Midwestern Gothic

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Pub Date Sep 17 2024 | Archive Date Sep 10 2024

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Four gothic novellas from the novelist of Kill Creek and Violet, praised by the New York Times, National Public Radio, and the American Library Association.

In The Door in the Field, a construction worker's bad day becomes a far worse night when drinks at an off-the-books bar send him down an unforeseeably bloody path.

In The Boy in the Woods, something evil has infected the counselors at a summer camp, and a young boy will have to do anything he can to survive the night.

In One Half of a Child’s Face, a woman spying on her daughter and ex-husband notices an odd painting hanging in an empty apartment . . . one that seems to call to the building’s children.

In Wear Your Secret Like a Stone, a big-box clerk discovers that her book pick for a Halloween display echoes a dark secret hidden beneath the idyllic facade of her hometown.

With this collection, Scott Thomas digs his hands into the soil of the American heartland and establishes himself as a master of Midwestern Gothic.
Four gothic novellas from the novelist of Kill Creek and Violet, praised by the New York Times, National Public Radio, and the American Library Association.

In The Door in the Field, a...

Advance Praise

“An immersive, chilling, and unsettling read that will put Blantonville on the horror map right next to Castle Rock. Dripping with overwhelming dread on every page.” Library Journal (starred review)

Midwestern Gothic roots its dread down deep into the region . . . every howl could be the wind or a scream.” —Clay McLeod Chapman

“Grabs you by the face. Grim and brutal.” —Stephen Graham Jones

“Scott Thomas puts a cool, creepy twist on the summer camp killer story.” —Paul Tremblay

“An immersive, chilling, and unsettling read that will put Blantonville on the horror map right next to Castle Rock. Dripping with overwhelming dread on every page.” Library Journal (starred review)


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ISBN 9781950301614
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Featured Reviews

Scott Thomas is the author of Kill Creek, a favorite horror novel of mine. Midwestern Gothic is a collection of 4 gothic novellas from his collection of writings.

The Door in the Field, focuses upon a construction worker who can't control his anger and The Boy in the Woods touches on the evil at a summer camp. In One Half of a Child’s Face, a woman sees a mysterious painting while spying on her family and in Wear Your Secret Like a Stone, a store worker makes a haunting discovery while picking books for a Halloween display.
All four are unique and creepy and perfect for your next long story night! #Scottthomas #midwesterngothic.#inkshares

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I adored Scott Thomas's KILL CREEK, absolutely adored its window on "We're not in Kansas anymore!" through unexpected twists of Horror set in a mild-seeming Midwest rural locale. Now that I've raced through the four horrifying novellas comprising MIDWESTERN GOTHIC, I'm eager to read KILL CREEK again. MIDWESTERN GOTHIC, in its own inimitable fashion, offers tribute to the Horror authors at the heart of KILL CREEK, extending, as it were, their reach. You needn't have read KILL CREEK to be terrified by MIDWESTERN GOTHIC [but then, WHY haven't you read it?].

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This is a book containing four novellas all set in Kansas. If you've read Kill Creek by this author, you'll find some pleasant surprises within these terrifying stories.

And they are terrifying. Each one focuses on various characters but all of them take you in directions you can't imagine from the beginning. Like a fight at a construction site, a kid at a summer camp, or a woman who's trying to get some editing work done. Seemingly innocent things that happen every day. Until the author puts them into horrific circumstances they are not prepared for.

From murder to madness. Inexplicable monstrosities to guilt. Humanity meets its superior in these delightfully twisted tales and you'll be left breathless.

I loved these four novellas. And there are characters from his novel, Kill Creek, that make appearances in each of them. There are also references to certain businesses from previous stories so these all have a feeling of being connected or part of the same universe.

The stories are twisty, mind bending, and creepy as hell. You definitely want to read for yourself and I highly recommend it.

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Midwestern Gothic by Scott Thomas is a collection of four horror novellas all set in Kansas, centered around Blantonville, a place you should be familiar with if you’ve read any of Thomas’s other novels. Each story is more unsettling than the last; the author has a foreboding way of writing that makes the feeling of imposing doom something to be choked on. These stories don’t focus on haunted objects, buildings, or people. These stories focus on the land; it’s the land that is haunted: “...for you can own a structure but you cannot truly own the land upon which it sits.” Thomas very successfully gives life to the land, which makes these stories all the more sinister. Here is a breakdown of the stories included in this collection:

The Door in the Field: Follows Ray, a construction worker who, after a terrible accident, has trouble controlling his temper, which leads to devastating consequences. (Favorite quote: “If I’m seeing it, is it seeing me?”)

