The Devil of Echo Lake by Douglas Wynne

The Devil of Echo Lake by Douglas Wynne
The Devil of Echo Lake by Douglas Wynne

I love rock n’ roll horror. It’s an under appreciated subgenre rich with untold stories. There isn’t enough quality musical fiction out there. Joe Hill’s Heart Shaped Box is an obvious exception. Anne Rice’s Vampire Lestat fronted a rock band in The Queen of the Damned, as did the pre-emo bloodsucker of S.P. Somtow’s Vampire Junction. Stephen King, Peter Straub and Gary Braunbeck have all made excellent contributions to musical literature, and don’t forget Jeff Gelb’s Shock Rock anthologies.

Douglas Wynne loves rock ‘n roll horror too, and you can feel his passion for music drip off every page of The Devil of Echo Lake. The novel has a retro grunge feel (there are no cell phones and the musicians still record on analog tape) and uses all the rock ‘n roll archetypes — the wicked producer, the brooding rock star, and the overtly sexual groupie.

The story focuses on rookie engineer Jake, who finds himself caught between sinister producer Trevor Rail and tortured artist Billy Moon. Toss in a haunted converted church/recording studio, a couple of savage murders, and a showdown with the Great God Pan, and Jake’s got his hands full. It’s no wonder his love life is falling apart.

Fortunately, love conquers all — with assistance from a ghost and a satyr — and The Devil of Echo Lake ends in perfect harmony, with Jake learning a valuable lesson about the music business.

“You may find that records are kind of like hot dogs. You enjoy them a lot more before you know how they’re made.”

Douglas Wynne has a great sense of character and pacing. Jake is a sympathetic hero, and Billy and Trevor (even grizzled engineer Eddie) are larger-than-life figures that avoid becoming stereotypes. The Devil of Echo Lake hums along nicely, building a nice rhythm of action sequences and suspenseful passages. Wynne’s got style — it’s no surprise The Devil of Echo Lake was named JournalStone Publishing’s First Place Horror Fiction for 2012. The honor is well earned, and I look forward to more musical explorations from Mr. Wynne.

(Unabashed Plug: My own contribution to musical fiction is a novel called Hangman’s Jam. H.P. Lovecraft meets Motley Crue!)

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The Girl on the Glider by Brian Keene

Brian Keene's The Girl on the Glider, $2.99 ebook.
Brian Keene’s The Girl on the Glider, $2.99 ebook.

The Girl on the Glider introduces us to one of Brian Keene’s most interesting and complex characters—himself.

Keene’s foray into metafiction is a successful one. The Girl on the Glider chronicles Keene’s personal ghost story, as well as his private struggles as a husband, a father, and a cult horror writer with a big fan base but modest bank account.

Keene tips his hat to the authors that have walked this literary road before him; Hunter S. Thompson, Tim Powers, and Stephen King. The Girl On The Glider also shares a thematic bond with Whitley Strieber’s “all-true tales.” Is it easier or more difficult to suspend your disbelief when the storyteller is a known spinner of fantastic tales? Does even matter, so long as the writing is good?

Keene’s ghostly encounter leaves him a changed man — a better man.

The Girl on the Glider has the power to affect readers the same way.