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The Children of Old Leech: Excerpt: “Walpurgisnacht,” by Orrin Grey

Our third excerpt from The Children of Old Leech comes from “Walpurgisnacht,” by Orrin Grey. Traditionally, April 30th marks the feast of Saint Walpurga, an 8th Century German Abbess. But it’s also held to be the night that witches meet and revel on the Brocken, the highest peak in Germany’s Harz Mountains…

On the train, Nicky told me about the Brocken Spectre. “It’s a sort of optical illusion,” he said, leaning forward, his elbows on his knees. Nicky was younger than me, and prettier, and his dark hair fell in front of his face whenever he slouched, which was often. “The sun casts a giant shadow of you on the clouds below, right, and your head gets this prismatic halo. Like an angel.”

“I hear the sun only shines here like sixty days a year,” I said. “Besides, it’s night.” I was only half-listening anyway, my head lolling against the cool glass of the window. I’d had more than a few drinks at the airport bar, and I could feel a headache trying to force its way out past my eyes. Outside, I could see our destination looming up out of the darkness, the two towers of the Sender Brocken, old and new. Like Tolkien’s Minas Morgul and Orthanc. The sun was still going down, and the towers stood out like shadows against the gloaming, their lights already on. Gleaming yellow ones in the windows of the old tower, now the Brocken Hotel, and blinking red ones to warn planes away from the new tower, a candy-cane-striped lance that jutted skyward from the peak.

“It doesn’t look terribly inviting,” Nicky said, noticing my inattentiveness and nodding at the towers.

Now to the Brocken the witches ride.” I intoned, and then, without bothering to glance and see his puzzled expression, explained, “It’s Goethe. From Faust.”

That was why we were going, of course. It was Walpurgisnacht, the night when the witches and devils gathered on the crown of the bald mountain to welcome the spring. Nicky and I, and whoever else was on the train with us, were the witches in this equation, and we were all gathering on the Brocken to kiss the ass of a black goat.

The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron may be ordered directly from Word Horde or wherever better books are sold. Ask for The Children of Old Leech and other Word Horde titles at your favorite bookseller.

The Children of Old Leech: Excerpt: “Pale Apostle,” by J. T. Glover and Jesse Bullington

Today’s excerpt from The Children of Old Leech comes from J. T. Glover and Jesse Bullington‘s collaborative tale, “Pale Apostle,” which I’m sure you’ll agree sets up the fireworks with a dangerously short fuse…

The bell at the front of the shop tinkled, and Wah clicked her teeth—she hadn’t heard his key in the lock, which meant he’d left the door open again. It was bad enough he insisted on making deliveries to all the family associations himself, but his forgetting to lock up was simply unsafe. Ducking through the curtain, her slippers whisking against the boards, she saw his familiar silhouette across the dark shop. He’d turned and was locking the door.

“It doesn’t do much good, now,” she said, trying to keep the chiding tone from her voice. “When I’m in the back, though, try to remember to—oh!”

The white man smiling at her across the shadowed bins and shelves was not her father.

“I sorry, honorable sir, but we closed right now,” she said, speaking with deliberate fresh-off-the-boat awkwardness even as her mind raced.

Her father was probably talking over old times at some association by now, and might not return for hours. It wasn’t late enough yet for the police to be rattling doorknobs, and they rarely took much notice of crime in the Chinatown anyway. Who would hear if she screamed? Mr. Dong next door, perhaps, but perhaps not…

Top shelf, middle aisle. As she stepped around the counter, she studiously kept her eyes on the intruder, instead of the modest display of cutlery. If she could just—

“How excellent,” the stranger said, speaking in perfectly unaccented Szechuanese as he glided toward her, past the knives. “That means we shall not be disturbed.”

The smile he gave her stretched his strangely ageless face into a rictus—like most white men, his exotic features somehow coalesced into a bland, nondescript whole. His black coat and broad-brimmed hat were wet with the night’s rain, leaving puddles on the floor, but his skin looked parched as scrolls from a temple. He reached inside his coat, and Wah flinched, wondering if it would be a weapon, or worse, handcuffs—given the choice between a stickup man or a plainclothes Seattle policeman, she would take the lesser villain. Instead, he held out an envelope to her, as dry as the withered hand that held it.

