Tag Archive: horror novels


Since Goosebumps: Welcome to Dead House was first published in 1992, kids have clamored for the series’ 62 books, and tie-in TV shows, films, and other spin-offs.  R.L. Stine’s stories have spooked a decade of kids in the 1990s and a generation since.  Visually all those books had one thing in common:  the stylized brand-defining cover artwork of Tim Jacobus.  Dark imagery, bright colors, shocking monsters, and drippy gore previewed what kids were going to find inside the pages–if they dared.  Now Dynamite Entertainment has created a large format, hardcover book to showcase Jacobus’s art, including sketches and concepts leading up to his famous covers.  Written by Sarah Rodriguez and designed by Mark McNabb, The Art of Goosebumps is now available for pre-order here at Amazon.  Check out our first look inside the book for borg readers, courtesy of Dynamite Entertainment:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

In many ways Stephen King’s new supernatural crime novel Later is a natural follow-on to his two earlier Hard Case Crime novels, Joyland, which I loved, and The Colorado Kid, which will have me revisiting it for years to identify what I am sure is a hidden story beneath the obvious one.  Joyland follows a coming of age vibe for an older character and King pulls from a similar quiver of creepiness in Later as he did for The Colorado Kid.  Yes, Later will get the obvious comparison to the “I see dead people” kid from The Sixth Sense–a few updates and this could be its sequel, one as good or better than that great M. Night Shyamalan shocker (a character even calls out the comparison, and King doesn’t try to shy away from it).  But even more than that, this story is a perfect launch pad for a television series, a series that should be written and directed by Shawn Piller as a natural follow-up to the King-Piller partnership’s successful series Haven and The Dead Zone.  The slow-simmering pacing reflects the perfect make-ready four season series centering on a boy burdened with an ability he cannot walk away from.  Later easily could be the next Medium, Prodigal Son, or Tru Callingjust as dark, with a bit of Fallen thrown in.  It’s a highly recommended read, available for pre-order now here at Amazon, scheduled for release March 2.

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Living Dead cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

“By removing the head, or destroying the brain.”

It’s the message delivered to England residents in Shaun of the Dead by the news service on how to deal with the impending zombie threat.  And the same rule applies to the killing of zombie ghouls in the long-awaited sequel to the original zombie classic, 1968’s Night of the Living Dead.  That’s right, writer Daniel Kraus picked up a story begun by George A. Romero decades ago to create a behemoth of a follow-up to the movie series in a 654-page novel, The Living Dead: A New Novel It’s scheduled to arrive in bookstores and online June 9 (update: moved to August 4), and borg has previewed an advance copy thanks to publisher Tor Books.  Romero, who passed away in 2017, was the modern horror auteur, known as the “Godfather of the Dead” for his works including the films Creepshow, Monkey Shines, and an adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Half, in addition to several zombie/ghoul sequels.  He inspired countless horror directors, including Edgar Wright, director of Shaun of the Dead.  But his 1968 black and white creepshow is what he is known best for.  In conjunction with Romero’s estate, Kraus wrote the bulk of the novel based on more than 100 pages of story and notes from the acclaimed horror writer and director, described in an author’s note to the novel.

The nuance and 1960s style of Night of the Living Dead is long gone in The Living Dead, replaced with a fully modern zombie spectacle–think 28 Days Later and The Walking Dead.  But its framework of characters destined to have intersecting paths is like a Quentin Tarantino movie, and this is the kind of story anyone could see him adapting to the screen.  Kraus takes a Romero story treatment of what starts as “some kind of bird flu thing” and attacks it from numerous vantage points, including the unique viewpoint of the thoughts of the dead as they re-emerge as zombies.  Characters that take center stage in separate encounters include: Puerto Rican squadron pilot Jennifer Pagán, who fights off “turned” military personnel aboard the USS Olympia aircraft carrier, Karl Nashimura, a master helmsman aboard Pagán’s ship, Chuck Corso, an ambitious journalist who has never been taken seriously until he intercepts a White House internal communication reflecting a frightening turn of events, Etta Hoffman, an archivist worker in a Census Bureau records center, whose access to death data documents what could the final years of humanity, and Greer Morgan, a young resident of a mobile home park in rural northwest Missouri who knows how to use a bow and arrow.

