An enjoyable horror anthology with a strong midnight chillers concept.



A genre anthology offers creepy tales inspired by 1980s horror movies.

A high school horror cinephile goes to check out a rare, locally directed film at his town’s drive-in only to suspect that the space parasites in the movie might be real—and possessing the audience. Some high schoolers perform a dark ritual in order to save the theater where they all work from shuttering, but whatever they summoned turns on them instead. Two couples go on a double date to a movie night at a natural outdoor amphitheater—only to have the picture ruined when a severed human arm flies across the screen. Blood and guts are a lot less campy in real life, as the horror movie fans that populate these stories learn again and again. The theaters themselves frequently become places of genuine terror, as in Betty Rocksteady’s “Rise, Ye Vermin!” in which a cineplex employee enters a theater to find the audience composed entirely of corpses: “Dozens of women in various states of decay twitched and jittered. Jenn stumbled, jolting a fresh new pain through her broken jaw. She tripped into one of the aisle seats and fell into a woman with long, dark hair and a hat. The hat jostled and roaches poured out of her empty eye socket.” The anthology, edited by Viola, mixes stories by horror mainstays like Stephen Graham Jones and Steve Rasnic Tem with tales by relative newcomers, such as K. Nicole Davis. Many of the writers have Colorado connections, which leads to some entertaining uses of locations, like Davis’ “On the Rocks,” set in the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater. The book also features frightening illustrations by Smith and retro cover art by Nazzaro that will get any ’80s nerd’s nostalgia juices pumping. The blend of voices working within a loose framework gives the volume some stylistic variety (though it remains—like its source material—noticeably male-dominated). As with any anthology, some of the pieces are stronger than others, but all of them exhibit an understanding for the odd brew of ingredients that make ’80s horror movies so much fun.

An enjoyable horror anthology with a strong midnight chillers concept.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73391-775-9

Page Count: 316

Publisher: Hex Publishers

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

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A former thief who specialized in stealing magical documents is forced back into her old habits in Black's adult debut.

Charlie Hall used to work as a thief, stealing for and from magicians—or rather, “gloamists.” In this world, gloamists are people with magical shadows that are alive, gaining strength from the gloamists' own blood. A gloamist can learn to manipulate the magic of their shadow, doing everything from changing how it looks to using it to steal, possess a person, or even murder. Gloamists hire nonmagical people like Charlie to steal precious and rare magical documents written by their kind throughout history and detailing their research and experiments in shadow magic. Gloamists can use onyx to keep each other from sending shadows to steal these treasures, but onyx won't stop regular humans from old-fashioned breaking and entering. After Charlie’s talent for crime gets her into too much trouble, she swears off her old career and tries to settle down with her sensible boyfriend, Vince—but when she finds a dead man in an alley and notices that even his shadow has been ripped to pieces, she can’t help trying to figure out who he was and why he met such a gruesome end. Before she knows it, Charlie is forced back into a life of lies and danger, using her skills as a thief to find a book that could unleash the full and terrifying power of the shadow world. Black is a veteran fantasy writer, which shows in the opening pages as she neatly and easily guides the reader through the engrossing world of gloamists, magical shadows, and Charlie’s brand of criminality. There's a lot of flipping back and forth between the past and the present, and though both timelines are well plotted and suspenseful, the story leans a touch too hard on the flashbacks. Still, the mystery elements are well executed, as is Charlie’s characterization, and the big twist at the end packs a satisfying punch.

Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-81219-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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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. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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