Night of the Living Queers: 13 Tales of Terror Delight by Shelly Page, Alex Brown, Ryan Douglass, Kalynn Bayron, Sara Farizan, Kosoko Jackson, Tara Sim, Rebecca Kim Wells, Trang Thanh Tran, Vanessa Montalban, Em X. Liu, Maya Gittelman, Ayida Shonibar

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books

Date of publication: August 29th, 2023

Genre: Horror, Young Adult, Short Stories, Anthologies, LGBT, Queer, Fantasy, Paranormal, Fiction, Lesbian

Purchase Links: Kindle | B&N | AbeBooks | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

Night of the Living Queers is a YA horror anthology that explores a night when anything is possible exclusively featuring queer authors of color putting fresh spins on classic horror tropes and tales.

No matter its name or occasion, Halloween is more than a Hallmark holiday, it’s a symbol of transformation. NIGHT OF THE LIVING QUEERS is a YA horror anthology that explores how Halloween can be more than just candies and frights, but a night where anything is possible. Each short story will be told through the lens of a different BIPOC teen and the Halloween night that changes their lives forever. Creative, creepy, and queer, this collection will bring fresh terror, heart, and humor to young adult literature.

Contributors include editors Alex Brown and Shelly Page, Kalynn Bayron, Ryan Douglass, Sara Farizan, Maya Gittelman, Kosoko Jackson, Em Liu, Vanessa Montalban, Ayida Shonibar, Tara Sim, Trang Thanh Tran, and Rebecca Kim Wells.

First Line:

Her grandmother told her once that the sea gets what it wants.

Welcome to the Hotel Paranoia (Night of the Living Queers) by Vanessa Montalban

I know I have said this before and will keep saying it: I dislike reviewing anthologies. Do I like reading them? Absolutely. But reviewing them is a different story, bringing me to Night of the Living Queers. I knew this was an anthology, but I still downloaded it.

I went back and forth on how to review Night of the Living Queers and decided to review it as I have past anthologies. I will give my opinion on the story and if I liked it or not.

Before I get into the review, I want to say this book would be perfect to read around Halloween. Also, a blue moon is featured in every single story, and all of the characters are lesbian, gay, trans, or queer.

So, without further ado, here are the stories in Night of the Living Queers:

Welcome to the Hotel Paranoia: This is an interesting story about a girl, Anabel, who is invited to a party at an abandoned bed & breakfast. When she gets there, things go from spooky to frightening. As I was reading this story, I got Hotel California vibes, even more so at the end of the story. While this wasn’t my favorite story, I didn’t dislike it.

The Visitor: This was another interesting but creepy story. Toya and her father have a ritual every Halloween. They decorate the house, watch scary movies, and grieve for Toya’s mother. The vibe of this story settles somewhere between creepy and heartbreaking. The end of the story was a big twist. I also couldn’t believe what Toya did, but I understood why. This story was one of my favorite stories.

A Brief Intermission: With this one, I figured out what the story was about within the first couple of pages. It wasn’t very scary, but it was very creepy. I couldn’t understand the end of the story, and I had to reread it a couple of times before a lightbulb went off. It was in the middle of my like scale.

Guested: This story was different from what I thought it would be, but I wasn’t expecting how it turned out!! Talk about a twist in the plotline. Being told in 2nd person added up the creepiness factor. When Nina got to the party, I knew something horrible would happen to her. This story was one of my favorite stories.

Rocky Road with Carmel Drizzle: This story broke my heart into a million pieces. I can’t get more into it except that Julian’s attackers got what was coming to them and then some. This story was my favorite story.

The Three Phases of Ghost-Hunting: This silly story focuses on two girls wanting to talk to Terrifying Bob, the ghost who haunts the food court at the local mall. I say silly because Terrifying Bob wasn’t that terrifying. I liked how it ended. This story was one of my favorite stories.

Nine Stops: Out of all the stories in this book, this one was the creepiest. It combined grief and opening spam links. It reminded me of The Ring but stopped short of being exactly like it. The author did a great job of scaring the crap out of me. It was one of my favorite stories.

Leyla Mendoza and the Las House on the Lane: This book was not scary. It is creepy in parts and unbelievably sad in others, but not creepy. It was also told in 2nd person. I did tear up during the scenes in the house and loved how it ended.

In You to Burn: This story was fantastic. Again, it was not precisely scary per se, but creepy. The author took their time explaining what was happening between Luce and Harley. Once it was explained, the author twisted the storyline. I loved it. Again, it’s a favorite story.

Anna: I wouldn’t say I liked this story. It was creepy, but I couldn’t get into it. And the ending was a little cliche.

Hey There, Demons: I was a little iffy with this story. It was not creepy or scary. Instead, it read more like a queer YA paranormal romance. The end was cute but had no scare factor.

Save Me from Myself: I liked this story but didn’t find it creepy. I was fascinated by the Indian lore (gods and goddesses). I also liked that Mona got to view herself from her crush’s perspective. The end was sad and not what I expected.

Knickknack: This story was a tribute to homicidal ghost clown stories. I loved reading it. Knickknack died horribly, and every year since, he takes a kid. I liked how the author just had fun with this story. The ending was typical but still fun.

