Horror 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, Pop-Up Book of Death, and Bartholomew of the Scissors, a comic book series burned into wood by artist Daniel Crosier. 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. Helder also wrote a series of stories for Vincent Price Presents, several of which have been adapted into radio plays by the Colonial Radio Theatre.
A pair of boys discover Satan's constrictor locked in a basement room. A group of children dare to defy the curse of the Tree House Ripper. A vampire drains the blood of a baby gorilla with horrifying consequences. A young man copes with the childhood trauma of satanic possession with daily trips to the zoo, but something evil has taken over the family of mandrills at the monkey house.
And the werewolf novella, Menacing Shadows: When satanic serial killer Jack Mercy was locked away, he left behind a legacy of murder and a family in ruins. A decade later, the Mercy family has tried to rebuild their lives in White Crag, an affluent ski resort town, but they still live in Jack's infamous shadow. Twin brothers Neal and Michael have little memory of their father before he was incarcerated, but after a harrowing incident with a werewolf in the forest, Neal discovers that his brother is communicating with their father and carrying on his unspeakable legacy. As Neal and his best friend dig deeper, they discover the curse of the werewolf is not nearly finished with the Mercy family or the town of White Crag.
Menacing Shadows is an innovative horror collection that presents a combination of scary fairy tales, nightmarish prose poems, and gay horror, ranging in length from flash fiction to full-length novellas.
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
The Vampire Bridegroom
From Bram Stoker Award-winner Chad Helder comes The Vampire Bridegroom, his sweeping collection of horror poems and tales that explore the dark crevices of genre in a spectrum of forms. Included here in this horror collage are poems that yearn to be horror movies. From a nightmarish array of vampires in the landscape of troubled youth to beastly transformations and horrifying awakenings... from the twisted theories of Hansel Fruehner--the perverted and blasphemous student of Freud--to scary fairy tales. Along the way, explore the mythos of the Gory Boy and Queen Bloody Mary, encounter the ever-present figure of Satan in the mind of a preacher's son and, of course, meet the sharp-toothed title character himself.
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
Pop-Up Book of Death
The Pop-Up Book of Death is a collection of vivid and startling poems from Chad Helder. These poems navigate a humorous and unsettling landscape where horror movies transgress the boundaries of the screen, sinister words strike out from books like trapdoor spiders, and true love extinguishes every apocalyptic flare-up. In this bizarre terrain haunted by the white dog, Helder offers a pastiche of childhood memory, dream journal, and surrealist fantasy, confronting the horrors of The Closet and the anxieties of The Apocalypse.
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.