Review – Gideon the Ninth

Amazon.com: Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Trilogy Book 1) eBook: Muir,  Tamsyn: Kindle Store

Tamsyn Muir hardly needs me to sing this book’s praises. Frankly, GIDEON THE NINTH struck a cultural nerve, and there are countless people who can hype this better than I can, but I’ll try.

I heard it pitched as “Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted castle in space,” which is evocative. I’d describe it as a murder mystery set in a metroidvania… in a haunted castle in space. The thing that this book has in spades is Voice. From the first line, Muir absolutely nails Gideon’s voice. It’s masterful.

Candidly, I haven’t read the sequel, HARROW THE NINTH, but I can’t not include mention of it because that might be the best cover of any book I’ve ever seen. Tommy Arnold, dang.

Book 3, ALECTO THE NINTH, is currently set for release in 2022, and I couldn’t find a preorder link for it yet, sorry.

If it sounds good to you, check it out. If you’ve got a local independent bookseller, please give them your business in this difficult time. If it works, try using the Bookshop link, which tries to support independent booksellers. If your local library has it on the shelf, support libraries!

If Amazon is the what works for you to get books in the pandemic, use Amazon, that’s okay too!

Bookshop:

Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Trilogy Book 1)

Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Trilogy Book 2)

Powell’s:

Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Trilogy Book 1)

Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Trilogy Book 2)

Amazon:

Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Trilogy Book 1)

Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Trilogy Book 2)

Review – Hollow Skulls and Other Stories – Samuel Marzioli

Samuel Marzioli’s collection of horror short stories, Hollow Skulls and Other Stories (released Jan. 8, I was lucky to get an eARC to review), is gripping, terrifying, and frequently unsettling like a sliver of ice buried deep in my spine. From the first page, his command of language, and the way he used words and construction to linger and create a discordant tone set the stage for the horror he was writing and made me dread (in a good way) the stories to come.

More than anything, each story had a moment, a line, a word somewhere in the beginning before everything went wrong that lingered in my mind. A dissonance that I knew would resolve the harmonic tension… but rather than bringing the song to a pleasing harmony it always paid off with a growing sense of dread, and eventually the realization that the thing I feared was inevitable and terrible.

The first story, “A Pocket of Madness” was one the strongest tales and it, along with “Hollow Skulls” presented Marzioli deftly presented protagonists on the fraying edge of sanity. Both left me wondering whether the world they experienced was “real” or a creation of their unsettled psyche. In “Hollow Skulls” in particular, the terror of seeing what was coming but desperately wishing for something else to come to pass gripped me from the beginning. Together, these stories stood out as worth the price of admission.

“Penelope’s Song” takes on the point of view of a woman with developmental issues who lives in a group home. He give her a voice (a thing that is somewhat ironic given the story) and uses the story to hold a mirror to how our society treats the infirm.

“So Praise Him” carries revivalist Christianity to it’s unnerving final conclusion and does so in a way that neither feels dismissive nor exploitative of the faith it uses as a base.

This is a collection with bone-chilling reads. Marzioli uses the genre as a knife to cut deeply into, among other topics, parenthood, mental health, religion and group-worship-dynamics, the treatment of the mentally vulnerable. It’s absolutely a collection worth picking up.

Buy from your local independent bookseller if possible (I included a bookshop.org link, which I think somehow works as an intermediary to indy booksellers), Amazon if you must.

Bookshop.org: Hollow Skulls and Other Stories

Amazon: Hollow Skulls and Other Stories

Review – I Am Not a Serial Killer, Mr. Monster, I Don’t Want to Kill You, The Devil’s Only Friend, Over Your Dead Body, and Nothing Left to Lose

The Complete John Wayne Cleaver Series: I Am Not a Serial Killer, Mr.  Monster, I Don't Want to Kill You, Devil's Only Friend, Over Your Dead  Body, Nothing Left to Lose by

Dan Wells‘ John Cleaver books are chilling. They straddle a line with one foot in abnormal psychology that can exist in our world, and one foot in a world of supernatural villains that are both evil and tragically understandable. The first book was gripping, the second had a killer second line, and they don’t lose momentum until the curtain drops on book six with a satisfying resolution to the sequence.

