Tag Archives: gothic horror

Interview with Author Jennifer Anne Gordon

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Hello! Thanks for having me for the interview. My name is Jennifer Anne Gordon, and up until the pandemic started, I was a professional Ballroom dancer and performer. I live in New Hampshire with my amazing husband and our silly dog. I love travelling and photography, specifically photography of abandoned and haunted places. 

I have always in some way, or another been a writer, even when I was small. I would write short stories and little plays that I would force my mother to act out with me. As I got older, I focused more on poetry as well as publishing an indie comic and I did some freelance journalism as well. 

I always wanted to write a novel, but somewhere along the way I lost confidence. A few years ago, I decided to reclaim that confidence and just try writing a novel, I had no idea how it would go, if it would work but it did. The novel I wrote was called Beautiful, Frightening, and Silent and that went on to win the Kindle Award for Best Horror novel for 2020, as well as became a finalist for several other awards.

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What inspired you to write your book?

There are always stories in my head, they play there like a movie. The real inspiration comes when I can’t hold them in any longer. My latest book “When the Sleeping Dead Still Talk” is the second part to my Victorian Horror series “The Hotel”. It follows the story of Francis who was a supporting character in “From Daylight to Madness”. He, Francis was my inspiration, I felt so strongly about him and knew that there was so much more to him that I could not explore in the first book that I knew I had to tell his story. The character is very much a mystery. He is very enigmatic in the first novel, and “Sleeping Dead” gives the readers a chance to take a very deep dive into his psyche. It reads like 200 pages of poetic nightmare.

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I think as a horror writer I want people to see beyond the genre to the emotions that cause “the horror”. In this novel it concentrates on childhood trauma, and grief. I am not sure if it is a message, but I do like to explore grief in my horror. There are people who may not think they like horror, I don’t think that there is anyone who has never experienced grief. So, in many ways, the books are a pleasurable terror as they can act as a love letter to loss. “When the Sleeping Dead Still Talk” is also in many ways a love story, so there is an element f transcendence to the story, and the question of what it means to love someone, what if that person is dead? What if that person you love is a hallucination? Do these things discount it as real love? 

What drew you into this particular genre?

I like to blame it on the fact that I ‘accidentally read” Pet Sematary by Stephen King when I was 10, but I think my fascination with all things “dark” must have started before that. I lived pretty close to a cemetery and the neighborhood kids would play there (there and the power lines). I also think that living in New England must have played a part in it as well. New England is very proud of their ghost stories. There is also the fact that the Salem Witch Trials took place near by and when we were little, we were taken to places like the Witch Museum, or the House of Seven Gables on School trips. There was always something intoxicating about the “what if” behind all of these stories that sent chills down my spine. I always go back to the same words. Pleasurable Terror.

If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

This is a great question. I think I would have to say I would want to sit down with my character Agnes, who was a supporting character in From Daylight to Madness, as well as When the Sleeping Dead Still Talk (she has a larger role in that book) and ask her specifically about what was going through her mind the “first” time she shot her father. I would love to know what she thought of as she pulled the trigger, and then find out what went through her mind when he lived. (I am referencing a specific thing in the novel From Daylight to Madness, a comment that a character makes about her.) Then after that I guess I would ask her if she has enough story for me to write a book about her … because I keep coming back to her in my head.

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

For me it has been Facebook. I know some authors swear by Twitter or Instagram, but for me it’s Facebook. I think it helps that my podcast also streams live on Facebook so it is where I centralize my focus. I do love Instagram though, as a photographer it’s a great place to promote in a visual way.

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Don’t let the insecurities in your head convince you that you can’t do something. I would also suggest to people starting out (and even not starting out) to never stop pushing yourself, write in other genres, take classes, experiment with style, write the story you want to write!

What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Yes! I have a new novel being released this summer. I believe at the end of June or early July, I will know more soon. It is Literary Fiction with elements of ghost fiction, body horror, and some medical suspense, while still remaining very much a literary novel. It is called Pretty/Ugly.

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About the Author

Jennifer Anne Gordon is a Gothic horror novelist. Her work includes Beautiful, Frightening and Silent (2020) which won the Kindle Award for Best Horror/Suspense for 2020, and From Daylight to Madness (The Hotel book 1), and When the Sleeping Dead Still Talk (The Hotel book 2).

