Book Review: Lilitu: Memoirs of a Succubus by Jonathan Fortin

Review by Daphne Strassert

Content Warnings: depicts graphic violence and sex

In 2017, HorrorAddicts.net ran the Next Great Horror Writer Contest. Over the course of the season, the writers (myself included) submitted horror writing of various types and competed for the top spot and the final prize of a book contract with Crystal Lake Publishing. The winner was Jonathan Fortin and the book was Lilitu: Memoirs of a Succubus.

I have waited literal years for this book to come out. Jonathan Fortin embodies the heart and soul of what it means to be a horror writer and I’m absolutely privileged to have competed against him. Lilitu shows the countless hours of hard work that he put into crafting his story.

HorrorAddicts.net helped to find a truly gifted author and bring a wonderful work of horror out into the world.

In 1876, Unbeknownst to the masses of Victorian England, humanity is about to change forever. The immortal denizens of the Earth—the vampires, the lilitu, and the necromancers—are tired of hiding in the shadows of the night. They’ve hatched a plot to take the world for themselves.

Maraina never felt as if she belonged with her aristocratic family. She never felt pretty enough or charming enough. She was stifled by a future that held no hope for her. That changes with The Nightfall. When the demons rise to take England, Maraina faces a choice: renounce her humanity and become a succubus, or remain human and die a slave.

She is introduced to the world of demons by Salem, a powerful incubus who is fascinated by Maraina’s strength of mind. But the new society brought about by the immortals is just as cruel and evil as the one that they overthrew. Maraina may have forsaken her own humanity, but she won’t turn her back on it entirely.

Soon she finds herself at odds with Salem, as both he and the world spiral further into darkness. Maraina must find a way to save everyone from evil on all sides, in a way that only a demon can.

Though Lilitu is a long book, it never feels that while reading it. Scenes flow together seamlessly, each action leading to the next in a manner that pulls the reader along. Fortin lays the groundwork for plot twists early without giving too many clues that would reveal them. The result is a gripping story that keeps the reader engaged throughout.

The heart of the story lies with Maraina Blackwood. Maraina is a feminist icon trapped in the Victorian era. Plagued by the restrictive values and burdensome expectations of her time, Maraina is often her own worst enemy. Watching her grow to discover her potential is satisfying. She explores what true humanity means outside of mortality and damnation. Though her understanding of the world is turned on its head, she finds the core of who she really is.

Salem is a fantastic antagonist. At first, he’s sexy and alluring, his dark nature luring Maraina in. As the book progresses, the very things that made Salem appealing begin to lose their shine. Salem changes throughout the book, but it is not a fall from grace, rather a reveal as the scales fall from Maraina’s eyes. Salem becomes more purely himself in all his sinister glory. He becomes a more powerful enemy as Maraina herself comes into her own power.

In Lilitu, Fortin has created a wholly unique and fantastical world. The elements of the Nightfall perfectly highlight the injustices faced in Victorian England (and today). It’s clear that Fortin did his research. The details of Victorian society are seamless, creating the perfect backdrop for the horror elements that are introduced. The mythos of the immortal characters is thorough. Fortin hints at a much deeper world than the one that’s presented in Lilitu, making the reader hope that there will be more to come.

Fortin’s writing is deliciously gruesome. He strikes the perfect balance in his descriptions between the beautiful and horrifying. The emotions of the characters come through clearly and the horror to come creeps up slowly, giving the reader a sense of dread that can’t quite be explained.

The story is a delight to read but provides more substance than a shock-and-awe horror thriller would. Lilitu explores the nature of sexuality, war, and morality. Fortin lays bare themes about prejudice and justice that are just as timely now as they are for the characters.

In Lilitu, Jonathan Fortin has created a horror masterpiece that defies many genre expectations. He weaves together elements of social commentary, coming of age triumphs, and Lovecraftian horror with ease, packaging them neatly in a story that leaves no room to put the book down.

 

From the Vault : #NGHW Editor’s Pick: New Publication and Blog Tour

 

The following is an Anniversary re-post of an article presented on March 2018

HorrorAddicts.net continues our Horror Bites series with a bundle of new fiction by our Next Great Horror Writer Contestants.