John Cleaver is a teenager who works in the family mortuary, who is almost certainly a psychopath, and who definitely has stumbled onto a serial killer operating in his nondescript small American town.

Bonus, there’s a novella snuck in between books 3 and 4 too (but I was only able to find an Amazon link, sorry)

If it sounds good to you, check it out. If you’ve got a local independent bookseller, please give them your business in this difficult time. If it works, try using the Bookshop link, which tries to support independent booksellers. If your local library has it on the shelf, support libraries!

If Amazon is the what works for you to get books in the pandemic, use Amazon, that’s okay too!

Okay, massive linkfest to follow:

Bookshop:

I Am Not A Serial Killer (John Cleaver Book 1)

Mr. Monster (John Cleaver Book 2)

I Don’t Want to Kill You (John Cleaver Book 3)

The Devil’s Only Friend (John Cleaver Book 4)

Over Your Dead Body (John Cleaver Book 5)

Nothing Left to Lose (John Cleaver Book 6)

Powell’s:

I Am Not A Serial Killer (John Cleaver Book 1)

Mr. Monster (John Cleaver Book 2)

I Don’t Want to Kill You (John Cleaver Book 3)

The Devil’s Only Friend (John Cleaver Book 4)

Over Your Dead Body (John Cleaver Book 5)

Nothing Left to Lose (John Cleaver Book 6)

Amazon:

I Am Not A Serial Killer (John Cleaver Book 1)

Mr. Monster (John Cleaver Book 2)

I Don’t Want to Kill You (John Cleaver Book 3)

Next of Kin (A John Cleaver Novella)

The Devil’s Only Friend (John Cleaver Book 4)

Over Your Dead Body (John Cleaver Book 5)

Nothing Left to Lose (John Cleaver Book 6)

Review – Maplecroft and Chaplewood

Chapelwood (The Borden Dispatches Book 2) - Kindle edition by Priest,  Cherie. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Cherie Priest blends cosmic horror ala H.P. Lovecraft with the story of Americana-cum-murder in Lizzie Borden to form THE BORDEN DISPATCHES (MAPLECROFT being Book 1, CHAPLEWOOD being Book 2).

MAPLECROFT stands out for hitting all the cosmic horror notes in exactly the right ways. It’s told in an epistolary fashion and as the letters and diary entries and errata pile up, the situation lurches inexorably toward a yawning doom that is just <chef’s kiss>

If it sounds good to you, check it out. If you’ve got a local independent bookseller, please give them your business in this difficult time. If it works, try using the Bookshop link, which tries to support independent booksellers. If your local library has it on the shelf, support libraries!

If Amazon is the what works for you to get books in the pandemic, use Amazon, that’s okay too!

Bookshop:

Maplecroft (The Borden Dispatches Book 1)

Chapelwood (The Borden Dispatches Book 2) (backordered)

Powell’s:

Maplecroft (The Borden Dispatches Book 1)

Chapelwood (The Borden Dispatches Book 2) (no link at Powell’s, sorry)

Amazon:

Maplecroft (The Borden Dispatches Book 1)

Chapelwood (The Borden Dispatches Book 2)

Review – Teeth Long and Sharp as Blades – A.C. Wise

A.C. Wise (twitter) crafted “Teeth Long and Sharp as Blades” a devastatingly sharp story that Pseudopod and narrator Tonia Ransom put into audio with frightening affect.

It’s not a long story, but it cuts right at the heart of the journey from victim to… something else. The narrator (of the story, not Tonia Ransom) is attacked and tells the story of the attack, its aftermath, and the place she ends up at whatever remove the story is being told from. There is an ambiguity about the events that are portrayed. Is the narrator reliable? Perhaps leaning on metaphor? Perhaps the attack was supernatural, or merely dressed up as such to allow the narrator to process her trauma? It all comes together wonderfully (if disconcertingly).