Archive for the ‘Novel’ Category

With books like A Head Full of Ghosts, The Cabin at the End of the World and Survivor Song (which I still say would make a great stage musical), The Pallbearers Club by Paul Tremblay has been one of the most anticipated novels of 2022. I got my copy almost as soon as it came out, but because my life has been busy lately, I only just finished the book today. So now, as I feel obligated to do, I’m writing my review.

The Pallbearers Club follows a man who calls himself (or the version of himself in the novel/memoir he is narrating) Art Barbara. Seeking to pad out his college applications, Art starts the Pallbearers Club, a volunteer club where members show up to funerals for the homeless and lonely, and then carry them out to the hearse (because who wants no one to show up to their funeral?). At one of these funerals, Art meets Mercy Brown, a strange college girl who both opens up Art’s world and sets him on a path that will affect him through his adulthood. And maybe even beyond.

For starters, the novel is creative in its presentation. It’s written primarily by Art on a computer, while Mercy’s red-inked, handwritten notes speckle the margins and bookend each chapter. It allows you to learn a lot about each character, who are both somewhat unreliable narrators for each their own reasons, and there’s a lot of reflections on topics like memory and identity. It also makes me wonder what the audio book is like, because Mercy’s notes are a big part of each chapter. Does her narrator interrupt the text every now and again?

I also like how Art uses unusual adjectives while he writes, and the best parts of the novels are probably the sections set in Art’s teenage years during the late 80s. You really get to know and like the characters the best at that point, and it’s among the best examples of 80s nostalgia I’ve come across.

That being said, there’s a lot about this novel that rubbed me the wrong way. My biggest issue is the story, or almost lack of one. Art spends a lot of time going through the major points of his life, especially where Mercy is part of his life, but it becomes a slog because he hits you over the head at times with how little self-esteem and how much self-loathing he has. It’s okay early in the book, because he’s a teenager and those are always difficult times and Mercy is at least opening up his world. But after graduation, Art seems intent on just making you hate him as much as possible.

Which might be okay if Mercy or the plot helped balance the story out, but they don’t. Even with her notes, Mercy’s so intent on being edgy and mysterious that we really don’t get to know the real her, and it makes it hard to see her as a character and more as a mystery. Again, fine early in the book, but after a while, we get tired of it.

There’s also not a lot happening in the book. At least, not as far as horror novels go. The New England vampire lore is part of the story, but not in a significant way like I’d expected. It becomes more like a background theme, kind of a parallel about aging, health problems, and our own anxieties and delusions are like vampires on us and we wonder where in the hell they come from. Which is fine, if the story is interesting or the the lore is utilized in the right way.

The Pallbearers Club didn’t do it in the right way. I feel like it was trying to go for what Revival by Stephen King did, which was show how a single man affected the life of an aging rocker throughout his life while mixing in the supernatural. But while it tries, it doesn’t succeed.

And this isn’t something I’ll deduct points for, but why pick on Def Leppard in the early parts of the story? That band is a big part of why I love 80s music, how dare you!

I normally like Paul Tremblay’s work, but on a scale of 1 to 5, I’m going to give The Pallbearers Club a 2. The way it’s written is creative and the initial chapters are great, but annoying characters and an unimpressive plot just stakes it through the heart.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. My next read will be The Devil Takes You Home by Gabino Iglesias, while my next review will likely be Tales My Grandmother Told Me by Heather Miller (read an advanced copy). You’ll know my thoughts on both in time.

Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and 49 days till Halloween.

Hide in your homes and pray for mercy! I got an acceptance this weekend! “Trauma and Disillusionment Sometimes Go Hand in Hand,” AKA the dragon bat story, is going to be published! It’ll appear in this year’s upcoming Ink Stains anthology from Dark Alley Press!

