Today's Author Spotlight is author L.N. Mayer! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: September 30th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  | ...

Today's Author Spotlight is author L.N. Mayer!
Read on for the full interview.

Publication date: September 30th, 2021


Some want Tell dead, others want to exploit him. Most want him to go away and never return. Can Tell claim what is rightfully his in order to abolish the decree that made him an outcast in the first place? Or will his quest for power be his own undoing? This time, it will take more than just another adventure. It will take resolution, willpower, and mastering the one thing Tell has yet to conquer... his imagination.

Read now

What's your latest release? 

Yves, or the Man Who Wasn't (the sequel to Tell, or the Adventures in Themiddle)

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

My latest work is the sequel to Tell, or the Adventures in Themiddle. It's called Yves, or the Man Who Wasn't. If I had to describe the series in five words: "Strength of will meets imagination."

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?

SPOILER ALERT :) When I was a senior in college, I scribbled the beginning of an idea about a boy trying to make sense of a nonsensical world in the margins of one of my economics textbooks. It was only a few years later as I kept chipping away at the story that I had the idea to write the arc of a would-be villain over the course of three books. The premise: What would be the trials and tribulations of a 12-year-old boy who could manifest anything he imagined, without knowing he had such a power? My drive to finish the story is because I care deeply about the underlying message: Each of us possesses the power to manifest the things we imagine.

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

I developed them ahead of time through character development exercises.

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

One of my favorite characters to write was a double-bodied character named Weekend & Weekday. Simply put, he's a man with two bodies. He was fun to write because his internal conflict and self-doubt manifests as a running conversation he has with himself. I also liked his character because he's someone who always wants to do the right thing despite his inner turmoil.

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


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

Ooh, I like this question! The thing I've learned over the past few years is that if you have absolutely no motivation to sit down and work on your writing, there's a 99.9% chance that once you force yourself to sit down, you'll actually work on your writing.

In your opinion what makes a good story?

The unexpected ;)

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

I started taking more care to map out my chapter plot structures. I highly recommend this method because it forces you to clear up your ideas. The exercise is simple: 1) Write down what happens in the chapter, then 2) Explain why it happens (how the chapter is contributing to the overall plot).

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

Not all the time. For me, a bad review would be one that I feel misses the crux of the story. Unfortunately this is just sometimes the reality!

Do you have any writing superstitions?

I do believe that my most creative writing is late at night... I also am becoming increasingly convinced that good song-writing only happens if you sit down and write song lyrics on one take!

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

I wasn't attracted to the genre so much as I wanted to write a specific story and had to pick a genre. In the case of Tell, or the Adventures in Themiddle (and the sequel), the book is classified as coming-of-age action adventure for upper middle grade and young adult.

What are you currently reading?

On the Shortness of Life by Seneca

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

I admire those who can listen to music while writing!

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

Seek out life experiences--those will make for some of the best stories :)

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

Because I'm currently writing for an upper middle grade audience, I'll say The Neverending Story, The Princess Bride, Muppet Christmas Carol, The Labyrinth--all of these movies had a profound impact on me when I was younger. I was completely smitten with the characters and the world-building. The last film I saw that I loved was the latest Dune film with Timothée Chalamet. The soundscape and the images were amazing!

Which animal would you say is your spirit animal and why?

My English cocker spaniel, Oslo

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

Cottage surrounded by fairytale creatures, of course!

What is something about the genre that annoys you?

That readers are often conditioned to expect a certain type of format within the fantasy genre.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Again, you have such great questions! I have a silly way of rewarding myself after typing up my hand-written notes on my laptop. To feel like I've accomplished something, I stamp my notes with a date stamp that includes the French word 'SAISI' (the equivalent meaning in English would be something like "logged"). It is so silly... but so effective :)

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

Yes! Via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, you can find me at @lnmayerofficial

Do you have a favorite line that you've written? What is it and why do you like it?

"Sensitive sense how senselessness stows lessons sense can borrow." I like it for so many different reasons, primarily because logical explanations are not the answer to everything ;) It's also a reminder to loosen up a bit and to not take oneself so seriously.

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

Don't wait for someone to label you a writer. Give yourself permission to call yourself one.

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

Yes, it's the third and final book in the Tell Trilogy. I'll tell you that one of my favorite characters in the series makes her debut in Book 3...

