Horny Goth Novel Craft Study Part 3: TITUS ALONE (Gormenghast #3) by Mervyn Peake (1959)

The trilogy finally comes to a close, and while I loved the first two books in this entry, this one might actually be my favorite. It’s less driven by the castle and its rituals, with Titus making many decisions, but not necessarily having a ton of agency. With an entirely new setting and a whole new cast of increasingly erratic characters, this final entry in the trilogy is a wild ride from start to finish, as Titus is anything but alone.

The next entry into the Horny Goth Novel Craft Study is either going to be a novel or theory, depending on which I finish first.

Buy link: Barnes and Noble | Unabridged | Libro.fm

Previous parts: Titus Groan, Gormenghast

Continue reading

Comic Review: LITTLE DEATH Vol. 1: Death and the Boy by Pom Poison (2022)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: 2022
Source: Pom Poison Studio Site

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warnings: Dubious consent, attempted sexual assault, sexual content, gore, body horror, bugs, skeletons

Ellery Firth is a trans man at an all boys’ school with some pretty simple wants, like hoping the girl he likes, likes him back. It’s when Lich warlord Callisto has his eyes on him from a parallel dimension full of magic, war, and necromancy that the terrors start. It’s a comic that’s equal parts queer literature, horror, and dark fantasy, with an easy-to-read sense of storytelling that really lets the reader get nice and uncomfortable with the horror found within.

I enjoyed this one so much, I’ve subscribed to Pom Poison’s Patreon to stay up-to-date with upcoming chapters and behind-the-scenes sneak peeks.

Continue reading

Manga Review: GUNBURED X SISTERS Vol. 4 by Wataru Mitogawa (2023)

Genre: Fantasy Yuri Seinen
Year Release in English: 2023

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warnings: Explicit sexual content, blood, consumption of blood, body horror, gore, death, violence, gun violence
Review of Volumes 1-3 here

The perversion and sexiness continues in this final entry into a series about a dhampir joining up with the grotesque-hunting church to find her sister. Despite the seemingly abrupt conclusion, we do get to meet the sister, find out more about the werewolf, and get a small glimpse of the worldbuilding.

An impressive amount of plotting and work goes in to flesh out the world in ways that hadn’t been established in the previous volumes. There’s conspiracy, there’s upheaval, and it’s a delight for people who like compelling story arcs and female characters who are unabashedly determined but also completely in love with each other. Dolores and Maria do get to have their big romance moment, and it’s so satisfying in terms of both their character journeys and the greater plot arc.

I’m a little sad that this series about sisterhood, vampires, and over-the-top violence and sexiness is over, but I really enjoyed the journey I went on with Dolores and Maria. The ending isn’t quite open-ended, but the conclusion to this sapphic madness is satisfying.

Light Novel Review: BAKEMONOGATARI Part 02 by NISIOISIN (illust. Vofan) (2017)

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Year Release in English: 2017
Source: Physical Copy

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warnings: Body horror, blood, animal violence against children, threats of violence

Araragi figured how to get rid of a crab that takes on people’s burdens and uncovered the truth behind the strange young girl with an enormous backpack. But one of Senjogahara’s friends and one of his sisters’ classmates both have aberrations attached to them, and he sees no other option that roping in Senjogahara and Hanekawa into helping him out with it.

This volume does a lot more digging into the world of aberrations and their relationship to what everyday people see, with plenty of deliberate wordplay and theming.

Continue reading

ARC Review: THE HAUNTING OF ALEJANDRA by V. Castro (2023)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: April 18, 2023
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books | Libro.fm

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read an eARC from NetGalley
Content warning: realities of pregnancy, child abandonment, adoption, miscarriage, suicidal ideation, death by suicide, child harm, child murder, self-harm, racist microaggressions, self-harm

Alejandra is a woman who is trapped in an ideal life that she isn’t sure is at all what she wanted for herself. A stay-at-home mother to three children, she and her husband recently moved to Philadelphia and a demonic presence adopting the visage of La Llorona haunts her shortly upon their arrival.

A horror that leans heavily into women’s fiction, this is a story about reckoning with generational trauma, the bonds that tie families together, and the resentments fueled by unrealistic expectations of perfect motherhood that threaten to tear them all apart, both literally and figuratively.

Continue reading

ARC Review: A FLAME IN THE NIGHT by Morgan Dante (2023)

Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance
Year Release: April 11, 2023
Buy Links: Amazon | eBook

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an eARC from the author
Content warning: Past sexual abuse, depiction of PTSD and flashbacks, past forced prostitution. past abuse, blood kink, self-harm (for vampire bloodletting)

Sometimes marriage is a burlesque dancer, a former soldier, and a silver-haired vampire.

