Scary Stories to Oof in the Dark

At some point last year, I remember reading somewhere that the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark movie was actually good. While I didn’t make going to see it a priority, I looked forward to when I could watch it for free from the public library.

Then I had the “oh, wait… from ‘producer’ Guillermo Del Toro…” moment when I finally had it in my hands. For awhile, seeing Del Toro’s name on things was a mark of quality, but I’ve been pretty eh on a lot of his stuff where he’s only had ‘producer’ cred. In fact, I’m struggling to recall the last time I really liked any Del Toro movie, and I think that the one with the teeth fairies might have been the last one [Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, 2010, writer credits].

But anyway…

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was basically a Scary Stories-branded version of the Goosebumps movie with no Jack Black. I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t that…

A bunch of kids go to a haunted house and find a spookybook of spookytales that come true. The attempts to work the few short scary stories from the book into the narrative of the film were about as seamless as a quilt. For instance, The Big Toe is worked in by having one kid staying home while his parents are out–there’s a pot of stew in the fridge with a toe in it. Why? Were his parents cannibals? Was his mother a mortician? A serial killer? No, the toe in the stew simply exists in the fridge because there was story with a toe in stew and the film needed an excuse for the “where’s my toe?” ghost.

The only genuinely scary part, I think, was the Pale Lady from “The Dream”, even though, other than the iconic look of the character, nothing was used from the original story.

I think that more than any other property, Scary Stories could’ve revived the classic horror showcase format… or they could’ve done a more original horror story that simply borrowed heavily from Gammell’s incidental art and aesthetic. But the whole “here’s a book of spooky stories, people die, and by the way, the big local company was the real villain” just smacked of an unoriginality that many fans of the books might find disappointing.

Cirsova 2019 Awards Eligibility by Category

Cirsova Magazine of Thrilling Adventure and Daring Suspense is a semi-pro publication that, in 2019, paid .0125 per word for original fiction. In addition to its flagship magazine, Cirsova Publishing has released original fiction in Misha Burnett and Louise Sorensen’s Duel Visions and the 35th Anniversary Editions of Michael Tierney’s Wild Stars.

Cirsova has published 38 eligible works of fiction in 2019.

[Bold works are Tangent Recommended; * indicates Ursa Major Award eligibility]

Novel

Novella

  • Halcyon, by Caroline Furlong [S. Spec.]*

Novelette

  • The Elephant Idol, by Xavier Lastra [2.1]
  • La Molejera, by Marie Brennan [2.2]
  • The Ghost of Torreon, by Edd Vick and Manny Frishberg [S. Spec.]
  • The Bullet From Tomorrow, by Misha Burnett [S. Spec.]
  • The Star-God’s Grave, by Schuyler Hernstrom [S. Spec.]
  • Bleed You Dry, by Su-Ra-U [S. Spec.]
  • The Last Fortune of Ali al’Ahmar, by Rev. Joe Kelly [S. Spec.]
  • The Blacklight Ballet, by Misha Burnett [Duel Visions]

Short Stories

  • Young Tarzan and the Mysterious She, by Edgar Rice Burroughs & Michael Tierney [2.1]
  • Atop the Cleft of Ral-Gri, by Jeff Stoner [2.1]
  • The Idol in the Sewers, by Kenneth R. Gower [2.1]*
  • Born to Storm the Citadel of Mettathok, by D.M. Ritzlin [2.1]
  • The Book Hunter’s Apprentice, by Barbara Doran [2.1]
  • How Thaddeus Quimby the Third and I Almost Took Over the World, by Gary K. Shepherd [2.1]
  • Deemed Unsuitable, by WL Emery [2.1]
  • Warrior Soul, by J. Manfred Weichsel [2.1]
  • Seeds of the Dreaming Tree, by Harold R. Thompson [2.1]
  • The Valley of Terzol, by Jim Breyfogle [2.1]
  • Moonshot, by Michael Wiesenberg [2.1]
  • A Little Human Ingenuity, by William Huggins [2.2]
  • The Burning Fish, by Jim Breyfogle [2.2]
  • For I Have Felt a Fire in the Head, by Adrian Simmons [2.2]
  • Pale Moon’s Bride, by Ville Merilainen [2.2]
  • Pawn to the Queen, by Christine Lucas [2.2]
  • People of Fire, by Jennifer Povey [2.2]
  • Blue-Like-The=Sky, by Spencer E. Hart [2.2]
  • Doomsday Shard, by Ken McGrath [2.2]
  • Titan, by Rebecca DeVendra [2.2]
  • The Handover of the Scepter of Greatest Regret, by Hal Y. Zhang [2.2]
  • The Grimgrip, by Michael Tierney [Wild Stars III: Time Warmageddon 35th Anniversary Edition]
  • Sinker, Sailor, by Louise Sorensen [Duel Visions]
  • Ragged Angels, by Louise Sorensen [Duel Visions]
  • The Green Truck, by Louise Sorensen [Duel Visions]
  • Selena, by Louise Sorensen [Duel Visions]*
  • The Statue, by Louise Sorensen [Duel Visions]
  • The Summer of Love, by Misha Burnett [Duel Visions]

Covers for the Spring and Fall issues + Wild Stars Omnibus were done by Anton Oxenuk.