L.N. Mayer is the author of the coming-of-age fantasy novel, Tell, or the Adventures in Themiddle and its sequel, Yves, or the Man Who Wasn't. When she isn’t spending her weekend mornings writing or editing, she enjoys reading and listening to The New York Times Book Review podcast.

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.

Read now

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. 

Enter for your chance to win a $25 Amazon e-Gift Card!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now that October is over, it's time to pack up all the jack-o-lanterns, ghosties, and faux spiderwebs. The season of the spook is over! ...

Now that October is over, it's time to pack up all the jack-o-lanterns, ghosties, and faux spiderwebs. The season of the spook is over!

Kidding. We don't ship that shit seasonally over here.
The season of the spook is all year round!

Here's the roundup of anticipated horror releases for November when that turkey triphophan hits and you need to cuddle up cozy with a new read.

(If you plan on purchasing any of the books on this page, it would be awesome if you’d use the affiliate links. This helps to support the blog and doesn’t cost you a thing. Thanks!)

Publication date: September 7th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads W hen the poison gas first leaked out of the ground, mankind thought the ...

Publication date: September 7th, 2021

When the poison gas first leaked out of the ground, mankind thought the horror would be over in no time.

When the lizard-men followed, swarming the land, slaughtering indiscriminately, those who survived scattered to the hills and the forests. Most did not last long.

But Cora, who found refuge and made a home in the mountains where she lives with the memory of her dead son, still fights. Tenacious, she lives wild and protects that home from the lizards who seek to kill her.

Until now.

Because man has arrived, and he is not friendly.

In this terrifying fight for survival, Zachary Ashford blends the thrills of the creature feature genre with the claustrophobic atmosphere of a home invasion.

Read now


Ashford wastes no time dunking the reader right into the fray and with one sentence commences initiating the tension that will ensue throughout the story. 
The cicadas had fallen silent.
Such a simple sentence and one that could be completely innocuous, but we know there's more at stake here. That sentence begins the contrast of the beauty of nature with the terrible monstrousness of the creatures and the ensuing battle for survival. There's no doubt of the ephemerality of everything human in this new world after the "ruin" as it's christened. 

I like that the story starts without really telling us how we got here. What are the lizard people? Where did they come from? Other than telling us that poisonous gas came first encircling the cities and then these saurian creatures came next, we don't really know much about them. They are pitiless killers, but you can't condemn them for surviving. They aren't the ones to hate here any more than we'd hate crocodiles or say any big cat in the African Safari. They were made to consume and in order to survive and thrive, they have to eat. It's not their fault that one of the easier things on the menu is human.

We only really have three characters, which makes the novella easier to follow versus Sole Survivor. Gone is the big cast with names you don't care about—fodder for the feast if you will. No, here Ashford gets intimate. There's Cora, who has carved out a space in the Australian bush, away from the cities and towns and then there are interlopers, Darren and Sarah. Well, we can't forget about the lizards, but as the methodical hunters and killers that they are, strangely they aren't the biggest threat here. 

Ashford has perfected his main character Cora. She could be me or you. She wasn't built to do this. She doesn't have years of military training or survivalist knowledge. She was, like the rest of the world, thrust into this miasma and it was either adapt or falter. This world has changed her. She's endured but she's not without fault. She's made mistakes that cost her the life of her son. In spite of that, Cora has managed to keep herself alive being resourceful with little bits of material appropriation and newfound awareness along the way. She's carving out an existence alone in the mountains and she likes it just fine that way. When Darren and Sarah show up, she offers them whatever she has just so they will move on and leave her little corner of the forest in relative peace. 

Darren is the kind of villain you love to hate. Ruthless and smart but still stupid somehow. There's a wrongness about him that goes much further than the pure meanness that people can have within their hearts. It's clear from the start that he has a sickness both in body and soul. He's despicable, a stain on humanity, and I want to see him get everything that karma has coming for him. Sarah, on the other hand, is a bit of an enigma. Is she with Darren simply for survival—riding his coattails for protection?  Does she truly care for him, in which case was he a better person before the shit hit the proverbial fan? It's hard to know exactly where she stands and Cora waffles on that one as well throughout. 

