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(Collection Review) Corpsemouth and Other Autobiographies by John Langan

Summary: A family’s Halloween haunted house becomes a conduit to something ancient and uncanny; a young man’s effigy of a movie monster becomes instrumental in his defense against a bully; a family diminishes while visiting a seaside town, leaving only one to remember what changed; a father explores a mysterious tower, and the monster imprisoned within; a man mourning the death of his father travels to his father’s hometown, seeking closure, but finds himself beset by dreams of mythic bargains and a primeval, corpse-eating titan.

John Langan, author of the Bram Stoker Award-winning novel The Fisherman, returns with ten new tales of cosmic horror in Corpsemouth and Other Autobiographies. In these stories, he continues to chart the course of 21st century weird fiction, from the unfamiliar to the familial, the unfathomably distant to the intimate.

Includes extensive story notes and an introduction by Sarah Langan.

Content Warnings: Gore, Body Horror, Child Death

Review: Like many horror fans, John Langan has become something of a good omen to me. So far, every book and story I’ve read from the man is legendary. More and more, I find that, if a book has Langan’s name on it, I have to purchase it and read it for myself. To not do so would be a crime to weird fiction. 

Corpsemouth and Other Autobiographies is no exception. The latest short story collection from Langan is astounding, bringing its readers beautiful themes of family, nostalgia, hunger, and memory. 

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(Novel Review) Jackal by Erin E. Adams

Summary: It’s watching.

Liz Rocher is coming home . . . reluctantly. As a Black woman, Liz doesn’t exactly have fond memories of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a predominantly white town. But her best friend is getting married, so she braces herself for a weekend of awkward, passive-aggressive reunions. Liz has grown, though; she can handle whatever awaits her. But on the day of the wedding, somewhere between dancing and dessert, the couple’s daughter, Caroline, disappears—and the only thing left behind is a piece of white fabric covered in blood.

It’s taking.

As a frantic search begins, with the police combing the trees for Caroline, Liz is the only one who notices a pattern: A summer night. A missing girl. A party in the woods. She’s seen this before. Keisha Woodson, the only other Black girl in Liz’s high school, walked into the woods with a mysterious man and was later found with her chest cavity ripped open and her heart removed. Liz shudders at the thought that it could have been her, and now, with Caroline missing, it can’t be a coincidence. As Liz starts to dig through the town’s history, she uncovers a horrifying secret about the place she once called home. Children have been going missing in these woods for years. All of them Black. All of them girls.

It’s your turn.

With the evil in the forest creeping closer, Liz knows what she must do: find Caroline, or be entirely consumed by the darkness.

Content Warnings: Racism, Child Death, Gore

Review: 2022 appears to be the year of amazing debuts. For the life of me, I can’t quite remember another year where so many first books happen to be fantastic. In this case, it’s Jackal, the debut novel of Erin E. Adams, that continues the pattern. 

For many people, the premise immediately catches the eye. A child missing. The exploration of tokenism and segregation in a small Appalachian town. A terrible pattern, targeting all the small Black girls that have lived in Johnstown. 

Thankfully, Erin Adams lives up to the hype of that premise. Jackal stands out as an incredible debut release, featuring a relatable and complex main character, a well-researched look into the dark past of Johnstown, PA, and a hauntingly realistic antagonist. 

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(Novella Review) Crom Cruach by Valkyrie Loughcrewe

Summary: A family is found slaughtered in their home, yet their corpses still move; committed to the routine of their daily lives, heedless of their own grisly deaths. A local occultist commune is suspected of the crime. The bloody legacy of Catholicism and the dark roots of ancient paganism intertwine in the aftermath of a recent national revolution. Welcome to the Ireland of tomorrow.

Two ex-Gardai officers, a former Franciscan monk and a young trans woman race to determine the cause of the slayings before tensions in the community boil over and kick off a new Satanic Panic, driving the tenuous fledgling nation back into the arms of the Church.

Crom Cruach is a distinctly Irish anxiety piece about the reluctant future and repressed past of a country trying to shrug off the shackles of colonialism, wrapped in the shiny black leather of Giallo and written in a poetic style fit for the fog-shrouded mysticism of the emerald isle.

