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:

No Two Persons by Erica Bauermeister

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of publication: May 2nd, 2023

Genre: Fiction, Books about Books, Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Adult, Adult Fiction, Womens Fiction, Short Stories, Novel

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

One book. Nine readers. Ten changed lives. New York Times bestselling author Erica Bauermeister’s No Two Persons is “a gloriously original celebration of fiction, and the ways it deepens our lives.”

That was the beauty of books, wasn’t it? They took you places you didn’t know you needed to go…

Alice has always wanted to be a writer. Her talent is innate, but her stories remain safe and detached, until a devastating event breaks her heart open, and she creates a stunning debut novel. Her words, in turn, find their way to readers, from a teenager hiding her homelessness, to a free diver pushing himself beyond endurance, an artist furious at the world around her, a bookseller in search of love, a widower rent by grief. Each one is drawn into Alice’s novel; each one discovers something different that alters their perspective, and presents new pathways forward for their lives.

Together, their stories reveal how books can affect us in the most beautiful and unexpected of ways—and how we are all more closely connected to one another than we might think.

First Line:

The story on Alice’s computer screen had been finding its way into words for more than five years, or maybe forever.

No Two Persons (The Writer) by Erica Bauermeister

No Two Persons is a story about how one book can change someone’s life. It follows the lives of Alice, the author, and nine people who read her book, Theo. It details how Theo changed or helped change each person’s life (for better or worse). An emotional read, No Two Persons will get under your skin and make you wonder: How many lives will this book affect?

The plotline for No Two Persons initially follows Alice, the author of Theo. It explains her background (distant parents, death of an older brother from an overdose) and how she wanted to write but felt she couldn’t. It wasn’t until college, and an observant professor, that Alice finally throws off her parents’ expectations and writes Theo. After that, the plotline goes from prepublication (when Alice was searching for a publisher) to her ARC reader to her readers and then back in a circle to the publisher.

I won’t lie and say I wasn’t affected by this book because I was. I found a connection with every single character. The ones that stood out to me the most were the new mother (who worked for the publisher), the free driver, and the homeless teenager. I could see a bit of myself in each of those characters.

I liked that the book did interconnect the stories. I didn’t realize, at first, that they were interconnected until almost the end of the book. Then I briefly reread, and a lightbulb went over my head. This book also went full circle. It started and ended with Alice.

I would recommend No Two Persons to anyone over 21. There is language, mild violence, and sexual situations.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, NetGalley, and Erica Bauermeister for allowing me to read and review No Two Persons. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of No Two Persons, then you will enjoy reading these books:

Other books by Erica Bauermeister:

A Sliver of Darkness by C.J. Tudor

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books

Date of publication: November 8th, 2022

Genre: Horror, Short Stories, Fiction, Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Short Story Collection, Fantasy, Suspense

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound

Goodreads Synopsis:

The debut short story collection from the acclaimed author of The Chalk Man, featuring ten bone-chilling and mind-bending tales

Timeslips. Doomsday scenarios. Killer butterflies. C. J. Tudor’s novels are widely acclaimed for their dark, twisty suspense plots, but with A Sliver of Darkness, she pulls us even further into her dizzying imagination.

In Final Course, the world has descended into darkness, but a group of old friends make time for one last dinner party. In Runaway Blues, thwarted love, revenge, and something very nasty stowed in a hat box converge. In Gloria, a strange girl at a service station endears herself to a cold-hearted killer, but can a leopard really change its spots? And in I’m Not Ted, a case of mistaken identity has unforeseen, fatal consequences.

Riveting and explosively original, A Sliver of Darkness is C. J. Tudor at her most wicked and uninhibited.

First Line:

She often dreamed of drowning.

End of the Liner, A Sliver of Darkness by C.J. Tudor

I like reading anthologies. Sometimes my brain isn’t able to process longer books (my attention span can be shot at times). But I wouldn’t say I like reviewing them. I write long reviews because I want to cover each story and give it the attention I think it deserves. I am not going to do that with this review. I am a little crunched for time (I am writing this on Halloween and I have a bunch of things to do/get ready for on top of my usual Monday morning routine). So, this review is going to be short.