This isn't your typical end-of-the-world survivor slog. Ashford chose a completely weird post-apocalyptic lizard creature stance, sure, but by narrowing the viewfinder to these three characters, he's created something inherently more intimate and ultimately more unsettling.  He puts the horror genre in the spin cycle. What begins as a creature feature evolves into the "human is the real evil" trope and morphs yet again in the last pages. Thrilling and poignant, When The Cicadas Stop Singing is a completely different beast than Ashford's other works. It's unexpected, completely out there, and heartrending.

Today's Author Spotlight is author Sara Barkat! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: December 1st, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  ...

Today's Author Spotlight is author Sara Barkat!
Read on for the full interview.

Publication date: December 1st, 2021

The Shivering Ground blends future and past, earth and otherworldliness, in a magnetic collection that shimmers with art, philosophy, dance, film, and music at its heart.

A haunting medieval song in the mouth of a guard, an 1800s greatcoat on the shoulders of a playwright experiencing a quantum love affair, alien worlds both elsewhere and in the ruined water at our feet: these stories startle us with the richness and emptiness of what we absolutely know and simultaneously cannot pin into place.

In the tender emotions, hidden ecological or relational choices, and the sheer weight of a compelling voice, readers “hear” each story, endlessly together and apart.

Read now

What's your latest release? 

'The Shivering Ground' &/or 'The Midnight Ball,' a kids' book illustrated with pen and ink. The latter is an autumn-themed fun little adventure about a girl who gets an invitation to a castle, but she has to get there before midnight—and she meets a lot of new animal friends along the way, who each join her and bring a special item to the party (one of my favorites is the wolf who brings a cupcake).

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

It's a collection called 'The Shivering Ground & other stories,'—soft science fiction, horror, eco-fiction, with a literary twist. It's basically a mashup of everything that interests me as far as genre (except for mystery—I've never tried writing that). And I always tend to get thinking about the environment. It's this unavoidable, huge, world- and life-changing thing but it's rarely talked about from an artistic or personal viewpoint, instead being the reported as facts or politics, when I think people's true experience of how it plays out in their lives is much more visceral. That's kind of what I wanted to touch on in the book. The fear, depression, grief, hopelessness you can sometimes feel because of it—but also the reasons to keep going, the reasons why action and belief matter.

That makes it sound like a really depressing volume, which I hope it's not. I had a lot of fun writing it, coming up with a group of sf/horror concepts to play out in a kind of "magical realist" style. There's a bit of humor, too, as well as a sense of mystery and exploration. It's got stories about: a totally normal town that just happens to live outside an encroaching wasteland; two travelers thrown together by circumstances at the end of the world, telling each other stories; a cross-dimensional meeting between a painter and a playwright; and a prison guard's encounter with a winged being. Just to pick out a few...

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?

I wanted to see if I could write short stories, and I'd had a really entrancing dream about a disturbing garden, which became the seed of the idea for "The Door at the End of the Path." After that, it just followed that I'd try to turn it into a whole collection. Some of the stories—a lot of them, actually—were inspired by things I've read and watched. One's a fairytale retelling I've had in mind for years, but never quite had the framework for until I realized it could exist in the collection.

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

They all developed organically. My stories tend to start with a concept, maybe the beginning of a plot, and a very sketchy outline of a character that becomes fleshed out as I write and see how they react to incidents.

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

Shift, I think. Because of the concept of a kind of alien being—and the way they can offer an outside perspective on humanity. Also the fact that Shift is interested in birds. This allowed me to look up and discover a lot of intriguing things about birds.

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

The way I see it, if you can dis-entwine those two things, you haven't written the story tightly enough. The plot should support the character development, and the characters' development should forward the plot. If it comes down to it, though, I have to say: character. That's where the real emotional weight comes from, I usually find--if you've got a great plot but don't care about what's happening to the characters, there's no reread potential; once the twists and turns have been figured out, that's it. But if you have good characters, they bring a whole number of possibilities for reinterpretation.

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

I didn't expect that so many of the stories would end up "existing" in a kind of shared universe. But it makes sense, since I really wanted the pieces to feel like they were supposed to appear together and be read as a whole.

In your opinion what makes a good story?

Compelling characters. A plot that makes sense and well-paced writing doesn't hurt, either.

