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text 2019-12-29 17:00
Top Ten Story Collections/Anthologies of 2019
The Sea Was a Fair Master - Calvin Demmer
The Night Doctor and Other Tales - Steve Rasnic Tem
In Darkness, Delight: Creatures of the Night - Chad Lutzke,Tim Curran,Jeff Strand,Josh Malerman,Andrew Lennon,Glenn Rolfe,Evans Light,Mary SanGiovanni,Richard Chizmar,Ray Garton
On Dark Wings: Stories - Stephen Gregory
Growing Things and Other Stories - Paul Tremblay
Midnight in the Graveyard - Jeremy Hepler,Chad Lutzke,Kenneth W. Cain,Jonathan Janz,Kealan Patrick Burke,John Everson,Elizabeth Massie,William Meikle,Thomas F. Monteleone,Robert R. McCammon
In Darkness, Delight: Masters of Midnight - Monique Youzwa,Espi Kvlt,Paul Michaels,Joanna Koch,Israel Finn,Billy Chizmar,Michael Bray,Josh Malerman,Andrew Lennon,Patrick Lacey,Jason Parent,Evans Light,John McNee,Ryan C. Thomas,Mark Matthews,William Meikle
Wicked Weird: An Anthology of the New England Horror Writers - Amber Fallon,Matthew M. Bartlett,Brian K. Vaughan,Jeffrey Thomas,Victoria Dalpe,Sylvia Morgan- Baker,Scott T. Goudsward,Peter N. Dudar,David Soares,David Price
A Deep Horror That Was Very Nearly Awe - J.R. Hamantaschen
UrnTold Tales of Horror and Dread: A Scary Short Story Collection - Felton Lovet


Here is a listing of the short story collections and anthologies that I enjoyed most during 2019.  (I wasn't able to read as many as I would have liked, but it was a busy year for family obligations. Luckily, most of the collections I did read were outstanding!)


Click the titles if you're interested in reading my review!


1. THE SEA WAS A FAIR MASTER by Calvin Demmer. 

This was my introduction to this author, and I'm very much looking forward to checking out more of his work in the future. 



I find myself still thinking about these stories all the time. They make me feel as unsettled now and they did when I first read them. Tem is a national treasure and I wish more readers were familiar with his work. 


3. IN DARKNESS, DELIGHT: CREATURES OF THE NIGHT edited by Evans Light and Andrew Lennon

This was a real treat, just like the first in the series. Featuring creatures of all kinds, this volume was delightful!


4. ON DARK WINGS by Stephen Gregory.

Like Steve Rasnic Tem, I think Stephen Gregory is criminally underrated. With unique, superb descriptive skills, and with a penchant for writing about birds, Gregory will always remain a favorite of mine, even if he never writes another word. 


5. GROWING THINGS by Paul Tremblay

An excellent collection from one of the best writers in dark fiction today. 


6. MIDNIGHT IN THE GRAVEYARD edited by Kenneth Cain

Horror Aficionados hosted a group read of this book, and all of the authors participated. It made for a unique and exciting experience. It helped that all of the authors brought their A game, and that Kenneth Cain had a great feel as far as the flow of the stories was concerned. 


7. IN DARKNESS, DELIGHT: MASTERS OF THE NIGHT edited by Andrew Lennon and Evans Light. 

The first volume of this series was quite good and totally had my anticipation going when the second volume was released. With an array of authors that would top any dark fiction list, this book did not disappoint. 


8. WICKED WEIRD edited by Amber Fallon, Scott Goudsward and David Price. 

An excellent anthology from New England Horror Writers. I own a few other anthologies from this same group and I know I will be sorry I haven't read them yet. (It's my plan for 2020 to read all of the WICKED series books I own.)



This is an author from whom I never know what to expect. A wide variety of tales within, this one tickled my fancy back in January, and set the standard for the rest of the year.




An excellent and impressive debut collection from a mysterious author.




I hope you stay tuned for more BEST OF 2019 posts! 




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review 2019-12-11 19:15
ON DARK WINGS by Stephen Gregory
On Dark Wings: Stories - Stephen Gregory

Stephen Gregory knocked me off my feet with his novel,THE CORMORANT.  Since that time I've tried to read everything he's written. Valancourt Books has been the sole reason I discovered this author. For that, and many other reasons, I am grateful to them.


These stories have one thing in common and that is winged creatures. Be they cormorants, (the seed for that novel is a short story in this volume), moths, sparrows or crows, they're all here. Not all of these stories are horror or dark fiction either. Some of these tales are light hearted, some just quick literary vignettes and others, like THE BOY WHO WOULDN'T WAKE UP are beautifully written and almost brutally poignant, (it was my favorite story in this collection)


THE PROGRESS OF JOHN ARTHUR CRABBE, THE DREAMING PIG, THE DROWNING OF COLIN HENDERSON, and THE BLACKBIRD'S SONG were my other favorites, but to be honest, all of the stories were good.


ON DARK WINGS is an elegant, exquisitely written collection of tales. There is something about Gregory's descriptive talents that pulls me in, each and every time I read his work. A wide range of tales, not all horror, and some not dark at all, but all involving the wings of...something. Here it's Gregory's writing that soars.  At this point, I would read his grocery list.


My highest recommendation!


