My Haunted Library

All things spooky. Your source for paranormal and supernatural book and movie reviews, strangeography, Halloween crafts and a little cozy fall baking.


Leave a comment

Review: Where the Sun Goes to Die

Antisocial monster hunter Jonathan Crowley and his companion, the albino former undertaker Mr. Slate, canvass the Old West, giving what for to werewolves and schooling shapeshifters in Moore’s darkly enjoyable collection of tales.

Where the Sun Goes to Die—James A. Moore, 2019. Rating: 4/5

Amazon Affiliate Link

Where the Sun Goes to Die follows events in that occur in Boomtown, (see my review here), where Crowley and Slate’s efforts to fend off reanimated corpses, a malevolent wizard, and a group of possessed Native Americans leaves the town of Carson Point, Colorado a bit worse for wear. As in, well, decimated. I.e., bloodbath. Where the Sun Goes to Die stands successfully on its own gruesome feet, so you don’t need to read Boomtown first, but it does give a little more background on Slate and Crowley’s odd relationship.

Mr. Lucas Slate, once a genteel mortician, is becoming…something else. Judging by others’ terrified reactions to his gaunt and growing frame, whatever he’s changing into is the antithesis of his normally soft-spoken self. Slate is travelling with Crowley to discover the nature of his transformation. Crowley is keeping a weather eye on Slate, coolly ready to dispatch his companion if—when—Slate becomes a monster.

On their journey, they encounter a demon train and a parasitic preacher. They get caught in a conflict between soldiers, Apaches, and a Skinwalker who looks remarkably like Mr. Slate. In a story co-authored by Charles R. Rutledge, Crowley, Slate, and a fellow hunter rescue a stagecoach from werewolves.

Where the Sun Goes to Die is flat-out fun. That is, if your idea of fun involves supernatural throwdowns, gunfights, and general carnage. The grimly charismatic Crowley, as always, carries the tales. Crowley is just…cool. He has magical powers and does not appear to age. He is compelled to aid (fellow?) humans if asked for help. He is irascible. Unimposing. He revels a little too much in a fight. And he doesn’t suffer fools—or really anyone—gladly. But every now and then, there’s just the slightest whisper that there may be, or was, an iota of heart under that tough, techy hide. Mr. Slate complements Crowley nicely. The two remind me vaguely of Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd from Diamonds Are Forever with their formal addresses and occasional dry banter. But Mr. Crowley and Mr. Slate are good guys. Mostly. Fans of westerns and the paranormal will appreciate this genre-bending treat.


1 Comment

Review: The Haunted Forest Tour

Tourists become tasty treats for a myriad of monsters in this gleefully gruesome romp in the woods. And yes, discussing this book absolutely require an abundance of alliteration.

The Haunted Forest Tour—James A. Moore & Jeff Strand, 2007. Rating: 4/5

Amazon Affiliate Link

When a giant forest violently erupts out of the New Mexico desert—unfortunately impaling most of the townsfolk—the land, along with the werewolves, insect-like things, aliens, mold monsters, demons, ghosts, and other beasties it contains is quickly snapped up by an entrepreneurial individual. In a true capitalistic spirit, H.F. Enterprises turns the deadly demesne into a tourist destination. They hire cryptozoologists to analyze the dangerous denizens and run (perfectly safe!) tram tracks through woods for the ultimate in (safe!) scares. Needless to say, safety protocols are colossally compromised on the Halloween Day Tour, stranding formerly eager monster-aficionados deep in the woods. Monsters rejoice. Tourists die. And they die in lots of creative ways involving copious amounts of blood, goo, and unnamed fluids teeming with wormy things. A handful of survivors escape deeper into the woods: Eddie the tram driver; Barbara, the pretty young guide; soon-to-be-unemployed Chris and his mom; an elderly hoax debunker, Lee; and six-year-old Tommy. Can anyone make it out alive? Can anyone stop the forest from spreading? Don’t look at me: I’m not to spoil it for you.

Moore and Strand obviously had a blast writing this one and their macabre delight is infectious. You read The Haunted Forest Tour with a big grin and a wince of revulsion plastered to your face. There are lots of “eeeew” moments, but they’re lightened by how frankly flat-out funny the story is. Even the characters find a dark humor in their precarious plights.

Now, we’re not talking National Book Award nominee, here. The plot is straightforward: monsters. Though there are some neat little surprises along the way. Still, the characters are fleshed out enough— well, enough that they’ve got plenty of flesh to be removed—but also in that we root for them. I was genuinely (briefly) disappointed when a certain character died on me. That said, The Haunted Forest Tour is all about the monsters. Reading it is like reveling in a big old box of disgusting chocolates (ones filled with different creepy things). You never know what you’re going to bite into—or what’s going to bite you. Bon appétit! (Bonne lecture!)


Leave a comment

Review: Half-Off Ragnarok

Half-Off Ragnarok – Seanan McGuire, 2014. Rating:  4/5

Geeky Alexander Price is a herpetologist at the West Columbus Zoo. It’s the perfect cover for his work with cryptids like basilisks, cockatrices, gorgons, wadjets, and lindworms. But when zoo employees start turning to stone, Alex needs to find the culprit fast before his secret life, his famous cryptozoologist family, and his beloved cryptids are exposed.

Alex lives with his grandmother, a cuckoo (telepathic humanoid hunter), his grandfather, a revenant (made of reanimated body parts), and his psychically damaged cuckoo cousin, Sarah. Unlike his ballroom dancer and parkour pro sister, Verity, whose focus is on protecting urban cryptids, Alex specializes in the reptilian variety, like small feathered frogs called frickens.

