I want this to be a platform for EVERYONE within the horror community; authors, publishers, bloggers, reviewers, actors, directors, artists. I could go on, if you work in the genre then you are more than welcome to apply for the job.
The rules are quite simple…
You are invited to imagine yourselves as warden for an old graveyard, and choose eight books, preferably horror/dark genre, to take with you to cover your shift; here you can discuss why you chose the books.
As well as the books, wardens are allowed one song/album to listen to. Again, an explanation for this choice is required.
You must also discuss one luxury item you can bring, which must be inanimate and not allow communication.
If you’d like to take part in The Graveyard Shift then please submit an application to firstname.lastname@example.org
A new shift is about to begin. The warden for the week’s #GraveyardShift is…
KR: I just wanted to add that this Shift was an unusual one. Brian disappeared at some point during the week. I’ve had the odd message from his Twitter account since but I can’t be sure it’s actually him. The text you are about to read arrived on a torn blood-soaked piece of paper. It was so encrusted with blood I could only determine four of the books Brian chose, and the album. I’m actively trying to find Brian to find out what the hell happened. I do hope he’s alright.
The headstones aren’t the only thing to watch out for here. Sure, the dim light of my lantern may illuminate these haunted grounds, but sometimes- the ground itself holds treasures, for those willing to look.
A stumble or two I can handle. Hell, I banged up my knee pretty good my first night making the rounds. But there are a few shallow graves here. A few empty plots, too.
“The dead can’t harm you,” the old codger said on my first day. “They keep to themselves. Mostly.”
The mostly part is what bothers me.
A man has to work, though. This job is as good as any, I suppose. I just hope the deceased denizens of the damp earth surrounding me won’t mind me disturbing a few corners here and there. The smell of death and funeral home chemicals is overpowering some nights- but underneath that stench?
Ah, my friend. That’s the smell of books long forgotten.
Whether recent or from decades gone by, I love a good read. Keeps one sane. While the quality of some of these may not hold up for some- they definitely left an impression on me while reading them. It’s not about picking “the best of the best” as they say- it’s about getting lost in a world of words… and hopefully surviving until my next graveyard shift in the process.
Plus, reading makes it easier to ignore the lonely cries I stubbornly pretend are the cawing of crows. Yes. That’s all it is. No whispers calling my name from the rows of uneven headstones. Nope. Just me and my trusty shovel.
That, and a silent prayer I don’t wake the dead. I’m not a god-fearing man, but I do sometimes fear things that- perhaps- fear Him even less than I do.
Let’s start digging, shall we?
ELIZABETH by Ken Greenhall (aka Jessica Hamilton)
I stumbled across this book at my family’s own yard sale the summer before starting high school. My mother’s friend had brought a box full of old horror paperbacks, and I convinced her to let me pick a few. This was one of them.
The narration is from the perspective of a 14-year-old girl, but this isn’t any ordinary teenage girl. Thanks to a witch who converses with Elizabeth through mirrors, she seeks more and more power as the story progresses. The child is uncaring and calculating, with charm to boot.
Despite the bits dealing with things of a sexual nature- it does not read as lurid in the expected sense… it is indeed her manipulative and cold-hearted viewpoint that lessens the blows when these scenes are approached and (mostly) glossed over. It also makes it all the more chilling, too. She seeks power- at any cost. And she will get it. Everyone else be damned.
There are moments that make you question if there truly is anything supernatural at play, too. Given the fact that I was a teen myself reading this stuff? It has definitely stuck with me over the years.
THE NIGHT PARADE by Ronald Malfi
One thing Malfi excels at is characterization amidst the creeping and crawling dread, and this book is no exception. A plague has swept across the land called Wanderer’s Folly, which causes delusions and nightmares alongside the expected blood and death.
A father and daughter on the run as the world continues to go to shit around them. In quite a few ways some of the moments in this book remind me of King’s Firestarter. Malfi conjures up the inescapable dread as each chapter goes by and by the end of it all- we are treated to a great story about the lengths a father may go to keep his child safe. A touching and eerie thriller, at the same time. More suspense than horror for some readers, I am sure… but what is there is quite effective.