Featuring work by:

Jonathan Fortin
Naching T. Kassa
Daphne Strasert
Jess Landry
Harry Husbands
Sumiko Saulson
Adele Marie Park
Feind Gottes
JC Martínez
Cat Voleur
Abi Kirk-Thomas
Timothy G. Huguenin
Riley Pierce
Quentin Norris

With an introduction by Emerian Rich.

 

HorrorAddicts.net is proud to present our top 14 contestants in the Next Great Horror Writer Contest. The included stories, scripts, and poems are the result of the hard work and dedication these fine writers put forth to win a book contract. Some learned they loved writing and want to pursue it as a career for the rest of their lives. Some discovered they should change careers either to a different genre of writing or to a new career entirely. Whatever lessons came along the way, they each learned something about themselves and grew as writers. We hope you enjoy the writing as much as we did.

Just 99 cents at Amazon.com

 HorrorAddicts.net

for Horror Addicts, by Horror Addicts

Listen to the HorrorAddicts.net podcast for the latest in horror news, reviews, music, and fiction.

HorrorAddicts.net Press

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Decade in review : A look back at 10 Years of HorrorAddicts.net

The Decade In Review

by Kate Nox

As we end our month of 10iversary celebration we offer a review of some of the content you have enjoyed and may want to take another look at.

Being a relatively new editor here at HorrorAddicts.net I find myself amazed at the scope of our horror blog. As a reader, you are part of a horror community from 192 countries around the world. From the United States to Togo, The United Kingdom to Antigua, Finland to Brazil,  readers are tuning in to check out what HorrorAddicts.net has to offer. On a regular basis, our staff reviews both blog statistics and your communications to make sure we are giving you what interests you most.  

At HorrorAddicts.net. We do our best to research and promote diverse and innovative voices. Among the most viewed entries of our past is an article entitled,  African American Horror Writers by David Watson. 5,123 of you enjoyed this feature.

We also try to bring you innovative content such as when we gave you the Next Great Horror Writer Contest and encouraged writers to advance their craft. You tuned in to read the author’s new material. Jonathan Fortin of El Cerrito, California was the contest winner and was awarded prizes including a  book contract from Crystal Lake Publishing. You were treated to all sorts of new reading experiences through the episodes of the contest.

One feature you have told us you really like are listicles. I’m with you on this. Give me a list comparing anything and I gotta read it! Among these, you enjoyed: Slasher Horror Books, and 1920’s Horror Books also written by David Watson.  

We are here to give authors for authors as well as readers. We are happy to share reviews and help authors get the word out about their books. You can always count on HorrorAddicts.net to give you book reviews such as those written by Chantal Boudreau on Arithmophobia by Ruschelle Dillon and by Stephanie Ellis on Ghost of Manor House by Matt Powers.

We often hear from our readers that one of the best things about our blog is finding and reading new authors. Sapphire Neal and Naching T. Kasa have done a great job of connecting us  with writers and personalities through their interview columns such as 13 Questions with Julie Hoverson and Chilling Chat: Episode 171 | Loren Rhoads

When you looked for the best in horror Movies you were directed to great film watching by Kristin Battestella and her Frightening Flix in Dracula 2000 and The Phantom of the Opera (2014).

For Indie Films you tuned into Crystal Connor and her Live Action Reviews such as the ones she did on  Welp and Never Tear Us Apart,

We gave you Extreme Transgressive Theatre like Salo (or The 120 Days of Sodom)  and The Human Centipede (First Sequence)

You enjoyed our coverage of the music scene in MUSIC REVIEW – Live show: Freakangel + Neonsol + Advance with Jeffery Kohld Kelly and with our new music feature like Merrill’s Musical Musings: Zwaremachine Review with R.L. Merrill.

We’ve had several writers who entertained you with Fiction Series.  Jesse Razorr gave you the frightening fairytale,   My Darling Dead. Russell Holbrook’s  Logbook of Terror travels kept you running in fear. Lionel Green continues to take us around the world through his investigations in THE BIGFOOT FILES and Kieran Judge always thrills with his inquiries into Odds and Dead Ends. 

