Southern Magic with Eden Royce’s Spook Lights

I’m so pleased to share the review of my short story collection, Spook Lights, from Rosemary’s Pixie!

rosemary's pixie

SL Cover FinalSpook Lights:  Southern Gothic Horror (135 pages, Kindle Editon, 2015)

As an avid horror reader, I am always open to new stories and writers, but I admit I can get bored when I read the same themes over and over again.  The Graveyardshiftsisters site features women of colour horror writers putting their own stamp on the genre, and one such author is Eden Royce, a U.K. based, African-American writer and editor who has contributed to several horror anthologies and written her own novellas.  My first introduction to her work was Containment, a unique story about a devil-human hybrid and his battle with a formidable entity which I really enjoyed, so I was happy to hear of her new collection honouring her Southern roots.

Sea sirens, enchantments and spirits from beyond take you on a mystical journey in Royce’s new anthology Spook Lights: Southern Gothic Horror.  Named after ghostly marsh lights and set in her home town of Charleston, South Carolina, this collection of…

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Spook Lights: Southern Gothic Horror — A Release

It is finally here!  Seems so long since I’ve posted about my own book release.  This one is especially close to my heart as it is a collection of Southern Gothic horror short stories inspired by my hometown of Charleston, South Carolina.

The final cover for Spook Lights. Man, this went through about seven versions...
The final cover for Spook Lights. Man, this went through about seven versions…

Not familiar with Southern Gothic?  It’s a genre of Gothic fiction unique to American literature set in the American South. (Although I’ve taken a few liberties…) Commonly featured are characters who may dabble in hoodoo and conjure magic–like my great-aunt. Other characters practice more devious or violent acts. But all of them are deeply flawed, disturbed or eccentric characters. Much of Southern Gothic focuses on the macabre and grotesque. Maybe that’s why I love the genre.

It isn’t all foreboding haunted plantations, either. Also featured are warped rural–and sometimes urban–communities that reflect the morals, or lack thereof, of the South and showcase sinister events relating to poverty, alienation, racism, crime, and violence.

Southern Gothic isn't all marshes and haunted plantations, but sometimes, it is.  I took this picture at my last family reunion.
Southern Gothic isn’t all marshes and haunted plantations, but sometimes it is.
I took this picture at my last family reunion.

Southern writers in particular are said to craft a strong sense of place, where the setting itself becomes a character and the human characters may be tied to those places. That’s what I hope I’ve done with this collection. Here’s the back cover copy:

Pull up a rocking chair and sit a spell. Soak in these tales of Southern Gothic horror:

Sinister shopkeepers whose goods hold the highest price, a woman’s search for her mother drags her into the binding embrace of a monster, a witchdoctor’s young niece tells him a life-altering secret, an investigator who knows how to keep a 100% confession rate….

These are stories where the setting itself becomes a character—fog laced cemeteries, sulfur rich salt marshes—places housing creatures that defy understanding and where the grotesque and macabre are celebrated.

Pick up a copy for Kindle on Amazon US, Amazon UK or a paperback copy on Lulu.

Graveyard Shift Sister: Kenya Moss-Dyme

May is Short Story Month, so I’ve asked horror short story author Kenya Moss-Dyme to be Graveyard Shift Sister of the month.

As such, I’ve reviewed her collection Daymares, seven short tales of all-too-possible horror. Kenya is excellent at choosing everyday subjects and twisting them into stories that make you not want to trust anyone. I mean, we all know what happens when our loved one gets possessed by the spirit of a dead gangster. It’s hard to trust a guy after that.

Joan Pringle in J.D.'s Revenge (1976).  Watch this movie for what happens with the aforementioned possession thing.
Joan Pringle in J.D.’s Revenge (1976).
Watch this movie for what happens with the aforementioned possession thing.

Read my review of Daymares and my interview with Kenya on the Graveyard Shift Sisters site here.

Jane the Hippie Vampire: A Review

It is rare for me to find what I consider to be a new and fresh take on the vampire mythos. But I think Leigh M. Lane–in this instance writing as Lisa Lane–has achieved it.

Jane is a vampire who was turned during the Summer of Love in the 1960’s, when she was only seventeen. She’s lived in communes and on the streets, but mainly she walks from town to town, smoking weed (Is that what the kids are calling it these days?) and drinking coffee in an attempt to drive away her own personal demons and find peace with herself.

Cover for Jane, the Hippie Vampire. Volume 1--Revival
Cover for Jane, the Hippie Vampire. Volume One–Revival

I’ve read about vamps who hate to take human lives, but Jane goes a step further: she’s a vegetarian. Well, sort of. Until the hunger takes her, that is. But she is able to restrain herself to drinking from only the dregs of society. She is also an introspective soul searcher, always trying to do the right thing by everyone. I appreciated that she didn’t completely lose her personality when she was changed and that she craves cigarettes more than blood. She also believes that if she does enough good, then God will remove her curse.

Barefoot, she walks across the country, getting herself into trouble in these four novelettes. In “Hair”, she stops the South, where she encounters a werewolf among the rednecks. (That’s a great book title!) The description of backwoods antics and shotgun justice felt eerily accurate to me.

“Love Beads” shows Jane weakened and desperate to find the solution to what is draining her of life.

In the tender “Flashbacks”, Jane meets with a former friend, which sets off a storm of confusion driving her back to the streets and underground where she meets a homeless Vet who may have something to teach her about life and death.

“Flower Power” was my favorite of the collection and a great story to end with. It showed a manipulative predator from Jane’s past, who caused her endless torture. She has a chance to destroy the woman, but will she take it or will her hippie tendencies to let things be take over?

Jane doesn’t have a lot of squicky killing and fang-piercing-throat action, but I was okay with that. I enjoyed the collection thoroughly and I would consider it horror for those who say they don’t read horror. It is light hearted and fun and I sympathized with Jane’s plight. She’s trying to do good in the world, and maybe…maybe she has.

Find Jane on Amazon here.

Photo of the author.  Leigh M. Lane has published ten novels and dozens of short stories.
Photo of the author.
Leigh M. Lane has published ten novels and dozens of short stories.