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About Gwendolyn Kiste
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It’s the summer of 1980 in Cleveland, Ohio, and Phoebe Shaw and her best friend Jacqueline have just graduated high school, only to confront an ugly, uncertain future. Across the city, abandoned factories populate the skyline; meanwhile at the shore, one strong spark, and the Cuyahoga River might catch fire. But none of that compares to what’s happening in their own west side neighborhood. The girls Phoebe and Jacqueline have grown up with are changing. It starts with footprints of dark water on the sidewalk. Then, one by one, the girls’ bodies wither away, their fingernails turning to broken glass, and their bones exposed like corroded metal beneath their flesh.
As rumors spread about the grotesque transformations, soon everyone from nosy tourists to clinic doctors and government men start arriving on Denton Street, eager to catch sight of “the Rust Maidens” in metamorphosis. But even with all the onlookers, nobody can explain what’s happening or why—except perhaps the Rust Maidens themselves. Whispering in secret, they know more than they’re telling, and Phoebe realizes her former friends are quietly preparing for something that will tear their neighborhood apart.
Alternating between past and present, Phoebe struggles to unravel the mystery of the Rust Maidens—and her own unwitting role in the transformations—before she loses everything she’s held dear: her home, her best friend, and even perhaps her own body.
In her debut collection, Gwendolyn Kiste delves into the gathering darkness where beauty embraces the monstrous, and where even the most tranquil worlds are not to be trusted. From fairy tale kingdoms and desolate carnivals, to wedding ceremonies and summer camps that aren’t as joyful as they seem, these fourteen tales of horror and dark fantasy explore death, rebirth, and illusion all through the eyes of those on the outside—the forgotten, the forsaken, the Other, none of whom will stay in the dark any longer.
2019. The year certainly made its mark on the world—and more than its share of scars. It also made for a bounty of good horror stories of the extreme kind, the best of which the tales herein serve to illustrate.
2019 was the year Year's Best Hardcore Horror went global. Not by design but because the stories inside just happened to have been written by authors hailing from various parts of the globe. From Australia by way of South Africa, to Italy, Scotland, Norway, Taiwan, North America and India--the common denominator being that their tales come from darkest regions of imagination.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
GOING GLOBAL: INTRODUCTION by Randy Chandler & Cheryl Mullenax
FEAST FOR SMALL PIECES by Hailey Piper
GODDESS OF GALLOWS by Kristopher Triana
LATE NIGHT INCIDENT AT THE WHITE TRASH MOTEL by Duane Bradley
A NEW MOTHER’S GUIDE TO RAISING AN ABOMINATION by Gwendolyn Kiste
UPPER CRUST by Michael Paul Gonzalez
REDLESS by Annie Neugebauer
A TOUCH OF MADNESS by Tim Waggoner
PARADISUM VOLUPTATIS by Joanna Koch
RADIX MALORUM by Sean Patrick Hazlett
LACKERS by Leo X. Roberson
WHY DO BIRDS SUDDENLY APPEAR? by Rajiv Moté
DARJEELING by Syon Das
MRSA ME by Alicia Hilton
WHAT DID YOU DO TO THE CHILDREN? by David L Tamarin
HAVE A HEART by Matthew V. Brockmeyer
SWINGS AND SUSPENSIONS by D.A. Xiaolin Spires
KIRTI by Alessandro Manzetti
THE TEA AND SUGAR TRAIN by DEBORAH SHELDON
SCREAMS FOR STARGIRL by Ben Pienaar
QUEER WEATHER by Scáth Beorh
A yoga group brings transcendence and bodily transformation. A woman undergoing Gender Confirmation Surgery is subjected to outlandish techniques. A young man discovers the reality-warping potential of a bootleg horror VHS. A mother comes to terms with the monstrous appetites of her newborn child.
Being terrified is just the beginning.
Become one with us and take a deep, penetrating dive into the plasma pool...
This is THE NEW FLESH.
With an Introduction by Kathe Koja.
