The Fright Stuff

Once Upon A Terrifying Time

Hey‌ ‌there‌ horror fans, ‌I’m‌ ‌Jessica‌ ‌Avery‌ ‌and‌ ‌I’ll‌ ‌be‌ ‌delivering‌ ‌your‌ ‌weekly‌ ‌brief‌ ‌of‌ ‌all‌ ‌that’s‌ ‌ghastly‌ ‌and‌ ‌grim‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌world‌ ‌of‌ ‌Horror.‌ ‌Whether‌ ‌you’re‌ ‌looking‌ ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌backlist‌ ‌book‌ ‌that‌ ‌will‌ ‌give‌‌ you‌ ‌the‌ ‌willies,‌ ‌a‌ ‌terrifying‌ ‌new‌ ‌release,‌ ‌or‌ ‌the‌ ‌latest‌ ‌in‌ ‌horror‌ ‌community‌ ‌news,‌ ‌you’ll‌ ‌find‌ ‌it‌ ‌here‌ in‌ ‌The‌ ‌Fright‌ ‌Stuff.

This week we’re diving into another of my favorite horror vibes: horror books that are adapting, or that are styled like, fairy tales. And, obviously, I’m talking about those best of fairy tales that are full of horror, nightmares, and terrible ends for bad people. It’s no surprise that classic fairy tales have always proven such rich soil for the modern horror genre, and hands down, of all the possible adaptations or retellings that horror books can undertake, fairy tale-inspired horror will always go straight to the top of my must-read list.

Before we jump into this week’s tales of the frightening and fantastical: if you are looking for more book related content for your inbox, like fascinating stories, informed takes, useful advice, and more from experts in the world of books and reading, Book Riot’s new subscription-based newsletter, The Deep Dive, is a way to get exclusive content delivered straight to you. Subscribe and choose your membership level today at

Bookish Goods

frosted glass can the reader skeleton by dreaminginevergreen

Floral Skeleton The Reader Tarot Frosted Glass Can by DreaminginEvergreen

I love skeletons. They’re one of the main decorative themes in my apartment! Just skulls everywhere. I’ve even started a Halloween season tradition of acquiring a new skull every year, because why not? Get that serotonin. And speaking of serotonin, I’m in love with this skeletal “The Reader” frosted glass tumbler from DreaminginEvergreen. Their entire collection is pretty darn neat, actually, so if skelly bones isn’t doing to for you, make sure you check out the rest of their shop!


New Releases

cover of harvest house by cynthia leitich smith

Harvest House by Cynthia Leitich Smith

If you’re a fan of Cynthia Leitich Smith and you’ve been waiting for the sequel to Hearts Unbroken, tomorrow’s the day! A rural Halloween attraction, the titular Harvest House, proves to be more haunted than the flyers promised in Smith’s new novel. When Hughie Wolfe volunteered to help out at Harvest House, he was disappointed to find that the show’s main attraction was a tale from local legends about an “Indian maiden.” Now, on top of trying to decide how best to protest the show’s bigoted storyline, it seems that the area around Harvest House might actually be haunted, and not by any racist stereotype. There’s a man stalking Indigenous women, local animals are acting up, and if Hughie and his friends want to protect their community, they’ll have to get to the bottom of the strange and frightening happenings around Harvest House before All Hallow’s Eve runs its course.

cover of one or several deserts by carter st hogan

One or Several Deserts by Carter St. Hogan

Our second release this week is an exciting debut collection of trans horror stories from Carter St. Hogan. Comprised of eight strange tales, One or Several Deserts is going to be a must-read for readers who love to see bodies explored, made, and unmade by horror fiction. From the now to the future, from rebirth to plague, from the violent to the strange to the forbidden, One or Several Deserts is one of those short fiction collections that will challenge you to keep reading even as it pushes against all your boundaries.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

the monster of elendhaven

The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht

In the dying city of Elendhaven, on the edge of the sea, a monster stalks the shadows and does his master’s bidding. A creature in the shape of a man but who cannot die like one, twisted by magic and shaped by his master’s cruel cunning. Together they will have their revenge on Elendhaven, no matter the cost. This novella, y’all. It’s just so dark and strange and magical, like all the best fairy tales should be. I loved the relationship between the two leads, and the tense, disturbing feeling of their salt-coated city by the sea. If you’ve never read The Monster of Elendhaven, but you love fairy tale-esque books that mix horror and fantasy, magic and monsters, be sure to add this to your TBR

cover of children of chicago by cynthia pelayo

Children of Chicago by Cynthia Pelayo

When it comes to fairy tales that are far darker on consideration than they may first appear, nothing says “yikes” like the Pied Piper of Hamelin. And apparently Cina Pelayo agrees, because her novel Children of Chicago puts a horror genre twist on an already horrifying tale of child abduction and murder (I mean, the children of hamelin were never seen again, so I guess that’s not technically murder…but he did something with them and that something might have been murder. Or cannibalism. LOTS of cannibalism in fairy tales.) Pelayo’s retelling is set in Chicago, where Detective Lauren Medina is on the trail of a brutal serial killer known as the Pied Piper, who targets children. When a murdered teenager is found floating in the same lagoon where Medina’s sister’s body was once found, she has no doubt that the killer is the Piper, and he’s come back for what he’s owed. What Lauren owes him.

cover of now she is a witch by kirsty logan

Now She is Witch by Kirsty Logan

Now She is Witch has only been published in the UK thus far, so to partake in Kirsty Logan’s new book, you will have to import yourself a copy. But hey, Blackwell’s (linked above) ships internationally for free, and I have a feeling this book will be more than worth the international shipping times if you happen to live outside the UK, as I do. Now She is Witch isn’t inspired by a specific story, but the storytelling is the heart of this novel, told in Logan’s haunting fairy tale-esque style. It’s about two characters: Lux, who has lost everything to the cruelties and suspicions of the world and has been cast out, and Else, who finds Lux alone in the woods after her life has been burnt to ashes. But Else didn’t stumble upon Lux by chance. She’s on the trail of a man who needs killing for what he did to her, and Lux has a particular affinity for poisons. Together, they hunt him northward, surrounded on all sides by danger and dark secrets.

cover of The Salt Grows Heavy by Cassandra Khaw; illustration of a plague doctor and a long-haired skeleton holding a skull over a pile of skulls

The Salt Grows Heavy by Cassandra Khaw (May 2)

Did I decide on this week’s topic just so I could expound (again) on the perfection that is The Salt Grows Heavy. No. I mean, mostly no. But there’s no denying that, when it comes to fairy tale horror, this grim and gruesome yet oddly hopeful Little Mermaid-inspired novella from Cassandra Khaw sets a whole new bar. Think Little Mermaid but if the Prince was an asshole, Ariel was a prisoner, and as revenge, she gave birth to a couple of kids who literally ate the entire kingdom. As one does. And instead of sticking around to join in the buffet, she sets out on the road with a strange but charming Plague Doctor. The two stumble upon a super creepy village, deep in the forest, with a bunch of kids who make Children of the Corn look friendly, and they’re being governed by three ghastly Surgeons. When the Plague Doctor reveals that the Surgeons have a dark, violent secret that is a part of the Doctor’s own past, the two travelers find themselves attempting to unravel the Surgeons’ powers and put an end to their terrible work.

As always, you can catch me on twitter at @JtheBookworm, where I try to keep up on all that’s new and frightening.