“My name is Clarence Kernochan, and I have a business proposition to discuss with you.”

“My father—” Wah began, but he cut her off in the rude fashion of Americans, waggling the envelope.

“I trust you will surely find this to the advantage of both yourself and your father, Miss Sung.”

Wah looked back at his face, and in the instant before she saw him straight-on, she could have sworn that his black pupils seemed to undulate, as if something wriggled behind them.

The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron may be ordered directly from Word Horde or wherever better books are sold. Ask for The Children of Old Leech and other Word Horde titles at your favorite bookseller.

The Children of Old Leech: Excerpt: “The Harrow,” by Gemma Files

As you might have heard, we’ve got a new anthology landing July 15, The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron. Over the next few weeks, we thought we’d share a brief excerpt to preview each story. These will be dropping on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and start today with “The Harrow,” by Gemma Files

The earth is old and full of holes, Lydie Massenet’s mother used to say, at least once a day, back when she was still Lydie Pell. Its crust is thin, and underneath there’s nothing but darkness. A rind, that’s all we live on; just thin ice, waiting for it to thaw and crack. No need to dig, really—if they want to find you, they will. Never trust anything that comes out of a hole.

And: Okay, Mom, Lydie would say, the way her father had taught her to. That’s good. That’s fine. Then just smile and nod, all the time staring off at nothing much, something invisible—contemplating Mars, he called it—until her mother finally stopped talking.

You have to know this, Lydie, if nothing else, her mother told her. Darkness shifts, darkness conceals; it’s impossible to know what’s hiding inside it, no matter how hard you try. But if history teaches anything, it’s that what we don’t understand, we fear… and what we fear, eventually, we come to worship, if only to keep it in its rightful place. To make sure it doesn’t come after us.

Yes, Mom. Okay. Sure.

’Til, one day: Stop saying that, goddamnit! her mother yelled, and slapped Lydie across the face, so hard her glasses cracked in half. That was the day her father brought Doctor Russ home, the day before her mother went somewhere else—first for a rest, and then, after everything they did to her while she was there had utterly failed to make her well enough to come home again, to stay.

What’s wrong with her, Daddy? Lydie asked her father, at last, to which he only shook his head and sniffed, trying to pretend he hadn’t been crying.

Honey, I wish to God I knew, was all he said, in return. And hugged her a little too long, a little too tight.

The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron may be ordered directly from Word Horde or wherever better books are sold. Ask for The Children of Old Leech and other Word Horde titles at your favorite bookseller.

What to Read in July

Have you been asking yourself “What am I going to read this July?” Barnes & Noble has you covered with this handy list of new releases, including Word Horde’s own The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron. Here’s what B&N blogger Paul Goat Allen has to say about the anthology in his recommendation:

A nightmare-inducing tribute to Laird Barron and his Carnivorous Cosmos, this stellar anthology features 17 original stories from some of weird fiction’s brightest stars—John Langan, Gemma Files, Jeffrey Thomas, Michael Cisco, and Paul Tremblay, to name just a few. You will look under the bed after finishing this creepy collection.

Check out the full list of awesome reads at this link. To order The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron from B&N, click here.

Recent Reviews: The Children of Old Leech

We’ve been busy shipping preorder copies of the latest Word Horde anthology, The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron, and the book is starting to be spotted at retailers, e-tailers, and in the wild. It’s also been picking up some great reviews. You may have seen our previous round-up of the Publishers Weekly and Cthonic Matter reviews, but here are two more to add to the balefire.

We love you...

