The Fright Stuff

Braving (or Fearing) the Elements

Like Danny Castellano said on The Mindy Project, “I fear the ocean out of respect.” But also, I respect the ocean out of fear. Do you know what is under all that water?! NO. YOU DON’T. NO ONE DOES. That’s the whole reason behind that one side of Romanticism, right? (I’m talking Poe, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats… all those.) Nature is incredible! And also, terrifying!

Because it is now The Bleak Midwinter, this week’s newsletter is themed around The Elements. Though I’m focusing largely on winter, I’m including other elements and extreme weather, too… I’ll do my best to forego the obvious like Moby Dick and The Shining because, after all, this is a NEWsletter, and even though The Cold is my ultimate nemesis. (How can anyone conquer the world when she can’t feel her extremities?)

By the way, you’re in The Fright Stuff, Book Riot’s weekly newsletter about the latest and greatest in horror. I’m Mary Kay McBrayer, and I’ll be your Virgil through this circle of hell, The Elements.

Ear Worm: “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” by Missy Elliott… I can’t stand the rain.

Fresh Hells (FKA “new releases…”)

the deep alma katsuThe Deep by Alma Katsu

Part history and part fiction, this book tells of the Titanic’s supernatural goings-on, and how a man who could not have survived its sinking appears to a nurse who did survive. What happens on the Britannica, the Titanic’s sister ship, which has been refitted as a hospital ship because of the world’s war, is horrific and foreboding.


Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice

When snowfall cuts off the northern community of Anishinaabe and food supply dwindles, a survivor from the crumbling southern communities arrives and escalates the tension of surviving amid sickness and chaos.



Wake, Siren: Ovid, Resung by Nina McLaughlin

This novel retells the stories of women in Ovid’s myths from their own voices–stories of seductresses from the deep and women cursed into monsters because of the jealousy of other women. In this book, we hear what it’s like to flee the odysseys of rapists and oppressors through those same famous storms.

Crypt Keepers (FKA horrors from the backlist)

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

In this YA crossover novel, global warming has all but eradicated humanity, and North America’s indigenous peoples are being literally hunted. Their marrow contains something the rest of the world has lost: they still have the ability to dream. It’s a story of survivalism among cascading failures.



The Revenant by Michael Punke

You might be familiar with the AMAZING film adaptation that is “based in part” on this novel AND a true story. You know it’s well-done when it makes you cold just looking at it, right? But anyway, this novel, subtitled “A Novel of Revenge,” focuses on Hugh Glass, a fur trapper left for dead by his crew after he’s injured in a bear fight. That’s right: a bear fight. He literally crawls to avenge his death. It’s DOPE. And according to Jim Carrey’s Grinch, when Cindy Lou Who asks him, “What’s the true meaning of Christmas?” it’s “VENGEANCE.” Who am I to disagree?

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

Faulkner is the king of the southern gothic, which makes him kind of a jerk, but this book, y’all, it’s so fantastic. It’s one of my first loves. The matriarch of a family dies in the heat of the summer while her son builds her coffin. Her husband insists on burying her with her people in Jefferson, and that means the whole family must travel with the corpse through the heat and the washed out bridge. It’s disgusting. You’re gonna love it.


This maritime museum off the coast of North Carolina showcases sperm whale skeletons… and calls itself Bonehenge. I didn’t include Moby Dick in the list, but if you’re into that kind of thing, Bonehenge is definitely your party.

Real-life places living on the edge. As in, impossible-seeming locations for buildings.

Did you know that some ships keep sailing even after they sink? I DIDN’T.

Want to learn about Israel’s Stalagmites, and what they say about climate change? (Plus, these pictures are amaaazing.)

“They” is Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year. Party.

But, look at this weird and problematic explanation/misunderstanding of the source material regarding Dracula‘s new adaptation.

Goodreads Choice Awards Winners have been announced. See how your favorites fared!

Still shopping for the horror fans on you Christmas list? Check out this roundup. Or this one, written by your very own Virgil herself.

All right, they’re giving me the light. Y’all stay warm out there… the Bleak Midwinter is upon us. I’m Mary Kay McBrayer, and you can follow me and my horrific bullshit on Twitter and Instagram if you need more of that… and if you know of titles I’ve missed, I’d love to hear them! Until next week…

Your Virgil,

Mary Kay