"Welcome to Count Gore De Vol's Tomb of Dark Delights. I'm J. L. Comeau, horror writer and resident Tomb Keeper. I have been charged with the daunting task of sorting and cataloging the Count's vast library of horror, science fiction and fantasy. Take a torch from the wall and follow me down the stone stairway into the darkness deep beneath the Dungeon. It's cold and damp down here--perfect for the kind of reading we're going to do. Never mind the shambling figures in the shadows, they're probably just some friends of ours looking for a good book. If you click on the cover, you'll be taken to a wonderful place where you can buy the book.
Now, let's reach into the musty stacks and see what we can find..."
(Clicking on the covers gives you more information and prices from Amazon.com and other outlets.)
So you think you don’t have time to read? Wrong!
Everybody has time to read--turn off the TV for a couple minutes or read
during commercials, huh?--and I have a couple of good choices for you this
week: a collection of flash fiction and a novella—concise literary packages
that pack big thrills. So there. Go read!
HERDING RAVENS: BON-BONS AND COLD CUTS by Christopher Conlon
This is a delightfully dark collection of flash fiction, short-shorts and vignettes told with Gothic flair from Bram Stoker Award® winning author Christopher Conlon. As the author explains in his opening page, a bon-bon “…is a very short tale of fantasy with no rules or logic, or with dream logic, or the logic of the grave.” And so the parade of strange, phantasmagoric, ghastly, darkly humorous and grisly fictions proceeds. The reader will encounter a shocking modern version of Hawthorne’s Hester Prynne; a family conflicted about reanimating a testy dead relative; a funny take on Poe’s “The Raven”; a Christmas that ends badly for a distressed woman; a future where growing beards becomes a competitive sport for everyone; a sardonic turn on tempus fugit, a terrorist of the future who was quite famous in the past, a new spin on photographic soul-stealing, dark, laugh-out-loud (and accurate!) recommendations for living one’s life, and one of the best closing stories ever. I’ve only touched upon some of the surprises offered up in this surreal, bizarre, horrific and often hilarious collection of tidbits from an author of literate and reliably excellent dark fiction.
VAUDEVILLE by Greg Chapman
An instinctive fear of deep, dark forests is one of the most pervasive human characteristics, I think. Folk tales are filled with horrors occurring in dense forests and Australian author/artist Greg Chapman hits that terror button dead-bang with his new novella, VAUDEVILLE. This is the story of Anthony Moore, whose father has committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree. No one knows why Anthony’s father killed himself, and it is a question that is devouring Anthony from within and destroying the small community of Keaton from without. Anthony’s mother drowns her sorrow in an alcoholic stupor that leaves her son alone in his own grief, making him withdrawn and friendless, searching for answers for his father’s decision to embrace death in such a horrendous manner. In the tiny town of Keaton, there is little comfort for the boy except to gaze mournfully into the depths of Keaton Wood, where terrible things have occurred and worse things reside in the darkness of the towering trees. A traveling troupe of performers trapped between this world and the next reveal themselves, and young Anthony Moore is poised to witness the performance of his life. Or death. VAUDEVILLE is a lyrically terrifying novella that will linger in the mind much longer than the time it takes to read.
We’re delving deep into the darkness this week, TombRats, with two fright fests suitable for horror fans from young adults to decrepit oldsters like the TombKeeper! Enjoy!
GHOUL by Walt Morton
Here’s a great horror/comedy/coming-of-age novel for younger readers to adult (12 and up, I’d say) about a sensitive, bright, sort of nerdy high school kid named Howard Pickman who just happens to be a ghoul. He and entire family are ghouls, and not because they want to be—it’s a hereditary genetic anomaly that makes their survival dependent upon ingesting small but regular amounts of fresh human organs and flesh. If deprived of their nutritional requirement, they will die. And it’s not like they’re killing people; the Pickmans get their food from cemeteries late at night, searching out the newly interred for the freshest, um, victuals. Of course, even in 1970s, most folks aren’t partial to the idea of grave-robbing. And thus one evening Howard comes home to find a raging pitchfork and torch mob surrounding his burning house where his parents are trapped inside. Tearfully making his escape from Georgia, Howard finds refuge with his grandmother in New Jersey, where he enters high school and tries to fit in, all the while still having to rob graves to provide for himself and his grandma. It’s not easy being a teenager in the best of circumstances and growing up ghoul is something of a nightmare. Howard’s perspective on a problematic teen lifestyle is both funny and quite charming, such as Howard’s wholehearted empathy for the monsters in the old monster movies he loves to watch. Everyone—young and old—can identify in some way with Howard’s bittersweet struggle toward adulthood. Visit the author at his website here: www.waltmorton.com.
THE BURNING TIME by JG Faherty
Fans of H.P. Lovecraft and Manly Wade Wellman will not be able to put down Mr. Faherty’s newest novel, THE BURNING TIME, an involving and thoroughly entertaining mash-up of Cthulhu mythos and Native American Trickster myth. Set in the seemingly idyllic small town of Hastings Mills, New York, the story focuses on a man named John Root who is descended from an ancient line of magical folk who are particularly sensitive to paranormal manifestations of evil. John’s family line have dedicated themselves to ridding Hastings Mills of dark influences, in particular the Trickster, an ageless demon hell bent upon opening a portal between dimensions in order to set free the Old Ones upon the earth to make blood sacrifice of the townspeople and retake control of earth. Now a mage himself, John Root’s powers and commitment to his family’s creed are tested when the Stranger arrives in town, an ancient entity in the form of a preacher whose presence causes death, terror and destruction at every turn. The Stranger is the embodiment of the very same demon that killed John’s mother in an earlier battle and, if Hastings Mills is to survive, John must act swiftly. THE BURNING TIME is classic supernatural horror at its best—a monumental clash of good versus evil wrought with a stylish, urgent narrative and dimensional, compelling characters that insure solid thrills and a fully engaged reading experience. For more about the author, check out www.jgfaherty.com.
To get even more information about these titles, including some of the best prices on the Internet, just click on each of the book covers and you'll be connected to
To visit the individual writer's website, just click on any underlined name.
About the Tomb Keeper (Or, who is this person of mystery)
J. L. (Judy) Comeau is an award winning short story writer whose work has appeared internationally in major horror and dark fantasy anthologies such as the Borderlands series, Best New Horror, The Years' Best Horror, the Hot Blood series, and the Dark Voices series in the UK. She is an active member of the Horror Writer's Association, and she lives in the Washington, DC area where she also teaches short story writing. Click on FIREBIRD to read one of her most anthologized stories.
To learn more about the Horror Writer's Association, just click on their logo!