Publication date: November 23rd, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads A  shape-shifting spirit haunts a family in England during the depths of ...


Publication date: November 23rd, 2021


A shape-shifting spirit haunts a family in England during the depths of winter.
A woman must locate a snowflake for a magical trickster to save her frozen true love.
A witch knocks upon a young man’s door to take his life on Christmas day.
A small boy meets a faerie housed within a snow drop.

Once upon a time stories travelled from place to place on the tongues of merchants and thieves and kings alike. Under the blanket of night they were exchanged between children, and passed on to their children, and their children after them. Details were altered from one generation to the next until thousands of tales existed where once there were few.

In the spirit of these age-old stories comes Once Upon a Winter, a seasonal anthology of folk and fairy tales from 17 authors across the globe. It covers the Gothic, the romantic, the whimsical, the frightening and everything in-between, and features both intriguing twists on classic tales and exciting original stories.

The first of four planned seasonal anthologies from Macfarlane Lantern Publishing, Once Upon a Winter is sure to have a story for just about everyone. Grab your copy in time for Christmas today!

Inside this anthology:

The Biting Cold by Josie Jaffrey
The Match Girl by Rebecca F. Kenney
Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Bharat Krishnan
A Pea Ever After by Adie Hart
The Snowdrop by H. L. Macfarlane
Silverfoot’s Edge by Ella Holmes
The Storm Hags by Caroline Logan
The Boggart of Boggart Hole Clough by Jake Curran-Pipe
Around the Hawthorne Tree by Jenna Smithwick
The Best Girl this Side of Winter by Laila Amado
The Snow Trolls by S. Markem
Lord of the Forest by Katherine Shaw
Queen of the Snows by Joyce Reynolds-Ward
Long Meg and the Sorcerer’s Stones by M. J. Weatherall
The Frost of Mercy by A. J. Van Belle
Wintercast by R. A. Gerritse
You Can’t See Me by Kate Longstone 

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I absolutely adore folktales and fairytales, whether they are variations of the original stories, simply influenced by the classic tales or completely brand new imaginings. I didn't hesitate to say yes to Once Upon a Winter. What's even more exciting is that Once Upon a Winter is the first of four planned seasonal anthologies from Macfarlane Lantern Publishing. Obviously, this one starts with the colder season of the year and all the stories within containing the cold bite of winter's wind and snow.

As with all anthologies, there are stories that will resound more with the reader over others, which is the beauty of an anthology. While there were a couple of the stories that didn't work so well for me, the vast majority did. The atmosphere of the stories varies from sweet and romantic like "The Snowdrop" by H. L. Macfarlane, in which a boy meets an unexpected faerie friend, to the humorous "The Snow Trolls" by S. Markem where the edict is "Don't eat the yellow snow" and then there are those much, much darker, which are always going to be my personal favorites. 

That's not to say I still didn't enjoy the other stories. "A Pea Ever After" by Adie Hart is a feminist tale that is on the lighter side of the retellings in the anthology but I loved this take on The Princess and the Pea by Hans Christian Andersen. A fairy godmother has gathered four princesses together to compete for the hand of the prince. It was a welcome change to see smart, capable princesses that had no need of rescuing. In fact, the princesses had no interest in marrying the prince at all. Not that he's not perfectly handsome or refreshingly educated or even remarkably kind and funny because he is, they just aren't interested or have better things to do with their lives. 

Once again on the darker side of things is "Silverfoot's Edge" by Ella Holmes. In this tale, a trickster freezes a woman's love in a small pool and tasks her with finding one special snowflake in the midst of so many. This story starts in winter but spans the following months as well. It's everything that I love about fairytales. There's the peril of her loved one, the riddle to solve, a clearly defined baddie, and a determined and cunning heroine.  Not to mention that the little-folk creatures sent with her to "weigh" the snowflakes—the only way she'll know she's found the correct one—are adorable. My favorite passage of the entire anthology is here: 
        
        My mother once said to me love is an edge you will fall over, and she was right. 

        I think about it often as I walk the woods. She is dead and shrouded in the earth, and I feel her with every bare-footed step throughout the dirt. 
Landing among my favorites as well were two others in the collection: "The Best Girl this Side of Winter" with its undead, poisoned claws, and impossible quest and Katherine Shaw's "Lord of the Forest" which introduced me to the Leshii, a Slavic forest protector spirit. Don't let the fluffy bunnies on the cover fool you, there are wolves within these pages. 