So, a little background for those of you who weren’t reading this blog last year. About a year ago, I posted on my social media about “releasing the dragon bats!” No reason, I just like to post weird stuff on my social media feeds to remind people that I love the scary and the macabre. But apparently this caught the eye of my friend, fellow author and Follower of Fear Iseult Murphy (you can check out her blog here), who ended up creating some fan art of these dragon bats. Here’s the art she drew.

Pretty neat, right? These were my first pieces of fan art ever, and I absolutely loved it! And I really wanted to make a story about these dragon bats now that they had art based on them. Which I did: “Disillusionment and Trauma Sometimes Go Hand in Hand,” a novelette about a teen girl who gets wrapped up in a revenge plot involving calling on some dangerous supernatural forces.

I had a blast writing the story, but was worried that I’d be able to find it a home. There are more publications accepting novelettes now, but it’s still hard to find homes for them. But I kept plugging away and submitting, and lo and behold, it’s found a home!

And what a home it is! Ink Stains: A Dark Fiction Literary Anthology used to be a twice-yearly anthology of horror and dark fiction that produced some great horror fiction, but stopped producing due to the pandemic. Now it’s back for the first time since the pandemic began, and I’m so excited and honored to be part of the new edition.

As for when you can expect to read “Disillusionment and Trauma,” as well as the rest of the stories in the latest edition of Ink Stains, it appears to be on track for an October release. As soon as I have news, you can expect me to post about it. Or, you can follow Dark Alley Press on their website and Facebook, as well as their parent company, Vagabondage Press, on Twitter.

Anyway, I want to thank N. Apythia Morges and the team at Dark Alley Press for accepting my story, and I can’t wait to be part of this amazing anthology. I also want to thank Iseult Murphy, who inspired this story and who helped me polish it up for publication. And I want to thank you, my Followers of Fear, for always supporting me and my stories. I hope you enjoy this one as much as you’ve enjoyed my stories.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night, pleasant nightmares, and run! I’ve just released some actual dragon bats! And they’re vicious carnivores.

I told you I would be back soon!

It’s official: The Pure World Comes is now in audio book, narrated by the awesome Nikki Delgado.

This novel, which came out on an app called Readict last year and which came out in paperback and ebook back in May, is one of my favorite projects and I’m so excited for the story to be in audio book. Not just because it’s another avenue to reach readers (though that’s another reason), but because I love the audio medium, and I can’t wait to listen to the story alongside all those who haven’t yet.

Now, for those of you who don’t know, The Pure World Comes is a Gothic horror novel set in Victorian England and follows a maid who goes to work for a mad scientist. Here’s the blurb from the back of the book:

Shirley Dobbins wants nothing more than to live a quiet life and become a head housekeeper at a prestigious house. So when she is invited to come work for the mysterious baronet Sir Joseph Hunting at his estate, she thinks it is the chance of a lifetime. However, from the moment she arrives things are not what they seem. As she becomes wrapped up in more of the baronet’s radical science, she realizes something dark and otherworldly is loose within the estate. And if left unchecked, it’ll claim the lives of all she holds dear.

Not bad, right? And the book itself has garnered some amazing reviews already. Here’s what people are saying:

This book kept you on the edge with its many twists and turns. Really haven’t read anything like it. I will follow this author

Michele Kimura, Goodreads

I love it when I’m pleasantly surprised by a book. Rami Ungar is not a debut author, (according to the back of the book, this is his fourth novel), but his work is new to me and so I went in not knowing what to expect.

What I got was a short novel so perfectly Victorian and utterly Gothic that it made my old-fashioned self giddy as a schoolgirl….Mixing classic-romantic Victorian elements with early science-fiction, tales of Jack the Ripper/Spring-Heeled Jack, and a bit of the occult, this book gives the reader a truly chilling and also slightly fun little Gothic adventure.

Heather Miller, Amazon

The Pure World Comes by Rami Ungar
The story started with a slow build which
quickly turned into a page turner for me.
It has a bit of a Frankenstein feel to it.
It was a little out there but I really enjoyed
it.

