"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.)
Are you ready for summer reading? Blockbuster novels! Entertaining poolside
reads! Great big doorstop books! It's still several months off, but that
doesn’t mean you have to put your brain in park when you open the cover.
Here are a couple of blockbuster novels by blockbuster authors that are
anything but brainless. Enjoy.
SEVENEVES by Neal Stephenson
Neal Stephenson’s newest novel begins with a bang—a great big bang in which the moon is obliterated, a disaster that means the end of Earth and the end of humanity unless something is done to preserve our species. When the moon breaks up, it is thought at first that Earth would survive, but it soon becomes clear that the ongoing disintegration of the remaining pieces of the moon will cause what is called a Hard Rain that will bombard the planet for a millennium, killing every living thing on Earth. With only two years to get off-world, engineers hastily construct spacecraft that will ferry into the cosmos and house a tiny percentage of humanity into what is dubbed the Cloud Ark. Immediately the political implications of choosing who lives and who dies becomes an explosive issue, and, the larger issue looms: once safely away from the dying Earth, how will the Cloud Ark itself survive? As always, science is at odds with politics, as if the scientists are not having enough trouble figuring out how to record the millions of DNA sequences that make up Earth’s biology and then conceive how to ensure the survival of all. This is a big book full of big questions. SEVENEVES dares to ask the biggest question of all—does humankind deserve to survive? I think this is Neal Stephenson’s most important novel to date, and it’s entertaining as hell, too.
FINDERS KEEPERS by Stephen King
When I heard this novel was about an unbalanced literary fan and a hugely successful author, I thought, “Oh, boy. MISERY redux.” Wrong. I was so wrong. FINDERS KEEPERS is King’s best fiction since his stunning collection, FULL DARK, NO STARS, I think, and it is not exactly horror, although it is certainly horrifying. An unhinged and vengeful reader, Morris Bellamy, who has been disappointed by his favorite author’s most recent novel searches out and murders the Salinger-esque reclusive writer, taking with him a cache of money and, more important to Bellamy, hand-written notebooks containing unpublished sequels. On the run, Bellamy hides a trunk containing the money and notebooks, and then commences to get into trouble that lands him in prison for decades. During Morris’s incarceration, a boy whose family resides in Bellamy’s former residence discovers the cached treasure trove, and, after reading the notebooks, falls under the spell of the reclusive writer, becoming a high school expert on the author John Rothstein and his rebellious character, Jimmy Gold. While in prison, Morris has plenty of time to think about his buried treasure, unaware that the money and the notebooks are already gone. And when Morris Bellamy gets paroled, all hell is going to break lose. Intricately plotted and highly suspenseful, FINDERS KEEPER is a far superior sequel to MR. MERCEDES, featuring some of the same characters. When Stephen King hits it, he hits it hard, and FINDERS KEEPERS is a hit. Full on.
This week we celebrate stories, essays and reviews by one of the most
renowned authors of dark fiction in history, Shirley Jackson! I am also
reveling in a brand new updated reissue of a wonderful short story
collection by Karen Joy Fowler. Party time, y’all!
LET ME TELL YOU: NEW STORIES, ESSAYS, AND OTHER WRITINGS by Shirley Jackson
Although Shirley Jackson is probably best known for her macabre dark fiction (THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE, “The Lottery”, etc.), she was also a humorous chronicler of everyday domestic matters (LIFE AMONG SAVAGES, RAISING DEMONS), a witty essayist, and wrote extensively about the craft of writing. She was a stay-at-home mom to a brood of lively children, a classic 1950s housewife, and attended to writing when her domestic chores permitted. Is it any wonder, then, that her most stunning and credible creations revolve around women trapped in haunted domiciles and suburban neighborhood traditions gone mad? This weighty volume is more than a collection, it is an event! Previously unpublished stories (domestic and marital creepiness prevail), essays and reviews, early short stories in which subjects of her later fiction are seen burgeoning, hilarious essays about her home and family, and a number of pieces about her own writing methods; e.g., “How I Write.” She also provides reviews of other writers’ fiction, and particularly sweet and funny is her essay about the king of mid-20th-century children’s fiction, the ubiquitous Dr. Seuss. This collection shows clearly the connection between domesticity and her sense of the ghastly and how the melding of her two passions made for unforgettable fiction. She states the following: “I have never liked the theory that poltergeists only come into houses where there are children, because I think it is simply too much for any one house to have poltergeists and children.” Shirley Jackson’s off-beat and amusing line drawings illustrate the book throughout, adding a bit of creepy fun to the proceedings. I thought I was a fan of Shirley Jackson’s before I read LET ME TELL YOU, but she is now a reignited literary obsession. I will be going back to my bookshelves to reread her novels with a fresh eye.
BLACK GLASS by Karen Joy Fowler
I was introduced to Karen Joy Fowler’s unique fiction talents when a friend loaned me a copy of the incandescently lyrical and imaginative novel, SARAH CANARY, which remains one of my all-time favorite genre novels. And what genre does Ms. Fowler write? Her very own genre. If pressed, I suppose my best description of her work would be dark fantasy, although that barely scratches the surface of a deeply individual talent for language and imagery. BLACK GLASS is a welcome updated reissue of a superb collection of short stories that I recommend as an excellent starting point for readers new to Ms. Fowler’s work. In the author’s preface, she puts to rest the theory that a writer must have an agonizing childhood to be a successful writer. Her fiction is certainly proof of that. Many of these wry, humorous, unnerving, and often shocking tales include familiar historical characters in a definitely non-historical mode. Here you will find a breathtaking range of this author’s questing mind: a resurrected temperance activist, Carry Nation, who causes so much turmoil in the present day that Federal Agents find it necessary to employ supernatural means rid themselves of her. A mentally unhinged woman convinces Albert Einstein that she is his daughter, monstrous extraterrestrials research American college activism of the 1960s, and more. In my favorite tale of this 15-story collection, Tonto spends his fortieth birthday reflecting his long friendship with the Lone Ranger, pondering why he allowed such a toxic relationship to exist (I often wondered that myself). Edgy, original, brilliant and dark, BLACK GLASS is a testament to the power of language and imagination.
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!