Category Archives: Reviews

“Life begins when you get back up.”

The last few months, while full of joy and wonderful things, have also harbored a few emotional challenges in the wake of unexpected change.

I’ve always felt I’ve had choices. I can A, let things beat me and roll over and play dead until I recover; B, keep fighting; C, find a decent work around and keep moving; or D, a combination of B and C and take all of that pain and heartache and channel it into something worthwhile instead of whining about it.

First of all, yes, I have chosen A a few times in my life, so this isn’t a post about my fabulous strength and endurance. F—, sometimes, shit just beats me, and that’s okay. Recently, though, it’s been choice D, and there are days when the gumption’s running low. It’s always wonderful, then, to find a little something Read the rest of this entry

A win for the weekend!

Cemetery Dance Online Review Celebration Pic

An incredible finish to an awesome week! I didn’t think my amazing week could get any better, but the Cemetery Dance reviewer mentioned my story “Nothing to See Here” in Generation X-ed and Read the rest of this entry

Just in time for summer: dive into THE DEEP HOUSE

DEEP HOUSE ART 2

I grew up on a lake that was created by flooding abandoned towns, and so we had our share of urban legends about the lake and what lie beneath. When someone on Insta posted about the 2021 movie The Deep House (2021, 1 hour/25mins), I couldn’t resist.

This movie is French-made, but is in English, so no, you won’t be reading subtitles unless you have the CC on.

*MOSTLY SPOILER-FREE – ONLY REFERENCES ARE TO THINGS THAT CAN BE SEEN IN THE TRAILER*

This movie is definitely in my wheelhouse and has echoes of my short story, “Rightfully Mine,” which I wrote back in 2016 and was published in Sanitarium #49 here,  in the same year (and although I promise a spoiler-free review, one of the spectral beings totally looks like the woman in my story, at least she does the way I pictured her in my head). I can’t recommend this enough—The Deep House gets high marks for Read the rest of this entry

On the 42nd anniversary of the Mount St. Helens disaster, a review and A+ documentaries

I like to read nonfiction, and I’ll confess, there is much of it that isn’t an easy read, even if I’m riveted by the topic. Steve Olson’s Eruption: The Untold Story of Mount St. Helens, however, is an exception, and on the 42nd anniversary of that fateful 1980 day, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

ERUPTION by Steve Olson

My copy of ERUPTION is tied with a ribbon because I have articles all stuffed inside it. It sits next to an oil lamp made from Mount St. Helens ash and a photograph of the now-famous buried A-frame taken just after it was deluged up to its second floor in mudflows during the event. The curious home is now a tourist attraction.

Although I can’t exactly give a “spoiler-free” review (we all know what happened at Mount St. Helens), I will do my best.

What Olson really discusses here is the conglomeration of factors that led to the deaths of 57 people—who were, contrary to the way it was spun for the press, not in what was a dedicated danger zone (except for three, two of whom had permission and one who just refused to leave his lodge). Rendered in poetic language in several places, the narrative is Read the rest of this entry

Ruminations on Romero’s THE AMUSEMENT PARK

Romero's THE AMUSEMENT PARK Poster Art

I’m going to preface this by saying I’m not even close to knowing much about the late George Romero’s films, and in fact, I’m not even a fan of his work—mostly (I know, understand, and can appreciate its brilliance, and I think he was a genius. Zombies are just not my thing). He has, however, thanks to Night of the Living Dead, become synonymous with a specific brand of horror, so fan expectations are set.

I just watched George Romero’s gorgeously restored lost gem, 1975’s The Amusement Park, which has been available as a Shudder exclusive for a while now. In my opinion, this is one of the scariest films I’ve ever seen; if you enjoy the work my magazine, 34 Orchard, publishes, then you will definitely be into this—this is profound, visceral, disturbing, real-world, inevitable horror.

I will keep this all spoiler-free, Read the rest of this entry

The stories in Neil D’Silva’s RIGHT BEHIND YOU have teeth

Neil D'Silva's Right Behind You

—THIS POST IS MOSTLY SPOILER-FREE—

Horror stories coming out of India deserve a bigger spotlight; the stuff is viscerally terrifying in ways that make some of our Western classics seem tame. If you love a great scare and you’ve not read Indian horror? You’ve missed out.

