{Graveyard Shift) Sole Survivor Zachary Ashford is this week’s warden.

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 gavin@kendallreviews.com

A new shift is about to begin. The warden for the week’s #GraveyardShift is…

Zachary Ashford

The first season of Sole Survivor has aired, a traumatized December Foss is trying desperately to escape her fifteen minutes of fame, and everyone thinks the drop bears are dead. Everyone that is except The Ark: a radical group of eco-terrorists with an axe to grind, and Joseph Steinberg, who still has plenty of them in reserve.

When the Ark release the drop bears from captivity, all hell breaks loose and December must face them again. This time, though, they’re on her turf. This time, it’s personal!

You can buy Sole Survivor II from Amazon UK & Amazon US

When I put my hand up for this, I had no idea how difficult it would be. Narrowing down the selections is soooo hard. I had to leave out loads of books and albums I would love to take (and that’s a great argument for a kindle) but once I decided on a theme, that made it easier.

For me, graveyards are a place to think of the one’s we’ve lost. To allow ourselves to imbibe in a little healthy grief, and remember the ones we miss.

For that reason, there’s a recurring theme in these selections, but I think it’s one that makes sense.


Pet Semetary by Stephen King.

Man, there are just so many Stephen King books you could bring on this journey, but when you’re reading in a graveyard, there’s only one totally perfect book to choose, and that’s Pet Semetary. Imagine perching on a headstone, and reading that scene where Louis jumps the fence and starts digging. Every stray sound you heard would get the hairs on the back of the neck crawling. I don’t know about your location, but here in Australia, there’d be bats flying overhead and big spiders hanging between trees. If that’s not the perfect location to read a book about grief and the returning dead, I don’t know what is. Of course, you can only imagine how you’d feel if the clichéd graveyard cat decided to turn up while you were at it. Better hope you’re wearing your brown chinos!

Ghoul by Brian Keene

I only read this one recently, but again, it’s pretty much the perfect text for this kind of setting. If you know it, you’ll know why, but for the uninitiated, a bunch of teens who’ve made the local graveyard their playground – and who’ve dug a foxhole into its very soil – come face to face with an ancient ghoul. This book’s creepy as hell at the best of times; its setting is rife with broken tombstones, sinkholes redolent with the stench of decay, and tonnes of gruesome murders in a setting just like the one you’d be in while reading. Every time you came across a depression in the soil, you’d be waiting for the ground to collapse beneath you and for a clawed hand to pull you down into the loam. Bugger that. Of course, it’d be remiss of me not to point out that this one’s also about grief, and if we don’t go to Graveyards to feel a little bit of the pain of loss, and the joy of lives well-lived, I don’t know why we go.

Cricket Hunters by Jeremy Hepler

This is another one I only read recently, but when I was thinking of novels with that perfect graveyard vibe, I kept coming back to this one. There’s just something about all the old magic Hepler includes that feels right. Of course, there’s an ongoing fear of things coming back from the dead in there, but this one’s more about the creepy feels. It’s not as on-brand as the first two, but it’s got that same tone, and some of those scenes where someone’s laughing in the woods while emotionally distraught characters search for lost loved ones would be perfect for the graveyard setting. On top of that, the idea of someone from the past – who you know is dead – haunting you is almost tailor-made for this list. After all, who’s buried in the soil under you, and what secrets are you hiding?

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

A pretty on-brand selection this one. It’s a well-worn classic, but its eerie pace is perfect to pull you in while the dead lie in their graves around you. On top of that, you’ll know the just slightly mad voice of the narrator is there to lull you into a false sense of security before the horrors begin. Once they do, you’ll wish you were anywhere but a graveyard. Especially when you picture that house on the grounds, or the custodian comes by. And that doesn’t even take the ghosts into account. Every cool breeze, every susurration in the trees will have you trembling. In this context, the scares in this one will take on a whole new context. Pretty much a mandatory inclusion.

Beneath by Kristi DeMeester

This one gets pretty weird, and isn’t quite of the same tone as some of the previous ones, but with monsters coming up out of the ground as they bay for blood, this is the last thing you want to be reading in a deserted graveyard. That aside, though, it’s a damn cool story. Snake-handlers, weird kids, madwomen, demons, creepy priests and an innocent journalist caught in all the drama; there’s a tonne here to keep you reading. On top of that, Demeester’s novel just keeps you guessing as it spirals further and further out of control and you begin to realise that there’s no happy end here. If that’s not the kind of book you want for this sort of context, you’re missing out. As for the theme, this one’s probably a bit more about trauma than grief, but the two are at least on speaking terms, if not quite close relatives.

