Kendra Robinson’s Best Reads of 2016

kendraMy name is Kendra Robinson.  My family moved to Evanston five years ago from Chicago because our daughter attends Baker Demonstration School.  My husband and I work in the private aviation industry and spend much of our time working on our fixer-upper house.

1)  The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North (2014)

This is a wonderful twist on a time travel story, with shocking twists and a wonderful main character. Beautifully written and structured.

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A Scary Good Author You Need to Read…

Horror author Laird Barron (Illustration by Dalton Rose for "Slate.")
Horror author Laird Barron (Illustration by Dalton Rose for Slate.)

With Halloween lurking right around the darkened corner, now is a frighteningly good time to talk about authors who will scare you right out of your reading glasses.  We know you know about horror heavy hitters like Peter Straub, Stephen King, and Ramsey Campbell, but how about Laird Barron?  Already a favorite among horror and dark fantasy aficionados, Barron mixes cosmic horror, supernatural noir, and the occult into terrifying tales that should be topping your Halloween reading list.  Strikingly original and expertly crafted, his novels and story collections have already won three Shirley Jackson Awards, received multiple Bram Stoker and Locus nominations, and been favorably compared to the work of H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe.  So if you’re in the mood for a good scare, try to be brave and check out one of the following Laird Barron books.  They’re guaranteed to give you the creeps if you give them the chance.  Happy Halloween!

swift-to-chaseSwift to Chase

Barron’s latest story collection was declared an “instant classic” by author John Langan and is sure to make Barron a household name in horror.  Combining “psychological horror, slasher fiction, and earthy weirdness,” these 12 spine-tingling stories are set in far-future dystopias and a hellish Alaskan wilderness where a cyborg war dog, a modern day Jack the Ripper, and a psycho sorority girl all roam wild.  The first book in a planned “Alaska” cycle, this collection is a nightmarish must read.

 

the-beautiful-thing-that-awaits-us-allThe Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us and Other Stories

This cosmic horror gem is the final book of a “loose trilogy” that includes the award-winning story collections The Imago Sequence and Occultation.  Featuring eight interlinking tales and the World Fantasy Award nominated novella Hand of Glory, these chilling stories are so well crafted author Kelly Link insists you’ll forgive Barron for the sleepless nights they cause.

 

 

the-croningThe Croning

Barron’s debut novel tells the story of 80-year-old Donald Miller, a geologist whose sanity is tested as he unearths dark secrets about his wife and their adult twins.  Filled with black magic, weird cults, and unspeakable things looming in the shadows, Barron’s book is a “disturbing imagining of a modern day Rumpelstiltskin” that is by turns touching and terrifying.

 

An Interview with Paul McComas and Greg Starrett: Men of Monstrous Ambitions

FIt For A Frankenstein

Paul McComas wears many hats…as well as the occasional half-head Frankenstein’s Monster mask.  McComas is the author of two novels and two short story collections, and the editor of two short-fiction anthologies.  In addition, the Evanston resident is an award-winning indie filmmaker, a teacher of writing, literature, and film, and a performance artist of no small repute.  His latest project is the novella Fit For A Frankenstein, co-authored with his long-time friend, Greg Starrett.  This is the first book for Starrett, a resident of Munster, Indiana, and the founder of Veidt Radio Theatre.

Fit For A Frankenstein pays homage to Universal Studio’s monster movies of the 1930s and 1940s, as it follows Ygor’s and the Monster’s increasingly zany quest for a size 66 X-X-Long suit. Logan’s Run author William F. Nolan recommends it for any reader with “fond memories of the iconic Monster.”  On Saturday, October 26, McComas and Starrett will perform scenes from the book, answer questions, and sign copies for anyone brave enough to venture to the Community Meeting Room at 3 p.m.  We recently overcame our fears, and sat down to talk with the co-authors about their monstrous collaboration.

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The More the Scarier

Boo!

