Book Spotlight: All in Fear, a queer horror anthology

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The nights are getting longer and longer, and what better way to pass the darkest time of the year than with a terrifying anthology of queer horror, featuring stories by some of the most talented authors I know?

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Horror has never looked this enticing. New release, All in Fear, is a gorgeous collection of horror tales from some of the hottest names in queer fiction. Be prepared to be titillated…and terrified.

Today I’m thrilled (and also petrified!) to tell you all about this creepy, eerie, haunting anthology! Not only that, but author Roan Parrish joins us to talk about the blend of romance and horror (spoiler alert: it involves Tom Hiddleston).

So turn on all the lights in the house, lock your doors, and ignore that strange creaking sound coming from the empty room next door…

All in Fear

Authors: KJ Charles, Roan Parrish, J.A. Rock,
Steve Berman, Avon Gale, and Kris Ripper
Publisher: Open Ink Press
Release Date: December 1, 2016

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Anthology Book Review: Lead Me Into Darkness

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Lead Me Into Darkness (Anthology)
Authors: Santino Hassell, J.C. Lillis, J.R. Gray,
Kris Ripper, and Roan Parrish

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This is a short anthology collection just in time for Halloween, filled with five super creepy graveyard stories from five incredibly talented authors! And best of all, IT’S FREE!

No, this isn’t a trick… it’s definitely a treat! So check out my reviews of each story, and then go grab your copy.

One thing to note, though, is that most of the stories in this anthology are set in pre-existing universes. So if you, like me, have not read some of these authors, you may feel a bit lost at times. But it’s still an excellent chance to find new books to check out… my TBR list has definitely grown!

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Take You Farther, by Santino Hassell (a Stygian short)

I just finished Stygian a couple of days ago (my review), so having a follow-up story in this anthology is awesome!

He was the most beautiful monster Watts had ever seen.

Because I suspect a lot of people still haven’t finished Stygian, I’ll avoid talking about the plot of the short story. It picks up a couple of months after Stygian ends, and focuses on Watts and Quince as they try to adapt to their new lives. Watts is still an emotionally constipated dick, but he’s also a brilliantly complex character, and Santino has a way with words that makes the eerie feel beautiful.

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Memory Hill, by J.C. Lillis

Billy Hartigan’s been dead for ten years, and it’s really pissing him off. Stuck in Memory Hill Cemetery due to “unfinished business,” he fritters away the long days playing monster movies in his head, reliving the glory days of his indie band, and mourning his missed chance at love with his best friend. Then one Halloween he gets a visit from troubled teen geek Todd Racklin, the last living fan of Billy’s old band. Todd needs some beyond-the-grave help from his idol–and his visits might hold the key to Billy’s release from Memory Hill.

J.C. is a new author for me, but I’m a fan now, that’s for sure! Todd is incredibly sweet, in a geeky, overly-earnest way…

Todd Racklin is so raw and embarrassing I can barely stand to hover three inches from him.

Normally I struggle with second-hand embarrassment when I read a character like Todd, but his sincerity and devotion are really admirable! Told over eleven years, we get to see Todd grow and find his Happily Ever After through Billy’s eyes, as Billy waits for his own After.

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Grave Circumstances, by J.R. Gray

So this story is set in J.R.’s Bound series universe, although I didn’t realize that going in. Made me very confused at first, because they were talking about slaves and cravats, and I couldn’t figure out what time period it was! But once I sorted things out (and realized “slave” was probably in a BDSM sense), I could sink into the story.

Secret agendas collide with guns, ghosts and confusing erections, on a tour through a haunted graveyard. Jesse’s been carrying a secret and needs a night alone with George. But George has his own agenda, leading Jesse into darkness, the fright of his life, and a blinding release he won’t soon forget.

The story itself is really fantastic, and I’m intrigued by George and Jesse’s relationship. But without having read his Bound series, I’ll admit that I didn’t enjoy this as much as I could have.

That said, I’m definitely going to check out the Bound series now!

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Boyfriends in the Boneyard, by Kris Ripper

A Halloween ménage story with sex in a graveyard! Oh yes, please!

You are a grown man. A professional. You are forty-one years old. You will not get arrested having sex with your husband in a cemetery. Neither of you can run fast enough to risk it.

This is another short set in a pre-existing universe, Kris’ Scientific Method series. But I feel like ze did an amazing job of opening this up for new readers so they wouldn’t be confused. Truman and Hugh are married and poly, and Will is their boyfriend, and there are sexy kinky times. It’s funny and adorable and super hot!

