Scares That Care Charity Weekend

Where can you find me selling and signing books alongside authors like Josh Malerman, Jonathan Maberry, Maurice Broaddus, and Paul Tremblay? At the sixth annual Scares That Care Charity Weekend, taking place August 2-4 in Williamsburg, VA!

Click here to see the full list of author guests!

Click here to find out more about Scares That Care Charity Weekend, including which charities it supports and how you can attend!

I hope to see you there!

Wolf in White Van

Wolf in White VanWolf in White Van by John Darnielle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s hard to know what to say about this novel. It’s the kind of work that makes you want to ruminate afterward, to ponder meaning and meaninglessness, and to wonder if either matters in the end. Darnielle’s prose is beautiful, and Sean’s voice comes through with almost virtuosic precision on every page. WOLF is more a character piece than a plot-driven tale, and as Sean narrates his life story it flips back and forth in time, at times confusingly, to the point where sometimes you don’t know if he’s relating something that has just happened or something that happened years ago, although that is undoubtedly part of Darnielle’s design. Some reviewers speak of the hopefulness of Sean’s journey, of how he recovers from his accident through the power of imagination and the role-playing game he creates, but I don’t necessarily agree with those reviewers. Without getting into details that might spoil the journey for those who haven’t read the book yet, I’d venture to say that Sean ends up where he started.

But this novel is in many ways about meaning, or the lack thereof. When the boy in the playground in Chapter 1 asks Sean why he did what he did, Sean replies that he doesn’t know why. The boy doesn’t believe him, but Sean isn’t lying. There was no meaning to what he did, no reason that can explain it away. The novel takes its name from words ostensibly discovered by playing a rock record backward, “wolf in white van,” a phrase that, tellingly, is supposed to mean something profound but actually doesn’t mean anything at all. The epigram at the start of the novel, from Robert E. Howard’s “The Thing on the Roof,” talks about how there was no treasure to be found at the end of the adventure, nothing that could be taken away from the events preceding it. In other words, no meaning. There is no reason for what Sean did. There is no meaning behind what happened to Carrie and Lance. Nothing has meaning, meaning is nothing, and nothing is everything.

WOLF is beautifully written and, despite its moments of joy and revelation, bleak as hell. I need many more days to ruminate on its themes, observations, and epiphanies. Darnielle has written a deep, philosophical novel that I suspect I will have to read a few more times before I have peeled away all its onionlike layers.

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Reading in Providence on May 1st!

Come hear me, Christa Carmen, and Errick Nunnally read from our latest works of horror at the Arcade Asylum, hosted by the Lovecraft Arts & Sciences Council!

When: Wednesday, May 1st at 6:30 PM

Where: Lovecraft Arts & Sciences Council, the Arcade, 65 Weybosset Street, Providence, Rhode Island

The reading is free and open to the public! Books will be available for purchase and will be signed by grateful authors!

Here is the Facebook event page, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Hope to see you there!

The Migration

The MigrationThe Migration by Helen Marshall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An exceptional, beautifully written debut novel by one of the best modern fantasists this side of Kelly Link. Against a backdrop of ever-increasing storms and floods, seventeen-year-old Sophie’s younger sister, Kira, is diagnosed with a mysterious new disease called JI2. It’s deadly and only affects the young, but as Sophie comes to discover, there’s a lot more to JI2 than anyone thinks. Because it doesn’t just kill those who are diagnosed with it, it transforms them into something both beautiful and frighteningly inhuman.

Marshall brings to the novel a deep knowledge of infectious diseases, climate change, and plague history, especially the Black Plague in the 14th century, which comes to play a surprisingly relevant role, both thematically and scientifically. All the strengths she exhibited so powerfully in her short fiction are on full display in here: an extraordinary imagination, superb prose, and strong characterization.

THE MIGRATION is something special. I’ve been a fan of Marshall’s work for a long time, ever since her award-winning first collection HAIR SIDE, FLESH SIDE in 2012, but now more than ever I can’t wait to see what comes next.

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