(For more Malfi madness, check out: www.ronmalfi.com/ )
ALL HEADS TURN AS THE HUNT GOES BY by John Farris
This is an over the top 1970s NOVEL. The beautiful and brutally chaotic moments, the threads slowly weave and then collide as the story goes by (I had to say it)… Farris treats horror in a very literary way, building some wonderful paragraphs and painting a sometimes vulgar yet beautiful scene. Obligatory warning that this is Southern Gothic and kind of a slow burn story (although a wild beginning definitely sets the tone for future brutality). It is also set in the 1940s, so there are characters who have certain mindsets that may catch modern readers off guard (racism, etc.)- I haven’t read it in years though, so not certain about my opinion on how that reads today. If modern readers can get past the racial stuff, they are one explicit voodoo curse away from a somewhat aged, yet interesting read.
It may not be for everyone, but me stumbling onto this paperback in my local library was the highlight of my summer break leading into high school (not counting the trip to Disney World, the same one where I got stuck on the Haunted Mansion ride for an hour- good times).
The cool night air is giving way to a warm draft now, like someone breathing down my neck. The dense fog is still obscuring the crypt ahead, but the shift is almost over. I am ignoring the pinprick of needles in my numbed limbs, pretending that is all it is. I mean, it couldn’t possibly be the dirt-encrusted fingernails of long-dead hands. No. That’s not the reason I’ve quickened the pace while making my rounds. That would be silly.
Still, just in case… one more dig spot to go.
THRALL by Mary SanGiovanni
What would you get if you took a few cues from Stephen King’s The Mist, implanted it into a setting similar in many ways to the Silent Hill video game series, and let all of that bleed into one another alongside a dash of Lovecraft’s cosmic flair and Barker’s cenobites? This book. There are definite echoes of Straub here, too.
While not perfect, there is definitely some fine writing here… and the town of Thrall is well worth a visit- if not an extended stay. I don’t mind when a book wears its influences on its sleeve. Great minds and all that. Dark, pulpy stuff.
(For those wanting more weirdness from this author, check out her podcast Cosmic Shenanigans for all things cosmic horror-related.)
The sun is creeping ever so slowly behind the gates, but the iron bars only let the fog sift in. It slithers across the ground like snakes in the grass. But the green is so sparse here, all I see when I look around is the dull, lifeless grey and barren browns that remind me that we are all due to be just that in time: forgotten memories and dust.
Music. Ah, yes. Maybe that will let the last hour fly by. Some melodies to drown out that voice beckoning me to go back the way I came… or join them.
Pretty appropriate that I brought this album along with me (the minute I learned I would be keeping the dead company some nights.)
THE BEST OF TYPE O NEGATIVE (Just in case I needed a reminder in this lonesome place that Everything Dies.)
Moody. Gothic. Perfect listening for graveyard shenanigans. (So much so, as a teen I brought one of their CDs to the local graveyard for listening- while clutching that old staple, the paperback NECRONOMICON, to my chest… trying to summon the strength to start my journey into the Mad Arab’s rituals… Eventually traded in that fictionalized cash-in for my own Book of Shadows and self-penned rituals. Yeah. My teenage years.)
As the shift comes to a close, I pull out my trusted notebook. For writing. The one luxury I have always had even when all else fails. Helps keep me sane, even if that voice whispering in my ear suggests otherwise.
It knows my names. Enjoys my fears. But if I can stay focused, stay busy…
It will never know the taste of my tears.
I just pray my flesh can say the same.
Brian Bogart is an American author, residing in Northern Ireland. His love of genre fiction started at an early age, consuming every horror and fantasy book available. He has been published in various degrees online and contributed a short fiction piece, “TOCSIN”, to The One Million Project (OMP) Thriller Anthology in an effort to raise money for cancer research and the homeless. He loves to share his enthusiasm for the horror genre with others and help promote other authors.
His latest story, alongside many other authors, can be found in the pages of EPIC FANTASY SHORT STORIES, coming soon from Flame Tree Publishing.
Purchase OMP THRILLER here: Amazon UK
Preorder EPIC FANTASY SHORT STORIES anthology here: Flame Tree Press
Kendall Reviews http://kendallreviews.com/tag/brian-bogart/
Official Blog https://www.dreamdarklyblog.wordpress.com