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Ask the Staff: Our Favorite Halloween Reads

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYONE!!!! It’s our absolute favorite time of year and we’re excited for candy, costumes, and curling up with a scary book. We wanted some recommendations on what to read and asked the experts what their go-to creepy books are. And by experts, we mean our terrific and terrifying staff. Check out their best Halloween picks here!


image-39122Kristin Temple, Associate Editor

My go-to Halloween/Spooky Season read is Stephen King’s IT. Every few years, as the weather starts to cool off, I’ll transport myself back to Derry and watch gleefully as the Losers throw rocks at bullies, face their fears, and save their town. Something about the coming-of-age themes and the epic battle against evil really puts me in the Halloween spirit.

image-29826Jordan Hanley, Marketing Manager

Halloween is not only one entire season on the calendar, it is also an entire ~mood~. Working on Nightfire titles means that I get to think about Halloween as others think about Christmas– i.e. all year long! Since I joined the Nightfire team, I first dipped my toe and then completely submerged myself in the horror genre. I’ve been a diehard Constant Reader of Stephen King for as long as I can remember, but luckily for me, I am surrounded by horror fans who have expanded my view of what horror can be.
A few recent Halloween atmospheric reads have been:
The Family Plot by Cherie Priest and Halloween Season by Lucy A. Snyder.
The Family Plot takes place in a haunted house that bites back. I recently moved and had been hunting down antiques and gently used furniture up and down the Jersey shore. The Family Plot centers around a gold-mine– a house left untouched in the boonies. As I was furniture hunting, I constantly wished I could have been in this house! But without all the horrible things that happen in it.
Halloween Season by Lucy A. Snyder is a collection of short stories by the author of one of my most anticipated forthcoming Nightfire books. Lucy is an incredibly talented writer, and these fun-sized stories are perfect for curling up on the couch with on a chilly October night.

image-39125Julia Bergen, Marketing Manager

I don’t actually have a go-to Halloween book, because I very rarely reread books, I always want something new! So at Halloween I usually pick out something scary/autumnal that I haven’t read yet. I really love Tor.com novellas for this, since they’re quick and can fit into my reading routine, like The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle, The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht, or The Atrocities by Jeremy C. Shipp.

image-39126Theresa Delucci, Senior Marketing Director

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson is a horror classic for a reason and I return to it frequently, but for the last few years I’ve been revisiting its modern spiritual descendant, A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay. When the leaves change color and the sky gets gloomy, any falling-apart house in New England could contain a falling-apart family like the Barretts. Is teenager Marjorie very sick or very possessed? Things only get worse and more terrifying and, seen through the eyes of Marjorie‘s clever kid sister Merry, you’re pulled into an ending that’s horrific, heartbreaking, and leaves you wondering what haunts every lonely soul.

image-39032Rachel Taylor, Marketing Manager

I’ve never had a go-to Halloween book before, but I’ve found one this year that I know is going to be my new yearly re-read—Slewfoot by Brom. If you loved 2015 film The Witch, this is 1000% the book for you. It’s also filled with some absolutely stunning yet creepy art, which I can’t help but keep flipping back to.

image-39034Lizzy Hosty, Marketing Intern

My go-to book for Halloween is any of the Series of Unfortunate Events books. I’ve been periodically working my way through them since I never read them as a kid, but obviously Halloween is the best time to read these creepy stories! I’m also really excited to read Nothing But Blackened Teeth, because I have been rocking the pre-order pop socket, and cannot wait to double that energy but holding the book in one hand and my phone in the other.

image-37538Angie Rao, Design

The Monster of Elendhaven!

It’s spooky and dark but also fun and short so you can read it and then eat some candy while you process your feelings.
What book are you most excited to read this Halloween? Let us know in the comments!

a cat, Marketing Coordinator 

 
This interactive necromantic legal thriller from Max Gladstone has something scarier than skeletons and demons: balancing cost of living, debt, career advancement, and life satisfaction (in addition to many skeletons and demons)! Pay off your loans! Make partner! Find a hot partner (if you want)! DIE! BE REBORN AS A DEATHLESS SKELETON! GO TO WORK ON MONDAY!
My transition into all caps is meant to reflect my all caps love for this game, that you should go play immediately. Also check out Deathless: The City’s Thirst, where after working with other mortal magic practitioners to depose a god, you must take on god’s task of procuring water for a desert city.

