After ten years together, the Gothic Readers Book Club is disbanding. We started casually; a group of friends sharing book ideas. It grew more organized over the years, and then we decided to take it online. Families, careers, and many miles between us (continents in fact), and we decided to make it more formal with outside help. It just did not feel the same. We're maintaining the site for all authors to share, but there will be no new content. Thank you one and all for your support.
This is the first book in a new series called Seasons of the Dead from Rob Smales. The Dead of Winter features three novella/ short stories. Each one is a ghost story, but the hauntings and outcomes are all very different. The first, "The Christmas Spirit," is a story about a protective ghost and the child-like belief in magic, Santa, and all things wondrous. "Fishing Hole" is a radical 180 about revenge, terror, and alpha male culture. "Snowbirds" examines that delicate line between the ghosts of our past and the unreality of our present as the two worlds collide. Smales is a fantastic writer. His stories capture the Gothic tone and atmosphere so well. The fear is real. It follows you into the dark night long after the last page.
If You Like: Mary Shelley, Ambrose Bierce, Sheridan Le Fenu
Urban legends have always been a bizarre idea. They can be found in every culture and in every city around the world. Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas have put together a great collection of stories based on these strange stories. The collection features stories from around the globe such as "Tin Cans" by Ekaterina Sedia. Set in Stalinist Russia, it's a take on the Russian legend of Beria, who was known as "Stalin's butcher." "As Red as Red" by Caitlín R. Kiernan has a distinct Lovecraft feel with its creepy, dream-like state.
Carolyn Turgeon's "La Llorona" is based on the Mexican legend of the weeping woman who steals children. The tales here are bizarre, creepy, and dark. Highly recommended.
If You Like: H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, James Hogg, M. R. James
Although lycanthropy and shapeshifting legends have existed for countless centuries, werewolves are not considered a staple of the Gothic literary tradition. Editor Andrew Barger gives us evidence to the contrary with his collection of the best of the wolf stories from the early modern period. Many of these stories have not been republished in over 150 years. There are more than just ghosts and vampires lurking in the 1800s!
If You Like: Edgar Allan Poe, Honor de Balzac, E. T. A. Hoffmann, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Prosper Mrime, James Hogg
Glen Krisch's novel is a complex story of good and evil, both literally and symbolically. The town of Coal Hollow sits atop a dark and evil secret. When Cooper, an outsider, arrives in town, he's met with suspicion. Things go from bad to worse when two boys disappear. As Cooper tries to clear his name, the sinister underbelly of the town emerges. This is part zombie, part ghost story, part just plain scary. Krisch's narrative is dark and intense. He doesn't offer explanation or answers. Evil just exists and likely always will. A few of the characters didn't seem to have a home in the action of the story and there are a few slow parts where it gets overly descriptive. Minor flaws in a great story.
The anthology A Carnivale of Horror is an eclectic collection of circus-themed stories. Ray Bradbury's famous (or infamous) "Something Wicked This Way Comes" is the lead story and sets a great tone. There are freak shows, clowns, big tops, and plenty of horrors here. Stories like Tom Reamy's "Blind Voices" capture that strange, sinister edge that lurks around the circus and the old freak shows. Younger readers might not get the freak show concept entirely, but the fear is definitely there. John Connolly's story, "Some Children Wander by Mistake," is just plain disturbing. You will never look at clowns the same (if you don't already fear them). The big top theme does get a little repetitive and a few of the more experimental stories (Joe Hill's lack of narrative, for example) don't always work. The quality stories here are well worth the read and Bradbury's classic ties the whole thing together nicely.