Hot Ghoul Summer: New Releases From Women in Horror

There are two schools of thought when it comes to building a summer reading list and they depend on what kind of reader you are. 

1. You like to plan ahead and build a "TBR" (To Be Read) stack. A list of books that you want to be sure to read based on a seasonal theme in the order you want to read them. A pretty strict schedule of reads.

or

2. You are a mood reader and never stick to any kind of seasonal reading, schedule or pre-selected books. You read what you want, when you want.

I sort of fall into both categories. I pick a bunch of books within a theme I would like to read, let's take for example "summertime," and then I make a stack somewhere in my house where I can see the books and make my selections from that stack. This combines the best of both worlds. I have curated a selection books (a TBR) but I also let my mood decide what's next from the stack. 

Either way, I'd like to share with you some of the books that I have selected for summer reading. All of these titles have been or will be released over the summer, between June and August. 


1. "Bacchanal" by Veronica G. Henry (June)

What it's about: "Evil lives in a traveling carnival roaming the Depression-era South. But the carnival’s newest act, a peculiar young woman with latent magical powers, may hold the key to defeating it. Her time has come."

Why I want to read it: Fortune tellers, carnival workers, and a traveling tent show in the the Depression era? Sign me up! I loved a show that aired awhile back called Carnivàle, that did not get renewed for a third season on HBO, but it was so aesthetically dark and atmospheric. Bacchanal sounds like it has the same magical, eerie qualities.

Get Bacchanal at Bookshop or Amazon

 

2. "Queen of Teeth" by Hailey Piper (July)

What it's about: "Within forty-eight hours, Yaya Betancourt will go from discovering teeth between her thighs to being hunted by one of the most powerful corporations in America."

Why I want to read it: Hailey Piper is a star on the rise in the indie horror scene. She is literally everywhere right now. I've read several of her novellas and short stories and have enjoyed all of them, so of course I'm excited to read anything new.

Get Queen of Teeth at Bookshop or Amazon

 

3. "The Queen of the Cicadas" by V. Castro (June)

What it's about: "2018 - Belinda Alvarez has returned to Texas for the wedding of her best friend Veronica. The farm is the site of the urban legend, La Reina de Las Chicharras - The Queen of The Cicadas. Belinda and the new owner of the farmhouse - Hector, find themselves immersed in the legend and realize it is part of their fate as well."

Why I want to read it: V. Castro's Goddess of Filth released earlier this year and I absolutely loved it. Castro has a firm grasp on infusing myths, legends, and ancient beings in modern storylines. This one sounds just as fascinating as her other books I have enjoyed.

Get The Queen of the Cicadas at Bookshop or Amazon

 

4. "Immortelle" by Catherine McCarthy (July)

What it's about: "A ceramic artist by trade and influenced by her late grandmother’s interest in supernatural magic, Elinor crafts an immortelle for Rowena’s grave and attempts to capture the girl’s spirit in the clay model of a starling. As the dead share their secrets with grieving Elinor, she learns the sordid truth of what happened to her beloved daughter and plots a revenge so hideous, it must be kept a secret forever."

Why I want to read it: I've read several short stories by Catherine McCarthy, and she never disappoints. She has a unique storytelling voice that lures the reader into an intimate, captivating atmosphere where anything can happen. The synopsis sounds so fresh and unusual.

Get Immortelle at Amazon 

 

5. "Violent Vixens: An Homage to Grindhouse Horror" edited by Aric Sundquist (August)

What it's about: An anthology featuring: Gwendolyn Kiste, Rob E. Boley, Sarah Read, Scotty Milder, Sophie Leah, Paul Magnan, S.K. Campbell, Matt Neil Hill, Adrian Ludens, Mark Wheaton, Buck Weiss, S.R. Miller, Nik Patrick, Shannon Brady, Jaap Boekestein.

Why I want to read it: According to Wikipedia, grindhouse is an American term for a theatre that mainly shows low-budget horror, splatter and exploitation films for adults. This anthology is a tribute collection of stories honoring that style. It includes some of my favorite authors, like Sarah Read and Gwendolyn Kiste. Really looking forward to this one.

