An impressive gathering of stories that entice and unnerve.


The small mountain town of Georgetown is a hub for ghostly figures and ferocious creatures throughout history in editors Stein (Anna and the Vampire Prince, 2017, etc.) and Viola’s (Blackstar, 2015, etc.) horror anthology.

In Travis Heermann’s opening story, “Deep Veins,” brothers Frank and Emmet Grubbs are prospecting for gold circa 1861. With little to show after weeks of work, they opt for blasting open a 2-foot hole in a vein of quartz. Inside are signs of the precious metal—and also a humanoid creature with gleaming eyes. Subsequent tales, appearing chronologically, share the same setting—an ostensibly innocuous town with underlying horrors. Betsy Dornbusch’s “The Silver Belle,” for example, is a murder mystery set in the year 1875; Detective David Cook rides into town to look into the strangling death of Annabelle Shine. But events quickly escalate after another murder and sightings of Annabelle’s apparent apparition. Nearly a century-and-a-half later, in 2017, Detective Sandra Gonzales (in Mario Acevedo’s “Her First Husband”) investigates a missing person case in which the main suspect’s bogus ghost story isn’t the scariest part. Carrie Vaughn’s “Harry and Marlowe Versus the Haunted Locomotive of the Rockies,” meanwhile, features the titular British duo, “part tourists, part spies, and part archeologists,” on the hunt in 1899 for anything new and innovative, riding a train whose previous passengers have disappeared. The stories are breezy, quick reads overall, often boasting sharp prose. One particular highlight is Stephen Graham Jones’ striking “Argentine Pass,” in which the narrator sees a man with “his ratty hat brim pulled low, his face dirty behind that. Dirty and smiling. It gave me the chills. I’m not proud.” Another standout among the stories in this solid collection is Sean Eads’ 1882-set “A Bouquet of Wonder and Marvel,” featuring a charming Oscar Wilde coming to the aid of a gardener, Benson, who’s worried about Georgetown’s “unearthly silence.” Brian Keene closes the book with a warmhearted tribute to his friend, the late multigenre author Tom Piccirilli.

An impressive gathering of stories that entice and unnerve.

Pub Date: June 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9986667-5-4

Page Count: 196

Publisher: Hex Publishers

Review Posted Online: Aug. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.


From the Briar U series

In this opener to Kennedy’s (Hot & Bothered, 2017, etc.) Briar U romance series, two likable students keep getting their signals crossed.

Twenty-one-year-old Summer Heyward-Di Laurentis is expelled from Brown University in the middle of her junior year because she was responsible for a fire at the Kappa Beta Nu sorority house. Fortunately, her father has connections, so she’s now enrolled in Briar University, a prestigious institution about an hour outside Boston. But as she’s about to move into Briar’s Kappa Beta Nu house, she’s asked to leave by the sisters, who don’t want her besmirching their reputation. Her older brother Dean, who’s a former Briar hockey star, comes to her rescue; his buddies, who are still on the hockey team, need a fourth roommate for their townhouse. Three good-looking hockey jocks and a very rich, gorgeous fashion major under the same roof—what could go wrong? Summer becomes quickly infatuated with one of her housemates: Dean’s best friend Colin “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. There’s a definite spark between them, and they exchange smoldering looks, but the tattooed Fitzy, who’s also a video game reviewer and designer, is an introvert who prefers no “drama” in his life. Summer, however, is a charming extrovert, although she has an inferiority complex about her flagging scholastic acumen. As the story goes on, the pair seem to misinterpret each other’s every move. Meanwhile, another roommate and potential suitor, Hunter Davenport, is waiting in the wings. Kennedy’s novel is full of sex, alcohol, and college-level profanity, but it never becomes formulaic. The author adroitly employs snappy dialogue, steady pacing, and humor, as in a scene at a runway fashion show featuring Briar jocks parading in Summer-designed swimwear. The book also manages to touch on some serious subjects, including learning disabilities and abusive behavior by faculty members. Summer and Fitzy’s repeated stumbles propel the plot through engaging twists and turns; the characters trade off narrating the story, which gives each of them a chance to reveal some substance.

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.    

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72482-199-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

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