Random Review Friday: Guest Author Review
Author, and friend of Uncomfortably Dark, Craig Brownlie, has sent another review post over to share. This review is for a couple of Cemetery Dance selections that Craig enjoyed.
I hope you will check out his review and then grab these for yourself!
The Zombie Who Cried Human by Brian James Freeman, ill. by Glenn Chadbourne
The Halloween Mouse by Richard Laymon, ill. by Alan M. Clark
The Christmas Thingy by F. Paul Wilson, ill. by Alan M. Clark
Reviewed by Craig Brownlie
Cemetery Dance Publications made picture books! It’s that time of year when a slew of holidays pile up, especially the sort that call for gifts in that special place where horror and children and quality time meet. So, I say again that Cemetery Dance Publications made picture books!
CD released The Christmas Thingy in 2000, followed by The Halloween Mouse a year later. The Zombie Who Cried Human came out in 2019. They are all available, but the Laymon/Clark book is out of print and may run you.
We were fortunate to have all three enter our household upon initial release and they have been treasured ever since, especially the first two. Those came out when we had a small child eager to hear a good story. Now, all three wait quietly to pounce on any child unfamiliar with the chills and thrills of their plots and pictures.
Freeman’s The Zombie Who Cried Human is a retelling of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. It moves along well and Chadbourne’s illustrations are chock full of vignettes that reward examination. For anyone unfamiliar with zombie lore, they may be a bit surprised by human ranching, but you’re not reading this far into this review if your favorite wee ones don’t have a litany of jokes à la “What’s a zombie’s favorite bird?”*
The Halloween Mouse is the perfect adventure story for an autumn night waiting for the end of October to arrive. Laymon dubs his lead character Timothy Maywood Usher Mouse, which lets you know you’re onto something fun. Timothy lives in the library but has always wanted to see the outside world. Adventures ensue as Timothy has chosen the night of Halloween to step out. Clark’s illustrations of Timothy’s encounters with snakes, cats, and costumed children set the imagination on fire, even as they ground the story.
Our family favorite was the first to arrive at our house: The Christmas Thingy. Wilson tells the story of young Jessica Atkins, lonely at holiday time. Her love of all things genre manifests in a visiting monster. This particular creature has a reputation for stealing Christmas presents, and… Honestly, you should read it- just a perfect payoff, which is all to the credit of that masterful alchemical mix of Wilson’s words with Clark’s art.
The latter two books push the boundaries of picture books, crossing well into the short story realm. They are good reads, perfect for sitting on a rug with your back against a pillow and pausing between each page to sip hot cocoa. Heck, read all three in reverse chronological order and you’ll face nary a glance at a screen.
Happy Halloween! And may all your seasonal shopping be as easy as slipping down to the dollar store at sunset on October 31. Wait, is that convenient? Is it even easy? I will say the year we gave out packing tape and Happy Retirement napkins, we were the talk of the neighborhood.
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Find Craig on the usual social media and who knows where else? He's been busy submitting stories and books. Find a sampler on Godless and read his stories in Haunts Magazine (Nightshade Publications), Unspeakable Horrors 3: Dark Rainbow Rising, Jersey Devil Press, Lovecraftiana, Stranger With Friction, and the forthcoming Demons & Death Drops. Or talk to him at a convention. He hopes to be at Scares that Cares Authorcon III and IV in 2024.