In October, the Bram Stoker Award-winning small press, Omnium Gatherum, specializing in “dark fantasy, weird fiction, and horror,” released The Fat Lady Sings, a novella written by native Los Angeles writer Sean Patrick Traver.  This is the first of eight novellas to be collected in Bruja Chica: The Education of a Witch and is part of the Temple, Tree & Tower series.  Traver introduced this series, which focuses on the underground occult scene in Los Angeles, with Graves’ End: A Magical Thriller (2012), followed up with Red Witch: The Tales of Ingrid Redstone (2017), and expands this world with The Fat Lady Sings.

The Lupanarium: Book 1 of the Many Trials of Matt-Lin and Jak is a pornographic, neo-peplum novella written by the anonymous Adele Leigh. The novella continues the dialogue of exploring sexual debauchery of Rome of antiquity as allegory for other issues, a path explored by predecessor works such as Tinto Brass’ Caligula, the Spartacus series on Starz, and even the Czechsploitation films from Lloyd Simandl’s Boundheat Films (Slave Tears of Rome, Caligula’s Spawn, etc.).

If the Stranger Things series turned your world upside down, then you will be happy to know that there is a new book out titled How to Survive in a Stranger Things World (published by Random House).  Compiled by Matthew J. Gilbert, the selected images and statements of and by Dustin, Steve, Eleven, and many other characters represent highlights from the first two season of the popular Netflix show.

In the final pages of The Vexation of Vampires, Penny’s engagement with Peter fell apart when they realized they could not compromise on one of their most important differences: whether to have children. Author Chrys Cymri forces her protagonist to cope with her sorrow over the lost bond while torn between her duties to Earth and Lloegyr.  A dead merwoman in an orca pool at a Sea World-like facility, a stolen submarine assignment from Sue Harkness, and providing spiritual guidance to both Skyler and Clyde give the priest plenty to do, and learning how to manage multiple commitments may just be part of Penny’s post-break up journey.

Both seasons of the Netflix series, Stranger Things, have combined the familiarity of the 1980s and the terrifying unknown of dark fantasy worlds. Creators Matt and Ross Duffer and producer/director Shawn Levy have mastered the art of balancing multiple genres and emitting an array of moods that leave viewers perplexed, terrified, and nostalgic. Gina McIntyre’s Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down: The Official Behind-the-Scenes Companion is a compelling look into all of the creative pieces that have come together to create a pop culture sensation.

I wish I had had this book to read when I was a kid. As a child of eight or so, I would have, if you’ll pardon the expression, eaten Time Sandwich right up. Reading it as an adult, I still ate it right up. If you know me at all, you’ll know that this kind of broad sci-fi/fantasy is the sort of thing I live for. It’s time travel at its finest.

I’ve always loved the Boston Metaphysical Society comics, from the original 6-issue arc to the more recent standalone featuring Granville Woods and Nicola Tesla. So, of course, when I heard there was a novel coming out, I was eager to read and review that, as well; however, truth be told, I didn’t think it would be quite as good as the comics. I’ve read novel adaptations of comics before, and while they’re fun, without the artwork, they usually fall short.

“And what you said about stories.  I really get that now.  You’d said they weren’t about filling time, entertainment.  Not that that’s wrong, a story can be both meaningful and entertaining, you’d said, should be both for it to resonate.  You told me that stories connected us, made us understand ourselves and each tear a little better.  That stories made the world a better place because they are empathy engines.
I like that.  Empathy engine.  Vroom vroom.
It's a noble cause, storytelling, you’d said. Noble work.
So, here I go being noble.”

Ungent Draaf, the Grashardi ambassador to the Dralein, expected his assignment to be exceptionally ordinary.  He’d make a few agreements with the locals, explore the new planet to discover the interests, and just hope that the Terran Protectorate wasn’t on his heels trying to broker disadvantageous power deals with the native species; however, the middle-aged crustacean life form finds himself assigned a role in a centuries-old conflict between creators and created that threatens to destroy everything he knows and perhaps the known universe.

Strange monsters and unusual creatures, eye-widening legends and creepy fairy tales, and the worst of all: human nature. These are the things that frighten us most, but what most American horror junkies don’t realize is that there is a world of terror out there just waiting for new victims.

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