Category Archives: Halloween

A Journey Through The October Country

October Country 1The October Country
Ray Bradbury
Illustrations by Joe Mugnaini
mass market paperback 307 p., $7.99
ebook Kindle $7.21 Nook $10.99

I first read this collection in the early ’80s, around 1980 or 1981, I think.  Some of the stories have stayed with me (“The Small Assassin”, “The Scythe”), while some I’d completely forgotten (“Touched with Fire”, “The Cistern”).

Most of the stories were recycled from Dark Carnival, with a few being left out and a few being added.  I’d hoped to have time to read the ones left out and discuss the differences in the two collections, but that will have to wait for a later post.  For those unaware, Dark Carnival, from Arkham House, was Bradbury’s first collection.  Original copies are hard to come by and will cost you a pretty penny.  The author’s definitive edition from a decade or so ago isn’t cheap either.

Fortunately there isn’t that much difference in the contents, and the casual reader can enjoy the stories as they appear in this volume.  There will be spoilers on some of them. Continue reading

A Look at Weird Tales 362

weird-tales-issue-362-front-coverBefore I start the review, I’d like to thank Doug Draa for the review copy and apologize for taking so long to get the review posted.  The review  copy is a PDF file, and I’d intended to read it while traveling over the summer.  For some reason, my ereader (a first generation device) wouldn’t open the file.  Anyway, since I hate reading for fun on a backlit screen (which I do enough of for work), it was a while before I managed to read it.  So thanks and apologies, Doug.  I promise to do better in the future.

There are a total of seventeen pieces of fiction, five poems, a tribute to Parke Godwin by Marvin Kaye,an interview with Joyce Carol Oates, and a look at how one of the illustrations was developed by Jeff Wong.

Overall, I found this issue to be a strong one, though not without a few stories which weren’t to my taste.  The theme for this issue is The Undead.  And no, not all of the themed stories are about zombies.  Just some of them, which is good because I’m not a big zombie fan.  But overall I found this issue to be a great read for Halloween. Continue reading

My Halloween Posts Creep into Other Blogs

Blind ShadowsNot all of the things I’ve been reading for Halloween are getting reviewed here.  There have been two other posts that might be of interest to some of you.

The first post that went live was at Amazing Stories yesterday.  I had intended to have it ready to go a week earlier but an out of town wedding derailed my plans.

Anyway, if you’re a fan of pulp fantasy and horror, this is one you need to put on your radar.  There are a number of nice treats (and no tricks) in this novel.  It’s about a pair of former police partners.  One is now the sheriff and the other is a private investigator.  The book opens with the discovery of the body a former classmate of theirs.  He’s been ritually murdered.  Blind Shadows is a great combination of pulp, horror, and hard boiled adventure.

Lovecraft Sarnath frontI’ve been doing a series of posts at Black Gate for about a year now on the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series.  My goal was to have one completed about once a month, but that isn’t quite what has happened.  Things have been a little more irregular than that.

This afternoon, my latest went live.  It’s over H. P. Lovecraft’s The Doom that Came to Sarnath.  This is a collection of stories written as Lovecraft was transitioning from fantasy in the vein of Lord Dunsany to his better known work in the Mythos.  Many of these stories are quite short, but overall they’re an interesting read as they show a writer moving from imitation to his own unique voice.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to at other venues for Halloween.

Invoking Dark Gods

Dark GodsDark Gods
T. E. D. Klein
mmpb, Bantam, $3.95, 1986, 263 p.

One of the top practitioners of horror fiction in the latter half of the previous century is also one of the most frustrating.  T. E. D. Klein has published very little after making a name for himself in the 1970s and 80s.

His first collection, Dark Gods, is a perfect example of what an author can accomplish in an understated manner.  The four novellas in this volume are strong examples of that type of horror.  Perfect reading for Halloween. Continue reading

Travelling Through Northwest Passages

TimeNorthwest Passages
Barbara Roden
Prime Books
hardcover $24.95 (out of stock)
ebook $6.99 Kindle Nook Weightless

I’ve chosen to officially kickoff my Halloween related posts with Northwest Passages by Barbara Roden.  Barbara is one half of the team behind Ash-Tree Press, the other half being her husband Christopher.  (You could say I unofficially started with Maplecroft or possibly Bleeding Shadows.)

I chose this particular volume because it’s been a while since I read any ghost or spook stories in the classical vein.  If you’re familiar with Ash-Tree Press, you know they’re the foremost publisher of ghost stories in the world.  So you would expect an author like Roden to know her stuff.  You’d be right, too. Continue reading

Happy Halloween

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Brains. They’re what’s for dinner.

