Tag Archives: Stephen Graham Jones

The Monstrous edited by Ellen Datlow

Overview
Image result for the monstrous ellen datlow book cover

Title: The Monstrous
Author: Ellen Datlow, Jeffrey Ford, Peter Straub, Dale Bailey, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Gemma Files, Livia Llewellyn, Adam-Troy Castro, Kim Newman, Jack Dann, Gardner Dozois, Carole Johnstone, Brian Hodge, Stephen Graham Jones, Adam L. G. Nevill, Sofia Samatar, Terry Dowling, Glen Hirshberg, A.C. Wise, Steve Rasnic Tem, Christopher Fowler & John Langan
In: The Monstrous (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Horror, Short story collections
Dates read: 8th January – 3rd June 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Tachyon
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: “I supppose I do,” I reply.

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Synopsis

Horror’s most acclaimed editor reveals twenty riveting tales of the Other gone wrong. Monsters who suffer from heartbreak, betrayal, ungrateful kids, and unpaid overtime. Creatures of darkness that struggle to adapt to modern living. Ordinary folks who find themselves inexplicably transformed. 88 But if you dare, come a bit closer and discover the most terrifying of beings – those who are living under your own skin and peering out from behind your eyes.

Thoughts

This collection is brilliant. It is dark, creepy and intense. It is fun. It gave me goose bumps. And it is filled with monsters who come in ALL shapes and sizes. And I mean ALL. A wonderful, fantastic and seriously enjoyable collection filled with the things that go bump in the night. The things that you really hope aren’t hiding under your bed.

Although this anthology sits in my horror shelf, it isn’t really all that scary. Sure, there are multiple moments of discomfort throughout. But they’re that, you have to think a little too much, or consider the many moments of confusion throughout this story that you really don’t necessarily want to think too much about. And, honestly, it’s not the things that jump out and yell BOO that make me love horror. It’s that underlying discomfort that makes you look at your own life that I am quickly becoming obsessed with.

I absolutely adored this collection. It was filled with some familiar names and new ones. Each and every story made me stop and really think about what the storyline was saying. And even now, when I have still finished the whole collection… I am still thinking about some of the stories that I read.

<- Run, Rabbit, RunA Natural History of Autumn ->

Image source: Amazon

Grindstone by Stephen Graham Jones

Overview
Image result for the monstrous ellen datlow book cover

Title: Grindstone
Author: Stephen Graham Jones
In: The Monstrous (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Horror
Dates read: 11th May 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Tachyon
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: They were popping off the surface of the rock in…in regular patterns.

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Synopsis

He’s a predator, who has finally met his comeuppance. But, will the ending really be what we expect?

Thoughts

This was a seriously creepy story. I always love stories which feature the point of view of the villain. But, normally there is kind of a moment of understanding. If not total acceptance of the character, then at least, an understanding what drives the person who commits a crime. This didn’t have that. The villain / narrator was just horrible and creepy and really, really not okay.

The image of the slugs falling from the body of the lead character is a really great piece of imagery that I can’t quite keep out of my head. It is disturbing, kind of sick and seriously graphic. In the best of ways. It was kind of sick, disturbing, and twisted. But a perfect fit for this collection and short story.

I love the darkness and twistiness of this story. It was a great, fun read and one that I keep thinking about. It’s not the sort of story I’m going to read again and again and again. But definitely one that was seriously enjoyable.

<- Our Turn Too Will One Day ComeDoll Hands ->

Image source: Amazon

Haunted Nights edited by Ellen Datlow & Lisa Morton

Overview
Image result for book cover haunted nights ellen datlow

Title: Haunted Nights
Author: Ellen Datlow, Lisa Morton, Seanan McGuire, Stephen Graham Jones, Jonathan Maberry, Joanna Parypinski, Garth Nix, Kate Jonez, Jeffrey Ford, Kelley Armstrong, S. P. Miskowski, Brian Evenson, Elise Forier Edie, Eric J. Guignard, Paul Kane, Pat Cadigan, John Langan & John R. Little
In: Haunted Nights (Lisa Morton & Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Horror, Paranormal fantasy, Short story collections
Dates read: 2nd November – 30th December 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Blumhouse
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: “Very good,” said I.

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Synopsis

Halloween is the night the monsters come out to play. Long before its traditions became defined by mass-produced masks, blood-soaked horror films, and carved pumpkins, the murky origins of All Hallows’ Eve lay rooted in dark festivals and black magick, in old fables of diabolical tricksters and murderous pranks, and in tales of cursed souls lost in purgatory, of vengeance and changelings.

From sly modern narratives to haunting traditional stories, from the brutal to the experimental, these sixteen stories brilliantly and terrifyingly explore the many facets, cultures, and traditions of our most provocative holiday.

