BOYS IN THE VALLEY By Philip Fracassi Is A Chilling Classic

BOYS IN THE VALLEY By Philip Fracassi Is A Chilling Classic

BOYS IN THE VALLEY by Philip Fracassi is a chilling classic.

Fracassi’s tale is labeled as horror, but is much more than that: this is a deep, gritty coming-of-age story that delves its own mark on readers.

BOYS IN THE VALLEY, Philip Fracassi, horror, tor nightfire, orbit books, stephen king, Earthling Publications,

In 1905, when the priests at a Catholic orphanage in rural Pennsylvania are brought a possessed man to heal, things go horribly wrong, for the clergy and for the 30 boys in their charge.

From the shocking opening to the pandemonium at the book’s ending, BOYS IN THE VALLEY grabs you and does not let up!

Fracassi has a great writing style that combines vivid imagery, tight-knit prose, and a tense build-up of suspense littered with unexpected action, as he creates an in-depth world filled with memorable characters.

It is because of the many aspects of the characters living within the winter-blasted setting that there are quite a few extremely moving scenes.

The following Book Review of BOYS IN THE VALLEY by Philip Fracassi has mild plot Spoilers*

philip fracassi, r.j. huneke, tff, author, boys in the valley, book tour, nyc

The book starts with its protagonist, nine-year-old Peter, watching paralyzed as his father returns home drunk and faces scorn from his wife for not bringing the starving family any food.

Peter’s father, Jack, snaps. He murders his wife, he stares down his son, and then he turns the gun on himself.

It is the eerily realistic semblance of the defeated father losing it and the powerless boy that sees this play out, paralyzed and mortified, that captures people’s flaws and their humanity so well, and this knowledge shapes Peter, even as the event itself haunts him.

The way Fracassi writes the scene, you can feel how tired Peter’s father is when he “sits heavily” and takes off his battered hat. You get the feeling the man is, at the least, verbally abusive when he is in an angered state, and like the kettle that whistles in the home as Peter’s mother taunts her husband, Jack Barlow simmers on the page until, once boiled, he blows up.

Are the use of ‘Jack’ and ‘Barlow’ a nod to two of Stephen King’s earliest works?

Seven years later, Peter is among the kinder and older boys of St. Vincent’s Orphanage. He is training to become a priest under his friend and surrogate father figure, Father Andrew, and his insightfulness into the difficulties of life, at the orphanage and in general, makes him an interesting lens to watch the tragic story of BOYS IN THE VALLEY unfold.

Peter, now 16, has fallen in love with a neighboring farmer’s daughter, and he has to come to grips with his knowledge that his mentor, Father Andrew, thinks of him like a son, and that to tell Andrew that Peter will not complete his training and become a priest will likely break the man’s heart.

But Father Andrew is a fantastic character and one who continually reminds Peter, despite the priest’s own hopes, that it is Peter’s choice to make.

This is a beautiful display of affection that shines throughout the book and is not forgotten when Peter does not get to make that choice.

Life at the orphanage means strict adherence to the priests’ rules, daily farm work and meager meals that never fill any of the boys’ bellies.

The 30 boys living together act as brothers will, in both caring for one another, especially Peter looking out for the smaller and younger orphans, in entertaining one another, in ribbing one another, and in picking on one another.

Boys are curious.

But the more they learn of the priests’ attempt to heal a possessed man who is then killed and buried on the church grounds, the more a malevolent mood permeates many of them.

Peter’s best friend, another main character and a good foil that makes an impression, as the gruff, ever-cynical older boy, David, is stalwart throughout the book, a pillar that Peter can count on to show no fear. Until he cannot. And when David is afraid, Peter realizes just how wrong things have gone.

Fracassi writes: “David is not easily knocked off his course. He has walls within walls to keep himself insulated from things of the world . . . Any emotions he may or may not feel . . . are buried deep within him, visible only to his inner self . . . [But] to see him so visibly, dramatically shaken is like . . . the first time I saw my mother cry.” [BOYS IN THE VALLEY, Fracassi, Tor Nightfire, Earthling Publications, Orbit Books]

The entire passage is far more impactful than the condensed quote above, but you will just have to read the book, readers.

There are many more memorable characters, from Brother Johnson, the sadistic, lifelong criminal sentenced to serve the priests and therein is often the twisted enforcer of punishments for the boys, and then to Grace, the sweet love of Peter’s life who lends him a great work of fiction every time he visits her.

As the frosty fields are quickly covered with falling snow and then the fell wind of the incoming storm that grows and grows and, finally, blasts St. Vincent’s, so too does the evil follow in its wake.

The possessed boys carry out the most heinous of acts imaginable against their orphan-brothers.

