Tag Archives: mass market paperbacks

“Let’s play a game, it’s called scary noises.”

20. Torments – Lisa W. Cantrell

The sequel to the paperback with one of my all time favorite covers featuring an angry jack o’lantern munching on a bannister – The Manse, Torments really feels like a major re-tread. I haven’t even read The Manse, but there was so much summary information about what happened in it, that I almost feel like I don’t need to. I will eventually, of course, and maybe I’ll get déjà vu.

Anyway, this manse is haunted. So haunted that the land around it is super haunted and the town and the people and the construction site and the new apartment buildings and it’s just got super penetrating haunting powers. I think we all know how this turns out on Halloween and that it requires an elderly black woman to save whatever and whomever can be saved.

Finny’s idea of torment is sitting still for pictures. He never does. He never will. He might end up running a very specifically themed haunted house attraction someday.


Happy Halloween! Here are my little trick-or-treaters in Danger Things II, such a sweet little group.



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City News and Books on December 10, 1988

52. Deadly Sleep – John Applegate

The cover features a teddy bear in a bed brandishing a bloody knife in the air – awesome. The story features an overly worried middle aged man who can’t control himself when he sleeps. There’s also some business stuff – boring. Who hasn’t woken up as a dad in the suburbs, wondering if they killed someone the night before? It’s the stuff of a million excuses and a million insurance fraud murders. So garden variety.

It’s okay, Horace, you can snuggle back in free from fear, there’s no middle aged suburban dads around.

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“Is this heaven?”

44. Blood Farm – Sam Siciliano

The cover of this 1988 horror trade paperback is awesome. The title is perfect for an “Iowa Gothic” as it is labeled. That is where the awesome ends, unfortunately.

There are some strong images, the hippie driving the hearse is an amiable fellow, the damsel in distress is damsely and very 70s with the hitchhiking and such, and the highways covered in snow are aptly described. I also appreciated the very 1970s aesthetic of the apartment interior description… It falls apart in terms of the horror. It’s brutally obvious and gets rapey and well, the setting basically means nothing (kind of like the extremely cold Southern Gothic I read earlier this year, Who Made Stevie Crye? [sub-disclosure, I remembered the title as “What Makes Stevie Crye?” and that’s probably because a lot of the book made me want to cry(e)]) and that disappointed me a lot because I’m Iowan. There’s lots of Gothic to extract from the Iowa winter landscape and farms. I’ve seen some desolation, perhaps it is up to me to properly “Iowa Gothic.” To be fair, the one time I tried clove cigarettes and didn’t inhale seems like a more apt description of “Iowa Gothic” for me, which doesn’t bode well for the genre.

Danger Crumples and Horace engage in a tense scene from their Guinea Pig Gothic drama where they are friends and part of the same long lasting herd, but sometimes Danger is compelled by his dementia to be not friends and Horace wants the will re-written so he can inherit the unholy legacy of having as many little toys as Danger Crumples. It’s a real page turner. A flip book.

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Gary also reviewed the coffee at a Jiffy Lube… also four stars.

45. Drawn to the Grave – Mary Ann Mitchell

I have a tradition of starting a new horror mass market paperback while waiting for my oil to be changed. There’s something about knowing that I’m going to be sitting there for a while, maybe longer than I expect because I waited till the last possible moment the weekend before a lengthy trip like I always do, that helps me cope with the things I find annoying about mass market paperbacks, like how I always end up creasing their spines, how easy it is to lose my place when I get surprised by someone asking to show me my air filter’s dirtiness level, and the paper texture – some of them are printed on just rough enough paper that I hate it! Anyway, Drawn to the Grave was one of the Jiffy Lube paperbacks. While reading it, I kept getting distracted by the re-run of the Casey Kasem Top 40 on the radio and the smell of car fluids that kept winding its way into the waiting room, hyacinths it was not. The story is both engaging and very strange so I kept having to give sarcastic looks at the vinyl cushioned chairs around me as well. None of the chairs had read it, they couldn’t relate. The book felt weirdly like a Lifetime movie mixed with something they would have shown on Cinemax at ten PM in the 1990s. It’s a clever premise; it just struck me in a very off-putting way and I cannot entirely blame the fumes or the interruptions. It might have something to do with how I refuse to ever go on backpacking trips alone or rely on the kindness of strangers if at all possible. I also promise to never choose my lawyer based off of Yelp reviews, Kyle.

Drawing Mortemer has the opposite effect of all the drawing in Drawn to the Grave, well, sort of, I remember him better but I still get older.

Drawing Mortemer has the opposite effect of all the drawing in Drawn to the Grave, well, sort of, I remember him better but I still get older.

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