Pearl by Josh Malerman ~ 2021


Malerman will put a chill into any horror reader's bones

Author: Josh Malerman
Publisher: Del Ray, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC
Originally published in hardcover in the United States as On This, the Day of the Pig by Cemetery Dance Publications, in 2018
Publication: October 12, 2021
Pages: 304
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0593237838
ISBN-13: 978-0593237830
Jacket design and illustration: David G. Stevenson
Book design by Caroline Cunningham
Title-page background image: iStock/AngelaHarrodPhotography
Author photographer: Allison Laakko

Read from the teetering tbr ~

5 Stars

Josh Malerman

Folks, Josh Malerman is an astounding writer with novels reaching into a realm of what is known as must-reads.

After you all had read Bird Box and those of you who watched the movie, I know damn well some of you picked up another read from this guy ...

... the way Malerman introduced me to Walter Kopple's family with his grandson Jeff killing one of his pigs in such a hypnotic-induced descriptive way, starting right off the rip with Pearl in action, Malerman had me for hours. 

Josh, this writing captivates the audience like an old friend putting their arm around your shoulder, and then, Pearl makes you sing. Yes, no Pearl does not mind if you can carry a tune or not ... he'll make you bring it in. He'll make you sing for him. And, as the chapters unfold, you eventually put your other arm around our other shoulder, and ... you bring it in for the reader.

To be honest folks, I thought a telepathic pig on his quest to have humans kill for him was going to be a 'What-the-hell-are-you-thinking-putting-this-out-there-after-writing-Bird Box?' kind of tale ... hoping all along it has to have a dynamite twist. And after reading, I found out, Pearl is a legend ~ Walter's daughter, Sherry, and her sons Jeff and Aaron experience firsthand, wrath in unspeakable terms with a pig and his bidding.

As the town folks are fearing what is going on at Kopple's farm, in the end after all is said and done, a bigger fear is revealed. That is for you dear reader.

Folks, this tale of Pearl (and all the while I'm picturing Arnold from Green Acres) is set pretty much on Murdock Road in Chowder, Michigan not too far from Goblin, where the population is reflected of the handful of characters making up this murderous read. Just as the characters grew through this story, (and some that don't) so did the town of Chowder. I would hopefully believe.

The town folks heard that Jeff killed one of Walter's pigs out of sheer nothingness. Jeff defended himself saying a voice told him to do it. Pearl, the pig told him to do it. Now his brother Aaron thinks he's crazy and when word gets out around school, well hell, the kid's beside himself now. 

And of course, there are those kids who have to see this pig.

The characters, especially the two stoners, Mitch and Jerry (making up the members of the Plastic Satanic Club), and Susan (Miss Goody-two-shoes {almost}) are realistic, they were wonderfully drawn, and their inner-monologue was my glue to become a supporter for them. Man, I wished them well through this read.

The secondary characters rounded out the story. Their standings in the community, their dialog, their actions, were drawn out and on point for me with the way you penned this story. When people in town started whispering Walter's grandson heard a voice that commanded him to kill, I could picture the scenes quite well. All throughout this story, I mean, straight from the beginning. And, you drop atmosphere all over the place. I was there. I loved the county fair scenes when I wasn't hanging around on Murdock. I even smelled fair food. Rurally, Malerman, you brought that part of Michigan to me and I met some folks whom I wouldn't mind meeting again. 

The pace was action-packed I would like to mention and Malerman puts the reader in two and three places at once during the read. This is non-stop edge-of-your-seat horror writing. The antici ... ... pation is crazy. Something is constantly going on, this is a page-turner.

Concerning the character Bob Buck the pig farmer, how many real-life Bob's are presently alive and kickin' and laughing at this read? This tale made an excellent view into how some things are seen and maybe, an awakening for some? Folks, Bob Buck is another way of looking at the local pig farmer and the ilk he could surround himself with. I loved this view into our mid-west country scenery ~ through a different eye.

I believe if I recall correctly, Pearl only harms two types of animals and leaves the others in high-anxiety lived moments. (Note-to-self moment as I write this review) A ponder thought.

Mr. Malerman, the use of parenthesis in your clarifications as I read along was humorously 'grinnable'.  Made the sentences move for some reason. So, I kept turning pages. I don't believe I have come across writing with those clarifications (parenthesis) so close to each other through the paragraphs. I found it ... I'm stuck in provoke. The writing was there vividly and the extra clarification really wasn't needed in my opinion, but, you through it in anyways. I'm liking it. 

