1. Temporary Agency – Rachel Pollack
I enjoyed this from start to finish. Set in an alternate modern day New York City sometime after a neo-pagan revolution brings Bright Ones into the world, it’s a fun read that’s also a bit gross when the angels start making people tear their own skins off. Best of all the book is short, and I appreciate that.
2. Dagon – Fred Chappell
Weird, frustrating, and more than a little bit terrifying this 1968 literary novel attempts to recast the Lovecraft mythos in the mode of the Southern Gothic. It works but it’s not a pleasant ride.
3. The Desert of Souls – Howard Andrew Jones
Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser meet Holmes and Watson in 12th century Baghdad. Dig it.
4. Lois the Witch and Other Stories – Elizabeth Gaskell
More suspense than horror these stories mix Victorian morality with grim almost true crime realism. Supernatural things occur, but more often than not it’s simply circumstance that doom these stories’ protagonists.
5. Maze of Shadows – Fred Chappell (a novella)
I love Chappell’s “shadow master” stories in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. They’re a delicious mash of Vance and Dunsany (in his Shadow Valley mode). This one was another good one.
6. In A Lonely Place – Dorothy B. Hughes
A grim pulp novel about a rapist serial killer stalking 1940s LA reprinted in 2003 by a feminist press. A friend called this Jim Thompson without the laughs, and he was right.
7. Scattered Among Strange Worlds – Aliette De Bodard
Contains two stories “Scattered Along the River of Heaven” and “Exodus Tides”. Both are good stories, but “Scattered…” is a favorite from last year.