Okay, okay, we get the picture.  Vampires and zombies… they’re pretty scary.  What with their blood sucking and flesh feasting, glamoring and lurching, death defying and multiplying it’s really no wonder they’ve cornered the market in creepy.  But if variety is truly the spice of the afterlife, at this point you’re likely dying for something new on your Halloween reading list.  So to help you diversify your diet of literary horror, we’re featuring all those terrifying ghosts and ghouls left lurking in the shadows while the vampires and zombies hog the limelight.  We’ve got witches, and we’ve got ghosts.  We’ve got killer clowns, shape-shifting crows, and even… could it be…  Satan!  So lock your doors, turn on the lights, and try to be brave.  These bloodcurdling books are chomping for a chance to scare you sideways: Continue reading “The More the Scarier”

“Scary” Mary Poppins

Just in time for Halloween, please allow us to introduce the latest craze sweeping the Internet.  Much like the horror mash-up trend that gave us the popular Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the creative and computer-savvy have taken to recutting classic movie trailers into something a bit more creepy.  Check out the entertaining “Scary” Mary Poppins below, and if you like what you see, you can find even more recut horror trailers over on YouTube.  Also, if you’re in the mood for some feature-length frights, take a look at the Chicago Tribune’s list of the 25 Scariest Movies for some spooky suggestions.  Happy Halloween!

An Interview with Paul McComas

Author Paul McComas will read at EPL on May 5th at 7 p.m.

Paul McComas has creative energy to burn.  An award-winning filmmaker, dynamic performance artist, and a mean punk bassist to boot, McComas is perhaps best known for his two acclaimed novels – Unplugged (2002) and Planet of the Dates (2008) – as well as for editing the short-fiction anthologies First Person Imperfect (2003) and Further Persons Imperfect (2007).  Now the Evanston author has added to his impressive artistic resume with his ambitious new genre collection Unforgettable: Harrowing Futures, Horrors, & (Dark) Humor.  Comprised of McComas’ fifty best speculative-fiction, horror, and dark-comic works, Unforgettable is an entertaining and enlightening thrill ride described by Logan’s Run author William F. Nolan as “a literary tour de force… that will leave you breathless.”  On Thursday, May 5th, you can hear Mr. McComas read from Unforgettable when he visits EPL’s 1st Floor Community Meeting Room at 7 p.m. along with fellow author Tim W. Brown.  In anticipation of his visit, we recently spoke with him via email about the genesis of Unforgettable, the joys of dystopian worlds, No-Budget Theatre, his band The Daves, collaborating with Nolan on the forthcoming Logan’s Journey, and much, much more.

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A Blizzard of Horror Stories

This article is a great starting point for getting acquainted with horror short stories. After reading about these 12 stories I feel motivated to pick up some of the old and new authors in this collection. I definitely want to reread Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” and perhaps after that try Laird Barron’s “Old Virginia,” which is about CIA human experiments that have decidedly nonhuman dimensions.

Another nice feature- you can access a couple of stories from the article.

(This wonderfully spooky cover is from American Fantastic Tales and includes Harlan Ellison‘s  ” I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.” )

Shira S.

A Great Time to be a Zombie

Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be a zombie these days.  With a single-mindedness that only an animated corpse could muster, the zombies have recently risen from the grave to enjoy unprecedented heights of popularity.  But even as they rub rotting elbows with the “beautiful people,” the zombies have always managed to stay true to their rancid, flesh-eating roots.  Sure, they’ve experimented a little on their way to the top.  They’ve dipped a gangrenous toe into classic literature, played slapstick for laughs, and even done a bit of thrilling song and dance.  But the bottom line is that the zombies have earned their stardom by remaining committed to doing what zombies do best.  Namely, they’ve doubled and redoubled their efforts to scare you snotless, and let’s face it, you’ve got to respect their work ethic even as you run screaming from their lurching pursuit.  So this Halloween celebrate the Year of the Zombie with a book that captures all of their consistent creepiness.   In each of the following gory reads, you’ll thank the zombies for keeping it real… real scary.

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We’re Bringing Scary Back

Oooh, scary!

Somewhere along the way the vampires hired an incredible publicist.  In the blink of a soulless eye, these bloodthirsty spawns of Satan have become the new media darlings by remaking themselves into a harmlessly hunky bunch of brooding night owls.  Good for the vampires.  But with Halloween lurking right around the darkened corner, you might be surprised to find yourself wishing that these pale heartthrobs would return – at least briefly – to their more evil ways.  If so, have no fear, or actually, have a big, heaping bowl of fear because there are still plenty of blood-chilling books that capture the vampires in all their former undead glory.  If you’re looking for laughs, romance, or Abe Lincoln, you’ve probably come to the wrong place.  But if you’re in the mood for some serious seasonal spookiness, check out the following terrifying reads for all the spooky you can handle:

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