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It’s the last chance for a summer fling with a great book, and this month’s list of hot titles can be enjoyed over a leisurely weekend.

The year continues to churn out great new releases. Each month brings out debuts and follow-ups, a variety of unique and varied horror to explore, and new voices to discover. Within each book, no matter the length, are worlds and characters constructed in the way to best make them shine. In some cases, to sully and bring about cheers of revulsion and triumph.

From sci-fi novelettes to a novella-length ghost story and a gothic slice of life novel, there is something for everyone in this stack of recent releases.

Before Fall comes to cool things down and crank up the spooky atmosphere, make the most of summer’s last gasp with these quick and satisfying reads. 

1. Wired (Joe Clements)

WIRED takes a pulpy and old-school horror format and enriches it with some classic HG-Wells style speculative sci-fi and light philosophy, at no time skimping on the descriptive, Cronenberg-esque body horror that inspired it.

Bringing space horror in a bite-sized chunk, Clements writes what is essentially a slasher in space. A fast-paced novelette, the author does good work of building an atmosphere that is very much like Alien, allowing the readers to wallow in the heavy dread of the latter end of the story. As with any great slasher, it builds up to each effective kill with ease and brilliance.

Clements writes prose that gets the readers from point A to point B with such ease that once everything begins to kick off, the shift into the more gruesome points seems seamless.

There’s a feel of old-school cosmic horror surrounding the edges of the pages that amp the brilliance and genuine fun feel of this story in general.

2. Knock Knock (Heather Miller)

On a dark night, in an old house, at the top of a tall hill, Millie Carver woke with a start.

A slow story that threads its needle with acute precision, Heather Miller weaves a haunted house story and a story of family and how they dissolve with age. Catching tones of subtle gothic horrors, Miller shines in her debut.

The story lasts with the reader.

Taking the view of an elderly mother and then switching to her children, the readers are shown the soft divide that comes between generations. They see a bittersweet tale that unfolds before the reader’s eyes. The writing alone is enough to tug at the heartstrings, giving the characters a life that expands and catches a reality and truth of the world they inhabit.

This is a story about family and the fractures that come, and one that will leave the pages stained with tears.

3. Hello, Dove (Gillian Dowell)

Blindly following the road she was set upon, Genevieve Rowlen keeps her focus where she’s told to–only on the light. But darkness exists on the other side of all she’s known, and it’s effectively luring Genevieve to all the discoveries it has waiting for her.

Hello, Dove is a character study about the line bordering between innocence and nativity — where the line between good and bad is drawn in blurred greys, and where the titular bad characters speak with Shakespearean gravitas while the good characters fail with simple communication. Or lack of it.

Dowell takes a story that could easily fall into the tropes of a YA slice of life and twists them into a dark story about finding one’s true self.

Though a romance or two flirts through the weaving of the story, it subverts the expectations one might get. For a slice of life novel, it offers up a dark and gothic feel that enhances the characters that inhabit it.

Thematically rich, Dowell creates a very literary story that relishes in the dark moments that occur.

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