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

The first book I published was 'The Yellow Wall-paper: A Graphic Novel, written by someone else; I just illustrated the classic story and turned it into a graphic novel. It made me freeze up, a lot. The very fact that there was a book out there, just one, meant that everything else I did had to reflect on that, being either better or worse than the one other thing I’d ever published. I'm really excited to finally have two more books. It takes a lot of the pressure off.

Okay—on a more practical level, I pay more attention to gutter space now in the pictures. I didn't have quite enough space on some of my pages for TYW (whoops) and so the publisher had to slightly reduce the size of the illustrations.

What led you to start writing?

I've wanted to write ever since I was a kid. One of the earliest "books" I remember making was made of construction paper, only about 4 pages long, and written and illustrated myself. It was about two frogs who were in love and then one of them died tragically. I thought it was very dramatic.

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

The endless possibility of science fiction, and the hopefulness of it—as it very often projects a possible future, which goes on to assume that there is *indeed* a future, and that the right choices can be made. Here I'm talking about creations like Star Trek, though I also like creepier or less hopeful science fiction, for the way it explores the darker possibilities as a kind of warning. But it's really the hopefulness of science fiction—and just the weird vastness of it—that intrigues me most. Also, the fact that it's not pretentious. It's just there to entertain. And if it happens to create truly brilliant philosophical accounts while it's at it, so much the better!

The same with horror—it's a pulp genre. It's about the viscerality, the effect it has on the reader. It’s something that just hooks you and, hopefully, sticks with you afterward. I'm definitely not the scarier end of horror as far as my writing, but I like to have that undercurrent of unease, that "something terrible might happen at any moment" or even *be* happening. And I think it pairs well with the science fiction and eco-fiction focus, because here you're talking about extrapolating a possible future that is terrifying, in so many ways, and I think to admit that it is, is cathartic.

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

A favorite word? Defenestrate. It means to throw something or someone out the window. I think it's funny that you need a specific word for that action.

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

Have fun, and don't worry. You will finish stories, long ones, and you'll get published, and you won't stop being interested in writing. You’ll manage to write something you're happy with, occasionally :) You'll even be able to write out some of the ideas you were trying to work on over and over again in your notebook. (Like that one fairytale retelling: you'll keep nothing but the base concept as you rewrite, but you'll manage to convey what you want, while also being surprised at what it becomes as you do so.)

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

Mulan [the Disney animated version, not the remake]; Some Like it Hot; & (I know these aren’t movies, instead TV shows, but...) Star Trek The Original Series & Batman: The Animated Series.

What is something about the genre that annoys you?

I don't tend to get too annoyed by genres, except for the limits of them, which is why I like to smash together a whole bunch.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Unconventional sentence structure.

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

Yes, and yes. I'm on YouTube and Instagram.

Do you have a favorite line that you've written? What is it and why do you like it?

—When they sat down in the small kitchen with its checkered grey and pink formica it was as if the memory of all those family dinners came and sat beside them. [Conditions]
—*Laugh like your life depends upon it!* it said. The people in the brochure had colorful shirts on and tans. They glowed with tourist-bound enthusiasm. [The Day Before Tomorrow]
—“Perhaps, under the sorbet sky and the soft sharp pinch of new shoes we are all, really, staring into space, seeing just what condenses best into our previous understanding, bisected occasionally by something resembling the truth, and which consequently scares us so much we turn around and thenceforth avoid it.” [A Universe Akilter]

I enjoy these lines because they just *sound* interesting; the second one is funny/ironic, the first ironic in a haunting sense, and the third is not only a reference to a poem (perhaps you can guess which one?) but also makes an interesting point about the world; plus, I love the variation in words.

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

It's not unconventional except in the sense that too many writers would like to skip this step, but... read. Read everything that interests you. Everything. Without concern for genre. Including nonfiction! It'll give you unusual and vivid ideas.

Also, don't be afraid to rework your stories a host of times. That's how you make them better. There's nothing wrong with having a whole stack of drafts or even changing your mind on where you're going when you're already halfway through.

Don't worry about finishing things. Think instead about getting [something] done. It can be working on description or scene setting. Or how to carry a plot. Or simply dialogue, or creating better pacing. Any time you try something new in your writing you've done something worthwhile.