Only the union of the resistant boys under Peter and David stand in the way of the demons.

Fracassi paints so many shades of black.

Though there are parallels between Blatty’s masterpiece THE EXORCIST, Stephen King’s IT, and BOYS IN THE VALLEY, when I think of this book, I keep coming back to two impactful coming-of-age tales: William Golding’s LORD OF THE FLIES and Kurt Vonnegut’s SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE.

The latter is a favorite of mine, and I would argue Billy Pilgrim as a young man dropped into WWII Germany grows enough to be a bildungsroman in its own right, just as much as Golding’s tale of boys surviving on their own devices does, if in different ways.

LORD OF THE FLIES pits one group of children against another in a poignant way that is echoed in Fracassi’s boys forming of two opposing sides.

Demonic possession has been depicted throughout culture as an evil being often self-describing itself as ‘many’ or ‘legion’ and in BOYS IN THE VALLEY, the demons that inhabited a child murderer spread, like a disease, so that a horrific army of possessed young boys is formed and bent on further infection of the clergy and their brethren boys and the world, and for any who resist they want only to maliciously harm them.

Dominance and survival are two of the qualities that seep from Golding and from Fracassi.

There are even two orphan boys that are so close in age and friendship, they are called brothers even though they are not related, and these two inseparable characters are pitted against one another in BOYS IN THE VALLEY and it is terrifically terrible.

End of SPOILER Warning*

The horrors of war, the sheer atrocities performed by humans pitted against humans, that Billy Pilgrim is caught in in Dresden, Germany are so harsh as to be revolting, which was the point: the writing is as real as the terrible acts of war were/are.

So too does BOYS IN THE VALLEY invoke violent depictions of its own deeply personal war. But this is also realism and writing at its most effective.

This is how these characters behave.

BOYS IN THE VALLEY sticks with you like a knife in the ribs: it never really goes away.

For horror fans, you may need to read this one in the warm light of the summer sun, because the darkness and the bitter cold stalks the reader, just as it daunts the characters in the book.

Yes, there are some brutal, graphic scenes in BOYS IN THE VALLEY, but they are reflective of the history that the story takes place in, as well as the realistic actions of the characters.

Fracassi’s tale is one you will happily reread even though it still hurts.

BOYS IN THE VALLEY, Philip Fracassi, horror, tor nightfire, orbit books, stephen king, Earthling Publications,

I was fortunate to receive an advanced review copy of this book to do a Preview Review of the Earthling Publications signed limited edition for Halloween 2021 that is a stunner, and I have reread the ARCs provided to me by Tor Nightfire and by Orbit Books to do this review to expound on BOYS IN THE VALLEY for their July 2023 release dates. The book is out NOW.

Philip Fracassi is on the BOYS IN THE VALLEY Signing Tour NOW.

Get your copy NOW, eager readers.

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


Want To Buy A Book & Support A Local Bookseller? Click Here!

 

“BOYS IN THE VALLEY by Philip Fracassi is a chilling classic” Was Written By R.J. Huneke.

philip fracassi, r.j. huneke, tff, author, boys in the valley, book tour, nyc

R.J. Huneke will also be conducting a live interview with Philip Fracassi on August 21st in advance of his New York City appearance later in the week. Stay Tuned!

 

 

The Chain by Adrian McKinty is Electrifying!

The Chain by Adrian McKinty is Electrifying!

The Chain by Adrian McKinty is Electrifying! When I stumbled upon Adrian McKinty’s The Chain in the bookstore, I picked it up with mild interest. When I read the engrossing blurb from Stephen King on the cover, mild interest blossomed into moderate intrigue. I had never heard of the author but supporting King’s glowing endorsement of The Chain was a Best Novel of the Year award, a nomination for a Barry Award, and several pages of high praise and accolades from all the usual suspects in the book review scene.

The truth is, though, it had me with King.

Then I read the electrifying synopsis on the back.

  Your phone rings.

  A stranger has kidnapped your child.

  The stranger explains that their child has also been kidnapped, by a completely different stranger.

  The only way to get your child back is to kidnap another child.

  You are now part of The Chain.

Needless to say, intrigue exploded into giddy excitement that bubbled with urgency, like a pebble of potassium dropped into a glass of water. I wanted to crack the spine and dig in right there in the M section of the general fiction aisle.

Now, when I read a book review, I typically prefer to know right out of the gate what the reviewer’s overall consensus is before wading through a detailed breakdown. So, I’ll give you the cash value straight out: I enjoyed this book very much! Go and read it!

