In his latest novel, Butcher’s Road (Lethe Press) Texan horror novelist Lee Thomas has drawn inspiration from a number of sources: magical sects, mafia lore, hardboiled fiction, The Gold Dust Trio and 1930s gangland for a story that is equal parts homage to Depression-era mystery pulp and dark-hearted fantastical noir. It also happens to be a sly subversion of the traditionally two-fisted heteronormative roles and characters that have dominated the pages of hardboiled crime-writing for decades.
The first part of horror fanatic and virology enthusiast Mira Grant’s new pre-apocalyptic sci-fi/horror series Parasite (Orbit Books) examines how corporate science corrals and controls the population by means of The Intestinal Bodyguard – a parasite symbiosis that has eradicated disease, making once-threatening health issues and debilitating illnesses now a thing of the past. However, as is often the case in horror fiction, scientific progress comes at a cost and a human/parasite symbiosis is asking for trouble.
Sinister Seven: Dark Regions Press publisher Chris Morey on Clive Barker’s “The Midnight Meat Train”
Poor Chris Morey – here he is, an innocent publisher in the throes of one of the biggest projects to roll out of his Dark Regions Press this year, and he’s stuck in a dark room with no food or water until he coughs up answers to Rue Morgue’s Sinister Seven. The topic: Dark Regions’ upcoming release of Clive Barker’s The Midnight Meat Train Special Definitive Edition.
Serves him right for hanging out with horror journalists.
Following the success of his literary debut, WHAT MONSTERS DO, Nicholas Vince (of HELLRAISER and NIGHTBREED fame) is set to launch his second collection of short stories, ‘OTHER PEOPLE’S DARKNESS AND OTHER STORIES’.
[Alan Kelly checks in with the latest installation of his dark literature column.]
The otherworldly and the everyday collide in realistically creepy style in Sarah Pinborough’s The Language of Dying, a meditation on family and bereavement that is loosely based on the author’s own experiences of living with somebody who was terminally ill. Originally published as a limited edition hardcover back in 2009, the haunting, poignant novella has received a recent re-issue courtesy of Jo Fletcher Books.
Fans of Pinborough’s horror/crime hybrid trilogy The Dog-Faced Gods, her alternate history epics Mayhem and Murder, and her straightforward horror fare such as Breeding Ground will be caught off-guard by The Language of Dying; there is a subtlety to the supernatural in this tale that focuses on a young woman and her dysfunctional family coping with the final stages of their father’s fight with cancer, and something other that has stalked the woman since childhood.
Alan Kelly weighs in on a pair of recent releases.
HOUSE OF SMALL SHADOWS
Riffing on Peter Weir’s 1975 mystery Picnic at Hanging Rock and blending elements of hag horror with the killer-doll trope, Adam Nevill’s fourth novel, House of Small Shadows, is a far more self-contained and playful story than the author’s previous efforts, while still managing to maintain his signature grim tone throughout.
[Alan Kelly drops in with a new chapter of his column, Hell’s Shelves.]
With The Venus Complex (out now from Comet Press), cult favourite and horror personality Barbie Wilde (Hellbound: Hellraiser 2) has bloodily redefined the serial-killer story. Wilde’s gruesome debut novel doesn’t employ the traditional multi-character, third-person perspective that is so popular in the subgenre; instead, the actress-turned-author uses a first-person POV to narrate the story via diary entries written by her serial-killer antihero, omitting many of the usual procedural tropes in the process.
The novel revolves around art professor Michael Friday, after a heated argument results in a car crash and the death of his nagging wife. Wilde expertly charts Michael’s diabolical descent into voyeurism, stalking and murder in a transgressive tale that would make Patrick Bateman blush.