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

I have an eco-poem anthology coming out in April next year, collecting all sorts of wonderful poems from a wide range of writers, including many works in translation. It’s called 'Earth Song' because the placement of the poems is supposed to feel like movements of an orchestral piece, where each flows into the next instead of being placed statically. It’s meant to draw attention to the connections between the poems, and showcases moments of encounter between humanity and nature, focusing on a variety of emotions. The collection is framed through poems by Sara Teasdale and Gerard Manley Hopkins, and includes both famous and emerging poets. Pablo Neruda, Jane Hirshfield, Major Jackson, W. S. Merwin, Gerald Vizenor, Louise Erdrich, Rabindranath Tagore, and many more.

Sara Barkat is an intaglio artist and writer with an educational background in philosophy and psychology, whose work has appeared in Every Day Poems, Tweetspeak Poetry, and Poetic Earth Month—as well as in the book How to Write a Poem: Based on the Billy Collins Poem “Introduction to Poetry.” Sara has served as an editor on a number of titles including the popular The Teacher Diaries: Romeo & Juliet, and is the illustrator of The Yellow Wall-Paper Graphic Novel, an adaptation of the classic story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

Publication date: September 21st, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads S et in Colonial New England, Slewfoot is a tale of magic and mystery, o...

Publication date: September 21st, 2021

Set in Colonial New England, Slewfoot is a tale of magic and mystery, of triumph and terror as only dark fantasist Brom can tell it.

Connecticut, 1666.

An ancient spirit awakens in a dark wood. The wildfolk call him Father, slayer, protector.

The colonists call him Slewfoot, demon, devil.

To Abitha, a recently widowed outcast, alone and vulnerable in her pious village, he is the only one she can turn to for help.

Together, they ignite a battle between pagan and Puritan – one that threatens to destroy the entire village, leaving nothing but ashes and bloodshed in their wake.

"If it is a devil you seek, then it is a devil you shall have!"

There's been a lot of hype around Slewfoot and history has not often been nice to me where hyped books are concerned. I more often than not find that the books that others are raving about are just...okay. A lot of the time I even end up DNF'ing. That's why with trepidation, I started Slewfoot. Y'all. I could NOT put this one down. I was lucky enough to get it as an audiobook and I highly recommend that if you plan on reading it, that you experience the audiobook. Barrie Kreinik does a marvelous job bringing all the character voices to life. 

Abitha, having been sold for a paltry amount by her father, comes to the colonies to start a new life with her equally new husband. Her husband, Edward is a good man and though it's a hard life, Abitha does well. Unbeknownst to Edward, his brother who co-owns the farm has been gambling and has substantial debts. Even though Edward only has one more payment to his brother until he owns the land, they are at risk of losing the farm to pay his brother's debts while his own farm is safe from harm.  After chasing a lost goat into the woods, Abitha stumbles onto something that has been sleeping and now it's time for it to awake. 

I adored Abitha's character. She's headstrong and cusses like a sailor yet at the same time, tries her best to fit in with the Puritans even though she finds the lifestyle extremely restricting. She could have laid down and given up but she decided to make the best of a bad situation. She honestly cares for Edward, even if she doesn't think that he loves her in the way she yearns to be. I wanted so much for her to succeed in everything that is thrown at her. Even after meeting this goat-like entity, what does she do? Names it Samson and befriends it. 

Samson aka Slewfoot on the other hand was a mystery to me. Not a surprise considering Samson is a mystery to himself. Is he a demon? Devil? Is he slayer or protector...or perhaps a bit of both? I couldn't decide if I liked him or not in the beginning and was very suspicious of his motives. As the story progressed, I grew to admire him as well, though a big part of me ached for him in his tormented confusion and loss of self. 

Brom weaves this folktale masterfully around the reader. Of course, in every good tale, there's a villain and Brom gives us a despicable putrid piece of trash to loathe and despise. Oh and how! Edward's brother is self-serving and contemptible. You love to hate him and even when you think you can't possibly abhor him more, he manages another slimy and underhanded action. 

Slewfoot is a slow burn. Brom has to set the scene, transporting you back to 1666 Connecticut. We are given plenty of time to discover the characters and to empathize with their plights. The world surrounding them is hard and cruel enough when you know who and what you are but without this knowledge, even more so. Somewhere in the middle, the plot stalls to a mere plod, but stick with it. By the end of the novel, you are cheering Abitha and Samson on, which is the highest compliment of characterization. 

