David’s Haunted Library: Sacrificing Virgins


26527077It’s hard to even know where to begin while talking about Sacrificing Virgins by John Everson. I could easily write 500 words analyzing each of the 25 stories here, but the best way to experience this book is by reading it. One thing that I will say though is that this book is a template for what great horror stories should be. Sacrificing Virgins has moments that are shocking, violent and downright disgusting. These are all things that horror fans want but for me what makes a great horror story is characters that you care about and can relate to.  Then you have to put them in a bad situation where it looks like they can’t escape.

For example in the story Bad Day we hear of strange exotic flying roaches that are latching on to people and causing them to go into a coma. After a short period the people awaken as zombies. We then get to know a family from the father’s point of view. We know he loves his wife and young daughter, but he feels that maybe he was to old to start a family and he feels bad for his wife. As he gets to go off to work every day and escape fatherhood for a while and be around adults, his wife is at home with only their daughter to talk to. Hearing this information, you care about this family and the idea that they’re facing the apocalypse is horrifying. This story isn’t as violent as some of the others in this anthology but it is one of the scariest because you see this family that you grow to like facing the end of humanity. This is true horror.

The next example of a perfect horror story and my favorite one in this book is Camille Smiled. This story is told in a different way then the previous one, in the beginning you’re not sure what’s happening but as the tale moves along the blanks are filled in and you get into every parents worst nightmare. Camille was killed in a car accident at 8 years old and her grief-stricken father uses voodoo to bring her back from the dead. The problem is that she didn’t come back the same. This story is a masterpiece and the best parts of it are so subtle. In one scene the father is talking about how much he misses his daughter and even with the state of decay she is in, he doesn’t care, he just wants her back. Then you have the mother who shows how angry she is at her husband before he succeeds at bringing their daughter back from the dead, yet she never leaves him or turn him in for grave robbing. Then we have the description of Camille staring emotionless at her father and the father realizing that his daughter is dangerous. This is a love story that literally sent chills down my spine.

Another story I really liked here was Voyeur. I loved the originality here, it has to do with a man who went from being a voyeur to a murderer but little does he know he is being studied by something out of this world. This book also has a story about bondage and sexual torture called Field Of Flesh, which is tied into John Everson’s novel NightWhere. This one has some disturbing imagery that I liked but the best part of it was the end when we find out how the room the protagonist is in works. Every story in this book is a lesson on how great horror literature can be and it’s a can’t miss book for real horror fans.


Dark Blossom


The year is 907 A.D. The Tang Dynasty is ending and life is hard in China. Ava cares nothing for China, at a young age she was kidnapped and sold to a brothel as a sex slave. She hopes to save her children and escape the brothel. Things don’t go as planned and she is left with little hope.

With things at their worst, Ava gets a visit from Jigong, the beggar god. Jigong needs her help to save China. Ava agrees to help but now she is breaking one of Heaven’s most sacred laws in conspiring with a god. She is a fugitive to Heaven and China even though she is trying to save them both. To make matters worse The most feared deity of them all, Zhong Kui the hunter god is stalking her.

The real horror in Dark Blossom by Vincent Stoia didn’t come from the demons and ghosts that are in China. The true horror was watching Ava deal with the day-to-day real life horrors. Some of the people in this story that she deals with were far more scary than any supernatural being.

Dark Blossom has its human and supernatural monsters. The people such as Liu the main villain  and Shadow show they have a much greater capacity for evil than anything in the underworld. In my favorite part of the book a vengeful demon comes into the Brothel where Ava lives and we get to hear what the demon thinks. The demon can sense the evil in the brothel and wishes to leave. Shadow who runs the brothel doesn’t see herself as evil but the demon does. You could take the demons and ancient gods out of this book and still have an effective horror novel.

