Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus: Raves for Curious Toys

Reviews for Elizabeth Hand’s upcoming historical crime novel Curious Toys are coming in, and they include words like “thrilling,” “richly imaginative,” and “deliciously unsettling.” (You’ve pre-ordered your copy, right?)

Library Journal gave the novel a starred review, saying:

The historical details are fantastic, as are several cameos by real-life figures besides Darger. When readers reach the end of this thrilling adventure, they’ll see how every choice has been perfectly made. ­Hand is a mage of the page. The gritty mise-en-scène and realistically portrayed characters in her novel will enchant those who like tough-girl protagonists and antiheroes, as well as fans of historical crime fiction.

Read the entire review at Library Journal.

Kirkus Reviews calls the book “richly imaginative and psychologically complex”:

To call the novel and its characters “colorful” is a terrific understatement. A carnival setting immediately allows for a higher threshold of the bizarre, but Hand skillfully develops each character beyond mere oddity or empty sensation. Most of all, Pin is an engaging, courageous heroine, and her musings on gender identity are both poignant and relevant.

Read the entire review at Kirkus Reviews.

And Booklist also gave Curious Toys a starred review:

Hand expertly plays the excitement of Chicago’s burgeoning entertainment industry against the killer’s unsettling obsession with dolls, twisting the story even darker by pairing Pin with Henry Darger, a freshly released psychiatric patient who claims he’s on a mission to save Chicago’s girls. A well-crafted and deliciously unsettling period thriller that will find fans among those who enjoy Caleb Carr’s mix of early modern technology and investigative action.

Link to come.

You can pre-order Curious Toys from your local bookstore or from your favorite online retailer. Find links on the Curious Toys page.

Read Cass Neary if you like Veronica Mars

In honor of a new Veronica Mars season hitting Hulu, Literary Hub lists “11 Books to Read if You’re an Adult Who Loves Veronica Mars”. The list includes Generation Loss alongside works from Tana French, Sue Grafton, and Shirley Jackson.

If you wish Veronica were actually punk, and not just Neptune punk, you may just fall for Cass Neary, a skilled photographer in the 1970s New York music scene who bottoms out and, years later, finds herself investigating a murder.

You can read the entire list at Literary Hub.

Liz talks NYC and DC punk with Razorcake

Writer Michael T. Fournier interviewed Liz for punk zine Razorcake’s Paging All Punks, “a new series focused on interviews with writers about their involvement in the punk scene.” Their conversation touches on Liz’s involvement in the New York City and Washington, DC punk scenes, punk’s influence on her life and writing, jobs, being poor, Maine, and lots inbetween.

…I was in awe of Legs [McNeil] and John Holmstrom. I had no conception that they were just a couple of kids my age who were doing this DIY thing in a storefront. It’s very weird. I look at myself back then, and I didn’t, for whatever reason—maybe because I wanted to be a “writer,” a quote unquote writer, writing books that would be published by a publisher, or getting published in The New Yorker, you know what I mean? I had this fantasy that’s the kind of writer I was going to be.

Or I wanted to be Lester Bangs. I really wanted to be a rock critic. I had no conception of how to do it. I don’t know if it’s because I was a young woman, you know? Or because I didn’t know other people who were doing it. I knew musicians, people in bands who were performers, but I didn’t know other kinds of makers. I guess I wasn’t confident enough to put myself out there with writing.

Read the entire interview at Razorcake.

Nightmare Fuel includes Wylding Hall in "best folk horror" list

In honor of the impending release of Midsommar—director Ari Aster’s follow-up to HereditaryNightmare Fuel, a dark lit newsletter by Tor senior marketing manager Emily Hughes, has included Wylding Hall in a list of best folk horror.

Hall appears alongside Andrew Michael Hurley’s The Loney, Thomas Tryon’s Harvest Home, and Kai Ashante Wilson’s The Devil in America.

The book is written as an oral history, a series of interviews with the surviving band members, their manager, and a journalist who profiled the band that summer, which I love as a narrative choice, because you’re immediately plunged into a plethora of narrators of varying degrees of unreliability. Add that to the fact that the interviews are taking place forty years after the events of the story, and you’ve got a nice haze of uncertainty over what actually happened at Wylding Hall.

You can read the entire newsletter over at Nightmare Fuel on Substack, and subscribe to receive future editions (it’s free!).

Cass Neary series named a touchstone in "hipster mystery" canon

Lisa Levy of Crime Reads has assembled a list of canon texts for what she coins "Hipster Mystery” (or “hipstery”)—crime novels featuring “hipster” characters (are they in a band? were they in a band? do they wear band t-shirts?) or set in notoriously hipster scenes or cities and neighborhoods (Brookyln, East Village, London).

Levy includes the Cass Neary Crime Novels in her canon, citing Cass’s gritty, punk aesthetic, and the scenes Cass finds herself moving through:

In her adventures we not only see underground NYC but the speed metal culture of Scandinavia and Iceland, a 1960s communal Maine idyll gone wrong, and the dank basement clubs of contemporary London.

You can read the entire article over at Crime Reads.

Writing, Punk & Inexplicable Experiences: Elizabeth Hand on This Is Horror Podcast

Elizabeth joined the crew at the This Is Horror Podcast to discuss her first experiences with story, writers that had an effect on her, the punk scene’s influence on her writing, Wylding Hall, PS Publishing—the famous U.K. indie genre publisher—and much more. The interview is split into two parts:

TIH 273: Elizabeth Hand on Creative Writing, Life Lessons, and the Seventies Punk Scene