She had a collection of her mixed media artwork published during spring of 2020, entitled Victoriana: mixed media art of Jennifer Gordon

Jennifer is one of the hosts as well as the creator of Vox Vomitus, a video podcast on the Global Authors on the Air Network, as well as the Co-Host of the You Tube Channel “Talk Horror to Me”. She had been a contributor to Ladies of Horror Fiction, as well as Horror Tree.

Jennifer is a pale curly haired ginger, obsessed with horror, ghosts, abandoned buildings, and her dog “Lord Tubby”.

She graduated from the New Hampshire Institute of Art, where she studied Acting. She also studied at the University of New Hampshire with a concentration in Art History and English.

She has made her living as an actress, a magician’s assistant, a “gallerina”, a comic book dealer, a painter, and burlesque performer and for the past 10 years as an award-winning professional ballroom dancer, performer, instructor, and choreographer.

When not scribbling away (ok, typing frantically) she enjoys traveling with her fiancé and dance partner, teaching her dog ridiculous tricks (like ‘give me a kiss’ and ‘what hand is the treat in?’ ok these are not great tricks.) as well as taking photos of abandoned buildings and haunted locations.

She is a leo, so at the end of the day she just thinks about her hair.

https://www.jenniferannegordon.com/

When The Sleeping Dead Still Talk: The Hotel #2 by Jennifer Anne Gordon Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

In this haunting sequel, author Jennifer Anne Gordon follows a man haunted by his past and traumatized by what could have been in the acclaimed novel, “When The Sleeping Dead Still Talk”, the second in The Hotel series. 

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The Synopsis

From the Kindle Award Winning Author for Best Horror 2020,  author Jennifer Anne Gordon’s conclusion to The Hotel Series, with the sequel to From Daylight to Madness.

In one startling moment in the late summer of 1873 a tragedy fell like summer sun on the gray jagged shores of Dagger Island. Francis loses everything he thought his life was, and what it could have become. His heart breaks and his feet run, all the way back to his childhood home, he reaches for a past that may not exist.

He is there, in the little house in Dorchester Neck. A place haunted with missing time. He feels the comfort from walls that lean in too close, but then …He feels the trauma that ripped his life in two and in a blink of an eye he is back at the hotel. He can feel the memories fade as the cold fingers of winter wrap around him. He does not know how he got there, or indeed if he ever left.

Francis has lived his whole life veiled in the memories that are more alive than his present. The current days fade away before he can hold on to him. Everything he was or thought he could have been is gone. He realizes he may be a monster, and the person he has fallen in love with may not even exist. Francis holds onto the memories he thinks are real …until he is almost consumed by them.

Francis is isolated in a world of mesmerism, with his tormentor and healer Doctor Hughes.

Francis is a guest in this hotel with his past, his present, and who he believes to be his future. Isabelle. His world is a labyrinth … he feels her hand in his. The fingers intertwine and there is nothing left but her …

She is a memory, a ghost, and a hallucination.

He can almost remember the moment when his father’s glass shattered into his face…he can almost remember who he was before he was broken in two.

He can almost remember…

He can almost…

He can…

He…

The Review

A haunting, beautiful, and engaging sequel, author Jennifer Anne Gordon continues to wow and amaze me. A fantastic story that continues to explore the concept that our pasts can be just as haunting as the ghosts that roam in and out of our lives, the story really does a fantastic job of delving into Francis’s character.

A supporting character in the first novel, this book expertly highlights the impact the loss of a major character from the first novel has on him, while also showcasing the profound impact his past has had on him physically and emotionally. The psychological deep-dive into his psyche makes for some thought-provoking scenes. 

What really stands out to me is the gothic horror-style writing the author employs here, utilizing atmosphere heavily to build suspense in a wholly original yet iconic way all at once. As a fan of recent series like The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor, the author has done a great job of capturing the essence of that style of storytelling while creating a story that draws the reader in and characters that highlight how sometimes the past and ourselves can be a whole lot scarier than the ghosts themselves.

The Verdict

A memorable, emotional, and deeply thought-provoking read, author Jennifer Anne Gordon’s “When The Sleeping Dead Still Talk” is a must-read gothic horror novel. The author does a wonderful job of crafting a narrative that draws the reader in deeper and deeper into the world they have crafted, while giving emotionally-charged scenes that highlight the depth of the protagonist, Francis, making for a complex and detailed read that fans of the genre will absolutely love. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of this memorable read today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Jennifer Anne Gordon is a Gothic horror novelist. Her work includes Beautiful, Frightening and Silent (2020) which won the Kindle Award for Best Horror/Suspense for 2020, and From Daylight to Madness (The Hotel book 1), and When the Sleeping Dead Still Talk (The Hotel book 2).