If you love the stories by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Charles Perrault, and Hans Christian Andersen, there's a story here for you. Unlike the aforementioned authors, this anthology sees a more diverse authorship being primarily comprised of female and LGBTQ+ authors from various countries. Grab yourself a copy and a fuzzy blanket and expect a little magic for those long dark winter evenings. 






You only have to walk into any store to be buffeted by Mariah Carey and see that retail has vomited red and green over everything.  Finding...

Christmas Tree with wrapped presents underneath on Red Background with blood spatter across words Ho Ho Horror
You only have to walk into any store to be buffeted by Mariah Carey and see that retail has vomited red and green over everything. Finding the perfect gift, budgeting, baking and cooking, family, ugh—The holidays are stressful! 

It's no surprise then that horror fans turn to seasonal horror for comfort. Just look at all the Christmas movies out there: Black Christmas, Gremlins, Krampus, Silent Night, Deadly Night, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (one of my personal favorites), Anna and the Apocalypse, and there are so many more. 

What about us bookworms who just want to curl up in our comfy chair with a fuzzy blanket, a cup of something hot, and tune out the world for a little while? Here are twelve Christmas horror reads for those of us that want to slay the holidays. 

(If you purchase using the affiliate links, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. CLC does not receive payment for reviews.)




DEAD OF WINTER 

BY KEALAN PATRICK BURKE


Winter isn’t coming…it’s already here, and with it comes a horror no door can keep out.It’s there in the yard, in the faces of the snowmen a young boy doesn’t remember building. It’s in the oddly empty streets below Santa Claus’s crumbling sleigh. It’s in the unnatural movement of the snow that suffocates a widower’s town, and in the cold eyes of a lonely man’s estranged children. Here, there is no holiday cheer, only spine-chilling fear, in the DEAD OF WINTER. Featuring seven stories, an introduction by the author, and a list of recommended books for the winter season.



WHERE THE DEAD GO TO DIE 

BY AARON DRIES AND MARK ALLAN GUNNELLS


There are monsters in this world. And they used to be us. Now it's time to euthanize to survive in a hospice where Emily, a woman haunted by her past, only wants to do her job and be the best mother possible.

Post-infection Chicago. Christmas.

Inside The Hospice, Emily and her fellow nurses do their rounds. Here, men and women live out their final days in comfort, segregated from society, and are then humanely terminated before fate turns them into marrow-craving monsters known as ‘Smilers.’ Outside these imposing walls, rabid protesters swarm with signs, caught up in the heat of their hatred.

Emily, a woman haunted by her past, only wants to do her job and be the best mother possible. But in a world where mortality means nothing, where guns are drawn in fear and nobody seems safe anymore – at what cost will this pursuit come? And through it all, the soon to be dead remain silent, ever smiling. Such is their curse.

This emotional, political novel comes from two of horror’s freshest voices, and puts a new spin on an eternal topic: the undead. In the spirit of George A Romero meets Jack Ketchum, Where the Dead Go to Die it is an unforgettable epilogue to the zombie genre, one that will leave you shaken and questioning right from wrong…even when it’s the only right left.

It won't be long before that snow-speckled ground will be salted by blood.



Goodreads Amazon

SNOWBALL 

BY GREGORY BASTIANELLI


A group of motorists become stranded on a lonely stretch of highway during a Christmas Eve blizzard and fight for survival against an unnatural force in the storm. The gathered survivors realize a tenuous connection among them means it may not be a coincidence that they all ended up on this highway. An attempt to seek help leads a few of the travelers to a house in the woods where a twisted toymaker with a mystical snow globe is hell bent on playing deadly games with a group of people just trying to get home for the holidays. 

(My review can be found here)




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A MIDNIGHT CLEAR 
ED. BY LINDY RYAN 

Six stories of not-so-merry Yuletide whimsy from the authors of Black Spot Books. A woman so cold she hardens to ice on a winter's eve. Risen from his grave before his time, a winter god alters the balance between seasons. A wolf's holiday season is interrupted by a strange curse. From a murder at the Stanley Hotel to demons of Christmas past, present, and future, and a mad elf and Santa's Candy Court, the authors of Black Spot Books share their love for winter holidays in this collection of dark winter tales, destined to chill your bones and warm your heart for the Yuletide season.

