A song that turns people into maniacs, a terrified street where only one child is allowed to trick ‘r treat, a broken man who is slowly turning into a Christmas tree, or a ghost with no home left to haunt. These are strange and frightening things, and the words needed to describe them must be stranger and more frightening still because who knows when such horrors might show up at your own door…
Here are fourteen new stories of the unsettling and weird from Jef Rouner (The Rook Circle), eight of which have never been published before. Presented with an intent for teaching people new ways to talk about the most monstrous of circumstances, the collection mixes empathy with the macabre to create a new, dark language. Prepare to define terror.
*One of the best pieces I’ve read about the genre in a while. – Joe Hill, author of Full Throttle
*Jef Rouner brings a sharp, original new voice to horror with his collection Stranger Words. Though these stories inhabit a world of frightening strangeness, they are not without humor and compassion for the human spirit. Each story is a fully-realized and complex world, and together they create a collection that is fresh and keenly insightful. Rouner knows how to write empathetic horror, where despite making mistakes and doing terrible things, most people are simply trying to do their best. The acknowledgement of each character's humanity, often in the face of bizarre and inhuman terrors, reminded me how much hope and joy can emerge from the darkness. Highly recommended; I can't wait to see what Rouner comes up with next. -Jo Kaplan, author of It Will Just Be Us
*Lovers of the dark written word know well that particular thrill of discovering a new author whose work is fresh, smart, sometimes funny but always disturbing. Jef Rouner is one of those rare authors for me, and this collection is fantastic. Discover him and be disturbed! - Lisa Morton, six-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award®
*Jef Rouner writes with a journalist’s eye for detail and a fantasist’s feel for the darkly absurd … and the just plain dark. He’s an endlessly inventive and innovative writer, and Stranger Words is a marvelous showcase for his range and his talent. - Matthew M. Bartlett, author of Gateways to Abomination