Happy Halloween, everyone.

I started the day by passing out exams wearing a grim reaper hood.  Quite appropriate, I thought, considering what some of the scores were.  When I took the hood off, about a dozen of the women in the class asked me to put it back on.  They said they wanted pictures, so I’ll take them at their word.  Some of them even had cameras out.

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Mmm, Mmm, good.

A number of members of the department dressed as zombies.  They even served brains.  I’m not sure where they got them since brains seem to be in short supply on our campus.

I had hoped to have some more Halloween themed posts done, including looking at Robert E. Howard’s “Pigeons From Hell”, but I’ve had too many other things going on.  I’ll post a couple of things as Halloween leftovers over the next couple of weeks.

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The Grim Reaper says “Have a Happy Halloween.”

For what’s left of it, have a Happy Halloween.

Two Items of Halloween Interest

I’m buried under a mountain of grading, so there won’t be any post on Robert E. Howard’s horror stories tonight.  Tomorrow doesn’t look too promising, but I’ll see what I can do.

HalloweenMagicMysMacabre-500I did, however, want to make you aware of a couple of items of seasonal interest.  First, I’m reading Paula Guran’s Halloween: Magic, Mystery, and the Macabre  from Prime Books.  The review is for Amazing Stories (TM) and will go live on Monday.  It’s the sixth installment of a series I’m been running over there I’m calling Six Weeks of Scares.  I’ll be sure and post the link here when the review goes live.  I’m about halfway through the book at the moment, it’s quite good.

ShiversVIIThe other item is one from Cemetery Dance.  It’s the latest installment in the Shivers anthology series edited by Richard Chizmar.  I received a copy of the ARC through Cemetery Dance’s ARC club earlier this year.  I’ve read a few of the stories, and the ones so far are top notch.  There are a couple of rare stories in this one.  One is “Weeds” by Stephen King, which hasn’t been reprinted since 1979.  The other is a story by Clive Barker that was originally published in the New York Times on October 30, 1992.  I haven’t read those yet.  I’d hoped to have this collection finished by Halloween, but I probably won’t make it.  I will review it early in November if things go as planned.  They rarely do, but I can dream.

Another Halloween Treat

A Little Halloween Talk
Joe R. Lansdale
Cemetery Dance
ebook, $0.99

Here’s another little treat from Cemetery Dance’s 13 Days of Halloween.  It’s not one you want to share with the kiddies.

This one concerns a tryst in a graveyard that goes horribly wrong with the lady’s man interrupts her with his best friend.

I won’t give any more details away.  If you’ve ever read Lansdale, you know he can write in some of the most compelling voices in modern fiction.  This story is no exception.  The narrator tells his story in a laid back style that you know from the first page isn’t going to end well.  The reader is pulled in by his down home drawl.  Even though I was reading, not listening to an audiobook, I could still hear the guy’s voice as I read.

The plot is something out of EC Comics, something that should come as no surprise if you’ve read Lansdale.  This is a good thing, in case you were wondering.  I’ve read four or five of these Halloween shorts, and this one is easily my favorite so far.  Do yourself a favor and check it out.

A Halloween Treat

Pumpkin
Bill Pronizini
Cemetery Dance
various ebpub editions , $0.99

Cemetery Dance has been publishing Halloween themed short stories on weekdays for the last couple of weeks and will continue to do so until Halloween.  It’s part of a promotion called 13 Days of Halloween. I’ll be taking a look at some of them, randomly selected.

These are all short stories, so I won’t go into too much detail.  In this one, Amanda Sutter and her husband run a pumpkin farm in California.  One day one of the field hands discovers that there’s something wrong with one of the pumpkins…

Pronzini is one of my favorites.  While he’s never to my knowledge written any heroic fantasy, he does occasionally venture from the mystery/crime fields to dip his toes in the waters of dark fantasy and horror.  I wish he would more often.  Although I have to admit that Pronzini is one of those writers whose work I would read regardless of genre.  In my opinion he’s that good.

This story isn’t his most gripping, but it’s still worth a read, especially the last page or two.  Pronzini isn’t one to go for the gross-out.  Instead, he prefers the quiet buildup.  And he’s good with the twist at the end.  This story fits that bill quite well.

It’s short, only about 10 pages long, but worth the price.  If you’re in the mood for a Halloween treat with a little trick at the end, check it out.