Another thing that I enjoyed in this book was how the supernatural and the real world were connected. All of the demons in Dark Blossom were once human and it was something tragic that happened to them that made them what they are. One girl becomes a demon because her baby was killed and she cursed the village and came back as a demon. Its hard not to feel sympathy for the evil spirits in this book. In the beginning we here Zhong Kui’s story, he was wronged by the Chinese government and went crazy killing people in the Imperial palace. He comes back as a demon hunter who walks the earth to slay other demons and spirits that have escaped  the underworld. Despite the fact that he is a demon he still cares for humans. As he walks the streets of a village and sees how poor the people are he wonders why the government wont help but he is doomed to protect the empire. When he hears that his new mission is to hunt and destroy Ava, he feels bad for what he must do.

Ava is an excellent character, in a time when women weren’t supposed to be strong, she is tough, caring and intelligent.  Life was always tough or Ava but she still manages to do the right thing and doesn’t lose hope even though there is a voice in the back of her head telling her life will never get better. Two scenes that I loved in this book was when Ava grabs a sword and goes after the much bigger Liu and when she is in the underworld and questions the gods. Real life is scarier than anything supernatural and Ava has to deal with it all. Dark Blossom brings Ancient China and Chinese mythology to life in one great horror novel that shouldn’t be missed.

Samhain Books and Halloween Reads

With episode 70 of horror addicts being about the future I wanted to talk about a new mass market Horror publisher called Samhain books. Back in the year 2000, Dorchester publishing started to release two horror novels per month under the Leisure books name. Leisure books was responsible for probably 80% of the horror novels that you saw on the shelf when you went to a book store.

The executive editor of Leisure Books and the man who was  in charge of their horror line since 2000, was Don D’Auria. Don grew up watching Chiller Theater and reading Famous Monsters magazine, along with any horror novel he could get his hands on. He graduated with a Master’s Degree in English from Columbia University and started work as an editor in the genre he loved. Don helped many horror authors launch their career, such as Brian Keene, Gary Braunbeck, Sarah Pinborough and Tim Lebbon.

Sadly, after working 10 years for Leisure books, Don was released in August of 2010. Due to declining sales, Leisure decided to stop printing new horror novels and had to make cut backs. The publishing industry was changing, book stores were not ordering as many books and started offering E-readers instead. Leisure did not change with the times and was slow to jump on the e-book bandwagon. As Mass Market sales were shrinking, new publishers were starting to grow through E-book sales. One of the publishers that is growing thanks to the E-book is Samhain books.

Now, Don D’Auria has a new job as executive editor of Samhain Books. Samhain will pick up where Leisure books left off and start publishing 2 horror novels a month, they will offer a print mass market version of their titles along with an E-book release.  They will also offer novellas and will help new horror authors start their career by accepting submissions from anyone who thinks they have a good story to tell. Starting in October Samhain will release The Seven Days Of Cain by Ramsey Campbell and Wolf’s Edge by W.D. Gagliani.

The Seven Days of Cain is a psychological horror novel about a man in Britan named Andy who starts to receive mysterious letters about murders that are taking place in America and  how Andy may be connected. Andy has to not only stop the murders but also find out why he is being tied to them. In the process he will see how uncertain his reality is and see everything he loves destroyed.

Wolf’s Edge follows a homicide cop named Nick Lupo who just happens to be a werewolf. Lupo has some powerful enemies including a mercenary organization who is trying to create on an invincible team of werewolves to take over the U.S military. The organization plans on exterminating detective Lupo and then taking over the country.

Since this is the Halloween season I also wanted  to talk about  a couple of good books to celebrate the season. The first one I read a few years ago by David J. Skal called Death Makes a Holiday. This book is a cultural history of Halloween that covers the history of the holiday from its celtic orgins to the present day and also takes a look at the urban legends that surround Halloween such as needles in candy and satanic rituals that take place on October 31st.

David J. Skal is a classic horror historian, he has written books on the history of Dracula, as well as a history on classic monster movies and biographies on Tod Browning and Claude Rains. In this book you will hear about the story behind the jack-o-lantern and how the holiday changed through the years. If you love Halloween like I do, then you want to check this book out.

I also want to mention a book I found recently and started reading on my nook called Midnight on Halloween by Autumn Gentle. This book has 31 short stories all having to do with Halloween. Some of the tales in this book include snake women, werecats, extreme gaming gone wrong and a post apocalyptic mosquito city. To find out more about Autumn Gentle go to  www.thefreakandthevampire.com.