Three Great Horror Reads for Halloween

Three Great Horror Reads for Halloween 2020

Today is spooky day! Leaves are falling. The full moon peaks out from behind rainclouds. There’s a pandemic raging through communities. Reality sorta sounds like the start of a horror novel these days. Instead of dwelling on our real-life horror, perhaps now is a good time to escape into some fictional horror. (Besides, you should be staying home, and reading is always a good excuse.)

To that end, I thought it’d be a great idea to follow my lead from last year and recommend three great horror reads for your 2020 Halloween. Since I’ve been reading horror since I was a kid, I figured I’d limit myself to books I’ve only read in the last few years. You can see my reading list for 2018 and 2019 here on my blog, and you can view my current list for 2020 over on Goodreads.

What three did I choose? Why let me show you…


In the Valley of the Sun

by Andy Davidson

I just finished this, and I was blown away. A deeply unsettling sun-baked vampire novel set in Texas that has become a new favorite. Tense in unexpected ways. Character focused and driven. Brutal. Anguished. Tormented. Bloody. Lyrical in ways that remind me of Cormac McCarthy without the weight. Davidson has a new book out this year, The Boatman’s Daughter, and after In the Valley of the Sun, it’s rocketed up my TBR list.


The Cipher

By Kathe Koja

It’s hard to categorize this one. But it’s perfect for the spooky season. Part haunted house story, part body horror, part descent into madness tale all told in the style of Transgressive Literature. The Cipher is one of those stories I was shocked I hadn’t read until this year. Koja writes stunningly physical characters and knotted complex relationships that feel eerily familiar to anyone who’s spent time in artist circles. Enjoy the Fun Hole.


The Only Good Indians

by Stephen Graham Jones

At its heart, this is a horror novel about growing up poor and native in western Montana. But The Only Good Indians also a novel about revenge, mistakes, and their extended consequences. I blew through it. I grew up not too far from where this novel is set, and I have yet to find a recent author that captures the behavior and actions of the rural poor quite as well as Jones. You’ll never look at elk the same way again.


So those three books are my picks for 2020’s Halloween reads. Funny enough, I’ve read all three this year. I think any one of them would be perfect for our extended autumn nights and a nice escape from the daily chaos of a pandemic stricken world. (And you just might learn something about humanity. All three have a lot to say about people and our behaviors, both good and bad.)

What are your favorite horror novels from the last few years? What would you recommend as a Halloween read? Leave a comment below and let everyone know!

Have a safe and happy Halloween!


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Gleam Upon the Waves Cover Reveal

Gleam Upon the Waves Cover Reveal

As it was foretold in bygone days of yore, August 27th has arrived. As prophesied, the cover for Gleam Upon the Waves will be revealed. Let’s begin, shall we?

You can see a bigger version below. Click on the image to view it larger.

The Gleam Upon the Waves cover
The cover for Gleam Upon the Waves

In the lower depths of the city of Lovat, a King Tide rises. On the mantle of this aberration rides a vile stench that permeates the city from root to crown. When a job comes along for Caravan Master Waldo Bell and his crew offering a chance to slip away, it’s easy to be interested. When it comes from the city’s newly elected mayor, it’s impossible to ignore.
Outward bound on an enormous floating casino Wal finds himself out of his element. This won’t be routine caravan work. This job is more diplomacy than delivery, taking Bell Caravans out of the shadowed warrens and off dusty trails to the canals of Empress, the mysterious capital of the hermit-nation Victory.
But, things are never simple in the Territories. As the situation grows increasingly complicated and sinister forces begin to circle, Wal will discover darkness runs deeper than he ever thought possible; reality is not what it seems, and a new apocalypse is closer than anyone predicted.

 

He is coming. Can't you smell it on the wind?

 


I’m sure you noticed that like all the previous Bell Forging Cycle covers, the background image was another piece by the late 19th-century French artist, Gustav Doré. I love Doré’s work. Here I used the Plate I engraving from Doré’s illustrations for La Grande Bible de Tours entitled: The Deluge it depicts a scene from the story of Noah’s Ark as humans and animals struggle to save themselves as floodwaters rise. Tides. Floodwaters. Waves. Boats. Lots of nautical themes happening here. Wonder what that means? Hmmm.

Funny enough, Jon Contino nailed down the lettering for this cover years ago—way back when we were locking down the look for Red Litten World. I fell in love immediately, and it’s been hard to stay quiet. Jon’s distinctive approach to typography has always worked perfectly for the Bell Forging Cycle. His visceral and emotional approach to design has helped capture the sense of unease in the series and solidify the tone in a way that helps it stand out. He outdid himself with this one. 

From a design perspective, I think it settles perfectly within the series as a whole while maintaining a unique voice of its own. Look how great it looks in the lineup:

The Bell Forging Cycle Books I–IV
The Bell Forging Cycle Books I–IV

Huge thank you once again to Jon for helping me out with this. (Also, he’s got his own book out now and you should go buy it.) There will be more to come in the future. Gleam Upon the Waves is due out later this year (hopefully!), so expect more announcements with launch dates and the like and a sample chapter for you to read. I cannot wait to get this one into your hands. It’s been a long time coming, and I think you’re going to love it.

What do you think of the new cover? Which cover is your favorite? Why? Leave a comment. Let me know!


Need to Get Caught Up?

The Bell Forging Cycle

If you’ve only read a few of my novels, now is the perfect time to nab my previous books and catch up on the series before Gleam Upon the Waves drops. Order from any of the retailers below or support your local indie book shop and have them order it for you.