Kenzie Kordic unnerved you in Kenzie’s Konspiracies  and D.J Pitsiladis kept you awake at night with his Nightmare Fuel

We also entertained in the Non-Media Areas of your life

We brought you cooking with Dan Shaurette in Morbid Meals We brought you Fashion advice from Mimielle who gave you My Melancholy Life. Kbatz gives you lots of haunting ideas for Krafts in her fun Kbatz Krafts Daphne Strasert brings you lots of spooky fun with her Ghastly Games

A few others I’d like to point out for their contributions to our decade of blogging are Christopher Fink writing as the Horror Seeker who gives us a variety of tales and information.  A.D. Vick has shared important information in articles such as The Passing of Sir Christopher Lee, and Cortney Mroch entertains us with Haunt Jaunts.

To take a look at any of the above, just click the link and enjoy. And, as always, please use the comment section to let us know what you like and to make suggestions for future blogging.

10iversary Chilling Chat with H.E. Roulo

10IVERSARY

H.E. Roulo’s short stories have appeared in several dozen publications, including Nature and Fantasy’s special Women Destroy Fantasy issue. She is the author of the Plague Master series. Fractured Horizon, her science-fiction podcast novel, was a Parsec HE ROULO 1Award Finalist. H.E. is a staple on HorrorAddicts.net. She has appeared in episodes 26, 31, 49, 56, 115, 173, and all of Season 12. She won the first Wicked Women Writers contest, won Best in Blood for Season 10, co-hosted #NGHW, and provided many voices–including those for Gothmazing Race.

1.) How old were you when you first became interested in horror?

I was always an avid reader. By the fifth grade, so around age 11, my father bought boxes of paperbacks at garage sales and I’d start at one end and read my way through. Horror was always an element in those boxes and, of course, the most popular authors were the ones I saw most frequently. I recall reading Dean R Koontz’s Watchers and being blown away. I was also impressed by what Stephen King was able to accomplish with The Long Walk.

2.) What is your favorite kind of horror? (i.e. Classic, Splatterpunk, Slasher, Gothic, etc.)

I love an element of science-fiction to my horror, also anything post-apocalyptic, like The Road, and World War Z, or dystopian like The Handmaid’s Tale. Time travel is also a favorite, like Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter.

3.) What is your favorite horror novel?

My likes change over time, and I think that’s good. For now, I’ll say that my favorite horror novel is The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

4.) What is your favorite horror TV show?

Dark is an excellent series. I love anything with time travel and puzzling events out.

5.) What is your favorite horror movie?

Right now, the new trailer for the next A Quiet Place movie is on my mind. I thought the original one was clever—who knew you could be anxious and enthralled sitting in theater so quiet you regretted the crunch of popcorn between your teeth? I love the new and untried. Anyway, I’m hoping the next one will be good as well.

6.) How did you first become involved with HorrorAddicts.net?

I’d released my dystopian novel Fractured Horizon and started a podcast interview show that allowed me to meet new writers. From there, I joined a Wicked Women Writers group and won their first writing contest. Since then, I’ve been on the blog many times, usually reading excerpts or a short story, but sometimes also as cohost or judge.

7.) What is your most favorite memory of the HorrorAddicts.net Blog? (i.e. favorite blog post written by you or someone else, favorite funny memory, etc.)

The season I assisted with the Next Great Horror Writer Contest was a lot of fun for me. I was supposed to be temporary, but each week I was called back to review and make observations on these amazing writers. It was a privilege to see what they came up with each week—the problem was in finding anything critical to say.

8.) What is your favorite part of the blog? (i.e. Book Reviews, Movie Reviews, Interviews, Game Reviews, Free Fiction, Crafting, etc.)

Naturally, I like the fiction.

9.) Why is this part your favorite?

We should always be pushing creativity and celebrating new authors and ideas. Horror Addicts gives writers another avenue for discovery and can open a dialogue with readers. I really enjoy being on the show.

10.) What would you like to see on the HorrorAddicts.net Blog in the future?

