Archive for the ‘Scary Stuff’ Category

Tour entrance of the West Virginia Penitentiary

As you know, I went to another haunted location recently. This one was the West Virginia Penitentiary, which was to be the host of the West Virginia Penitentiary Paracon. Now, you know me, I never pass up the opportunity to visit a haunted location, so the day before the Paracon I visited the prison for a tour.

Now, if you’ve never been to the Penitentiary (and I bet many of you haven’t), it’s a big, Gothic building that reminds me of my beloved Ohio State Reformatory back in Mansfield. Granted, it’s older by about twenty years and was in operation for far longer, and its history is certainly bloodier. In fact, the prison used to be known nationwide as “Blood Alley,” and it was cited by the Justice Department in an investigation of America’s prisons as its worst examples. In the late 1980s, there was a riot there that killed four people, and at one point, an Aryan Brotherhood leader was murdered by his deputy during yard time!

And these are just drops in the bucket: apparently the prison saw about 998 deaths during its operation. And that’s just the ones that we know of that weren’t scheduled executions.

Obviously, the building is supposed to be haunted up to the gills, and I was hoping I might experience some creepy occurrences while there. Sadly, I didn’t, and I couldn’t attend the vendor ghost hunt after the paracon. However, I did feel something in one area:

The “skating rink,” where I got a really bad feeling

There’s this long corridor near where you enter the building for tours called the skating rink. It got that name because during the winter, event today, this corridor ices over and you can skate on it. When the prison was in operation, prisoners were supposed to line up along the walls before going back to their cells, and anyone who would step over a line on the floor would be shot dead. It was a great way to get rid of someone you disliked, and plenty of people did.

I did not know this, but I felt some negative energy in that area. When the tour guide told us about that, it made sense.

I then told our tour guide about my feeling, and he later said to another tour guide as they passed by that he was scared of me (I hadn’t even told him I was a writer yet). I was proud that he figured out to be afraid of me. Very few realize they should until it’s too late.

Some other places that caught my attention were:

This one wall. Can you see a signature? That’s from Zak Bagans, leader of the Ghost Adventures team from TV. Apparently he left his signature there while filming an episode there. However, someone destroyed part of the signature (I think the dude was drunk), and it’s now a funny part of the tours.

This hallway is infamous for a funny reason: apparently the pattern on the floor was imported from Spain, but when Netflix used part of the prison for filming an episode of Mindhunter, they placed their own tile on the floor, ruining the pattern. Netflix is now banned from ever using the prison. I find that hysterical.

This is the Wheel. It separated the main prison from either a residential or administrative section of the prison. Only one other like it exist in the world, in Manchester, England, and it’s the only one in existence still being used.

On the tour, we learned that the prison was used as the filming location for the TV show Castle Rock, and that this particular cell was where Bill Skarsgard stood for his scenes. Standing in that same cell was just plain awesome!

Finally, there was this moment: this section, in addition to having some creepy spirits, is probably the only area in the prison where the cell doors still work. The cells are about five feet by seven, and would usually house three inmates, and they would let us experience what it’s like to be in that cell as a prisoner for a minute.

Naturally, I got it on camera.

Yeah, that was a cool moment. Even if I didn’t get any sort of presence in there.

So, would I go back? Probably, if I could properly investigate the place. There are some shadow figures that supposedly hang around, and I would like to see about contacting some of the other spirits, including ones in areas that weren’t on the tour (some places were just off-limits for certain reasons).

And maybe I’ll get something really creepy on video. Creepier than me, anyway.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to work on Crawler. After this chapter, I may take a break to work on a short story or two. And I might have a post or two to write in the near future. So, until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and is that a chupacabra outside your window?

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.

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?

In his latest collection, Junji Ito contains four short horror manga for us to enjoy. Surprisingly, none of them are named “The Liminal Zone,” which is unusual for his collections.

That’s it. That’s the summary of the book.

So, as you all know, Ito-sensei’s work can be really hit-or-miss with me. Some of it, like Remina or Uzumaki, are masterpieces and I feel should be read by horror lovers everywhere. Others, like Smashed or Fragment of Horror, didn’t make that big an impact on me (though I think one of the short stories in the latter inspired one of the stories that’ll be in Hannah). This collection, for the most part, was a miss.

