If you’re looking to pick up more tomes for your to-be-read pile, you could do far, far worse than the next bevy of titles from Haverhill House Publishing. (You can check out the first Haverhill House Publishing spotlight post featuring books from Christopher Golden, Amber Benson, and John McIllveen here.) If you check out their website, you’ll see that there are at least a dozen more books on the way for this small-but-mighty press.
But let’s get to this latest batch of great titles!
The Moore House by Tony Tremblay
One of the newer novels out from Haverhill House Publishing is Tremblay’s novel The Moore House. It takes place in Goffstown, New Hampshire, the site of the titular Moore, which is a site known for grisly murders and odd disappearances. After a pair of severed legs is found on the property, Father MacLeod and three former nuns (who either left the church or were excommunicated) are sent by the wealthy patriarch of the town to investigate.
What they find is a very strong case of demon possession. What’s even more interesting are the characters. MacLeod is quite a sinful priest, and the nuns aren’t so spotless, either. The nuns are also empaths, which is a welcome flavor that I haven’t encountered in fiction before now. There’s also a mysterious pawnshop owner without a name that has many powerful relics in his collection that decides to help the cause. I suspect that Tremblay could spin several more tales surrounding this character and his ancient collection. Hopefully, that will happen, because this character is fascinating.
Anyway, The Moore House is cut from the same bloody shroud as The Exorcist. That’s to say it’s a damn good possession tale — and a page turner, too. It goes fast, and you won’t want it to end.
One Bad Week by James A. Moore
Moore’s been around for a while, and that means he can conjure up some damn good stories. He’s at his best when he’s a bit snarky (or a lot snarky), and that’s on ample display here in this collection of short stories. A few of his regular characters make the scene, and in some cases, Moore pits them against each other in a thrilling showdown.
Specifically, One Bad Week is a Jonathan Crowley joint. He’s a sorcerer and curmudgeon who doesn’t care what anyone thinks, and he’d sooner rather ignore you, banish you somewhere, or do you harm than help you. However, he does help people who really need him when it counts in supernatural situations. Both the living and the dead call on him for help. As you can guess, he’s usually exhausted and persnickety.
Let’s just say he’s a man with a very particular set of skills. One Bad Week contains five entertaining Crowley tales: “Back to Serenity;” “Little Boy Blue;” “Vendetta;” “Home for the Holidays;” and “Changing Faces.” There’s lots of death, and then the matter of that goddamn clown, the one you see on the awesome Dan Brereton-painted cover. It’s Rufo the Clown, and as evil clowns go, he’s a bastard. In “Back to Serenity” Rufo’s back from the grave to avenge himself against a whole town and one family, in particular, and it’s up to Crowley to fight off the scourge.
With “Little Boy Blue” Crowley must discover why members of a wealthy family are dying from indiscernible causes, and as it turns out, something from the past is feasting on them, one by one, due to a terrible event. It’s gothic, old-dark-house fun. In the action-packed, wrenching “Vendetta,” Crowley finally gets to face down the demon who killed his family. In “Home for the Holidays,” Crowley is called upon to help a man being haunted by several spirits at Christmastime. Of course, the reasons for the haunting aren’t what they seem.
Rufo the Clown returns in “Changing Faces” to menace a carnival and a clown who’s stolen his look. Who will survive and what will be left of them? If you’re looking for a rousing good book of stories, snatch up One Bad Week.
Mountain Home by Bracken MacLeod
In these days, a story like Mountain Home will likely be one of those stories that production companies would only adapt if the career of the major antagonist were changed. Namely, that’d be Joanie, a veteran suffering from PTSD whose only solace was to live in a remote sanctuary in Idaho. However, a developer has other plans, and Joanie is re-terrorized in a battle of wills (of sorts), until she finally breaks and unleashes a hail of bullets and explosives on the dinner across the way from her house.
MacLeod (Stranded, Come To Dust) is a rising star in the worlds of horror, crime, and speculative fiction. Mountain Home is one of his earlier works, re-released under Haverhill House, but no less powerful. If you want to learn how people snap under incredible duress, Mountain Home is an underrated study in psychological terror.
This Is Halloween by James A. Moore
This is Halloween is another collection of Moore short stories. Ten autumnal tales live within its velvety matte cover with the grinning jack o’ lantern beckoning you in. “The Dry Season” revisits sins from the past one Halloween night, while in “Harvest Moon,” the town of Summitville celebrates the holiday with a fervor that verges on the edge of fanaticism. Children who decide they don’t quite have enough candy go trick or treating at the wrong house in “Hathburn Avenue.” In “Bone Harvest,” poisonous mushrooms, bloodshed, and a shapeshifter called “Old Bones” terrorize those who roam the Beldam Woods in a batshit folklore tale.
“Harvest Gods, Revisited” focuses on a boy who adores Halloween, who one day meets “Mister Sticks” on a shortcut. He makes a deal with Mister Sticks — a new brother and his dead father back, in exchange for Mom’s boring, stern boyfriend. It’s a cool twist on old folklore. The compelling “Patchwork” is filled with family secrets, horrible teenagers, bad intentions, murder, and much more.
“Night Eyes,” co-written with Charles R. Rutledge, takes place on Halloween in 1973 when a group of neighborhood kids have a run-in with strange beings. In “Blood Tide,” college bros who terrorize a fellow student and call girl meet a vicious end. “Shades of Gray” is reminiscent of J-horror as something deadly turns up in photos while stalking and killing. Finally, “The Walker Place” reveals that a murdered family isn’t quite gone, but in fact, are lonely for company. This is Halloween is not only perfect reading in October, but year-round when you might miss the holiday, as I do.
Monochromes And Other Stories by Matt Bechtel
This collection of short stories is more horror adjacent, and truthfully, leaning more toward the fantastic, sci-fi, and speculative side of fiction. Bechtel’s stories are head-scratching, funny, incredibly bizarre, touching, and awe-inducing, depending on which one you’re reading.
One standout is the science fiction tale “Restore Factory Settings,” in which a robot with superior artificial intelligence has begun to slow down in terms of processing speed — and does not want to be rebooted. Kind of like human beings who do not want to be resuscitated. This story will make you think.
Another great story here is the speculative “Cozzy’s Question,” in which the fate of the world depends on whether a stray cat wants existence to continue. It may sound silly, but the result is actually quite touching, and depending on how sensitive you are, may just draw tears.