Featuring stories by: Brian Evenson, Sara Century, C.M. Muller, Leo X. Robertson, Max D. Stanton, Emma Alice Johnson, Cody Goodfellow, Bruno Lombardi, Katy Michelle Quinn, Jack Lothian, Mona Swan LeSueur & Fiona Maeve Geist, Madeleine Swann, Charles Austin Muir, Ryan Harding, Alex Smith, Gwendolyn Kiste, Brendan Vidito, and Sam Richard.
"Fetish technology. Pleasure technology. Sinister technology. Incomprehensible technology. Inhuman technology. Technology plus velocity, velocity plus death, death plus technology." - From the Introduction by the legendary Kathe Koja, author of The Cipher, Skin, and Under the Poppy.
It starts with rapping in the ceiling and spirit boards that know them a little too well.
Everly and her best friend aren’t your typical college students. Instead of raucous Saturday night parties, they spend their weekends conjuring up things from the beyond. Ectoplasm, levitation, death photography—you name it, and Everly knows all about it. But while this obsession with the supernatural is only supposed to be in good fun, the girls soon discover themselves drifting deeper into magic and further from each other. Then when one evening ends with an inadvertently broken promise, everything they’ve ever known is shattered in an instant, sending them spiraling into a surreal haunting. Now Everly must learn how to control the spectral forces she’s unleashed if she wants any chance of escaping a ghost more dangerous than all the witchcraft she can summon.
A tale of the occult, unlikely phantoms, and complicated friendships, The Invention of Ghosts is the latest strange vision from the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Rust Maidens.
In the antique mirror, call her name three times, and Bloody Mary will appear. Outside, wandering through a garden of poisonous flowers is Mistress Mary, Quite Contrary, a nursery rhyme come to gruesome life. Downstairs is another jump-rope rhyme—Mary Mack, forever conscripted to build her own coffin. And brooding in the corner with her horse skull is the restless Mari Lwyd.
They are the Marys, the embodiment of urban legend and what goes bump in the night. Every evening, they gather around the table and share nightmares like fine wine, savoring the flavors of those they’ve terrified.
But other than these brief moments together, the Marys are alone, haunting a solitary gloom that knows them better than they know themselves. That’s because they don’t remember who they were before—or even if there was a before. And worst of all, they don’t know how to escape this fate.
That is, until a moment of rage inspires Rhee to leap from the highway—and into the mirror with Bloody Mary. Suddenly, the Marys are learning how to move between their worlds, all while realizing how much stronger they are together.
But just when freedom is within their reach, something in the gloom fights back—something that isn’t ready to let them go. Now with her sisters in danger of slipping into the darkness, Rhee must unravel the mystery of who the Marys were before they were every child’s nightmare. And she’ll have to do it before what’s in the shadows comes to claim her for its own.
PRETTY MARYS ALL IN A ROW is dark urban fantasy that follows the (after)lives and times of five ghosts and their haunts. The novella combines contemporary fairy tale and urban legend in a story that shows that being dead isn't always a bed of roses.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
"Underneath the creepy images and ghostly lore, Gwendolyn Kiste has created a story about the power of women's friendships, a subject often handled with all the cloying sweetness of a bag of candy corn. But these Marys are wicked and wonderful—just the gals you'll want to hang out with on a dark and stormy night. A darkly fantastic delight!" (Wendy N. Wagner, author of An Oath of Dogs)
"Gwendolyn Kiste excels in creating subtle, unsettling disturbia. Her writing is clever, imaginative, eerily beautiful. It lingers with you days later—perhaps long into the night as you stare at the shifting light on the ceiling—twining itself through your thoughts. Pretty Marys harkens back to the writing of Shirley Jackson and Daphne DuMaurier, whose work speaks to the fears of women and our struggle to find and keep our space in the world. The fear of not being heard. Of being replaceable. Perhaps most nerve-wracking of all: being forced to confront the darkness that lies inside all of us, telling us we’re not worthy, we’re not enough. Kiste writes empowering horror, handling these challenging subjects deftly and with a tough tenderness that lets the reader know: yes, there will be a fight... but you can do this." (Eden Royce, author of Spook Lights)
"Wholly original and profoundly haunting, Pretty Marys All in a Row is Gwendolyn Kiste’s finest work to date. Her prose glides effortlessly through the (after) lives of her protagonists, adding an unfamiliar humanity to the women of myth that we feared as children—a humanity that will resonate within the darkest heart.
