Lethe Press

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Book Review: That Door Is a Mischief

Published March 2, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

that door
The fact that certain friends have drifted out of my life can still hit me with a pernicious gravity, even years after their emotional evacuations. It seems, from reading the chronicle of Liam Shea in Alex Jeffers’ beautiful That Door Is a Mischief, that there is a possibility, that no matter how old I get, this may always be the case.

An actual fairy, raised by two gay men, Shea’s mystical, immortal nature, ultimately, finds him outliving all those who have loved him. But before this bittersweet denouement, Jeffers takes on us an incredible journey.

As a teen, Liam has little use for human interaction, but as he forces himself to connect with a kind classmate, he soon opens up to human characteristics such as friendship and love. A chance encounter with Harry, a former antagonist, eventually opens his sensitivities up further than he could ever have imagined. As the two embrace each other, wholly, Liam, sensitive to steel and its byproducts, even risks his life for Harry and, an unexpected rescue mission, finds them altered, physically, forever.

Briskly, yet with detailed elegance, Jeffers takes us through the various phases of Liam’s life. From the awkward interactions with his confused fathers to the sexual awakenings he experiences with wise shaman types, Jeffers offers up a full view of Liam’s world. As Liam’s chosen family grows, he experiences heartbreaks and joys that everyone can relate to and the reader’s connection with material is all the more enhanced for those descriptions.

Occasionally, Jeffers, a native of Ireland, uses phraseology that may be hard for American readers to master, but his descriptions of the ever changing fabric of Liam’s native fairyland is masterful. He, also, artfully, incorporates myriad visions of alternative sexuality, with ease and grace, making one long for a world as unbiased and erotically healthy as the one that Jeffers, lovingly, creates.

Clocking in at a scant 200 pages, but full of unparalleled joy and bone wrenching sadness, That Door Is a Mischief is, ultimately, a highly enjoyable work of fantasy fiction.

That Door is a Mischief is published by Lethe Press, http://www.lethepressbooks.com.

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!


Book Review: Town & Train

Published February 17, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

town and train
When I was a kid, I loved Liza Minnelli, Marilyn Monroe, soap operas and horror films. Let’s just say that I didn’t fit in the small farm town of 600 that I grew up in…and all I dreamed of, at the time, was escape. Therefore, I can definitely relate to the beating pulse behind Town & Train, James K. Moran’s debut novel.

Taking place in a small, financially strapped Canadian town in the early 90s, Moran captures the wanderlust of both his teen and adult characters while simultaneously adding elements of Peter Straub and Stephen King into the mix. His invention of a supernaturally clouded locomotive, helmed by an evil shape shifting conductor is, also, certainly unique.

Unfortunately, while Moran definitely has talent, he lacks certain cohesive skills as an author, at this point in time. Much of the narrative here brims with awkwardness. This result is that, while he seems to know them well, his characters, ultimately, never truly come alive on the page. His ways of parlaying information about the town are odd, as well. Deep historical facts are planted in passages about both longtime residents and teen members of the community, giving off the vibe that everyone in this narrative is a historian, something which hardly seems possible.

While, Moran, nicely, tries to tackle issues of homophobia here, exploring the struggles of a bisexual police officer, this intent, also, falls a bit flat. It is not just the town’s hoods who use words like “fag” and “faggy”, but the narrative’s young hero, John, is often prone to use those terms, as well. This lessens the effect of Moran’s seeming point of ignorance, and, also, renders John’s toughened stance at the end of the novel a bit moot.

Still, Moran fares better as the novel gains steam and he creates some tense, nicely accomplished scenes of horror as he races towards the conclusion. It does seem odd that the death of one major character is kept almost entirely off the page during the interesting climax, especially considering the amount of attention that Moran pays to other details.

Thus, in the state it’s in now, Town & Train reads more like a noble failure than a truly successful excursion into social anthropology and fright. But, thankfully, there is enough of interest here to make one long to read a revised version of this tale. Moran, also, seems to be someone worth reading more of, whatever the project may be, once the kinks in his style are finally worked out.