I’m certain HorrorAddicts.net will continue to evolve with the times. It’s great to have a place for music, fiction, and news, but I also like it when they change things up. I’m all about the publishing side of things. I didn’t submit to Dark Divinations—just too busy—but I’m inspired by the new anthology call for Haunts & Hellions.

Horror Addicts, you can find Heather on Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter.

 

 

10iversary Chilling Chat with H.E. Roulo

10IVERSARY

H.E. Roulo’s short stories have appeared in several dozen publications, including Nature and Fantasy’s special Women Destroy Fantasy issue. She is the author of the Plague Master series. Fractured Horizon, her science-fiction podcast novel, was a Parsec HE ROULO 1Award Finalist. H.E. is a staple on HorrorAddicts.net. She has appeared in episodes 26, 31, 49, 56, 115, 173, and all of Season 12. She won the first Wicked Women Writers contest, won Best in Blood for Season 10, co-hosted #NGHW, and provided many voices–including those for Gothmazing Race.

1.) How old were you when you first became interested in horror?

I was always an avid reader. By the fifth grade, so around age 11, my father bought boxes of paperbacks at garage sales and I’d start at one end and read my way through. Horror was always an element in those boxes and, of course, the most popular authors were the ones I saw most frequently. I recall reading Dean R Koontz’s Watchers and being blown away. I was also impressed by what Stephen King was able to accomplish with The Long Walk.

2.) What is your favorite kind of horror? (i.e. Classic, Splatterpunk, Slasher, Gothic, etc.)

I love an element of science-fiction to my horror, also anything post-apocalyptic, like The Road, and World War Z, or dystopian like The Handmaid’s Tale. Time travel is also a favorite, like Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter.

3.) What is your favorite horror novel?

My likes change over time, and I think that’s good. For now, I’ll say that my favorite horror novel is The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

4.) What is your favorite horror TV show?

Dark is an excellent series. I love anything with time travel and puzzling events out.

5.) What is your favorite horror movie?

Right now, the new trailer for the next A Quiet Place movie is on my mind. I thought the original one was clever—who knew you could be anxious and enthralled sitting in theater so quiet you regretted the crunch of popcorn between your teeth? I love the new and untried. Anyway, I’m hoping the next one will be good as well.

6.) How did you first become involved with HorrorAddicts.net?

I’d released my dystopian novel Fractured Horizon and started a podcast interview show that allowed me to meet new writers. From there, I joined a Wicked Women Writers group and won their first writing contest. Since then, I’ve been on the blog many times, usually reading excerpts or a short story, but sometimes also as cohost or judge.

7.) What is your most favorite memory of the HorrorAddicts.net Blog? (i.e. favorite blog post written by you or someone else, favorite funny memory, etc.)

The season I assisted with the Next Great Horror Writer Contest was a lot of fun for me. I was supposed to be temporary, but each week I was called back to review and make observations on these amazing writers. It was a privilege to see what they came up with each week—the problem was in finding anything critical to say.

8.) What is your favorite part of the blog? (i.e. Book Reviews, Movie Reviews, Interviews, Game Reviews, Free Fiction, Crafting, etc.)

Naturally, I like the fiction.

9.) Why is this part your favorite?

We should always be pushing creativity and celebrating new authors and ideas. Horror Addicts gives writers another avenue for discovery and can open a dialogue with readers. I really enjoy being on the show.

10.) What would you like to see on the HorrorAddicts.net Blog in the future?

I’m certain HorrorAddicts.net will continue to evolve with the times. It’s great to have a place for music, fiction, and news, but I also like it when they change things up. I’m all about the publishing side of things. I didn’t submit to Dark Divinations—just too busy—but I’m inspired by the new anthology call for Haunts & Hellions.

Horror Addicts, you can find Heather on Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter.

 

 

Nightmare November : Night Terrors by Daphne Strasert – Part 3

Night Terrors by Daphne Strasert

I don’t go to work anymore. I didn’t even call in. They might have fired me. That’s probably why my phone was ringing so much yesterday. It doesn’t matter; I threw it in the garbage disposal.

I can’t sleep. Not even if she isn’t in the house. I still hear it. Scuttling. Scurrying. Like rats on the ceiling. I turn to look at it and it’s gone. I don’t close my eyes. Not if I can help it.