With that out of the way I will now provide a slightly more nuanced analysis. I think it was around fifty pages into the story, when I thought to myself that McKinty’s writing is not necessarily that smooth-as-butter prose that rolls off the lips like poetry or like curse words in French. His sentences tend to be short and punchy, a lot like the style of Lee Child, the author of the Jack Reacher series.

That being said, I still could not. Put. It. Down.

The story raced forward, like a Ferrari on the Autobahn. There was no boring lull in the middle for character development or plot thickening. Short, packed, chapters of backstory were quite skillfully inserted into the rapid moving plot and didn’t so much as slow the locomotive down as it charged toward the exciting conclusion!

The characters were realistic. Flawed. Human. You can’t help but root for them the moment you meet them. There is also the deeply conflicting theme in this story that forces you to ask yourself the question: How far would you go to save your child’s life? These kinds of gut-wrenching moral dilemmas, that Mr. King himself is the, well, the king of, are so fun and probe the reader to turn each page with simultaneous curiosity and trepidation.

Immediately upon turning the last page I checked online and confirmed my suspicion that, yes, the film rights have already been purchased. But don’t wait for the movie! The book is ALWAYS better!

If you are looking for an easy, quick, and fun thriller to sink your teeth into, look no further than the M section in your local bookstore and pick up a copy of The Chain.

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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

The Chain by Adrian McKinty, The Chain, Adrian McKinty

“The Chain by Adrian McKinty is Electrifying!” was written by Kyle Helmer.

 

 

Gwendy’s Final Task Soars! A Spoiler Free Book Review

Gwendy’s Final Task Soars! A Spoiler Free Book Review

Gwendy’s Final Task Soars! A Spoiler Free Book Review examines the latest in the Gwendy trilogy, Gwendy’s Final Task, coauthored by bestselling authors Stephen King and Richard Chizmar.

Spectacular and moving … there’s just no one like Gwendy.

gwendy's final task, gwendy's magic feather, gwendy's button box, stepehn king, richard chizmar, ben baldwin, cemetery dance, book review

This is a SPOILER-FREE** Preview Book Review of Gwendy’s Final Task by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar. We may re-examine this book at TFF in more detail, with SPOILERS, in a couple months’ time – it is that good of a read! But you may want to read the first two books in the Gwendy Series before tackling this book.

There are three major players in this book: Gwendy, those forces opposed to her, and the button box itself.

The button box is a keystone for power: good and evil can be performed by it, in large doses or small.

Gwendy is a good person, at heart, and so she understands this and has been one of its better caretakers, it seems, but that does not make the choice of using or not using the button box any easier.

Still the gravity of this escapes her, because the thought that extremely powerful entities will stop at nothing to claim the button box does not cross her mind until that is told to her flat out.

For fans of previous works of Stephen King and his many worlds, and also previous works of Richard Chizmar, Gwendy’s Final Task is a rare animal-shaped chocolate treat that you cannot resist.

The story passes through Castle Rock and another infamous town – and still horrifying – from Stephen King’s works, on and up to the space station.

When we last saw Gwendy, in Gwendy’s Magic Feather, she was 37, a Congresswoman, and had been sent the button box for the second time, as crises developed all around her.

She endured.

She was only supposed to have the button box one time, at least that is what Farris said in Gwendy’s Button Box.

gwendy's final task, gwendy's magic feather, gwendy's button box, stepehn king, richard chizmar, ben baldwin, cemetery dance, book review

Now Senator Gwendy Peterson is older again and her third time with the button box will take her from Castle Rock and planet earth up into to outer space.

This is both remarkable in the achieving and very necessary for the plot.

The world building by King and Chizmar is paramount to this modern fairy tale enveloping the reader.

The very experience of anticipating the takeoff and having the tablets and instructions needed to manage one’s own controls from their seat draws the reader in.

The responses of the crew (and its computer), the dialogue and banter, from serious-to-jovial, and the setting all pave the way to a ratcheting thriller taking place in the near future and, at times, in zero gravity.

Gwendy is one of the “celebrity” guests on the way to the space station.

And as the story goes back and forth from Gwendy’s brilliant but troubled mind out in space to her memories and the happenings on earth, you cannot help but feel the anxiety that Gwendy feels, again and again.

She has a mission. And it only gets more difficult by the day, the hour, the minute.

The circumstances are dire, and Gwendy’s grip leaves dents in your heart.

The Richard Farris we have all come to know, he is on the cover, and I will confirm he is back, and I will say he has a significant part to play, as he did in the first two books in the Gwendy Series.

We learn a great deal more of Farris and of Gwendy too, and of what the button box can do. These three entities have all been revealed more and more throughout the trilogy when things are at their worst.

So the suspense meter is high, the horrors of earth and space run rampant, and the ending to Gwendy’s Final Task will leave you floored.