She had a collection of her mixed media artwork published during spring of 2020, entitled Victoriana: mixed media art of Jennifer Gordon

Jennifer is one of the hosts as well as the creator of Vox Vomitus, a video podcast on the Global Authors on the Air Network, as well as the Co-Host of the You Tube Channel “Talk Horror to Me”. She had been a contributor to Ladies of Horror Fiction, as well as Horror Tree.

Jennifer is a pale curly haired ginger, obsessed with horror, ghosts, abandoned buildings, and her dog “Lord Tubby”.

She graduated from the New Hampshire Institute of Art, where she studied Acting. She also studied at the University of New Hampshire with a concentration in Art History and English.

She has made her living as an actress, a magician’s assistant, a “gallerina”, a comic book dealer, a painter, and burlesque performer and for the past 10 years as an award-winning professional ballroom dancer, performer, instructor, and choreographer.

When not scribbling away (ok, typing frantically) she enjoys traveling with her fiancé and dance partner, teaching her dog ridiculous tricks (like ‘give me a kiss’ and ‘what hand is the treat in?’ ok these are not great tricks.) as well as taking photos of abandoned buildings and haunted locations.

She is a leo, so at the end of the day she just thinks about her hair.

https://www.jenniferannegordon.com/

amazon.com/When-Sleeping-Dead-Still-Talk-ebook/dp/B08L5PPXNB/ref=sr_1_1?adid=082VK13VJJCZTQYGWWCZ&campaign=211041&creative=374001&dchild=1&keywords=When+the+Sleeping+Dead+Still+Talk&qid=1613920200&s=books&sr=1-1&tag=x_gr_w_bb_sin-20

Interview with Author Jennifer Anne Gordon

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

The first time I remember consciously thinking about writing, I was in seventh grade, and had just turned twelve. I was a poor girl living in a rich town, and for that reason and probably many that I will never understand, I was bullied and picked on by a group of girls. They were incredibly cruel, and my self-esteem was demolished. I was depressed, I didn’t understand that then, but I do now. My grades suffered a lot, I barely did any homework, I was hardly functioning. I did have an English teacher who knew I was smart, and she was willing to help me get my grades up. She suggested I write stories or poems, so I did. I fell in love with writing then, with creating a world outside of my own. 

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What inspired you to write your book?

This will sound crazy, but many years ago I was undergoing hypnosis for past life regression, and a few of the scenes that I included in From Daylight to Madness were the direct result of these sessions. Just little flashes in my mind, but they were very emotional. I thought about them a lot, what they meant for me, what they meant in general. I always knew one day I would write the story of those images in my head, what I didn’t know was that I was going to create a gothic horror series around them, for a a while I thought they would just be straight historical fiction.  

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Though the Hotel Series is Victorian Horror, it really is at its heart a story about grief, and trauma and two very misunderstood people who never really had a chance at a normal life. I would hope people would take away a little knowledge about different kinds of mental illness, including depression, survivor’s guilt, dissociative disorder, and the terrible ways people who had these problems were treated or ignored in the past. 

What drew you into this particular genre?

I have always been drawn to darker things, and horror. It’s my favorite genre to read, write, watch. I guess I could blame the fact that when I was little, I used to play and hang out in a cemetery near my house. That combined with reading Pet Sematary at the age of ten had a huge impact on my life.

If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

This is a great question, and I think it would be different every time someone would ask me. Today I will go with Hawthorne Hughes who is the hotel manager and one of my antagonists from my Hotel Series (From Daylight to Madness and When the Sleeping Dead Still Talk).  I would probably ask him what his relationship was like with his parents, and I would want to know what kind of childhood he had. (I have thought about doing a story or a book about him someday as well).

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I think Facebook and Instagram have been the best for me, especially Facebook. I have always believed that if people get to know you and they find you interesting and likable then they will want to support you. I have made some great friends and found some very loyal fans on there as well. I also have started to use Slasher as well which is a horror-based app that is a lot like Facebook.

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Don’t ever let yourself get talked out of writing what you want to write. Even if you don’t think there is a market for it, or it may not be popular, focus on writing the book you want to read, and trust your voice. Remember you can always edit or rewrite. You can’t edit a blank page.

