Category: Uncategorized

  • Rouge: A Novel (2023) by Mona Awad

    Mona Awad’s Rouge (2023) is part of a trend in horror fiction that explores the scary side of beauty. Tracing a line between self-care and self-destruction, novels on this theme consider what happens when techniques for improving the body become torture in the pursuit of an unattainable ideal. Awad’s contribution stands out because it demonstrates…

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  • The Witch and the Priest (1956) by Hilda Lewis

    If you like “authentic” representations of the occult in fiction and film, then you’ll appreciate Hilda Lewis’ The Witch and the Priest (1956). The novel falters with a clumsy framing device and a writing style that’s too minimalist for the time and subject. Still, these missteps are more than balanced by a careful attention to…

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  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1955) by Jack Finney

    Sometimes reading 50s horror feels like taking medicine. I know that it’s good for me–that it enhances my knowledge of the genre–but I find the characters flat, the plots hackneyed, and the fictional worlds generally inaccessible. So imagine my surprise when, sitting down to “endure” Jack Finney’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1955), I found…

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  • The Hour of the Oxrun Dead (1977) by Charles L. Grant

    Lately, I’ve been consulting some of the major guides to horror fiction; and I’ve noticed that, from Stephen King’s Danse Macabre to Marshall Tymm’s Horror Literature, virtually every study lists Charles L. Grant’s The Hour of the Oxrun Dead (1977). A tale of small town occultism sounds good to me, so I picked up a…

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  • In the Mountains of Madness (2016) by W. Scott Poole

    H.P. Lovecraft and I have something in common: We are both from Rhode Island. And while he hails from Providence and I am from a rural backwater, when you live in a state that’s a 30 minute drive from end-to-end, everyone is your neighbor. Since my neighbor was a wizard of the weird tale and…

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  • The Search for Joseph Tully (1974) by William H. Hallahan

    The conclusion of The Search for Joseph Tully (1974) by William H. Hallahan hits like a thunderbolt. Unfortunately, its power to shock in the final pages comes at the expense of everything before it, which, at times, can feel as reserved and directionless as the genealogical search it describes. While I hesitate to say that…

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  • Piñata (2023) by Leopoldo Gout

    Piñata (2023) by Leopoldo Gout relocates the subject of possession from a Catholic to an Aztec cosmology. While I enjoyed this original reinterpretation of a classic horror trope, I think that the novel is at its best when examining the characters’ more mundane problems. All of them grapple with the fractures and contradictions of post-colonial…

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  • Monstrilio by Gerardo Sámano Córdova

    In Monstrilio (2023) by Gerardo Sámano Córdova, a family experiences the death of a loved one. Yet the novel isn’t so much about a literal, biological death, as it is about the many symbolic ones that occur when we enter into language. Córdova shows us a fantastical case of linguistic violence to make the point…

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  • Burnt Offerings (1973) by Robert Marasco

    Burnt Offerings (1973) by Robert Marasco is a quirky novel, full of things that might be interpreted as flaws: An ambiguous malevolent force, a lack of characterization, an element of tonal dissonance, and a series of loose ends. But Marasco is an alchemist who transforms this dross into literary gold. Or at least silver. While…

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  • Rosemary’s Baby (1967) by Ira Levin

    During my  week off, I revisited some of the genre’s modern classics, the novels that moved horror from the moors and the gothic mansion into the city apartment or suburban home.  While all of my selections were fun to read, one of them really stood out for its continued relevance: Rosemary’s Baby (1967) by Ira…

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