Odd tales of campus life at Miskatonic University from
Brandon O’Brien • Bennett North • Kristi DeMeester • Elliot Cooper • Liz Schriftsteller
• KG McAbee • Brenda Kezar • Nate Southard • Scott R. Jones • Gina Marie Guadagnino •
Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. • Marcus Chan • Gwendolyn Kiste • Matthew M. Bartlett
This is your first year? Welcome! Oh, you’re going to love it here at Miskatonic. Just... be careful. I mean, I’m sure everything will be fine, but you know, things happen. This can be a strange place. You hear stories: people changing and buildings rearranging, ghostly sounds and overly attentive textbooks, odd notions and foul deeds... even monsters! Hah. Just stories, right? Sure.
Faculty struggling for funding in the occult sciences. Students trying to navigate whole new worlds of possibility. Administration striving for growth and progress and not just damage control. And Arkham residents adjusting to the constant influx of new faces.
Just study hard. Party safe. Maybe find love. And don’t die.
"The stories vary in form and content, but their connection to the university is always clear. [...] There is also beer. This short story collection will fit right in with any horror or new-adult collection." (Booklist)
The Lord is an Active Shooter
Fiona Maeve Geist
Horror Religiosus The Dark Passions of Mark Samuels
The Curse of the Biblical Magi
S. E. Casey
K. A. Opperman
All the Stage is a World
Lia Swope Mitchell
C. M. Muller
Magic, Madness, and Women Who Creep: The Power of Individuality in the Work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Ageless Agelasts
In the Way of Eslan Mendeghast
Farah Rose Smith
Effigies of Former Supervisors
Matthew M. Bartlett
Welcome to issue ninety-two of NIGHTMARE! All hotels are a tiny bit creepy, but the hotel in this new story from Yohanca Delgado & Claire Wrenwood (“The Blue Room”) is right up there with The Overlook. Be sure to check in and enjoy the room service! After you read “Decorating with Luke,” a brand-new story from Adam-Troy Castro, you might be ready to make a few changes around your own house. And don’t miss our reprints this month, including work by Jarla Tangh (“The Skinned”) and Steve Toase (“Call Out”). Gwendolyn Kiste brings us the latest installment of our column on horror, “The H Word.” Plus we have author spotlights with our authors, and a feature interview with author Molly Tanzer.
Horror For RAICES is an emergency charitable anthology that was created as a way for horror authors to come together and take a stand against the xenophobic actions of ICE and the current US administration toward our neighbors. No children belong in cages. No children deserve to be taken from their families.
Horror has a way of painting a picture of the culture and times in which it has been created. And often what it reflects is awful. Horror For RAICES does just that but it also reflects something beautiful in us all.
"It’s just good, shivery comfort reading for fans of classic horror." Josh Black - Cemetery Dance Online
13 Rooms. 13 Guests. 13 Stories.
It's been over a hundred and fifty years since a plague ravaged the area around Lake Manor. With few left to bury them, the corpses were unceremoniously dumped into the lake by their surviving loved ones.
Years later, Lake Manor Hotel is alive with the shadows of the dead. Within the hotel's 13 rooms, there are 13 tales to tell. Guests will face evil demons, ghosts, creatures from the lake, and the worst monsters of all: the ones within themselves.
13 will check in, but how many will check out?
This collection features some of the brightest talent in the horror industry. They each tell a story of a character staying in Lake Manor Hotel. You won't want to miss this exciting anthology with a twist.