As I have been mentioning here on the blog and on Twitter, IndiePicks Magazine, is very close to being a reality, so close in fact, that they have put their first ever review columns on their website-- my horror column and Robin Bradford’s romance column.
In case you have missed the news below is more information from Naomi Blackburn, Publisher of IndiePicks from the “Our Story” page:
Being the dedicated bibliophile I am, I am also a fan of my library. I couldn’t afford to read as much as I do if wasn’t. I often tried to seek out some of my favorite “outside” authors and was always told that the libraries didn’t carry them. I researched why and although the reasons made sense, I knew there had to be a solution; one that was a win for the authors, addressed librarians’ concerns, and met industry requirements.
As I plunged deeper into studying the availability of books, other areas popped up and I saw the same issues related to both music and film. There were a number of great recording artists and movie producers who chose not to go with a traditional studio, but didn’t scrimp on quality.
I wanted to do something that would serve both industries. To achieve this librarians had to be the ones to review the works. I knew that for a review to have credibility, it had to have the librarian seal of approval. Our editor, Rebecca Vnuk, comes to IndiePicks Magazine with over a decade of library experience, including the American Library Association’s Booklist. If our librarians wouldn’t feel comfortable purchasing the work for their own catalog, we won’t recommend it for your reading list.
As I got to know the independent authors and artists, I found they were just as passionate about their craft as those Big 5 authors and major studios. These people became my friends and I knew in my heart, if I could do ANYTHING to help them I would.
I understood library policy and knew librarians wanted to work with authors outside the Big 5. I heard the call from the ALA to open their libraries to these works, but the lack of a recognized review source was still at the forefront of the problem. In searching out a solution my mind went back to my favorite little review magazine and the concept of IndiePicks was born.
Just like with my Booklist reviews, I will be posting my IndiePicks reviews here too. And just like those posts, I will add my “Three Words” to the post. Unless there was something I couldn’t fit in the review, however, I will not add more readalikes or appeal statements. I get a little more room in these columns than normal reviews, so we should be good. They will also be archived and cataloged on the horror blog for easy retrieval by author last name.
I am contracted to provide at least 3 horror reviews per month, but I know for a fact that in future issues I will have more content than that. [But, that being said, I am the only horror reviewer and I only have space for 3 reviews a month, so please be patient with me.]
And now, here is my first IndiePicks review column. Buy all of these books for your library. They are all out right now!
A NEW GENERATION OF ZOMBIES
Bracken MacLeod is on quite a roll. Last year he released Stranded, which was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel, and this year he follows up with an utterly original and chillingly realistic take on zombies with Come to Dust (JournalStone/Trepidatio Publishing, $17.95, ISBN 9781945373664). Mitch is an ex-con who lives for his toddler niece, Sophie. He is her unofficial guardian since her mother abandoned her, but he doesn’t mind because this little girl is his everything—until she tragically dies in her sleep. But Sophie’s death is not final. Soon after she dies, children all over the world begin to rise from their graves. The children who return, including Sophie, seem normal (except for varying states of decay) but they also have a terrifying power—one that is not apparent at first. As governments and religious leaders debate what to do about this unique zombie problem and how to regulate these undead citizens, Mitch and his girlfriend go on an adventure to save Sophie from danger and find a safe place for families like theirs to survive in this new world. With a fast-paced, thriller style of storytelling, an emotionally intense premise which will hit anyone who has ever loved a child right in the gut, and a twist that makes it feel fresh, Come to Dust is a story that does not disappoint. Fans of M.R. Carey, Dean Koontz, and The Leftovers will find this a sure bet.
Three Words That Describe This Book: fast paced, emotionally intense, chillingly realistic
SISTERS OF SLAUGHTER
Also nominated for a Bram Stoker Award last year (in the Best First Novel category) were Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason, twins who are better known as The Sisters of Slaughter. In their second novel, Those Who Follow (Bloodshot Books, $14.99, ISBN 978-0998067995), the Sisters employ their trademark style of holding no punches on the bloody details in a way that never feels gratuitous. Here we have two alternating storylines about two young, troubled women, twin sisters who do not know of the other’s existence. Celia has been kidnapped in the Arizona desert by Byron, a very evil man with an unknown supernatural power. Held captive with others in an abandoned church, Celia has had the year of her capture (age 14) carved on her forehead. Casey is living in a mental institution. Her behavior is getting more erratic until one day, the number 14 appears scratched into her forehead out of nowhere. Casey and Celia are special girls, with a connection to each other, and the power to overthrow the monster Byron—but will they find each other in time to save themselves (and the others)? They don’t even know what or who they are each looking for. The back-and-forth narration transitions smoothly and keeps the dread and the pace steadily building. There is necessary setup here, but it is all worth it, and the payoff is fantastic. Those Who Follow is a great choice for readers who miss the early 2000’s Leisure Horror line or the horrific tales of the late Richard Laymon.
Three Words That Describe This Book: parallel storylines, intense dread, violent but not gratuitously
TOP HORROR PICK
Speaking of fantastic, Hematophages (Sinster Grin, $15.99, ISBN 9781944044558) by Stephen Kozeniewski is one my recent favorites. Paige, an academic who has never left her space station home base, gives the reader insight into a new world of the future where the male gender is extinct, corporations have replaced governments, and most humans live off-Earth. Paige is hired as a historian, part of a team sent on a salvage mission to find a ship that has been lost for centuries. As they travel to their destination, readers meet an intriguing cast of characters and get a tutorial in the intricate workplace politics (remember, this is a world controlled by corporations). When the team reaches the lost ship, the true terror begins, a terror which springs from the hematophages, lamprey-like creatures who attach onto their prey and suck out their insides for nourishment. And these sentient creatures particularly enjoy the human brain. Hematophages has a direct and snarky narration and a seamless inclusion of accurate science which never intrudes upon the fast-paced storytelling, only enhancing it. But because this novel is also horror, it also has terrifyingly awesome and gross scenes of the creatures as they take over the crew, one by one. While this novel is perfect for fans of classic horror movies in space like Alien or Event Horizon, it is also equally influenced by twenty-first-century horror classics like The Rising and The Ruins with more than a touch of the humor of Office Space. All that and a perfect horror ending means that the only problem you will encounter as you hand-sell this book to readers is how to pronounce the title and author’s last name.
Three Words That Describe This Book: dark humor, great world building, terrifying