Books by Chad Helder
Bram Stoker Award-Winner Chad Helder
Chad Helder is the author of Menacing Shadows (under the pen name Darkenbrook), The Vampire Bridegroom, and Pop-Up Book of Death. With Vince Liaguno, Helder co-edited Unspeakable Horror: From the Shadows of the Closet, which won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in an Anthology.
Praise for Menacing Shadows
Menacing Shadows is a fast ride through a surreal, dark world in which nearly anything is possible and what is strange is very likely to also have sharp teeth. Many of the horror shorts (prose poems, flash fiction) remind me of Aimee Bender's short stories for their strangeness. I like how the author is able to bend a story or plot that is well known into something new and surprising. Case in point, here are just a few first lines, "My genius friend became an Irish Wolfhound--for an experiment" or "Janie had a carnival of horrors inside a bouquet of balloons."
It also must be noted that these stories, short pieces of personal history, and novella all contain darkness, sometimes sly, and sometimes wide-eyed that a reader will find in the best work of Canadian author Derek McCormack. Reading Darkenbrook's also echoes and rings with a quiet humor in places that keep the stories from ever becoming too hopeless. If Shirley Jackson and David Sedaris had ever given up a baby for adoption, this might be the kind of queer, dark writing the child would produce.
Even if you aren't familiar with these other authors, definitely take a chance on Menacing Shadows. It is strange, funny, and most of all entertaining! The characters manage to stick with me long after I close the book whether it is the Treehouse Ripper to the vampire who lives inside an Aquafina vending machine. The author is never short on imagination or in ways in which to surprise the reader.
--Jory Mickelson, Award-Winning Poet
Praise for The Vampire Bridegroom
Do NOT let the title of this collection fool you: for one thing, there is far more in this thick collection of poetry than just a vampire, and for another, the vampire bridegroom is NOT what you think it will be. I don't want to ruin the surprise. Get this book and you'll be surprised on every page. It's rife with hilarious retakes on classic tropes of the genre -- from queerings of canonical creatures to masterful mash-ups of fairy tales. Helder has a vivid imagination and the rare capacity to make you feel differently about the world...and a wicked sense of humor. If you enjoy this sort of thing, be sure to look for his other book -- the Pop-Up Book of Death! Neither of these works are for children -- this is not their playground...it's ours and it's a blast.
--Michael Arnzen, Winner of the Bram Stoker Award and author of Gorelets
As an inveterate teller of campfire stories, I found myself reading quite a few of these pieces out loud ... and I can say, without a doubt, most of these tales would scare listeners sitting in the dark. Not because of any attention to gory detail, mind you (although one or two stories do have that aspect) but mostly because of the sense of tension, the sense of dread, and yes, that melancholic desire, the author builds in just a few pages.
--Anthony R. Cardno for Icarus: The Magazine of Gay Speculative Fiction
Helder's adult, sophisticated fusion of poetry and fear ended up being what I appreciated most: through the lens of poetry, he subverts and reimagines the tropes of the genre, making them his own and challenging the reader to reconsider his or her assumptions ... For fans of horror, the book is one to keep coming back to, perhaps not reading it straight through but sampling the ideas found within.
--Marshall Moore, author of Bitter Orange and The Concrete Sky
Praise for Pop-Up Book of Death
Nightmares, horror films, repression, and suspense are the stock and trade of the Pop-Up Book of Death ... The first seven poems in the book are exactly what the title promises, an imagined pop-up book ... They reveal not only the range of imagination that Helder possesses and his concision with imagery, but also the way in which he uses humor to talk about dark things ... There is something in this book for most readers. The horror fan will finally find poetry that speaks to him or her. A casual reader will be disarmed and drawn in by the use of humor. Queer readers will find new representations of themselves. In short, Pop-Up Book of Death is entertaining and uncomfortable at the same time. It will stay with you just as long as your reoccurring dream about the man behind your bedroom door with the knife.
--Jory Mickelson, Award-Winning Poet
Chad Helder’s “Pop-Up Book of Death” makes enough references to zombies, disease, and dismemberment to satisfy any fan of the horror genre, but this is real poetry written by someone who knows his craft, and Helder uses the conventions of horror to do what good poems always do, whether or not they make reference to the horror genre. These artfully written poems offer fresh insight to the darker and more absurd aspects of the human condition ... I enjoyed this book for many of the same reasons I enjoy a good horror film. I don’t watch a horror film just for cheap thrills and scares, but for the immersion into a strange world that blurs my vision, and challenges me to re-think the world around me a little when I exit the theater. This book does just that.