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Father Gaetano’s Puppet Catechism

Father Gaetano's Puppet Catechism: A NovellaFather Gaetano’s Puppet Catechism: A Novella by Mike Mignola
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an enjoyable and breezy tale that is, at heart, about the toll of war on a nation and its children, couched in a religious discussion of free will and responsibility, and topped off with some creepy puppet action. Golden and Mignola do a good job setting up the characters, particularly Father Gaetano as the new priest at a Catholic orphanage full of children who’ve lost their families to the war, a man who never doubts his service to God but who is also subject to some very human feelings of frustration, irritability, and desire. There is a sly rebuttal to the idea of free will built into the story, as even when the puppets lose their strings they are still rigidly beholden to what they were made to be, but that may be over-interpreting the authors’ intent. Ultimately, FATHER GAETANO’S PUPPET CATECHISM is a story more full of wonder and awe than horror or nihilism. Mignola’s illustrations throughout are charming. The book’s short length works to its advantage as well, keeping things moving at a good pace while never sacrificing character for plot. A fun, quick read.

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The Darkest Part of the Woods

The Darkest Part of the WoodsThe Darkest Part of the Woods by Ramsey Campbell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As other reviewers have pointed out, THE DARKEST PART OF THE WOODS moves at a snail’s pace. I’ll admit there were times, particularly in the first half, when I almost put the novel down for good. I also found it overwritten. Not every description has to include a metaphor or simile involving trees, and yet page after page, I encountered them over and over again like a thematic sledgehammer. As with the pacing issue, this led to occasions when I felt myself fighting to keep reading.

However, if you prune away (ha ha) all the elements that slow this novel down, at its center is a compelling cosmic-horror tale about a haunted forest with its own dark intelligence, and the legacy of a magician who tried and failed to turn that intelligence to his own purposes. Strange inhuman creatures abound on the periphery of the story, along with madness and terrible family secrets, only hints of which emerge in the telling.

I’m glad I didn’t give up and kept reading all the way to the end, but I’m not going to pretend it kept my attention throughout. Do I recommend it? Yes, but only for readers with patience. If you’re looking for a fast-paced thriller, you may want to look elsewhere.

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THE HUNGRY EARTH Available for Pre-order!

My new novel, The Hungry Earth, coming October 5th, is now available for pre-order!

Sakima, New York, a sleepy, idyllic city nestled in the Hudson Valley, a place where everyone knows each other, families look after the highly prized community garden, and the crime rate is so low that Dr. Laura Powell, the police department’s medical examiner, spends most of her time tending to her own private medical practice.

That changes drastically the day a local high school student is found dead, an apparent suicide. Called in to perform the autopsy, Laura uncovers a strange growth inside the body, composed of a mysterious substance she can’t identify. Enlisting the aid of her scientist ex-boyfriend, Booker Coates, Laura launches an investigation that leads to a horrifying discovery.

Something deadly has taken root in Sakima, an organism whose toxic influence spreads like a disease through the population, dangerously altering minds and dominating wills, a ruthless intelligence that demands obedience. As more and more townspeople fall under its control, forming violent mobs to seek out those who remain uninfected, Laura and Booker must find a way to stop it before they become its next victims. But how can they stop something they don’t understand?

With The Hungry Earth, Nicholas Kaufmann, co-author of the bestselling horror novel 100 Fathoms Below with Steven L. Kent, launches a chilling new series of science thrillers featuring Medical Examiner Laura Powell.


“Jack Finney meets Michael Crichton meets 21st century spores. Nicholas Kaufmann’s The Hungry Earth is a fast-paced thrill ride through a scarily plausible fungal nightmare.” — Paul Tremblay, bestselling author of Survivor Song and The Cabin at the End of the World

“Nicholas Kaufmann’s The Hungry Earth is required reading for anyone who loves tightly plotted horror. It’s a gleeful throwback to the best body horror of the ’80s, updated with a modern premise. His best work to date. Devour it, before it devours you!” — Sarah Langan, bestselling author of Good Neighbors

“If you’re like me, The Hungry Earth will make you squirm out of your skin. Nicholas Kaufmann offers up an unputdownable blend of gruesome body horror and fast-paced suspense that will have you looking suspiciously at mushrooms for a long time to come.” — Ray Garton, author of Live Girls and Ravenous

“Kaufmann’s The Hungry Earth is eco-horror at its finest. With vividly drawn characters and a protagonist you’ll want to follow through additional books, the plight of Sakima and its denizens resounds with emotional intensity and accelerates with the verve of the best medical thrillers. Visceral, detailed, impeccably researched. And all too real for comfort.” — John Hornor Jacobs, author of A Lush and Seething Hell: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror

I’m very excited about this one! You can pre-order the e-book edition at AmazonBarnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, and Apple Books! Pre-order the paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, or your favorite bookseller!

Exclusive Cover Reveal for THE HUNGRY EARTH!

This Is Horror has got the exclusive cover reveal for my novel The Hungry Earth, coming this October! (And look for pre-orders to open on Monday.) See it here!