Halloween Read: “Brother” by Ania Ahlborn



This story is absolutely heartbreaking on top of being dreadfully creepy.  Brother is about a deeply, deeply dysfunctional and warped family dynamic.  The cannibalism is nearly incidental, though Ahlborn certainly doesn’t skimp on that side of the story.

Michael Morrow is different than the rest of his family.  He wants to get out of Appalachia someday.  He wants to have a normal life.  He doesn’t want to be a monster.  But his brother, Rebel, is determined to keep Michael in the family.  And he won’t stop at anything to teach Michael his place.

The ending is a kick in the gut.  There are tons of kicks to the gut in this story.  You’re on Michael’s side even as you cringe at him.  His situation seems so hopeless.  The sense of inevitable tragedy runs all through this novel.

If you liked the movie We Are What We Are (and I sure did!), you should give Brother a try.



Halloween Read: “Through the Woods: Stories” by Emily Carroll

I first became acquainted with Carroll’s work when I followed a link to her website a couple of Halloweens ago.  The link was to a creepy comic about guilt and murder called His Face All Red.


That comic appears along with four others in her collection of horror comics, Through the Woods.


All of Carroll’s horror comics have the feel of dark fairy tales.  There are abandoned children, mysterious strangers, dangerous husbands, vengeful ghosts, and monsters in the woods.  Every piece is shrouded in mystery and a sense of foreboding.  Her art evokes small villages of bygone eras, with lots of stark whites, deep blacks, and startling blood reds.

My particular favorite in this collection is the Bluebeard-esque story of a young bride who uncovers a grisly secret in her new husband’s house.  It’s called A Lady’s Hands Are Cold, and I found it terrifically creepy and incredibly well-told–the art and script work perfectly together, and the sense of place is fantastic.  It’s visibly gory and has several beautiful Gothic touches.  It’s a perfect dark, gruesome fairy tale.


A Lady’s Hands are Cold

If you enjoy old-fashioned horror, give Emily Carroll’s work a look!  And be sure to visit her website for more.  While you’re there, check out Out of Skin.  You’re welcome in advance for the nightmares.


Horror Month: The Startening

It’s the most wonderful time of the year at the Readers’ Corner: Horror Month!

We’re getting started a little early this year because, really now–who can wait?!  Stay tuned for scary book suggestions and other Horror fun all October long!


Credit to Heath McKenzie, find him at http://heathmck.com

See you again soon, fellow Halloweenies.  I’ll leave you with our traditional opening number:


Marie’s Reading: “Revival: A Rural Noir” by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton

I was going to wait for Halloween to tell you about this one but I can’t because it’s too good and I want to talk about it now.


For one day in rural Wisconsin, the dead come back to life.  Now this small town has been quarantined by the government, the so-called “revivers” try to go back to some kind of “life,” and Officer Dana Cypress is put in charge of dealing with those who came back from the dead and the media attention that came with them.

Haunting, compelling, and gruesome where it needs to be, Revival works as a police procedural, as a horror story, and as the story of an isolated and struggling small town. It’s also a nice examination of life and death, and the complex relationship people have with both.

Full disclosure: I found out about Revival while eagerly gorging myself on the latest installment of Chew, which included a preview of the cross-over story that the creators of both comics put together.


From the crossover comic.  Gives you a sense of the spirit of the endeavor.

I can’t wait for the next installment of Revival.  You’ll be seeing this one again during Horror month.



Marie’s Favorite Reads of 2015

2015 was a tough reading year for me, in terms of favorite books.  In years past I’ve always had a few stand-outs, books I loved and devoured and then went off in search of more like them.  This year, not so much.

The sole honor in that category goes to Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series, which I discovered and adored this past year.  French rekindled my love of Crime fiction, and I’ve been gravitating more and more toward that genre after spending quite a long time in Horror and Thriller/Suspense.  So the first in the series, In The Woods, is at the tip-top of my favorite reads list.

