Harrow County, Vol. 3: Snake Doctor

Harrow County, Vol. 3: Snake DoctorHarrow County, Vol. 3: Snake Doctor by Cullen Bunn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The third volume of Cullen Bunn’s exceptional HARROW COUNTY series takes a break from the main plot of Emmy’s struggle to come to terms with her legacy in order to follow some side characters. The first issue in this collection focuses on a solo adventure by the haint known as the Skinless Boy, in which he learns a hard truth about himself thanks to the intervention of a mysterious stranger. The second and third issues are an adventure starring Emmy’s good friend Bernice, who discovers there’s more than one witch in Harrow County. The last issue returns the spotlight to Emmy as she investigates a haunted house on the outskirts of town and unearths unpleasant echoes of the past.

HARROW COUNTY has always been a character-driven story, but this volume drives home Bunn’s ability to make us care about peripheral characters as much as his protagonist. I’m really enjoying this series and am looking forward to continuing with it.

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Anais Nin at the Grand Guignol

Anaïs Nin at the Grand GuignolAnaïs Nin at the Grand Guignol by Robert Levy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dark, sexy, and written in a suitably decadent prose style, Robert Levy’s supernatural take on historical figures Anais Nin, Henry Miller, June Miller, and real-life star of the Grand Guignol Paula Maxa will leave you breathless. Monsieur Guillard, the demon lover conjured by Anais’s secret fantasies and obsessive, unfulfilled longing, is a spellbinding character, malevolent, controlling, destructive, and yet sexually irresistible. ANAIS NIN AT THE GRAND GUIGNOL is a tour de force of dark, steamy eroticism. It’s Levy’s best work yet.

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Harrow County, Vol. 2: Twice Told

Harrow County, Vol. 2: Twice ToldHarrow County, Vol. 2: Twice Told by Cullen Bunn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Emmy’s long-lost twin sister Kammi visits Harrow County to meet her sister and claim her power, setting off a dark chain of events that turns the haints against Emmy. There are lots of cool haints in this volume, including many we haven’t seen before, and Kammi makes for a compelling antagonist. I hope this won’t be the last we hear from her!

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Underworld Dreams

Underworld DreamsUnderworld Dreams by Daniel Braum
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is Daniel Braum’s best collection yet, filled with stories that exhibit a masterful sense of ambiguity and explore the tension between the personal and the profound. Though Braum enjoys playing with genre tropes, you won’t find any cliches here, only stories that take you in unexpected directions. My favorites of the collection include “How to Stay Afloat When Drowning,” a Montauk-set tale that hints at the dangerous unknowns of the sea; “Rum Punch is Going Down,” in which an exotic island’s mysteries help a man who is running from his past find himself again; and the title novella, “Underworld Dreams,” a meditation on the different realities that stem from the choices we make during important moments, which may be Braum’s finest piece of writing to date. UNDERWORLD DREAMS is a collection of mind-bending stories that doesn’t disappoint.

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