Book Spotlight: All in Fear, a queer horror anthology

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The nights are getting longer and longer, and what better way to pass the darkest time of the year than with a terrifying anthology of queer horror, featuring stories by some of the most talented authors I know?

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Horror has never looked this enticing. New release, All in Fear, is a gorgeous collection of horror tales from some of the hottest names in queer fiction. Be prepared to be titillated…and terrified.

Today I’m thrilled (and also petrified!) to tell you all about this creepy, eerie, haunting anthology! Not only that, but author Roan Parrish joins us to talk about the blend of romance and horror (spoiler alert: it involves Tom Hiddleston).

So turn on all the lights in the house, lock your doors, and ignore that strange creaking sound coming from the empty room next door…

All in Fear

Authors: KJ Charles, Roan Parrish, J.A. Rock,
Steve Berman, Avon Gale, and Kris Ripper
Publisher: Open Ink Press
Release Date: December 1, 2016

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Anthology Book Review: Lead Me Into Darkness

Please note this book was reviewed prior to the revelation of author’s identity and actions. Please read this statement from Riptide Publishing for more information.

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Lead Me Into Darkness (Anthology)
Authors: Santino Hassell, J.C. Lillis, J.R. Gray,
Kris Ripper, and Roan Parrish

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This is a short anthology collection just in time for Halloween, filled with five super creepy graveyard stories from five incredibly talented authors! And best of all, IT’S FREE!

No, this isn’t a trick… it’s definitely a treat! So check out my reviews of each story, and then go grab your copy.

One thing to note, though, is that most of the stories in this anthology are set in pre-existing universes. So if you, like me, have not read some of these authors, you may feel a bit lost at times. But it’s still an excellent chance to find new books to check out… my TBR list has definitely grown!

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Take You Farther, by Santino Hassell (a Stygian short)

I just finished Stygian a couple of days ago (my review), so having a follow-up story in this anthology is awesome!

He was the most beautiful monster Watts had ever seen.

Because I suspect a lot of people still haven’t finished Stygian, I’ll avoid talking about the plot of the short story. It picks up a couple of months after Stygian ends, and focuses on Watts and Quince as they try to adapt to their new lives. Watts is still an emotionally constipated dick, but he’s also a brilliantly complex character, and Santino has a way with words that makes the eerie feel beautiful.

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Memory Hill, by J.C. Lillis

Billy Hartigan’s been dead for ten years, and it’s really pissing him off. Stuck in Memory Hill Cemetery due to “unfinished business,” he fritters away the long days playing monster movies in his head, reliving the glory days of his indie band, and mourning his missed chance at love with his best friend. Then one Halloween he gets a visit from troubled teen geek Todd Racklin, the last living fan of Billy’s old band. Todd needs some beyond-the-grave help from his idol–and his visits might hold the key to Billy’s release from Memory Hill.

J.C. is a new author for me, but I’m a fan now, that’s for sure! Todd is incredibly sweet, in a geeky, overly-earnest way…

Todd Racklin is so raw and embarrassing I can barely stand to hover three inches from him.

Normally I struggle with second-hand embarrassment when I read a character like Todd, but his sincerity and devotion are really admirable! Told over eleven years, we get to see Todd grow and find his Happily Ever After through Billy’s eyes, as Billy waits for his own After.

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Grave Circumstances, by J.R. Gray

So this story is set in J.R.’s Bound series universe, although I didn’t realize that going in. Made me very confused at first, because they were talking about slaves and cravats, and I couldn’t figure out what time period it was! But once I sorted things out (and realized “slave” was probably in a BDSM sense), I could sink into the story.

Secret agendas collide with guns, ghosts and confusing erections, on a tour through a haunted graveyard. Jesse’s been carrying a secret and needs a night alone with George. But George has his own agenda, leading Jesse into darkness, the fright of his life, and a blinding release he won’t soon forget.

The story itself is really fantastic, and I’m intrigued by George and Jesse’s relationship. But without having read his Bound series, I’ll admit that I didn’t enjoy this as much as I could have.

That said, I’m definitely going to check out the Bound series now!

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Boyfriends in the Boneyard, by Kris Ripper

A Halloween ménage story with sex in a graveyard! Oh yes, please!

You are a grown man. A professional. You are forty-one years old. You will not get arrested having sex with your husband in a cemetery. Neither of you can run fast enough to risk it.

This is another short set in a pre-existing universe, Kris’ Scientific Method series. But I feel like ze did an amazing job of opening this up for new readers so they wouldn’t be confused. Truman and Hugh are married and poly, and Will is their boyfriend, and there are sexy kinky times. It’s funny and adorable and super hot!

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Mayfair, by Roan Parrish

This is a super creepy story about what lurks beneath the surface of our everyday world.

Jocelyn has been secretly in love with her best friend Bethany for a year. And it’s hell. But there are other things—dark, creeping, illusory things—that are tormenting Jocelyn even more. They’ve been appearing more and more lately and Jocelyn is starting to doubt her sanity. But a Devil’s Night ritual in a Detroit cemetery may reveal more than she ever imagined…

Even Jocelyn’s one-sided relationship with Bethany is written as eerie, two girls rebelling against authority by spending time in the local graveyard.

I love seeing things unfold from Jocelyn’s point of view, and the subtle hints we get about her background and the things she’s seen out of the corner of her eyes.

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So where can you find your own copy of this fantastic anthology?
Nook / Kobo / Apple / Oyster
Page Foundry/Inketera / ARe / Scribd

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books to Read in the Dead of Night! (Creepy Halloween Edition)

top-ten-halloween-bannerAs always, this weekly meme is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!
(header image from here)

I’m a HUGE WUSS, I’ll be the first to admit it. Reading a horror novel leaves me curled up in bed with the lights on, unable to sleep. But I love a good, creepy novel that sends chills down your spine!

