The Strange Exchange – A Book Swap for the Spooky-Minded

Ever since moving to Pittsburgh, I’ve been surprised time and again. But what I have not been surprised by—and have come to cherish most about this city—is the thriving occult

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Friday the 13th visit to Arts & Crafts: Botanica & Occult Shop.

and new age communities. Back in January—on a Friday the 13th, no less—I went voyaging into the city with Megan, podcast co-host and fellow lover of the occult. What we found was Arts & Crafts: Botancia & Occult Shop.

The unfortunate norm for pagan/occult stores seems to be a dimly lit, crowded space. When we encountered Arts & Crafts, however, we immediately saw that this business was anything but the norm: well-lit, spacious, welcoming, and with a killer collection of tapestries, ritual tools/items, and scented goods to boot. For the witch in 2017, Arts and Crafts is a must-visit. Continue reading

Interview with Scott Goudsward and Daniel Keohane, Editors of the “Wicked Witches” Anthology

If you recall, dear readers, I did a review of Wicked Witches back in December. Shortly after posting the review, I was lucky enough to get a chance to talk with anthology editors Scott Goudsward and Daniel Keohane about the challenges of putting together a book with so many moving parts.

  1. What initially inspired the creation of the NEHWP (New England Horror Writers Press) and the original writers’ group?wickedwitches

Scott Goudsward: The NEHW was originally a regional chapter of the HWA (Horror Writers Association). We formed up in 2001 and when the HWA decided they didn’t want regional chapters, we struck out and didn’t dissolve like some of the other chapters.

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Review: A Demon in the Desert by Ashe Armstrong

ademoninthedesertNot many are familiar with the Weird West genre, and for good reason. The popularity of Westerns in modern mass media fluctuates wildly from year to year. And usually, when you think of Westerns, you most likely think of cowboys and conflict with Native American peoples. Weird West takes the tropes of the Western, but adds in elements of fantasy: such as orcs, elves, and demonic possession.

Enter A Demon in the Desert by Ashe Armstrong.

The town of Greenreach Bluffs is under siege by something straight from a nightmare. Grimluk, an orc demon-hunter, takes on the case. But what has brought this plague of evil—of demonic activity—upon Greenreach Bluffs? The answer is not what you’d expect.

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Review: The Witch of Lime Street by David Jaher

If you say the phrase “Victorian seance,” you immediately have my attention. Everything about that period in history, especially the “paranormal” elements, is really rather thewitchoflimestreetfascinating.

The Witch of Lime Street is a venture into the Victorian era when those who could claim to speak with the dead were a dime a dozen, and almost-nondenominational belief in the afterlife exploded alongside technological innovation. In the thick of all this walked magic titan Harry Houdini, who made it his personal mission to find an authentic medium. His road led him to become friends with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who was the mastermind behind Sherlock Holmes, and who also became a leader in the Spiritualist movement.

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Review: MOM by C. Piprell

“Then again, how much of any of us includes the original parts? Organs, limbs, cells. Even the molecules. We’re constantly recycling what are already only recycled bits of dead stars. Ever think about that? Puts everything in perspective.” – C. Piprell, MOM

It has been years since I last read sci-fi, so when I jumped into C. Piprell’s MOM, I was taken on one heck of a ride. Our protagonist is Cisco the Kid, in a future where what momcoverremains of humankind has been relegated to existing safely in Malls. There, Cisco and others spend much of their time Worlding: playing in any number of digital alternate realities. But not all is well in would-be Paradise. Cisco’s memory and personality have started to fragment, the AI that takes care of everything from food to entertainment to staying alive is going insane, and that is only the beginning. This is the end of the world, but not in a way you would expect.

First, I have to give the author major credit for creating futuristic slang that makes sense given the technology that is introduced in the story. Second, the perspective shift between Cisco and others—I cannot specify, as I do not wish to spoil the story—is both sharp and engaging. Everything moves at a pace that kept me enthralled and wanting more. Third, Piprell also demonstrates a mastery of writing dialog and using language in a way that really captures the personality of each character. Piprell’s pinpoint attention to detail also shows; any mention of something in passing, such as electronic graffiti, has a purpose.

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The New Rating System + Contest!

What would a book review site be without a rating system?

In most recent reviews I’ve been using a 5-star rating scale. To make things a little more personal here on The Book Haunt, I’m introducing our new rating friend:

ratingghostie

Five ghosties equal five stars! But he needs a name! To submit your idea to the naming contest, like The Book Haunt on Facebook and e-mail your name ideas to thebookhauntinfo@gmail.com. The winner will be given a copy of Hogwarts Classics, which is a set of books loved by those in the Harry Potter universe: Quidditch Through the Ages and The Tales of Beedle the Bard. The contest ends January 20, 2017.

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Review: Wicked Witches – An Anthology of the New England Horror Writers

When we think of witches—at least here in the States—we most often think of hags with
wickedwitches warts, long noses, and quite the menacing laugh. Wicked Witches explored those tropes and pushed past them, which is something I absolutely adore in a good anthology.

Instead of using the same tired old cliches in these stories, the authors provided a wide variety of perspectives and approaches to witches. In “Access Violation” by Jeremy Flagg, we get witchcraft as a form of hacking. In “Tilberian Holiday” by Izzy Lee, we get a woman who has suffered extreme loss, but a strange hope comes from an even stranger place. And to top it all off, in “Moving House” by Rob Smales you get the story of an iconic witch in a modern neighborhood. There are some very talented writers in this group, and it shows. I also noticed—and thoroughly enjoyed—a theme of witchcraft as a tool to help downtrodden women.

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Review: Real Wolfmen: True Encounters in Modern America by Linda S. Godfrey

realwolfmencoverWhen we encounter stories of vampires, werewolves, and other creatures of the night, many of us want to believe they’re real, if only for a moment. But most rational people understand the difference between fantasy and reality.

In her book Real Wolfmen: True Encounters in Modern America, Linda S. Godfrey persistently poses the question what if? What if werewolves were real? What would their behavioral patterns look like? Real Wolfmen is a survey of over twenty years of research by Godfrey, where she compiles reports of werewolf sightings into certain categories (ex. werewolves seen by the side of the road, or in a graveyard), and at the end of each chapter there is a brief speculative summary about what we might learn from these sightings.

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The Importance of Half Price Books

When someone hears the name “Amazon,” what follows is usually praise for their deals or dread at how they do business. And with Amazon trying to dig its fingers into as many pies as possible—grocery stores included—competition is trying its best to stay afloat.

One of these competitors (at least in some parts of the States) is Half Price Books, which has been family owned and operated since its founding in 1972. It all began when the owners took books from their own personal library (and purchased books from the local community). While Half Price Books is a chain, it captures the feeling of used bookstores. You never know what you’ll discover.  Continue reading

Viking Mythology: Where to Begin

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While countless movies, video games, and books have dipped into and reinterpreted parts of Norse mythology, the subject may seem a little difficult to get into. For me, I could name any number of Zeus’s infidelities, but when it came to reading anything related to the Eddas, my eyes automatically glazed over. I was definitely interested in learning about Odin’s wily ways, but I didn’t know how to approach the topic until I encountered one book in particular. Continue reading