cover image Halfway Down the Stairs

Halfway Down the Stairs

Gary A. Braunbeck. JournalStone (, $29.95 trade paper (574p) ISBN 978-1-942712-59-6

This comprehensive collection, spanning 30 years of horror maven Braunbeck’s career, is an excellent showcase of his considerable talents, with stories running the gamut from all-out horror to more introspective chills. “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” tells the story of a man who blames all of his problems on the apple tree on his property; eventually he decides to cut it down, with disastrous results. A plain woman who longs to be beautiful gets her wish in the nightmarish “The Sisterhood of Plain-Faced Women,” in which the notion of ideal beauty is turned upside down. “El Poso Del Mundo” is a tale of vengeance on the Mexican border that’s as brutal as it is tragic, and “Attack of the Giant Deformed Mutant Cannibalistic Gnashing Slobberers from Planet Cygnus X-2.73: A Love Story” is an achingly bittersweet story about a man who seeks solace in space opera. There’s something for everyone in these 40 tales, and all readers will appreciate Braunbeck’s beautiful, hypnotic prose even as he twists the knife deeper and deeper. He writes horror with heart, never skimping on the elements that make the genre great. Agent: Robert Fleck, Fleck Agency. (Dec.)