The Fisherman by John Langan

Man, I love The Fisherman. For me, it’s one of those novels that’s just so well structured it’s almost hypnotic in the way it drags you down through its whirlpooling narratives and frames. I’ve been pondering the idea of writing an analysis of why it works so well in the way it delivers its horrors, and for me, it all starts with the opening chapter. While it’s not as dramatic as the opening scene in The Descent, I think it works in the same way. It presents you with a theme of loss so central to the protagonist’s journey that it looms there like a storm cloud for the entirety of the novel. It’s kind of interesting so many of these novels are about grief, especially given the graveyard context of the list, but when Abe prepares you for things to get strange in the very orientation of his fisherman’s tale, you take it in stride. By the time you’ve travelled through the novels narratives, you don’t question any of it, no matter how fantastic. This is a book to get lost in. It’ll definitely help you shut out the creepiness of the graveyard as it transports you to its different settings. You’re probably going to need something like that.

Zone One by Colson Whitehead

Whether you call them skels, shamblers, walkers or zombies, you can’t have a list of horror books to read in a graveyard without including at least one zombie novel. Whitehead’s is one that’s been branded a literary zombie tale, but at its core, it does what all good horror books do: it gives you protagonists who are dealing with the strains of emotional trauma, puts them into horrific situations and then lets the reader find out if that character can cope or not. Zone One’s protagonist, Mark Spitz, is a damaged dude. He’s suffered plenty of loss. If you’ve somehow got yourself staying in a graveyard overnight, there’s a good chance you can relate to that. Spitz constantly flashes back to the past, and there’s a nice synchronicity there if you’re thinking about your loved ones in a graveyard. As for the novel’s brutal denouement, it’s one that’s going to have you looking for higher ground – if not somewhere to swim – every time you imagine the undead crawling out of the ground.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

One monster that’s not included here amongst the ghouls, zombies, and ghosts is the vampire. This one’s going to change that in the best way possible. When you’re choosing your vampire book, there’s a strong argument for something more modern. After all, it’s not like the genre’s shy of content, but for me, I’m looking at my list, and I’m thinking it needs something definitively classic. Stoker’s iconic novel provides that. And let’s be honest, the gothic settings, the epistolary style, and the tone of the whole novel really combine to make it a perfect choice. Try taking in the headstones, crypts, statuary, and silence of any self-respecting graveyard while working your way through this one. It’s bound to leave you on edge, and ready to run.


The Black Dahlia Murder – Everblack

Man, I thought that narrowing it down to eight books was tough, and the only way I could really do that was to focus on a theme. I’m going to have to do the same kind of thing here. I’ve spoken many times in the past about my love of the metal genre, so I’m definitely heading there, but I need to pick something on-brand with my other selections. For that reason, I’m going with The Black Dahlia Murder’s Everblack album. Not only is this one an absolute cracker in its own right, but it practically reeks of the grave – and with songs like Into the Everblack, In Hell is Where She Waits for Me, and Their Beloved Absentee – it’s got a very definite focus. The riffs are heavy, the lyrics are brutal, the drumming is incredible, and the band is a veteran of the circuit on top of its game at this point. Going past that, though, Everblack’s holds special meaning for me. A few years back, I was watching the band touring on the back of it when I received a phone call telling me to get to the hospital because Mum was in a bad way. When I arrived, I had to make the call as to whether or not we pulled the plug. It’s still the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do, and I question that choice every single day. I even wrote about it in a story entitled Little Pink Mammals, but I can’t listen to this album and not think of her. Needless to say, it stays on high rotation.


Camping Chair

This is another tough one. The obvious choice is my mobile phone. After all, it comes complete with books, games, music, the internet, and the ability to call for help if I’m in the shit. The downside is whether or not there’s a power point if I need to charge it. Without that, it only lasts so long. I’m gonna have to be more practical with this one. I’m gonna bring my camping chair. If I’ve got to read all those books, I’m gonna need somewhere to sit. My camping chair’s got a beer-holder, it’s quite comfy, and it’s even got a little chiller-pocket for me to sneak a couple of beers in. Also, if I am accosted by any of the undead, it collapses into a condensed rectangular shape that would make a pretty reasonable club. If I’m going down, I’m going down fighting, and I could brain at least a couple zombies with that thing if I needed to. Yeah, camping chair for the win.

Sole Survivor II

The first season of Sole Survivor has aired, a traumatized December Foss is trying desperately to escape her fifteen minutes of fame, and everyone thinks the drop bears are dead. Everyone that is except The Ark: a radical group of eco-terrorists with an axe to grind, and Joseph Steinberg, who still has plenty of them in reserve.

When the Ark release the drop bears from captivity, all hell breaks loose and December must face them again. This time, though, they’re on her turf. This time, it’s personal!

You can buy Sole Survivor II from Amazon UK & Amazon US

Zachary Ashford

Zachary Ashford earned his writing chops as a journalist covering heavy metal bands for street press magazines and as a copywriter for a rock n roll radio station. Since those days, he’s done plenty, including operating as a freelance copywriter and editor. Nowadays, he writes fiction and teaches English and Literature in a high school.

You can find some of his nonfiction writing at Nerdbastards and Ozzy Man Reviews (under the name Chuck Steinway).

You can find out more about Zachary via his official website www.zacharyashford.com

Follow Zachary on Twitter @ashford_zachary

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