Get Violent Vixens at Bookshop or Amazon

 

6. "Sometimes We're Cruel" by J. A. W. McCarthy (August)

What it's about: (from the author's Twitter) "6 reprints + 6 new stories. Lovesick ghosts, upsetting rituals, serial killers with a unique motivation & more."

Why I want to read it: I have read a few of McCarthy's stories in various anthologies, and they always stick the landing for me. A storyteller with a unique, memorable voice that caused me to take notice and want more from—well, this is the "more" I've been looking for! A whole collection.

Coming soon from Cemetery Gates Media

 

7. "Getaway" by Zoje Stage (August) 

What it's about: "Three friends set off on a hike into the Grand Canyon—only to discover it's not so easy to leave the world behind. As the terrain grows tougher, tensions from their shared past bubble up. And when supplies begin to disappear, it becomes clear secrets aren’t the only thing they’re being stalked by. As friendship and survival collide with an unspeakable evil, Getaway becomes another riveting thriller from a growing master of suspense and a “literary horror writer on the rise.”

Why I want to read it: I didn't read Baby Teeth, but I did hear about all the hype surrounding that release. I'm eager to see what everyone is talking about for myself. The premise for the book appeals to me in the same way as The Ritual by Adam Nevill. Friends with a past history going off into nature and isolation who are met with some kind of additional threat on top of the tension among them due to their rocky relationships. Yes. I want that. 

Get Getaway at Bookshop or Amazon

 

8. "When the Reckoning Comes" by LaTanya McQueen (August)

What it's about: "A haunting novel about a black woman who returns to her hometown for a plantation wedding and the horror that ensues as she reconnects with the blood-soaked history of the land and the best friends she left behind."

Why I want to read it: Oh boy, this one sounds lush. I love the idea of a wedding being the central event in a horror story because it's supposed to be this epic, beautiful, joyful occasion, and this book is telling me that the wedding is taking place on a haunted plantation. I mean, I have to know what's going to happen here! Summertime is the perfect season to read about a wedding going horribly wrong, yeah? 

Get When the Reckoning Comes at Bookshop or Amazon

 

9. "The Deer Kings" by Wendy Wagner (August)

What it's about: "In 1989, Gary Sheldon and his friends created their own saint. In 2018, they discover it’s become a god...unsettling encounters and mutilated animals in the woods reveal that the Deer Saint is still at work. Now Gary must look into his past to find answers: Who is making sacrifices to the Deer Saint? And what do they want with his family?"

Why I want to read it: I listened to a short story by Wendy Wagner on PseudoPod and I knew I needed to read more. The Deer Kings sounds like a coming-of-age tale, maybe with some kind of revenge elements, and small town horror. A bunch of favorite tropes! I need this book.

Get The Deer Kings at Amazon


The thing about making a seasonal stack of books is that if you don't get to them all, there's a potential to feel like you failed on your goals. But I try to remind myself that books are forever. They're not going anywhere. A book can be enjoyed 10, 20, 30 years after its release and still feel like a brand new story, because it is! That's the beauty of reading. Every book comes with its own invitation to get lost in its pages, and that invite never expires or disappears.

In fact, I'm of the opinion that reading a book long after it has been released is beneficial to the life of the book. If everyone read the same book just before or on its release date or the year it was released—how would the book survive its long shelf life? Every time you read a book and talk about it gives a story a new lease on life and puts it back in the spotlight for more readers to see it and desire it. So don't feel bad if you make a stack and only get to half of the books. Save the list and re-visit it next summer! The books are not going anywhere and they will love the attention next year. I promise. 

Sadie Hartmann

Column by Sadie Hartmann

Sadie Hartmann, “Mother Horror” reviews horror fiction for Cemetery Dance Online and Scream Magazine. She is a co-owner of a curated, horror fiction book subscription company called Night Worms. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, kids and Frenchie.

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