One of the things I love most about writing conferences are the books. I’ve attended four conferences now and, somehow, I manage to walk away from each of them with a stack of new reads no matter how I try to control myself. The benefit of StokerCon, of course, is that these books are all horror, dark fantasy, and full of spooky goodness. The conference contains a Dealer’s Room where presses and businesses sell books for the whole weekend, a Librarian’s Day with the chance to grab ARCs from publishers, and an Author Signing event where you can buy them direct from the source (and usually get a good deal and an autograph).
While I wasn’t fully prepared for a book haul in 2019, I was ready this year. I gave myself a budget, pulled out cash ahead of time, and left plenty of room in my suitcase. It was still a bit of a squeeze on the way home, but I managed to come in below budget and grab more than a few books for free. If all goes to plan, you might be seeing reviews for these beauties on here in the future.
What dark delights did I find at StokerCon?
- Goddess of Filth by V. Castro. A group of friends summon something that may not be demonic when they perform a drunken séance.
- Hairspray and Switchblades by V. Castro. An exotic dancer tries to protect her sister and stay safe from a serial killer who’s after their jaguar-shifter pelts.
- Anoka by Shane Hawk. This collection of six short stories dives into Indigenous horror with various themes like “family, grief, loneliness, and identity.”
- Always the First to Die by R.J. Jacobs. An actress returns to the set of her most iconic role and finds reality begins to resemble that same horror film.
- Children of Demeter by EV Knight. A sociologist researches a commune that disappeared in the 1970s.
- They Drown Our Daughters by Katrina Monroe. This “queer modern Gothic” mixed with ghost story involves a small oceanside town, three generations of women, and a threat in the turbulent water.
- Don’t Go to Sleep by Bryce Moore. A true crime mystery that investigates the Axe Man of New Orleans in 1918 through the perspective of a teenage girl.
- Cherish Farrah by Bethany C. Morrow. A social horror that follows two friends, Cherish and Farrah, as the only Black girls in their community and how certain privileges divide them and the cost of climbing higher.
- Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women edited by Lee Murray and Geneve Flynn. Winner of the 2021 Stoker Award for Best Anthology, this collection contains haunting stories by Southeast Asian writers.
- Into the Forest and All the Way Through by Cynthia Pelayo. This poetry collection revolves around numerous true crime cases of missing and murdered women.
- StokerCon 2022 Souvenir Anthology edited by Cynthia Pelayo. This year’s book is beautifully designed and full of the usual chapters on important people and events during the Con, but also gives a lot of good insight and information for newcomers.
- Flowers for the Sea by Zin E. Rocklyn. A pregnant woman among refugees on an ark may be carrying something more than human.
- Under Her Skin edited by Lindy Ryan and Toni Miller. This dark poetry collection focuses on feminine body horror as told by women (cis and trans) and non-binary femmes in horror.
- Cradleland of Parasites by Sara Tantlinger. This harrowing poetry collection is inspired by the Black Plague.
- Hunters of the Lost City by Kali Wallace. A young girl discovers the world may survive beyond her small town despite magical war and plague. (I don’t normally read middle grade horror but enjoyed Shallow Graves, so I figure I’ll give this a shot).
- Sundial by Catriona Ward. This psychological horror involves a mother and daughter unearthing past secrets deep in the Mojave Desert.
I’m impressed by the size of my haul and excited on how many ARCs I grabbed. Even better is that most of these were purchased from the author or editor responsible for the creation, and I got to appreciate their work personally versus buying it online or in my local bookstore. I don’t imagine I’ll love all of these books, but that’s standard for any haul. I’m glad I found so many works by women in horror, by diverse authors, and can open my mind to all the terrors horror can give us now.
Looks like I have some late nights with the lights on ahead of me.