Walked around a bit flipping through some pages and asked me what I didn't care for in this read; what felt to me were these wanna-be catchphrase words Jerry and Mitch were using to stand out?: pukin', jebus, and nuckin futz. Sure glad they weren't indulged upon for use, that really weighs down a read; this was not weighed, and I do have respect for the word patois. Josh, you might like to hang with a few neighbors of mine down in Knockemstiff, Ohio. Just sayin'.

The ending was a bit out there for me for some odd-ball reason I've got to find. But, I would tell you I had a blast reading this tale of murder and revenge in Chowder. Folks, this is a bloody novel, with scenes that will fill that chill for your horror appetite. Yes, yes it will.

I would recommend you visit Kopple's farm if you love having your face indulged in horror.

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Here's where you can get your fingers on Pearl:

About the author:

Josh Malerman is an American author and also one of two singer/songwriters for the rock band The High Strung, whose song "The Luck You Got" can be heard as the theme song to the Showtime show "Shameless." His book Bird Box was filmed as a feature film starring Sandra Bullock, John Malkovich, and Sarah Paulson. Bird Box was also nominated for the Stoker Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the James Herbert Award. His books Black Mad Wheel and Goblin have also been nominated for Stoker Awards.

Connect with Josh and see what he's up to

Facebook   Twitter


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Chasing the Boogeyman by Richard Chizmar ~ 2021


This beautiful marriage between true crime and horror fiction,

I thoroughly enjoyed the reception

Author: Richard Chizmar
Publisher: Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Publication: Gallery Books (August 17, 2021)
Pages: 336
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-9821-7516-0
ISBN: 978-1-9821-7518-4 (ebook)
Jacket design by Anna Dorfman
Jacket photographs by Yoruba/iStockphoto (Street scene); Eric Vega/ E+/Getty Images (House); Asier Romero Carballo/ Depositphotos (Sneaker); Serge Vuillermoz/Eyeem Getty Images (Hopscotch board)
Author photographer: Carly Albright

5 Stars

Richard Chizmar
New York Times best-selling author Richard Chizmar stars in his new novel
Chasing the Boogeyman from Gallery Books.

The tale of Chasing the Boogeyman
 from a real-life event in Richard Chizmar's life is absolutely astounding, to say the least.  When all decisions were made to create this novel, hell, he generated a tweak for a new look on metafiction. 

Folks, a quick synopsis ~

Once upon a crime, in the summer of '88, Richard Chizmar had recently graduated from college and as anyone would, move back in with mom & dad. He needed to get things lined up for his writing career and prepare for his wedding after the first of the year. Doing the big M with his high school sweetheart Kara.

This whole tale opens quite like a memoir and then transcends into a true crime novel, then transforms into a page-turner where you cannot decipher from fact to fiction. Yes, it is one of those Can't-Put-Down reads.

Mutilated young female teens started to appear on the local news pretty much on a regular basis that summer and as an aspiring horror writer, well, that's almost one of those, "What's 2 + 2?" Right?

Police believe there is a serial killer loose and could very well be local.  The community of Edgewood, Maryland is freaking out which only seems normal, considering. Talk is cheap, but, these murders are not human. Curfew is set and the FBI has perked their ears.  So has Richard Chizmar. And his eyes.

This is his hometown for crying out loud ~

Chizmar runs into some of his friends, including Carly Albright, a writer herself working for the hometown weekly, the Aegis, and when these two get together to talk about current affairs, it gets under Detective Sergeant Lyle Harper's ... um, let's say patience.

Det. Harper is a character that had stupendous insight on people throughout this read. He also knew when to ask for a hand, I felt. Picturing his own personal inter-monologue he has with himself putting pieces of the puzzle together.

During this read what I enjoyed were the black and white photos of the actual crime scenes. Folks, there are pictures of the victims before they were, Carly Albright, Det. Harper, buildings, homes, taped off murder sites. Reminded me of pictures decorating the inside covers of Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs ~ 2011.  My appreciative thanks as a reader goes to those who are accredited. Those photos added depth for me and, wow, those hair-do's, well, memories.

Folks, these terrifying events are from a very personal view by Richard of a serial killer's reign of terror on his hometown.  I mean come on now, you graduate from college wanting to be an author and move back home and all this shit is hitting the fan. I can see he wants to finish off the year with the holidays at home and then get married.  Get on with his life. Sounds, almost tranquil. Yet, all these mutilated bodies. Hell, it's making national news even.

Now, when the phone rings and no one says anything Richard sees his mother's reaction as she puts the phone back slowly on the cradle; and with the cops showing up in his life, Chizmar finds himself in a real-life horror story.