(My review can be found here)


SNOW 

BY RONALD MALFI


They come in with the snow. They are the snow . . .
 
The blizzard begins pummeling the Midwest on Christmas Eve, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Todd Curry doesn’t need another reason to disappoint his son, so he joins three other people in renting the last four-wheel drive available and they set out into the blinding snow.
 
Only two hours into the treacherous trip west, Todd swerves to avoid a man in the middle of the highway. The stranger claims his daughter is lost somewhere out in the snow. Though his odd demeanor and ripped clothes make Todd and his group uneasy, they agree to take the man to the nearest town—if the now damaged car can make it.
 
What awaits them at the next exit, however, is nothing they could have imagined. Around an empty town square, fires burn, cars are abandoned., storefronts are smashed. And there is no one to be seen—for now . . .
 
But soon the shadows lurking on the edges of their vision will step into the light, and Todd and his fellow travelers will find themselves facing a sharp-scythed evil shaped from the snow, tearing its way into human form—and taking the neighborhood by storm.

THE VALANCOURT BOOK OF VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS GHOST STORIES Volumes 1-5


During the Victorian era, it became traditional for publishers of newspapers and magazines to print ghost stories during the Christmas season for chilling winter reading by the fireside or candlelight. If you can’t get enough, more of these Christmas ghost stories are included in the five volume collection!





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BAH! HUMBUG! AN ANTHOLOGY OF CHRISTMAS HORROR STORIES



Matt Shaw has called upon some of the biggest names in horror to put together an anti-Christmas anthology of horror and weirdness!
 






HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SCREAM

 ED. BY CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN


Eighteen stories of Christmas horror from bestselling, acclaimed authors including Scott Smith, Seanan McGuire, Josh Malerman, Michael Koryta, Sarah Pinborough, and many more.

That there is darkness at the heart of the Yuletide season should not surprise. Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is filled with scenes that are unsettling. Marley untying the bandage that holds his jaws together. The hideous children--Want and Ignorance--beneath the robe of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. The heavy ledgers Marley drags by his chains. In the finest versions of this story, the best parts are the terrifying parts.
Bestselling author and editor Christopher Golden shares his love for Christmas horror stories with this anthology of all-new short fiction from some of the most talented and original writers of horror today.




MISTLETOE 
BY ALISON LITTLEWOOD


Leah Hamilton is looking for a new life following the tragic deaths of her husband and son. Determined to bury her grief in hard work, and desperate to escape Christmas and the pitying looks of her colleagues, she rushes through the purchase of a run-down Yorkshire farmhouse, arriving just as the snow shrouds her new home.

It may look like a Christmas card, but it's soon clear it's not just the house needing renovation; the land is in bad heart too. And Leah's mind starts playing tricks on her: she hears a child playing in the snow, but although there are snowballs, there are no footprints. Is this the ghost of her son, returned to her? She starts having visions of the farm's former occupants - the young widow and her son, the cousin who's wooing her, the maid who shares her secrets and the handsome labourer who's hanged for the murder of a child, a murder he didn't commit.

Is Leah strong enough to lay the increasingly malevolent ghosts and find a way to move on? Or will her ashes end up scattered over the now-covered fields?



Goodreads Amazon

SECRET SANTA 

BY ANDREW SHAFFER


The Office meets Stephen King, dressed up in holiday tinsel, in this fun, festive, and frightening horror-comedy set during the horror publishing boom of the ’80s, by New York Times best-selling satirist Andrew Shaffer.

Out of work for months, Lussi Meyer is desperate to work anywhere in publishing. Prestigious Blackwood-Patterson isn’t the perfect fit, but a bizarre set of circumstances leads to her hire and a firm mandate: Lussi must find the next horror superstar to compete with Stephen King, Anne Rice, and Peter Straub. It’s the ’80s, after all, and horror is the hottest genre.

