Thumbs up for Paperbacks from Hell: the Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendrix. Literary history.
When I requested an advance reader’s copy of this from the publisher, my expectations were low. It might have been a boring catalog of authors and publishers. Or it might have centered around mocking old horror paperback cover art, while being light on historical detail.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Necromancer’s House by Christopher Buehlman. Horror/fantasy.
This is a messy book, but messy in a pleasing way: if magic were real, you can believe it would be this. A magician and his apprentice, who met in Alcoholics Anonymous. (They love each other, but she’s a lesbian; awkward.) The magician has a boobytrapped house, a bunch of Russian spell books, a wicker butler with the heart of a collie and the head of a Salvador Dali painting, and a very good reason to have a boobytrapped house.… >> Read more
Neither thumbs up nor thumbs down for Coraline by Neil Gaiman. Children’s fantasy/horror.
It was…fine. I think I would have liked it more had I been reading it aloud to small children. But then, I would have to get close to small children…so I’ll pass.
Coraline knew that when grown-ups told you something wouldn’t hurt it almost always did. She shook her head.
… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Shadow Show: Stories In Celebration of Ray Bradbury by Neil Gaiman et al. Fantasy/graphic novel.
You would expect a collection of graphic stories in tribute to Ray Bradbury to be diverse, poetic, weird, and sometimes horrific. You would be so right. You would think that, being a collection, some of the pieces would be great and some would be pretty ho-hum.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Selected Stories by Fritz Leiber. Science fiction and fantasy.
When I was about fourteen and gave my dad a few paragraphs of the fantasy novel I was writing, he gave me what I now know to be one of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received: “Your writing reminds me of Fritz Leiber.” This was, of course, a kind lie, and one which moreover went unappreciated because at the time I had never read Fritz Leiber.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Dracula by Bram Stoker. Horror.
The firstest and the bestest. Really excellent in every way. Ah, those were the days, when one could without embarrassment write a book in which the women are all sweet and pure, and their devoted men are all brave, noble and emotive. (There are more instances of men weeping in this book than there are in the whole of American literature.) As the heroine Mina says: “…the world seems full of good men – even if there are monsters in it.” Yes, it certainly is full of good men, and they have a chance to shine in their pursuit of that monster.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Horror.
This would have been a lot more thrilling if I hadn’t already known the story. Poor RLS, his work suffers from its ubiquity – though there are surely far worse fates. That aside, he has a way with words, and I enjoyed every one.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Gunslinger by Stephen King. Horror.
Stephen King is a better wordsmith than almost anyone else. That’s all I feel the need to say. But that said, do yourself a favor and don’t get the illustrated edition of The Gunslinger. Not only do some of the illustrations contradict what’s said in the story, but some are in completely inappropriate places, to the extent that they spoil what’s going to happen.… >> Read more