Alex finds an unexpected ally in Shelby, his beautiful Australian coworker/girlfriend. Turns out Shelby is part of the Thirty-Six Society, protecting Australia’s cryptids from the evil, single-minded Covenant. Together they discover that whoever is petrifying zookeepers has a grudge against the Price family.

Half-Off Ragnarok is flat-out fun. Admittedly, I was initially skeptical: I enjoyed the first two books in the series, which are narrated from Verity’s point of view, and I wasn’t super-sold on a reptilian and amphibian focus, but I was hooked after the first couple of pages. McGuire brings the same engaging mix of tongue-in-cheek humor and monster action to Half-Off Ragnarok that she does to the rest of the series.

There is also a sweetness to these stories. They highlight the “humanity” of different creatures and our ability to live alongside them. The concept of family takes on a welcomingly broad definition. In this world, cobra-wadjet families coexist with cuckoos and revenants and humans and a thriving gorgon colony. Don’t worry: the Aeslin mice make an appearance too, since Alex has a subcolony! If this is your first InCryptid book, you’re in for a treat. If you’ve read the first two and are worried about missing Verity, don’t be: Half-Off Ragnarok is a rewarding read.

rating system four crows


5 Comments

Review: Discount Armageddon

Discount Armageddon –Seanan McGuire, 2012.  4.5/5

Braving your bogeyman of a boss—literally—and dealing with dragons under Manhattan are all in a day’s work for cryptozoologist Verity Price in this first installment of McGuire’s InCryptid series.

Verity shares her shoebox of an apartment, (a semi legal sublet from a Sasquatch) with a colony of fervently celebratory talking mice. She gets by waitressing at a strip club and dreaming of a professional ballroom dancing career. That’s the normal side of Verity’s life.

The…abnormal…side of her life? She’s the local protector of cryptids: supporting and protecting monster and human communities from each other.

Not only is Verity a mad-skilled free runner, and a serious weapons specialist, but she can kill a man—or monster—six ways from Sunday. It runs in the family. Once a part of the fanatical, hidebound Covenant, which believes the only good cryptid is a dead one, the Price family went rogue generations ago when they realized cryptids had as much right to be in the world as any human.

Now, Covenant member Dominic De Luca is in town for his first solo mission. Verity and Dominic’s explosive mutual animosity is complicated by equally fiery mutual attraction. But the two face a bigger problem: cryptid virgins are disappearing at an alarming rate, weird lizard men are prowling the sewers, and there are rumors of a dragon sleeping beneath the city.

Discount Armageddon is great fun. McGuire skillfully builds a rich, urban cryptid world, tucking it seamlessly alongside the mundane city-life of ignorant humans. Excitingly unique monsters good, bad, and indifferent abound. A back matter “Field Guide” to NYC cryptids offers tongue-in-cheek details (in case you need help identifying a ghoul at your local bar). The characters—human and otherwise—are great, too, brought to life with breezy dialogue and a touch of surreal humor. Verity herself is skilled and sassy, with a tender heart under all that armament. The plot races along to a highly satisfying conclusion. Yes! At last! I can’t wait to get ahold of the next book.

rating system four and a half crows


1 Comment

Review: Monster Hunter International

Monster Hunter International  Larry Correia, 2007.

Owen Pitt works very hard to live a normal, boring life as an accountant

That all goes to hell one day when his boss turns into a werewolf and tries to eat him.

Throwing his boss out of a nice, high office window understandably loses him his accounting position, but, on the bright side, lands him a job offer with Monster Hunter International. MHI is a private cadre of warriors gleaned from librarians, Army Rangers, chemistry teachers and others who have survived encounters with one of the many horrors that secretly roam the earth. MHI’s job is to handle those unfriendlies that go bump in the night.

What follows is the end of Owen’s normal life and the beginning of a ripping good read for all of us. Our narrator, Owen, is smart (he graduated top of his class as a CPA and speaks five languages fluently), a crack shot (thanks to his over-militant dad who essentially prepared Owen for an apocalypse while still in elementary school), a wise-ass, and an all-around big-hearted, no-so-handsome lug.

Owen attends a monster version of basic training, bonds with a handful of new trainees and quirky mentors, falls hard for the boss’s niece – a glasses-wearing, sharpshooting, intellectual hottie – and is soon on a mission to save the world from a cadre of master vampires and a powerful 500-year-old cursed being.

Monster Hunter International is just great fun. Parts are actually laugh-out-loud funny. The scene with the elves: priceless. That’s all I’ll say about that. You need to read it yourself. There is tons of monster-hunting action and intricate gun battles against vampires, wights, gargoyles, and demon things from another dimension. Correia, a past firearms instructor and competitive shooter (and accountant!), clearly knows and respects his ordnance.

The storyline, which travels wildly around the Alabama swamps, jumps to a little old Jewish man chatting with Owen in his dreams, and flashes back to conquistadors in the early Americas holds together because it is so well-written and the characters are fantastic. Eccentric but not one-dimensional: you truly come to care for them.

The only thing wrong with this book? There is nothing wrong: I’m just kicking myself because I haven’t read it sooner. On the plus side, there are more books in the series lined up ready for me to read like cookies waiting on a plate. That’s how enjoyable this book is. Like a lovely, violent, monster-filled, warm-hearted cookie treat. No kidding. Delicious fun.