Wear Your Secret Like A Stone: Follows Tara, an employee of BuyBig (which reminded me of Costco), who is determined to find the woman who complained about the book Tara chose for the store's Halloween display. What she discovers isn’t at all what she bargained for. (Favorite quote: “Nobody is exactly what people think they are. We all wear masks for one reason or another.”)

The Boy in the Woods: Follows 10-year-old Eddie and what should have been his last night at Summer Camp. What unfolds is a night full of unspeakable terror. Something's wrong with the camp counselors. (Favorite quote: “He had once heard that the weight of a soul was a few grams, but the unbelievable heaviness left by its absence was immeasurable.”)

One Half of a Child’s Face: Follows Sienna, recently divorced, who spies on her ex-husband and daughter in the apartment building down the hill. When a mysterious entity visits and threatens to take her child, Sienna will stop at nothing to make sure her daughter is safe. (Favorite quote: “Remember what you lost. But never forget what you still have.”)

Thank you to the author, Scott Thomas, Netgalley, and Inkshares for allowing me to read this ARC early. All opinions are my own. Midwestern Gothic publishes on April 30th.

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One of the Best 5 Star Books I've Read This Year!

Scott Thomas is genuinely a master of the craft. When I saw that he had a collection of novellas coming out I knew I was going to love them. His writing style just pulls you under a spell and you'll blink and realize that 100+ pages have flown by as you found yourself devouring his stories. His writing similarly to that to Stephen King seems to be interwoven with characters from all of his work finding homes and mentions through the pages of this story! It makes for such a fun Easter Egg hunt!

The body horror, the psychological terror, and the deliciously devious character writing will ensure that this book will haunt you for ages to come!

The Door in the Field - ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

- This story ramps up slowly, but by the ending of this story, you'll know nothing is safe. What a twisting and turning story that truly gave me whiplash because of the reveals. The pacing (even with a slower start) keeps you wanting to know more and the style that this is presented with takes it to the next level.
- There are also some Easter Eggs in this that think long time fans of Thomas are going to LOVE!

Wear Your Secret Like A Stone ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

- I won't be able to put into words how literally terrifying this story was. The way that Thomas chose his words in this story, the sheer journey that the main character, Tara, takes is just literally superb. It truly scared the death out of me. The imagery of what happens appears behind my eyelids every time I close my eyes. This is truly amazing folk horror.
- PS - if you loved Grady Hendrix's Ankle Snatcher then this will give you the cravings you've been having.

The Boy in the Woods ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

- Wow, this is a whirlwind of a summer camp story that is chock full of deliciously devious body horror. This story follows Eddie who has unfortunately been bullied for a majority of his life due to a dog related accident. However, Eddie witnesses something bone chilling seemingly torn from the pages of one of his favorite stories. Kids at his camp aren't right. They are so far from right that Eddie is now in fear for his life.
- Seriously perfect for fans of the Faculty (film) or The Troop by Nick Cutter.
- I'm serious - please give us a glimpse into the Camp's future after the events of this story! What a thrill ride.

One Half of a Child's Face ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- This story didn't grab me as quickly as the others in this collection, however the pay off in this story was so Hitchcock that I loved it just the same. This plays out like some twisted Rear Window but with a terrifying and horrid twist that as a reader I really enjoyed.
- The Easter eggs in this story are really fun too!

All in all this collection is truly spectacular and will stick with me for a while to come. Some of the horror sequences in this story are next level and inspired such bone-deep terror. These stories are fun and have so much for readers!

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What a wonderful surprise! I was instantly drawn to Scott Thomas's Midwestern Gothic, as a fan of the gothic and from the Midwest (born and raised in northern IL and recently moved to southern MO, and apparently not too far from the author's hometown, and the town he used as inspiration for the fictional Blantonville in his collection). The last story in Thomas' collection features snippets of an essay on what midwestern gothic is, how the traditional gothic setting of an old house is transferred to the setting of the old land in the midwest, because that's where our historical stories of pain, misery, and horror reside: in the land.

If you're unfamiliar with the American midwest, this book is a great place to start to get the vibe of what it can be like in the rural parts of the middle of our country. Even though I grew up in Illinois and not Kansas, I could still see a lot of what I remembered from my own childhood in settings of these stories, but even if I didn't have that connection Thomas evokes that atmosphere expertly.

This book contains four incredible novellas, all wonderful and engrossing, varying between turning tropes on their head to embracing those tropes in homages to other genres. I also really love that a couple stories also include some cosmic horror, my favorite :)

The Door in the Field - A line in a book that's not meant to be there sends a man on a downward spiral, dragging him and a few of those around him down a path of no return. Spooky, creepy, and something I've actually had nightmares about from growing up surround by cornfields.

