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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Review: Children of the Dark

Today I have an exciting review to share with you.  This is a book every public library needs to buy. I am not kidding here. If you have readers who enjoy classic Stephen King-- which is ALL of you-- buy this book. Here is the draft of my star review which appears in the 3/15/16 issue of Booklist

Children of the Dark.
Janz, Jonathan (author).
Mar. 2016. 398p. Sinister Grin, paperback, $16  (9781944044145)
REVIEW. First published March 15, 2016 (Booklist).
In the first lines of this chilling novel Will lets us know that he has a terrifying story to tell, “The week I saw seventeen people die didn’t begin with blood, monsters, or a sadistic serial killer. It all began with a baseball game.” And so, we readers wait, the tension builds relentlessly throughout the book, and all of those terrible things do eventually come to pass in perfect horror fashion. But first we are settled into Will’s life in small town Indiana. A local baseball star, he is also poor, with a drug addicted, single mom, and a six year old sister whom he adores. Soon this unlikely hero will lead the entire community into a battle for their lives. The strong narrative voice, a recently awoken ancient evil, and a terrifying serial killer with surprisingly strong ties to Will combine forces to deliver a story with an old school horror feel that is in no way derivative. Heart-pounding action, well developed characters (both good and evil), and just the right amount of gore drive this fast paced story to its unsettling conclusion. This is the perfect book for those who love classic Stephen King. Think Stand by Me meets Something Wicked This Way Comes with a generous helping of the pulp sensibility of Brian Keene and you have Janz, a horror storyteller on the rise.
I read a lot of horror books, and when it comes to newer voices, I always go in with a skeptical eye, meaning I was predisposed to not being impressed here. That fact makes how much I was blown away by this novel even more impressive. Janz has been receiving praise in the horror community for about a year, but now is the time for the wider world to start reading him.

Three Words That Describe This Book: strong narrative voice, well developed characters, awesome tension

Readalikes: As I said above, classic Stephen King and the Bradbury coming of age, small midwest town, horror classic Something Wicked This Way Comes are great options. But there is a bit of the more modern pulp mastery of a writer like Brian Keene here too.

Other books Children of the Dark reminded me of (with links to reviews) are:
All three of these critically acclaimed horror novels have strong a narrative voice, a coming of age theme, and wonder characterization, just like Janz’s novel.

This book came out yesterday. GO ORDER IT NOW.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Final Ballot for Stoker Awards and Stoker Con Information

Below you can find the official press release for the 2015 Bram Stoker Awards final ballot.  Please use this list for your library’s collection development.  For Becky’s popular tips on how to use awards lists as a RA Tool, click here.

And if you are interested in attending Stoker Con, here is the schedule [just released yesterday].
 
Horror Writers Association Reveals Final Ballot for Bram Stoker Awards®
Los Angeles, CA — The Horror Writers Association (HWA), the premier organization of writers and publishers of horror and dark fantasy, today announced the nominees for the 2015 Bram Stoker Awards®.
 
The nominees are:
Superior Achievement in a Novel Clive Barker – The Scarlet Gospels (St. Martin’s Press) Michaelbrent Collings – The Deep (self-published) JG Faherty – The Cure (Samhain Publishing) Patrick Freivald – Black Tide (JournalStone Publishing)
Paul Tremblay – A Head Full of Ghosts (William Morrow)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel
Courtney Alameda – Shutter (Feiwel & Friends)
Nicole Cushing – Mr. Suicide (Word Horde)
Brian Kirk – We Are Monsters (Samhain Publishing)
John McIlveen – Hannahwhere (Crossroad Press)
John Claude Smith – Riding the Centipede (Omnium Gatherum)
 
Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel
Jennifer Brozek – Never Let Me Sleep (Permuted Press)
Michaelbrent Collings – The Ridealong (self-published)
John Dixon – Devil’s Pocket (Simon & Schuster)
Tonya Hurley – Hallowed (Simon & Schuster)
Maureen Johnson – The Shadow Cabinet (Penguin)
Ian Welke – End Times at Ridgemont High (Omnium Gatherum)
 
Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel
Cullen Bunn – Harrow County, Vol. 1: Countless Haints (Dark Horse Comics)
Victor Gischler – Hellbound (Dark Horse Books)
Robert Kirkman – Outcast, Vol. 1: A Darkness Surrounds Him (Image Comics)
Scott Snyder – Wytches, Vol. 1 (Image Comics)
Sam Weller, Mort Castle, Chris Ryall, & Carlos Guzman (editors) – Shadow Show: Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury (IDW Publishing)

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction
Gary A. Braunbeck – Paper Cuts (Seize the Night) (Gallery Books)
Lisa Mannetti – The Box Jumper (Smart Rhino Publications)
Norman Partridge – Special Collections (The Library of the Dead) (Written Backwards)
Mercedes M. Yardley – Little Dead Red (Grimm Mistresses) (Ragnarok Publications)
Scott Edelman – Becoming Invisible, Becoming Seen (Dark Discoveries #30)
 
Superior Achievement in Short Fiction
Kate Jonez – All the Day You’ll Have Good Luck (Black Static #47)
Gene O’Neill – The Algernon Effect (White Noise Press)
John Palisano – Happy Joe’s Rest Stop (18 Wheels of Horror) (Big Time Books)
Damien Angelica Walters – Sing Me Your Scars
(Sing Me Your Scars) (Apex Publications)
Alyssa Wong – Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers (Nightmare Magazine #37)
 