But as soon as she arrives, Lussi finds herself the target of her co-workers' mean-spirited pranks. The hazing reaches its peak during the company’s annual Secret Santa gift exchange, when Lussi receives a demonic-looking object that she recognizes but doesn't understand. Suddenly, her coworkers begin falling victim to a series of horrific accidents akin to a George Romero movie, and Lussi suspects that her gift is involved. With the help of her former author, the flamboyant Fabien Nightingale, Lussi must track down her anonymous Secret Santa and figure out the true meaning of the cursed object in her possession before it destroys the company—and her soul.



SEASON'S CREEPINGS
BY RONALD KELLY


O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree... what lurks among thy branches...

Christmas can be the most wonderful time of the year. Candy canes and hot cocoa. Snowmen and sleigh rides. The love and hope that the Nativity brings. Cold milk and warm cookies for Santa. Family, friends, and the cheerful laughter of children.

But, beneath the festive wrapping paper and the gleam and glitter of the lights and tinsel, things less jubilant may lie in wait. The holiday season can bring love, peace, and benevolence... but it may also spawn a darkness lurking amid the shadowy boughs of the Christmas tree, ornaments that should have never seen the light of day, let along hung on festive branches, and bones that jingle and dance, in search of Santa's crimson suit... and the flesh that resides within.

In this collection of harrowing holiday tales, Ronald Kelly leaves ten frightful and horrific gifts in the Christmas stockings that hang from the mantle of your cheerful fireplace. Ghastly and gruesome presents that slowly unwrap and burst into life while you are tucked, snug and warm, in your bed and take on nightmarish form in the icy winter hours of Christmas Eve, turning comfort and joy into terror and dread.



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CHILL TIDINGS: DARK TALES OF THE CHRISTMAS SEASON
ED. BY TANYA KIRK

The gifts are unwrapped, the feast has been consumed and the fire is well fed – but the ghosts are still hungry. Welcome to the second new collection of dark Christmas stories in the Tales of the Weird series, ushering in a fresh host of nightmarish phantoms and otherworldly intruders bent on joining or ruining the most wonderful time of the year. Featuring classic tales from Algernon Blackwood, Rosemary Timperley, Sheridan Le Fanu and Elinor Glyn alongside rare pieces from the sleeping periodicals and literary magazines of the Library collection, it’s time to open the door and let the real festivities begin.


Publication date: October 19th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads What if your lifelong curse is the only thing keeping you alive? Abandoned...


Publication date: October 19th, 2021

What if your lifelong curse is the only thing keeping you alive? Abandoned at birth, life has always been a battle for Jane Walker. She and her best friend, Sadie, spent years fighting to survive Vancouver’s cutthroat underbelly. That would have been tough enough without Jane’s mysterious afflictions: an intricate pattern of blood-red birthmarks that snake around her body and vivid, heart-wrenching nightmares that feel so real she wakes up screaming.

After she meets the first man who isn’t repulsed by her birthmarks, Jane thinks she might finally have a chance at happiness. Her belief seems confirmed as the birthmarks she’s spent her life so ashamed of magically begin to disappear. Yet, the quicker her scarlet marks vanish, the more lucid and disturbing Jane’s nightmares become—until it’s impossible to discern her dreams from reality, and Jane comes to a horrifying realization:

The nightmares that have plagued her since childhood are actually visions of real people being stalked by a deadly killer. And all this time, her birthmarks have been the only things protecting her from becoming his next victim.





NAMING CHARACTERS by JP McLean


In his famous Romeo and Juliet soliloquy, Shakespeare asked, “What’s in a Name?”

Quite a lot, as it turns out. I don’t have children, so the only names I’ve bestowed are on my fictional characters and my dogs. Happily, my choices have yet to be challenged (at least by the dogs).

Still, it’s important to find a good fit between the character and the name you choose. A name invokes an image in a reader’s mind. The way the name is spelled, how it rolls off the tongue, how it looks visually on a page—all these things add nuance to the character.

There are many elements that influence a name choice:

The era in which the story is set: Consider that Zeus and Apollo are now names reserved primarily for pets (the gods would not be pleased). The most popular names of any decade are readily available online.

The gender of the character, whether male, female, or gender variant: Consider Taylor, Charlie, Emerson.

The location within the country: If your characters are in the southern US, they may have uniquely southern names like Gunner and Knox, or Dixie and Hattie.

