw that my friend and fellow zine writer, Erica Satifka, was coming out with her debut novel, I knew that I would be interested as her main character is a woman with mental illness.

Stay Crazy is the story of Emmeline Kalberg (Em), who has recently been released from a month in inpatient treatment for her schizophrenia and depression. In trying to adjust from being away at college, to the hospital and now back home with her single mother and younger sister, Em gets a job at the local small town western Pennsylvania box store, Savertown USA. Not long after being assigned as a stocker in the frozen foods department, Em hears a box of frozen chicken nuggets speaking to her. Turns out it is an interdimensional being called Escodex who is trying to save the folks at Savertown from evil creatures on his plane of existence. A plague of suicides comes over the store, and Em must decide how or even if to help Escodex save the world, while not letting people think this is her mental illness manifesting.

What I like about Em is that she is kind of a jerk. I like to have to try hard to find the redeeming qualities in characters. I have all the sympathy for Em’s illnesses but at the same time she’s overly sarcastic and dismissive to her coworkers, family, doctors… everyone. However, she’s whip smart and creative and even with Escodex bribing her, I think she really does want to save humanity despite feeling foolish speaking to RFID tags in Savertown USA products.

You can order Stay Crazy through Apex Publications or at that big box store of Internet-town USA.

Erica wrote a great guest blog post over at The Bathroom Monologues if you are interested in learning a bit more about her and why she wrote a hero with a psychotic disorder.

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.


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!