Thoughts

This selection is super creepy, intense and wonderful. I absolutely adored it. Even if I spent a lot of the time reading it with my feet curled under me feeling incredibly overwhelmed and somewhat horrified. A whole new world was introduced as I read through this. This might be why I’m starting to get into the horror genre though…

A few of the stories in this did make me laugh. But, mostly they were haunting. Not outright scary like a Stephen King novel, but this lingering feeling of overwhelming discomfort due to something in these stories. I can’t even put my finger on the cause of my discomfort… but after reading one of these short stories I was almost always left feeling like I was just slightly haunted… which was interesting.

Although this collection did make me understand America’s obsession with Halloween a little more. I still don’t like the holiday. There is just something about it that doesn’t sit well with me. So whilst this bought a great new light to a holiday I know basically nothing about… I’m still not convinced that it’s one that I want anything to do with.

<- The Folding Man ReviewWith Graveyard Weeds and Wolfsbane Seeds ->

Image source: Amazon

Dirtmouth by Stephen Graham Jones

Overview
Image result for book cover haunted nights ellen datlow

Title: Dirtmouth
Author: Stephen Graham Jones
In: Haunted Nights (Lisa Morton & Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, FamilyHorror
Dates read: 15th November 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Blumhouse
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: It wouldn’t be a lost hunter, either, unless that hunter was really lost; rifle season had closed ten days earlier.

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Synopsis

A little over a year ago he lost his wife. On a pilgrimage to the mountains that took her life, he loses both of his children. But the way in which he loses them will only happen on a dark Halloween night…

Thoughts

One of my biggest rants around Halloween is the fact that a) we’re not American. And b) most people don’t understand the roots of the festival. This short story does address those roots. After all, Halloween (or All Hallows Eve) is the night of the year in which the barriers between worlds fall. Most of the stories I read that feature this ideal are kind of sweet – definitely filled with hope and connections with the past… this isn’t such a nice story, but I love that it connects the spirit world with the living one.

The narrative voice of this story is absolutely amazing. It is funny, witty and not one that I’m likely to forget at any time soon. It took me a little while to realise exactly what was happening… but once I realised that the man who is telling the story was trying to explain what happened to a cop. It just became brilliant. Although, once you finish it, the cheer, hope and good humour with which this story is told – that becomes a little bit creepy… after all, he’s recounting the death of his wife and the loss of his children.

There are many tales of the power of a mother’s love. Normally I find them kind of sweet and cheerful. Not so much when that love means a weird zombie coming back from the dead, visiting her children and just generally wreaking havoc on the world. Talk about a horror story!

 <- With Graveyard Weeds and Wolfsbane Seeds ReviewA Small Taste of the Old Country Review ->

Image source: Amazon

Black Feathers edited by Ellen Datlow

Overview
Image result for black feathers ellen datlow book cover

Title: Black Feathers
Author: Ellen Datlow, Sandra Kasturi, Nicholas Royle, Seanan McGuire, Paul Tremblay, Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Bowes, Alison Littlewood, Jeffrey Ford, Mike O’Driscoll, Usman T. Malik, Stephen Graham Jones, A.C. Wise, M. John Harrison, Pat Cadigan, Livia Llewellyn & Priya Sharma
In: Black Feathers (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Horror, Short story collections
Dates read: 23rd January – 27th April 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Pegasus Books Ltd.
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: A sudden croaking cry, and she turns to see the great blue heron flying overhead.

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Synopsis

A dazzling anthology of avian-themed fiction guaranteed to frighten and delight, edited by one of the most acclaimed horror anthologists in the genre.

Birds are usually loved for their beauty and their song. They symbolize freedom, eternal life, the soul. But there’s certainly a dark side to the avian. Birds of prey sometimes kill other birds, destroy other birds’ eggs, and even have been known to kill small animals. And who isn’t frightened by birds who eat the dead – vultures awaiting their next meal as the life-blood flows from the dying.

In each of these stories, you will encounter the dark resonance between the human and avian. You will see in yourself the savagery of a predator, the shrewd stalking of a hunter, and you will be lured by birds that speak human language, that make beautiful music, that cypher numbers, and seem to have a moral center. You will wade into this feathered nightmare, and brave the horror of death, trading your safety and sanity for that which we all seek – the promise of flight.

Thoughts

This is my first collection of horror stories. Actually, it’s really my first ever horror novel. So reading this has been a very interesting journey. One that I was surprised to enjoy so much. And, although I didn’t really read any of these stories late at night, I also didn’t get any horrifying nightmares from the tales either. Unlike some of the crime, mystery and thriller novels that I’ve read.