The personality of the character: Are they a no-nonsense one-syllable Jane or Bill, or a complicated three-syllable Abigail or Joshua? Is your character a wallflower or minor character you don’t want to draw attention to? Plain names such as June or Joe slide under the radar. If your character is the serious type, they may choose Judith over Judy, or Theodore over Teddy.

Age also plays a role. Younger characters might use a nickname, like Billy for William or Caddie for Caroline. Sometimes, nicknames stick throughout adulthood, and sometimes they’re used ironically: Stretch for a shorter person, Tiny for a larger person.

The entire cast of characters must be considered: Mix it up so the names don’t all start with the same few letters of the alphabet or aren’t all the same syllable length.

To help readers differentiate between characters, it’s important the names don’t look or sound too much alike. As in Abe and Abigail. Or Emery and Emelynn (yeah, that was one of my mistakes—Emery’s name got changed to Avery).

Writers also need to consider the nationality of the characters. Does your cast reflect the mix of people you’d see in your neighbourhood? In the grocery stores and libraries? If not, fix it. You can find lists online of names by nationality.

A resource I use all the time is the local telephone book. The flimsy paper books aren’t as prevalent or thick as they once were, but they’re rich in interesting names. Best of all, these are the names of people of all nationalities who live in your neighbourhood.

The best part about finding the perfect name for your character is that the name does some of the work for you in defining the character’s role and personality. Names have connotations, so it’s important to make the most of them. And even if your fictional children hate the names you’ve given them, they’re not likely to disown you for your choices.




I'm very fortunate to live in a writer's paradise on one of the small northern Gulf Islands off the eastern shore of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The rugged beaches and towering fir and arbutus trees that surround me often end up in my stories. When I'm not pouring my imagination into my computer, I'm futzing in gardens, making a mess of the kitchen or hiking local trails. I write stories that entice you to believe the impossible and escape the everyday for a while. Enjoy the read!

Today's Author Spotlight is author Daniel James! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: October 27th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  | ...

Today's Author Spotlight is author Daniel James!
Read on for the full interview.


Publication date: October 27th, 2021


Beneath the streets of Liverpool lives a hunger. One bloody and insatiable. It skulks through the many secret tunnels and passageways that run like sandstone gullets to the domain of an ancient and horrifying madness: The Shelton Family. Good, honest, Christian, and monstrous in mind and body. The hunger is theirs, and it yearns for heathen blood. It yearns for salvation. It yearns for vengeance.
The Merseyside Druids, a sect decimated by the Sheltons and their terrible creatures over centuries of warfare, have one last chance at survival: Abigail Harwood, a young woman raised in ignorance of this long-standing holy war. She is about to learn the truth of her family roots, and the power of blood. She could be the Druid’s last hope.


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What's your latest release? 

Heathens. A novel about a decimated group of modern druids fighting a losing war against the mutant aristocratic Catholics dwelling under the city of Liverpool.

Can you start out by telling us a little about your latest work? 

It's about a young woman raised by foster parents, who learns to her horror, that some suspicious friends of her biological parents need to take her into hiding before some very unpleasant creatures/people discover her. From then on its all guerilla druids and bloodshed and fighting for survival.

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?

I had never written a novel set in my hometown, and felt it was something I should do for variety. Plus, it seemed to work out okay for Clive Barker and Ramsey Campbell.

When you developed the characters, did you already know who they were before you began writing or did they develop organically?

Sometimes I have characters pretty fleshed out beforehand, but just as often I have to develop them around a new story idea.

Which of your characters was your favorite to write and why?

The whole cast of Hourglass, because it's the beginning of a series, which allows me to pour so much into a growing world of supernatural arse-kicking and monsters. It's basically my passion project.

What was more important to you when you were writing: character development or plot?

Both are integral and compliment each other.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned (about your story, about yourself, etc.) while writing?

I learned how anti-social I am, ha-ha. Seriously, I learned how great it feels to purge your ideas onto the page. Like a colonic for the brain.

In your opinion what makes a good story?

Likable characters are paramount. Naturally, the story needs to be engaging, with a good pace and interesting stakes, but even with those elements, the characters have to be likable and memorable enough (villains too!) to carry the reader through.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I realised how bad my first effort was, and knew I had to practice, practice, PRACTICE.
I'd like to say I've improved some.

Do you read your book reviews? What do you consider "good" /"bad"?