Superior Achievement in a Screenplay
Guillermo del Toro & Matthew Robbins – Crimson Peak (Legendary Pictures)
John Logan – Penny Dreadful: And Hell Itself My Only Foe (Showtime)
John Logan – Penny Dreadful: Nightcomers (Showtime)
David Robert Mitchell – It Follows (Northern Lights Films)
Taika Waititi & Jemaine Clement – What We Do in the Shadows (Unison Films)
 
Superior Achievement in an Anthology
Michael Bailey – The Library of the Dead (Written Backwards)
Ellen Datlow – The Doll Collection: Seventeen Brand-New Tales of Dolls (Tor Books)
Christopher Golden – Seize the Night (Gallery Books)
Nancy Kilpatrick and Caro Soles – nEvermore! (Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing) Jonathan Maberry – The X-Files: Trust No One (IDW Publishing)
Joseph Nassise and Del Howison – Midian Unmade (Tor Books)
 
Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection
Gary A. Braunbeck – Halfway Down the Stairs (JournalStone Publishing)
Nicole Cushing – The Mirrors (Cycatrix Press)
Taylor Grant – The Dark at the End of the Tunnel (Cemetery Dance Publications)
Gene O’Neill – The Hitchhiking Effect (Dark Renaissance Books)
Lucy A. Snyder – While the Black Stars Burn (Raw Dog Screaming Press)


Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction
Justin Everett and Jeffrey H. Shanks (ed.) – The Unique Legacy of Weird Tales: The Evolution of Modern Fantasy and Horror (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers)
Stephen Jones – The Art of Horror (Applause Theatre &Cinema Books
Michael Knost – Author’s Guide to Marketing with Teeth (Seventh Star Press)
Joe Mynhardt &a Emma Audsley (editors) – Horror 201: The Silver Scream (Crystal Lake Publishing)
Danel Olson – Studies in the Horror Film: Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (Centipede Press)
 
Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection
Bruce Boston – Resonance Dark and Light (Eldritch Press)
Alessandro Manzetti – Eden Underground (Crystal Lake Publishing)
Ann Schwader – Dark Energies (P’rea Press)
Marge Simon – Naughty Ladies (Eldritch Press)
Stephanie M. Wytovich – An Exorcism of Angels (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

The presentation of the Bram Stoker Awards® will occur during the inaugural StokerCon in Las Vegas, Nevada on the evening of Saturday, May 14, 2016. Tickets to the banquet and the convention are on sale to the public at www.stokercon2016.com. The awards presentation will also be live-streamed online.
 
“The nominees for this year’s Bram Stoker Awards® have produced work that is certain to leave a mark on the horror and dark fantasy genre for years to come,” said Lisa Morton, HWA President and multiple Bram Stoker Award winner. “Once again, our members and awards juries have selected outstanding standard bearers for the genre.”


Active and Lifetime members of the organization are eligible to vote for the winners in all categories.

Named in honor of the author of the seminal horror novel "Dracula," the Bram Stoker Awards® are presented annually for superior writing in eleven categories including traditional fiction of various lengths, poetry, screenplays and non-fiction. Previous winners include Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, George R. R. Martin, Joyce Carol Oates and Neil Gaiman. The HWA also presents a Lifetime Achievement Award to living individuals who have made a substantial and enduring contribution to the genre. This year’s Lifetime Achievement recipients will be announced March 1, 2016.

About the Horror Writers Association
The Horror Writers Association is a nonprofit organization of writers and publishing professionals around the world, dedicated to promoting dark literature and the interests of those who write it. The HWA formed in 1985 with the help of many of the fields greats, including Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon, and Joe Lansdale. The HWA is home to the prestigious Bram Stoker Award® and the annual StokerCon horror convention.


For more on the Horror Writers Associations, please visit www.horror.org.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Review: Broken Hours

The Broken Hours: A Novel of H.P. Lovecraft
Baker, Jacqueline
Apr. 2016. 320p. Sky horse/Talos, hardcover, $24.99 9781940456553)
Review. First Published March 3, 2016 (Booklist Online).


Here is the draft of the review I turned in to Booklist:
The year is 1836 and Arthor Crandle, desperate for a job and needing space from his troubled homelife, accepts a temporary position in Providence working as the assistant for a reclusive and mysterious author. But all is not as it seems in this “novel of H.P. Lovecraft,” and Crandle is quickly thrust into a world where nightmares, ghosts, and giant tentacles are now a part of his everyday life. This novel is a homage to Lovecraft, his work, and his legacy, but told with only a hint of the terror found within the master’s own stories. Rather Baker’s intent is to authentically recreate the eerie atmosphere that surrounded Lovecraft, before wrapping the reader up in a compelling, Hitchcock-esque plot that keeps everyone on edge, constantly questioning the real versus the imagined, up to the final shocking pages. Lovecraft fans will delight in seeing the author’s biography unfold on the page, but, those with no previous attachment to the horror master will easily be drawn into this satisfying, Gothic tale on its own merit. Suggest to fans of last year’s historical, horror hit The Quick or backlist darling The Thirteenth Tale.
Three Words That Describe This Book: eerie, Gothic, biographical

Readalikes: Besides the two titles mentioned in the review-- to which I have added the links to my blog reviews that contain MANY more readalike options-- I would also suggest:

Some may want to read Lovecraft after reading this novel. To those people I would suggest trying his stories from Weird Tales, the ones which are referred to throughout Broken Hours.