It has finally cooled down over here in Yonago, Japan, after a late and hot end to the summer. The leaves are starting to fall and we can feel autumn in the air. This time of the year is one of my favourite times for reading and I like to bring in a Halloween theme to my selections for October.
I don’t read as much horror as I used to. As I get older, I find that I enjoy weird fiction more than the gore-soaked horror of my teenage years. So, what exactly is weird fiction? Instead of consulting wikipedia, here is a brief definition from Penguin Random House:
“It’s a literary style that can blend speculative fiction with elements of horror, fantasy, magical realism, Lovecraftian Cosmicism, and others to create a genre that is surreal and deeply unnerving.”
I’ve read a lot of Lovecraft’s fiction over the years. He described weird fiction as having “a certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread” or “malign and particular suspension or defeat of [the] fixed laws of Nature.”
I’m sure we’ve all read a story that falls into this category. Looking at some of the authors listed within this genre, we find such names as Robert Chambers, William Hope Hodgson, Lovecraft, Thomas Ligotti, Ramsey Campbell, Jeff VanderMeer, China Mieville, Caitlin R. Kiernan, and many more.
I’m going to use this Halloween-Read theme as an opportunity to read some of the books and stories still gathering dust on my Tbr shelf. How about you? Do you have any books that fall under this category? Why not join me for a story or two? It would be great to hear from you about your possible selections.
Here are my tentative selections:
The Loosening Skin (2018) by Aliya Whiteley
When people shed their skin every seven years, it’s just a fact of life that we will cast off all the attachments of our old life. And when our loves are part of us, those memories of love can be bought, if you know the right people.
Introducing the new drug, Suscutin, that will prevent the moult. Now you can keep your skin forever. Now you never need to change who you are.
This Dreaming Isle (2018) Edited by Dan Coxon
This Dreaming Isle is an anthology of new horror stories and weird fiction with a distinctly British flavour. It collects together seventeen brand new horrifying or unsettling stories that draw upon the landscape and history of the British Isles for their inspiration. Some explore the realms of myth and legend, others are firmly rooted in the present, engaging with the country’s forgotten spaces.
I’m going to select five stories from the seventeen that make up this anthology.
Hellboy, Vol. 8: Darkness Calls (2008) by Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo
Hellboy has finally returned from his adventures at sea, but no sooner has he settled on land than a conclave of witches drags him from his respite and into the heart of Russian folklore, where he becomes the quarry of the powerful and bloodthirsty witch Baba Yaga. Bent on revenge for the eye she had lost to Hellboy, Baba Yaga has enlisted the aid of a deathless warrior who will stop at nothing to destroy Hellboy.
I’m a big fan of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy series. I’ve been wanting to get back into reading the character for a while. I loved the first two movies directed by Guillermo del Toro, but I can’t bring myself to watch Neil Marshall’s 2019 reboot. From what I’ve heard about it, it’s not very good.
Something Remains: Joel Lane and Friends (2016) Edited by Peter Coleborn and Pauline E. Dungate
When Joel Lane died unexpectedly in November 2013, the literary world lost a remarkable talent. He left us too early, with so much unfinished as indicated by the copious notes and outlines of stories and poems he had yet to write. In these pages you will find stories inspired by and based on these notes, completed by many of his friends and colleagues – over thirty writers including Tim Lebbon, Steve Rasnic Tem, Alison Littlewood, John Grant, Simon Bestwick, Lynda E. Rucker, John Llewellyn Probert, Gary McMahon, Thana Niveau, Steven Savile and many others.
I’m new to the writings of Joel Lane. I read a short story of his in the 2009 anthology Lovecraft Unbound, (review here). The story is titled “Sight Unseen” and it impressed me enough to research the author on the net. He had over 160 short stories published between 1984 and 2015, as well as poems, essays, one novel and eight collections of his fiction. And I’d never heard of him! I’m looking forward to getting to know more about Joel Lane and his writing with this book.
The Dunwich Horror (1929) by H.P. Lovecraft
Lurking in the quiet village of Dunwich, a supernatural horror lies in wait in this classic tale of horror by H.P. Lovecraft. When a cute college coed and her professor visit the library at the infamous Miskatonic University, they discover a young man who wishes to check out the dreaded Necronomicon. An ancient book for divining demons, the Necronomicon allows its user to bring hell to Earth, and human sacrifice is the required offering.
It has been many years since I read this story. The Dunwich Horror is considered one of the core stories of the Cthulhu Mythos.
Thanks for reading!