Until now. Neil D’Silva’s short fiction collection, Right Behind You, is the place to start. Read the rest of this entry

Recommendation: Marlena, by Julie Buntin

I just finished reading Julie Buntin’s Marlena.

The novel tells the story of Cat and a dark bond she shared with her friend, Marlena, when they were high schoolers in Minnesota. As an adult living a swank life in New York City, Cat thinks she’s left it all behind—until one day, someone from their shared past asks to meet. As those unsettling months resurface, Cat learns that, thankfully, it really is true that you can’t go home again—but sometimes, just remembering is bad enough.

Oddly, the reason I found this book was because I was working on a short story, and I needed a novel that my main character could read that would contribute to my piece’s single effect. My plan was just to grab a title that’d make sense, but I popped open the Amazon preview and was sucked right in (I know this book has been listed for prizes and has also been named Book of the Year in several media outlets, but honestly, I don’t go by that. Suck me in and keep me there. That’s the only thing, for me, that counts).

Marlena flows Read the rest of this entry

DARK DISCUSSIONS turns 10! We visit ALIENS …

Dark Discussions -- Aliens Mast_Episode479

Dark Discussions, the horror film discussions podcast, turned ten years old last month!

For our big episodes, we usually talk about a “tent pole” film, asking our listeners to vote for a title they’d like us to cover—this time around, it was 1986’s Aliens.

I came to the Alien franchise later in life, as I wasn’t allowed to watch scary movies when I was a kid (even though I did sneak in a few here and there at my grandmother’s house, because no one was paying attention). While I enjoyed Alien—which I saw in my twenties—I really liked this sequel better. Wonderful allusions, a solid story, a slight shade of a burgeoning romance, an oppressive atmosphere, a James Horner score, a really young Bill Paxton and a gorgeous rendering of an abandoned station—this one rung all my bells.

To listen to our discussion, visit here: https://www.darkdiscussions.com/podcasts/dark-discussions-podcast/dark-discussions-podcast-episode-479-10th-year-anniversary-aliens-1986/

Fan of alien films? Also on that page is a listing of all of the other Alien and extraterrestrial films we’ve covered thus far.

 

CEMETERY DANCE lauds WICKED WOMEN; “Arbor Day” gets a shout-out!

Cemetery Dance Logo

Cemetery Dance’s stellar review of the most recent NEHW anthology, Wicked Women, included a shout-out to my short story “Arbor Day.”

You can read the full review here: https://www.cemeterydance.com/extras/review-wicked-women/

If you’ve not picked up Wicked Women, you’re missing out! There’s fantastic fiction by 21 talented women, including Hillary Monahan and Jane Yolen, and Patricia Gomes’ poem “Tree Limbs Block the Road” was nominated for a Rhysling award by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association. Now’s the time! You can get your copy here: https://bit.ly/WWArborDay

Wicked Women Anthology Cover

Recommendation: DOLL CRIMES, by Karen Runge

Cover of Doll Crimes by Karen Runge (Crystal Lake Publishing)

If you’ve read my novel Bad Apple and enjoyed it, then don’t miss out on Karen Runge’s Doll Crimes.

This is a gorgeously written, terrifying examination of the complicated mother-daughter relationship; how they love and respect each other despite flaws; how they can damage each other no matter the depth of that love. This is real-life horror that reaches into the very bones of any woman who has loved her mother or daughter despite emotional crimes, big or small. Rife with sharp, stunning details and strong internal narrative, it’s possibly one of the most moving, visually beautiful–and yet accessible–books I’ve ever read, fraught with tension, sadness–and a strange kind of joy, because no matter where we are in our relationships with our mothers or daughters, their men, and the people who have done them wrong, we know that we are not alone. If you love dark fiction and are a mother, daughter, or both; or, if you have struggled with that emotionally fragile, yet seemingly unbreakable, bond between you, then this book is for you. High recommend.

Doll Crimes is published by Crystal Lake Publishing. It’s available everywhere, but here’s the Amazon link for ease: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1646693140/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_aRO5DbJF27VPK

Still haven’t read my book Bad Apple? You can get it here: http://bit.ly/BadAppleKPS

Mom and I 1978 -- 2019

My mother (left) and I didn’t have the easiest relationship. She died when she was 39 and I was 15. DOLL CRIMES really spoke to me.

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