Dancing with the Tombstones is a delicious anthology of short stories

Dancing with the Tombstones is a delicious anthology of short stories

Dancing with the Tombstones is a delicious anthology of short stories, and I had the opportunity to review the latest book written by Mark Aronovitz and published by Cemetery Dance compiled during the COVID-19 lockdown of short stories that could be easily described as the adult equivalent of Scary Stories to tell in the Dark.

The following book review of Dancing with the Tombstones from Cemetery Dance is Spoiler-free**

This novel features seventeen short stories, with publication dates that vary from 2009-2020. Ten of these short stories have been published previously in various other anthologies, but it features seven new terrifying tales.

Mark Aronovitz tells us in the afterword that he put this book together in response to the pandemic, during the lonely days of quarantine.

His hope to bring some comfort and distraction during this trying time was a huge success and could have easily been titled Chicken Soup for the Spooky Soul.

Straight up – no nonsense horror.

Aronovitz delivers exactly what he promises, and this was a delightfully terrifying read, his short stories requiring no lengthy plot or conception of reality, just straight up – no nonsense horror.

This anthology is certainly one worth adding to your library, with tales that would be ideal to tell around a campfire on a chilly night and each packs a hefty punch that is genuinely terrifying when the blow strikes home.

Dancing with the Tombstones is split into four sections titled “GIRLS,” PSYCHOS,” “TOOLS & TECH,” and “MARTYRS & SACRIFICIAL LAMBS,” with each of his short stories falling into one of these categories.

Each short story is bite-sized and perfect to pick up and return to again over and over, and the fantastical element of short horror makes for a refreshing read. The short length allows these tales to grow more and more gruesome and disturbing. And every tale holds a more disturbing thought that is expanded upon to a truly terrifying conclusion.

My personal favorite in this anthology was “Puddles,” where Dora Watawitz’s obsessive cleaning routine turns into a waking nightmare when she starts to hallucinate the filth entering her home.

Mark Aronovitz delivers some truly real and a relatable material and to light brings disturbing thoughts such as “When DID I ever clean the toilet brush?” or, “How often do I ever really clean the bottom of my feet?”

These unsettling notions escalate into insanity (or perhaps a supernatural version of Doris’s personal hell) and all the cleaning, scrubbing, and bleaching just can never remove the filth plastered all over the walls of her mind.

Indeed, in a book where hell is described as an eternity consigned to an old Nissan Sentra in “The Echo,” there is something for everyone in this book.

Mark Aronovitz’s writing quality is stellar, and this is certainly a book to be enjoyed again and again.

Mark Aronovitz is the author of the novels Alice Walks, The Sculptor, The Witch of the Wood, and Phantom Effect. He has published two other collections, Seven Deadly Pleasures, and The Voice in Our Heads. He has published over fifty short stories in total and is definitely an author worth following!

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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Cemetery Dance, Mark Aronovitz, Dancing with the Tombstones, horror, book review, spoiler-free

“Dancing with the Tombstones is a delicious anthology of short stories” was written by Lisa Lebel.

 

 

 

Jean-Luc & Anna Lise by A.G. Cullen Book Review

Jean-Luc & Anna Lise by A.G. Cullen Book Review

Jean-Luc & Anna Lise by A.G. Cullen Book Review Written By Lisa Lebel

Jean Luc & Anna Lise : A Novel of The Napoleonic Wars, by A.G. Cullen is a harrowing tale following three main characters through the harsh realities of the French Revolution.

The following Book Review of Jean-Luc & Anna Lise has Spoilers*

The novel opens with Jean-Luc and his dearest friend Adrien, on the day that enemy soldiers come to Colmar to execute their village priest. Shortly after this shocking event, Adrien’s sister, Anna Lise, is born. After only a short glimpse of their joyful beginnings, Jean-Luc and Adrien vow to join the emperor’s army once they are old enough – and thereafter embark on a journey that is all the more heart wrenching in its reality of the times.

Despite this book weighing in at a shocking 668 pages – at first glance one may assume this to be a ponderous tome of a novel. However, A.G. Cullen manages to have this tale be fast-paced and compelling throughout the entirety of the novel. The gut-wrenching horrors of the Napoleonic War seen through the eyes of one solider, brings to life the shocking reality of the times. While it is so easy to distance ourselves from what we read in the history books, this tale delivers an unflinching account of the life of a solider in 19th century Europe. Through the eyes of Jean-Luc Calliet, A.G. Cullen shows readers what it was like to be young and in love, while your country and comrades are falling to pieces all around you.

One of the more poignant takeaways from this novel was living with the horror and moral conflict of being ordered by your captain to commit unspeakable acts or be killed as a traitor yourself. Experiencing the shock of realizing your comrades in arms are sometimes more of a danger than the actual enemy, and seeing your fellow soldiers commit unspeakable brutalities is something that reading a historical account of the war simply cannot provide. Attempting to travel through a war-ridden country without being molested is nearly impossible, and there is equal danger no matter who you’re fighting for.

This novel is outside of this reviewer’s wheelhouse and likely not one I would have picked up on my own randomly, but I highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. Readers may find this similar to the Outlander series, with none of the time travel aspects or ridiculously sappy romance elements. But, in the respect of following individual persons through historical events – it definitely shines in that aspect. While Outlander is geared mostly towards women in the overly romantic setting as well as time travel – most of the action and intrigue of seeing actual historical events play out through the eyes of individuals is drowned out by these aspects. Jean-Luc has none of these distractions and gives an actual historical depiction of the life of the solider during these distressing times. Interspersed between chapters are also illustrations and maps of where the wars or battles are taking place, which is certain to remind readers that the events depicted in this novel did indeed occur, adding gravity to the tale.

In closing, Jean-Luc & Anna Lise is an excellently written novel that is both compelling and heart wrenching, and certainly worth checking out!

 

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


Want To Buy A Book From A Local bookseller? Click Away!

“Jean-Luc & Anna Lise by A.G. Cullen Book Review” Was Written By Lisa Lebel.