What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Yes, I am in the early days of a new Work in Progress, I have been writing for about a month now, and I am about 20,000 words into draft one. It is a departure from Gothic Horror, which is what my first three books have been. This one leans more into speculative fiction and horror, with a little bit of a dystopian romantic comedy thrown in. 

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About the Author

Jennifer Anne Gordon is a Gothic horror novelist. Her work includes Beautiful, Frightening and Silent (2020) which won the Kindle Award for Best Horror/Suspense for 2020, and From Daylight to Madness (The Hotel book 1), and When the Sleeping Dead Still Talk (The Hotel book 2).

She had a collection of her mixed media artwork published during spring of 2020, entitled Victoriana: mixed media art of Jennifer Gordon

Jennifer is one of the hosts as well as the creator of Vox Vomitus, a video podcast on the Global Authors on the Air Network, as well as the Co-Host of the You Tube Channel “Talk Horror to Me”. She had been a contributor to Ladies of Horror Fiction, as well as Horror Tree.

Jennifer is a pale curly haired ginger, obsessed with horror, ghosts, abandoned buildings, and her dog “Lord Tubby”.

She graduated from the New Hampshire Institute of Art, where she studied Acting. She also studied at the University of New Hampshire with a concentration in Art History and English.

She has made her living as an actress, a magician’s assistant, a “gallerina”, a comic book dealer, a painter, and burlesque performer and for the past 10 years as an award-winning professional ballroom dancer, performer, instructor, and choreographer.

When not scribbling away (ok, typing frantically) she enjoys traveling with her fiancé and dance partner, teaching her dog ridiculous tricks (like ‘give me a kiss’ and ‘what hand is the treat in?’ ok these are not great tricks.) as well as taking photos of abandoned buildings and haunted locations.

She is a leo, so at the end of the day she just thinks about her hair.

https://www.jenniferannegordon.com/

https://www.facebook.com/JenniferAnneGordonAuthor/

https://www.instagram.com/jennifergenevievegordon/

https://www.patreon.com/JenniferAnneGordon

From Daylight to Madness (The Hotel #1) by Jennifer Gordon Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A woman dealing with a tremendous loss finds herself in a haunting location, battling her own inner demons while desperately searching for answers to the mysteries surrounding her in the gothic thriller “From Daylight to Madness (The Hotel #1)” by author Jennifer Gordon.

The Synopsis

The latest book from the critically acclaimed author of Beautiful, Frightening, and Silent; Jennifer Anne Gordon.

On an almost uninhabitable rocky island off the coast of Maine, a Hotel looms over the shore, an ever-present gray lady that stands strong like a guard, keeping watch. For many who come here, this island is a sanctuary and a betrayal.

This is a place where memories linger like ghosts, and the ephemeral nature of time begins to peel away …like the sanity of all who have been unlucky enough to step foot on its shore.

In the late spring of 1873, Isabelle gave birth to her son Oscar, he cried for three startling minutes, and then went silent. During the months that follow, Isabelle is drugged and lulled into an almost hallucinatory world of grief and fear. Her life begins to feel as though it exists in a terrifying new reality separated from those around her …

When her grieving begins to make her husband, Henry, uncomfortable, he and his mother conspire to send Isabelle away to a Summer Hotel on Dagger Island, where she can rest and heal. While they are adamant that the hotel is not an asylum and that Isabelle will be able to return eventually to her home, Isabelle understands in her heart that it is all a lie. That perhaps, everything about being a woman in this time, may have always been a lie.

Her family has lied to her, and she has lied to herself.

The Hotel, of course, is not what it seems, and the foreboding Dagger Island begins to feel more like a prison than a retreat. Isabelle hears relentless sounds coming from the attic above her room, and the ever-present cries of small children scream in her head almost constantly. Are they hallucinations, or are they connected to the small cemetery she found, filled with the fresh dirt of little graves, the brokenhearted reminders of people that no one believes ever existed?

She meets a fellow guest at the Hotel, a young, enigmatic, and deeply damaged priest, named Francis.

Together they teeter on the edges of reality and try desperately to become free from the fates that their pasts have bound them to.

From Daylight to Madness is a poetic, and haunting Gothic Fiction novel that is both profoundly unsettling and darkly romantic. 

The Review

What a beautiful yet tragic and engaging read! The author has become one of the best voices for the gothic horror genre in recent years, crafting a narrative that incorporates haunting scenes that send chills down the reader’s spine and overwhelming emotional beats in the character’s stories that keep the reader hanging onto every word of every chapter.