Annette, Goodreads

Again, I’m so glad they enjoyed the book. Hearing from these readers not only encourages me and helps me out as a writer, but also gives other readers an idea of whether or not they’ll like the book. I hope I can get some great feedback on the audio book.

And speaking of which, if you would like to check out the audio book, I’ll post the available links below. Right now, there are about five or six websites distributing the audio book, and more, such as Audible, expected to release it in the coming weeks (Amazon owns Audible, so of course they’re finnicky when anything produced outside their platform). So, if you don’t see it on your preferred distributor, keep checking back and it should be there eventually.

Did I mention for the first week the audio book is discounted? That’s right, for the first week the audio book will only be $5.99. It’ll go up after the 17th, so be sure to get it now at a low price while you can!

Anyway, I look forward to hearing what you think of the audio book (or the other formats, if you choose those). While you’re listening to it, I’ll be busy with other stuff, including a convention, but I promise I’ll stick around and post regularly. What can I say, I like interacting with you guys.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night, happy listening, and pleasant nightmares.

The Pure World Comes: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, Goodreads, Chirp, BingeBooks, LIbro.Fm, Storytel

The Mummy of Rameses I. I thought it worked well for the post.

Sheriff’s Deputy Cole Sawyer knew he had the right house before he’d even read the numbers beside the door. The body was sitting there on the front stoop, just as the caller had said it would be.

I’ve mentioned before that I started a new novel, a mummy story I’m calling Crawler until I can come up with a better title.* It’s been a little over three weeks since I started the novel with the lines posted above. I’m now three chapters in, and I wanted to take some time to share my thoughts with you on the writing process so far.

And what are those thoughts? Well, I’m wondering what I got myself into. This book is already seventy pages (8.5 x 11 inches, double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman), and rapidly approaching twenty thousand words! And that’s just the first three chapters! It’s going to be as long as Snake by the time the first draft is done. You could use it with your favorite Stephen King doorstopper to knock someone out.

Which I don’t recommend doing unless your life is in danger and you have no other options.

All that being said, it’s also been fun to write. The first chapter, I had such a hard time pulling myself away from the computer to go to bed because I was just so into the story. I got it done at that pace in two nights. And while the next two chapters haven’t gone at such a crazy pace, it’s still been a fun process.

For example, one of my characters has grown up extremely sheltered, and the events of the novel force her into the world. Writing things from her POV has been a fantastic journey of trial and discovery. I think by the end of Chapter Two, I got her down pat, but there could still be challenges ahead.

Scratch that, I know there are challenges ahead. It may be a world where a mummy is on the attack, but it’s still based on our world. The characters’ actions and reactions to events must make sense to someone in our world. That could be hard. And I have to keep the slower moments interesting. And of course, I’ll have to get on the net every now and then to do some research. Yeah, lots of challenges ahead.

But hey, the first draft isn’t meant to be perfect. It’s meant to be passable. That way, I can build on it in subsequent drafts and create something spectacular. So if I mess up, I’m sure I’ll find some way to fix it further down the line.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll post more updates as I make progress. I promise, they won’t come at a crawl (get it?). So don’t worry, I’ll be back again soon. And until then, good night, pleasant nightmares, and do not read from the Book of the Dead. If you’re not careful, you might wake up an undead Egyptian high priest seeking to resurrect his girlfriend.

*And no, I’m not going with The Mummy. Nor am I going with I Want My Mummy; Are You My Mummy?; or Man, Fuck This Mummy. One’s taken, two are probably taken by RL Stine or Doctor Who, and the last one sounds too close to a novel on my TBR list. I might go with Sympathy for the Mummy, however. I mean, that’s probably not too like a famous Rolling Stones song, is it?

As I mentioned in my last post, an audio version of The Pure World Comes is in the works and was being put through the quality assurance process. I can now let you know that TPWC has passed the quality check and is being exported to multiple audio book platforms! Even better, it should be out on most of them on August 10th, the three month anniversary of the paperback and ebook’s initial release.