Omnibus Cover 0.05a

Cover for the Summer Special and art for our Illustrated Stark were by StarTwo.

Covers for the 35th Anniversary Editions of Wild Stars were by Mark Wheatley.

Proof Frontsproofs 7

Duel Visions’ cover was by Susan Bolhafner.

Featured Image -- 13516

Cirsova Fall Issue Available for Pre-Order Now!

We’re excited to be offering the all new Fall Issue of Cirsova Magazine of Thrilling Adventure and Daring Suspense!

This issue features the return of Christine Lucas to Cirsova’s page for the first time since Winter 2016. Plus, we have an excellent weird horror by Marie Brennan in this issue, some new blood and other old favorites.

2-2 Cover v 0.01 Front Only jpgYou’re not going to want to miss it!

Also, be sure to back the Wild Stars Kickstarter! We’ve only got a little over two weeks too raise the rest of the $2000 we’re aiming for.

Omnibus Cover 0.05 Front Only

Review: The Night and the Land by Matt Spencer

The Night and the LandA while back, I was sent a copy of Matt Spencer’s The Night and the Land, the first book of the Deschembine Trilogy. While it was a very entertaining book, I find even now that it is difficult to write about because of how different it is. And trust me, that’s a good thing.

The Night and the Land is not an easy work to pin down; it upends a lot of the tropes that would make it fit neatly in this or that category.

On the face of it, The Night and the Land is a story about a young man with a supernatural birthright coming into his powers, meeting and falling in love with a runaway girl from another supernatural clan at odds with his and whose parents and siblings are trying to bring her back into the fold.

The “coming of age” plot has certain hallmarks of the YA trend, but the book itself is a savage and brutal affair, even in its romance, that might appeal much more to male readers than modern YA’s target market demographic of women 18-35. It is Not Safe For Cool Wine Aunts.

The Night and the Land is “Urban Fantasy”, but the “Urban” is very small-town and New England Gothic. The setting is intimate and picturesque, and the town of Brattleboro, Vermont is as much a character as anyone else in the story.

What could easily have been framed as a simple “Vampires and Werewolves don’t mix” type story is actually rife with mysteries and depth of setting that prevents readers from settling into assumptions and cozy stereotypes of the archetypical modern urban fantasy. [The monsters are certainly not vampires and not exactly werewolves; which makes them that much more uncanny].

One of the most fascinating things about Spencer’s tale is that while the characters, both the “heroes” and the “villains”, are almost unforgivably vicious, and sometimes even cruel and murderous, I found myself deeply empathizing with them—even torn at the end as the story built towards its final showdown, hoping for a “draw” that would give everyone a chance down the road for redemption and reconciliation.

Any recommendation I might make for this can’t be given without some reservations: it’s not for the faint of heart—some folks may find the strong language and visceral imagery off-putting. And the violence is EXTREME [like Fist of the North Star meets Uzumaki extreme]. But The Night and the Land was absolutely one of the most enthralling books I’ve read this year.

Cirsova Summer Special Available for Pre-Order!

The Summer Special will be out June 3rd!

The Ghost of Torreón
By EDD VICK and MANNY FRISHBERG
A strange experiment gone wrong has granted Professor Rigoberto “Beto” Caminante an extraordinary power—the ability to “ride” radio waves!

The Bullet From Tomorrow
By MISHA BURNETT
A mysterious visitor claiming to be from the future has a simple job for Private Investigator Butch Norton: sabotage an airplane to prevent World War III!

The Star-God’s Grave
By SCHUYLER HERNSTROM
A young sorcerer’s apprentice steals a starship from his master… only to be pressed into the service of a pair of space hussars to undertake a perilous quest!

Bleed You Dry
By SU-RA-U
A simple news assignment—talk to the reprobate son of an aloof dying billionaire—leads one small-town reporter down a trail of death and madness!

The Last Fortune of Ali al’Ahmar
By REV. JOE KELLY
No search for treasure is ever easy, but the hoard of a legendary pirate sought by a shifty client steeped in sorcery may prove tricky for even Sudah’s tough crew!

Halcyon
By CAROLINE FURLONG
An interstellar war has spilled onto the planet Halcyon, where humanity finds an unexpected ally in their fight against an alien race and their sinister masters!

front cover only

Summer Advertisements Due Friday!

We’re trying to get everything in for our Summer Special, which will be out June 3rd!

We need all Advertisements in by 5PM EST on May 10th!

250 Character Text Advertisement $25
1/4 page Advertisement $35
1/2 page Advertisement $50

1/2 Page – 7.5″ w x 4.5″ h or 3.5″ w x 9″ h
1/4 Page – 3.5″ w x 4.5″ h

Send images at 300 dpi and payment via paypal to cirsova at yahoo dot com!

front cover only