Monday, September 16, 2019

Gothic Stories Master Post #SomethingWickedFall

This is the master post for Gothic books or short stories read during Something Wicked Fall. I will be updating this post with my thoughts on stories I've read during the event.

Please share what you've read/your thoughts on what you've read in the comments. I think this will make for some hearty conversation!

Note: I've included a tab in the blog menu so you can find this page easily.


My thoughts on...

The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson, probably the most famous 20th century Gothic author. I'm about halfway through this book now. When I first started it, I skipped to the end to read The Lottery first. Oh my goodness! What a story. Veins of Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon, The Wicker Man, and even the recent Midsommar. A subgenre moniker I recently stumbled upon thanks to Katherine Nabity, Folk Horror. There's an excellent article about the three films which are considered the "progenitors of folk horror" here, and it also outlines the definition of the genre itself (below).

Folk horror is concerned with characters and communities who are located out of the way of urban environments. As such, they have developed their own skewered belief systems, which results in violent and twisted acts being carried out on the unfortunate victims who find themselves caught up in the madness. These communities have ranged from pagans to hoodie gangs, and they can be any group of people who live beyond the fringes of normal society.

I love the subgenre myself so The Lottery was a real treat for me. Another favorite, which I've read previously, is The Witch. It's very short, but has a menacing quality, especially for anyone who is a mom. 

Most of the stories aren't particularly scary so far, but I like them because they touch on aspects of human nature and society. Stories about lying (Like Mother Used to Make, Charles, Afternoon in Linen) betrayal (The Daemon Lover, Like Mother Used to Make), deception (Like Mother Used to Make, The Daemon Lover) and racism (After You, My Dear Alphonse, Flower Garden). Studies of communities and the nature of gossip (The Renegade, Flower Garden). 

Looking forward to reading the rest of the book. I'll be back to share more thoughts soon.

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Doctor Sleep #Read-Along - Week Two #SomethingWickedFall

So sorry I'm late with this week's post. I was a bit under the weather this weekend.

I'm still loving this book so much. I found it quite poignant, the incorporation of 9/11 in the story, as we just passed the 18th anniversary of that tragic event. If only there would have been someone psychic who could have warned us. Not an infant like poor baby Abra. I can only imagine how she felt, seeing those visions, and not being able to express anything beyond crying and crying. Of course, there were surely some real grown-up psychics/precognates among the True Knot who could have possibly given a warning, but all they cared about was ingesting the "good steam." Though it's unlikely anyone would have believed such a warning anyway. The people in the world who so readily embrace their spiritual beliefs, yet cannot even fathom the possibility of supernatural power in the world. I'm not saying I believe 100 percent, but I certainly believe it's possible. How about you?

What Danny does for the old people of Rivington House is wonderful, in my opinion. Plus, the cat seems an added dose of comfort. I can only hope for such a peaceful passing when my time comes...hopefully, at a good old age.

It's wonderful that Dan is three years sober and has found a beneficial way to use the "shine." The story is coming together nicely, as Dan knows Doctor John from AA, who also happens to be Abra's doctor. We can pretty much guess that Dan helping DJ to find his watch in his special way will lead DJ to get Dan involved with Abra and her special ability. Though Abra is already making her presence known to Dan, and remember, Dan had already thought of Abra earlier when he writes ABRA in his AA meetings notebook.

I'm excited to keep reading, though trying not to read ahead. It's damn hard!

Share your thoughts on this week's section in the comments, or leave a link to a post. We'll be back next week for the next section. If you need the reading schedule, find it here.

I have a poll on SurveyMonkey for our watch-along of The Shining. I'm going to leave it open for one more day. If you haven't voted yet, please do so here:

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Sunday, September 8, 2019

Doctor Sleep #Read-Along - Week One #SomethingWickedFall

Okay, so this read-along is going to be hard! I'm going to have to force myself not to read ahead. This is the first SK book in a while that has grabbed me immediately, and really makes me want to keep reading. Granted, I haven't read any of his newer offerings yet, and have yet to read some of his older ones (scandalous, I many books, so little time), but I'm thrilled that I'm enjoying this one so far.

I guess it was inevitable that Danny would inherit his father's alcoholism, though I think he's fighting stronger demons than his father was. I can't imagine someone seeing the things he sees. It was good that he had Dick Halloran around to help him when he was still young, and that Dick's wisdom stays with him, though he doesn't always heed the advice/warnings in his head.

The True Knot are an interesting group, and scary. The woman with the top hat may be beautiful, but she scares me nonetheless. Can't wait to find out what nefarious plans she has for Danny, and others. I saw the new preview for the movie yesterday before IT: Part Two came on (great movie, by the way) and it looks like it's going to be really good. Ewan McGregor...swoon! It gave away some details that I now know are coming in the book, involving a certain someone.

Share your thoughts on this week's section in the comments, or leave a link to a post. We'll be back next week for the next section. If you need the reading schedule, find it here.

Read on for some other business...

