Review: EXODUS 20:3 by Freydís Moon (2022)

Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance
Year Release: 2022
Source: Physical Copy

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content Warnings: explicit sexual content, off-page transphobia, mention of drug use, off-page police brutality

Diego is a trans man who takes on what’s supposed to be a low-key construction job to help get him back on track. The job is managed by the enigmatic Ariel, who definitely has a secret of angelic proportions. Their relationship evolves into something equally queer, intense, and divine.

This book is cozy in a way reminiscent of post-coitus. Diego carries a lot of baggage and a lot of emotional turmoil with regards to both faith and his experience as someone worthy of care and attention. The way the differences between faith, devotion, and religion mingle in the conversations between Ariel and Diego, especially when it comes to drawing lines between what is faith and what is the result of centuries of iterative interpretations. I found these explorations cathartic and affirming as a queer person raised in a religious household.

A theme that permeates Moon’s work is the respect given towards working class individuals, and this is also extends towards sex workers. There are mentions in the novella that Diego has engaged in cam work before and both the text and Ariel treat it as the job it is, with no virtue or vice attached to it. It’s a refreshing detail that also highlights the thoughtfulness in Moon’s work as a canon.

If erotica where a young man falls into lust with a literal and Biblically accurate angel is something of interest, definitely give this one a read. The paperback edition has a bonus scene that takes place a year later, and it is swoony—I cannot recommend it enough.

ARC Review: EVEN THOUGH I KNEW THE END by C. L. Polk (2022)

Genre: Adult Historical Fantasy Noir
Year Release: November 8th, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Bookstore | Libro.fm

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read an eARC from NetGalley
Content warning: gun violence, ritualistic sacrifice, implied and period-appropriate homophobia

All magical detective Helen Brandt wants is to live out her days in peace Edith Jarosky. But her time is running out and an opportunity comes to get her soul back in exchange for solving a serial murder. With mischievous devils and devious angels, this Chicago fantasy noir has great worldbuilding and intricate character development.

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ARC Review: DESERT CREATURES by Kay Chronister (2022)

Genre: Adult Horror Western
Year Release: November 8th, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Bookstore | Libro.fm

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read a physical ARC from the publisher
Content warning: death of a parent (father), ableism, body horror, misogyny, gun violence, realities of pregnancy, dead baby

Magdala is an eleven-year-old with a club foot, on the run from her settlement with her father across the Sonoran desert, where desert sickness overtakes more organic matter, turning them into horrifying corpse-cactuses. It’s a little bit Annihilation (the movie) and a little bit Red Dead Redemption with a creepy atmosphere and unexpected but delightfully unnerving Christian religious overtones. Where faith in humanity clashes with faith in the divine, it’s a great perambulation through a nightmare scape where everyone kind of sucks, but the supernatural dangers aren’t much better.

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Light Novel Review: VAMPIRE HUNTER D Vol. 1 by Hideyuki Kikuchi & Yoshitaka Amano (2005)

Genre: Adult Dark Fantasy Science Fiction Western
Year Release in English: 2005
Buy Link: Barnes & Noble (Initially received via

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warnings: violence, gore, threats of rape, misogyny

The hardest part of writing this review is figuring out which genre to slot this work into. The ’80’s genre classic, Vampire Hunter D follows the exploits of a dhampir, the eponymous Vampire Hunter D. He rides an electronic horse, has vampire powers, and uses a really cool sword to slay his half-brethren with. In this first volume, he goes to a town ruled by a Count, and a girl named Doris being preyed on by the vampires around. This first entry is fun with some rad world-building, definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of genre blends and vampire classics.