Floored.

This ending moves the reader in a truly profound way.

gwendy's final task, gwendy's magic feather, gwendy's button box, stepehn king, richard chizmar, ben baldwin, cemetery dance, book review

The Dark Tower Ties To Gwendy’s Final Task

The Dark Tower Series – Stephen King’s magnum opus that begins with The Gunslinger – looms largely on all of the covers of every edition of Gwendy’s Final Task, so you assumed right: there is a connection.

And it is definitively one of the more closely tied books to the Dark Tower amongst the bevy of Stephen King’s works.

I will just say this to the authors: thank you.

A last word on Gwendy and collaborative character building:

I can think of only two characters, each born of two authors pairing up to create a character’s brains, courage, and soul that makes for some of the strongest and compelling people in the world of fiction.

Peter Straub and Stephen King’s Jack Sawyer is one of these, and Richard Chizmar and Stephen King’s creation of Gwendy Peterson is the other.

And Gwendy shines so brightly!

Bravo, Mr. King and Mr. Chizmar!

Bravo!


The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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

 

Gwendy’s Final Task is out February 15, 2022

  • Published by Cemetery Dance Publications
  • Author: Stephen King and Richard Chizmar
  • Artist: Ben Baldwin (cover) & Keith Minnion (interiors)
  • Page Count: 412

 

“Gwendy’s Final Task Soars! A Spoiler Free Book Review” was written by R.J. Huneke.

 

Richard Chizmar’s Gwendy’s Magic Feather Forwards An Odyssey

Richard Chizmar’s Gwendy’s Magic Feather Forwards An Odyssey

Richard Chizmar’s Gwendy’s Magic Feather forwards an odyssey undertaken by Gwendy who was just twelve when she was made caretaker of a device that impacted her world and ours: it was the rewarding, dangerous and beguiling Button Box.

Gwendy’s Magic Feather is the second book in the Gwendy Series.

gwendy's final task, gwendy's magic feather, gwendy's button box, stepehn king, richard chizmar, ben baldwin, cemetery dance, SST, limited edition, book review

Gwendy’s Magic Feather surprises and chills, like a Maine snowdrift.

There is a great crime element in this book, a touch of macabre in both well-lit scenes and ones in the frozen darkness, and a lot of brooding suspense led by the intrinsic character of Gwendy.

The first book in the series is Gwendy’s Button Box, co-authored by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar, and if you have NOT read Gwendy’s Button Box, STOP HERE and go read that novella now! Not later. I do not care what format, reading is reading with it be via hologram, audiobook, or good old-fashioned paper, made from trees, that smells nice.

Here is a SPOILER WARNING** for the Preceding Book, Gwendy’s Button Box.

If you have read Gwendy’s Button Box, but it was not one of your favorite books, or it did not really move you, I highly recommend a second read if you like the character of Gwendy.

The second book in the series Gwendy’s Magic Feather brings new wonders and dangers to Gwendy, now 37, whose world is a whirlwind when the Button Box returns.

There are disturbing disappearances going on in Castle Rock, and melee in the world at large, and the character of Gwendy feels ever more intensely as she attempts to ward off the temptation of the Button Box.

The suspense simmers to a boil through her keen eyes.

Let us go back Back to Gwendy’s Button Box for a minute, as it is vital to understanding the 37-year-old Gwendy that appears in Chizmar’s novel.

Gwendy speaks with a stranger, a man with a felt hat, at age 12 who asks her to guard a precious object.

Put particular emphasis on these things: Gwendy lured beyond recall and the Button Box (and Farris, possibly) in the end caused the Jonestown massacre.

Now examine the character of a person who, despite being told her caretaking of the Button Box has rewards, is savvy enough to believe that there is a cost too and so she does not abuse the power she inherits.

Think of the temptation for a young person, who is being bullied and has high aspirations (that the 1891 Morgan silver dollars help with) to not use the compelling buttons that call to her.

She still makes mistakes and others, as well as herself, suffer for them; she is human and this realness permeates the reader.

Gwendy has such strong feelings of empathy, despite a dim world, and so she grows up and is a strong woman that can tackle anything.

All of the4se qualities help to shape the Gwendy we meet in the second book of the series.

Gwendy’s Magic Feather is a modern fairy tale fit for the Brothers Grimm updated to slice like a twentieth century switchblade!

So what does happen when an older Gwendy is returned the Button Box amidst far greater perils?

Spoiler Warning for Gwendy’s Magic Feather**

To start off the book, we meet an older Gwendy in Washington D.C.

Surprise!

