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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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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Review: WARRIORS OF GOD (The Hussite Wars #2) by Andrzej Sapkowski (2021)

Genre: Adult Historical Fantasy
Year Release: 2021
Source: Physical Copy

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warning: war, accusations and threats of sexual assault, gore, blood, vomiting, illness, bigotry, use of the g-slur for Romani, reference to blood libel and pogroms
Review of Book 1, Tower of Fools, can be found here

The saga of Reynevan of Bielawa continues as battles take place, more scheming continues, war ravages the countryside, and his personal reputation neither gets worse nor improves.

What Sapkowski weaves here is even more snark and careful maneuvering around political machinations, where he has no patience for the exploits of Reynevan and, I’d say, even enjoys dolling out consequences, dragging him further and further through uncertainty.

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ARC Review: EMPIRE OF THE FEAST by Bendi Barrett (2022)

Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Year Release: Fall 2022
Buy link: Neon Hemlock

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read an eARC from the publisher
Content warnings: explicit sexual content, murder, body horror, gore

Empire of the Feast is a story of spaceship court intrigue in which a reincarnating emperor staves off an eldritch beast via a sex cult in a perpetual orgy. There’s a betrayal, there’s an army, and a transferal power that subverts genre tropes. Barrett efficiently packs so many compelling story elements into one taut work. If there are more stories coming out of the Stag Empire, I am here for all of them.

An interview with the author will be going up on October 27th, 2022.

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Author to Author with Carlie St. George (You Fed Us to the Roses)

Happy release day to You Fed Us to the Roses, Carlie St. George’s horror short story collection. So full of love for the genre, this is a set for horror fans, by a horror fan. I’m excited to have her on the blog to talk about how she comes up with her tales, the way she plays with tropes, deciding the collection’s title, and what’s coming next for her.

Buy Link: Books2Read

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Review: LANNY by Max Porter (2021)

Genre: Adult Fantasy (Folk Horror)
Year Release: 2021
Source: Library Audiobook

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Trigger warnings: child kidnapping, speculation around child molestation and trafficking

Lanny takes place in a bucolic English village with a handful of residents and the titular child who befriends the town coot, Mad Pete, while Dead Papa Toothworth – part fae, part cryptid – observes the comings and goings in the land that he’s lived in since time immemorial.

In reviews I’ve read, I see people describing this as a contemporary fantasy, but since it covers a child disappearing without a trace, I came out of it feeling it’s more a folk horror with a hopeful ending. The audiobook narration is enchanting and unsettling, with great voice work done to enhance the stylistic choices on page. It also adds to the eeriness of Toothworth’s narration as well, a combination of different voices throughout the village.

The magic within the novel is very slipstream, not quite explained, but very much rooted in something older than the village itself. I liked the way Porter approaches the rift between Lanny’s family who are newcomers to the village and those who have lived their entire lives. There’s mistrust and skepticism, and it really worked for me in terms of driving up the tension. In terms of the themes, collective myth and what belonging means are two of them, and the chosen perspectives bright those to life.

If you want to disappear into something magic, something examining art as a craft, and to be somewhat unsettled with the end result, give this a read.

ARC Review: YOU FED US TO THE ROSES by Carlie St. George (2022)

Genre: Adult Horror Short Story Collection
Year Release: October 18th, 2022
Buy Link: Books2Read

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Received an ARC from Robot Dinosaur Press
Content warnings: ableist language, animal death, bullying, child death, death, domestic violence, gore, harm to animals, imprisonment, intimate partner abuse, murder, parental death, parental neglect, physical abuse, religious abuse, sexual abuse, suicidal thoughts, suicide, violence

These short stories are for horror fans by a horror fan. From demonic possession to werewolves to slashers, each genre gets time to shine in this forthcoming collection from Robot Dinosaur Press.

Each one has a treat for all kinds of horror lover, and I’m looking forward to sharing a blog interview with the author on October 18th, 2022.

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Author to Author with Neil Cochrane (The Story of the Hundred Promises)

Happy release day to The Story of the Hundred Promises. When trans sailor Darragh learns that his father is terminally ill, he goes on a quest to find the Enchanter who helped him transition when he was a child. A story centering queer voices and queer optimism unfolds with all the tropes and aesthetics of classic fairy tales.

I’m so glad to have Neil on the blog today to talk about how the stories within and the overarching plot of this book came to be, the research behind it, what he’s working on now, and what he’s reading next.

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

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Review: THE DISAPPEARING SPOON: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Element by Sam Kean (2010)

Genre: Adult Nonfiction
Year Release: 2010
Source: Library Audiobook

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warnings: war crimes, human experimentation, mention of racism, misogyny

Sam Kean weaves a yarn that takes a trip through the entire periodic table. It’s mostly in order by linear history and delves into a bit about how the table itself can be a communication tool with extra-terrestrials beings (which are more likely to exist than one might think).

Much like The Icepick Surgeon, Kean delivers again on engaging storytelling with appropriate historical context, where madness isn’t as much the focus as it is an emergent property of scientific history.

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