Content Warnings: Listed in the back of the book!

Review: For a few months now, I’ve been saying that the indie scene is making the best horror out there now. Indie authors and publishers refuse to play it safe. Often, their efforts create the most ambitious and beautiful works of art being made right now. 

Crom Cruach by Valkyrie Loughcrewe is an excellent example of this phenomena! Long have I anticipated this release, and it’s managed to meet every single one of my expectations. 

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(Nonfiction Review) It Came From the Closet, edited by Joe Vallese

Summary: Through the lens of horror—from Halloween to Hereditary—queer and trans writers consider the films that deepened, amplified, and illuminated their own experiences.

Horror movies hold a complicated space in the hearts of the queer community: historically misogynist, and often homo- and transphobic, the genre has also been inadvertently feminist and open to subversive readings. Common tropes—such as the circumspect and resilient “final girl,” body possession, costumed villains, secret identities, and things that lurk in the closet—spark moments of eerie familiarity and affective connection. Still, viewers often remain tasked with reading themselves into beloved films, seeking out characters and set pieces that speak to, mirror, and parallel the unique ways queerness encounters the world.

It Came from the Closet features twenty-five essays by writers speaking to this relationship, through connections both empowering and oppressive. From Carmen Maria Machado on Jennifer’s Body, Jude Ellison S. Doyle on In My Skin, Addie Tsai on Dead Ringers, and many more, these conversations convey the rich reciprocity between queerness and horror.

Review: Horror nonfiction is consistently underrated among our circles. Quite often, our little fandom produces some of the most fun pieces of critical literature you’ll find. At worst, a publisher and an author will have a book with little production value that nonetheless holds a lot of passion. I’ve yet to find any in this genre that could be considered truly “boring.” 

It Came From The Closet, however, is in a league of its own. This essay collection combines film criticism with queer memoir, creating a truly unique reading experience. 

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(Novel Review) What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher

Summary: When Alex Easton, a retired soldier, receives word that their childhood friend Madeline Usher is dying, they race to the ancestral home of the Ushers in the remote countryside of Ruritania.

What they find there is a nightmare of fungal growths and possessed wildlife, surrounding a dark, pulsing lake. Madeline sleepwalks and speaks in strange voices at night, and her brother Roderick is consumed with a mysterious malady of the nerves.

Aided by a redoubtable British mycologist and a baffled American doctor, Alex must unravel the secret of the House of Usher before it consumes them all.

Trigger Warnings: Body Horror, Animal Death, Mild Period-Typical Transphobia

Review: Ursula Vernon owns my soul. This is simple fact. Her adult works, published under the pseudonym T. Kingfisher, have never once disappointed me. All of them are different yet branded with Vernon’s style of witty, warm, yet disturbing stories with relatable protagonists and, often, friendly animal companions. Even her work in horror manages to straddle the line between terror and coziness. 

What Moves the Dead follows many of Vernon’s patterns. The novella tackles and transforms a classic Edgar Allan Poe story, “The Fall of the House of Usher,” into a wonder of fungal horror. 

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(Novel Review) The Haar by David Sodergren

Summary: “I don’t fear death… but they do.”

Muriel McAuley has lived in the Scottish fishing village of Witchaven all her life. She was born there, and she intends to die there.

But when an overseas property developer threatens to evict the residents from their homes and raze Witchaven to the ground in the name of progress, all seems lost… until the day a mysterious fog bank creeps inland.

THE HAAR

To some it brings redemption… to others, it brings only madness and death. What macabre secrets lie within…

THE HAAR

Romantic and deranged, THE HAAR is a gore-soaked folk horror fairy tale from David Sodergren, author of The Forgotten Island and Maggie’s Grave.

Content Warnings: Extreme Body Horror, Sexism, Ageism, Mutilation, Nudity

Review: Looking back on the reviews this past year, 2022 has been the year of David Sodergren. Not a single Sodergren book has been an actual stinker. All of them provide a great deal of entertainment with a deep appreciation for the genre that have spawned them. 