The way the author highlights the overbearing role women were placed into in society at this time and how it can be applied to how some people still view women’s roles in society only adds to the depth and tone of this wonderful read. The protagonist Isabelle and Francis and their bond with one another really grab the reader’s attention. Isabelle is an especially amazing character, as she is not only dealing with the loss of a child, but an uncaring husband and his mother, and her own struggles with never having felt the true love of any kind. The haunting reality of whether or not someone feeling that way could ever recognize love if they saw it is something many readers could identify with and adds to the emotional and haunting atmosphere of the novel.

The Verdict

A memorable, beautifully haunting yet heart-breaking and evenly-paced read, author Jennifer Gordon’s “From Daylight to Madness (The Hotel #1)” is a must-read gothic horror tale of 2020. One of the best gothic reads of the year, this novel creates chilling imagery and truly remarkable poetic storytelling that is not to be missed, and with a shocking final chapter that leads into a second novel, this is a story not to be missed. Be sure to grab your own copy of this book today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Jennifer Anne Gordon is a Gothic horror novelist. Her work includes Beautiful, Frightening and Silent (2020) which won the Kindle Award for Best Horror/Suspense for 2020, and From Daylight to Madness (The Hotel book 1), and When the Sleeping Dead Still Talk (The Hotel book 2).

She had a collection of her mixed media artwork published during spring of 2020, entitled Victoriana: mixed media art of Jennifer Gordon

Jennifer is one of the hosts as well as the creator of Vox Vomitus, a video podcast on the Global Authors on the Air Network, as well as the Co-Host of the You Tube Channel “Talk Horror to Me”. She had been a contributor to Ladies of Horror Fiction, as well as Horror Tree.

Jennifer is a pale curly haired ginger, obsessed with horror, ghosts, abandoned buildings, and her dog “Lord Tubby”.

She graduated from the New Hampshire Institute of Art, where she studied Acting. She also studied at the University of New Hampshire with a concentration in Art History and English.

She has made her living as an actress, a magician’s assistant, a “gallerina”, a comic book dealer, a painter, and burlesque performer and for the past 10 years as an award-winning professional ballroom dancer, performer, instructor, and choreographer.

When not scribbling away (ok, typing frantically) she enjoys traveling with her fiancé and dance partner, teaching her dog ridiculous tricks (like ‘give me a kiss’ and ‘what hand is the treat in?’ ok these are not great tricks.) as well as taking photos of abandoned buildings and haunted locations.

She is a leo, so at the end of the day she just thinks about her hair.

https://www.jenniferannegordon.com/

https://www.facebook.com/JenniferAnneGordonAuthor/

https://www.instagram.com/jennifergenevievegordon/

https://www.patreon.com/JenniferAnneGordon

https://twitter.com/JenniferAnneGo5

https://www.amazon.com/Daylight-Madness-Hotel-1-ebook/dp/B08DKLN2WC/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=9781735402116&linkCode=qs&qid=1605953781&s=books&sr=1-1&tag=x_gr_w_bb_glide_sin-20#customerReviews

The Orphan of Cemetery Hill by Hester Fox Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman born with a unique gift to commune with the dead finds herself in the middle of a dastardly plot involving grave robberies and murder in author Hester Fox’s “The Orphan of Cemetery Hill”. 

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The Synopsis

The dead won’t bother you if you don’t give them permission.

Boston, 1844.


Tabby has a peculiar gift: she can communicate with the recently departed. It makes her special, but it also makes her dangerous.

As an orphaned child, she fled with her sister, Alice, from their charlatan aunt Bellefonte, who wanted only to exploit Tabby’s gift so she could profit from the recent craze for seances.

Now a young woman and tragically separated from Alice, Tabby works with her adopted father, Eli, the kind caretaker of a large Boston cemetery. When a series of macabre grave robberies begins to plague the city, Tabby is ensnared in a deadly plot by the perpetrators, known only as the “Resurrection Men.”

In the end, Tabby’s gift will either save both her and the cemetery—or bring about her own destruction.

The Review

What a beautiful written Gothic-Horror novel. The author wonderfully captures the early to mid-19th century era of Boston and brings readers into the narrative with ease. Tabby is a sympathetic and strong protagonist and the vivid imagery used to showcase to readers what her ability is like makes this a truly astounding read.

The narrative is served best by the amazing character development and the setting of this story. The reader is instantly transported into this gothic world and the eerie atmosphere and storyline felt like an homage to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in a lot of ways, capturing the obsession of man’s understanding of science and conquering nature.

