Archive for Garden of Eldritch Delights

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Hey, my critters, sorry for yet another long stretch between blog posts. Unfortunately, October through December always tends to be a busy period for me, and there are too often times when I’ve got too many chores going on.

But hey, October is a great month for reviewing some good horror books, right? Why don’t we start things off with a look at Garden of Eldritch Delights by Lucy A. Snyder.

I’ve long been a fan of Snyder’s short stories, and I was pleased as punch when this came out back in 2018. Honestly, a lot of us horror fans know to pick up the new books by Lucy as soon as they hit the shelves. Her edgy, bloody, sexy horror tales have been picking up Bram Stoker Awards for years, and this new collection adds a few extra genres to enjoy, including science fiction, steampunk, and heroic fantasy.

Some of the stories we find inside are:

  • “Executive Functions” – A wealthy sociopath who thinks he’s a master of the business world gets a quick lesson on who the real masters are and exactly where he fits in the pecking (and puking) order.
  • “The Gentleman Caller” – A gift of a magic necklace gives a deformed woman a chance at the good life — until her benefactor reveals the horrifying cost.
  • “The Yellow Death” – A woman goes from the victim of a vampire apocalypse to a biker badass — and then meets her long-lost sister, who reveals her secret heritage…
  • “Blossoms Blackened Like Dead Stars” – The best way to describe this one is a mashup of Lovecraft, Frankenstein, and “Rappaccini’s Daughter” in a perfect military space opera setting.
  • “A Hero of Grünjord” – A heroic warrior and her dragon successfully down a flying saucer (!!!), and then travel to a distant, dying kingdom, all while weighing the question of whether to marry into the royal family.
  • Plus there’s the astonishingly beautiful pre-apocalypse tale of “Sunset on Mott Island,” where the rise of the Old Ones takes a back seat to a quiet meditation on death and mercy.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Besides the usual assortment of amazing plotlines, shocking reveals, blood-drenched horrors, and mind-fracturing monsters, one of the great pleasures of Snyder’s stories are her characters. They’re deeply realized people, and they often have the kinds of unique characteristics you won’t find in any other work of fiction. Looking for a formerly conjoined twin who suddenly acquires the ability to body-switch via telephone? A woman with Turner’s syndrome who can rewrite reality? A woman whose terrible scars mark her as the new queen of the world? You’ll get to meet all of them here.

Snyder’s brilliant horror is the spotlight in most of these stories — and justifiably so, as she’s got a knack for terrifying tales that dig deep into your skin and set up epic shocks along every quivering nerve ending — but a lot of the fun of this collection is watching how she works her magic in new kinds of stories, from cyberpunk action to gritty fantasy.

I thought this one was a lot of fun — go pick it up!

Oh, and Snyder has another book coming out this month — the seasonal collection “Halloween Season.” I’m not sure I’ll be able to finish reading it before the 31st, but I’ll give it my best shot…

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