Get your copy here: ON DARK WINGS


*Thanks to Valancourt Books for the e-ARC of this collection in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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text 2019-06-20 18:45
25 Essential Reads-Char's Horror Corner
Boy's Life - Robert R. McCammon
The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson,Laura Miller
Blackwater: The Complete Saga - Michael McDowell,Matt Godfrey
The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman,Elaine Hedges
The Fisherman - John Langan
Lonesome Dove - Larry McMurtry
The Cormorant - Stephen Gregory
The House Next Door - Anne Rivers Siddons
The October Country - Ray Bradbury
Blue World - Robert R. McCammon



Per M.R.'s guidelines, they don't have to be classics, but some of mine will be, solely because I loved them, not because someone made me read them in school. 


1. Boy's Life by Robert McCammon should be read by everyone, I believe. This book helps to explain what happens to that magic you felt as a kid, but no longer feel as an adult. 


2. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. This might be on some lists of classics, but it will always be on mine. The best opening paragraphs EVER. 


3. Blackwater: The Complete Saga by Michael McDowell. An epic covering several generations of an Alabama family. And a river monster! 


4. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. A fictional story based upon how women were treated by the medical profession, back in the day. 


5. The Fisherman by John Langan. This is a fine, fine piece of  literary, cosmic horror.


6. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. A true American western. 


7. The Cormorant by Stephen Gregory.  A literary and chilling quiet horror story about a bird. 


8. The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons A quiet haunted house story. Or is it? This was the only book of this type that the author ever wrote. 


9. The October Country by Ray Bradbury. A classic collection of stories from Bradbury-a few of which I'll never forget. (The Scythe, especially.)


10. Blue World by Robert McCammon. A more contemporary story collection, but with a wide, wide variety of tales. "Night Calls the Green Falcon" makes me cry every single time I read it. (And I've read it 4 times.)


11. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. My heart broke for poor Lily Bart.


12. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. The classic revenge tale. 


13. Bubba Ho-Tep by Joe Lansdale. A totally hilarious story about an Elvis impersonator and a man who believes he is JFK. They're both fighting a mummy in a nursing home. It's hilarious, it's touching and it's gross, all at the same time. 


14. The Secret Life of Souls by Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee. Every dog lover should read this book.


15. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. Heartbreaking. 


16. East of Eden by John Steinbeck. So. Damn. Good.


17. Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin. In stark, staccato prose, Levin brings home this tale of motherhood gone wrong. 


18. The Auctioneer by Joan Samson. There's nothing overtly horrific here. It's just a building, building and ever building case of dread.


19. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. This book taught me that I could hate every single character in a book, but still be hypnotized by the story.


20. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. A classic that taught me that poetry could be fun and whimsical.


21. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. A faith based story, which really isn't my thing...but it's just beautiful.


22. The Alienist by Caleb Carr. Historical fiction based in NYC and focused on the start of criminal profiling and or psychology. 


23. The Sandkings by George R.R. Martin. Long before Game of Thrones, he wrote this rather moral tale. (He also wrote another favorite of mine: Fevre Dream. Vampires on the Mississippi!)


24. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Another case where my heart was broken. 


25. The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub. I loved this coming of age tale where a boy is trying to save his mother. 



 Thanks go out to M.R. for coming up with this idea. It was fun and it gave me a chance to talk about some of my favorite books. What book lover doesn't love that?



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review 2015-11-06 17:05
The Blood of Angels by Stephen Gregory
The Blood of Angels - Stephen Gregory,Mark Morris


This is one of the most messed up books I've ever read! (And I mean that in a good way.) An in depth character study of a young man freshly returned from teaching in Sudan, morphs into something far different as the story moves along. The book is divided into 4 sections, each one more disturbing than the last.


Pacing was a problem with this novel-it starts off very slowly and more than once, I considered giving up on it. But being a fan of Mr. Gregory's work, I kept the faith and was rewarded by a shocking ending that left me stunned. Like jaw dropping, looking like a drooling idiot, stunned.


There were so many times in this book where I found myself saying, "Hmm, this looks like it's going in this direction, but it can't do that, it's going too far." And then it did just that. I found myself yelling at Harry, the protagonist, don't do it! Don't do it! But then he did, and it never, ever worked out in his favor.


It's difficult to put a label on this novel of... psychological horror? A life gone wrong? A downward spiral of bad choices? A story of taboos broken, and the resulting, unrelenting, guilt? It's all of the above and more. If you're intrigued by this description, this book will work for you. It's dark, down & dirty, and as such, was perfect for this dark fiction lover.


Highly recommended for fans of literary, slow burning, psychological horror stories!


*I received this book free from Valancourt Books, in exchange for an honest review. This is it.*

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text 2015-10-19 20:00
Valancourt Books Interviewed by Horror After Dark
The Cell & Other Transmorphic Tales - David Case,Stephen Jones,Kim Newman
Fengriffen & Other Gothic Tales - Kim Newman,Stephen Jones,David Case
November Night Tales - Henry Chapman Mercer,Cory Amsler
Fingers of Fear - J. U. Nicolson,John Urban Nicolson
The Vaults of Lepanto (Gothic Classics) - T. R. Tuckett
The Blood of Angels - Stephen Gregory,Mark Morris


After speaking with another blogger here last week, I realized that I have a lot more followers than I did about a year ago at this time. (Hello and welcome, new followers! *waving*) Being new to Char's Horror Corner might mean that you are not familiar with Valancourt Books or my love for them. 


For this reason, our interview has been re-posted at Horror After Dark and has been updated to reflect their October 2015 new releases! Click here to read it!

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