Miela wants me to go to the hospital, see someone in the psych ward. She’s worried about me. As if I’m the one that wakes screaming, hoarse in the middle of the nig ht. As if I’m the one with bruises in the shape of handprints all over my arms. She thinks I’m the crazy one.

“Next Tuesday,” I assure her. “I’ll go next Tuesday if you’re still worried.”

“You said that, but it is Tuesday.”

It’s because I don’t sleep, she tells me. Because I’m not even trying. She begs me, she pleads. Go to a friend’s house, go to a hotel. She can go if I want. What would be the use? The shadows are following me.

It is following me.

When I thought it was a delusion, I was sure that the sleeping pills would work. But they didn’t. I couldn’t relax. Now I realize. My body knows what my analytical mind refuses to accept. There is something in the room. And if I go to sleep, I am at its mercy.

I pretend to fall asleep at night. Miela watches me, not sure what to do. When she finally drifts off, I sit up again and wait. It’s coming. It comes every night. For her. For me. I can’t be sure in the pitch darkness of the room, but the shadows move. They change places.

And then… it touches me. I can’t see it, but I can feel it. It’s not warm, but not cold either. It’s lukewarm, the same temperature as the room. All I feel is the pressure of its body as it passes over me and crawls to her. My heart pounds, first in panic for my own safety, but then in alarm for hers.  It moves over me as if I am unaware, as if I were the nightstand or the lamp.

She shudders and jerks away as it crosses from my body to hers. The air seems to thicken around her and she wakes in earnest, fighting against it. My shock chases out repulsion and for a staggering moment, I am clear of the haze of my insomnia. I grab at her wrists, feel the creature’s body slide through my hands as I try to pull it off. It’s like sinking my hands in mashed potatoes. Everywhere I think I gain purchase, it remolds around me. I am doing no good in this fight. She screams and struggles until it coils around her neck. She fights for air, dragging a hissing breath through her closing throat. I still try to pry the creature, the barely visible, insubstantial assailant, from her body. I do no good. It is unhindered as if I didn’t even try.

And then it leaves, pulling from her body and retreating again into the shadows, into wherever it first appeared. She gulps down air by my side and slips back into sleep.

The creature grows more clear each night that I see it. The shadows no longer hide its form from me.

It advances to the bed, its body white like sun-bleached bones. Each movement is a shaky jerk forward. It seems to be made of interconnected spores, like a cross between moss and cottage cheese. It has no face, at least none that I can discern. It sticks to the wall as if helped by millions of tiny suckers, like an octopus that’s escaped onto land. It does not try to hide or slink from my gaze. I am nothing for it to fear. It crawls across me, passing over my body in its path to her. I don’t breathe as it passes, and it doesn’t acknowledge my presence.

The affect its touch has on Miela is immediate. At the first brush of its tentacles, she grimaces. The skin around where the creature touches grows pale. Her mouth twists and her eyes squeeze more tightly shut. She moves her arms, as if brushing away an insect, but the action is ineffectual. The creature clings to the hand she would have wiped it away with.

She writhes in its grasp, flailing against its innumerable limbs. They bind tighter around her, creeping like vines, like mold growing over her like the steady march of decay.

As the creature reaches her chest, she jerks awake, screaming, and claws at her skin. Each scrape of her nails is ineffectual against its hold. It grips more tightly around her and she descends into panic, her eyes bulging out of her face. The creature slithers in through her open mouth and she gags as it forces its way down her throat. Tears stream down her face as she fails to scream. Her eyes fall to me and, for the first time, I know that she can see me. Really see me. We are sharing this nightmare together. Her gaze pleads for rescue. The creature brightens as she grows pale. The life is sucked from her. She gags against the body filling her throat, but is losing the strength to protest.

As I watch, a glimmer of hope brightens in my chest. Perhaps it will kill her. I don’t try to stop it this time. I’m so weak, anyway. All my fight would be ineffectual. Maybe, this will be the end of it. No more screaming, no more midnight waking. Just peaceful, uninterrupted sleep, uninterrupted by the faceless creature that comes at night. Perhaps this will be the last time.