Yes, I read them, only because I'm not exactly inundated with them. The first time you get a bad one sucks, but equally, when you get a good one you're floating on air. The most annoying ones are bad ones because the reader/reviewer was a dope e.g. penalising your work because they don't like that genre...? It's like, "Then why pick it up in the first place?"
 

What led you to start writing?

I had grown bored at university, and decided to put some of my ideas down on paper. Turned out I loved it, even though it was woefully amateurish. But time and experience are great teachers.

Do you have any writing superstitions?

Yes, I think that by being a stressed-out and moody ar#!hole it might somehow elevate my craft. Hope it's working!

What attracted you to the genre(s) you write in?

Robert McCammon, Dan Simmons, Clive Barker, and F. Paul Wilson. Pure imagination, with healthy doses of violence.

What is one of your favorite words? OR Is there a word you find yourself using too often?

I swear under my breath too much. So much so I annoy myself sometimes.


What are you currently reading?

Broken Souls (Eric Carter #2) by Stephen Blackmoore, Dogs of War by Adrian Tchaikovsky.


A lot of authors have a soundtrack while writing. Are there are songs you had on repeat?

Whoops, touched on this earlier. Yes, too many too count. Normally fist-pumping rock anthems or super atmospheric 80's synthwave. It's better than caffeine.


If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Do it for the love of creating characters and worlds, because its a damn hard job, particularly the promotional side!


What are a couple of your favorite movies to kick back with to relax?

Anything by James Gunn (particularly Super), or Romero's Day of the Dead.


Would you rather live in a haunted mansion or a cottage surrounded by fairytale creatures?

Are the fairytale creatures ravenous carnivores or playful and whimsical? I'll take a gamble and hope the fairytale creatures aren't fresh from a Brothers Grimm story.


What is something about the genre that annoys you?

I'd rather not say for fear of inciting a torch and pitchfork mob.


What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I like to make my action set-pieces as cinematic as possible. I also like to emphasise on the antagonists almost as much as the protagonists. I didn't realise that was even a noteworthy thing, but a few reviewers have picked up on it.


Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you? What are your links?

I'm on Twitter @DJauthor85


What advice would you like to pass on to aspiring writers that is unconventional but true?

Make some awesome playlists to help tune out and motivate you. Personally, I stick to hard 80's rock and synth wave, but you do you.


Do you have a WIP? If so, can you tell us anything about it?

Well, my next book, The Ferryman's Toll (Hourglass #2) is already finished, but I don't want to release it until I've wrung Heathens dry. So in the meantime I've been working on a horror screenplay, which makes a nice change of pace from writing novels. Some of it is based on my experience as a hospital domestic, but a bit more bizarre, Faustian, and body horror-ish.

Thanks so much for participating in the Author Spotlight! Anything you'd like to add?

Thanks for reading my waffle, Valerie. You're a legend!

Daniel James is a fantasy/thriller/horror author from Liverpool, England.

When not writing, he loves reading genre fiction and comic books, watching movies, listening to music, and playing guitar (he also used to play bass in a few local rock bands).




Publication date: October 31st, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads W hen Ellen decides to buy a fixer-upper in an art community in Santa Fe, ...


Publication date: October 31st, 2021


When Ellen decides to buy a fixer-upper in an art community in Santa Fe, New Mexico, she’s reassured by the realtor that nothing evil has ever occurred there. What she doesn’t know is that the bridge near the back of the property is notoriously known in the town as Suicide Bridge. As she and her friends try to uncover why so many people have taken their lives there, they are shocked by what they find. Can the reunion of Ghost Healers, Inc. untether the troubling spirits near Ellen’s fixer-upper, or will their discoveries be too much for them this time?

