Tuesday 25 June 2013

Bram Stoker Award Winners

Each year the Horror Writers Association presents the Bram Stoker Awards for superior achievement in horror writing. This year's Bram Stoker Awards Weekend was held in conjunction with the World Horror Convention in New Orleans (in a hotel reputed to be haunted).

The following 2012 Bram Stoker Award winners were announced:

Superior Achievement in a NOVEL
The Drowning Girl by Caitlín R. Kiernan (Roc)
Superior Achievement in a FIRST NOVEL
Life Rage by L.L. Soares (Nightscape Press)
Superior Achievement in a YOUNG ADULT NOVEL
Flesh & Bone by Jonathan Maberry (Simon & Schuster)
Superior Achievement in a GRAPHIC NOVEL
Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times by Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton (McFarland and Co., Inc.)
Superior Achievement in LONG FICTION
The Blue Heron by Gene O’Neill (Dark Regions Press)
Superior Achievement in SHORT FICTION
“Magdala Amygdala” by Lucy Snyder (Dark Faith: Invocations, Apex Book Company)
Superior Achievement in a SCREENPLAY
The Cabin in the Woods” by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard (Mutant Enemy Productions, Lionsgate)
Superior Achievement in an ANTHOLOGY
Shadow Show edited by Mort Castle and Sam Weller (HarperCollins)
Superior Achievement in a FICTION COLLECTION (tie)
New Moon on the Water by Mort Castle (Dark Regions Press)
Black Dahlia and White Rose: Stories by Joyce Carol Oates (Ecco Press)
Superior Achievement in NON-FICTION
Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween by Lisa Morton (Reaktion Books)
Superior Achievement in a POETRY COLLECTION
Vampires, Zombies & Wanton Souls by Marge Simon (Elektrik Milk Bath Press)

For more information on the Bram Stoker Awards, please visit the Horror Writers Association blog at http://www.horror.org/blog/.

If you are interested in learning more about Bram Stoker, for whom the awards are named, please see my post of May 21, 2013, at wallsofnightmare.blogspot.ca/2013/05/master-of-horror-bram-stoker.html.

The 2014 World Horror Convention and Bram Stoker Awards presentation will be held in Portland, Oregon, in May 2014.

Tuesday 18 June 2013

Book Review of Night Chill by Jeff Gunhus

Behind the Walls of Nightmare is pleased to review Night Chill by Jeff Gunhus, who is also the author of the Middle Grade/YA series The Templar Chronicles, as well as numerous motivational career guides. To learn more about him, please visit his website at http://www.jeffgunhus.com/.

 Book Summary

Jack Tremont moves his family to the quiet mountains of western Maryland hoping to leave behind a troubled past and restart his life. Instead, he finds himself caught up in a nightmare when his daughter Sarah is targeted by Nate Huckley, a mysterious and horrifying stranger driven by a dark power that will stop at nothing to possess Sarah. When Sarah goes missing, suspicion falls on Jack and he must uncover the secrets of the small mountain town of Prescott City and face the evil secret hidden there. As he digs further, he learns the conspiracy reaches more deeply than he could have imagined. Finally, he will have to face the question, What is a father willing to do to save his child? The answer? Anything. Anything at all.

Our Review

Night Chill is an engaging novel whose subject matter will appeal to readers of both medical thrillers and horror novels. It moves quickly with an interesting storyline and numerous plot turns. At the heart of the novel are the themes of love and redemption as a father, Jack Tremont, tries to save his abducted daughter, having earlier killed a young girl in a car accident that still haunts him. These themes are paralleled in the sub-plot as his friend Max tries to find redemption by saving his own young daughter from a ravaging illness.

Gunhus also introduces the character of Lonetree, whose initial focus is on seeking revenge on behalf of his family, but who gradually develops a close relationship with Jack and becomes his ally in the quest to save his daughter Sarah.The relationship between the two provides a form of comic relief in the novel as Lonetree, the ex-Navy Seal, tries to coach Jack as to the proper methods of rescuing someone.

Night Chill is a suspenseful read, full of villains, especially the chilling Nate Huckley. The novel's ending also hints at more to come. After all, does evil ever really die?

Tuesday 11 June 2013

The Winchester Mystery House

Haunted houses are a popular feature of horror novels and films, and the stories behind the Winchester Mystery House are especially intriguing. The house was built without a master plan by its owner, Sara Winchester, who was the heir to the Winchester Repeating Rifle Company fortune. According to popular (but undocumented) belief, Sara Winchester consulted a medium after the early deaths of her child and husband and was advised that she needed to move West and build a house for herself and the spirits of those killed by the Winchester rifle. The construction had to be non-stop: otherwise she would die. Another version of this story is that the medium advised her to build the house in order to thwart the evil spirits that killed her husband and child. This version of the story might account for the maze-like construction of the house and its many dead ends to trick the spirits and keep them from finding her.

Mrs. Winchester moved to California from Connecticut and purchased an unfinished farmhouse in northern California. Work began immediately on the house by 13 workers, who labored night and day for almost 38 years. Construction only stopped upon her death at the age of 83.

Today the house is a major tourist attraction. Among its features are the following:

  • 160 rooms
  • 47 fireplaces
  • 10,0000 windows
  • 17 chimneys

There are stairs and windows opening onto walls, as well as a staircase leading to a ceiling, and doors and staircases leading nowhere. The number “13” (perhaps intended to ward off spirits) is prominent in the design of the house. (The newsletter for the mystery house is called The Thirteenth Hour.) As well, there is a séance room with one entrance, three exits, and an eight-foot drop through a secret door to a kitchen below. Visitors are warned to stay with the tour group or risk getting lost for hours in the labyrinth of the house.

Visitors have reported cold spots, and one of the long-time restoration workers reported seeing an apparition inside the house. One psychic stated that he could hear ongoing sawing and hammering by the 13 dead laborers in the other world as they continued to build the house.

For the website of the Winchester Mystery House, see www.winchestermysteryhouse.com/, which provides a detailed history of the house, as well as an explanation of the “13” numerology in its design.‎ For a YouTube video by the Travel Channel on the world's creepiest destinations, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dy0TnZ_vpk. (Both sites, as well as Wikipedia, were used as sources for this post.) There are numerous photographs and other YouTube videos online for you to explore.

Happy touring (but don't get lost)!

Tuesday 4 June 2013

What's New in the Queue

If you are interested in following up on my Bram Stoker post of May 21, 2013, you might enjoy a new book by historian Jim Steinmeyer entitled
Who Was Dracula? Bram Stoker's Trail of Blood.
The author discusses the people and stories behind the Transylvanian legend of Count Dracula, considers the sources influencing Stoker, and depicts the life of Stoker and his development as a writer.

  Joe Hill's latest novel NOS4A2 features a young girl named Victoria McQueen who is the only victim ever to escape from the notorious Charlie Manx. He is rumored to have kidnapped dozens of children, taking them to a place called Christmasland. When Manx dies after years in prison, his body disappears. He is once again on the road hunting—and this time he has McQueen's child whom she must rescue.


While awaiting the release of Doctor Sleep, you might want to investigate Stephen King's Joyland, due to be released in early June. The prolific horror novelist has created a crime fiction thriller in Joyland. The novel is set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, and it tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder.