RA for All...The Road Show!

I can come to your library, book club meeting, or conference to talk about how to help your readers find their next good read. Click here for more information.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Interview with DarkFuse Founder

This is an interesting interview about the state of horror publishing with one of the bigger names in the industry.  Read on here.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Trends in Horror Series Handout

This afternoon at 2pm I will be speaking on a panel at the Public Library Association Conference about trends in genre series.  Of course, I am doing Horror.  There will also be speakers on Gentle Reads, Romance, and Mystery.  Click here for details.

Last month I posted my trends here. You can now get my presentation and handout here whether you come to see me or not.  The handout has 5 classic horror series, 5 classic "not quite horror series" and then a bunch of new horror and not quite horror.

Enjoy, and feel free to addyour favorite horror series to these lists in the comments.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monster Librarian Reviews the Vampire Novel of the Century Nominees

As I have mentioned previously here, this year, in honor of the 100th Anniversary of Bram Stoker's death, the Horror Writers Association is handing out an award for "Vampire Novel of the Century."

The award is due to be given out, along with the Stoker Awards at the end of this month.  But in the meantime, the writers over at Monster Librarian have read and reviewed each nominee.

Click here to see all of the reviews.  May the best blood sucker win.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spotlight on Blogs: Castle Macabre

Today I am starting a new feature on RA for All: Horror and like all features here, you can follow it through the Features Archive.  This feature will be called Spotlight on Blogs.

Why this spotlight?  Well, this month I joined the Horror Blogger Alliance:
a site dedicated to the individuals that pour their tireless effort, heart, and soul in to writing about the genre they love: Horror. It is always important to recognize the hard work that every person contributes to the online blogging community, and every single person deserves the right to be read. As such, this Alliance is an open-admission organization that will hopefully be used to promote new and existing blogs and bloggers, and help introduce the community to a wide variety of different talents!
I love the HBA because it allows me, the librarian, to have access to dozens of people who love horror, while at the same time it gives me, the horror fan, a place to connect with people who also like to feel the fear.



So as my thank you to all those brave horror blogging souls out there, I will periodically highlight a fellow HBA member.  Today I am going to begin with Castle Macabre, the horror fiction site of prolific book blogger Michelle, aka The True Book Addict.

On Castle Macabre, Michelle links to many of her regularly scheduled events on various blogs and social media outlets.  Currently she is running a horror read-a-thon for Spring and she is a part of a Tuesday Read-a-Long on Twitter and Goodreads where everyone is reading the same horror book.

Basically, her goal is to make reading a group exercise, which as one of the few extrovert librarians out there, I applaud.

Visit Castle Macabre if you love horror fiction and are dying (pun intended) to find someone to share that love with.  Michelle will hook you up.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Review: Harry Wall's Man

Librarian at Dawn is reading up a storm.  He has another insightful review, this time for Harry Wall's Man by John Leahy.  Click through or read the review below.  And you authors out there, keep the solicitations for reviews coming.

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Monster Mondays: Harry Wall's Man

Despite the fact that it is a supernatural tale set in a modern metropolis, Harry Wall's Man by John Leahy reminded me of ancient folkloric tales like the Golem and Wicker Man. My girlfriend has me reading a small collection of wiccan books and this novel served as a bit of a distraction. A thrilling one!

The book centers around an architect named Ridley Case. Ridley's attention is drawn to a building with an unorthodox design developed by another architect with whom Ridley is acquainted. Built roughly in the shape of a man, the apartment tower is the domain of an otherworldly force. Captivated and hungry for answers, Ridley obtains the help and advice of a strange website webmaster Ray Deslak. It is then that information is uncovered that scarcely seems plausible. Feeding off of the life force of the very residents within, the entire structure is slowly becoming alive. The situation becomes even more dire when Deslak reveals that the building, once powerful enough, will gain the power of animation and begin to move and embark on a "walk" of devastation. Working against time, Ridley theorizes that he can prevent such a catastrophe by getting everyone who lives inside out of the building and stripping the "Man" of the only valuable life source it has. The tower is not a small one and Ridley and his story are not readily believable. A string of obstacles confront the possibility of success - and make for a wild ending.

The book has the vibe of classic haunted house stories like The Amityville Horror and The Shining but combined with a large-scale, urban setting and plot. Tall buildings are kind of scary by themselves and the notion of a possessed one is a literary device that I would love to see used more often in horror. There is a lot of potential for future books of this nature. This book is a wonderful start.

Friday, March 2, 2012

What I'm Reading: Dead of Night

This is a cross post with RA for All


We are 2 days away from Jonathan Maberry's visit to RA for All on his blog tour to promote Dead of Night.  Full disclosure: Maberry's publicist sent me a free copy of this book for review.  But, I also had already purchased a copy for the BPL before receiving my free copy.

In preparation for the interview, which does include specific questions about Dead of Night, here is my review of the book.

Dead of Night is a zombie novel (as the subtitle tells us), but it is different than the bulk of today's zombie novels, even different than Maberry's critically acclaimed YA zombie series which begins with Rot and Ruin (link goes to my review of that novel).  Why?  This can be answered by Maberry himself in Chapter One which reads, in its entirety: "This is how the world ends."

That being said, I should say, this is a horror zombie novel, not a literary fiction one like Zone One, or a humorous one like Breathers, or even a political thriller one like Feed.  Dead of Night  is for horror fans who want to feel the dread and anxiety, who know bad things are going to happen and are turning the pages expecting them.  Remember, as the first line tells us, "This is how the world ends." Do not pick up this book and expect a happy ending.  Personally, I love that, but some readers may not.

But if you are looking for a serious horror treatment of the popular zombie craze that is well written and  great fun to read.  This is the book for you.

While most of today's zombie novels take a critical look at the world as it stands after the zombie apocalypse (click here for numerous reviews of some of the best of these books), Dead of Night is the detailed, action-packed story of how the apocalypse begins.  Here we get a step-by-step account from all sides of how 1 infected person can mean the beginning of the end for human civilization.  There is no "after" picture here.  We get the details of the apocalypse as it begins from every angle, and we are left just as it is about to escalate.

As the novel opens we are in rural Western PA and a storm is quickly approaching (a double whammy of the popular isolated setting for horror).  Local law enforcement are called to a possible break-in at the local funeral home.  The body that was just delivered secretly (and unexpectedly) to that funeral home is of a notorious serial killer, Homer Gibbon.  But before he was executed in prison, Gibbon was given an injection by Dr. Volker containing a formula designed to keep him conscious and awake while his body rots in the grave.  Before he can be buried, Gibbon wakes up.  He is conscious and fully aware, but is also very hungry...

The story is told in what has become Maberry's go-to winning style.  He blends elements of traditional horror -- an unearthly monster, a troubled hero, an atmosphere of extreme unease, an isolated setting, and  a relentless provocation of terror-- with the emerging genre of the supernatural thriller-- detailed investigative elements, a human villain out to kill, fast paced action, and shifting points of view from heroes to killer.

Like all Maberry novels there are many characters, some who only get a moment or two's turn at telling the story from their perspective.  Some reader's may not like the jumping around, but anyone who has read one of Maberry's best selling Joe Ledger novels will be familiar with this story telling technique.  Personally, I love it, especially when we get just a moment from the perspective of someone as they are being attacked.  This technique adds to the unease of the story, and this anxious state of unease and terror is the main reason why someone reads and enjoys a horror novel in the first place.  Maberry has a compelling dread filled story already, but the switching point of view across many characters ratchets it up to a whole new level.

That being said, there are a few main characters here.  Our 2 heroes are Dez, a female, ex-vet, now cop who has had a troubled life and her ex-boyfriend "Trout," a journalist best known for his sensational pieces.  Our villains are Dr Volker and serial killer Gibbon mentioned.  There is one other pov that I found very moving and absolutely loved as it came out periodically throughout the novel, that of the funeral home director, Doc Hartnup.  In fact, without giving anything away, Doc's pov was a fresh addition to the zombie novel tradition.

The shifting points of view, also speed up the pacing here.  As a reader, you are seeing all sides to the issue.  We know a zombie plague has begun to be spread even before the police on the ground do.  We see the government preparing a response.  We see Homer running around the county.  We are afraid, but we keep turning the pages because we are rooting for Dez and Trout to figure it all out in time to save the day. You also keep reading because as a horror fan, you love this stuff.

I have to say I also enjoyed following the spreading infection in such a detailed fashion.  The short chapters and shifting action mimicked the confusion and panic that was spreading with the plague.

One of my general complaints about novels today is that many of them have "third act issues."  You are reading a great book and then the author runs out of steam, and it ends flatly.  Geraldine Brooks Dead of Night which delivers right through the last page.  The story line following Trout and Dez has its resolution, but we also have a great, twist at the end.

If you think traditional, strongly written horror is in decline, read this book.  The only unpleasant side effect you may have is that it will make much of the other books you are reading look bad.

Three Words That Describe This Book: dread, compelling, multiple points of view

Readalikes:  I have had much to say about zombie novels here.  And, yes they are my favorite horror subgenre, so I am biased.  I would suggest you read these posts to see my favorites, but I would like to highlight a few which I feel are fairly similar:

  • The type of zombie here are reminiscent of those in Nate Kenyon's Sparrow Rock.
  • The Rising by Brian Keene is the novel that is widely credited with beginning the 21st Century zombie craze.
  • Joe McKinney's excellent zombie series which begins with Dead City is a great all around readalike option here.  In McKinney's series we also follow a policeman as a zombie plague rising out of the destruction caused by a series of hurricanes slowly takes over an isolated town.  Fans of Dead of Night who are craving more should check out McKinney right away.

Although The Ruins by Scott Smith does not contain a single zombie, these two books are very similar in tone, story telling technique, and in how they are ended.  Readers of my blog know my love for The Ruins already though.

I also offered author readalikes to Maberry a few days ago here.

Come back on March 4th to see more about Dead of Night from Jonathan Maberry himself.

Thursday, March 1, 2012