The Verdict

The perfect way to start off the beginning of the scary/horror season, author Hester Fox’s “The Orphan of Cemetery Hill” is a must-read gothic horror like no other. The amazing characters and the many twists and turns they take as the mystery of these “Resurrection Men” deepens will keep readers on the edge of their seat. With a fantastic ending and an evenly-paced narrative, be sure to grab your copy of this phenomenal novel today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Hester Fox is a full-time writer and mother, with a background in museum work and historical archaeology. Most weekends you can find Hester exploring one of the many historic cemeteries in the area, browsing bookshops, or enjoying a seasonal latte while writing at a café. She lives outside of Boston with her husband and their son.

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Author Website: http://hesterfox.com/

TWITTER: @HesterBFox

Insta: @trotfoxwrite

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17440931.Hester_Fox

BUY LINKS:

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Book Excerpt

1

IN WHICH WE MEET OUR YOUNG HEROINE.

Boston, 1844

Tabby’s legs ached and the wind had long since snatched her flimsy bonnet away, but she kept running through the night, her thin leather shoes pounding the cobbled Boston streets. She didn’t know where she was going, only that she had to get somewhere safe, somewhere away from the bustling theaters and crowds of the city. Every time someone shouted at her to watch where she was going, or ask if she was lost, she was sure that they were one of her aunt and uncle’s friends. Would they drag her kicking and screaming back to Amherst? Tabby shuddered. She wouldn’t go back. She couldn’t. 

Her weary feet carried her up a hill lined with narrow houses, and gradually she left behind the streets choked with theatergoers and artificially brightened with gas lamps. After cresting the hill, she paused just long enough to catch her breath and survey her unfamiliar surroundings. 

It was quieter here, the only sounds the groaning of ships in the harbor and the distant call of a fruit hawker trying to sell off the last of the day’s soft apples. Going back down into the heart of the city wasn’t an option, yet a wrought-iron gate blocked her way any farther, forbidding pikes piercing the night sky. Pale headstones glowed faintly in the moonlight beyond the gate. A cemetery. 

Tabby stood teetering, her heart still pounding. Dry weeds rustled in the thin night breeze, whispering what might have been a welcome, or a warning. Behind her was the land of the living with house windows glowing smugly yellow, the promise of families tucked safe inside. In front of her lay the land of the dead. One of those worlds was as familiar to her as the back of her hand, the other was only a distant fairy tale. Taking a deep breath, she shimmied through the gap in the gate. 

She waded through the overgrown grass and weeds, thorny branches snagging at her thin dimity dress and scratching her. Panic gripped her as she heard the hem tear clean away; what would Aunt Bellefonte say if she found that Tabby had ruined her only frock? Would she smack her across her cheek? Would Uncle lock her in the little cupboard in the eaves? Aunt Bellefonte isn’t here. You’re safe, she reminded herself. As she pulled away to free herself, her foot caught in a tangle of roots in a sunken grave bed and she went sprawling into the dirt. Her lip wobbled and tears threatened to overflow. She was almost twelve years old, yet she felt as small and adrift as the day she’d learned that her parents had perished in a carriage accident and would never step through the front door again.

 This wasn’t how her first day of freedom was supposed to be. Her sister, Alice, had planned their escape from Amherst last week, promising Tabby that they would get a little room in a boarding house in the city. Alice would get a job at a laundry and Tabby would take in mending to contribute to their room and board. They would be their own little family, and they would put behind them the trauma that their aunt and uncle had wrought, making a new life for themselves. That had been the plan, anyway. 

When she and Alice had arrived in the city earlier that day, her older sister had sat her down on the steps of a church and told her to wait while she went and inquired about lodgings. Tabby had dutifully waited for what had felt like hours, but Alice never returned. The September evening had turned dark and cold, and Tabby had resolved to simply wrap her shawl tighter and wait. But then a man with red-rimmed eyes and a foul-smelling old coat had stumbled up the steps, heading right toward her. Tabby had taken one look at him and bolted, sure that he had dark designs on her. She had soon become lost and, in a city jumbled with old churches, hadn’t been able to find the right one again. 

Another thorn snagged her, pricking her finger and drawing blood. She should have taken shelter in the church; at least then she would have a roof over her head. At least then Alice would know where to find her when she came back. If she came back. 

Tabby stopped short. Toward the back of the cemetery, amongst the crooked graves of Revolutionary heroes, stood a row of crypts built into the earth. Most of them were sealed up with iron doors and bolts, but one had a gate that stood just enough ajar for a small, malnourished girl to wriggle through. 