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Books That Helped the Tor Staff Survive 2020

We are so, so close to 2020 being over and while we can’t wait to finally escape the dumpster fire that was this year, we’re also taking the time to look back at the books that helped get us through. Check out which books we are most grateful for here.


book-jordan-hanleyJordan Hanley, Marketing Manager

Tor.com Publishing novellas have really pulled me through 2020. They’ve also saved my Goodreads reading challenge! Here’s a few short novellas I’ve read that kept my passion for reading good horror alive:

I still have quite a few horrific Tor.com Publishing novellas on my TBR, including Ring Shoutby P. Djèlí Clark. These slender volumes keep me turning pages long into the night and have kept my 2020 reading challenge alive (or, perhaps, undead!)

book-system-redLauren Anesta, Senior Publicist

I, personally, think The Murderbot Diaries (by Martha Wells) is the #1 science fiction series ever published. I stand by this bold claim because it has been absolutely the only thing I’ve been able to read for pleasure since March 8, 2020, the day my attention span officially died. Murderbot, a mascot for socially anxious people everywhere, feels somehow even more relevant at a time when we’re all isolated. Like Murderbot, I’ve fully retreated into the comfort of my favorite TV shows and have lost my ability to maintain a conversation with people IRL. Murderbot has Sanctuary Moon, I have 21 seasons of Midsomer MurdersMurderbot is often angry and frustrated and doesn’t want to stop watching TV, but it gets up and gets the job done anyway, because people rely on it. I know I’ve certainly needed that reminder more than once in the past year, and Murderbot does that for me—but gently, and cushioned in pages full of high-intensity space battles, heist action, and technobabble.

book-9781250229861Libby Collins, Publicist

WHAT A YEAR, AM I RIGHT. Books were the most (only?) consistent thing in my 2020, and I’m grateful for so many of them. I took special comfort in some amazing TDA titles, including The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab. What a timely testament to the beauty of being alive, even during the hard times. This was also the year I *finally* made myself acquainted with Murderbot, and I am extremely in love. Martha Wells’s novella series, The Murderbot Diaries, were a source of comfort and I can’t wait to get to the novel, Network Effect. Two others that provided a different sort of comfort were Lavie Tidhar’s By Force Alone and Matt Goldman’s Dead West. The former is an Arthurian myth reimagined with Scorsese-type gangster characters—very bloody, very profane, very fun. The latter is a mystery, the fourth in Goldman’s Nils Shapiro series, with a well-rounded, funny, very lovable Midwesterner visiting LA for the first time to solve a Hollywood murder. I have to mention an upcoming title from the one and only Catherynne M. Valente, called The Past is Red. It’s a sharp, satirical, dystopian novella rooted in environmentalism featuring one of the most enjoyable main characters I’ve read recently. And finally, She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan. This one also doesn’t come out until 2021 (July 20, 2021, in case anyone wants to jot that date down so they can run to their nearest bookstore or pre-order the heck out of this one) but I read it in 2020 and wow, did I love it. I felt consumed by this book while I was reading it, and all the moments I wasn’t reading it were spent basically thinking about it and the characters in it. Here’s to another year and an endless pile of new books to get us through.

book-9781250217288Rachel Taylor, Marketing Manager

So I don’t know about y’all, but I kicked off this year thinking I was going to CRUSH my Goodreads challenge. But then…2020 happened and my attention span went straight out the window. But suddenly, TJ Klune was there to save the day. The House in Cerulean Sea was one of the first books I read after starting at Tor and I devoured it in a single day. It was the warm, comforting read I needed this year and it truly saved me in the early days of the pandemic. I spent most of the year anxiously hovering, waiting for Under the Whispering Door, TJ’s next adult book with Tor, to come in. Though it’s not publishing until September 2021, I was lucky enough to read it early and once again was completely absorbed. This is a must-read for 2021 and I personally can’t wait for more people to get their hands on the book so we can scream about it together.

book-9781250214751Giselle Gonzalez, Publicity Assistant

There’s so many books that I’m so greatful to have read in 2020, but if I had to narrow it down, Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi would definitely be at the top of my list. Riot Baby was the first work I’ve read by Tochi and it is absolutely essential reading. It is powerful, eye-opening, moving, and nerdy-as-heck. A book I will never forget and will recommend to everyone! Another novel that I’m grateful to have read this year is Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia. As a Cuban American woman it’s rare that I find a book that portrays my experience and that of the women in my family, but this novel felt like coming home. It’s a story of family, women, immigration, loss and it’s absolutely stunning, fierce and left me in a puddle of tears. It was one of the first times I saw myself and my family in a book and it holds a special place in my heart.

book-9781250229793Leah Schnelbach, Staff Writer, Tor.com

Two of my favorite reads this year were, on the surface, quite different: Drowned Country, Emily Tesh’s sequel to her lovely Silver in the Wood, and Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005.

Drowned Country is a funny, ache-y return to characters I loved. Henry Silver and Tobias Finch are one of my favorite literary couples (honestly, my only quibble with these books is that they’re not giant fantasy doorstoppers because I want to spend more time with those two) and Henry’s monster-hunting mother is hilarious. But what’s great about Drowned Country is that it takes this trio and deepens them. The narrative hops around in time, stranding us in terrible memories before dropping us back in the present, creating a palpable sense of Henry’s grief. By letting Henry’s neediness shade into real selfishness, Tesh is able to explore the consequences and put the poor, silly boy through more of an emotional wringer. Meanwhile, Tobias’ taciturn nature very nearly ruins everything, until the moment when he allows himself to act on impulse (and thus saves the day), and Adela Silver is older now, and has vulnerabilities of her own. Plus there’s a terrifying quest? And a whole new fantasy country? And a new character, Maud Lindhurst, who holds her own even with Henry’s mother? The book gently worries at the idea of past mistakes echoing up into the present—both personal failings like Henry’s, and the giant, world-shattering choices that led to the Drowned Country in the first place.

