ARC Review: DIREWOOD by Catherine Yu (2022)

Genre: Young Adult Horror
Year Release: September 20th, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Bookstore | Libro.fm

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Listened to a NetGalley AudioARC
Content warning: body & bug horror, death, on-page violence, racial microaggressions, vomiting

Aja’s perfect sister Fiona goes missing and strange things start happening: blood rain, a mysterious fog, blood-sucking grubs, all precursors to the arrival of a vampire. She strikes a bargain with Padraic and tries to free the kids in his thrall, including her ex-friend Mary,

Gross, goth, and steeped in 90’s vampire aesthetic, a fun read for folks constantly searching for new vampire content.

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Author to Author with Valkyrie Loughcrewe (Crom Cruach)

Welcome to the folkloric fever dream that is Crom Cruach. I’m so thrilled to chat with Val about how this novella-in-verse came to me. From the origins of the horrors within, the writing process, the soundtrack, what they’re working on next, this interview has it all. Crunchy, terrifying, and deeply human, this work is such a treat for horror and horror music fans alike.

Buy Links: Tenebrous Press Site | Kindle Edition | Bandcamp

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Review: KNIVES IN YOUR EYES by RooFiction (2022)

Genre: Adult Dark Fantasy Erotica
Buy Links: itch.io | AO3 (Read for Free)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Trigger warnings: Full list here, gore, body horror, surgery, eye trauma, torture, insects, graphic sex, dubious consent & lack of consent, incest

This is a self-published novel about a boy who can’t die, a professor who’s actually a god, and hunter seeking a new job. Val is a little freak with a heart of gold who seeks to understand all the people around him while he helps the professor, Dream, search for his brother, Mare, while newly-minted humanoid monsters called spiders wreak havoc in city centers. The reunion is fraught with danger at every corner, including a man called the Cardinal Major with literal daggers in his eye sockets.

It’s intense with some gorgeous writing and a compelling found family, Please heed the trigger and content warnings before diving into this one.

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Author to Author with Aden Polydoros (Bone Weaver)

Bone Weaver tells the story of a girl raised by benevolent undead, a tsar on the run, and a boy witch helping each other survive in a secondary world fantasy inspired by imperial Russia. Its layered world-building, examination of monstrosity, sisterly love, and queer characters make this an enchanting read that will delight any fan of historically-grounded Slavic dark fantasy.

Today, Aden tells me a bit about putting this dark fantasy adventure together, from its open image to the research behind the tale. He also shares how the story evolved and what he’s working on next.

Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Bookstore | Libro.fm

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ARC Review: THE UNBALANCING by R.B. Lemberg (2022)

Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: September 20th, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read an ARC from the publisher
Content warnings: earthquakes and the aftermath of natural disasters, references to past ableism

Gelle-Geu is an island city whose star god is restless and earthquakes come closer and closer. Ranra has taken on the role of starkeeper, and her first task is to unravel the problems left attended by her predecessor. She seeks the counsel of Lilún, a poet whose ancestor is begging them to take on the role of starkeeper. Their relationship ignites while disaster strikes, and it’s a race against star charts and magic to possibly save the city.

This novel has all the dreaminess of poetry and being told a bedtime story with intense calamity on the horizon and tender romance at its core.

An interview with the author will be posted to celebrate the release of Geometries of Belonging: Stories and Poems from the Birdverse on November 29th, release day.

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Review: SINKABLE: Obsession, the Deep Sea, and the Shipwreck of the Titanic by Daniel Stone (2022)

Genre: Adult Nonfiction
Year Release: 2022
Source: Libro.fm

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warnings: drowning, deaths at sea, maritime disasters, Atlantic slave trade

I was definitely one of those kids with a RMS Titanic obsession as a child, that honestly, had nothing to do with the Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet romance movie (didn’t want that until much, much later). The level of hubris and poor planning in the name of aesthetics is what captured many people’s attention, but for me, it’s the physics and aftermath that fascinated me. Humans are characters, but the focus here rests on shipwrecks in general, as a study, as a phenomenon, as a hobby, and some of the greatest tragedies that befell humans on the regular before air travel rose to prominence.

The specific lens that this book tells the tale of the fated voyage is strictly through the point of view of finding and uncovering shipwrecks. Entertaining, informative, and so focused on the final phase of a ship’s life time, rather than the story of a single ship’s demise.

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ARC Review: NONA THE NINTH (The Locked Tomb #3) by Tamsyn Muir (2022)

Genre: Adult Science Fantasy
Year Release: September 13th, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop | Unabridged Books | Audiobook

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an eARC from NetGalley
Content warning: gore, references to main character deaths, dissociation, vomiting, gun violence, medical experimentation

The third entry of The Locked Tomb trilogy stars a character born literally six months before the beginning of the book, the eponymous Nona. Innocent and bursting with good will and curiosity, she’s a teacher’s aid at a school in a city on the verge of war against “zombies.” A birthday party gets ruined as a certain tomb is about to opened, and it’s a race against time and necromancy to figure out who, exactly, Nona is.

An entry into the quartet most interested in telling a story than stringing together memes and tropes, Nona by far is my favorite, because of the focus on characterization and literal ticking clock pacing. And the dog does not die (you’re welcome).

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Manga Review: FIRE PUNCH Vol. 1 & 2 by Tatsuki Fujimoto (2018)

Genre: Horror Seinen
Year Release in English: 2018
Source: Viz Media

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Fire Punch is the first manga by Tatsuki Fujimoto, best known for Chainsaw Man. This dystopian horror in which certain humans are blessed with elemental powers feels scoured directly from the litany of things I like in my fiction. It’s hyperviolent, it’s bleak as all get out, there’s an ice witch who destroyed the world, there are people with powers and completely irresponsible ways of using, it’s complete Jo bait.

I’m only two volumes in, and I am definitely continuing with the series as the need for treats come in because wow.

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ARC Review: LUCKY GIRL, How I Became A Horror Writer: A Krampus Story by M. Rickert (2022)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: September 13th, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Bookstore

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read a NetGalley eARC
Trigger/Content warning: serial murder, dead family, stalking, spiritual abuse, ritual torture (aftermath)

Ro is a struggling writer with a couple of stories and a group of friends who seemed to have come together randomly at a diner during Christmas. They meet for several Christmases more, and each one seems to end worse than the one that came before as the past haunts them.

More creepy than scary, with people proving to be the real horror with folkloric elements woven throughout that makes the reader wonder if there’s sinister spirits afoot or if people are just like that.

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Review: RAISING LAZARUS: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America’s Overdose Crisis by Beth Macy (2022)

Genre: Adult Nonfiction
Year Release: 2022
Source: Audible

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content/trigger warnings: COVID-19, overdose, vomiting, prison, drug abuse, structural inequality, death of relatives

This book is a kind of sequel to Dopesick, in that it is a continuation of Beth Macy’s research and investigation into the impact and extent of the devastation left behind by the Sackler’s mismarketing and straight-up lying about the acute and long-term effects of their so-called miracle drug. There is some follow-up with the activists, doctors, and caregivers from the initial investigation, with several new key players in the movement to curb overdose deaths both within Appalachia and nationwide.

Though “hope” is in the subtitle, this volume reckons with the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down many of the boots-on-the-ground work with regards to harm reduction and further stigmatization and rethinking addiction as a disease rather than a personal failing. It does end, however, with action items that the reader can take on personal, political, and local levels.

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