Holding her breath against the damp musk, Tabby plunged inside. Without any sort of light, she had to painstakingly feel her way down the crude stone steps. Lower into the earth she descended until she reached the burial chamber.

 Don’t invite them in. As she groped around in the dark for a resting place, Tabby tried to remember what her mother had always told her. Memories of her mother were few and far between, but her words concerning Tabby’s ability remained as sharp in her mind as words etched with a diamond upon glass. The dead won’t bother you if you don’t give them permission, if you don’t make yourself a willing receptacle for their messages. At least, that was how it was supposed to work. 

The only other thing she had learned regarding her gift was that she should never, ever tell anyone of it, and the lesson had been a hard one. She couldn’t have been more than six, because her parents had still been alive and had sent her out to the orchard to collect the fallen apples for cider. Their neighbor, little Beth Bunn, had been there, picking wild asters, but she hadn’t been alone; there was a little boy Tabby had never seen before, watching the girls with serious eyes from a branch in an apple tree. Tabby had asked Beth who he was, but Beth insisted she didn’t know what Tabby was talking about. Certain that Beth was playing some sort of trick on her, Tabby grew upset and nearly started crying as she described the little boy with blond hair and big green eyes. “Oh,” Beth said, looking at her askance. “Do you mean to say you see Ollie Pickett? He used to live here, but he’s been dead for three years.” That was how Tabby learned that not everyone saw the people she saw around her. A week later she had been playing in the churchyard and noticed that all the other children were clustered at the far end, whispering and pointing at her. “Curious Tabby,” they had called her. And that was how Tabby learned that she could never tell a soul about her strange and frightening ability. 

But even in a place so filled with death, the dead did not bother Tabby that night. With a dirt floor for her bed and the skittering of insects for her lullaby, Tabby pulled her knees up to her chest and allowed the tears she’d held in all day to finally pour out. She was lost, scared, and without her sister, utterly alone in the world.

Excerpted from The Orphan of Cemetery Hill by Hester Fox Copyright © Tess Fedore. Published by Graydon House Books.

Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

One of 2018’s most highly anticipated fall reads has to be author Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker’s novel Dracul. The book is the official prequel to the classic literary horror classic Dracula, written by Dacre Stoker’s great-granduncle Bram Stoker. Taking the concept first explored by Bram and showcasing how the legend of Dracula first began, the story puts the Stoker family in the role of protagonists and explores where the myth and legends truly came from. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

The prequel to Dracula, inspired by notes and texts left behind by the author of the classic novel, Dracul is a supernatural thriller that reveals not only Dracula’s true origins but Bram Stoker’s–and the tale of the enigmatic woman who connects them.

It is 1868, and a twenty-one-year-old Bram Stoker waits in a desolate tower to face an indescribable evil. Armed only with crucifixes, holy water, and a rifle, he prays to survive a single night, the longest of his life. Desperate to record what he has witnessed, Bram scribbles down the events that led him here…

A sickly child, Bram spent his early days bedridden in his parents’ Dublin home, tended to by his caretaker, a young woman named Ellen Crone. When a string of strange deaths occur in a nearby town, Bram and his sister Matilda detect a pattern of bizarre behavior by Ellen–a mystery that deepens chillingly until Ellen vanishes suddenly from their lives. Years later, Matilda returns from studying in Paris to tell Bram the news that she has seen Ellen–and that the nightmare they’ve thought long ended is only beginning.

The Review

I will say it now: this is one of my 2018 picks for best book of the year. It was truly amazing to read, and was as engaging as the original novel written by Bram Stoker over a century ago. Capturing the gothic, Victorian era setting and interweaving history, mythology and handwritten notes from author Bram Stoker himself, the authors really did a wonderful job bringing the life of Bram Stoker and his family to life in a horror based setting.

Now while the world knows the works of Bram Stoker’s Dracula to be a fiction horror tale, what fascinated me about Dracul was not only the amount of history and real life individuals mixed into the narrative, but learning about the creation of Dracula to begin with. Readers will be enthralled to learn the true manuscript first written by Bram Stoker was never meant to be a fictional tale, but through the words of Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker’s afterward we learn how the book came to be what we know today, and that large portions of the original novel have never been published before. How much of this horrific and scary tale are fiction as we know it, and how much is fact?