Scott R. Jones of Martian Migraine Press touches onto core fears in his review of The Children of Old Leech, sharing a chilling tale of a hollow tree in his detailed examination of stories by Gemma Files, Molly Tanzer, T.E. Grau, Richard Gavin, Paul Tremblay, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., John Langan, and Cody Goodfellow, concluding: “Each is a class in storytelling, every one is entertaining, and every other one is thought provoking. Lockhart and Steele have a winner on their hands, I think; this is one I’ll keep coming back to, much as I do with Laird’s work. Reading TCoOL was like standing in that Tree beside that lake in the hills, up to my ankles in smoky rot and grey grubs, unable to move, while the sun dipped down to dusk. Recommended.” Read the full Martian Migraine Press review at this link.

Over at Betwixt Book Reviews, Benito Corral also digs deep, singling out tales by Gemma Files, Orrin Grey, Jeffrey Thomas, T.E. Grau, Michael Griffin, Cody Goodfellow, and John Langan, saying, “Each story in The Children of Old Leech leads you deeper and deeper into the ‘carnivorous cosmos’ of Laird Barron; all the authors here have crafted glorious tributes to the master, faithfully plumbing his Mythos to create a truly stunning collection.” The review concludes, “The Children of Old Leech is a triumph for Lockhart and Steele, and a tremendous gift for purveyors of dark fiction. Look for this volume to be on multiple ‘best of’ lists this year. Mr Barron would be proud!” Read the full Betwixt Book Reviews review at this link.

The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron is now shipping from Word Horde. Ask for the anthology and other fine Word Horde titles at your favorite bookseller.

We Leave Together featured at Kirkus

Today at Kirkus, Ana from The Book Smugglers takes a comprehensive look at J. M. McDermott’s Dogsland Trilogy and the newly-published concluding volume, We Leave Together. Here’s what Ana had to say:

“Throughout Books 1 and 2, it was really hard to predict how all the pieces of this puzzle would fit together. But by the time I finished We Leave Together, everything did come together beautifully. Finding out the exact circumstances of Jona’s death and what happened to Rachel (YES! Rachel! You go, girl!) just about broke my heart in the best possible way.”

We Leave Together by J. M. McDermott

Read the full review at Kirkus.

Recent Reviews: We Leave Together and The Children of Old Leech

Brand-new pre-release reviews are in for our two summer books, J. M. McDermott’s concluding Dogsland novel, We Leave Together (June 15, 2014), and tribute anthology The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron (July 15, 2014).

Here’s what the critics have to say about J. M. McDermott’s We Leave Together:

“McDermott’s third novel set in Dogsland brings closure to the saga of the deceased Jona Lord Joni, whose memory-filled skull yields the narrative. […] Readers will still find Dogsland a grittily imagined fantasy world, with a personality as vivid as any of its residents.” —Publishers Weekly

Read the full review at this link.

And here’s the Publishers Weekly review of The Children of Old Leech:

“Lockhart and Steele collect 17 original stories from some of the shining stars of modern horror, constructing a worm-riddled literary playground from elements of the fiction of horror maestro Laird Barron. The results come across with a coherent feeling of dread, without feeling derivative of the source. […] Hopefully Barron will enjoy this tribute; his fans certainly will.” —Publishers Weekly

Read the full review (including mentions of stories by Molly Tanzer, J. T. Glover & Jesse Bullington, T.E. Grau, and Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.) at this link.

The Children of Old Leech was also recently reviewed by C. M. Muller, Scrivener of Weird Fiction, at his blog Chthonic Matter. Of the anthology, Muller says:

“This multifaceted grimoire, and the talent associated with it, is staggering to behold. Its co-editor, Justin Steele, sets the tone in a highly entertaining introduction, one which pits his fictional self against the very ‘carnivorous cosmos’ he so innocently sought to collect. In many like anthologies that focus on the oeuvre of a specific writer, the works themselves rarely rise above pastiche—but this seems to be exactly what the editors wished to avoid when fashioning their tribute to Laird Barron. Steele brings this to the fore when singling out Ellen Datlow’s excellent Lovecraft Unbound as a source of inspiration. Potential readers who are not familiar with Barron’s work need not worry. The tales, while sometimes recalling certain tropes or characters from his fiction, can be enjoyed in their own right; and, I must say, the range of styles on display is consistently impressive.” –C. M. Muller, Chthonic Matter

Read the full review (including detailed mentions of stories by T.E. Grau, Richard Gavin, Paul Tremblay, Michael Griffin, Daniel Mills, Stephen Graham Jones, John Langan, Cody Goodfellow, and Scott Nicolay & Jesse James Douhit-Nicolay) at this link.