But the best of the novel tracks the actions of Luis Acocella, an assistant medical examiner in San Diego who experiences the first encounter with a patient affected by a strange new virus that seems to be reanimating the dead.  The story of he and his assistant Charlene, would have made a superb story, even if the rest of the chapters had been stripped away.  Although many zombie tales are strictly fantasy horror, the author makes some effort to provide a science fiction basis for the virus’s study.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It was such a big deal to prepare for, and then it was over in an instant never to be heard from again.  That’s Y2K, or the Millennium Bug, and it’s a fun time to look back on especially if it’s part of that richly detailed Anno Dracula universe created by British author Kim Newman (who we interviewed six years ago for Halloween here at borg).  The third story in Newman’s Christina Light arc (after the comic series Anno Dracula 1895: Seven Days in Mayhem and novel Anno Dracula: One Thousand Monsters), Anno Dracula 1999: Daikaiju gathers a team of real and unreal, dead and undead, at a giant skyscraper in Tokyo on December 31, 1999, for the New Year’s party to end all New Year’s parties.

Newman is the master of world-building and mash-ups, and he doesn’t disappoint in this new October release.  In what horror universe is both John Blutarski a U.S. Senator partying in Japan (remember John Belushi’s character in Animal House?), the Apollo 13 movie included the first vampire astronaut, and Charlie’s Angels reconvene years later?  Anno Dracula continues its mix of historic characters of pop culture and politics and those throwback tangent characters from literature, TV, and movies.  In Anno Dracula 1999: Daikaiju readers can remember what it was like to “party like it’s 1999” with an alternate history where Dracula and vampires have always been real.

One of many tangent characters in Kim Newman’s latest Anno Dracula novel.

Newman includes so many Easter eggs in his books that finding them all–probably impossible for anyone that isn’t Kim Newman–should be part of some kind of international contest.

The New Year’s party of this story is in honor of Christina Light, famed vampire princess.  But will she show, and will anyone even get through the labyrinthine skyscraper to attend on the 88th floor by midnight?  Who is the shadowy Jun Zero?  Is Y2K really a bug, or is it a person, or worse: that daikaiju in the title is the name of the tower in Tokyo that houses the offices of an international conglomerate, but it also means “big monsters.”  So get ready for anything to happen, including the appearance of a cyborg and maybe even Dracula himself, as distinguished guests, leaders of finance, tech, and culture, are held hostage by yakuza assassins and Transylvanian mercenaries.  Enter vampire schoolgirl Nezumi–agent of the Diogenes Club–who finds herself and her trusty sword named “Goodnight Kiss” pitted against the deadliest creatures the world has ever known.

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Author Kim Newman

Happy Halloween!

Readers of borg.com will be familiar with Kim Newman.  For years he has been a favorite horror and fantasy writer of millions of readers across the globe.  I have reviewed two of his novels in his Anno Dracula series here in the past two years, Dracula Cha Cha Cha (the re-release made our Best of 2012 list) and Johnny Alucard, reviewed here this month.  The Anno Dracula books describe a detailed and complex parallel world where Bram Stoker’s Dracula was a biographical account of a real vampire and vampires were integrated into our culture over the course of a century.  Kim graciously agreed to an interview with me recently about the latest book in his Anno Dracula series.

CB:  Kim, thanks for chatting with us here at borg.com today about your new release Johnny Alucard.

KN:  Thanks for having me.

CB:  Were there any real world people or fictional characters from early drafts of Johnny Alucard (or in prior Anno Dracula novels) that were left on your “cutting room floor”?  Any that you still want to find a home for in the Anno Dracula universe?

KN:  The novel features various real filmmakers/artists who talked about – or got quite far on with – Dracula projects that didn’t happen, or who made Draculas that aren’t the ones I imagined.  Ken Russell (whose Dracula script has been published) and Ingmar Bergman (who talked about being interested in the book) were on the list, but I couldn’t see a way of including them.  I do cast around for some key players – when I needed a fictional Los Angeles cop for a part, I could have selected several 1970s TV characters though the one I went with is the best fit.  That whole section of the book is informed a lot by 1970s TV shows, especially The Rockford Files – but I didn’t see a way of including Jim Rockford as a character since I’d used another LA private eye in an earlier chapter and he’d just have repeated the lesson.  I tend not to list characters I’d like to use and then find excuses for them – I think of the situations, the story points, or where my main characters are, and then look around for real or borrowed fictional or amalgamated characters who suit the purposes of the set-up.

Johnny Alucard cover

CB:  What kind of feedback have you received from living people who have ended up in your Anno Dracula series?

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