Review: Spirits of Place

We are all well acquainted with spirits—spirits of the past, spirits of what could have20180224_224426 been, spirits of place. Home, where we put down roots and began to bloom. The road, flowing like thought and blood and memory. And so many other, far stranger vistas that are the framework for our development and identity.

Spirits of Place, edited by John Reppion, is an anthology that uses story, history, and personal connection, all mixed in with elements of the occult and philosophy, in an attempt to define our relationship with place, and how what has gone before influences the present and the future. Continue reading

Review: Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything

When I was younger, medical history was not my forte. But as the years have ticked on and my own health concerns loom on the horizon, I’ve found myself wondering about 20180206_171031how the current state of medicine came to be. Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything was my first earnest, prolonged trip into medical history, and I was more than pleasantly surprised at its casual language and engaging narrative. There were some elements that left something to be desired, however.

Authored by Lydia Kang MD and Nate Pedersen, Quackery takes a segmented, structured approach to discussing the various methods and madness humans have labeled “medicine” throughout history. Continue reading

Written Ephemera: On Saving Friends’ Writing

Sometimes, we don’t get to say goodbye. Sometimes, their writing is all we have left.

It began with an email I received early last week, warning me that Figment, a website where I’d uploaded writing in my undergrad years, was shifting gears and rebranding. All users had until January 31 to back up their data.

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Review: Black Earth: A Field Guide to the Slavic Otherworld

Like many of those who read The Book Haunt, my mythological background is Greco-20171007_003010Roman and Norse. Andrew Paciorek’s Black Earth: A Field Guide to the Slavic Otherworld was a venture into the unknown for me; a journey into a mythology and a worldview that was both alien and familiar.

First, I have to give credit where it’s due.

Paciorek’s descriptions and explanations of each of the gods made them relatable for someone brand new to Slavic mythology. There are at least a handful of parallels between Slavic and other European mythologies that the author made sure to note, but this commentary was grounded in well-researched reality.

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Resurrecting The Book Haunt

How do I bring The Book Haunt back from the dead?

A lot has changed since my last post—mostly my career. Free time has become harder to find, and is more precious than anything once I stumble upon it. But with the onset of fall, the little voice of resurrecting this little spooky book hub whispers incessantly.

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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


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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