A Sliver of Darkness had an exciting mix of short stories. The author did keep my attention because these stories were not cookie-cutter. Also, the author did something that I wasn’t expecting. She wrote a little forward to each story to explain why she wrote it. I loved it!!

I had two favorite stories out of the eleven that were published. They are End of the Liner, and I’m not Ted. My least favorite one was Gloria, only because I hadn’t read her featured book.

This short story collection would have been perfect for reading in October. Each story was creepy in its way.

I would recommend A Sliver of Darkness to anyone over 21. There is language and violence but no sex.

If you enjoyed A Sliver of Darkness, you will enjoy these books:

Dead Girls Don’t Love by Sarah Hans

Dead Girls Don't Love

4 Stars

Publisher: Dragon’s Roost Press

Date of publication: May 28th, 2018

Genre: Horror

Where you can find Dead Girls Don’t Love: Amazon | Barnes, and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads): 

Do you enjoy creepy stories about people who don’t quite fit in? Dead Girls Don’t Love is a collection of poignant tales for the outsider in all of us. For a domestic violence victim, there is no life after death–but could there be revenge? Can a woman returning to her life after 40 years with the fae remember how to be human? When two Buddhist monks travel to China to spread the dharma, will they survive the unspeakable horror they find instead? What really happened when the Big Bad Wolf ate the lonely grandmother living in the woods? Will the love between two zombified women help them break the spell that binds them in eternal servitude? And, perhaps most importantly, can an Elder God find true love? These and many more fascinating questions will be answered on the pages within if you dare to read them. But be warned: the strange and horrifying realities contained in Dead Girls Don’t Love may haunt you long after you close the back cover.

My review:

While I like to read anthologies, I don’t review them. I find them hard to review because they are short stories. But, when the author approached me with a request to review Dead Girls Don’t Love, I had to review it. Because of the blurb. The blurb made me want to read this book and share it with everyone. The other reason why I accepted is that I like sharing books by indie authors. They should be showcased on blogs as much as the mainstream authors. All it takes is one person to give that author a chance.

I am glad that I decided to read Dead Girls Don’t Love. The range of the stories in this book was amazing. There was a bit of everything. You want a story about the Fae? You got it. You want a story about what happened after the grandmother was eaten by The Big Bad Wolf? You got it. You want a zombie love story (which was my favorite story)? You got it.

I am not going to get into each individual story in this book. If I did that than this review would be super long and you would lose interest after the first blurb. Like I mentioned above, these stories are varied. There is a connecting thread of horror in each of them. In some stories, it takes a bit longer for the horror element to show up but it is worth the read.

There was also a small romance theme that ran through a few of the stories. The tree, the Elder God, and the zombie women were the three main ones that I remember. What I enjoyed, even more than the romance was that the author had two of those romances be LGBTQIA themed. Rarely I read a horror book where one or both of the characters in the story are gay or lesbian. It was refreshing and I loved it!!

The horror angle in each of these stories was different. Some were in your face (the Fae) and others were subtle (the story of the monks on the ship). But they all got you in the end. The one that freaked me out the most was the one with the wandering monks. I got chills reading that story. Even more so because one of the monk’s questions about his past wasn’t answered. I was left wondering about him.

To wrap up this review, go pick up this book. It is 230 pages but it is a fast read. It is wonderfully written and I was creeped out by some of the stories.

I will not be doing a like/dislike section for this book.

I gave Dead Girls Don’t Love a 4-star review. I enjoyed reading this book. The stories were chilling to read.

I gave Dead Girls Don’t Love an Adult rating. There is sex. There is violence. There is language. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread Dead Girls Don’t Love. I would also recommend this book to family and friends.

I would like to thank the author for allowing me to read and review Dead Girl’s Don’t Love.

All opinions stated in this review of Dead Girl’s Don’t Love are mine.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**