October. A time of growing darkness. Summer is dying and in its wake the nights begin to lengthen, the breezes begin to chill, and the foliage begins its bright colorful demise before our very eyes. It’s a time for horror, and what a better way to get your fix than opening a good book or firing up your kindle to read the stories fitting the season.
Horror fans know that the genre lives within our hearts all year around, but when fall arrives we feel like it’s our time; we’ve come home to some shadowed mansion on a hill beside the cemetery in our imaginations. October is the month to get your paws on some great genre reads and howl your praises of them under a hunter’s moon. Many readers are well versed in the greats like King, Laymon, and Barker, but there are presses right now nurturing the morbid imaginations of writers who are just as amazing, those who are carrying the torch of horror for the new generations. Here we shine a light, like the yellow glow of the full moon, on some of our favorites operating today.
Eraserhead Press, headed by Rose O’Keefe, the fairy godmother of the bizarro genre, is our first publisher to get the wicked spotlight cast upon them. They have been in the business of creating the best in Bizarro, and please don’t shy away from that description. Bizarro certainly brings that sense of terror, of hopelessness, and displays worlds and characters pulled directly from nightmares and other strange spaces some never venture to explore. Like some hidden chapters from the Twilight Zone, the audience awakens in outrageous worlds, danger and heartache that feel just as real as their own. From the grotesque and bloody, to otherworldly and striking, Eraserhead has a ton of fantastic October reads to offer.
Parasite Milk by Carlton Mellick III takes the reader on an insane trip beside Irving Rice, a man filming an episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern: Intergalactic Edition. Irving has never left his home state, let alone planet, so he’s apprehensive about visiting Kynaria. It has mushroom cities and fungus-like citizens, something Irving isn’t accustomed to, but after a night of love making with the most beautiful creature he’s ever seen, he discovers he’s infected with a very deadly STD. Then things get real crazy. The Warblers by the very talented Amber Fallon is another Eraserhead Press release, a coming-of age horror story that will leave the reader wanting to sleep with the lights on and makes them question just how far they would go in such a dire situation.
Deadite Press is an imprint of Eraserhead Press, headed by Jeff Burke, and brings its audience the best in extreme and cult horror from Brian Keene, Wrath James White, Edward Lee, Monica J. O’Rourke, J.F Gonzalez and Jack Ketchum. In other words, they bring the best of the best in the genre to the table. A few of their latest releases are definitely just what October reads scream for; terror, blood and all out chaos. White Trash Gothic by Edward Lee, a godfather of the splatterpunk scene, rips the reader a new asshole with this epic of all-out extreme horror. Dump truck loads of blood and suffering are packed into this novel that pushes the boundaries of absolute depravity. Sperm Jackers from Hell by Christine Morgan displays her versatility as a writer. It’s brutal, unique, and gut wrenching with a dose of sexual hilarity that is hard to put down. Morgan is also an excellent editor and all around fantastic person that more people should check out pronto! Jack Bantry keeps splatterpunk alive with his zine, but did you know he’s also a writer with horror chops that last for days. His latest from Deadite press, The Lucky Ones Died First is as blood thirsty as the monster within its pages. Those who dig the mystery surrounding Sasquatch should read this and take heed. What the hell would happen if you encountered a man killing beast? Pray for a quick death! The Lucky Ones Died First is an action packed, brutal horror story of a group of people who find out what happens when the mythical beast rears its ugly head. “It’s like Jaws but with bigfoot.”- Shane McKenzie, author of Muerte Con Carne. If that doesn’t strike your horror loving fancy then you’re missing out!
Our spotlight spills its ghastly beam over Bloodshot Books. Run by Pete Kahle, a true horror fan, and a man bent on keeping the genre alive and kicking with his publishing company that puts out some very fine books. Pete is one of the good guys who spend many hours reading over submissions and contracting some very noteworthy novels to give you chills on these dark October nights.
Here’s a few of his offerings to the gods of horror.
Morgan Sylvia’s Abode came out last summer through Bloodshot books, but it’s a perfect autumn read. It involves a family’s dream of starting over only to have it turned into a nightmare by centuries old spirits, an evil that won’t die. A book that’s sure to please adorned with a cover by the amazing Kealan Patrick Burke. Eternal Darkness by Bram Stoker Award winner Tom Deady is a fresh take on vampire lore, making the audience respect the terror of the undead once again. An instant Halloween classic.