Fact of life.

I had mentioned characters earlier. I love a great read with many characters and this one wasn't shy. It rounds out the whole story for me. At times, it makes everyone more believable for me as a reader. They grew on me as well as the story was paced. I would like to emphasize timing is everything in a read for me.
Since we are talking of Richard's hometown, he described the settings so well, my atmosphere as a reader was pleasingly palpable.

Thank you, Mr. Chizmar, for inviting me to your hometown ... and all of the shenanigans you confessed. Brought back such fond memories of I too, am guilty ~
Folks, Richard writes of things most rambunctious boys are fond of when wanting to taunt the law and going through the thrill of being chased by angry drivers; your dopamine snowballing like crazy. Chills and goosebumps alive on your skin—fun, passages to read.

Chizmar's writing has this down-to-Earth-neighborly feel to it. He moves the story along without throwing in one of those 'Ten-Dollar' words where it hits you like a brick, because, you don't know the meaning. Now, I'm in favor of 'special' words, but, used when the writing is at that level. When authors throw in some big word in an easy comfortable read, well, that would be like someone putting mustard on your last piece of watermelon.

As the story continues, Lieutenant Clara McClernan of the Maryland State Police is a detective in charge of cold case files. She became interested in this case after it had remained unsolved. Her performance in this read gave me thoughts of where in the world was she in the beginning! She might have saved a life or two. Or three? Four?
As the story nears the ending, in 2019 Chizmar got a call from an old friend, Carly Albright. "They caught him!" ... "They caught the Boogeyman!"

Well, that isn't exactly how this story ends ...

The conclusion comes some 30 years later, where the boogeyman wants to be interviewed by Chizmar—only.

Well, that isn't exactly how this story ends either ... ~ 

And, a side note folks, on page 301, there is an unanswered question where I need to ask Richard, "Do I smell a sequel in your pipeline?"

✒ ✒ ✒


Not only do I recommend, I highly suggest ~

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Here's where you can get your fingers on Chasing the Boogeyman:
  • Amazon ~ Hardback $16.80 ~ Kindle $14.99 ~ USD

About the author:


Connect with Richard

(set up by his readers)

RICHARD CHIZMAR is a New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Amazon, and Publishers Weekly bestselling author.

He is the co-author (with Stephen King) of the bestselling novella, Gwendy’s Button Box, and the founder/publisher of Cemetery Dance magazine and the Cemetery Dance Publications book imprint. He has edited more than 35 anthologies and his short fiction has appeared in dozens of publications, including multiple editions of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and The Year’s 25 Finest Crime and Mystery Stories. He has won two World Fantasy awards, four International Horror Guild awards, and the HWA’s Board of Trustee’s award.

Chizmar (in collaboration with Johnathon Schaech) has also written screenplays and teleplays for United Artists, Sony Screen Gems, Lions Gate, Showtime, NBC, and many other companies. He has adapted the works of many bestselling authors including Stephen King, Peter Straub, and Bentley Little.

Richard & Billy
Chizmar is also the creator/writer of the online website, Stephen King Revisited. His fourth short story collection, The Long Way Home, was published in 2019. With Brian Freeman, Chizmar is co-editor of the acclaimed Dark Screams horror anthology series published by Random House imprint, Hydra.

His latest book, The Girl on the Porch, was released in hardcover by Subterranean Press, and Widow’s Point, a chilling novella about a haunted lighthouse written with his son, Billy Chizmar, was recently adapted into a feature film.

Chizmar’s work has been translated into more than fifteen languages throughout the world, and he has appeared at numerous conferences as a writing instructor, guest speaker, panelist, and guest of honor.

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A Variable Darkness by John McIlveen ~ 2021


These tales had me absorbed ... appreciating the dark

Publisher: Haverhill House Publishing LLC; 1st edition (February 4, 2021)
Publication date: February 4, 2021
Pages: 274
Hardcover - 978-1-949140-26-2
Paperback - 978-1-949140-25-5
Cover illustration and design © 2021 David Dodd
Illustration for Got Your Back © 2016 Dyer Wilk
Introduction: Tony Tremblay

"A digital version was provided by John McIlveen in exchange for my honest review alongside my proffered thank-you for asking."

5 Stars

John McIlveen
When award-winning author John McIlveen had asked me to read his latest collection of horror, I received a couple of phone calls from some Canadian friends of mine across Lake Erie saying they heard a resounding "Yes!" come out of me.