I don't want to give too many details away, but Slewfoot turns the typical good vs. evil trope on its head. If you are thinking, where's the horror? Where's the blood? Patience, friend. Brom is a virtuoso of revenge and equalization and will have you howling for blood and judgment in the final chapters. I promise you will relish every drop of retribution that rains down upon their heads. Slewfoot is spectacularly dark and ruminative and most delightfully witchy. This one tops my favorite reads list easily this year, making me wish I could read it for the very first time all over again. It's a spellbinding and captivating tale.

Publication date: October 19th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads F lowers for the Sea is a dark, dazzling debut novella that reads like Ro...

Publication date: October 19th, 2021

Flowers for the Sea is a dark, dazzling debut novella that reads like Rosemary's Baby by way of Octavia E. Butler.

We are a people who do not forget.

Survivors from a flooded kingdom struggle alone on an ark. Resources are scant, and ravenous beasts circle. Their fangs are sharp.

Among the refugees is Iraxi: ostracized, despised, and a commoner who refused a prince, she’s pregnant with a child that might be more than human. Her fate may be darker and more powerful than she can imagine.

Zin E. Rocklyn’s extraordinary debut is a lush, gothic fantasy about the prices we pay and the vengeance we seek. 

Read now

Iraxi has reason to be angry. She's stuck on a ship in a flooded world, surrounded on all sides by those who despise her, and monsters of air and sea who are waiting to end her. She's pregnant with a child she doesn't want in a new world where no one has yet to carry to term. She's not even sure the child is human. Her hatred burns her from within, leaving no room for anything else. Her anger is like the water that filled her world, rising swiftly and submerging everything in its path. 
I am insistence personified, and the spite I draw is my sustenance...

 This is a novella that will speak to all your senses. Not only is Iraxi's rage all-consuming, but the descriptions of the ship and its people will also engulf you. Seventeen hundred forty-three days at sea. She is locked in this place surrounded by rotting wood, the sea lapping at it from all sides, mildewing in the salty air. The stink of bodies and fluids and blood all around. Unable to even escape to fresh air due to the razorfangs from the sky and tentacles from the depths. This narrative will envelop you in its depictions like a dark, oily dream from which you can't awake. 

While the eldritch creatures encircling the ship would typically be the focus of a novella, Rocklyn beckons us to sit with Iraxi in her boiling resentment and fury. We experience her loathed pregnancy, the debilitating changes to her body, and eventually the horror of her labor and what comes after. If you are looking for a dark and disturbing visceral tale, Iraxi's account will whisper bleakly to you. Flowers For The Sea is ghastly and gloriously weird and well worth the read. 

green background with woman's silhouette wrapped in tentacles

Publication date: October 31, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads J oey’s a mechanic. One night, she receives a call from her best friend, ask...

Publication date: October 31, 2021

Joey’s a mechanic. One night, she receives a call from her best friend, asking for his car to be picked up from the infamous body dumping grounds of Baltimore: Leakin Park. When she arrives, there’s little more around than a stalled-out car and a couple of ravens, so she leaves only with the car. Back at the body shop, it doesn’t take long for the smell of rot to permeate the trunk. Inside? A corpse. The cops say her friend did it. His absence is his guilt, but Joey knows better. She will find her missing friend and she will prove his innocence.

But something isn’t right in Baltimore. It’s not just the feeling that someone is always watching from the city’s abandoned buildings... Her search for her friend reveals something much worse hiding under the city. A ghost town, a reaper, regret. Suddenly, the city’s rage and the stink rising out of the dirt make much more sense. 

Read now  

Bleedmore, Bodymore is a YA fantasy horror with a very nice nod to Greek mythology. Our protagonist, Joey, is thrown immediately into the fray, showing up in the slums of Leakin Park after a call requesting a tow. Only there's a body in the trunk of the car of her friend and her friend is nowhere in sight. Who is the person in the trunk? Did her friend kill him? If he didn't, why has he disappeared? Down the rabbit hole goes Joey into a whole different world transposed on the city of Baltimore and Leakin Park.

