I have a couple more Hallowreads coming for y’all. I am several stories into Harlan County Horrors, edited by Mari Adkins, and after that I will start Congregations of the Dead by James A. Moore and Charles R. Rutledge. I am also somewhat distracted by watching AMC’s Preacher. But I will get reviews posted of both by Halloween. In the meantime, I’ve already reviewed some pretty damn good horror here at Hillbilly Highways.
Some Dark Holler by Luke Bauserman
“Bauserman starts thing at a slow boil, introducing the setting and characters. The story really kicks off when Ephraim’s mother Lucretia demands he kill Peyton’s brother in retaliation for his daddy’s death. Silas fought for the Yankees, and that is as good as killing him himself in Lucretia’s eyes.
For a hillbilly like me, stories set in the Appalachian Mountains live or die by their voice. Bauserman absolutely nails it. Not just the way we talk, but the way we think and act. This may be a debut novel, but the voice is right up there with a Manly Wade Wellman or a Ron Rash.”
Krampus: The Yule Lord by Brom
“It’s dark fantasy and southern gothic set in meth-ravaged West Virginia and owes more to writers like Ron Rash and Daniel Woodrell than Stephen King. All set against a pagan, Norse mythology. If that sounds like it’s up your alley, you’ll love it. If it doesn’t? You’ll probably still love it.”
Devil’s Call by J. Danielle Dorn
“Devil’s Call is a slow burn, and 275 pages proves to be the perfect length to bring things to a boil. Dorn ever so slowly begins to suggest just how much Li Lian’s vengeance will cost and just how dangerous the man who killed her husband is. Devil’s Call turns into something genuinely horrifying.”
Desper Hollow by Elizabeth Massie
“Just a couple of weeks ago I was talking about how a crime story fit uneasily into a second-world fantasy shell. A country noir shell, on the other hand, is an excellent fit for any number of sorts of SF stories. Including a zombie yarn. Desper Hollow is just that: a country noir zombie fantasy set deep in the hollers of Virginia.”
We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix
“We Sold Our Souls is also very much a horror story. It has fantastical elements, to be sure, but they are in service of the horror. As the name suggests, We Sold Our Souls features both literal and figurative take on the selling of souls. The latter should be obvious to anyone familiar with the music industry. The former is maybe too thinly explained to work as a fantasy, but it is more than enough for Hendrix’s horror purposes.
“We Sold Our Souls is a story about metal, about the working class kids who find meaning in it, about the way the recording industry inevitably works to suck the soul out of any music it comes into contact with, about making bad choices to because they hurt someone else or because we don’t appreciate the price. It is about the things in dark corners that feed off of us at night, about the violence in the dark corners of our heart. It is about the indomitable nature of the human spirit, or at least of one woman, even in the face of watching a man get his, er, face ripped off. It is scary as hell, but uplifting and deep nonetheless.”