I would recommend Night of the Living Queers to anyone over 21. There is language, violence, and no sexual situations.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books, and the various authors for allowing me to read and review Night of the Living Queers. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoy reading books similar to Night of the Living Queers, then you will enjoy these books:

Spin a Black Yarn by Josh Malerman

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Rey

Date of publication: August 15th, 2023

Genre: Horror, Short Stories, Adult Fiction, Anthologies, Short Story Collection, Mystery, Science Fiction, Halloween, Paranormal

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

Five harrowing novellas of horror and speculative fiction from the singular mind of the New York Times bestselling author of Bird Box

Josh Malerman is a master weaver of stories–and in this spine-chilling collection he spins five twisted tales from the shadows of the human soul:

A sister insists to her little brother that “Half the House Is Haunted” by a strange presence. But is it the house that’s haunted–or their childhoods?

In “Argyle,” a dying man confesses to homicides he never committed, and he reveals long-kept secrets far more sinister than murder.

A tourist takes the ultimate trip to outer space in “The Jupiter Drop,” but the real journey is into his own dark past.

In “Doug and Judy Buy the House Washer(TM),” a trendy married couple buys the latest home gadget only to find themselves trapped by their possessions, their history . . . and each other.

And in “Egorov,” a wealthy old cretin murders a young man, not knowing the victim was a triplet. The two surviving brothers stage a savage faux-haunting–playing the ghost of their slain brother–with the aim of driving the old murderer mad.

First Line:

Half the house is haunted, Robin. Don’t ask me which half!

Spin a Black Yarn (Half the House is Haunted) by Josh Malerman

I am not in the habit of reading and reviewing short stories. I find them hard to review. But I always end up with them on my review list. I may be trying to tell myself something; who knows?

Spin a Black Yarn is the second Josh Malerman book I have read. The first was Inspection a few years ago, and I did enjoy it. So, when I saw that this book of novellas was on Randon House’s NetGalley page as a Wish only, I decided to do just that (wish on it). And imagine my surprise when I got the email saying it was granted. I was thrilled, and I knew I would like this book (based on Inspection). I was right. This book was a fast read that kept me up after I ended it.

Spin a Black Yarn has five novellas in it. I will not do my usual storyline breakdown, angles, characters, etc. It would be too confusing and time-consuming. Instead, I will briefly explain the book and then say what I liked/disliked about it.

Half the House is Haunted: The novella follows two siblings that live in a huge house. The story is sectioned into three parts: 6 and 8, 40 and 42, and 80’s. In 6 and 8, Stephanie torments her younger brother by telling him half the house is haunted, but she isn’t sure what half. In 40 and 42, Robbie visits Stephanie, a recluse, and tries to figure out why she tormented him. In the 80’s, Stephanie dies, leaving Robbie the house and a letter. This storyline took a while to grow on me. I was confused at first by how it was written (Robbie and Stephanie told alternating paragraphs). But, once I figured that out, my confusion disappeared, and I was swept up in the story. I loved the moral behind this one (face your fears). I also liked that I couldn’t figure out whether Stephanie was lying.

Argyle: This novella centers on a dying man, Shawn, who starts to confess to murders that he almost committed on his deathbed. He is confessing to his two children, wife, best friend, and mother. He states that he didn’t kill only because of his best friend, a woman named Argyle, and his sister, Nora. At first, I thought that this story was a little silly, with a dying man confessing to almost murders. But as the story went on, I started to get chills. It was a good look into the human psyche and what makes a killer tick.

Doug and Judy Buy a House Washer: This novella centers around a couple who were the epitome of jerks. They buy a device that guarantees a thorough house wash. But, when they use it, the machine washes the house and brings up everything they have ever done, good and bad. This novella was my least favorite novella. Mainly because Doug and Judy were asshats, and the author did nothing to tone them down. The ending of this story was almost too good for them, and they deserved worse than what they got (they were genuinely vile people).

Jupiter Drop: This novella centers around a wealthy man eaten up by guilt over the death of a neighbor. So, he decides to journey to Jupiter to atone for that death. This novella was the saddest out of the bunch. The man was consumed with guilt over what happened, destroying everything in his life. This drop through Jupiter’s atmosphere (and core) was supposed to be healing. Instead, it went sideways. I would love to have done what he did (dropping through Jupiter’s atmosphere in a glass apartment). What the author wrote was beautiful. Except for the end. That was sad.

Egorov: This was my favorite novella. It centers around the murder of Mikhail, a triplet, and the search for his killer. Once the killer is found, Barat and Pavel (Mikhail’s brother) devise a dastardly plan to exact revenge. This story strongly reminded me of an Edgar Allen Poe story. From the language to how everything was laid out. It was also chilling, and I was kept on edge with what Barat and Pavel were doing.

I would recommend Spin a Black Yarn to anyone over 21. There are no sexual situations, but there is language and violence.

Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Rey, NetGalley, and Josh Malerman for allowing me to read and review Spin a Black Yarn. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoy reading similar books to Spin a Black Yarn, then you will enjoy these books:

Other books by Josh Malerman: