RaveThe New York Times Book Review... chilling ... While Larsen’s skill at setting up a suspenseful story is deft, the novel’s true power lies in her exploration of Betty’s mind, showing how a talented, intelligent woman slowly — through self-doubt, insecurity and inexperience — exposes herself to danger. There is something of the naïve yet steely narrator of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca in Betty: She is both the victim and architect of her own tragedy.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewThat sense of collective female triumph is what makes Grady Hendrix’s new novel...such a great read. Hendrix...excels at writing horror humor ... His characters are funny and real, though at least one will definitely lose a limb at some point ... Though the final girls’ plight has all the scares of great horror fiction, there is an element of truth in their situation that will be recognizable to anyone who has experienced real trauma.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review... harrowing ... what happened when a woman’s husband was the very threat she must escape? This question becomes, in the hands of a master storyteller like Bohjalian, an engrossing tale of a woman who insists upon the right to navigate her life, and the consequences when she does ... At the novel’s dark center is Thomas, a terrifying, vindictive brute[.]
RaveLos Angeles Review of BooksCynthia Pelayo\'s writing displays a wickedly delightful depth of folklore and fairy-tale knowledge ... Pelayo mines Chicago’s vicious vein for both maximum discomfort and extreme reading appeal ... Pelayo keeps the reader on their toes with a breathless pace and wonderful tension. We waver between concern, admiration, and horror as we trace Lauren’s movements: as she befriends Jordan, a key witness, by posing as a literacy coach; as she threatens violence against a young suspect. With a dynamic, complex opening, an unapologetic protagonist, and provocations from all directions, this novel is utterly gripping. The stakes of her little sister’s unsolved murder that echoes in the present are chillingly vivid, as well as the ominous figure that she sometimes senses or fears that she actually sees. The city is also a marvelous backdrop, with architectural literary anecdotes woven into the lurid present. Pelayo’s depictions of Chicago create a formidable character in itself, from the evocative description of buildings with fantastical elements to parks as brooding and ominous as the Black Forest ... Some minor quibbles: We are given names of characters to hang in our minds, but rarely descriptions. I had little sense of what each character looked like ... Nevertheless, this is an utterly compulsive read.
P. Djèlí Clark
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewTananarive Due, in her essay \'Black Horror Rising,\' discusses the role of racial trauma in horror fiction, writing that \'horror can help us allegorize racial monsters to help us to confront true-life fears.\' ... One Black writer using the horror genre to its full potential is the award-winning P. Djèlí Clark, whose new novella, Ring Shout is a fantastical, brutal and thrilling triumph of the imagination ... Clark’s combination of historical and political reimagining is cathartic, exhilarating and fresh, casting a narrative spell as enchanting as HBO’s adaptation of Watchmen. It is the kind of reimagining of history that puts the act of storytelling, and the art of the horror genre, at the forefront of literary and political life.
Lincoln Michel and Nadxieli Nieto
RaveThe New York Times Book Review...a collection of short horror stories that entertain and frighten in the time it takes to boil water for tea. It brings together established horror writers — Samantha Hunt and Brian Evenson among them — with those who have published only a story or two, and the result is thrilling in its variety. With so many authors, it is inevitably diverse, the stories representing a wide range of horror, everything from the speculative to the political, the playful to the eerie to the visceral and terrifying. The editors, Lincoln Michel and Nadxieli Nieto, chose stories that deliver a huge emotional impact, their power directly inverse to their word count.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe Devil and the Dark Water lies between genres — it is a mystery with an occult MacGuffin, a demonic symbol that bodes ill for a group of travelers aboard a United East India Company galleon ... The Devil and the Dark Water like Turton’s first novel, The 7½ Deaths of Eleanor Hardcastle is compulsively readable, slightly over the top and more interested in the mysteries of character and mise-en-scène than the rigors of plot. The horror elements are entertaining rather than terrifying, perfect for readers who like a little occult with their mystery but dare not get entangled in anything too scary. While there were times when I felt the novel unfolded a bit too slowly — it is 463 pages, and could easily have been shorter — Pipps and Hayes are such charming company that I was happy to travel with them for the extended journey.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewElizabeth Hand’s Cass Neary series began in 2008 with Generation Loss, a startling and addictive novel that introduced a protagonist fueled by drugs and post-punk irreverence. The series continues with the fourth Cass Neary novel, The Book of Lamps and Banners ... Cass Neary is a remarkable heroine. As with Sherlock Holmes, her power lies in the act of seeing what ordinary people cannot, only where Holmes brings clues to light, Neary is content to linger in the dark. Her eye catches the liminal spaces between clarity and shadow so well I found myself rereading passages for the beauty of her way of seeing ... The darkness lingering in Cass’s psyche is the true mystery of this series. The question isn’t ever if Cass will solve the crime, but if she can overcome her own demons.
Maria Dahvana Headley
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe very definition of monstrosity — who is monstrous and who is not — underlies Maria Dahvana Headley’s brilliant feminist translation of the Old English epic Beowulf ... Beowulf is an ancient tale of men battling monsters, but Headley (whose love affair with the text began with her contemporary adaptation, the 2018 novel The Mere Wife) has made it wholly modern, with language as piercing and relevant as Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer Prize-winning album DAMN. With scintillating inversions and her use of contemporary idiom — the poem begins with the word \'Bro!\' and Queen Wealhtheow is \'hashtag: blessed\' — Headley asks one to consider not only present conflicts in light of those of the past, but also the line between human and inhuman, power and powerlessness, and the very nature of moral transformation, the \'suspicion that at any moment a person might shift from hero into howling wretch.\'
RaveThe New York Times Book Review... reads like a fairy tale, one in which everything is slightly off-kilter ... Jennings’s sentences are startling, requiring one to look close, then step away; just as a Gaudí construction — the Sagrada Família, for example — demands one take in a small accretion of details to best appreciate the vast complexity. It can feel claustrophobic at times, but entering this world is worth the discomfort: Jennings has written an unforgettable tale, as beautiful as it is thorny.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review... utterly mesmerizing ... Kidd’s imagination — her ability to imagine a world more magical, darker, richer than our own — is a thing of wonder. She rummages through the layers of Victorian society as if through an old steamer trunk, pulling up all variety of treasures, like pythons and heads in hatboxes. It was a relief to leave the present for Kidd’s imaginary past. Such escapism feels necessary right now, a tonic to the toxicity of the story-cycles of our contemporary moment, where information flashes on a screen and disappears, leaving one bereft of the deeply imagined mythologies — the merrows and mermaids of lore — that have, for centuries, sustained us.
K. J. Parker
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewWhile this story has a fairy-tale setting, and is as far from our present reality as you can get, the exorcist’s humor, and his blasé approach to battling evil spirits, give the story a jokey, modern tone, as if Deadpool had slipped into the body of the Witcher Geralt. Now that is escapism at its best.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe characters in Benjamin Percy’s new collection, Suicide Woods are built around landscape the way roses build themselves around a trellis. They are twisted and thorny and beautiful ... A small masterpiece ... emotionally riveting ... will leave you with a deep sensation of panic and dread.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review...visceral ... Booth’s book got me from Page 1 ... Booth’s ability to create an emotional quest around Alice’s dilemma is gripping. And when she describes the victims of the disease, well, it’s enough to make your skin tingle.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review... does what we expect the work of our best writers to do: reflect our world from a surprising perspective so that we might better see its beauty and contradictions, its comforts and aches. In these 19 stories, Tremblay doesn’t just hold a mirror up to reality, but live-streams it, projecting the whole spectrum of our modern anxieties so vividly it feels as if we’re watching in real time ... Whatever the subject, Tremblay’s perspective guides the experience, bringing readers back to what interests him most: the distortions of technology, the dangerous unreliability of other people, and how we survive in a changing, often unknowable world.
