Like many of those who read The Book Haunt, my mythological background is Greco-Roman 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.
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.
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
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.
- What initially inspired the creation of the NEHWP (New England Horror Writers Press) and the original writers’ group?
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.
Not 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.
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 fascinating.
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.
“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 remains 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.
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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
When we think of witches—at least here in the States—we most often think of hags with
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.
When 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.