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Mayfair, by Roan Parrish

This is a super creepy story about what lurks beneath the surface of our everyday world.

Jocelyn has been secretly in love with her best friend Bethany for a year. And it’s hell. But there are other things—dark, creeping, illusory things—that are tormenting Jocelyn even more. They’ve been appearing more and more lately and Jocelyn is starting to doubt her sanity. But a Devil’s Night ritual in a Detroit cemetery may reveal more than she ever imagined…

Even Jocelyn’s one-sided relationship with Bethany is written as eerie, two girls rebelling against authority by spending time in the local graveyard.

I love seeing things unfold from Jocelyn’s point of view, and the subtle hints we get about her background and the things she’s seen out of the corner of her eyes.

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So where can you find your own copy of this fantastic anthology?
Nook / Kobo / Apple / Oyster
Page Foundry/Inketera / ARe / Scribd

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Book Review: Stygian, by Santino Hassell

Stygian, by Santino Hassell
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: October 26, 2015

Rating: ★★★★★

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Just in time for Halloween, one of the most deliciously creepy books that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Of course, it’s Santino Hassell, so you know it’s going to be dark and angsty, but that’s totally okay because hot damn can he write!

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Stygian
is a southern gothic, paranormal horror novel loaded with romantic suspense. It’s like if True Blood was written by Stephen King… but with more pretty tattooed gay musician boys.

Okay, maybe you’re not sold yet. Here’s why you should put Stygian at the top of your To Read this Halloween:

“Stygian wasn’t just a band. We were like a family, and we need that. All of us.”

The four members of Stygian are Watts, Quince, Kennedy, and Jeremy. They are all precious and talented and gay and seriously emotionally messed up. ALL OF THEM. I want to wrap them in a blanket and feed them ramen all day.

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click for full size. art by http://melanofly.tumblr.com/ (link nsfw).

Kennedy was the grim one, tall and serious with don’t-fuck-with-me-or-mine vibes; Watts was brash and mean but so talented no one ever cared; and Quince was full of recklessly whimsical smiles, naive enthusiasm, and the primary force keeping Watts from flying apart.


“I may be the youngest, but that doesn’t mean the rest of you get to treat me like I’m helpless or stupid.”

Jeremy is the odd man out. He’s new to the band, the drummer they picked up after the death of their previous one, but there’s no possible way he can fill those shoes. And I LOVE HIM SO MUCH! He’s pretty emotionally damaged after his brother dies. All he wants is a place to belong, and he wants Stygian to be that place.

I think Jeremy is one of the most fantastically complex and gorgeous characters that I’ve read in a very long time. He’s so real that I can practically hear the story in his voice. And while he’s fragile, he’s sure as hell not going to let Watts or anyone else walk over him, which I really respect!

“Sorry. Next time I’ll roll over and eat his bullshit with the correct utensils.”

“You know, looking for the source of a mysterious sound is generally how people die in scary movies.”

This is not really a horror novel, so much as a creepy paranormal novel. But I love the horror elements, and the slow-reveal mystery that grows and builds throughout the story.

stygian
adjective, \ˈsti-j(ē-)ən\

1: of or relating to the river Styx
2: extremely dark, gloomy, or forbidding

The scariest parts here aren’t the things that go bump in the night, though; it’s the psychological elements, people being manipulated, emotions being turned around, and the slow decay of the band as tensions and darkness rise. I get chills thinking about it!

“You could have me.”

In what Watts describes as “the queerest band since One fucking Direction”, Jeremy is the odd one out. Quince and Watts have a no-emotions-attached arrangement that involves having wild sex at every spare moment. Kennedy goes through one-night-stands like they’re going out of style. And Jeremy… quietly nurses his crush on Kennedy, knowing it will never come to pass.

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click for full size. art by http://melanofly.tumblr.com/ (link nsfw).

I love bittersweet relationships, especially ones with tons of longing and ridiculously heavy UST.

And can I just say that Kennedy hits, like, ALL of my buttons? Big, tattooed, gruff, but secretly a giant marshmallow? Oh yes please!

Convinced yet?

If not, go check out the two (free!) prequels: Feeling You (on the DSP blog) and A Night in the Life (at Binge on Books).

And then go curl up under the covers with all of the lights on bright and read this eerie, beautiful novel.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press (eBook) / Dreamspinner Press (Paperback)

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