PositiveThe New York TimesI’ve long thought of Evenson as the kind of writer who leads you into the labyrinth, then abandons you there. I have never read a story of his that hasn’t messed with me ... Finishing this collection, I came to the conclusion that it’s better not to fight, but to give yourself over to a mind that works in alien ways.
Andrew Michael Hurley
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewHurley is a writer’s writer, his descriptions of landscape and character precise and evocative ... The Endlands are a character themselves, one with a gloomy disposition and a tendency to self-medicate. The novel is narrated from John’s perspective. His voice is infused with the cadences of the local dialect, a style that is vibrant and melodic, yet just strange enough to throw me off balance from time to time. Such disorientation served a narrative purpose: I never felt fully comfortable in the novel. I was always left a little on edge, which is a good thing in a scary story. Hurley’s ability to create unease, combined with his unquestionable talent, make Devil’s Day a standout horror novel as well as a piece of literary art. There were times, however, when I struggled to keep reading. The pacing was lackadaisical, and I found that Hurley relies too heavily on ambience and dialogue to move his story forward. I wanted more to happen ... That said, Devil’s Day is as spooky as it gets.
Edited by Ellen Datlow
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewDatlow writes in her introduction that...conventions of horror writing \'are not worn out … as long as writers take a fresh look at them.\' And they do, bringing readers to very scary places in ways I haven’t experienced before ... There are excellent stories by old guard terror-ists like Neil Gaiman, Dan Chaon and Peter Straub, but my favorites are by women, a group underrepresented in the traditional horror arena ... \'Black and White Sky,\' by the masterly Tanith Lee, is a brilliant story ... [that] speaks more powerfully of the danger of isolationism than any political poll or newspaper I’ve read. Another of my favorites was \'Better You Believe,\' by Carole Johnstone ... While the story is about survival, it is also about female rivalry, the sacrifices we make for love and what it really means to come out on top ... Bad things do happen. I won’t say what. You should read it and find out.
John Ajvide Lindqvist
RaveThe New York Times Book Review[A] masterwork of speculative fiction ... I Am Behind You is pre-eminently readable. The pacing and structure kept me turning the pages. And while I was intrigued by the premise, it was the sheer weirdness of the book, its insistence on subverting expectations at every turn, that made it so good. I Am Behind You is my favorite kind of novel — utterly unclassifiable. It resists genre. While it might be called horror, it is also a suspense novel, a fantasy novel and a character-driven exploration of the state of humanity in our time ... Lindqvist has defined his own style and genre. It’s not horror. It’s Lindqvist.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewMarie’s is a morbid tale, one that belongs—like James’s The Turn of the Screw—in the uncanny aisle of the horror supermarket. Carey has an eye for the ominous ... Each page leaves you off kilter. Each chapter a little breathless. For some readers of scary novels, Little may be a tad too whimsical. It is decidedly PG-rated. Although there is not a whole lot of white-knuckle terror happening, Marie’s life is nonetheless a grueling fight against adversity. And while it may leave die-hard horror fans wanting more frightening fare, the soft scare may be a good thing for those readers who prefer to read before bed and sleep without nightmares.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewPerry’s new novel...is another Gothic stunner ... It is a scary novel that chills to the bone even as it points the way to a warmer, more humane, place ... Bearing witness, watching, remembering—it is incredible how terrifying the simple act of seeing a crime can be. And, like a Brontë sister in a box at the opera, Perry observes the drama from an omniscient perch, examining her characters as if through a lorgnette ... Perry has created a Prague that envelops the reader in a bath of sensation ... Terror is not the point, nor is menace, exactly, although the novel offers both. The real horror of this novel is not the ghostly Melmoth at all, but the cruelty we human beings enact upon one another ... By the end of Melmoth, you are left with a feeling that you have experienced something wholly entertaining, and that you have found humanity and compassion in the process.