Monday, October 3, 2022

What I'm Reading: A Study in Ugliness and All These Subtle Deceits

The October 1, 2022 issue of Booklist has 2 of my reviews. Both are by newer voices and both should be on your radar for a wide audience. The first one, is a unique translation by and author who will be a part of my "Why I Love Horror" series later this month on the Horror blog, and the second is the first book in a series that will be wildly popular with library patrons and it is part of a brand new imprint by Sadie Hartmann who will also be featured here in the coming days.

A Study in Ugliness & Outras Histórias
By H. Pueyo
Oct. 2022. 250p. Lethe, paper, $18 (9781590216019)

First published October 1, 2022 (Booklist). 

After a few appearances in critically acclaimed anthologies and magazines, Pueyo is ready for her close-up with this debut collection of 10 stories presented side-by-side in both Portuguese and English. The visual layout is both authentic and striking, adding an extra layer of unease to these already deeply unsettling stories because as readers turn the page, their eyes will automatically look at the next page, but will be unable to read it. The subsequent pause and readjustment, forces the reader to slow down and fully experience these thought-provoking, disorienting, and open-ended tales that are more about how they make you feel than what happens in them. A standout example of Pueyo’s style can be seen in “An Open Coffin.” Amélia is hired by her former army officer as caretaker for a long dead and preserved body that receives daily visitors. But what do those visitors want from the body and what does the body need from them? This captivating new voice is a great choice for those who enjoy the weird and atmospheric stories by Carmen Maria Machado, Samanta Schweblin, and Karen Russell.

Further Readalikes: These are excellent stories by someone who you all NEED to know about. I will do my part helping that to happen by featuring Pueyo later this month here on the blog. But when I said she has been featured in top anthologies already, I am not exaggerating. One of those anthologiesProfessor Charlatan Bardot's Travel Anthology to the Most (Fictional) Haunted Buildings in the Weird Wild World edited by Eric Guignard [my review] was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award and just a few days ago, it was nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award as well.

I cannot emphasize enough how very cool it was to present these stories in English and Portuguese. Pueyo not only handled her own translations [and has interesting comments about that process in the book as well], but some of the stories were first written in English and others in Portuguese. 

Finally, I will be hosting a giveaway of this book as part of a Lethe Press prize pack on October 13th. You can enter anytime for that by clicking here for the entry details.

Three Words That Describe This Book: deeply unsettling, thought-provoking, disorienting

Readalikes: Pueyo's writing absolutely reminded me of the three above, excellent award winning speculative story writers who have mastered balancing a deeply unsettling, weird brand of speculative storytelling. The Guignard anthology mentioned above is also a great readalike as well as anything by Cassandra Khaw.

All These Subtle Deceits 

by C. S. Humble

Oct. 2022. Dark Hart, paper, $14.95 (9781958598047)
First published October 1, 2022 (Booklist).

Lauren has just put 1,000 miles between her and a bad relationship, moving to Black Wells, CO, but after one of her first nights out at a local nightclub, Lauren is the victim of a supernatural attack by three female spirits. William is a defrocked priest and expert exorcist with wealthy and influential clients. When Lauren is sent to William for help, the two work together, along with an intriguing cast of secondary characters, to uncover the root of the evil that has gotten ahold of Lauren. Opening this first book in a projected series, Humble has succeeded on all fronts, creating a compelling story set in a fascinating haunted city, but it is with the book’s strong emotional core, centered around William and Lauren, whose alternating points of view not only keep the pacing up, but allow the reader to connect with them, where this book will leave its mark on readers. Suggest this one with confidence and enthusiasm to fans of supernatural noir like Butcher’s Harry Dresden Files or Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series.

Further Appeal: This is one of the first books in a new, small press horror imprint, Dark Heart. Edited by Horror influencer, Sadie Hartmann, these titles promise to present “horror with heart,” a tag line that will make it easy for library workers to handsell their titles. This book is also the first in a 5 books series.

Speaking of Hartmann, my October column in LJ includes another book from this publisher-- an anthology and an interview with Hartmann and her co-editor, Saywers. I will be posting both on the blog when they are available.

Note: this book also has a bonus short story by the author.

Three Words That Describe This Book: supernatural Noir, demonic possession, series characters 

Readalikes: This will be a perfect read for you Harry Dresden [Butcher] and Sandman Slim [Kadrey] fans-- of which libraries have many and always need suitable readlaike options. Now you get a new series to rec.

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