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Howls from Hell Review

Howls from Hell Anthology CoverHowls from Hell is a forthcoming anthology from the HOWL Society (Horror-Obsessed Writing and Literature Society), edited by members of the Society, and showcasing the work of sixteen emerging writers from among its members. The anthology officially releases May 18, 2021, but is available for pre-order now. The Society was kind enough to provide me with an early copy for review.

The cover art by P.L. McMillan, who also contributes a story to the anthology, is striking, and each story is accompanied by an original illustration. All the illustrations, along with the design and layout work is done by Society members as well, proving this is a multi-talented group. The anthology as a physical object is sharp, professional-looking, and very nicely put together. Beyond the connecting thread of the HOWL Society, the anthology is un-themed, allowing authors to tackle a wide variety of subjects and approaches to horror. In these pages, you’ll find everything from quiet horror to the hyper-violent, supernatural horror, body horror, rural and suburban horror, and genre mash-ups with science fiction and fantasy. The variety of themes and approaches to horror is impressive, with a few stories in particular that  stood out to me.

“She’s Taken Away” by Shane Hawk is presented in the form of a police transcript of a conversation between Dr. Jay M. Landry and Annie Ellis, whose twin sister has been put away for terrible crimes. The piece is short, but with a strong voice, playing with the good twin/evil twin trope and exploring nature vs. nurture as the twins’ paths diverge and one sister engages in increasingly violent and disturbing behavior.

“Suspended in Light” by Alex Wolfgang is one of the quieter and more subtly unsettling stories in the anthology. A film student takes on a job cataloguing old film reels donated by a daughter cleaning out her mother’s estate. The first reel she watches features a man staring unnervingly at the camera, then setting up a second camera which seems to look back through the screen at her, causing her image to appear in a film shot over 80 years ago. The story effectively builds a sense of dread as it plays with the relationship between the viewer and the viewed, and looks at the sinister side of immortality on the silver screen, and what it means to capture memories through film.

“Possess and Serve” is a solid piece of sci-fi horror, imagining a future where individuals can subscribe to a service that allows them to summon an Assumed Control Unit officer to temporarily remotely possess their body to deescalate conflict and deal with other potentially dangerous situations. Sarah is one such officer who is summoned to the scene of a crime only to find that another Assumed Control Unit officer has possessed the body of the person who summoned them and is using said body to commit a horrific act. The story is tense, and nicely shows both the potential good enabled by technology and the ways technology might aid and abet the worst aspects of human nature.

“Sprout” by M. David Clarkson is another piece with a strong voice, offering up an atmospheric story of nature reclaiming and repurposing life to its own ends in gruesome ways. The story also explores the dynamics of power in a relationship built solely on lust, and the dangers of both feeling owed access to someone else’s body and blaming them for your actions.

“A Fistful of Murder” by Lindsey Ragsdale closes out the anthology with a unique twist on the cursed object trope. While making a purchase at a pet store, a man receives change which includes a $10 bill with the word kill written on it in red ink. The cashier is seemingly unable to see the message, but a mere accidental glance is enough to fill the man with an uncontrollable urge to cause pain and take life. The story brings into questions the idea whether violence is essential to the nature of man, or whether external factors – for example the literal idea of money as the root of all evil – is to blame.

With its wide range of themes and styles, there’s a little bit of something for everyone here, making Howls from Hell a satisfying read for horror fans.

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An Unlikely Update

So…The Journal of Unlikely Entomology. We’ve been doing things. Perhaps some of them have been quiet, but stuff has been happening. Fer instance:

Issue # 4 has been reviewed by SFRevu, and Locus Online even had nice things to say about us in their year end recap.

We have conveniently assembled a list of all our award-eligible stories for 2012, if you happen to be the sort who nominates things for awards such the Nebulas, the Hugos, the Stoker, and other relevant awards.

We have also accepted our first stories for our special, one-off Architecture Issue. Details will be forthcoming, and we look forward to announcing them soon. In the meantime, we remain open to submissions for the architecture issue, as well as submissions for our regular issues. Please send us your best work!

 

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Return to Dorian’s Parlor

Saturday night included another excursion to Dorian’s Parlor, the monthly steampunk event held at the Doubletree in Center City Philadelphia. There were no glow-stick sword fights this time, but there were fabulous costumes, daleks on the dj table, story tellers, a fashion show with zombies, and a stripper with a hula hoop. Drinks were consumed, pictures were taken, but not by me this time, and since the Gypsy Nomads were the headlining band this time, they played two sets, which is a very good thing.

In other news, Tangent Online reviewed Sybil’s Garage #7, and the reviewer had some very kind things to say about Under the Leaves. It seems, however, that the confusion over whether grandma is a ghost or a zombie is still alive and well, even if grandma herself isn’t.

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Odd Ends

A review of Sybil’s Garage No. 7 from SFRevu.

Captured: America in Color from 1939-1943, a set of gorgeous photos reproduced from color slides. It’s like stepping into a combination of Carnivale, Grapes of Wrath, and American propaganda posters – really wonderful stuff!

To make up for the fact I had to work over the long weekend, I went book shopping. It’s like comfort eating, but slightly healthier…maybe. The results: Patient Zero by Jonathan Mayberry,  House of Mystery: The Beauty of Decay, by various authors, and Sympathy for the Devil, by various authors, edited by Tim Pratt.

books

Finally: Dear cooler weather, where did you go? What gives? Don’t be a tease. It’s not nice. Seriously.

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Revisionsim Reviewed

The Internet Review of Science Fiction has a brief review of Revisionist History in their June issue. Overall positive, but not enough to garner a ‘Recommended’ rating.

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Bits and Pieces

The Fix posted a very positive review of January’s Strange Horizons, including some kind words about Sisters of the Blessed Diving Order of Saint Peter and Saint Andrew.

storySouth’s Million Writers Award is now open for nominations. Self-nomination is allowed, so I did, cuz everyone else is doing it. Also, if there are going to be any cliffs, and the jumping off thereof, I’m totally up for that too.

Finally, go read this: On the Human Plan by Jay Lake. It’s quite good.

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Long Title, Short Review

I get a kick out of Free SF Reader’s reviews – one or two sentences capturing the spirit of the story and a score out of five. For example, their review of Sisters of the Blessed etc., “We don’t help dead men, stupid.” 3 out of 5. Nice.

Speaking of reviews, The Internet Review of Science Fiction also had good things to say about the story. Huzzah!

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December’s Ideomancer…

… has been reviewed over at The Fix, and they had some very nice things to say about Cloth from Flesh, Flesh from Bone. Woohoo!

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