Despite the fact that my reading has been on the back burner this month, I did manage to finish a few things in the almost-final-days of October…
The Dead Take A Train by Cassandra Khaw and Richard Kadrey I’d found the previous title from Cassandra Khaw that I’d read (Nothing But Blackened Teeth) a bit off-putting. In that story, five friends convene to have some pre-wedding adventures at a purported haunted castle– but I have never in my years of reading been subjected to a group of friends who hated each other more. The Dead Take A Train, for all its bombastic horror and gore, ruthless demons and repulsive gods…is actually a tale of love and friendship? I liked that. I found the writing lush and disgusting and completely over the top –which is very much my thing!– and the story itself, that of self-destructive demon hunter/supernatural-squasher Julie attempting to prevent a cosmic-horror-end-of-the-world scenario and save her friends in the middle of New York’s gritty, magical underbelly–was an absolute hoot. It reminded me a bit of the post-apocalyptic demon-punk romp of Simon Drax’s A Very Fast Descent Into Hell!
The Keeper by Tananarive Due When it comes to a Tananarive Due story, I know I’m always in for a treat that’s going to tug at my heartstrings before straight up ripping my heart out of my chest –and The Keeper with its proliferation of childhood fears and trauma does just that. Aisha’s parents are killed in a car crash and shortly after moving in with her elderly grandmother, the ailing woman’s health takes a rapid decline. Before dying, she calls forth a dark spirit to protect her granddaughter…or is this entity actually an ancient curse?
Out There Screaming: An Anthology of New Black Horror by Jordan Peele Exploring “not only the terror of the supernatural but the chilling reality of injustice that haunts our nation,” this was an outstanding collection wherein almost every story was so good that I wish it could have been expanded on for a full-novel experience. What I find interesting in these gatherings of tales across cultures, is seeing what it is that scares me (the end-of-the-world ones are particularly freaky) as opposed to something that while perhaps fascinating, doesn’t seem all that frightening–because it comes from a part of the world so wholly different from what I know. Even as I am writing those words, I realize that is some privileged white lady shit. I am not unaware. Three exceptionally memorable ones in that sort of personally-scary-for-me apocalyptic vein are Invasion of the Baby Snatchers, which is as outlandish and otherworldly as you might imagine, and both “Flicker” and “Pressure,” which begin as mundane little tales but are –absolutely– not.
Godzilla: The Half-Century War by James Stokoe Ývan surprised me with a copy of this Godzilla story about a soldier who spends the entirety of his career tangled in kaiju conflict, up to and including the very last seconds of his life. Bold, exciting, and unexpectedly poignant, I sped through this excellent graphic novel in an afternoon.
Where Monsters Lie by Kyle Starks and Piotr Kowalski (Illustrator) If you’ve ever wondered where slashers shack up between murder sprees, well, you probably would not have envisioned them as a coterie of killers relaxing in a gated community–complete with an HOA and monthly meetings. This short, vicious collection of issues 1-4 comprises those dysfunctional group dynamics, the story of a kid who can’t seem to escape them despite his best attempts, and the agent that’s been training to hunt them since the slaughter of his own family when he was a child. Be forewarned–this experience really does put the “graphic” in graphic novel, but it was SO much good(bad/awful/murderous) fun!
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