For those of you who don’t know, The Pure World Comes is a Gothic horror novel about a maid going to work at the estate of a mad scientist and what happens there. Think Frankenstein had a baby with Crimson Peak. Here’s the summary from the back cover:

Shirley Dobbins wants nothing more than to live a quiet life and become a head housekeeper at a prestigious house. So when she is invited to come work for the mysterious baronet Sir Joseph Hunting at his estate, she thinks it is the chance of a lifetime. However, from the moment she arrives things are not what they seem. As she becomes wrapped up in more of the baronet’s radical science, she realizes something dark and otherworldly is loose within the estate. And if left unchecked, it’ll claim the lives of all she holds dear.

Not bad, right? And the audio book is amazing! It’s narrated by Nikki Delgado and is about six and a half hours long. And what a great six and a half hours it is! Ms. Delgado did an excellent job and I can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks of her reading. In fact, I made a video using the retail sample and posted it to YouTube late last night. You can watch/listen to it in the video below.

Not bad, huh? She does an amazing job reading what is probably the scariest section of the book.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I’ll post about the audio book again as soon as it is out. In the meantime, it should show up on most audio book retailers’ websites (and likely available for preorder) by August 10th (though Amazon and Audible might be annoying for annoyingness sake). For now, you can still get the paperback and ebook editions using the links below. If you like what you read, please let me knwo what you thought so I can improve as a writer and continue to provide quality stories.

So until next time (which could be very soon), good night, pleasant nightmares, and happy reading. Or listening, whichever you prefer.

The Pure World Comes: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, Goodreads

Photo by Vlad Bagacian on Pexels.com

As I’ve mentioned before, I have an audio book in production for my Gothic horror novel, The Pure World Comes. What you may not know, however, is just how far production is. I can now tell you that the audio book files are done and have been sent for quality assurance. And in honor of this special news, I thought I would tell you all about the experience and any advice I have for producing an audio book.

So first things first, how did I produce the audio book? Well, I don’t have the talent, time or equipment to actually narrate my own audio books, so I used a service. Findaway Voices is a service/platform that pairs authors and publishers with audio book narrators (think ACX, but with more distribution options than just Amazon and Audible). And honestly, I found the process to get the book narrated pretty easy. Findaway Voices is owned by the same company as Draft2Digital, the platform that published the paperback and ebook versions, so all I had to do was transfer the books from one site to another. After that, all I had to do was fill out some questions and then do some auditioning.

That’s how I found my narrator, Nikki Delgado. She could do every accent necessary for each character and gave them all a unique voice. Plus, whenever I found something that could use an edit, she got it done quickly and exceeded my expectations. Truly, a great narrator and I’m glad I got to work with her.

If it’s not clear, Nikki Delgado’s a wonderful and professional narrator and if you’re thinking of hiring a narrator who can do British accents, she’d be a good choice.

That being said, producing the audio book was kind of expensive. Not as expensive as that YouTube video I sponsored when Rose came out (click here to watch that video, by the by), but it cost a lot. The majority of that money went to paying Ms. Delgado for her services, plus a bit in taxes for using Findaway Voices and for taxes (it was a service, after all). Not surprising, considering this is an income stream for many of these narrators. It’s a good thing I had some savings and budgeted for the audio book. Otherwise, after buying my own place and all the expenses involved with that, I might be in trouble!

And cost will play a role in determining if I produce another audio book this way in the future. Most of the money I used to pay Ms. Delgado came from the original payment from Readict to license TPWC, so I didn’t really take a financial hit from the payment. It made me appreciate all the more when Castrum Press paid for Rose‘s audio book, because then I didn’t have to pay for it! So if I want an audio book produced of another novel or collection in the future and I’m paying for it myself, I’ll have to do some calculations before I decide if I’m going to do it. And then I’ll have to figure it out how to pay for it if I decide to go for it!

