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.
Genre: Adult Gothic Horror Year Release: 2015 Source: Amazon
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Content warnings: Dubious consent, attempted sexual assault, explicit sexual content, body horror, vomiting, blood, religious trauma, mention of past rape and alcoholism
Caleb is a parishioner at Father Daniel’s church. He slowly starts behaving strangely and erratically, and the root problem seems to be a demonic possession. Monsignor Tiefer does not believe Fr. Daniel, but the only other priest available for an exorcism is Fr. Adam, who has a sordid personal history with the father. A moving story of forgiveness and atonement told through art that is at once beautiful and horrific. It left my brain in a flaming vortex when I reached the final panel, but please heed the trigger warnings before diving in.
Genre: Adult Mystery Year Release in English: 2019 Source: Physical Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Content warnings: violence against animal, dead pets, hunting, misogyny, blood, bore, vomiting, blood in stool (mentioned), alcoholism
A woman with a deep love for animals is at the center of this mystery where men with violent tendencies towards the local wildlife start appearing dead in her vicinity. The source material for the movie, Spoor (2017), I definitely had to give this one a read, and it’s incredible how well both versions of the story work in their respective media.
Much smaller in scope than The Books of Jacob, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead is a character study of a recluse who loves animals living among hunters and
Trigger Warning: gang rape, violence, state-sanctioned terrorism, drug use, a fish swimming up one’s veins into their brain, literal book burning, state censorship, beheaded dogs
Andrei Komiaga, our protagonist, is the fourth-highest ranking member of the oprichnina in a future version of Russia that’s a blend of Ivan the Terrible’s reign with Vladimir Putin’s current policies. We follow a day in Komiaga’s life which involves terrorizing aristocrats, censoring literature, bribery, and not one but two rituals with his fellow officers.
Disturbing, intense, and brilliant, this is one of those books where if the Wikipedia summary is enough to make you not approach this one, I do not blame you.
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.
Read a physical ARC Content warning: queerphobia (specifically against aromantic and asexual people), transphobia, gender dysphoria, menstruation
The Story of the Hundred Promises is a fantasy novel that centers queer people and queerness in a fairy tale setting that feels lived in steeped, steeped in a familiar aesthetic and the trappings of a classic, complete with curses, magicians, fae, and more. Darragh, a trans sailor, is summoned to his family home where his father lies dying. To help, he goes on a quest to find the magician who helped him tradition several years ago.
The story that follows is full of tenderness, hard-won acceptance, and magic.
An interview with the author is going up on release day, October 4th, 2022.
Genre: Adult Literary Horror Year Release: 2022 Source: Physical Copy
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Trigger warning: eye trauma, death of a parent (both parents discussed in different scenarios), claustrophobia, blood
Leah is a marine researcher. Miri is her work from home wife. Leah went missing for a bit after going on a deep sea dive. She returns, but Miri worries when she starts spending more time in the bath and becomes something other than human.
Haunting with beautiful prose that led me to excessively mark up my copy, this literary horror moves deftly from quiet melancholy to straight-up nightmare fuel when a wife returns, but did she really?
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction Year Release: 2022 Source: Physical Copy
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Trigger warning: realities of birth, rape, sexual assault, religious trauma, graphic religious flagellation, child sexual abuse, incest (between adults), child physical abuse, death of babies, maggots, starvation, pica, vomiting, murder, cannibalism, murder, self-harm, violence against animals, ableism
The invented village of Lapvona sits at the feet of its manor, both literally and figuratively. The lord is a pig with zero self-awareness, but the story of this seemingly cursed town also centers on its inhabitants. Not a single person is a good person, the plot moves from one natural disaster to personal disaster, ping ponging between the two. The prose is crisp and clear, making the happenings uncomfortably unambiguous in their depiction.
I’ve read so many things that I can reliably comp to The VVitch, but this one definitely follows a kind of interpersonal dread that makes you beg the question of the devil’s involvement. In this work, however, the answer is clear as mud. And if you’re into the unlikability of My Year of Rest and Relaxation, it is relentless across a wider cast of characters.
Content warning: realities of birth, generational trauma, vomiting, infant harm and death, body horror, threat of drowning
On an ark escaping from a flooded kingdom, Iraxi is ostracized both on land and at sea, with her pregnancy the only thing keeping her company. Claustrophobic in its intimacy, this story has her narrowly escaped hell only to find herself in a new nightmare of razorfangs and other things that stalk the deep.
The language in this novel is intimate and precise. The location is tight – it takes place entirely on a ship escaping from a drowned world. Outside, there is the danger of literal sea monsters. Inside, there is starvation and distrust, especially as Iraxi seems to be the only one to have successfully gotten pregnant in the last five years. There’s hope in the new birth, but also fear of what comes next from her fellow passengers and rejection as Iraxi questions if she even wants the child altogether. The other characters aren’t much help either, though they definitely explain a lot as to why Iraxi feels the way she does about her predicament, both personally and on a community-level.
The horror found within pulls no punches, with key moments engaging both visual fears as well as audio, making for incredible reading jump scares. Pregnancy is part of the peril here, as is the child that comes of it. There is some body horror in addition to uncomfortable nightmare sequences to depict the before-times. I won’t go more into specifics because it’s best experienced first half, but it is as terrifying as it is awe-inspiring.
Anger simmers and propels the plot forward. Though there is time ticking with the upcoming arrival of the baby, Rocklyn keeps the reader going with hints as to what got Iraxi on this path, why she’s so angry, arriving at an ending that tracks perfectly.
Beatriz lost everything when her father was executed during the Mexican War of Independence. She and her mother go to live with reluctant relatives, until Beatriz sees an opportunity to return to some form of personal security in marrying Don Rodolfo Solórzano. It takes her to his family estate in the countryside, Hacienda San Isidro. But the promised security is quickly dashed when things start going bump in the night and there is more truth to the rumors surrounding Rodolfo than initially ignored.
This book has everything: 1800’s Mexican history, political tensions, a haunted house, a restless spirit, and a priest who’s also a witch. An incredible blend of historical fiction and gothic horror, I simply could not put this one down until the very last page.