Gwendy’s sharp intuition and skill makes her a successful writer and then, in a sudden fit of obligation to her country and her home state of Maine – and the encouragement of others begging her to run – she miraculously unseats a deplorable Congressman in her district.

Sadly more lecherous old Congressmen and a dangerously enraged President makes life as a US Representative challenging.

The world created in the Gwendy-verse feels too real at times, bringing its own amount of horror with that realness.

We can see the Washington meetings. We can smell the unknown plots lurking in some of the politicians’ shadows.

Congresswoman Gwendy Peterson is a beacon of kindness and candor in Congress where these traits light up amidst the ever-growing shadowy spaces besieging Washington.

The extraordinary journey that began as a “palaver” with a mysterious man named Richard Farris in a sharp suit and felt hat at the top of Castle Rock’s Suicide Stairs 25 years earlier has become a memory, floating but distant.

The once kind and witty Gwendy of age 12 – the first time she held the Button Box – is still a kind and witty person, because that is her charm, even as she is beset by dangers to her home town, the Capitol, the world, and her family.

And so, for the first time in 15 years, the Button Box reappears to Gwendy . . . sans Farris.

Where is he?

The vivid memories come back strongly and a thought torments Gwendy: what role has the Button Box played in the outcomes of her life, of her successes and failures? Were they just paths she carved on her own?

Much of this is a “who knows?” inner monologue that goes on throughout the book.

We feel for Gwendy as guilt clouds her mind and her strong demureness is rattled by the uncertainty of what she has done in her life – did she act because she wanted to or what things did she do that may have just as a result of holding the talisman, the Button Box.

She does not lose her sense of self, even as she doubts her past, present, and future deeds, which is admirable.

But you feel for her self-doubt that is ever-torturing until the very end of the book.

Where is the man who said she would never see the Button Box again? Where was the bearer of the blessing and/or curse? Where was Richard Farris?

All the while, Gwendy’s husband is away across the world in a dangerous city bordering on implosion; that stress looms large.

What can the Button Box do to help?

Gwendy’s mother collapses with a certain terminal diagnosis of cancer.

What can the Button Box do?

Two girls have just gone missing in Castle Rock, and Gwendy arrives on the scene.

What can the Button Box do?

The Button Box is its own character that crashes on the story and never lets up.

Gwendy’s mother was recently seen as cancer-free, and her parents brought out a long-lost treasure: Gwendy’s magic feather.

Once conned as a little girl, with all of the money she had saved for months to buy a “magic feather” from a young boy preying on tourists. The feather did not appear to have any magical properties once it was attained.

Then her mom collapses.

Dying in the hospital, Gwendy slips her mom chocolates from the Button Box.

There is a miraculous recovery the next day, but her mom also has the magic feather in her hand.

It must have been the feather her parents think.

Amidst the search in the town, Gwendy acts and thinks more like one of the sheriffs than she does a Congresswoman and she dislikes the mark of any celebrity labels.

Before the Button Box had with the pull of a lever delivered delicious chocolates that improved all of the senses and gifted, for a time some of the things the holder of the Box desired; for Gwendy, she initially wanted to lose weight and as she got older she kept the box dispatching mint condition 1891 Morgan silver dollars so she could afford to go to an Ivy League college.

But the Button Box has a price behind each gift, and the lure of the buttons grows stronger and overriding with each use.

Still, when Gwendy gets a kind of shine to her and she can read into the memories of someone she touches, the psychopath behind the missing girls is spotted, as is a crushed felt hat amidst the darkness in the Maine snow.

Castle Rock is an infamous place in Stephen King’s works, and Richard even inserts a statue where a great fire once ran rampant in the infamous town.

But this is also the Gwendy-verse, and Chizmar expands it brilliantly.

Only in the end does Richard Farris come back to claim the Button Box again.

But he does finally assure Gwendy that she is special, a caretaker, but she has also made her life’s accomplishments on her own.

The possibly evil giver of power, in Farris, seems to have a soul in there.

END of SPOILER WARNING*

gwendy's final task, gwendy's magic feather, gwendy's button box, stepehn king, richard chizmar, ben baldwin, cemetery dance, SST, limited edition, book review

If you look at this book as a casual, fun page-turner you will like it, but there is so much more to Gwendy if you try to observe her.

Gwendy is like no character I know of and her stories are a great example of contemporary speculative fiction that delves its own niche far into the realms of fiction.

There are thousands of years of stories based around good and not-so-good people being given choices with consequences and rewards that weigh on the conscience, the humanity.

But this one has a flair, a moral, and a character like no other.

Richard Chizmar brilliantly grows Gwendy’s story arc. And come the end the reader is left wanting to follow along with her as her odyssey continues.

Let’s examine the book’s editions!

