To celebrate that the All In Fear Anthology is only $.99, KJ Charles is here to give us some scary book recs!! Her novella, included in this anthology, is also available to be bought separately – preorder here.
The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
A superb novella that turns one of Lovecraft’s vilest stories into a howl of anger against racism and injustice. HPL’s big schtick is how the Elder Gods are basically mindless and indifferent in their malice, how they will destroy humanity without passion or thought. And that’s what this book shows us humans doing in the racism of 1920s New York, and particularly the one motivating instance of indifferent cruelty that sets Thomas off on his decision to become a monster. The real horror is what people do to each other (“Mankind didn’t make messes, mankind was the mess”), but the book doesn’t skimp on the cosmic or body horror either.
The Lamb will Slaughter the Lion by Margaret Killjoy
A lovely American Weird novella about an off grid community of weirdos, dropouts, and social rejects. The community summons a deer guardian spirit/demon to protect them, which works until it turns on them. Queer, diverse, anarchistic, funny, and like all the best horror, as concerned with the threat posed by humans as by any otherworldly menace.
Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef by Cassandra Khaw
Hilarious, sick, spectacularly gory. A fabulous and entirely gross horror comedy set in Malaysia and Hell. It’s exceedingly violent (the hero is ex Triad, dies a lot, prepares gourmet human flesh for ghouls, and has a ghost girlfriend) but oddly sweet and moving at the same time. The use of Malaysian and Chinese mythology is wonderful. And the sequel begins in a sort of Cannibal Masterchef competition with our hero deciding the best way to plate a penis. What’s not to like?
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
A classic of building atmosphere and tightening the screws on the reader till your knuckles go white. I read this one summer evening, found myself twitching at every sound from the pipes, and eventually had to go stay the night with my mum because I was terrified to be alone and knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep. I was 25 years old at the time. This is a really scary book.
Escape from Baghdad! by Saad Hossein
A kind of gonzo adventure fantasy horror set in Baghdad after the Iraq war. An ill assorted rabble, including a maths professor turned reluctant arms dealer, an ex torturer for Saddam and a drug-addled US soldier set out to track down a treasure, and are plunged into a mess that involves djinn, immortals, death cults, street gangs and some really eye-watering violence. It’s a satire/horror/fantasy/black comedy blend. The heroes have all suffered appalling losses, and the real horror of the situation in Iraq is an essential and painfully real counterpoint to the baroque and bizarre plot events.
The String of Pearls by Anonymous
A proper penny dreadful to round off. This is the original early Victorian serial that gave us the story of Sweeney Todd, and it’s packed with bizarre, baroque horror—not just the human flesh in pies, but the evils of the lunatic asylums in which women are unjustly confined, the nightmare of Victorian poverty (even if it’s nominally set in Georgian times), twisted religion, the abuse of children, and much more. It’s sweaty and feverish; it’s also got a fantastic, brave, independent heroine who was shamefully written down into a pathetic damsel in distress in the Sondheim musical. There’s also a strikingly queer sensibility to the modern reader, and a galloping (if utterly random) plot. A fab read, which I used as the basis for my story The Price of Meat, and much more than just a period curiosity.
Original Release Date: 12/1/16
Order link, epub and mobi (publisher’s page): http://openinkpress.com/product/all-in-fear-a-queer-horror-anthology/
Order link, Amazon:
Order link, ePub: https://www.books2read.com/u/bpGyDl
All in Fear: A Collection of Six Horror Tales
Horror wears many faces, and its masks can be tantalizing. Some of the top names in queer fiction come together to spin their own versions of horror. Worlds rife with dark beauty and mystery, the familiar becoming terrible, creatures ethereal and alluring—and all bearing the gleam of love. Does hope lie along these grim passages or only doom? It will become clear. All in time—and all in fear.
Company by Roan Parrish
Nick Levy’s family is falling apart and he has no friends, but at least he can escape into the world of his favorite comic book series, The Face of the Vampire. Naturally, when the vampire in question shows up one day, Nick is enthralled. After all, what could be better than his own personal fantasy made real? Except that Nick isn’t exactly sure whether Michel is real or not. And when the arrival of a new boy in school promises romance, Nick sees a side of Michel he never could have imagined. This Michel is cruel, jealous . . . and he’ll do anything to keep Nick for himself.
Love Me True by Kris Ripper
Palmer’s life is as good as it gets. Well, okay, so he hates his mind-numbing office job. But he’s found a hot, smart, incredibly kinky guy. The sex is explosive. The power play is off the hook. And if he gets his way, Jon will soon be his husband.
When Palmer asks, Jon says yes. For the first time ever, Palmer thinks things might be really good. Sure, bad things happen in the world—to other people. But this is all he needs: Jon at the end of the day, in their bed, arms around him.
How could he have possibly been so stupid?
The Price of Meat by KJ Charles
Johanna Oakley will do anything to save her beloved Arabella from the cruelty of Mr Fogg’s madhouse—but ‘anything’ turns out to be more than she bargained for when she finds herself working for a man suspected of worse than murder. As Johanna is plunged from the horror of Sawney Reynard’s barber shop into the foul, lawless labyrinth at the heart of London, can she or anyone get out alive?
His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl by Steve Berman
Joining Zeta Psi isn’t Steve’s dream, it’s his dad’s. Nevertheless his dad’s gift of the mysterious Bailey flask gets Steve an in to the frat house, and maybe his best shot at being accepted on campus. But the flask’s silver sheen may only be lighting his way into the darkness at the heart of the frat—and the darkness he’s learning is within himself. Steve wants to choose who he is, but choices are dropping like flies as he learns the true mystery of the Bailey flask. How does he give back a gift that’s also a curse?
Legion: A Love Story by Avon Gale
STAFF SERGEANT JASON ESSEX, YOU HAVE RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING ORDERS FROM THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS:
REPORT TO: CAIN INSTITUTE [ADDRESS REDACTED]
ACTIVE DUTY COMMITMENT: GUARD AN ENTITY CURRENTLY HELD IN AN ENCLOSURE AT THE CAIN INSTITUTE. RECORD DAILY MEASUREMENTS. KEEP ANY AND ALL PERSONS FROM ENTERING OR LEAVING THE FACILITY. ENSURE THE ENTITY REMAINS COMPLETELY INCARCERATED. OBSERVE THE ENTITY WITHOUT ENGAGING.
ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS: THIS ASSIGNMENT WILL BE CARRIED OUT IN FULL ISOLATION. PLEASE BE ADVISED.
Beauties by J.A. Rock
When Dr. Lester Usole attends an event at AI developer Carnificiality, he’s introduced to Beauties: artificial beings designed to provide tailored sexual experiences for their human owners. Lester isn’t interested in sex—but he is fascinated by Ira, a Beauty too violent to be sold.
Lester convinces Carnificiality to give Ira to him. Lester has always wanted the chance to work with an adult AI, and around Lester, Ira isn’t violent. He’s strangely innocent, uncannily perceptive, and his company does much to ease Lester’s loneliness. Except something’s not quite right: Ira roams at night, even when Lester’s sure he’s locked Ira’s door.
Soon Lester is certain of only one thing: Ira has a secret. Something that will link their pasts and change the course of their future—if Lester is willing to face what’s on the inside.