She falls limp, now supported only by the creature tangled around her. It pulses – once, twice – then grows dim. It relaxes its grip on her, sliding from around her. She takes a great shuddering breath as it retreats. Her head lolls to the side and she falls limp against the mattress. It slithers away, each erratic movement of its body mocking me with the knowledge that it will be back. It will always be back.

It won’t kill her. It will just keep coming back. It will come back night after night as it has always done. And she will keep screaming. A vision of my life stretches before me, an unending series of nights, all blurring into each other without the punctuation of sleep. Just unending terror that will be mine alone to bear.

As the white tendrils of the creature slide away from her, I replace them with my own fingers. Each lovingly strokes over her skin, tracing the scratches where she had tried to free herself. Gently, I place my hands over the bruises on her throat. I feel her throat under my palms, so fragile, the unprotected circuitry of the body. The life force flowing through a single, undefended point. I squeeze. Her throat convulses under my palms. How little effort it takes… just a small application of pressure. She chokes, unable to get air, but all the fight has left her. Her eyes open and she stares at me, the whites wide and terrified.

There will be no more fear, no more struggle. She won’t scream anymore. As the last spasm leaves her body, I collapse, my eyelids drooping as my body falls forward onto the pillow, a smile crossing my face as I slide into sleep.

Nightmare November : Night Terrors by Daphne Strasert – Part 2

Night Terrors by Daphne Strasert

I think there might be a problem with the lights in the house. I never see them flicker, but the light isn’t constant the way that it should be. It’s worse at night, though I can’t figure out why. All the lights are off, there’s nothing that should be coming in. No streetlamps through the curtains, nothing through the living room pane doors. Why do I keep seeing shadows shifting across the room?

No, not shadows. The shadows just react to it. Something else is there, something that pushes the shadows aside like a gauzy, black veil. Miela shifts beside me, not a terror, just a normal repositioning in her sleep. I sit up in bed – I don’t try to sleep anymore – and stare at the wall of the bedroom, watching the darkness ripple like lake water when something massive passes beneath. How am I supposed to sleep when the lights keep moving where there is no source? The longer I watch, the more I see. My eyes adjust to the darkness and forms take shape. Not forms, not really. They only seem to be in the corner of my eye. When I focus on them, they sink back under the shadows.

But there are sounds. Sounds that don’t belong in a house. Rasping, like sandpaper on the stairs. Or a rattle, like dice on a table. I slide from under the covers, pursuing the sound. If there are mice in this house, I swear to God…

As I get closer to where the sound emanated, it seems to shift position, coming from somewhere else, coming from everywhere in the room at once. I twist to follow it, but can’t get a bearing.

Miela jerks in the bed, jack-knifing in the covers. The shrieking starts, muffled by the pillows. I watch, bile rising in my throat. I won’t go to her this time. I don’t care if she does bruise her hand on the headboard.

In medical school, I studied hallucinations and delusions. I read studies and attended lectures on the effect that sleep deprivation could have on the mind. By all accounts, that must be what’s happening to me. It can’t be real, the form that slinks around the room at night, always just outside my line of sight. But it’s there. I can feel it, hear it, smell it. Like baby powder… or dried paste. Too sweet to be healthy. A toxic sort of sweet.

Perhaps it’s better that I can’t see it. Who knows what horror my mind would conjure if I did? Maybe I don’t want to see the thing that rattles in the room, that vanishes when I fix my attention on it.

It can’t be real. I can’t see anything in the inky darkness of the bedroom, so I shouldn’t be able to see the subtle shift of the shadows against the wall, like the branches of a tree dancing through their reflection in the window. But there are no trees in our yard and no light comes from outside the window. And yet the shadows move.

They are real. They are moving. Miela says she can’t see them. But I can. I always can. The scratching and rasping of something moving along the wall. The way reality seems to bend around a monstrous something that comes out from the wall.

I had one of the doctors in the ER prescribe me sleeping pills. I’ve taken three. I should be out like a light. I should sleep through the next week. But I can’t close my eyes. Whenever I think that I will be able to, Miela moves. Or the shadows move. What is it that moves them?