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“Ready for our hike?” Tanya asked. “Do pigs fly?” Sue said with a laugh. “The sooner we do our hike, the sooner we can get on the road to Santa Fe,” Ellen pointed out. “Just think, in five hours, we could be shopping in the plaza.” “Is that supposed to motivate me? That’s just what I’m looking forward to, more walking.” “Oh, come on, Sue,” Tanya said. “This will be more of a stroll than a hike. I promise.” Ellen and her friends put on their walking shoes and then took the trail beside their cabin into the canyon. Ellen breathed in the cool, morning air. The beauty of the canyon elevated her mood. Some of the stone formations were thick and striated, while other rocks formed mounds of crushed granite. In the distance was a tall formation that reminded Ellen of the sphinx. “Watch your step,” Tanya said from up front as she stepped over a large rock. “This feels so good,” Ellen said from where she took up the rear. “I feel like we’re one with nature.” “And nature is so majestic, isn’t it?” Tanya said. “Doesn’t that big rock look like the tower of a magical castle?” “I thought it looked more like the sphinx,” Ellen said. Sue shook her head. “You see a castle and Ellen sees a sphinx. What does it say about me that I see a penis?” Tanya scoffed. “You know what it says about you.” “Don’t tell Tom,” Sue warned. “He’ll say my mind is in the gutter.” “Isn’t it?” Ellen asked. “Yes, but there’s no need for Tom to know that.” The three friends chuckled. Ellen realized that if someone had overheard Sue, they might think she was a promiscuous woman who hid her extramarital interests from her husband, but her friends knew she just liked to make people laugh. Tanya asked, “You think there’s any truth to what that psychic said about there being a shade in Santa Fe? What if there is? What if he confronts us?” “Oh, Tanya,” Sue said, “you know as well as we do that there are ghosts everywhere. I’m sure there’s more than one shade in Santa Fe.” “But why would the psychic warn us?” Tanya wanted to know. “If anyone can handle a confrontation with a ghost, it’s us,” Sue said. “Don’t let fear get in your way of having a good time.” Ellen heard a shriek as Tanya stopped short. “Tanya? What are you screaming about?” Ellen asked from the


After earning her Ph.D. in English and teaching writing and literature for over twenty years, Eva Pohler became a USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels in multiple genres, including mysteries, thrillers, and young adult paranormal romance based on Greek mythology. Her books have been described as "addictive" and "sure to thrill"--Kirkus Reviews.



  
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Publication date: November 1st, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads A mong the immortals that inhabit our world, Arnaud Demeure is known as th...



Publication date: November 1st, 2021


Among the immortals that inhabit our world, Arnaud Demeure is known as the man who can fulfill your one true wish or who can also conjure your worst nightmares. 

Eight invitations are sent to eight immortals, and when Arnaud Demeure hosts a party, no one refuses his request. Why have they been summoned? Is it for a celebration or does a sinister fate await them? After all, in the ways of Magick, a party can also be a ritual to end the world. 

As the mystery deepens, the attendees must overcome their personal grudges to unravel the threads of Demeure’s grand plan that has been centuries in the making. But, with one of the guests secretly working with their host to sabotage the group’s every move, it seems impossible to look behind the curtain to learn Demeure’s true intentions. 

With each guest hiding dark secrets and darker intentions, will they be able to uncover Demeure’s mysterious motives or will the party prove to be the deadly nightmare that they each fear?.


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 The young sister ran through the silent city while the prophet waited for her to arrive. The old man knew she would come; he had seen her already. Hidden by the shadow of an old staircase, eyes fixed on the door, he tried not to get distracted by the creatures in his vision.

Thousands of them, maybe millions, all crammed within glass walls.

The youngest sat at the center of the glass prison. It was taller than the tallest mountain. It was quiet amid the frenzy of its brothers. Its head so high it saw beyond the ceiling of its prison, straight into the realm of the Eldest Lords. Light leaked from underneath its shaking, half-closed eyelids. It peeked into the future.

As the prophet watched them, the creatures stared at him from far away. He could see them, yet his mind could not make full sense of their shapes, only of a few features. A crowd of wings, fangs, stingers, and every piece of every animal he could think of, and some he had never seen, crawling on each other while human parts pushed their way through. The tall one, its eyes closed, hummed over and over.

“We are so close. It won’t be long.”

The others followed its chanting and moved back and forth in front of the glass holding them prisoners, just like animals expecting a bite of their prey.

The prophet almost missed the nun’s arrival. She ran up the stairs, hesitating as she put one foot on the first step.

Unseen, the prophet followed.

From the roof, he tasted the entire city. A forest of concrete and metal spreading in every direction, so much so that nothing existed if not within it. The sun blinded him, shining in white and gold. Dawn was a miracle. He stood still, in awe of the most magnificent city, and he almost forgot he had followed someone.

