Saturday, May 25, 2024

Craft: Stories I Wrote for the Devil by Ananda Lima


At a Halloween party in 1999, a writer slept with the devil. She sees him again and again throughout her life and writes stories for him about things both impossible and true. Stories I Wrote for the Devil lures readers into surreal pockets of the United States and Brazil, where they’ll find bite-size Americans in vending machines and the ghosts of living people. Ananda Lima speaks to modern Brazilian-American immigrant experiences―of ambition, fear, longing, and belonging―and reveals the porousness of storytelling and of the places we call home.

I wanted to love this book. It's clever in theory but the execution left something to be desired. 
It started off well enough, at a Halloween party where a woman is waiting for the man she loves who is actually in a relationship with her friend. How depressing right? 

While she is waiting she meets the devil himself who offers to split up the happy couple and shows that he can do it. After spending a night together she continues to see the devil in various spots...and she writes stories.
I would have preferred it if she just told those stories in a linear fashion. Instead the stories are broken up in a disjointed way. There are pages of story critiques that serve only as an interruption.

The devil was charming and I would have liked him to play a larger role.
I did enjoy some of the stories, especially Antropofaga in which tiny humans are purchased as snacks from a vending machine among all the other junk foods.
And Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory where someone's ultimate hell is Penn Station.

This was just an ok read for me. You may enjoy it more than I did.

3 out of 5 stars

My thanks to Tor Books 

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Incidents Around the House by Josh Malerman

A chilling horror novel about a haunting told from the perspective of a young girl whose troubled family is targeted by an entity she calls “Other Mommy,” from the New York Times bestselling author of Bird Box
To eight-year-old Bela, her family is her world. There’s Mommy, Daddo, and Grandma Ruth. But there is also Other Mommy, a malevolent entity who asks her every day: “Can I go inside your heart?”  
When horrifying incidents around the house signal that Other Mommy is growing tired of asking Bela the same question, over and over . . . Bela understands that unless she says yes, soon her family must pay. 
Other Mommy is getting restless, stronger, bolder. Only the bonds of family can keep Bela safe but other incidents show cracks in her parents' marriage. The safety Bela relies on is on the brink of unraveling.  
But Other Mommy needs an answer. 
Incidents Around the House is a chilling, wholly unique tale of true horror told by the child Bela. A story about a family as haunted as their home.


Eight-year-old Bela is the only child in a dysfunctional family full of secrets. Bela has also been keeping her own secret from Mommy and Daddo. She's been talking to an entity that hides in her closet. An entity she calls Other Mommy that at first seems friendly and benign but is now becoming increasingly bold and aggressive. Other Mommy is growing more powerful and no longer confined to Bela's room. It grows angry and frustrated that Bela will not answer its question "Can I go into your heart?" Now it follows Bela everywhere and has no fear of showing itself to others. It knows things about the family and uses it against them. It can be anywhere.

Told from Bela's point of view the story is even more terrifying when portrayed through the eyes of a child who is learning that her parents can't always protect her. She struggles on her own to understand the meaning of this entity wanting to go into her heart and her sadness at the loss of what she once considered to be a companion who was there for her when her parents were not.

This is not one of those books that I couldn't put down. Incidents Around The House is a book that I had to put down more than once.  I had to take a break because it was scaring me. It brought back every childhood nightmare I had ever managed to forget. It will land on my Best Horror Novel of the Year list.

5 out of 5 stars

My thanks to Del Rey Books

Available for pre-order

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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Movie Review- Pandemonium

Drawing on themes found in Dante’s Inferno and Milton’s Paradise Lost, Pandemonium is a multi-textured existential fantasy, topped with signature notes of visceral horror, disturbing fairy tale, wry comedy, and dark thriller. From the creative mind of Quarxx, comes this aesthetically stunning and relentlessly macabre tale. Pandemonium made its world premiere at Neuch√Ętel and went on to screen at Fantasia, Frightfest, Fantasy FilmFest, Sitges, Grimmfest, Trieste and Screamfest 
 Pandemonium follows Nathan (Hugo Dillon), an ordinary man on a journey he never expected. After realizing he has died at the scene of a car crash, Nathan descends into the depths of hell, where he is doomed to experience the pain of tortured souls along the way.

Nathan awakens after his car crash, only to be told by the biker he hit that they are in fact both dead. After his initial disbelief, he steps through the doorway that will eventually lead to his own personal hell. His first stop shows him how and why those who came before him are facing their own journey into hell. We see their individual stories as an anthology before we get to Nathan's fate at the end.

The anthology format reminded me of an old TV series called 13 Demon Street in which Lon Chaney Jr portrayed some sort of guardian to hell who was hoping to find someone with sins worse than his own so he could move on and they could take his place. But in Pandemonium there is nobody for Nathan to tell his side of the story to, his fate is sealed.

The most terrifying part is how easy it is to find oneself in hell. Those whose greatest sin may have been not paying attention are just as likely to end up damned as those who commit multiple murders. This bleak reveal is thought provoking. It made me wonder if there really is a hell can it be escaped by merely remaining sin free? Or must one actively participate in conscious deeds every single day to avoid ending up in hell? 
Get thee behind me Satan!

Available May 27 in the US, Canada, UK and Ireland. On the same day, Pandemonium will be available on major VOD platforms, including Apple TV and Prime Video.


Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Voracious by Wrath James White


Doctor Trevor Adams is a genius by all accounts. His ethics, however, leave a bit to be desired. When the Aphrodite Aesthetic Reconstruction Clinic hires him to create a genetic weight-loss treatment, Doctor Adams uses a synthetic retro virus to transport pygmy shrew DNA into clients willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars to be able to eat whatever they want without gaining a pound.

Pygmy Shrews have metabolisms so fast they don’t store fat cells and have to eat every two hours, twice their body-weight in food every day, or they will die. When they are hungry, they will attack and consume prey more than twice their size. They have fangs tipped with a red iron ore, saliva that contains a paralyzing neurotoxin, are the size of a quarter, and are considered to be some of the most vicious animals on earth. When Doctor Adams’s clients begin burning more calories than they can possibly consume, he is afraid he has made one terrible mistake.

Dieting and weight loss is a multi-billion dollar industry. The things people are willing to put themselves through to get that beach body know no limits. For some people, no danger is too great a risk.

What if you didn't need calorie restrictions, grueling workouts, pills, or surgeries? Dr. Trevor Adams has an incredible solution. After one easy treatment, you can eat anything you like for the rest of your life and never gain an ounce. You can even eat things you would never have dreamed of eating before. In fact, you will have to eat anything and everything you can get your hands on because your body is wasting away faster than you can chew.

These unforeseen consequences will affect not only the recipients of this treatment but everyone around them, and time is running out because the hunger is spreading.

Voracious is a satirical horror with bite. It's a fast paced gory read about what happens when vanity and greed try to mess with mother nature. I would recommend it to those who like their horror on the more extreme side.

My thanks to Cemetery Dance Publications.

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