Now, Gilead is again, on the surface, quite different. The engine of the book is that Reverend John Ames, a septuagenarian father, is writing letters for his seven-year-old son. The Reverend has a heart condition. He could go at any time. The letters may be the only way the boy will know his father, so Rev. Ames knows he has to get them right. This is a slow, quiet, meditative book about the different shapes love can take. It spends pages and pages turning over one idea, one memory. It also talks, beautifully and at length, about John Brown’s fight against slavery, and the ultimate moral failure of the nice white people who refused to back his fight. The threads of personal history and national catastrophe weave together beautifully to add up to a book that is, at its heart, about the need to connect across time.

In both cases, these books allowed me to slow down and spend time with characters who became quite real. They gave me space to think about the past as both personal and political, and to read about people who are brave enough to drop their defenses and be honest with each other in order to heal sins of the past.

book-AnnelieseAnneliese Merz, Publicity Assistant 

I’ve been immensely grateful for so many books this year, but I think that if I had to choose (help, Tor is making me!), I would say The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune was the perfect pick me up and feel good book that I needed in this god awful year that is 2020. I would also say, I finally read the Shadow and Bone series by Leigh Bardugo in preparation for the show coming to Netflix in April 2021 and my body and mind is SO ready!

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The Frightening Fae of Fiction

The Frightening Fae of Fiction

Many of us are used to seeing fairies in a very specific light-beautiful, magical, and most importantly, benevolent. But not every fairy is quite so…nice. In the dark debut You Let Me In from Camilla Bruce, readers see the Fair Folk in a very different light. Check out our list of the most frightening fae in literature below!

Poster Placeholder of - 39You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce

Cassandra Tipp is dead…or is she?

Cassandra Tipp has left behind no body—just her massive fortune, and one final manuscript. Then again, there are enough bodies in her past—her husband Tommy Tipp, whose mysterious disembowelment has never been solved, and a few years later, the shocking murder-suicide of her father and brother.

Cassandra Tipp will tell you a story—but it will come with a terrible price. What really happened, out there in the woods—and who has Cassie been protecting all along? Read on, if you dare…

 

Image Place holder  of - 1The Stolen: An American Faerie Tale by Bishop O’Connell

When her daughter Fiona is snatched from her bed, Caitlin’s entire world crumbles. Once certain that faeries were only a fantasy, Caitlin must now accept that these supernatural creatures do exist—and that they have traded in their ancient swords and horses for modern guns and sports cars. Hopelessly outmatched, she accepts help from a trio of unlikely heroes: Eddy, a psychiatrist and novice wizard; Brendan, an outcast Fian warrior; and Dante, a Magister of the fae’s Rogue Court. Moving from the busy streets of Boston’s suburbs to the shadowy land of Tír na nÓg, Caitlin and her allies will risk everything to save Fiona. But can this disparate quartet conquer their own inner demons and outwit the dark faeries before it’s too late?

 

Image Placeholder of - 53Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment.

But Sorcha’s joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift–by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever.

 

Place holder  of - 69The Changeling by Victor LaValle

When Apollo Kagwa’s father disappeared, he left his son a box of books and strange recurring dreams. Now Apollo is a father himself—and as he and his wife, Emma, settle into their new lives as parents, exhaustion and anxiety start to take their toll. Apollo’s old dreams return and Emma begins acting odd. At first Emma seems to be exhibiting signs of postpartum depression. But before Apollo can do anything to help, Emma commits a horrific act and vanishes. Thus begins Apollo’s quest to find a wife and child who are nothing like he’d imagined. His odyssey takes him to a forgotten island, a graveyard full of secrets, a forest where immigrant legends still live, and finally back to a place he thought he had lost forever.

 

Placeholder of  -27Ironskin by Tina Connolly

Jane Eliot wears an iron mask. It’s the only way to contain the fey curse that scars her cheek. When a carefully worded listing appears for a governess to assist with a “delicate situation”—a child born during the Great War—Jane is certain the child is fey-cursed, and that she can help. Step by step Jane unlocks the secrets of a new life—and discovers just how far she will go to become whole again.

 

Never Contented Things by Sarah Porter

Bound by haunting tragedies, Ksenia Adderley and Joshua Korensky have shared a home as foster siblings since they were children. As teens, they’ve grown even closer. Some say unnaturally so. With Ksenia’s eighteenth birthday approaching, their guardians expect her to move out. They want to free Josh of his obsession with the foster-sister whom they regard as a strange, unhealthy influence. But they don’t understand the depths of Josh’s feelings for Ksenia and how desperate he is to ensure they stay together—forever.

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