Here are ten books to read to get you in the Halloween spirit!

1. House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski

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Probably one of the most terrifying books I’ve ever read. It’s a story within a story within a story (confused yet?) set in a house that’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. But this isn’t a TARDIS; there’s something more sinister and mysterious at work. And it uses typography to convey both motion and emotion (like in the image above).

Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility, until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story — of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams.

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2. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs

More eerie than outright scary, this book comes complete with photos that vary between weird and nightmarish. The way the story is told means the mystery unfolds piece by piece, which I really love. I haven’t read the sequel yet, though!

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And it’s being turned into a movie by the King of Creepy himself, Tim Burton!

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3. Josh of the Damned series by Andrea Speed

Josh knew the night shift at the Quik-Mart would be full of freaks and geeks—and that was before the hell portal opened in the parking lot.

Definitely not creepy, but still really gloriously brilliant and absolutely hilarious! This is my kind of horror, where zombies shuffle into the gas station store to buy frozen burritos and werewolves are like mangy rats in the parking lot. You can read my five-star review of the series here!

speed(Buy from Riptide Publishing)

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4. Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King

I thought about putting It on this list instead, because evil clowns are definitely horrifying, but I’ve never actually read it (because, seriously, evil clowns! Enough said). So this is the scariest Stephen King novel I’ve ever read, and I don’t think you can have a list of scary novels without having the King of Horror on your list. Plus, it has creeptastic vampires!

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5. Interview with the Vampire, by Anne Rice

Speaking of vampires, this book gave me ALL OF THE NIGHTMARES when I first read it at age 13. The novel itself isn’t horrifying, but the entire plot with Claudia freaked me out. The idea of a doll-like little girl who basically goes insane? Yeah… *shivers*

Anne Rice wrote vampires before they sparkled, and Lestat will always be one of my favorites!

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6. The Whyborne & Griffin series, by Jordan L. Hawk

I’m recommending the entire series because I can’t pick out just one scene, or one book, that qualifies as “creepy”… instead, it’s the general vibe of the entire story! Whyborne and Griffin battle monsters, gods from the deep, and evil warlocks while trying to defend their town. Here’s our heroes’ first encounter with a monster, from Widdershins (Book One):

The beam of my lantern revealed a thing for which I had no words.

My mind flailed, trying and failing to make sense of what filled the doorway in front of me. It had four limbs, more or less, a shape which overall suggested some perversion of humanity. But its naked body was horribly misshapen, the limbs of uneven length, the joints distorted. Thick, coarse skin covered it for the most part, but certain protuberances sprouted scales, and something horribly like human teeth jutted out of an elbow.

Its head was worse, however. Thanks to Christine, I’d spent many an hour bent over the art of ancient Egypt and its animal-headed gods. Those gods had a strange nobility and completeness to them. This thing seemed a mockery of the ancient deities. Its misshapen skull retained traces of humanity, but was hideously flattened and distended into an unmistakably crocodilian form.

Beady eyes fixed on me: blue irises punctured by reptilian pupils. Its jaws opened, the gape huge and lined with savage teeth, and it let loose a howl like something from the lowest pit of Tartarus.

I couldn’t move, couldn’t scream, couldn’t do anything but stare. Had I been alone, it would surely have ripped me to shreds.

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7. Coraline, by Neil Gaiman

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Neil Gaiman is a master of creepy. What makes this even more horrifying is that it’s a childrens’ book. I was actually just talking about this with Vane at Books With Chemistry (go check out her review!), and about how this book is way creepier to read as an adult than it was when I was a teenager.

The incredibly talented Dave McKean did the illustrations for the book (I have SO MUCH of his art, he’s ridiculously good!), but the movie did a pretty amazing job!

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8. The PsyCop series, by Jordan Castillo Price

Once upon a time if you told doctors you heard voices, they’d diagnose you as schizophrenic, put you on heavy drugs, and lock you away in a cozy state institution to keep you from hurting yourself or others.

Nowadays they test you first to see if you’re psychic.

Victor Bayne is a psychic cop (hence PsyCop!) who sees dead people. And not just ghosts, either, but full-on, technicolor, graphically dead walking spirits. He teams up (both in the field and in bed) with a non-psychic named Jacob to solve murders by interviewing the dead spirits… when they’re willing to cooperate, that is.

You know there’s some Grade A level creepiness when even the psychic who sees dead people on a daily basis gets freaked out!

“Victor, back there in that basement, when the zombies were… were… moving around on those tables…. Twitching? And dead? You didn’t even blink.”

“This is nothing like those zombies.”

“No shit. Because this time, you’re scared—beyond scared. You’re terrified. And whatever’s got you scared? I don’t want any part of it.”

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9. The Gashlycrumb Tinies, by Edward Gorey

The most horrifying alphabet book ever written. This isn’t for teaching your toddlers their A, B, C’s…

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Gorey’s art is eerie and, yes, gory. But look, it even rhymes! Adorable, right?!

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10. The Tell-Tale Heart, by Edgar Allan Poe

Everything he writes is brilliant and creepy, and he’s inspired dozens of mystery and horror novels. This is one of the opening paragraphs from The Tell-Tale Heart, one of my favorites:

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture –a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees — very gradually –I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

Poe was one creepy, creepy guy. Stories about burying people alive, about insanity, and about guilt… definitely the stuff of nightmares! Even his death is a creepy mystery!

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What are you reading this Halloween?