Rob's Feature Nightmare. Each month, our horror expert, Rob, picks his favorite horror book and features it for 20% off!
R.J. Crowther Jr. is a proud SF geek, horror connoisseur, writer, and long-time bookseller with a special place in his black little heart for the strange, baroque and bizarre.
Rob's Featured Nightmare: 20% off for a limited time!
A grisly murder in the past draws a chalk line around the future of four twelve-year-old boys, and Nicky, the only girl in their “Losers’ Club.” In this stunning debut thriller by C.J. Tudor, Eddie (Munster) meets the “Chalk Man” in 1986. The teacher, who suffers from albinism, helps Eddie save a girl’s life after a horrific accident at an amusement park, and inspires a secret code of chalk stick-figure men. When a series of chalk man clues lead to the dismembered body of a girl in the woods, the Chalk Man is assumed to be the killer. But thirty years later, the fab five are brought together by letters containing chalk figures that suggest the wrong man paid for the crime, and as Eddie tells us, children have their secrets. Fans of Stephen King’s “The Body” (Stand by Me), IT, and S.E. Hinton’s THE OUTSIDERS, will love the intimate characterization of the kids. Eddie’s hoarding and fetishism as an adult, show how PTSD can blossom into a poisoned garden. The grue is thick, the plot riveting. This haunting book will linger on the blackboard of your mind. –R.J. Crowther Jr.
The Aurora virus sweeps across the world like a sleeping curse of apocalyptic scale, leaving only the men awake to fend for themselves. Strange cocoons enshroud the women struck by the curse, and woe to the man who tries to free them from their pupal state. If disturbed, the infected women attack in savage rage. Evie Black, imprisoned for murder, is immune to the curse, can communicate with animals, and exhale magic moths. Some men view her as a savior, others as witch, who religious zealots cannot suffer to live. Is Evie (the dark Eve) Maleficent or Moses, as she offers women a promised land free of toxic masculinity? A vicious, timely fairy tale that will keep you up at night.
If Clive Barker and William S. Burroughs spawned a love child, you’d discover her secret self in SECRETS OF THE WEIRD. We meet Trixie, a transgender woman on the streets of Sweetville, desperate to earn enough cash to finish her transition. The city Trixie haunts is a nightmare Pleasure Island, roamed by punks, prostitutes, and neo-Nazis, frosted with a heavy dose of the drug, Sweet Candy. A hive-mind of gaunt mutants, nicknamed Withering Wyldes, whose sexless husks emerge from chemical cocoons, take obsession with body image to morbid extremes. The Angelghoul leads a cannibal cult to “Consumption Enlightement,”holding up a black mirror to mindless consumerism. Identical twin narcissists with an investment empire, turn their appetites on each other like a self-consuming snake. In this funhouse of mirrors, Trixie finds true love, falling for a straight-edge punk who wants to save the world. She hides the flesh she loathes from him, fearing rejection. When a dwarf surgeon offers Trixie her final solution, she’ll have to decide if the knife is her friend or foe. Stroup’s writing is beautiful; his visons dangerous. “Reassign, realign, redefine.” --R.J. Crowther Jr.
MAPPING THE INTERIOR by Stephen Graham Jones
Junior is his father’s son, and that’s a tragedy, in this terrifying and heart-wrenching story, which serves as a dark mirror to Native American culture, and the living-dead casualties of reservation life. After the death of his father, twelve-year-old Junior helps his mother raise his mentally disabled brother, and struggles to be a man as only a child can. In fugue states, he is visited by the ghost of his father, a fancydancer adorned with feathers and a porcupine quill bustle. But heritage can be a prison as well a skin, and a terrible resurrection isn’t far behind. The living feed the dead by repeating their sins. A legacy of addiction gives birth to a monster. As Junior becomes the suspect of unnatural crimes, he will have to choose whose skin he’s willing to walk in. This brilliant story cut deep and made me shed some tears. -- R.J. Crowther Jr.
ARARAT by Christopher Golden
Christopher Golden reminds readers that some mysteries are best left unsolved, as his adventurous reality television power couple and their team investigate a significant and controversial discovery on the infamous site of Mt. Ararat. With Ararat, Chris has crafted a high-adrenaline tale that combines archaeology, a locked room puzzle, and mythical horrors made manifest, that left me breathless and chilled -- and not just from the descriptions of the extreme storm conditions
A LONG DECEMBER by Richard Chizmar
Richard Chizmar, the editor and publisher of Cemetery Dance Magazine, presents a masterclass collection of his own horror stories. His forthcoming novel, GWENDY’S BUTTON BOX, co-written with Stephen King, will make him a household name, but his original work is a chilling exploration of family, loss, and regret. Everyday men and women are pushed to horrific extremes, but their lives and deaths are tempered with humanity. In his heartbreaking, post-apocalyptic story, “After the Bombs,” when a man searching for his father asks, “How did he die?”, an old blind man replies, “I’d rather tell you how he lived.” Memories are a recurring theme in these stories, but they are lies protecting us from the truth. You’ll find many memory boxes of various shapes and sizes, each one a metaphor for a secret self, filled with awful and amazing revelations. In the titular story, the friend of a killer says with bitter irony, “It’s funny the things you remember—and forget.” These tales will haunt you like photos of the dead.
-- R.J. Crowther Jr.
Cormac McCarthy meets Stephen King in Nick Cutter’s off-the-rails fourth horror thriller, set in the backwoods of New Mexico. In 1965, an assassin, a bounty hunter, and a hired-gun named Micah, made an unholy truce in lieu of killing each other, and went to rescue an abducted child from a religious cult. In Little Haven, the evil they faced was both human and monstrous, including a preacher like Jim Jones channeling the Old Ones, and an eldritch Big Bad stitched from carcasses. The trio of rescuers were cursed by what they found there, echoing the horrors of “The Monkey’s Paw.” Fifteen years later, Micah’s daughter goes missing, forcing him to reunite with his partners in perdition, and return to Little Haven for a final showdown. A gruesome, poetic yarn with a rip-roaring finish. --R.J. Crowther Jr.