We are planning two or three movie watch-alongs during Something Wicked Fall. Someone mentioned watching The Shining for one of them. What do you think? Weigh-in in the comments.

Castle Macabre had another birthday, and I missed it! As of August 15, 2019, we've been on the web for 8 years! In honor of this blogiversary, I created a new blog button. Check it out in the sidebar.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

#SomethingWickedFall featuring a Doctor Sleep #Read-Along

Last year was the inaugural year of this event, though we were Something Wicked This Fall Comes last year (a nod to Ray Bradbury). The event name is now a bit shorter, but no less fun, and still a certain homage to Mr. Bradbury. We start on September 1st (along with Readers Imbibing Peril (R.I.P. 14) which I look forward to every year. What's better than scary reading? Nothing, I say!

Everything on the agenda is on the button above, but I'm going to share more details below. If you're on Facebook, we have a Seasons of Reading group where we interact during readathons so I'll be sharing info there, and also on the Seasons of Reading Instagram, and in our Seasons of Reading Goodreads group. Castle Macabre also has a Facebook page.

💀 Doctor Sleep Read-Along...the biggest part of the event this year! The movie comes out in November so I really wanted to read the book before then. I put up a poll in our groups and the consensus was most people wanted a read-along. And so it will be!

Discussions will be held on this blog. I will put a new post up each week on Sunday (with final discussion post up on Sunday, Oct. 20...we will end there since October 27 is the day after Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon and people will probably be recuperating) and we will read along according to the schedule below.

Read-Along Schedule
  • Week One (start Sept 1): Prefatory Matters: Lockbox - Ch. 1 (pp 1 - 85)
  • Week Two (week of Sept 9): Ch. 2 - 4 (pp 87 - 145)
  • Week Three (week of Sept 16): Ch 5 - 7 (pp 147 - 221)
  • Week Four (week of Sept 23): Ch 8 - 10 (pp 223 - 286)
  • Week Five (week of Sept 30): Ch 11 - 13 (pp 287 - 364
  • Week Six (week of Oct 7): Ch 14 - 16 (pp 365 - 441)
  • Week Seven (week of Oct 14): Ch 17 - Author's Note (pp 443 - 531/end)
Leave a comment with your intention to participate. Please comment or send me a message (via the contact form) if you have any questions. 

👻 In September, we're focusing on Gothic stories (Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and others). There's a great list on Goodreads for reference, Best Gothic Books of All Time. I'm not going to set up any read-alongs for this. I'll create a master post and you can stop by and share what you read, and your thoughts, in the comments.

👿 In October, we're focusing on horror stories. There are a couple of great lists on Goodreads for reference...Best Horror Anthologies and Horror Collections (Single Author). I'm not going to set up any read-alongs for this either. I'll create another master post and you can stop by and share what you read, and your thoughts, in the comments.

👹 We're going to have at least a couple of horror movie watch-alongs! I'm not sure which ones we will watch yet, but I'm kind of eyeing Midsommar, another subtle, but scary film by the guy who did Hereditary (we watched that one together last year and everyone enjoyed it). I saw Midsommar over the summer and loved it. I believe it comes out on DVD, etc. in September. I will mull some titles over and then create a poll so everyone can vote. Any suggestions? Leave me a comment. Since not everyone is on the same social media platforms these days, I'm going to set up a Slack group (I use it for my online book group and it's so much better than Twitter chats) for our watch-alongs. Slack is free so you don't have to worry about that. Stay tuned!

🎃 #FrightFall Readathon, October, all month long at Seasons of Reading. Sign ups for that will go up at the Seasons of Reading blog within the next couple of weeks. There is also Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon on October 26. Yay!

😈 I'm hoping to get some of my horror author friends to contribute some guest posts. If anyone else would like to contribute a post or guest review, please let me know. You can send me a message via the contact form here on the site.

I think that's it! Hope I didn't leave anything out. No official sign-up for this. Just share that you're in by leaving a comment. You can join in as little or as much as you want. Let's do this!

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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Dark Game by Jonathan Janz #Review

The story immediately reminded me of the film, "The House on Haunted Hill." The 1959 version starring the incomparable Vincent Price, not the 1999 less-than-stellar remake. A group of people are invited to a notorious house by a famous and wealthy host. The last man standing, so to speak, wins the prize. In this case, the people are writers and it's a literary contest which promises riches and accolades to the victor.

Janz has done a great job of presenting a cross section of writers. Some are arrogant, while others suffer from crippling self-doubt. They all have one thing in common though. Each of them has something to atone for from their past. Mistakes were made, often tragic mistakes, and their host has big plans based on those mistakes. I can't say much more without giving away the scary, yet satisfying details.

This one was hard to put down. Being a writer myself, I identified with some of the characters and their struggles. I also have to to thank Janz for including a nod to Jack Ketchum, and an awesome "kick in the ass" quote from him..."Fuck fear," supplemented by a character saying:
"I'm talking about writing without fear. About sitting in front of the keyboard, and saying, To hell with it, I'm going to do this, and it's not gonna be perfect, and that's fine, it doesn't have to be. But I'm not going to sit here like a cowering dog. That's a sure road to failure. Writing without fear doesn't guarantee it'll be good, but it puts you in the game."
Words to write by!