The writing itself was amazing. The story was written in an epistolary format, allowing us to delve into the minds of the Stoker family themselves, as well as associates of the family and historical records to match some of the claims. Fans of the original tale of Dracula will love the similarities and context given throughout this novel, while modern day horror fans and readers will be enthralled with the vast character development and parallels between the life of Bram Stoker (in the novel) and the stories told within his novel years later.

The Verdict

This is a must read book for 2018. As a history buff, classic horror fan and overall Bram Stoker enthusiast, this story really captured my attention from the beginning. From the author’s early years battling illness to the life or death battle with unknown forces he and his siblings undertook, this is the kind of story that comes along rarely. If you haven’t yet, be sure to pick up the novel Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker today!

Rating: 10/10

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0735219346/ref=x_gr_w_glide_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_glide_bb-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0735219346&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

About the Authors

Dacre Stoker:

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Dacre Stoker, a Canadian citizen and resident of the U.S., is the great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker. He is also the godson of H.G. Dacre Stoker, the commander of the AE2 submarine, whose tactics were instrumental in Gallipoli in World War I.

Dacre, who now calls Aiken, South Carolina home, was a member of the Canadian Men’s Modern Pentathlon Team, Senior World Championships in 1979 and coach of the Canadian Men’s Modern Pentathlon Olympic Team, Seoul, South Korea in 1988. Dacre is married to Jenne Stoker and is the father of two children. He is the Executive Director of the Aiken Land Conservancy.

Dracula: The Un-Dead is Dacre’s first novel.

Dacre Stoker’s Links:

https://twitter.com/dacrestoker?lang=en

https://www.facebook.com/DacreCStoker/

J.D. Barker:

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J.D. BARKER is the internationally best-selling author of Forsaken, a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel, and winner of the New Apple Medalist Award. His work has been compared to Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Thomas Harris. His 4MK Thrillers, The Fourth Monkey and The Fifth to Die, were released in June 2017 and June 2018 respectively. He has been asked by the Stoker family to coauthor the forthcoming prequel to Dracula due out in fall 2018. His novels have been translated into numerous languages and optioned for both film and television. Barker currently resides in Pennsylvania with his wife, Dayna, daughter, Ember, and their two dogs, both of whom sit outside his office door daily, eagerly awaiting his next novel.

A note from J.D.

As a child I was always told the dark could not hurt me, that the shadows creeping in the corners of my room were nothing more than just that, shadows. The sounds nothing more than the settling of our old home, creaking as it found comfort in the earth only to move again when it became restless, if ever so slightly. I would never sleep without closing the closet door, oh no; the door had to be shut tight. The darkness lurking inside needed to be held at bay, the whispers silenced. Rest would only come after I checked under the bed at least twice and quickly wrapped myself in the safety of the sheets (which no monster could penetrate), pulling them tight over my head.

I would never go down to the basement.

Never.

I had seen enough movies to know better, I had read enough stories to know what happens to little boys who wandered off into dark, dismal places alone. And there were stories, so many stories.

Reading was my sanctuary, a place where I could disappear for hours at a time, lost in the pages of a good book. It didn’t take long before I felt the urge to create my own.

I first began to write as a child, spinning tales of ghosts and gremlins, mystical places and people. For most of us, that’s where it begins—as children we have such wonderful imaginations, some of us have simply found it hard to grow up. I’ve spent countless hours trying to explain to friends and family why I enjoy it, why I would rather lock myself in a quiet little room and put pen to paper for hours at a time than throw around a baseball or simply watch television. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I want to do just that, sometimes I wish for it, but even then the need to write is always there in the back of my mind, the characters are impatiently tapping their feet, waiting their turn, wanting to be heard. I wake in the middle of the night and reach for the pad beside my bed, sometimes scrawling page after page of their words, their lives. Then they’re quiet, if only for a little while. To stop would mean madness, or even worse—the calm, numbing sanity I see in others as they slip through the day without purpose. They don’t know what it’s like, they don’t understand. Something as simple as a pencil can open the door to a new world, can create life or experience death. Writing can take you to places you’ve never been, introduce you to people you’ve never met, take you back to when you first saw those shadows in your room, when you first heard the sounds mumbling ever so softly from your closet, and it can show you what uttered them. It can scare the hell out of you, and that’s when you know it’s good.

jd

J.D. Barker’s Links:

http://jdbarker.com/

https://www.facebook.com/therealjdbarker

https://www.instagram.com/jdbarker_author/

https://twitter.com/jdbarker