But other than that problem, it was a great process with a good platform and an excellent narrator. So, if you can pay for the work and nothing else is holding you back, I totally recommend you use Findaway Voices.*

Audio book coming very, very soon.

Anyway, now the audio book is with Findaway Voices’ quality assurance team. They’ll check it over and make sure everything’s fine with the recording and the cover art before letting me release it. I’ll let you all know. I’m planning on the first week having the audio book on sale, so I hope you check it out when it’s available.

Until then, I’ll leave the links for The Pure World Comes down below in case you want to check it out. And if you prefer audio, I’ll post links for Rose. After all, that book has an excellent audio book as well.

So, until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night and pleasant nightmares.

*Whether or not you get your investment back, that will depend on your marketing skills and a few other factors. Good luck to you and me both!

The Pure World Comes: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, Goodreads

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible, B&N

How’s your July going, everyone? One-third or so the way in, and things are getting better. It’s been a rollercoaster, but I think as I get more stuff unpacked and get used to living in this new space, it’s getting easier. Perhaps by the end of the month, I’ll be in so good a mood, I’ll dance around my new condo.

Alright, now onto business. As you can tell from the super-helpful title of the post, it’s been two months since the release of my latest book, The Pure World Comes. As you probably know, The Pure World Comes is my Gothic horror novel that I released back in May. It takes place in Victorian England and follows a maid who goes to work for a mad scientist. Here’s the blurb from the back of the book:

Shirley Dobbins wants nothing more than to live a quiet life and become a head housekeeper at a prestigious house. So when she is invited to come work for the mysterious baronet Sir Joseph Hunting at his estate, she thinks it is the chance of a lifetime. However, from the moment she arrives things are not what they seem. As she becomes wrapped up in more of the baronet’s radical science, she realizes something dark and otherworldly is loose within the estate. And if left unchecked, it’ll claim the lives of all she holds dear.

So, is there anything new to announce since the one-month anniversary? Actually, yes: the audio book for TPWC is coming along very nicely. Yeah, there’s an audio book on the way, and so far, it sounds great. I’m working with a professional narrator, Nikki Delgado, and she’s done a great job on the story and the characters. We’ve exchanged notes, and she’s updating the files for each chapter even as you read this. I should hopefully know when it’s coming out very soon.

Hopefully, people will enjoy the audio book.

Well, given the reviews the book has gotten, I think the audio book will be received just as well:

In Victorian England, Shirley Dobbins rises from lowly maid to competent scientist. The problem is, her tutor and employer is a mad scientist, and his mansion is haunted. I loved the cast Ungar put together, young to old, rich and poor, lower class and upper class, and most dramatically, kind hearted and evil. The mad scientist’s haunted mansion is a character, too, with its secret laboratory and portals and rats and a haunted toilet…Gothic horror fans will love The Pure World Comes. Ungar keeps getting better and better. He has become an auto-buy author for me.

Priscilla Bettis, Amazon

I really like Gothic stories, so I was excited to read this, and it didn’t disappoint. I liked the protagonist very much. Shirley had many qualities that, for me, make a strong protagonist. She struck me as being a character who didn’t rely on others for approval, and while she seemed a sensitive character in many ways, I felt that she was self-contained. She was not overly emotional, and it seemed that she had a realistic view of the world around her. I liked that. The story itself was very gripping, and there were even some moments that caused me to gasp in surprise while I was reading. However, this was something that encouraged me to keep reading. Something else that I enjoyed about this was that it wasn’t too long or drawn out. It was a satisfying read, and intriguing read, but short enough to read in one sitting, if desired. The kind of thing that I might choose if I wanted a short book to read on the evening before my book club meeting. I have some friends who are keen on this type of story too, so I may recommend this book to them.