Birds have always fascinated me. And I’ve been wanting to get a parrot for a little while. This collection definitely cured me of that desire. Actually, it cured me of really wanting anything much to do with birds for a little while if I’m being honest. This story not only used the symbolism and activities of birds as a catalyst for the tales of horror, but also pulled them out of your worst nightmares.

Pick this book up if you want a great introduction to the horror genre. And if you have a bit of a fascination with the avian community…

 <- The Best Horror of the Year Volume Eleven ReviewO Terrible Bird Review ->
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Mad Hatters and March Hares edited by Ellen Datlow

Overview
Image result for mad hatters and march hares ellen datlow book cover

Title: Mad Hatters and March Hares
Author: Ellen Datlow, Kris Dikeman, Delia Sherman, C. S. E. Cooney, Jane Yolen, Priya Sharma, Richard Bowes, Stephen Graham Jones, Jeffrey Ford, Angela Slatter, Matthew Kressel, Seanan McGuire, Andy Duncan, Kaaron Warren, Ysabeau S. Wilce, Genevieve Valentine, Catherynne M. Valente & Katherine Vaz
In: Mad Hatters and March Hares (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Retellings, Short story collections, Wordplay
Dates read: 22nd December 2018 – 29th March 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Tor
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: Beyond it were the cells.

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Synopsis

From Master Anthologist Ellen Datlow comes an all-original book of weird tales inspired by the strangeness of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There.

Between the hallucinogenic, weird, imaginative wordplay and the brilliant mathematical puzzles and social satire, Alice has been read, enjoyed, and savored by every generation since its publication. Datlow asked seventeen of the most brilliant and acclaimed writers working today to dream up stories inspired by all the strange events and surreal characters found in Wonderland.

Thoughts

I began my obsession with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in childhood, but kind of forgot about it until the last year – when I finally got around to reading the original story! And then my obsession began to take a bit of a turn for the… well, obsessive… so I bought this collection as soon as I found it. And opened the page within days of receiving it.

This collection takes all of the many aspects of Alice in Wonderland and turns them around and around until your dizzy. From cute poems, to horrific ideals about Alis and retellings of particular aspects of the original. This collection of short stories and poems has it all. And it is just impossible to put down!

My only piece of advice with this amazing collection is to maybe not read these tales when you’ve been drinking. I tried a few times and it just makes you feel incredibly tripped out. And confused. And just not really sure where reality is situated… kind of like the original.

 <- Children of the Fang ReviewGentle Alice Review ->
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Pigeon from Hell by Stephen Graham Jones

Overview
Image result for black feathers ellen datlow book cover

Title: Pigeon from Hell
Author: Stephen Graham Jones
In: Black Feathers (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Horror
Dates read: 21st March 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Pegasus Books Ltd.
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: We were trading babysitting jobs, Kara and me.

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Synopsis

Little Ben went missing one day, but his pigeon stayed around… to remind her just what she’d done.

Thoughts

This was a haunting story from the very outset. But, honestly, it wasn’t until the story started to unfold that I truly started to get goosebumps. And feel uncomfortable. This is a very different and… well, haunting tale that I don’t think will be leaving me for a very long time.

Initially I really loved this story. I thought that it was a tale with an observer retelling a tragedy. And a crapped out, musty old pigeon was somehow part of it. But, as it unfolded, I realised more and more that this wasn’t really a bystander telling the story. And that there wasn’t going to be any kind of happily ever after.

This is one of those stories that doesn’t have a happy ending. It doesn’t leave you with happy, glowy feelings. But it does leave you thinking. Which means that while I don’t plan on rereading this tale anytime soon, it certainly was a… not fun, but something like it… kind of read.

 <- The Fortune of Sparrows ReviewThe Secret of Flight Review ->
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Alis by Stephen Graham Jones

Overview
Image result for mad hatters and march hares ellen datlow book cover

Title: Alis
Author: Stephen Graham Jones
In: Mad Hatters and March Hares (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Horror
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Tor
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: “Prime number,” Tabby called for herself.

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Synopsis

A horror retelling of the world beyond the mirror becomes something that is far more than just a story… it becomes a tale that will leave you with goosebumps and a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach.

Thoughts

This sent shivers up my spine. It gave me goosebumps. And I had to actually walk away from my computer, clean the house and make sure there were no ghoulies in it before I could even consider writing this review. It was that damn creepy. But also amazing. And something I will read again. In the middle of a very well-lit day.

This is a brilliantly written, horrifying retelling of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In a way. It takes ideas of mirrors, finding oneself and alternate realities into account. There is an obsession with maths and wordplay. And there is a sense of the characters entering an entirely different dimension. Unlike the Lewis Carroll original, this will keep me up all night and every time I close my eyes… I see the “other” at the other end of a dark tunnel…

 <- Some Kind of Wonderland ReviewAll the King’s Men Review ->
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