Both the small press publication of Gwendy’s Magic Feather by Cemetery Dance Publications and the signed-limited edition by SST Publications are sharp!

The Cemetery Dance edition has a beautiful texture to the boards with gold foil stamping and awesome cover art by Ben Baldwin and interior art by Vincent Sammy.

gwendy's final task, gwendy's magic feather, gwendy's button box, stepehn king, richard chizmar, ben baldwin, cemetery dance, SST, limited edition, book review


The SST edition is illustrated, oversized, is signed by Richard Chizmar and all contributors, including the wraparound cover and interior artist Vincent Sammy, the author of the afterword Bev Vincent, and the Castle Rock mapmaker, artist Glenn Chadbourne; this is another stunner!

The quality of both editions, from the paper, to the boards, to the dust jackets make both of them worth having side by side.

castle rock, gwendy's final task, gwendy's magic feather, gwendy's button box, stepehn king, richard chizmar, ben baldwin, cemetery dance, SST, limited edition, book review

gwendy's final task, gwendy's magic feather, gwendy's button box, stepehn king, richard chizmar, ben baldwin, cemetery dance, SST, limited edition, book review

The next book Gwendy’s Final Task, possibly the comclusion to the Gwendy Series, is co-authored by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar, and comes out on February 15th, 2022.


The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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

 

 

 

“Richard Chizmar’s Gwendy’s Magic Feather Forwards An Odyssey” was written by R.J. Huneke.

 

 

 

 

 

Cemetery Dance Limited Edition AGE NIGHT SHIFT By Stephen King

Cemetery Dance Limited Edition AGE NIGHT SHIFT By Stephen King

Cemetery Dance Limited Edition AGE Night Shift By Stephen King is a deserving fine press production of the author’s first collection of short stories, and there are two added bonus shorts included that were not published by the Doubleday edition!

The short stories are all extraordinary and many are wholly groundbreaking for what horror could evolve to be.

Better put, Sai King’s stories hit on so many different levels and are so impactful that many traditional views of literary prowess were thrown out of the window screaming.

Most of these stories were originally published as stand-alone pieces in men’s magazines.

One exception is the very first story Stephen King got paid for, “The Glass Floor,” that was originally published in the Autumn 1967 issue of Startling Mystery Stories.

That and the introduction in the Bonus section of CD’s Night Shift, alone, is worth the price of admission.

Cemetery Dance Night Shift SPOILERS ahead*

To hear the writer talk about his experience getting rejections and receiving that first check is just remarkable.

This review will touch on two of the short stories held within and give an in-depth look at the small press production of the book itself, the limited deluxe Artist Gift Edition of Night Shift, masterfully produced by Cemetery Dance Publications.

And we will look at two of the weirdest and most fun shorts!

Enter “The Lawnmower Man.”

Cemetery Dance Limited Edition AGE Night Shift, Night Shift, stephen king, chris odgers, Cemetery Dance, fine press

Easily as strange and hilarious and horrific a tale as can be constructed on ancient mythic gods and modern civilization’s obsession with keeping the home’s grass meticulously tended, “The Lawnmower Man” offers mystery, suspense, humor, and an otherworldly sense of dreaming while awake.

How or why someone decided to make a movie using the title alone and throwing out the insanity of the nude grass gobbling antagonist that makes the story is beyond all rational thought, but it happened.

This story proved that like Lovecraft and Poe, King could touch on ancient gods of yore, or wholly make up his own mythology in the modern world, and the charm of it all comes down to the characters caught within.

To date, I can think of no other story remotely like “The Lawnmower Man” – one of the highest compliments I give.

The next work is another favorite of mine that was touched on by TFF before in the One Of Us review, here: “I Am The Doorway.”

Cemetery Dance Limited Edition AGE Night Shift, Night Shift, stephen king, chris odgers, Cemetery Dance, fine press

Another innovative tale is spawned circa the Space Race to the moon and beyond.

It merges science-fiction and the macabre in a painfully realistic manner.

Why does realism come to mind?

Space seems to be a lifeless void and a quiet vacuum, but the reaches outside the earth’s atmosphere are the truest unknown.

The astronaut here recalls little of his voyage to Venus that might note any apparent cause for his current murderous predicament.

But it is the only explanation.

Unlike so many sci-fi voyages and tales, Stephen King attaches the things beyond human understanding.

What could be more terrifying than intelligent entities, that manifest themselves like alien spores, a disease, or a parasite, in the form of eyes that continue to sprout from the searing, itching fingers of their space traveling host.

We cannot send life into space, but that does not mean that rabid rabies-like pathogens, or non-carbon-based life forms cannot live there, cannot hunt there for a way onto the earth to feed.