Well, have you read Hannahwhere (2015) by this guy?

All the hype, all the talk, nominee for the Bram Stoker Award (HWA) in the First Novel category, the Drunken Druid Award for high literary merit. No? - well then ... you should.

Folks gather 'round, please ~

Having a penchant for horror, I enjoy being in the element of the macabre for a few hours here and there; escape reality and slip into the reality of an indubitable fantastic fictional horror read. And hell,  this collection of short-story horror had satisfied my need to have absconded from my domesticated duties and settle deep into my library, looking forward to an abyss of dark thoughts from an author that I know would do the trick.

McIlveen always delivers ~

..."We must never undermine the free will of another soul," she stressed. "There within lies the darkness." ... 

Folks, A Variable Darkness, John McIlveen has penned stories that had literally made me pause after each tale with a shake of my head here and a shit-eatin' grin there. McIlveen comes up with such a fantastic dark way of getting a different view/opinion across to the reader.  After each tale, you just want to jump into the next story. Yes, clear your schedule for a couple hours, I'm just giving you a heads up.

From the beginning, with the story titled, Eve, through to the last tale, Triggers, every story is its own variable darkness. Thirteen folks, 13 tales of darkness. McIlveen brings his character developments and their dialogue to an evocative atmosphere as in a harbinger warning you of the feelings you will own after reading these tales. And, a realization of reality you knew already existed. Only told differently ~ One can surely say, McIlveen has his own voice and style. Glad I came across his works through this trek in life.

When I had finished the tale Eye of the Beholder, I wanted to ask McIlveen, how many more of these stories are there? And, my dear audience, after you read the tale, you'll understand that is a very important question to ask ~

Yes, I shook my head slowly and grinned a lot during this collection.

With his grasp of understanding the human psyche, very much in a social conscience style, he holds nothing back from throwing in dark darkness into a story. After you're finished with these tales, you will realize McIlveen has the ability to take an issue or a situation and twist his dark imagination into it, leaving you, the reader, appreciative of the twisted mind he lives with that he shares with the world.

And, a damn good read under your skin.

I also appreciate McIlveen peppers his friend's names and their nearby places into the stories he writes. Makes me wonder during his tales, how his friends feel about their 'participation'. More than likely, they beam. Hell, after all, McIlveen Has Their Back ~

✒ ✒ ✒

I would suggest and highly recommend ~

Here's where you can get your fingers on A Variable Darkness:
  • Amazon  ~  Hardcover $27.95  ~  Paperback $17.95  ~  Kindle $7.99   USD
  • Barnes & Noble  ~  Hardcover $27.95  ~  Paperback $17.95  ~  NOOK $7.49  USD
  • IndieBound ~ Support your local book stores

About the author:

Connect with John

John M. McIlveen is the author of the paranormal suspense novel, HANNAHWHERE  -Winner of the 2015 Drunken Druid Award (Ireland) and Nominee for the 2015 Bram Stoker Award.

He is also the author of two story collections, INFLICTIONS, and JERKS AND OTHER TALES FROM A PERFECT MAN and the well-received novelette GOT YOUR BACK.

A father of five daughters, he works at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory and is CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Haverhill House Publishing LLC
He lives in Haverhill, MA with his wife, Roberta Colasanti.

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~ Folks, enjoy my review of HANNAHWHERE along with my interview ~

A fast-paced emotionally complex intriguing read. Flooded with social issues of child abuse, child neglect, drug addicts, murder, and love with a dash of hope.

The ending is quite satisfying knowing there is a smile with relief as madness sets in.

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One of Us: A Tribute to Frank Michaels Errington by Kenneth W. Cain, Stephen King, +8 more ~ 2020


This anthology will become another one of your treasured reads.

Dedicated for Frank


Author: Kenneth W. Cain, Stephen King, Pete Kahle, Todd Keisling, Tom Deady, Josh Malerman, Paul Tremblay, Jonathan Maberry, Jeff Strand, Tim Waggoner
Publisher: Bloodshot Books (November 14, 2020)
Publication: November 14, 2020
Pages: 556
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1947522361
ISBN-13: 978-1947522367
ASIN: B08P844F5K
Editor: Kenneth W. Cain
Cover & Interior design: Todd Keisling | Dullington Design Co.
Editorial assistance: Somer Canon and Jacque Day
Photos: Frank Michaels Errington, Tony Tremblay, Kenneth W. Cain, Patrick Freivald, and doungjai gam bepko

"A digital version of One of Us was provided by Kenneth Cain in exchange for my honest review alongside my thank-you for asking, John McIlveen."

all the Stars

Kenneth Cain
Kenneth W. Cain
When I had been contacted by award-winning author John McIlveen (Hannahwhere 2015) on a review for this fantastic tribute to Frank Michaels Errington, I smiled with a saddened heart.