Kelly Marie Purdy, Goodreads

I love it when I’m pleasantly surprised by a book. Rami Ungar is not a debut author, (according to the back of the book, this is his fourth novel), but his work is new to me and so I went in not knowing what to expect. What I got was a short novel so perfectly Victorian and utterly Gothic that it made my old-fashioned self giddy as a schoolgirl…Mixing classic-romantic Victorian elements with early science-fiction, tales of Jack the Ripper/Spring-Heeled Jack, and a bit of the occult, this book gives the reader a truly chilling and also slightly fun little Gothic adventure.

Heather Miller, Amazon

And these are just some of the reviews TPWC has received these past two months. I hope as word spreads, more people give it a read and let me know what they think.

Speaking of which, if you would like to read The Pure World Comes and see if this Gothic horror tale is as enjoyable as the reviewers above say, why not give it a read yourself? I’ll include the links below so you can check it out yourself. And if you like what you read, please leave a review! Not only does your feedback help me out as a writer, but they help other readers figure out whether or not to try a book out themselves. So, you’d be helping me and other readers out as well.

Anyway, I look forward to hearing what you think of the story, and I’ll let you know about the audio book or the third anniversary, whichever comes first. And in the meantime, I’ll keep you updated on what’s going on in my life and career, especially once my internet is installed tomorrow (darn internet provider screw ups).

Anything else? Oh wait, I got a joke for you that I heard from my dad recently. It’s one of his best: a man’s wife asked him to go pick up six bottles of Sprite from the grocery store. Unfortunately, he miscounted and picked seven up.

Get it?

Well, until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night and pleasant nightmares!

The Pure World Comes: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, Goodreads

A lot’s been happening this month, hasn’t it? My birthday, bought a condo, and now three book anniversaries! In this case, the anniversary is for Rose, my first novel with a publisher, my most reviewed novel, and by far my most popular book. As of today, Rose is three years old.

So if you’re unaware, Rose is a Kafkaesque fantasy-horror novel that was published on June 20th, 2019. The novel follows Rose Taggert, a young grad student who wakes up in a greenhouse with no memories of the past two years. Immediately afterwards, her body transforms into a plant/human hybrid as an attempt to save her life. As she tries to adjust to the changes, Rose realizes that those around her are not all they seem, leading to a desperate fight for survival.

I first started Rose as my college thesis back in 2014 during my last year in college, and finished the first draft back in 2015. Six drafts later, including one where I rewrote about two-thirds of the book,* it was published by Castrum Press in paperback and ebook, with the audio book being released six months later.

And as I said, it’s been my most popular book, with most of the reviews being overwhelmingly positive. I think it’s the odd concept of a woman turned into a plant/human hybrid. It was heavily influenced by my love of anime and manga, which I made sure showed in the book, as well as Stephen King’s novel Misery. It’s been quite heartwarming to hear so many people love it and even to say that it’s one of their favorite novels.

In fact, here’s what people are saying:

Loved the premise and all of the descriptions of turning into a plant creature, as well as several other body horror scenes, were disturbing in the best way. I also liked the psychological horror of the story and was often at the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next…Overall, a solid horror story! I feel the strong beginning and surprising and intense ending made this a great horror experience and a book I would definitely recommend.

Emma, Amazon

From start to finish, Rose does not disappoint. The story has good pacing and I was actually quite surprised as to how developed the charters were considering how short the book is. What I really enjoyed about this book was that even if you strip away all the supernatural elements it is still a good story and once it picks up you will not want to stop reading. I do have a couple things that I would have liked to have happened in the story but they are minor and with trying not to give any spoilers away, I will keep them to myself…If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be held captive by a psychopath with a magic tome then this book is for you. Do not let the cover fool you. This is not a tween fantasy novel.

Jarod, Amazon

In this work, Rami Ungar paints a captivating picture of Japanese folklore and magic, which serves as a backdrop for a story about captivity, manipulation, and possession! His narrative style also captures the dread and claustrophobia of being a captive, not to mention the twisted pathology of the captor! Scary stuff, and all the while you’re rooting for the bad guys to get their just desserts!

Matthew Williams, author of The Jovian Manifesto, Goodreads

There’s more like this, and a few unlike it, but I don’t want to make this post annoyingly long.

