Dying Is My Business by Nicholas Kaufmann

Dying Is My Business

Dying Is My Business is an immensely enjoyable book. In spite of its flaws, which are owing to a number of different causes.

But it is, nonetheless, a book I’m comfortable suggesting you pick up a copy of. And that has a great deal to do with the fact that Nicholas Kaufmann is an excellent writer. And there are a great many things I like about the book: Nick is very good at creating reader investment, he’s got an excellent handle on grounded worldbuilding (barring some consistency issues, without which the narrative doesn’t work, so…), and he has a flair for writing character.

Specifically characters like Trent, the book’s protagonist. An amnesiac who can’t stay dead. It’s a good basis for the series: a fun hook that immediately creates a sense of mystery and engagement. One wants to know, just as much as Trent does, why and how this is the case. Though Trent’s concerns also run more immediately to figuring out who he is. But, taken in combination, all of those concerns also allow for a gradually widening spiral of introduced worldbuilding elements. And Nick has incorporated some very good material into the book in that regard:

An elemental system out of balance; a world where taking magic directly into oneself leads to Infection and alteration; where effective castes of magic are relegated to the ages of the world (relatively speaking, it’s a little more complex than that), with magic operating differently for those who are older, non-human entities. And a consistent refrain of “stand up and be counted/it’s your duty to fight the encroaching dark,” delivered, albeit, too bluntly. Actually, Dying Is My Business is, in many ways, an unsubtle book. Despite that, though, it’s still an interesting trajectory, and an excellent look at a New York...

Clive Barker on Wild Fell

The mysteries of love and time haunt the beautifully wrought pages of Michael Rowe's superb ghost story Wild Fell. This is a novel for lovers of fine storytelling; a book that evokes terrors both ancient and modern and delivers us to a place of profound fear where the past and present intersect, conjuring a dark world where the dead have our faces. Or none at all. In short, Wild Fell is supernatural fiction of the highest order.

Joe & Me by David Moody

Joe & Me cover

The bleak post-apocalyptic horror of David Moody’s tales are delivered with his startling cynical observations about human nature: people rarely react altruistically in extreme crisis. For example, in the Hater series (Hater, Dog Blood, Them or Us), the book’s anti-hero Danny McCoyne makes enormously selfish choices in the name of self-preservation. Even if that means playing on both sides of opposing factions; he’ll kill members of either side if it gives him an advantage. Moody can certainly be described as a pessimist in this regard, but he’s only being honest about how human beings might react when given the choice between principles and starvation.

Moody’s chapbook Joe & Me is an apocalyptic tale with a slightly different cellular composition. It’s still the gloomy look at an apocalyptic event we’ve come to expect from him, but delivered on a much more intimate scale than were used to seeing from Moody. Joe & Me is told at the genesis of a cataclysm from the perspective of those responsible for mankind’s demise. It’s an effective character-driven piece that benefits from Moody’s morose, but no-less-intriguing mix of fantasy and scientifically-sound horror.

Si is a stay-at-home dad who cares for his seven year old son Joe while his scientific researcher wife Gill–the breadwinner–works diligently on a secret lab project aimed at ending disease. Her work is compassionate, but subject to government scrutiny. Gill’s conflicts with the government and military over funding and ethics leaves her with little time and energy for Si and Joe, and the family dynamic is strained as a result. Si has no trouble with his role at home, but does long for quality time spent with the entire family. The family perseveres, but an accident at Gill’s lab leads...

Imaginarium 2014 Open for Submissions

Imaginarium 2014: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing
Edited by Sandra Kasturi and Helen Marshall
Cover Art by Susanne Apgar
Deadline: January 31, 2014

Editors Sandra Kasturi and Helen Marshall are currently reading for Imaginarium 2014. This is a reprint-only "best of" anthology of fiction and poetry by Canadians (citizens, residents, expatriates, and so on) which first appeared in publication in 2013. For more information, see our guidelines.

The Tent by Kealan Patrick Burke

As a fan of horror fiction, for my money nothing beats a good old fashioned monster story. Especially one involving a monster the likes of which we haven’t quite seen before. Of course, as the years go by and the number of books and movies continues to grow, creating a truly unique creature becomes more of a challenge. Not that this stops the more creative writers out there from trying. And it certainly did not stop Kealan Patrick Burke from giving it a go with his latest release, a novella titled The Tent.

When the story opens, we meet an old man named McCabe who lives an isolated existence in the mountains of Ohio with his dog Pepper. Night has fallen and something beyond the walls of McCabe’s humble abode has Pepper—a normally calm and even tempered animal—on edge. Her nervousness infects McCabe and, as much as he doesn’t like it, he knows he’s going to have to go outside and see what’s gotten his dog all wound up. So he grabs a flashlight then heads for the door and the darkness beyond with Pepper reluctantly following.

Next we meet Mike, his wife Emma, and their thirteen-year-old son Cody. Mike has decided it would be great if the three of them spent some quality time together camping. Everything goes all right until a brutal thunderstorm rolls in, destroying the tent serving as the only form of shelter they have. Now Mike has to lead his family to safety through torrential rain and darkness. Only one problem with this: He has no idea where the hell he’s going. When his wife confronts him on the issue, the two of them start to argue. Theirs has been a troubled relationship to begin with and the situation in which they now find themselves does little to help matters. The fighting stops, though, with the realization that Cody has gone missing....

Halloween Sale!

"It's the spookiest time of year! Get your scare on with some of our creepiest ChiZine ebook titles, 50% off through All Hallows Eve--midnight (PST) October 31st!

Deep Down by Deborah Coates

Writing grief properly is a difficult proposition. Real pathos is about minutiae: about the conservation of words; about the layering of effect and affect; about the subtlety of the external and the wide, broken aching of the inner. Writing rural fiction, too, takes patience and a different understanding of the world than most urban writers ever manage a feel for. Writing about the kind of wide open spaces that tower in slow rolls of cloud and a vastness inside and out–about a sense of space so wide and so lonely it just keeps going forever–and writing it true. Well, that takes something special.

Deborah Coates has done both. And done it with an extraordinary understanding of character, family, and loss. It’s not so very far from Vast to Vastation. And Coates captures both eloquently. And with a highly honed and sparse prose style that one does not often find in a novelist only two books in.

Deep Down follows Coates’s first novel (and the first novel in her ongoing series of which these two books are a part), Wide Open. Both are absolutely gorgeous reads. Coates knows her characters as she knows her landscape, and locus too is a powerful character in both novels. Coates also has a most enviable gift for control and precision in her writing.

And though it follows her first book, Deep Down, is a quieter outing. Her characters are a little hardened in some ways. A little softened in others. Rougher edges here and there, but with the same core of wanting to make the hurting stop, and the rest of the world fall together.

Interestingly, Coates’s writing has, if anything, gotten only more potent with her second novel. Still honed, but sharper. It cuts deeper. And that alone would have made it excellent. But Coates has done something very...

Talk Like a Pirate Day

Avast, ye scurvy dogs! Be thinking ye to add to your booty this day? Ye'd be right, as we are of a mind to offer ye three of our saltiest tales for a hair shy of eight bits. From midnight to midnight today, on nowt but this portal can ye buy yerself or your messmates one of these fine sea-tales, for the mere pittance of 99¢:

Back to School Sale

For the month of September, we're offering you these ebooks at 50% off! To go with our theme, we're offering you the following titles, which are related to schoolchildren: they're either YA, or have youths/schools, or just generally have to do with sad and creepy children.

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