Press Release: J. M. McDermott Returns to Dogsland in Much-Anticipated Finale

We Leave Together by J. M. McDermottWord Horde announces the June 15, 2014 release of J. M. McDermott’s We Leave Together, the third and final book in the Dogsland trilogy.

PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA—In the decadent city called Dogsland, a desperate search is about to draw to a close. Mystical, wolfskin-clad agents circle their prey, Rachel Nolander, drawn to her by visions captured from her fallen lover’s skull. Rachel’s blood is demon-tainted, burning and sickening those around her as she hides in plain sight, passing as a servant in a strange and savage land.

Completing the saga began in the critically-acclaimed novels Never Knew Another (2010) and When We Were Executioners (2011), We Leave Together provides lush, character-driven, fantasy fiction for readers who revel in the small moments, movements, and truths of life. J. M. McDermott has created a world where mere survival—passing as human in a city filled with potential betrayers—is an ongoing struggle requiring heroic actions.

“I like fiction deeply rooted in characters,” explains McDermott. “If my characters act heroically, it is because people must act heroically sometimes. When you are an outsider to society, heroics are required just to lead something resembling a normal life.”

The long-awaited publication of We Leave Together is sure to satisfy those seeking the resolution of Jona and Rachel’s ill-fated romance and new readers alike. Publisher Ross E. Lockhart says, “Having worked with McDermott extensively on the two prior Dogsland novels, I’m proud to have We Leave Together as Word Horde’s first novel release. This is a book of endings and beginnings, lavishly told and peopled by a master storyteller.”

We Leave Together is distributed by Ingram, and will be available in Trade Paperback and eBook formats through most online retailers and better independent bookstores everywhere in June 2014. For more information about Word Horde or to request a review copy, please email publicity[at]wordhorde[dot]com.

Now Available for Pre-Order: The Children of Old Leech

The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron

There are Things – terrifying Things – whispered of in darkened forests beyond the safe comfort of firelight: The Black Guide, the Broken Ouroboros, the Pageant, Belphegor, Old Leech…

These Things have always been here.

They predate you. They will outlast you.

This book pays tribute to those Things.

For We are the Children of Old Leech… and we love you.

The Children of Old Leech

Featuring all new stories by many of the brightest lights in dark fiction:

Allyson Bird
Michael Cisco
Gemma Files
Richard Gavin
J. T. Glover & Jesse Bullington
Cody Goodfellow
T.E. Grau
Orrin Grey
Michael Griffin
Stephen Graham Jones
John Langan
Daniel Mills
Scott Nicolay & Jesse James Douthit-Nicolay
Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.
Molly Tanzer
Jeffrey Thomas
Paul Tremblay

The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron

Edited by Ross E. Lockhart and Justin Steele
Cover Design by Matthew Revert

Pub date: July 15, 2014

Pre-order today!

Now Available for Pre-Order: We Leave Together, by J. M. McDermott

In a city where the rich stage decadent parties as the poor suffer in squalor, where assassins prowl and king’s men keep order with truncheons and force, where gangs of children run like dogs and addicts die in the streets, a demonic strain has taken hold. The shape shifting priestess and priest of Erin have come to Dogsland stalking a fugitive, half-breed Senta Rachel Nolander, and plot to burn her to cleanse the world of her demon-tainted blood. Led ever onward by Rachel’s corrupted lover’s crying skull, Erin’s agents seek their hapless quarry, a frightened girl guided by one promise, one hope, one prayer… We Leave Together.

We Leave Together

Cover Art by Julien Alday
Cover Design by Scott R. Jones

Pub Date: June 15, 2014

Pre-order today!