The first story, Weeping Woman Way, is about a couple who come across a professional mourner, affecting the woman in the couple. It is kind of eerie, but it kind of fell flat with me. Too much exposition and not enough focus on the horror, which I feel is a trend with the lesser of Ito’s stories.

The second, Madonna, was my favorite. Taking Catholic veneration of Jesus’s mother Mary to new extremes, the story takes place at an all-girls school where the principal’s wife dresses up as the Virgin Mary. As new student Maria Amano notices weird things occurring at the school, and the attentions of the principal and his wife become more than creepy, she finds herself wrapped up in a terrifying plot centered around the belief that the Virgin Mary will reincarnate one day.

As a cult story, I rather liked it and how it took Mary worship in a rather disturbing direction. I also like how Ito-sensei explored feminist themes in the story, like how many of the female characters equate acting passive and devoted to their god–the principal–to acting like Mary. Even the main character acts very passively and only takes action when her own life is threatened.

The one flaw with the story was that I would have liked a slightly different ending, but overall it’s easily the best story in the collection. I would love to see how a live-action horror adaptation would handle the story. It would likely be an improvement over that other horror movie about twisted Marian veneration that came out last year.

The third story, The Spirit Flow of Aokigahara, is Ito’s take on the famous “Suicide Forest” of Aokigahara, and I did not think it was possible to find a story on that subject I would hate more than 2016’s The Forest (see my review here). A terminally ill man and his girlfriend head to the forest to commit suicide and find a mysterious phenomenon involving ghosts and a mysterious cave. I really have no idea what was up with this story. It just seemed like Ito was throwing darts at a board and trying to see what plot points he could hit.

Though I do appreciate that it made fun of that idiot YouTuber who actually posted footage of a dead body on his channel by having another YouTuber experience something sanity ending.

The final story, Slumber, wasn’t half-bad. A guy believes that he’s been going out and killing people after he goes to sleep. It’s a decent psychological thriller with a nice twist. Plus, the art is especially gruesome.

All in all, this is one of Ito-sensei’s lesser collections, though there is material to enjoy. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m going to give The Liminal Zone a 2.5 out of 5. If there was more or better material inside, the grade would have been better, but it is what it is. Read for Madonna and Slumber, but skip over the other two.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll have some more posts out next week, believe me. So until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

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

Why do all my publishing anniversaries seem to happen around the same time this year? I swear, they were slightly more spread out last year.

Anyway, nine years ago, I published my first book, The Quiet Game: Five Tales to Chill Your Bones. It was a short collection of stories I worked on when I wasn’t in classes. I was just barely twenty years old, still very new to the world of professional writing and publishing, and very impatient. I saw plenty of writers who were getting success self-publishing their works (some of whom I’m still friends with and who read this blog on occasion), and decided to try it myself.

Honestly, I don’t know how I was able to get a book out. I made mistakes along the way, certainly, and they still show, such as the double “F” in the subtitle on the cover. (Honestly, I became fond of that error after time). But despite all that, this book has gotten plenty of love and some decent reviews over the years. In fact, just a few days ago, my friend, colleague and well-known Follower of Fear Iseult Murphy published a review on her blog. You can read the full review here.

But that’s not the only review The Quiet Game has received. Take a look here:

A good collection of horror shorts with variety and little repeating themes. At the end of each story, the author has a little explanation for them…All in all, it’s a worthwhile read and a good debut for the author. 

Zraitor, Goodreads

A collection of five varied stories that get stronger as the collection builds, with the final being my favorite. Though I fancy myself able to “solve” the stories before the reveals, there were several surprises here, especially the reveal in the Quiet Game and I’m Going to be the Next James Bond. I also liked that Rami pulled no punches with his characters. In one instance, an anti-semite for instances uses words that would be hard for any author to write -though are necessary to his character. There are other examples sprinkled throughout the stories that show Rami’s commitment to telling the story in the way it needs to be told. A good collection for a stormy night!

