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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Harrow County, Vol. 1: Countless Haints

Harrow County, Vol. 1: Countless HaintsHarrow County, Vol. 1: Countless Haints by Cullen Bunn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A fun, fast-moving setup to what I expect will be a highly enjoyable series, COUNTLESS HAINTS combines writer Cullen Bunn’s masterful use of atmosphere and setting with artist Tyler Crook’s vibrant watercolor illustrations to create something truly compelling. The haints are scary in their otherworldliness, and Emmy is a complex, conflicted heroine you can root for. Bring on the next volume!

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Survivor Song

Survivor SongSurvivor Song by Paul Tremblay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paul Tremblay steps away from the ambiguous, maybe-supernatural horror novels he’s been writing over the past few years to present a realistic tale of survival amid a scientifically-based epidemic. SURVIVOR SONG’s plot is very straightforward — our characters must get from point A to point B before the infection takes hold of one of them — but Tremblay’s novels are rarely about the plot. Although it’s clear the author has done the research necessary to posit how exactly this new form of rabies operates and what its effects on humans and local animals would be, the focus is squarely upon our two protagonists, Ramola and Natalie. Their deep, long-lasting friendship is at the forefront of everything that happens.

Although the novel was released during the pandemic of 2020, it was written the year before, and yet it is remarkably prescient. An ineffective government response, a dwindling supply of PPE for health care workers, armed right-wing militias fueled by online conspiracy theories, he gets it all shockingly right. It’s just another example of Tremblay’s deep understanding of people. When the worst happens, some rise to the occasion while others sink to their lowest selves.

Tremblay excels most at writing deeply humane novels about realistic, authentic characters facing extreme situations — something he has in common with Peter Straub, in my opinion — and SURVIVOR SONG is one of the best examples of this I’ve read. Fast-paced, suspenseful, and poignant, SURVIVOR SONG is a must read.

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News & Updates

  • 09/17/2020 — 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.…Read more »
  • 09/09/2020 — 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.…Read more »
  • 08/28/2020 — Harrow County, Vol. 1: Countless HaintsHarrow County, Vol. 1: Countless Haints by Cullen Bunn My rating: 5 of 5 stars A fun, fast-moving setup to what I expect will be a highly enjoyable series, COUNTLESS HAINTS combines writer Cullen Bunn’s masterful use of atmosphere and setting with artist Tyler Crook’s vibrant watercolor illustrations to create something truly compelling.…Read more »
  • 08/26/2020 — Survivor SongSurvivor Song by Paul Tremblay My rating: 5 of 5 stars Paul Tremblay steps away from the ambiguous, maybe-supernatural horror novels he’s been writing over the past few years to present a realistic tale of survival amid a scientifically-based epidemic.…Read more »
  • 08/11/2020 — The Scariest Part: David Mack Talks About THE SHADOW COMMISSIONThis week on The Scariest Part, I’m delighted to host my good friend David Mack, whose latest novel is The Shadow Commission, the third volume in the Dark Arts series. …Read more »

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