The astronaut is their doorway to the earth, and as far-fetched as that terrifying premise may seem, its sheer plausibility is solidified in that we cannot for sure say that the Eyes outside Venus’ atmosphere are an impossibility.

Truth be told, I would have loved to hear more about the astronaut in space in the story, but what King leaves to the imagination has me thinking about this one as I reread it again and again, shivering and itching between my thumb and forefinger.

All of the varying dark and spectacular shorts – from “Jerusalem’s Lot” to “Children of the Corn” to “Weeds” (the last bonus story in the volume) – are worth rereading and enjoying alongside the stunning artwork of Chris Odgers in CD’s Night Shift AGE.

For the $95 price-point CD’s Night Shift AGE gets an 11/10 score.

Cemetery Dance Limited Edition AGE Night Shift, Night Shift, stephen king, chris odgers, Cemetery Dance, fine press

Limited to just 3000 books, each of the short stories feature well thought out and deeply impactful original art from Chris Odgers, and they stand out in the oversized deluxe design of 7 X 10 inches.

The faux leather brown of the book and the matching slipcase make the green and gold foil stamping really pop, as does the offset two color interior printing, and the thick, quality paper.

Cemetery Dance Limited Edition AGE Night Shift, Night Shift, stephen king, chris odgers, Cemetery Dance, fine press

There are many bonus materials deservingly given to this book, a piece of literary history, including:

  • a foreword by Stephen King
  • an introduction by John D. MacDonald
  • a brand new afterword by Stewart O’Nan
  • two bonus stories (“The Glass Floor” and “Weeds”) that have never appeared in any edition anywhere in the world

And as CD’s Night Shift Artist Gift Edition is meant to highlight the tales with the paired art, the black and white illustrations are fine art that perfectly encompass the respective works being emanated to strong and stark imagery.

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


Want To Buy The Book from a local bookseller? Click Away!

 

“Cemetery Dance Limited Edition AGE NIGHT SHIFT By Stephen King” was written by R.J. Huneke

 

 

The Forgotten Fiction ANNOUNCEMENT SCHEDULE 3-2021 To 8-2021

The Forgotten Fiction ANNOUNCEMENT SCHEDULE 3-2021 To 8-2021

The Forgotten Fiction ANNOUNCEMENT SCHEDULE 3-2021 To 6-2021: we are going keep TFF’s Eager Readers up to snuff with all of the happenings, from book reviews, to guest reviewers, to giveaway contests, to Rune Works reader-inspired creations.

BIG THINGS Coming To TFF!

Seeing how TFF has grown immensely in just a few short months and less than a year since its launch, I want to thank you all for your support and shared enthusiasm for all that we love as bibliophiles.


ANNOUNCEMENT SCHEDULE 3-2021 To 8-2021

 

  • March 30, 2021 @ 12pm EST

    • TFF Book Giveaway Contest Is Announced & Opened To Enter Free

  • April 5, 2021 @ 1pm EST

    • TFF Livestream & Giveaway Contest Drawing

  • April 28, 2021 @ 1pm EST

    • TFF Book Giveaway Contest Is Announced & Opened To Enter Free

  • May 4, 2021 @ 1pm EST

    • TFF Livestream & Giveaway Contest Drawing

  • May 26, 2021 @ 1pm EST

    • TFF Book Giveaway Contest Is Announced & Opened To Enter Free

  • June 1, 2021 @ 1pm EST

    • TFF Livestream & Giveaway Contest Drawing

  • June 30, 2021 @ 1pm EST

    • TFF Book Giveaway Contest Is Announced & Opened To Enter Free

  • July 6, 2021 @ 1pm EST

    • TFF Livestream & Giveaway Contest Drawing

  • July 28, 2021 @ 1pm EST

    • TFF Book Giveaway Contest Is Announced & Opened To Enter Free

  • August 3, 2021 @ 1pm EST

    • TFF Livestream & Giveaway Contest Drawing

  • August 25, 2021 @ 1pm EST

    • TFF Book Giveaway Contest Is Announced & Opened To Enter Free


And so we will be doing a monthly livestream, via Facebook Live, and in that brief time I will share news for upcoming book reviews and RW Cases or other creations, as well as finish each session with a drawing to choose a winner for a free giveaway contest.

What did I just say?!

Well, yeah, every month there will be a free to enter TFF Giveaway Contest taking place the week before the livestream.

I love reading, and TFF will be spreading the love!

stephen king signature, traycase, Custom Book Case, custom slipcase, hand-made, Dolso, the stand, stephen king, bernie wrightson, trashcan man

The prizes will get better and better – wait until you see this month’s contest! – and most often there will be a choice for the winner (or winners, when we mix it up) to choose from so that if we are giving away books you can hopefully get something you do not have.

