After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
While I heard about this author when I spoke briefly to Thomas Olde Heuvelt on his book tour (he was reading Mongrels), I came to this book in a somewhat strange way. Book Riot had a quiz called
Which Indie Press Should You Be Obsessed With?"
, so of course I took it, and ended up with a publisher I had never heard of - Curbside Splendor. I went on an interlibrary loan requesting frenzy and ended up with five books from Curbside Splendor or their imprint, Dark House Press, which this title is from. I selected this book purely from the amazing cover, and it has not disappointed.
These are the best kind of horror stories. The kind where you finish it and in the seconds after reading the last word, a realization of what has occurred slowly starts to cross your mind. This may be a byproduct of reading too fast, which I do, but sometimes my eyes finish before my brain does. But in that moment after, that feeling of horror, that chill - this is not a thing that I experience very often! There were a few stories that had me swearing at the end and needing some fresh air.
I don't even know how to pick favorites. Welcome to the Reptile House went somewhere I didn't expect. Brushdogs made me read it twice because I didn't quite understand, but then I did. The Spindly Man made my book club loving heart shiver (and I read it the morning I was headed to book club! Bad decision!) The Black Sleeve of Destiny could make thrift shopping scary. And so on.
I always read the front and back material in books, I just can't help myself, so I was fascinated to read the author's explanations of what inspired the stories. He is very firmly situated in the horror genre, with some of these stories serving as tributes practically to previous stories, in a way I would never have understood without him telling me (because I read so infrequently in this genre.) There is a level of intentionality that adds to the experience.
I also need to mention the absolutely beautiful book. The cover is gorgeous. Each story has a full black title page, and the page after has an illustration in black and white facing the first few words/ sentences of the story in a larger font. It was simply a pleasure to read, and it felt like the same level of attention the author has paid was reflected in the book design, such a rare thing.
This will be a perfect read for #spooktober, #scaretober, or however you want to call October in a clever way that makes you crave a scary read.
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