Anyway, if any of the above makes you want to check out Rose, I’ll include the links down below. And if you end up reading the book, please let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback, and it not only helps me in the long run, but other readers as well.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m sure I’ll be back with more news very soon. But until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

*Word of advice, don’t write flashbacks into your story unless they relate to the main plot of the story, let alone make them a third of the story and another third dependent on the flashbacks. They might be interesting or do plenty of character development, but they’re unnecessary to the main story and will in all likelihood be nixed from the final product. Believe me, I know.

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible, B&N

You know me by now. In addition to horror, I love Japanese culture, especially anime and manga. So I was very excited to hear that Alma Katsu was putting out a new historical horror novel that would draw heavily on the myth of the jorogumo, or the spider-woman. Add in a WWII backdrop and I knew I wanted to read it.

Following several story threads, The Fervor mainly focuses on Meiko Briggs, the Japanese wife of a white pilot off at war, and her daughter Aiko. They are kept in the Minidoka internment camp by the US government for fear that they are Japanese spies just because of their ancestry. And as awful as that is, it gets worse. A strange disease is moving through the camp, striking down internees and guards alike, making them aggressive, violent and paranoid. As this disease, known as “the fervor,” spreads beyond the camp, Meiko realizes that this disease isn’t just killing her fellow Japanese, but it may have its origins in both Japanese culture and her own personal history.

So, Katsu admits in an afterword that this novel is different from her past historical horrors. The story of a disease attacking Japanese during a wave of anti-Japanese sentiment in the USA isn’t just an artistic choice. This book was written during a wave of anti-Asian sentiment after conspiracy theorists started spreading the rumor that China deliberately released COVID-19 upon the world. And it shows in the novel’s focus on not the disease, but on the other contagions that were common during WWII: fear and hatred. The same contagions that lead to the Holocaust in Europe and which led to the internment of Japanese Americans in camps throughout the United States, two of the most shameful chapters of human history.

This novel, as Katsu says, is a mirror.

But, how is this mirror as a story?

As you can expect, the story is extremely well-researched. Katsu, who is half-Japanese herself, draws from the stories of many of her relatives to bring to life the internment camps. You really feel you’re at the camp at times, as well as to the rest of WWII America. She also juggles the many characters, their at times contradictory minds and personalities, and the plot threads like a master. At no point did I feel that any of these characters were being emphasized too much or neglected, and they eventually come together satisfactorily. My favorite character was young Aiko, who is a bit of an outsider in more ways than one, and goes through quite a bit to survive what occurs in the novel.

And while Katsu admits she plays a bit with the WWII timeline a bit, she also includes some people and things that readers might not know about. While a fictional portrayal, Minidoka was a real place and the version we see here is based on actual testimony, minus the pandemic, of course. Also, Archie Mitchell was a real person and the balloons that play a part in the novel are based on the Fu-Go balloons that were actually used by the Japanese (and which I don’t remember being taught in my college WWII classes).

That being said, there were some things that could have been better. While most of the novel did the mirroring of our own age without being too over-the-top or preachy, the final chapter feels a bit like an overdramatic or melodramatic finish. Coming after a climax I felt was anticlimactic, I felt the ending was a bit of a letdown after what had been a good read so far. And this is a small gripe, but I spent several chapters thinking Aiko was younger than she was. True, there were hints based on the flashbacks of her true age, but the way she was written, I was surprised when I read she was twelve.

On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving The Fervor by Alma Katsu an even 4. While the story could have been wrapped better, it was still a great read that was well told and did a good job reflecting both the shameful parts of our past and our present. Pick it up, give it a read and see for yourself.

And if you would like some more background on the novel, read my interview with Alma Katsu on The Fervor from February. I had a great time picking her brain on the novel.

So much has happened in just one month, it’s kind of hard to believe. But as I just said, it’s been a month since The Pure World Comes came out and I couldn’t be more pleased that people are reading the book. And not just reading it, they’re enjoying it!