Wear Your Secret Like a Stone - "There are shadows in the forest that cannot be trees". Ah! About the dangers of getting stuck in a small town... lol

The Boy in the Woods - Probably my favorite story in the bunch, it's a classic summer camp horror story but with a fun twist. Very enjoyable and fun, has some spooks but not outright scary.

One Half of a Child's Face - A close-second for favorite and the most outright cosmic horror of the bunch. This, focusing more on the protagonist's mental state and the lives of the people in Riverside Apartments, would make for an excellent full-length novel, I think! Great ending as well.

At the end, I learned from the author bio and acknowledgements that Thomas had an hand in RL Stine's The Haunting Hour tv show and that alone would have sold me on this book had I know, because that is one of the best and most underrated kid's horror shows out there, with some genuine scares.

I think Midwestern Gothic is going to be one of my favorite books this year.

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Midwestern Gothic by Scott Thomas is an intriguing collection of four eerie novellas from the acclaimed author of "Kill Creek."

It has a strong start with "The Door in the Field," where a construction worker grapples with his inner demons, while "The Boy in the Woods" unveils the dark secrets lurking within a seemingly innocent summer camp. In "One Half of a Child’s Face," a woman's voyeuristic curiosity leads her to a mysterious painting, while "Wear Your Secret Like a Stone" follows a store worker's chilling discovery after her controversial choice for a book recommendation in a Halloween store display. Wear Your Secret Like a Stone and The Boy in the Woods were my two favorites, but all were delightfully creepy and weird.

With each story offering a unique blend of suspense and creepiness, "Midwestern Gothic" promises an unforgettable journey into the depths of the unknown. Perfect for those seeking a spine-tingling read to accompany their next late-night reading session! Thanks so much to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

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These are some of the best short horror stories that I've read all year! This author has firmly pulled me in as a new fan and I cannot wait to read more from him. Defining, terrifying, sleep-with-a-nightlight-on type of horror!

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Scott Thomas does a great job in bringing the Midwestern gothic elements on what was going on in this collection. I enjoyed each story and that it was wonderfully done. It had that horror element and worked with my expectations. It left me wanting to read more from Scott Thomas.

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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this eARC.

"Midwestern Gothic" by Scott Thomas is a compelling collection that delves deep into the heart of American folklore, intertwining the mundane with the macabre. This anthology of novellas is a testament to Thomas' ability to transform the familiar landscapes of the Midwest into realms of haunting tales and unsettling mysteries.

The book opens with "The Door in the Field" , where we follow Rayland Allen, a construction worker whose bad day spirals into a nightmarish ordeal. Thomas masterfully crafts a narrative that is as much about the internal demons as it is about the external horrors that Rayland faces.

In "The Boy in the Woods" , the innocence of summer camp is shattered by a creeping evil that infects the counselors. Young Eddie Reicher's fight for survival is a chilling reminder of the thin veil between childhood fears and real-world terrors.

"One Half of a Child’s Face" introduces us to Sienna Franklin, a recently divorced mother who becomes entangled in a disturbing mystery centered around a peculiar painting. Thomas' exploration of obsession and the supernatural is both gripping and thought-provoking.

The collection concludes with "Wear Your Secret Like a Stone", as the seemingly innocuous task of setting up a Halloween book display unearths a dark sectet. This story is a poignant commentary on the shadows that lurk beneath the surface of small-town life.

Scott Thomas' "Midwestern Gothic" is not just a series of horror stories; it is a mosaic of the human condition, painted on a canvas of the eerie and the Gothic. The novellas, each around 100 pages, are the perfect length to immerse oneself fully without overstaying their welcome. The interconnections between the stories and nods to Thomas' previous work, "Kill Creek" , add layers of depth and intrigue.

The use of folklore is particularly striking, with each tale drawing from different cultural backgrounds, yet all converging in the Midwestern setting. The references to horror literature throughout the book create a rich tapestry that celebrates the genre and its enthusiasts.

"Midwestern Gothic" is a must-read for fans of horror and Gothic fiction. This is a collection that but resonates with the reader, ensuring Scott Thomas reputation as a master of Midwestern Gothic, and this book is a shining example of his craft.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this ARC.

HUGE fan of Kill Creek, so was very excited to read these 4 short stories. Totally exceeded my expectations--especially the returning characters from Kill Creek.

My favorite was A Boy in the Woods. Great twist on the classic summer camp yarn.

Eager to read Scott Thomas' next novel.