Dante definitely understands the assignment of writing a decadent story featuring vampires. There’s sexual excess, there’s the danger and allure of the supernatural, and personal histories steeped in tragedy. This work almost feels like a slice-of-life with its singular focus on the couple and their introduction to the high strangeness of encountering a literal supernatural creature. There’s a genre savvy that’s super evident on the page, and there’s enough historical detail to ground the piece in its time period, particularly each character’s backstory and the metaphorical demons chasing them.

At once familiar and fresh, A Flame in the Night shines with romance while never forgetting the dark allure of creatures of the night.

March 2023 Reading Recap

Once again, I’m sorry that I had to take a break in February. March got me mostly back on track, aside from a mental health episode that’s stalled a whole bunch of things. But, in the best news, I’m done with my novella, Ice Upon a Pier, and it’s coming out with a paperback edition for those who don’t want to read it on a Kindle or in digital. All links have been updated in the press kit, including some indie bookstores for those who want to support those venues.

In March, I interviewed Freydís Moon to celebrate the release of Heart, Haunt, Havoc.

Not sure what April is bringing, but to be honest, all I can see is my own release date and not much else.

Continue reading

ARC Review: A DOOR IN THE DARK (Waxways #1) by Scott Reintgen (2023)

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Year Release: March 28, 2023
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books | Libro.fm

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an eARC from NetGalley
Content warning: necromancy, drinking, drug use, dead parent (father), classism, colonialism, blood, body horror, vomiting, torture, violence against animals (cats, dogs)

Ren Monroe is top of her class at Balmerick University, but in terms of family status, she’s towards the bottom. Hoping to elevate her prospects, she’s interviewing with the city’s top families for a job. Her plans get put on hold, however, when an argument in one of the waxways, travel portals, sends her and a handful of her classmates on an adventure trying to get back to Kathor, despite the deadly magic and fantastic beasts interrupting their journey.

A fun magic system with something to say about class differences between students for whom success is guaranteed by family connections and those who claw their way to the top, this dark academia has all the trappings of a fantasy adventure including kobolds & wyverns as well as an exploration of the opportunities and privileges unevenly doled out

Continue reading

ARC Review: SOFT TARGETS by Carson Winter (2023)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: March 22, 2023
Buy Links: Tenebrous Press Site | Kindle Edition

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an eARC from the publisher
Trigger warnings: graphic depictions of gun violence in the workplace, gore, death by bludgeoning, suicidal ideation. A portion of all sales goes to the Sandy Hook Foundation.

Two office workers channel their worst impulses in casual conversation in a twisted friendship that makes those daydreams a reality through a loophole that acts almost like Groundhog Day for the unhinged. Violent, mind-bending, with a breathtaking ending that hasn’t stopped bouncing within my brain since I finished.

This is one of those books where the main characters are absolutely repulsive. They’re in jobs that pay the bills and, on the surface, seem relatively adjusted, until you, the reader, get insight into their conversations, mostly revolving around how great the break in routine in the form of tragedy would be. This novella definitely serves as a character study of the worst type of white collar worker: someone with lots of ideas but who fundamentally does not contribute much to society or culture. They’re so realistic, I found myself getting mad at them like actual people and not people within a work of fiction.

The writing and development of these two is something incredible, especially given the book’s length. I will not spoil the journey, but the amount of self-awareness that emerges is masterful, especially following the restraint-less self-indulgence of the Tide – the unreality that strikes our main characters like a cyclical storm. It’s Office Space for the twenty-first century in ways both painfully true and deeply upsetting.

Intense and horrifying in its mundanity; absolutely proceed with caution give the subject matter.

ARC Review: BLOOD DEBTS by Terry J. Benton-Walker (2023)

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy
Year Release: April 4, 2023
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books | Libro.fm

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read a physical ARC from the publisher
Content warning: mentions of a dead family member (father), gun violence, necromancy, gore, body horror, blood, depression, anxiety, intergenerational trauma, catfishing, homophobia, depictions and discussions of racism, attempted sexual assault, attempted vehicular manslaughter, emotional and mental manipulation

Cris and Clem are twins and the heirs to a powerful magical legacy, which may or may not have been usurped in the aftermath of a series of murders which took place thirty years before the start of the story. Cris has distanced herself from magic, while Clem uses it to connect with his family and ancestors. But when it’s discovered that magic caused their mother’s sickness, not natural causes, they race against crimes of the past to protect their future and the ones they love.

Equal parts epic fantasy and contemporary fantasy, magic is a force not to be trifled with as a pair of twins come into their own despite the conflict and tensions circling the families around them.

An interview with author Terry J. Benton-Walker is coming up on the blog on release day, April 4th, 2023.

Continue reading