This past year has been tough in terms of getting out of my reading comfort zone as well.  Thanks to the lovely nonfiction reading group I belong to, I’ve been guaranteed to read at least one nonfiction title a month for the past year and a half.  I’m still really slow about it, though.  For some reason I never tear through nonfiction as I do a novel, despite the fact that we’ve read some great ones in that group.  You can check out our reading list here.  Though I loved them all, I starred my particular favorites.

All that said, here’s the pretty short list of my faves from 2015.  These aren’t necessarily books published in the past year, just ones I read.  Clicking on the title will take you to the blog post I wrote about the book.  Enjoy!

Marie’s Favorite Books of 2015

In the Woods

florence gordon



head full of ghosts


Tune in next time for the post where I’ll admit defeat on the Reading Challenge.   Happy reading!




Horror Graphic Novels

The big day is creeping ever closer!  And today I’m sharing some horror comics.  Because that gives me a reason to mention Tales from the Crypt, EC Comics’ horror comic series which ran from 1950 to 1955 and influenced and inspired modern horror writers like Stephen King.  And mentioning that gives me a reason to share this, because it’s fantastic and a perfect mood setter for Halloween week:

It’s all coming together.

Below please find a short list of a few of my favorite creepy graphic novels. I tried for a mix of genres and styles, and I think  Chew is the dark/funny/scifi wild card. (ETA: I forgot Anya’s Ghost!! I guess we’ve discovered who the true monster is.  And it’s me.)  Click on the cover to go either to the relevant blog post or to the Goodreads page.  If you want more, here’s a list from the Orlando Sentinel of the ten best horror graphic novels for Halloween.  Also, Bloody Disgusting has a list of “10 Legitimately Terrifying Horror Comics,” and Dread Central has shared a few suggestions for horror comics new this year.





my friend dahmer





“Audrey’s Door” by Sarah Langan

Sometimes all you want to curl up with is a good old-fashioned haunted house story brimming with creepy imagery, unsettling atmosphere, and a main character who’s not quite all there.  Audrey’s Door by Sarah Langan delivers.

audrey's doorAudrey Lucas, an architect with a lot of baggage, is on the hunt for a place to live in New York.  Apartment 14B in the historic Breviary building on the Upper West Side is available at an astonishingly low price.  Even though she thinks it must be too good to be true, Audrey can’t pass up the opportunity to live for cheap in such a unique building–it’s the last standing example of the Chaotic Naturalism school of architecture.  Never mind the fact that just recently a woman murdered all of her children in that same apartment, and then killed herself.  And never mind the fact that Audrey immediately begins to have strange, vivid nightmares, and hears a voice telling her to build a door.

Fans of The Shining and The Haunting of Hill House will find a lot to like in Audrey’s Door.  In fact, Langan gives those works and a few others their due in a note at the beginning of the book.  Gloomy corridors, a protagonist on a downward spiral that’s seemingly impossible to stop, a building with a mind of its own, and when the terrifying insanity ramps up, it ramps up.

Like the Overlook Hotel and Hill House, the Breviary is a character, complete with motivations and personality.  It’s such a strong entity that it can’t help but overcome any human beings who come into contact with it.  Langan takes the time and care to give the Breviary’s backstory just as much attention as she does Audrey’s, which works to build the connection between the building and its chosen favorite.

That’s what separates the good haunted house stories from the so-so ones–the good ones make sure the house has a personality and a history, a reason for being the way that it is.  A haunted house doesn’t just have ghosts or ghoulies in it.  A haunted house has an energy, a force, one that turns our cozy idea of hearth and home on its head.  That’s why they’re scary, after all.  You’re supposed to feel safe in your home.  When your home is insane, there’s nowhere to hide.

As much as Langan might owe to haunted house classics, she has a style all her own.  She has a great talent for writing compelling protagonists and for truly disturbing and creepy imagery.  Her writing is very character-driven, and everyone has a strong voice and personality.  Audrey’s descent into madness is a chilling one to witness.  Langan is also darkly funny at times, too, which always makes a welcome counterpoint to the scary.  There are also some very well-placed New York City references and nods, which add a nice sense of place.

If you’re after a cozy, old-fashioned spook house book for Halloween this year, Audrey’s Door might be a good one to try.