Town & Train is published by Lethe Press, a publisher with a variety of very interesting queer genre books among their offerings. Dive into their impressive catalog at http://www.lethepressbooks.com.

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!


Book Review: A Warning in Blood

Published January 31, 2014 by biggayhorrorfan

a warning in blood
I trip. I fall. I land someplace new!

Thankfully, others have a more elegant way of arriving at interesting destinations. Take Dru Lorand, the title character in author Joseph R.G. DeMarco’s new vampire detective series A Warning in Blood. Lorand can manifest into traveling mist or transform into an elegant falcon to get around.

And Lorand does get around here. An investigation into an outbreak of uncontrollable vampire children takes him from the lofts and underground lairs of Philadelphia to a mountainous monastery retreat outside of Prague. In his travels, he eventually discovers that an all consuming, age old presence is fighting to take form and destroy the world’s order. And lots of hot men…he discovers those, too, of course!

Granted, like most homosexual fantasy fiction, DeMarco’s male characters are all marked by exquisite beauty. His skills as a writer, though, allow him to nicely differentiate them, as well. Thus we get a nice feel for everyone from the meek and confused (human puppet) Grant to the willfully destructive, mind altering vampire lieutenant Scylax.

DeMarco, also, sets up a nice mythology and his supporting characters, including a helpful gargoyle name Pyro, are inventive and fun. DeMarco doesn’t shy away from exploding body parts or the vicious nature of the creatures that he has created; giving true horror buffs something to latch onto, as well.

The major complaint with this piece just might be that it is an obvious set-up for a series of books and the cliffhanger ending may come too abruptly for some.

A Warning in Blood is published by Lethe Press – http://www.lethepressbooks.com –and is available for purchase at Amazon – http://tinyurl.com/kjcf8x2 – as well!

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!


Review: Red Caps

Published December 18, 2013 by biggayhorrorfan

red caps
It’s amazing to consider that, one day, gay high school prom kings and queens may be the norm. Standing at the mid-point of history, when our queer baby brothers and sisters are still being bullied yet becoming a more recognized scholastic force, Steve Berman’s collection of new young adult fairy tales, Red Caps, hits at exactly the right moment. His stories contain proud, out college bound sophisticates whom still are fighting off the rigid strains of homophobia and the prescribed doctrines of public acceptance – all with a fantastical twist, of course.

With a release date of February 14th, 2014, many of Berman’s sweetly magical tales concern love. Love thwarted, love longed for and love, in its delicate first moments of adventure. You get the still relevant tales of youths fighting to free their significant others from the dangers of the closet (Only Lost Boys Are Found) and those fighting for breath within the sticky strings of monogamy (Bittersweet). Berman, also, perfectly nails the tentative nature of all emotional entanglements. No one ever quite escapes the nervous energy associated with a new crush or an unrequited obsession, making stories such as Most Likely and The Harvestbuck relatable to all.

Berman mixes all these common day realities with a sense of the punk (Red Caps is an indie band mentioned in several of the stories) fantastic, though. All Smiles power-blends the conventions of sexy hitchhiking bad-asses, back breaking reform school programs and mysterious clans of demon hunters into a bloody, hypnotic literature smoothie. Three on a Match suggests that tragedies like teen suicide and the strains of life-at-large can find a bit of relief in the imaginary and supposed magic.

Berman excels in smaller moments, as well. He writes of familial relations, particularly the interactions between siblings, with tart truth. Indeed, a late-point revelation about the lead character’s sister in Only Lost Boys Are Found is one of the most simple, yet poignant moments in the collection as a whole.

Funny, honest and mystically misty, Berman proves here, without a doubt, that the mysterious and the wonderful do exist in our everyday lives, making Red Caps an appropriate gift for funky kids of every age.

Further information on Berman and Red Caps can be gathered at http://www.lethepressbooks.com and http://www.steveberman.com.

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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