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Being that the Midwestern United States is not the first place I think of when I hear the word "gothic," I found the title alone intriguing enough to request this from NetGalley. (That and the fact that I'm already a fan of Scott Thomas' work.) As it turns out, this was a great decision on my part!

Midwestern Gothic contains 4 novellas that range from cosmic to gory to just plain scary. If you've read his book KILL CREEK, you are already familiar with Blantonville, Kansas. (Please note that you do NOT have to have read KILL CREEK to read this collection. But if you have, there are some nice Easter eggs here for you!) In my opinion, Blantonville is just as scary as Derry, Maine, Oxrun Station, or Goblin, Michigan. (If you know, you know.)

Within this novella we meet a few of the citizens of Blantonville, but what's most interesting about this book as a whole is that it's the land itself that is haunted. The history of it, the battles over it, etc.. It's not a haunted house, it's not a serial killer, (though there are some), it's just land. Land that has soaked up the blood of its inhabitants for years, even centuries.

Stand alone doors in a field, pathways to other worlds, a smidge of the cosmic, a horrific story of summer camp, and a woman who watches the apartments of her neighbors instead of television. The last tale of the woman watching a nearby apartment building was brilliant. (Rear Window-ish brilliant.) The main character of the story is editing a book about gothic stories in the Midwest, while being a character in a book about gothic stories of the Midwest. Again, I say BRILLIANT!

This novella collection has everything a horror lover like me wants in a book. It has the scares and the gore, but it also has a sense of itself, if that makes any sense. As I was reading, the admirable skills of the author became readily apparent and I devoured the 440 pages within a week. When I wasn't reading I wanted to be. MIDWESTERN GOTHIC made me wish I didn't have a full time job and a family. It was that good.

To sum up, I think this is now my favorite Scott Thomas book, even over KILL CREEK, which I adored. Four novellas, each its own distinct tale, each taking place on that haunted Midwestern land.

My highest recommendation!

*ARC from publisher. Thank you!*

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_Midwestern Gothic_ by Scott Thomas is a collection of horror stories that are engrossing, dark, and are so detailed in the gothic setting of the Midwest that the reader feels like they are there with the characters. _The Door in the Field_ tells the story of Rayland Allen, a construction worker with a harrowing past who falls into a very disturbing discovery that chills the reader. _Wear Your Secret Like a Stone_ follows Tara, a supermarket worker dealing with the loss of a close friend and who dreams of leaving town, who becomes obsessed with an old town legend. _The Boy in the Woods_ centers on the child Eddie who suffers with trauma as he struggles to survive one more night at summer camp. And lastly _One Half of a Child’s Face_ follows Sienna, a voyeur of a nearby apartment building where her family lives, as she watches children in the building mysteriously gather around a sinister painting. All of the stories fill the reader with dread and fear and will keep them engrossed. This is a great gothic horror collection.

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"In our galley letter for Violet [also by Scott Thomas] referring to the dominance of the horror greats, we wrote that nothing tall grows in the shadow of a great oak. We humbly submit this collection of novellas as more than a seedling in the shade of these great oaks." Inkshares

"...now I know that Kill Creek isn’t the only stain on this world. It’s not one shadow we live in but a series of shadows cast by objects we don’t even know are there. Most people focus only on the sunlight because that’s the way you get through life— you think of the warmth and try to ignore the shiver that runs down your spine or the prickling of your skin when you suddenly pass unexpectedly through darkness."

Author Scott Thomas writing style, if you've sampled his other works, often involves a story within a story, which I quite like. These novellas are no exception. I enjoyed April Staudt's Roeland Park, Kansas trek to meet her mysterious father. "My father was once two people [she says]. This is the story of how he became a third." and so begins the first story within a story. Scott Thomas is quickly becoming a favorite author of mine. His books almost keep me entranced. I can't explain it, but the prose has a melodic, uncanny vibe to it that I can't get enough of. If you enjoyed Kill Creek, go immediately and preorder Midwestern Gothic, which releases Sept 17th.

Even though I'm not a huge fan of short story anthologies, Scott Thomas writing speaks to me. Outstanding work on these. I will now be circling back for Violet.

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Scott Thomas is a master of horror and “Midwestern Gothic” is a terrifyingly terrific collection. 4 knockout Novellas that will have you thanking the horror gods for Scott Thomas. I was in a bit of a reading rut and this collection snapped me out of it. Thomas gave us one of the finest haunted house novels ever in “Kill Creek” and here he works in the same universe but delivers starkly different horrors. While there are some connecting threads each one stands on its own as a masterwork of horror storytelling. While he may not be as “prolific” as some, in my opinion he can stand along side the horror greats. Read it! Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.

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