Better than water, water everywhere, which is what our plumbing is threatening to give us. While we're trying to nurse a failing drain along until we can get a plumber out here to work on it, here are some delightfully spooky reads for Halloween.
Rachel and the Many-Splendored Dreamland by L. Jagi Lamplighter
It’s Halloween at the Roanoke Academy for the Sorcerous Arts, and Rachel Griffin is stirring up the dead!
All her life, Rachel has wanted to visit Beaumont Castle in the kingdom of Transylvania, the last known location of her hero, librarian-adventurer “Daring” Northwest. Only falling out of the land of dreams onto her face was not how she had expected to arrive.
Now, the castle is right there, looming over her. Only her best friend, the Princess of Magical Australia does not want to go in, so as to avoid an international incident. But what if the castle holds some clue as to her hero’s final fate?
And who was that mysterious figure hanging by the neck she glimpsed in the dreamlands, just before she fell. Could the Dead Men’s Ball, where the spooks and ghosts of the Hudson Highland gather once a year on Halloween to dance to the music of some very unexpected musicians, be the key to discovering the hanged man’s identity?
(The third in the Rachel Griffin series, which began with The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffith and continued in The Raven, the Elf, and Rachel, it will be on sale October 31 for Halloween.)
Cobweb Bride by Vera Nazarian
Many are called... She alone can save the world and become Death's bride.
COBWEB BRIDE (Cobweb Bride Trilogy, Book One) is a history-flavored fantasy novel with romantic elements of the Persephone myth, about Death's ultimatum to the world.
What if you killed someone and then fell in love with them?
In an alternate Renaissance world, somewhere in an imaginary "pocket" of Europe called the Kingdom of Lethe, Death comes, in the form of a grim Spaniard, to claim his Bride. Until she is found, in a single time-stopping moment all dying stops. There is no relief for the mortally wounded and the terminally ill....
Covered in white cobwebs of a thousand snow spiders she lies in the darkness... Her skin is cold as snow... Her eyes frozen... Her gaze, fiercely alive...
While kings and emperors send expeditions to search for a suitable Bride for Death, armies of the undead wage an endless war... A black knight roams the forest at the command of his undead father… Spies and political treacheries abound at the imperial Silver Court.... Murdered lovers find themselves locked in the realm of the living...
Look closer—through the cobweb filaments of her hair and along each strand shine stars...
And one small village girl, Percy—an unwanted, ungainly middle daughter—is faced with the responsibility of granting her dying grandmother the desperate release she needs.
As a result, Percy joins the crowds of other young women of the land in a desperate quest to Death's own mysterious holding in the deepest forests of the North…
And everyone is trying to stop her.
Blood Spirits by Sherwood Smith
Everyone's favorite sword-wielding California girl returns-from the author of Coronets and Steel.
With the man she loves set to marry a look-alike princess, Kim Murray returns to California from the magical country of Dobrenica to heal her broken heart. But family politics soon have her leaving for London, where she is forced into a duel with a Dobrenican nobleman. He reveals that her great sacrifice, leaving Alec, was a disaster. To fix her mistake, Kim returns to Dobrenica, but what she finds there is far more shocking and dangerous than she ever imagined. Not just politics and personalities but ghosts and magic, murder and mystery, await her as she struggles to understand the many faces of love. Once again Kim has to take sword in hand as she tries to make peace and learn the truth. Only, whose truth?
(The sequel to Coronets and Steel, it delves deeper into the supernatural elements of Sherwood Smith's Ruritanian kingdom of Dobrenica).
Steampunk Cthulhu by Brian Sammons and Glynn Owen Barrass, editors
"We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”
So said H.P. Lovecraft in the first chapter of his most famous story, "The Call of Cthulhu" (1926). This is also the perfect introduction to Steampunk Cthulhu, for within these stories mankind has indeed voyaged too far, and scientific innovations have opened terrifying vistas of reality, with insanity and worse as the only reward.
The Steampunk genre has always incorporated elements of science fiction, fantasy, horror and alternative history, and certainly the Cthulhu Mythos has not been a stranger to Steampunk. But until now there has never been a Steampunk Cthulhu collection, so here are 18 tales unbound from the tethers of mere airships, goggles, clockwork, and tightly bound corsets; stories of horror, sci-fi, fantasy and alternative realities tainted with the Lovecraftian and the Cthulhu Mythos. Here you will discover Victorian Britain, the Wild West era United States, and many other varied locations filled with anachronistic and sometimes alien technology, airships, submersibles and Babbage engines. But the Victorian era here is not only one of innovation and exploration, but of destruction and dread.
(This anthology includes my own short story "The Baying of the Hounds," which features Gilded Age heroes Nikola Tesla and Thomas Alva Edison).
The Shadow over Leningrad by Leigh Kimmel
In Stalin's Soviet Union, Tikhon Grigoriev lives a precarious life. He knows too much. He's seen too much. A single misstep could destroy him, and if he stumbles, he will take his family down with him. With Leningrad besieged by Nazi armies, the danger has only increased.
He's not a man who wants to come to the notice of those in high places. But when he solved a murder that seemed supernatural, impossible, he attracted the attention of Leningrad's First Party Secretary.
So when a plot of land grows vegetables of unusual size and vigor, and anyone who eats them goes mad, who should be called upon to solve the mystery but Tikhon Grigoriev. However, these secrets could get him far worse than a bullet in the head. For during the White Nights the boundaries between worlds grow thin, and in some of those worlds humanity can have no place.
(The sequel to "Gnawing the Bones of the City," which was published in Fiction Vortex).
If you'd like to have your works included in future promo posts, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Crossposted at The Billion Lightyear Bookshelf and The Starship Cat Blog.