Amazon Barnes & Noble KoboiBooks GooglePlay


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderDid you know you could have gotten a sneak peek early? It’s true! Sign up for Dead Drop, my elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. It’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

Raunch Review: True Blood

Raunch Review: True Blood

Raunch Reviews is a series about profanity. Not real profanity, but speculative swearing. Authors often try to incorporate original, innovative forms of profanity into our own fantastical works as a way to expand the worlds we build. Sometimes we’re successful. Often we’re not. In this series, I examine the faux-profanity from various works of sci-fi and fantasy, judge their effectiveness, and rate them on an unscientific and purely subjective scale. This is Raunch Reviews, welcome.


Raunch Review: True Blood
Raunch Review: True Blood

The Author: Charlaine Harris (Books), Alan Ball (HBO Show)
Work in Question: True Blood
The Profanity: “Fangbanger”

True Blood is the HBO series born from the pages of Charlene Harris’ The Southern Vampire Mysteries. The series follows the adventures and romances of Sookie Stackhouse. The story takes place in a Louisiana where, thanks to the invention of synthetic blood, everyone has recently discovered that vampires (among other things) are real, and they move freely among humans. As a result, awkward and sometimes violent situations arise from these two formerly adversarial communities now interacting.

In the novels, the term “fangbanger” comes across as a self-prescribed moniker, not unlike headbanger or hippie. Cult-like followers of people who allow vampires to drink from them. In the HBO series—which we’re focused on today—the term often used as a sort of derogatory expression calling out one’s proclivities regarding vampires. If you have sex with a vampire, you get called a “fangbanger” by those with an anti-vampire prejudice.

And look, I understand the intent here, but the term is just so downright ridiculous I can’t get behind it—especially in the intended use of the television series. I could see it being much stronger if “fang” was used as a slur, but it’s not. As a result, the phrase comes across as goofy and unintentionally injects odd comedic moments into dialog. It’s not the worst I’ve seen, but it ain’t great.

Score: Half Swear (2.0)

🤬 Previous Raunch Reviews


Have a suggestion for Raunch Reviews? It can be any made-up slang word from a book, television show, or movie. You can email me directly with your recommendation or leave a comment below. I’ll need to spend time with the property before I’ll feel confident reviewing it, so give me a little time. I have a lot of books to read.


Color Out of Space

It’s Just a Color…

The Colour Out of Space is arguably one of the best—if not the best—H. P. Lovecraft stories. Plus, this is directed by cult-filmmaker Richard Stanley. (I highly recommend his film Hardware and the documentary Lost Soul, which tells the story of Stanley’s attempt to create a film based on H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau.) And to top it all off, this is being produced by the folks who made Mandy—one of my favorite campy horror flicks!

I’m sold. Sign. Me. Up.

Three Great Horror Reads for Halloween 2019

Three Great Horror Reads for Halloween 2019

It’s Halloween today, the perfect time to curl up with a good scary story. I’ve been reading horror since I was a kid, and I wanted to share three of my favorites. Since I’ve read a lot of good horror, I figured it’d be best to limit myself to books I’ve read over the last few years. You can see my reading list for 2017 and 2018 here on my blog, and you can view my current list for 2019 over on Goodreads. So, what three did I choose? Why let me show you…


A Lush And Seething Hell by John Hornor JacobsA Lush And Seething Hell

by John Hornor Jacobs

I’ve just started into my reading of A Lush and Seething Hell, a book consisting of two masterful novellas of cosmic horror. The first, The Sea Dreams it was the Sky was one of my favorite books from last year [See my review here], and I’m finding myself falling into John’s beautiful and haunting prose all over again. Lyrical and evocative while remaining starkly human, I cannot wait to dive into the second story, My Heart Struck Sorrow. I’d also recommend John’s weird west series that begins with The Incorruptibles.

 


Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham JonesMapping the Interior

by Stephen Graham Jones

Jones is a modern master of horror and always approaches the genre in unique ways; Mapping the Interior is no exception. Told from 12-year old Junior’s perspective, the story is one part family-struggle and one part ghost-story all woven with a heartfelt earnestness that’s easy to believe and hard to shake. It’s a book about childhood, about family, about heritage, about legacy, and the cost and ramification of all four. The ending devastated me. I’d also recommend Jones’ Mongrels.

 


The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley JacksonThe Haunting of Hill House

by Shirley Jackson

A horror classic that I (oddly) hadn’t read until last year. This is the archetypical haunted house story that defined the genre for decades to come. You’ll recognize the tropes it established right immediately, but be drawn along by Jackson’s incredibly descriptive prose and the layer of uneasiness she weaves throughout. It’ll get under your skin, and you’ll see its fingerprints everywhere. I’d also recommend Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

 


So there are three of my favorite horror novels from the last several years. If you’re looking for something to read on a cozy and dark autumn night, you’d be hard-pressed to find better. What are your favorite horror novels from the last few years? Leave a comment below and let everyone know!

Have a safe and happy Halloween!


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

Edgar Allan Poe

Three Quotes from Edgar Allan Poe

Here in the Pacific Northwest, the nights have grown colder, the days shorter, and the leaves are starting to change. It’s my favorite time of the year. I figure it’s the perfect moment to share some of my favorite quotes from the king of gothic romanticism and inventor of the detective novel, Edgar Allan Poe.


“They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”

Eleonora


“Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.”

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket


“Experience has shown, and a true philosophy will always show, that a vast, perhaps the larger, portion of truth arises from the seemingly irrelevant.”

The Mystery of Marie Rogêt


Do you have a favorite Edgar Allan Poe quote? Is there a story of his which you love? Let me know in the comments!