Folks, Frank was a man whom you would have loved to be your neighbor. Yes, he's one of those guys.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Frank, albeit on Facebook, and I enjoyed his presence.  Yep, I had thought, he's one of those guys.

Learned he did reviews for Cemetery Dance Publications;

Off I went and visited his blog, Frank Michaels Errington's Horrible Book Reviews - yep, he's one of those guys.

In the beautiful heartfelt Foreword by Todd Keisling, Todd mentions attending his first writer's conference and felt a bit out of his comfort zone. He was pacing the lobby to find a cellular signal looking for his friends and he must have looked a bit dazzled ~ when he heard a voice ...

Frank had rest assured Todd he was already among friends. "You're one of us."

You see folks? He's one of those guys.

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Right off home-plate, I would like to thank all of the contributing authors for their work. These stories I have read from you guys, thank you, and let me say, wow, this anthology rocked!

Folks, One of Us is an astounding read compiled by some of the best writers of our current time. Some whom you have never heard of until now. (hey, I'm in the same boat too) Sure, you must have heard of those authors that are mentioned above, but, I'm telling you, you'll have to pick up this read and introduce yourselves to these authors that make up the rest of this delicious anthology. I have the penners listed below.

This anthology will become another one of your treasured reads.

Stephen King
As I read each one of these tales, in the back of my mind throughout the story, how did Frank touch this author's life? I knew damn well, it felt warm to them, and so, I take it as this is the tale they gave to Frank as a thank-you. Folks, these tales have hit it out of the park. A few of them will make you shake your head and grin, some will make your eyes widen, one you'll laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh -

Without putting a review on all these tales, rest yourselves, this anthology is chock-full to fill your need for horror and dark fantasy.

At the end of every tale, I wanted to have met Frank in person more and more. I imagined him at a writer's conference, sitting there with his grin, completely enrapt in his element. Same kind of atmosphere as a kid in a candy store? I would think so.

The more my eye came across authors talking of reviews, the more my eye came across Frank's 
Todd Keisling
name. What folks have said of him, man, such respect was thrown his way.
Folks, The Deadliest Review by Jeff Strand makes the statement of how Frank had such an impact on the horror community. Was some of it out of fear Mr. Strand? Or, dare not to keep approving?  Ah yes, dare not. Frank made a review, the review.

Folks, there are 56 tales of horror and dark fantasy to indulge your appetite in for those days you want to get in some really damn good reading.  The contents of tales within the covers are peppered with anecdotes to Frank from various authors/friends which made the read feel so complete to me. You are going to enjoy each of these stories.

I did and I am.
This anthology has become under the category - a re-read.

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Proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated in Frank's name to the American Transplant Foundation

Highly recommended folks

Frank Michaels Errington

Here's where you can get your fingers on One of Us: A Tribute to Frank Michaels Errington:
  •  Amazon ~ Kindle $5.99 ~ Paperback $19.99 ~ USD

~ Stories, Poetry, and Anecdotes by ~

Alan Baxter * Matt Bechtel * doungjai gam bepko * John Boden * Geoff Brown * Kealan Patrick Burke * P.D. Cacek * Kenneth W. Cain *Somer Canon * Christa Carmen * Catherine Cavendish * Greg Chapman * Richard Chizmar * Tom Deady * T. Fox Dunham * Robert Ford * Christopher Golden * J.F. Gonzalez * Mark Allen Gunnells * Jeremy Hepler * Pete Kahle * Nicholas Kaufmann * Shane Douglas Keene * Todd Keisling * Stephen King * Curtis M. Lawson * Evans Light * John R. Little * Chad Lutzke * Jonathan Maberry * Josh Malerman * Alessandro Manzetti * John McIlveen * John McNee * Tim Meyer * Lee Murray * Paul F. Olson * Kelli Owen * John Palisano * Jason Parent & Kevin Rego * David Price * Anthony J. Rapino * Hunter Shea * Rob Smales * Wesley Southard * Jeff Strand * Brett Talley * Sara Tantlinger * The Sisters of Slaughter * Richard Thomas * Paul Tremblay * Tony Tremblay * Joshua Viola * Tim Waggoner * Terry M. West * Douglas Wynne * Stephanie M. Wytovich * Mercedes M. Yardley

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