So, for those of you who are unaware (though I would be surprised if any of you are unaware, the way I talk about it), The Pure World Comes is a new Gothic horror novel that I released on May 10th. It’s set in the Victorian period and is about a maid who goes to work for a mad scientist. Imagine if Frankenstein and Crimson Peak had a baby together. Here’s the full back cover blurb:

Shirley Dobbins wants nothing more than to live a quiet life and become a head housekeeper at a prestigious house. So when she is invited to come work for the mysterious baronet Sir Joseph Hunting at his estate, she thinks it is the chance of a lifetime. However, from the moment she arrives things are not what they seem. As she becomes wrapped up in more of the baronet’s radical science, she realizes something dark and otherworldly is loose within the estate. And if left unchecked, it’ll claim the lives of all she holds dear.

Sounds cool, right? And it’s been selling steadily over the past month, which has made me happy. Not Stephen King numbers, but enough that I’m hopeful that it’ll continue to do well.

And the reviews! Wow, people seem to like this book. Here’s what people are saying about it:

The Pure World Comes by Rami Ungar
The story started with a slow build which
quickly turned into a page turner for me.
It has a bit of a Frankenstein feel to it.
It was a little out there but I really enjoyed
it.

Annette Johnson, Amazon

I really like Gothic stories, so I was excited to read this, and it didn’t disappoint.

I liked the protagonist very much. Shirley had many qualities that, for me, make a strong protagonist. She struck me as being a character who didn’t rely on others for approval, and while she seemed a sensitive character in many ways, I felt that she was self-contained. She was not overly emotional, and it seemed that she had a realistic view of the world around her. I liked that.

The story itself was very gripping, and there were even some moments that caused me to gasp in surprise while I was reading. However, this was something that encouraged me to keep reading.

Something else that I enjoyed about this was that it wasn’t too long or drawn out. It was a satisfying read, and intriguing read, but short enough to read in one sitting, if desired. The kind of thing that I might choose if I wanted a short book to read on the evening before my book club meeting. I have some friends who are keen on this type of story too, so I may recommend this book to them.

Kelly Marie Purdy, Goodreads

I enjoyed this book immensely. It was clear that the author has undertaken thorough research into the Victorian era as well as reading many novels from the period. I don’t know if it was a coincidence or a nod to Victorian classics, but I liked that Nellie shares her name with the housekeeper & narrator from ‘Wuthering Heights’, and when Shirley muses on suitable names for her white kitten, the author name checks Dinah, the cat of the eponymous heroine in ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

The pace of the book was perfect too. Everything was recounted at the right speed and with enough detail to keep me on the edge of my seat. The author successfully frightened me whilst I read this alone, late at night! I will also never dally in the bathroom ever again!

Nicola Mitchell, Goodreads

I like that that last reviewer picked up on those references. Truth be told, though, I put a lot of references in the book, including to the Overlord novels, Once Upon a Time, and even Doctor Who. Good luck spotting them all if you read the book.

Speaking of which, if you’re curious and want to read the book, I’ll leave the links, including to Goodreads, down below. Right now it’s available in paperback and ebook, with an audio book is currently in pre-production (details will be released when the audio book is on its way to being released). And I hope you want to check it out, because I’m really proud of the book. It’s a love letter to the Victorian era of history, which I love, as well as to the Gothic and horror stories from that age.

Not to mention, as the reviews above show, it’s quite scary. Especially that bathroom scene!

And if you do read TPWC, I hope you’ll leave a review somewhere. Not only does the feedback of readers help me improve as a writer, but it tells other likeminded readers whether or not to try out the book. And the more reviews, the more likely they are to check out a book in the first place. And if more people check out the book…well, you get the idea.

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to bury myself six feet deep in scary stories. Until next time, good night, don’t take medical advice from Victorian doctors, and pleasant nightmares.

The Pure World Comes: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, Goodreads