Joleene Naylor, author of the Amaranthine series, Amazon

5 wonderfully crafted tales! I purchased this as an eBook originally and put off reading it for quite a while, I really wish I hadn’t waited. Sometimes when one purchases a collection of short stories you expect some of them to be less entertaining or of lower quality than the others, but none of these disappoint. Well worth the money, especially considering after you read each story the author gives you creative insight into what inspired him to write each tale, which is really wonderful.

Jeff D, Amazon

As my first book, it warms my little demonic heart to know that people enjoyed it so much and left such kind words. And I’m hoping that by the time we reach the ten year anniversary, the book will continue to gain fans and will let me know what they think.

And speaking of which, if you would like to check out The Quiet Game, I’ll post links below. Will you face the evils of your own vices in the story Addict? Or will you shiver due to the dybbuk in Samson Weiss’s Curse? These and others are available in the collection, so why not check it out? It might scare you, and it’s a good book to read while you wait for Hannah and Other Stories to be released.

(Though honestly, I’d say that about any of my books.)

And if you like what you read, or don’t like it, please leave a review. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback and it helps me out in the long run. Plus, it lets other readers know whether or not they should check the book out.

Anyway, that’s all I have for now. I have to send some dybbuks after a Supreme Court justice or two, so I’ll sign off. Until next time, good night, happy reading, and pleasant nightmares!

The Quiet Game: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo.

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

Placeholder cover for Hannah and Other Stories.

As many of you know, I’ve been preparing to move from my apartment this weekend and into a condo. (And if you don’t, now you do). However, when I haven’t been packing, I’ve been trying to meet my obligations as a writer. The most important of these is to get edits done on one of the stories in Hannah and Other Stories, my upcoming collection of short stories. And damnit, I just finished it today.

So just to recap, Hannah and Other Stories is a collection of short stories I’ll be publishing with BSC Publishing Group. There are seven stories in the collection, and I just finished editing the third, “The Autopsy Kid and Doctor Sarah,” about a girl’s relationship with a budding psychopath. It’s one of at least two edits I’ll be doing on this story for the next draft.

You see, during the revisions for the second story in Hannah, “Queen Alice,” the editors brought to my attention that I was doing more telling than showing and that I needed to work on that. They recommended that I go over “Autopsy Kid” after finishing “Queen Alice” to try to add more instances of showing and otherwise fix it up before they went over it. That way, I might get some lessons in better storytelling and they would have less notes to make regarding edits.

So, how did this first round of edits go? Really well, I think. As I said in my post about showing vs. telling, I wasn’t sure I understood the concept too well, let alone applying it in my writing. But “Autopsy Kid” is the longest story in the collection, so there were plenty of instances to practice. Indeed, I found plenty of places where I thought I should show rather than tell, and I think it worked out. The result was a more fleshed out story, with an antagonist who seemed more like a dark force of evil than a young boy with severe mental issues.

We’ll just have to see what BSC says. They have the manuscript now, so they’ll look through the story and let me know what edits they think I need to make. With any luck, showing vs. telling won’t be one of them and they’ll see less issues than I did on the first run-through. After that…well, we’ll see. Probably they’ll send me edits on the next story, “Fuselli’s Horses,” about carnivorous horses.

Yeah, you read that right. Carnivorous horses. I come up with the scariest, craziest shit.

And while I wait for those drafts, I’ll be moving and working on the first draft of the audio book of The Pure World Comes (which is coming along great). And after that? Well, we’ll see. It wouldn’t do to jump ahead of ourselves, now would it?

Anyway, that’s all for now. I’ll update you as updates come, especially for Hannah and for my new place.

And if you would like to support me, or if you would like something new and scary to read, I’ll post links to my books below. They’re all amazing stories that have received a lot of love over the years (Snake and The Pure World Comes especially have gotten some good feedback recently), so I urge you to check them out. And if you like what you read? Leave a review online somewhere! Positive or negative, I love reader feedback, it helps me out in the long run, and they help other readers decide what to read next themselves.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night, pleasant nightmares, and don’t befriend children who like cutting things up.

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

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

Snake: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

The Quiet Game: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo.

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.