JournalStone is a mighty force in the genre, deserving of a spotlight and more for the legacy in horror they are creating. Journalstone is bringing us books from Jonathon Maberry, Lisa Morton, and Ronald Malfi. Some releases readers need to put on their October reading lists are:
Hieroglyphs of Blood and Bone by Michael Griffin displays his skill for engaging his audience and dragging them through a hell they can’t turn away from. His writing is hypnotic, and his talent unending. S.P. Miskowski’s I Wish I Was Like You is something This is Horror cannot rave enough about. An excellent tale seen through the eyes of a recently murdered young woman as she untangles the mess of her past life and tries to discover who killed her. Miskowski’s newest release from Journalstone, Strange is The Night, is much anticipated and should be on your to-be-read list as well. Philip Fracassi’s Behold the Void is a smart, unique horror collection. With strikingly dark prose, perfect for anyone looking to get their hackles raised this Samhain season.
Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing is an outfit that also deserves a little Halloween love. Run by Max Booth III and Lori Michelle, they consistently bring readers a grand selection of uniquely macabre titles and an entertaining podcast every horror fan should be checking out this fine October, and every day after. The Train Derails in Boston by the fierce Jessica McHugh takes the trope of hauntings to a level all its own. It’s sexy, terrifying, and written by an expert wordsmith and all around badass. Like Jagged Teeth by Betty Rocksteady is a must read this October. It’s body horror set amidst trippy, supernatural terror. It tells the story of a young woman who finds herself in the company of her deceased grandfather. Things get very weird as the truth unravels. Betty is definitely a writer to be watching out for. Quizzleboon by John Oliver Hodges is a walk on the wild side! It’s a gritty redneck fairytale that will make you take a long hard look at humanity to see where the true monsters are hiding.
Word Horde, run by Ross E. Lockhart, is no stranger to delivering the scares year round. Producer of several fine anthologies such as The Children of Old Leech, Cthulhu Fhtagn!, and the recent Tales from a Talking Board, Ross wrangles short-stories from the best in the business, just in time for your Halloween reading. Recent novels include: An Augmented Fourth by Tony McMillen, which is basically Black Sabbath meets The Thing while snowed in a creepy hotel; Beneath by Kristi DeMeester, about a snake-handling cult in rural Appalachia hiding long buried secrets that threaten to spill out into the open; and the Stoker Award winning The Fisherman by John Langan, a story that deals with loss and pain while still managing to get its hooks under your skin in ways you’ll never forget.
Cohesion Press delivers the monster madness with their standout anthology series SNAFU, but they also provide a nice variety of thrilling reads and enough military horror to make your to-be-read pile grow like a Kaiju on steroids. Congregations of the Dead by James A. Moore and Charles R. Rutledge is a rural survival horror novel involving a battle against a mysterious preacher and the darkness he unleashes upon a small southern town. Snaked by Duncan McGeary is sure to slither under your skin. What the sea spits out becomes increasingly deadly for the folks living in the small settlements nearby. Who will survive when the ocean bares its fangs? Man with the Iron Heart by Mat Nastos is an imaginative and brutal romp. A military horror involving WWII Nazis berserkers, necromancers, and enemies who possess the powers of demons, darkness brings death and the ultimate end to mankind, with only a few brave soldiers stand to save the world.
Sinister Grin will certainly carve a smile on your terror loving faces. Their titles bring a variety to the genre, some harkening back to the good old days of VHS horror and the birth of the slasher greats while other titles tell the stories of exorcists, alien life forms, and supernatural torment. The Journal of Jeremy Todd by John Quick is an entertaining dip into the mind of insanity and vengeance. It’s bloody, fast-paced, with an ending that may surprise you. Slashvivor! by Stephen Kozeniewski and Stevie Kopas is an insane, exciting jaunt into what could happen when murder meets reality television. Bizarre, gory, and absolutely entertaining. Brain Dead Blues by Matt Hayward is an excellent collection of horror. It has a little bit of everything that will definitely please horror fiends looking for a great read anytime of the year but for Halloween it’s a must read. Hayward is a name horror fans need to keep on their radar because his talent is undeniable.
From the literary precision and skill of a mortician’s blade, to the downright gory assault of a madman’s chainsaw, you are sure to find your perfect Halloween reads with these publishers. This is Horror salutes them, and their offerings to the horror gods, and bids you all a happy and safe Halloween season. It should be celebrated all month long after all, which gives you plenty of time to read some of these wonderful books!