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Review: THE LAST WISH by Andrzej Sapkowski (2022)

Genre: Adult Fantasy Short Story Collection
Year Release: 2022 Deluxe Edition (2008 first English release, 1993 in Poland)
Buy Link: Physical Copy

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warnings: violence, gore, references to genocide, references to rape, fantasy racism, dismemberment, war

I guess I am on a Sapkowski kick. This time, I am returning to that Geralt tradition by rereading The Last Wish collection of short stories. An excellent introduction to the fantasy world of the witcher, where Geralt just wants to get by by slaying monsters and earning coin. In this one, we are introduced to mainstays of the series, like Dandelion (Jaskier), Yennefer, and several of the sorcerers and kings causing problems on purpose. A modern classic for all fantasy fans, these tales hold up especially with their specific brand of Eastern European exhaustion about the state of the world.

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October 2022 Reading Recap

October was my first month without my main WIP. Because I’ve been in such an intense state of revision, I took October off to tap into things I’ve wanted to watch and read for a while, and honestly, it’s been quite restorative. 10/10 highly recommend. I might have a new project in the works, but it’s all joy and no stress. Book-shaped, but without all the other intensity.

Which, speaking of, it’s November. Am I doing NaNoWriMo? Who knows.

October’s blog interviews were:

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Manga Review: Tokyo Ghoul Vol. 1-7 by Sui Ishida (2015-2016)

Genre: Horror Seinen
Year Release in English: 2015-2016
Source: Viz Media Digital Subscription

Reminder: The star rating reflects overall opinion of the series.

Tokyo Ghoul is an anime that I watched early during my creative journey. The aesthetic, the music, the character journeys, the violence, the world-building—it all has stuck with me since 2015 when it first aired. Unfortunately, the story never finished getting adapted (do not talk to me about Root A, though it will be mentioned when I finish the second half).

This series comes with hauntingly beautiful art, compelling characters, and a unique exploration on what makes people good told both through monstrosity and monstrous humanity, this is going to continue being one of my influences and series to return to moving forward.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Horny Goth Novel Craft Study Part 1: TITUS GROAN (Gormenghast #1) by Mervyn Peake (1946)

After finishing my revision and resubmission, I needed to take a step back from barreling through writing novel after novel, inhaling every release, not really learning anything new, and getting my soul crushed in query trenches. The step I’m taking to recover from the intensity of writing-to-publish, I’ve decided to make a reading list to help me develop in pretty specific ways. While a craft study might not make any difference in my outcomes in the traditional publishing trenches, I’m having a great time learning and studying, improving my craft while I wait for responses. This series is me writing about the books I’m reading to learn how to write a “horny goth” novel because that’s the type of book I want to write next.

I’m kicking off the Horny Goth Novel Craft Study series with Titus Groan, the first book in the Gormenghast trilogy by Mervyn Peake.

Buy link: Bookshop | Unabridged | Libro.fm

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Review: EMPTY SMILES (Small Space #4) by Katherine Arden (2022)

Genre: Middle Grade Horror
Year Release: 2022
Source: Library Audiobook

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warnings: missing children, reference to a dead parent
Gentle spoilers for previous entries in the Small Spaces series

Empty Smiles picks up precisely where Dark Waters leaves off: with Ollie missing in an alternate dimension where no one else can see her either. It’s just her, the Smiling Man and a bunch of mannequins, some of which are clowns, some of which are others kidnapped like her. Brian, Coco, and Ollie have to work together across dimensions to keep their families in tact while the Smiling Man himself finds an enemy he can’t contend with.

A perfect conclusion that tugged at my tear ducts and heart strings, where family born and found is the central hero of an otherwise terrifying story.

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Author to Author with Bendi Barrett (Empire of the Feast)

Happy release week to Empire of the Feast, an amuse bouche of delights for spacey science fiction and queer fantasy fans alike. There’s an eldritch god kept at bay by cultish sex magic, a reincarnating monarch, and plenty of conspiracy to go around. It’s fucky, it’s goth, it’s queer, and it’s here.

In today’s interview, author Bendi Barrett talks about how this novella came to be, how he crafted its tight world-building, and what he’s working on next.

Buy link: Neon Hemlock

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