But there she was, the young sister, standing close to the balustrade, her arms raised to the sky, her shape dark against the sunlight.

The tall metallic tower pierced the sky and stabbed the sun, just like an arrow. The star bled, scattering its light all over the town.

White particles fell from the sky. Snow perhaps, or dust, he could not say. He dared to look up. The sky had turned dark despite the sun shining in it, light still leaking over the city.

In the cold air, no sound but the wind.

Nothing else made a noise. No sound of cars or their horns. No talking or music playing, no chirping of birds.

The prophet stood transfixed.

Cars were still on the asphalt, their lights on. Some stuck in place, some coasting along the streets. Many had slid, hitting nearby objects. Tombstones in an old graveyard, they lay against each other, against lampposts, or sat on the sidewalks.

Men and women, asleep, still clung to their steering wheels.

Their heads blasted out of the windshields or hung from the windows. Hundreds and hundreds of bodies covered the sidewalks and the streets. More must have been resting within the buildings, unmoving, untouched.

Here and there, white, black, and red stains, each tens of meters long, covered the streets—flocks of birds caught in whatever happened.

Nobody moved, nobody talked, everyone rested in this cemetery, testimony of a dark miracle.

The world had moved on. The city, now empty, stayed behind.

Paris was dead, and the Great Ones were free.




Born and raised in Sicily, M.L. spent most of his early life inventing stories and believing he could live in them.

In high school, he spent way too much time watching B movies, playing video games, and reading everything he could get his hands on, provided it wasn’t recommended by any authority figure.

M.L. spent most of his college years and adult life writing in languages only machines can understand until he decided to put some of his stories on the page.

After a few years spent in Scotland, now M.L. lives in Seattle with his wife, his cat, and a large assortment of books. When not writing, he still enjoys playing video games and explaining board game rules to his friends.

You can follow M.L. on: https://mylittleblackbird.com.

M.L. also writes as Sebastiano Merlino.
  

Publication date: October 15th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads O pen the door to your nightmares. They are the silent guardians of our in...


Publication date: October 15th, 2021


Open the door to your nightmares.

They are the silent guardians of our inner spaces. We throw them open to welcome friends and family. We shut them tight against the darkness and trust them to keep us safe. But they also hide our true natures, ward off intruders, and seal away what can never be allowed to escape.

But, what happens when the thing that we rely on the most, welcomes the bad things in? What happens when our protector becomes the thing we fear?

Turn the key, pull back the bolt, unfasten the latch and let the darkness through. Discover 19 tales of terror and despair that lurk on the other side of the Doors in the fourth instalment of Eerie River Publishing’s horror series.


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It Calls From The Doors joins four others in its "It Calls From" series. There's It Calls From The Sky, It Calls From The Sea (You can read my review here) and It Calls From The Forest (Vol 1. and 2). You would think that doors are such an innocuous thing. How could they possibly be scary? They aren't a destination; Merely a threshold. What happens when those doors open to places we aren't expecting? Or worse, what if they open exactly where we are expecting? That's what this anthology from Eerie River Publishing and its authors attempt to define.  

Featuring nineteen tales from nineteen different authors, this assemblage of door related horrors will have something for every horror lover. There are cosmic horrors, creature features, stories about death, and killers all fitting the door theme. As a horror fan, I love seeing how a single prompt can inspire so many different versions. 

A few of my favorites:

"Homesick" by Chris Hewitt was an interesting story about a fixer upper with a door to an eldritch horror. Not only would that be horrifying in itself, this story contained thousands and thousands of doors with things behind too terrible to truly comprehend. What's worse is that somewhere within those myriad doors are her daughters. 

"Who's That Trip Trappin'" by Ally Wilkes was another creepy story. This one involving an escalator. We've all had the thought—however brief—about being sucked down in the cracks of the escalator but I bet you never thought that an escalator could be as terrifying as this story.

"The Black Room" by Mason Gallaway was short but surprisingly sweet. A child goes back to the house she grew up in to face her fears as an adult. The darkness is still there waiting for her, but this time she's not alone...and that makes all the difference. 

There were stories that didn't work so well for me but that's what you are going to find in every anthology—and the reasons why anthologies are so much fun. The variety almost guarantees you to find a few authors to follow. Eerie River continues to put out delightfully hair-raising anthologies with new authors to discover. 




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