This plethora of Sodergren’s work made me believe that I was prepared for The Haar. After all, surely I understand what to expect from the man now? 

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(Novella Review) Sacculina by Philip Fracassi

Summary: When Jim’s big brother Jack is released from prison, the brothers-along with their broken father and Jack’s menacing best friend-decide to charter an ocean fishing boat to celebrate Jack’s new freedom. Once the small crew is far out to sea, however, a mutant species rises from the deep abyssal darkness to terrorize the vessel and its occupants. As the horror of their situation becomes clear, the small group must find a way to fend off the attack and somehow, someway, return to safety; but as the strange parasitic creatures overrun them, they must use more extreme-and deadly-measures to survive.

Content Warnings: Ableist Slur, Fatphobia, Body Horror, Gore

Review: I had never heard of Philip Fracassi until acquaintance and Twitter mutual, Trevor Henderson, recommended his novella, Sacculina. Now, if you don’t know, Trevor has some of the best recommendations in the genre. Whether it’s movies, books, or games, his taste has rarely let me down. Once again, I trusted him and picked up Sacculina for a good, summer read. 

For the most part, it’s another solid pick. Sacculina makes me want to read the rest of Fracassi’s work even though it stumbled on a few regressive choices. 

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(Novella Review) The Reyes Incident by Briana Morgan

Summary: A local legend gone haywire.

A small-town cop.

An impossible eyewitness testimony.

Which is easier to believe—that killer mermaids exist, or that one person is worth risking everything for?

For fans of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Into the Drowning Deep comes a chilling horror story steeped in urban rumor.

Content Warnings: Gore, Body Horror, Mutilation, Infidelity

Review: When I hear the phrase “killer mermaids,” something in my brain flips a switch. I immediately need to get my hand on that piece of media. I’m not quite sure why this trope makes me go nuts. Is it that I live so close to the ocean? Is it that mermaids have fascinated me in all their differing forms my whole life? Is it the upturning of the tamed ladies of the sea we are now accustomed to? 

Whichever of these categories it might be, I just know that killer mermaids make some of the most interesting stories in the horror genre, and The Reyes Incident by Briana Morgan is no different. 

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(Novella Review) Brutal Hearts by Cassie Daley

Summary: It’s 1997 and Leah just can’t seem to catch a break.

A year has passed since her fiancé went missing while hiking alone on a mountain, and she can’t shake the unanswered questions and nightmares Simon left behind.

On the anniversary of his disappearance, Leah and her new girlfriend Josie return to the trail where Simon disappeared with two of their best friends. Armed with incense, tarot cards, crystals, and snacks, the girls have everything they need to complete the Ritual of Closure to help Leah finally say goodbye to Simon, once and for all.

But the trails are hiding something sinister, and it’s been waiting. As night falls around them, the girls find themselves in a deadly game against something vicious and wild that’s made a home for itself on the mountain.


It’s time to find out what really happened to Simon. 

Content Warning: Gore, Cannibalism, Child Death

Review: For the sake of a disclaimer, I will say that the author and I are mutuals on Twitter. However, that won’t stop me from giving an honest review on a novella that honestly intrigued me. Pansexual representation in a YA horror novel? 90s nostalgia? An incredibly creepy forest and hiking trail? All of those sounded like complete winners to me. 

In the end, Brutal Hearts proves a diverting and incredibly fast-paced read with lots of potential. However, this YA novella has a few glaring weaknesses as it winds down the mystery of Simon’s disappearance. 

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Film Review: The Deadly Spawn (1983)

Content Warnings: Gore, Mutilation, Child Endangerment

Review: Sometimes, as a horror fan, you come across a film that just shouldn’t be as good as it actually is. You know the signs: the low budget, the no-name actors, the tropes borrowed from many different movies, etc. After appearing in the Shudder menu, I assumed 1983’s indie, budget creature feature, The Deadly Spawn, was going to be a ridiculous little B-movie that would provide a good hour-and-a-half of entertainment. 

But I was not prepared for how good of a movie The Deadly Spawn actually could be. 

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