I was all for the atmosphere of this read. It's dark and gritty showing the shadowed side of Baltimore. There's a dank and mealy vibe coating everything and you can conjure the wet asphalt and garbage smell in the air without even trying. That's where the novel excelled. The pacing worked well enough though there were some slowdowns and breakneck parts. 

Where it lost me was taking a hard right turn beyond the murder and mystery sticking us straight into mythology and the underworld. I was expecting paranormal. That wasn't the problem. Additionally, I love a good mythology/horror combination, but I was honestly confused enough to backtrack thinking I missed something. Once I reoriented myself, I loved the addition—this dark underworld filled with a ghost town, a river of regret to drown in, heart-devouring raven shifters, a reaper, and dead-but-not-dead abusive alcoholic fathers. (Tw - abuse, alcoholism, and suicide)

I didn't care so much for Joey aka Josephine. I wanted to like her and I wanted to care about her plight but it didn't happen. She never quite made it past a one-dimensional character for me. She comes across as being very immature and she makes some extremely stupid decisions for seemingly no other reason than "I'm tough and edgy". If I had to hear about her licking or sucking on her lip piercing ONE MORE TIME, I was going to lose it. As far as the secondary characters went, the most interesting ones were Charon and Val. I wanted to know more about them. This is a continued series though so surely the author will expand on that later.  

There's plenty here that worked well of though. There is loads of action and it moves the story along fairly quickly. Joey is actually pretty witty and some of the dialogue will give you a laugh. There's some great imagery as well and the atmosphere is top notch. I feel like this would be better promoted as urban fantasy versus horror, though it certainly contains horror elements. Hopefully, book two can address some of the weaknesses and give a stronger more cohesive read. 

Publication date: September 21st, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads ' H umans, as is there wont, have a terrible habit of making a mess ...

Publication date: September 21st, 2021

'Humans, as is there wont, have a terrible habit of making a mess of everything.'

Mirabelle has always known she is a monster. When the glamour protecting her unusual family from the human world is torn and an orphaned brother and sister stumble upon Rookhaven, Mirabelle soon discovers that friendship can be found in the outside world.

But as something far more sinister comes to threaten them all, it quickly becomes clear that the true monsters aren't necessarily the ones you can see.

A thought-provoking, chilling and beautifully written novel, Pádraig Kenny's The Monsters of Rookhhaven, stunningly illustrated by Edward Bettison, explores difference and empathy through the eyes of characters you won't want to let go.

Read now


The Monsters of Rookhaven is a delightful middle-grade gothic tale of a little girl named Mirabelle and her family. For centuries, the Family has lived protected in their home away from the eyes of most humans. Until one day, the veil tears and two abandoned and abused human children find their way in. They are promptly and fiercely championed by seemingly normal Mirabelle to stay. While the rest of those living at the estate are unsure, the children are quickly settled in amongst the strange and usual characters.  The rift, however, leaves the family vulnerable to those that might wish them harm and it has been out there patiently waiting. 

The world that Kenny weaves is mysterious and enchanting. The estate that the family lives on is brooding and sprawling, replete with unnatural flowers guarding the paths. Each of the family has a unique "talent". There's Uncle Betram, who can transform into a huge bear. Aunt Eliza is made up of spiders. Gideon can transport via portals. The twins, well they are their own breed. Piglet is the literal monster in the basement. We have to learn much later what their talent is, but the family keeps them behind a tremendous locked door and whispers "Piglet is dangerous." 

There are themes of friendships and found family, and how the monsters aren't always the one to be feared. It's not all love and sweetness though—the last half takes a very dark turn. There is a defined evil under the the burgeoning friendship and comfort that the family supplies. Secrets often can cause harm and there is a big ominous secret waiting in the wings for Mirabelle. It will change everything.

I was lucky enough to get The Monsters of Rookhaven on audiobook narrated by Emma Noakes. She has a gift with voices and made the listen that much more enjoyable. Her volume ebbed and flowed through all the different voices, bringing each character to life in turn. I found myself smiling while listening. I couldn't wait to get my earbuds plugged back in to this unforgettable story with its captivating narrator. 

Fans of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children will be charmed by this story. It's fantastical and magical. Perfect for middle-grade readers or for those wanting a little more enchantment in their lives.