Quite a few brilliant authors are interested in writing book reviews on all sorts of fiction.

I spoke briefly last week on Elizabeth Yoo’s upcoming reviews of 1960’s Italian fiction that she will blow us away with, but so much more than that is on the horizon, and since I love almost every type of fiction out there, from horror and sci-fi to historical fiction, there will always be a fun variety to peruse.

So in this site’s NEWS section I will post a TFF Quarterly ANNOUNCEMENT SCHEDULE and I will feature them in a pulldown from the site menu under NEWS too.

What is coming up?

stephen king signature, traycase, Custom Book Case, custom slipcase, hand-made, Dolso, the stand, stephen king, bernie wrightson, trashcan man

Well, besides the monthly contests, I will pick a book of the month that either was or is going to be reviewed during the livestream – a teaser, if you will – and I would like to start some Q/A time too (maybe not every time), but I will play that by ear. I love to live in the moment, so we will see where things take us.

Coming up next in book reviews…

In no particular order, except that CD’s NIGHT SHIFT by Stephen King is almost certainly next, here are the book-newcomers to The Forgotten Fiction magazine:

  • NIGHT SHIFT by Stephen King – Cemetery Dance Gift Edition
  • Ready Player One By Ernest Cline – Lettered Edition By Curious King Books
  • Seed By Ania Ahlborn – Numbered Edition By Suntup Editions
  • Crackle and Fire: An Angela Hardwicke Mystery By Russ Colchamiro – By Crazy 8 Press
  • Alice By Lewis Carroll – Numbered Edition by Amaranthine Books
  • Later By Stephen King – Numbered Edition By Hard Case Crime
  • A Scanner Darkly By Philip K. Dick – Suntup Editions Numbered and Artist Editions
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – Suntup Editions Numbered and Artist Editions
  • More Books by Michael Crichton – requests are open, folks!
  • The End Of Eternity By Isaac Asimov (and pictures of a rare first edition)
  • The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, and The War Of The Worlds, all By H.G. Wells – all Suntup Edition’s Limited Numbered
  • Killer Come Back To Me the unpublished Ray Bradbury book celebrating Bradbury’s 100th birthday by Hard Case Crime

There will be many books that pop up and wedge there way in between the ones above, but these are some of the fiction titles, young and old, to look forward to.

Branching off of both The Forgotten Fiction and my fledgling production company, press and PR agency Rune Works Productions Ltd. are the literary creations crafted by hand in my woodshop, like the TFF Rune Works Book Cases.

Call them traycases, slipcases, or whatever else you want, but do not call them mass produced haha.

These are beloved creations that I have hand crafted for my own library, art to hold my most precious art.

I am busy working on these RW Rare Book Cases:

  • A one-of-a-kind SILENCE OF THE LAMBS 2021 ARC case for the winner of the Unofficial Fans Of Suntup group’s contest, Kyle – this will be a 1 / 1 and like nothing anyone has ever seen
  • THE STAND Case With Licensed Bernie Wrightson Art – for UK and for US 1st printings
  • SECRET Case Project [hint: horror and Ania Ahlborn]
  • CARRIE 1st Edition case
  • FAHRENHEIT 451 case
  • The Gunslinger case
  • The Long Walk case
  • “The Bachman Books” case
  • “Gunslinger” Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction cases
  • A I of I creation customized for an issue of Astounding Fiction from 1953
  • Startling Mystery 1967 and 1969 Case
  • Fight Club cases, with a strip of cartoon film?
  • A Scanner Darkly case for the first edition of Philip K. Dick’s classic
  • Revival Us First Edition for signed copies
  • End Of Watch Us First Edition for signed copies
  • If It Bleeds Us First Edition for signed copies
  • The End Of Eternity Isaac Asimov case
  • And even a non-book case for a rare Star Wars Lego piece!

There are a couple of cases I want to remain a secret for now.

stephen king signature, traycase, Custom Book Case, custom slipcase, hand-made, Dolso, the stand, stephen king, bernie wrightson, trashcan man

These are some ambitious projects that I have undertaken and some will be ready to fly in the near future, while others may take a year or more to develop (some have already crossed into this realm).

These are handmade and planned and collaborated on with usually one person, me, or a very few others, at times.

That takes time.

But I love to make them and I love to see their purpose fulfilled as the books join with them, and much as time is one of our most precious commodities, up there with family and health, I take my time to ensure the quality I feel all of my work, from my written works to my web-made to my hand-made works all are the most they can be.

Be kind to one another, be safe, and go read!

 

Best,

 

~R.J.H.