A pointed contemporary twist on a classic horror setup.


Dearman reimagines the classic tale of Jekyll and Hyde as a transition narrative in this queer horror novella.

Ella is struggling with the transition of her partner, Simon (formerly Simone). Even as she tries to support him, she misses the female body that she fell in love with. The two have the opportunity to start anew when Ella inherits an old inn from her grandmother in Hudson, New York. In the inn’s basement, Ella finds a diary from 1933. It tells the story of Jeannette Diamond, the bookish daughter of the original innkeeper, who spends her time studying spiritualist texts with her friend Dahlia. Jeannette has romantic feelings for Dahlia, but when Dahlia rebuffs her by saying she’s only interested in men, Jeannette decides she’ll simply use her occult books to turn herself into one. After many feverish attempts and failures, she finally succeeds: “To her astonishment, her jaw jutted out and her face seemed wider, though her nose more narrow. Brows now thickened framed dark eyes, which appeared more sunken in. A tickling of stubble covered lip and chin and felt coarse against her fingers.” But can Gilles Du Mont, as she names herself, win Dahlia’s heart before she marries another man? Or will this dark magic lead only to dark results? The author’s stylish prose possesses the right combination of camp and terror to animate this Gothic horror: “The blood washed over the clear fluid inside the syringe, giving it the slightest pink hue. With a good vein in her left arm begging to be punctured, she wrapped the rubber tubing over her bicep, tied a workable knot and pulled it taut with her teeth.” Dearman cleverly pushes the Jekyll and Hyde premise toward an exploration of gender and desire, finding a way to tie it back toward the framing narrative of Ella and Simon. Like all great horror, it capitalizes on a recognizable human insecurity, in this case one that feels particularly timely.

A pointed contemporary twist on a classic horror setup.

Pub Date: June 20, 2023

ISBN: 9798987839867

Page Count: 94

Publisher: The Shortish Project

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2023

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A unique story of transcendent love.


An aimless young musician meets the girl of his dreams only to have his newfound happiness threatened by several inexplicable—and possibly supernatural—events.

The story opens as Leeds Gabriel meets with a detective while his girlfriend, Layla, is restrained in a room one flight above them. Through the interview, readers learn that Leeds was wasting both his time and his musical talent playing backup for a small-town wedding troupe called Garrett’s Band when he spied Layla dancing her heart out to their mediocre music at a wedding. When Leeds approaches Layla, their connection is both instant and intense. A blissful courtship follows, but then Leeds makes the mistake of posting a picture of himself with Layla on social media. A former girlfriend–turned-stalker wastes no time in finding and attacking Layla. Layla spends months recovering in a hospital, and it seems the girl Leeds fell for might be forever changed. Gone is her special spark, her quirkiness, and the connection that had entranced Leeds months before. In a last-ditch effort to save their relationship, he brings Layla back to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. When they get there, though, Leeds meets Willow, another guest, and finds himself drawn to her in spite of himself. As events unfold, it becomes clear that Willow will either be the key to saving Leeds’ relationship with Layla or the catalyst that finally extinguishes the last shreds of their epic romance. Told entirely from Leeds’ point of view, the author’s first foray into paranormal romance does not disappoint. Peppered with elements of mystery, psychological thriller, and contemporary romance, the novel explores questions about how quickly true love can develop, as well as the conflicts that can imperil even the strongest connections. Despite a limited cast of characters and very few setting changes, the narrative manages to remain both fast-paced and engaging. The conclusion leaves a few too many loose ends, but the chemistry between the characters and unexpected twists throughout make for a satisfying read.

A unique story of transcendent love.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0017-8

Page Count: 301

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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A whodunit upstaged at every point by the unforgettably febrile intensity of the heroine’s first-person narrative.


Emerson’s striking debut follows a Navajo police photographer almost literally to hell and back.

Rita Todacheene sees dead people. Since most of her attempts to talk to someone about her special power while she was growing up on the reservation ended in disaster, she’s tried to keep it to herself during her five years with the Albuquerque Police Department. Her precarious peace is shattered by the death of Erma Singleton, manager of a bar owned by Matias Romero, her common-law husband. Although lazy Detective Martin Garcia has ruled that Erma fell from a highway bridge, her body shattered by the truck that hit her on the roadway below, Erma insists that she was pushed from the bridge. “Help me get back to my baby,” she tells Rita, “or I’ll make your life a living hell.” Since Rita, a civilian employee, has few resources for an investigation, Erma opens a portal that unleashes scores of ghosts on her, all clamoring for justice or mercy or a few words with the loved ones they left behind. The nightmare that propels Rita forward, from snapping photos of Judge Harrison Winters and his wife and children and dog, all shot dead in what Garcia calls a murder-suicide, to revelations that link both these deaths and Erma’s to the drug business of the Sinaloa cartel, is interleaved with repeated flashbacks that show the misfit Rita’s early years on her Navajo reservation and in her Catholic grade school as she struggles to come to terms with a gift that feels more like a curse. The appeal of the case as a series kickoff is matched by the challenges Emerson will face in pulling off any sequels.

A whodunit upstaged at every point by the unforgettably febrile intensity of the heroine’s first-person narrative.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-641-29333-4

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Soho Crime

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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