If you have not picked this up yet, what are you waiting for? Janz just keeps getting better and better. Take my word for it.

Read my reviews of Janz's other work:

Wolf Land
Children of the Dark

About The Dark Game
Ten writers are selected for a summer-long writing retreat with the most celebrated and reclusive author in the world. Their host is the legendary Roderick Wells. Handsome, enigmatic, and fiendishly talented, Wells promises to teach his pupils about writing, about magic, about the untapped potential that each of them possesses. Most of all, he plans to teach them about the darkness in their hearts. The writers think they are signing up for a chance at riches and literary prestige. But they are really entering the twisted imagination of a deranged genius, a lethal contest pitting them against one another in a struggle for their sanity and their lives. They have entered into Roderick Wells's most brilliant and horrible creation. The Dark Game. FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launched in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.

Find out more about Jonathan Janz by visiting his website. Subscribe to his newsletter here.

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Monday, April 29, 2019

The King of Bones and Ashes by J.D. Horn #Review

My thoughts
I won this book in a giveaway...a signed copy! I entered the giveaway because when I read witches and New Orleans, I immediately thought of Anne Rice's Mayfair Witches series and I was intrigued, as everyone knows Rice is one of my favorite authors. The similarities end at witches and New Orleans, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a good story. While it had somewhat of a slow start, it eventually picked up momentum and I became engaged with the story. I've heard a few people mention that the story was hard to follow. I didn't find that at all. The individual story lines of each character/group of characters were interesting. Eventually, how they were all tied together was revealed. What a reveal it was! There are some genuinely scary moments as well, and a quite gory part toward the end (just to make anyone faint of heart prepared). In all, it was an enjoyable paranormal/horror novel.

This is the first book in a trilogy so I'm looking forward to reading the subsequent books. J.D Horn is also the author of the Witching Savannah series. I'm definitely going to check that series out as well.

First book of the Witches of New Orleans trilogy...

From the bestselling author of the Witching Savannah series comes the first book in a fascinating trilogy following the quest of a young witch to uncover her family’s terrifying secret history…

Magic is seeping out of the world, leaving the witches who’ve relied on it for countless centuries increasingly hopeless. While some see an inevitable end of their era, others are courting madness—willing to sacrifice former allies, friends, and family to retain the power they covet. While the other witches watch their reality unravel, young Alice Marin is using magic’s waning days to delve into the mystery of numerous disappearances in the occult circles of New Orleans. Alice disappeared once, too—caged in an asylum by blood relatives. Recently freed, she fears her family may be more involved with the growing crisis than she ever dared imagine.

Yet the more she seeks the truth about her family’s troubled history, the more she realizes her already-fragile psyche may be at risk. Discovering the cause of the vanishings, though, could be the only way to escape her mother’s reach while determining the future of all witches. (Goodreads)

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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Something Wicked This Way Comes final discussion and join us for the watch-along tonight #SomethingWickedFall

I apologize for not posting the last two discussions according to the schedule. I had my sister in town for my birthday weekend two weeks ago and I've been sick on and off since that weekend. Ugh. It has not been the fun October I planned. Anyhoo, I somehow managed to finish the book and I'm here to discuss it as a whole before our watch-along of the movie tonight. More details on that at the end of the post.

Here are my thoughts on the book as a whole:

The idea of self acceptance is very present in the book. The carnival feeds on self-doubt. In the case of Charles Holloway (Will's dad), he feels old. Too old to be a father which in turn causes him to question his ability to be a proper father. It is acknowledged in the book that we are not born with self acceptance. It is something we develop over time. In this book, with self acceptance comes power. Only when Charles realizes this is he able to defeat the carnival which survives by exploiting people who are unhappy with who they are.

I liked how the book touched on common cause. Charles Holloway talks about people who have a common cause are more willing to do things they would not normally do. Our ultimate commonality as human beings is that we are all going to die. If we use that commonality to gain common ground, the world would be a better place. In the case of the carnival, its evil preys on isolation. Toward the end, when Charles is getting ready to do the rifle "trick" and shoot the Dust Witch, he gets the crowd involved. Although we know that Charles ultimately defeats her with his happiness and self acceptance, it can't hurt to have the crowd rallying behind him.

I enjoyed the book. I always like how Bradbury is able to spin a disconcerting tale while subtly adding in social commentary. That the beginning sparks of this story began with his fear of a carousel when he was four years old is proof that stories are very much a part of life, whether we realize it or not.

What are your final thoughts on the book?

Join us for a watch along of the movie tonight at 9:00 pm CDT/10:00 pm EDT. We will be discussing while we watch on the Facebook event page here.

I was unable to find the movie available on any of the streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime), but I did find a free version on YouTube (although the quality is not the best). It's how I'll be watching. You can find it here.

Hope you can join us!

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