The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough

The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Riveting. Moved so smoothly from scene to scene, between past to present, I was carried along and desperate for the next tidbit, even when it was awful. And this story is full of mostly awful things, a woman’s sad and angry remembrances of her life up to this point, the week of her father’s death. Cutting through all the disappointment and the rapidly unraveling sibling bonds is her hope for the return of a dark creature that might carry her away from a continued life of heartache, loneliness, and missed chances. The book pitch sounded to me like this was a “something lurking in the dark” story, so I expected a shivering and stalking sort of gothic haunting, but instead I found melancholy longing twisted up with barely suppressed rage. This story lures you in with soft sorrow and beautiful language and then twists all the sharp objects you didn’t realize were being pushed between your ribs. I loved it.

Read on: December 29, 2020

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The Book of Lamps and Banners (Cass Neary, #4) by Elizabeth Hand

The Book of Lamps and Banners by Elizabeth Hand

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Cass Neary #4 was worth the wait! In the first 50 pages it hit all my buttons for “ancient occult book thriller” and didn’t let up on the thriller for a moment. I was surprised by the challenges and unexpected changes of location Cass experienced along the way, which made for a really exciting and fresh read. I was not surprised that Cass was hitting bottom in this book, and I was rooting for her the whole time, not only to find the book but to decide to take care of instead of destroy herself. Hand uses the titular book to both introduce the is it/isn’t it supernatural element of the story and to dig out Cass’s trauma and force her to confront it and the ruin it’s wrought over decades of her life. The ending perfectly straddles that line between confronting the harsh reality of the present and being hopeful about the future.



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Nightmare Magazine, issue 94

Nightmare Magazine, Issue 94 (July 2020)Nightmare Magazine, Issue 94 by John Joseph Adams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Carlie St. George’s “Spider Season, Fire Season” is the stand-out story of this issue for me – the intersection of domestic violence, ghosts, spiders, and setting operated together in some serious spooky action. Adam R. Shannon’s “We Came Home from Hunting Mushrooms” is a tight slice of tragedy. I’ve never really read Joe R. Lansdale before, and was surprised how much I liked the creepy thrill of the classic horror chase in “The Folding Man,” when I usually avoid stories about inexhaustible relentless pursuit. Ama Patterson’s “Hussy Strutt” was too real to read, and oh so important for the same reason. I’m glad it ended with empowerment, and I’m sad that Patterson is gone.

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