Posts Tagged ‘Kristin Dearborn’

I am a bit late with my 2016 list as the first month of 2017 is just about over, but I still wanted to take a minute and share some of my favorite reads from this year. 2016 was a slow year for The Horror Bookshelf and I didn’t hit any of my goals that I made this time last year, but it was for a happy reason! The last few months of 2016 were some of the happiest in my life as my wife and I had our first child. The blog has slowed down considerably, but I do not plan on closing The Horror Bookshelf. I fell a bit behind, but I plan on starting 2017 off catching up on some reviews I owe and then hopefully getting back into a normal routine. I have met so many great people through this blog and it would take forever to name everyone, but I want to thank all of my friends, authors, and readers for sticking with me and offering me encouragement and support. My main goal for this site has always been to have fun, interact with other horror fans, and give back to the authors whose art has inspired me and helped me through some rough patches. That goal remains the same and I hope I can continue the blog for many more years.

Being that I fell a bit behind, some of the books featured here haven’t had their full reviews run yet, but they are on the way. I still want to recognize the authors and their works for helping make 2016 an incredible year for this horror fan. Here is a list of my favorite reads from 2016. I decided to go with a Top 15 for novels, a Top 10 for novellas and a Top 5 for Anthologies and Collections. Thanks for sticking with me this far and I hope you find some great new reads on this list!

Novels

1. Ronald Malfi The Night Parade 

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2. John C. Foster Mister White 

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3. Kristopher Rufty Desolation 

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4. Jonathan Janz Children of the Dark

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5. Justin Cronin The City of Mirrors

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6. Damien Angelica Walters Paper Tigers

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7. Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason Mayan Blue

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8. D. Alexander Ward Beneath Ash & Bone

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9. Hunter Shea The Jersey Devil

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10. Joe Hill The Fireman

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11. Kristin Dearborn Stolen Away

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12. Robert E. Dunn A Living Grave

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13. Stephen Kozeniewski Hunter of the Dead

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14. Joe Schwartz Stabco

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15. John Quick Consequences

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Novellas

1. Adam Howe Tijuana Donkey Showdown

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2. Glenn Rolfe Chasing Ghosts

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3. Josh Malerman A House At The Bottom of a Lake

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4. Mark Matthews All Smoke Rises

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5. Robert E. Dunn Motorman

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6. John F.D. Taff The Desolated Orchard

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7. Kristin Dearborn Woman in White

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9. David Bernstein Blue Demon

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10. Lucas Mangum Mania

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Anthologies and Collections

1. I Can Taste The Blood

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2. Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories

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3. Richard Thomas Tribulations

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4. Brian Moreland Blood Sacrifices

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5. Glenn Rolfe Out of Range

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BOOK INFO

Publisher: Raw Dog Screaming Press

Length: 220 Pages

Release Date: June 24, 2016

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour for Stolen Away

My first introduction to Kristin Dearborn’s work was her DarkFuse novella Woman In White from earlier this year. I was blown away by that story which was the perfect mix of atmospheric tension and plenty of gruesome scenes that would appeal to just about any horror fan. In addition to that, I loved how Dearborn was able to take a familiar and well-known legend and morph it into something unique. After I read Woman In White I knew I had to read more of her work, so I was excited to dive into Stolen Away which is a tale of demonic evil and a mother’s fight to protect her children at all costs.

Stolen Away opens strongly with a single line that is a nightmarish scenario for any parent, “The baby was gone”. That is the first thought that pops into Trisha Callahan’s mind after waking up in the sweltering heat of her apartment. No matter how many times she tells herself she was crazy and that it was impossible, she just couldn’t shake that nagging feeling that something isn’t right. As she gathers her bearings, she hears her daughter Kourtney’s screams piercing the heavy air of the apartment. After a few moments of frantically searching for a way to open the locked door of Kourtney and Braydens room, Trisha finally busts into the room and sees a sight that would make any parent’s heart drop – an empty crib. After finally calming her daughter down, Trisha gets her to tell her what happened and what she says causes Trisha’s world to fall apart – a monster took him.

Not knowing what to do after Trisha descends into a haze of confusion, Kourtney calls her father, Joel Preston. He heads over to find out what happened pissed because of how is ex is acting and worried about the two mobsters staking out his house. When he arrives, it is obvious that there is a lot of painful memories between them. Although they fight, Joel calms down long enough to help take care of Trisha and get her to tell him what happened. As they are debating what to do, a deranged man shows up in their doorway with a gun and makes ominous mention of demons and the fact that Brayden is missing. Before they can ask him any questions as to how he knows about Brayden, he kills himself in front of them. After this horrific incident, Joel and Trisha decide they have no choice but to hit the road to avoid explaining their impossible story to police officers and to search for answers regarding Brayden.

As if it wasn’t bad enough that they have to track down a demon in order to rescue Brayden, Joel’s own past rears its ugly head as mobsters Andretti and Barlow attempt to blackmail them if they don’t get the $1 million Joel owes them. After recounting the story of Brayden’s birth to Joel, they try to track down people who may have been there that night. They quickly realize that Trisha isn’t DEMON’s first victim and probably won’t be his last. As they put the pieces of the puzzle together and get closer to the truth, they team up with some interesting characters that have ties to DEMON’s world and journey into the jaws of hell to try to rescue Brayden and stop DEMON once and for all.

There are a lot of things I love about Stolen Away, but what impressed me the most about this book was the incredible characterization. Dearborn utilizes flashbacks from both Joel and Trisha’s lives throughout the story to demonstrate the hardship they have had to endure so far in their life and their struggle to better their lives. When the crazed gun man shoots himself in Trisha’s apartment, we learn that Trisha had seen death before when he best friend OD’d when she was just 15-years-old. Joel is a former dealer and hell, one memory Trisha has is of Joel bring a half-pound of meth home. What I loved about this story and Dearborn’s portrayal about these characters is that they are very real. A lot of times, the heroes or main character of a novel often seem fairly squeaky clean, but it is clear that both Joel and Trisha have a lot of baggage in their past and decisions they are not proud of. However, throughout the course of the novel we get to watch them grow from this period of hardship as they bond over trying to rescue Brayden and attempt to get their lives back on track even as chaos swirls around them.

While the characterization is strongest for the main characters Trisha and Joel, Dearborn also rounds out the cast of Stolen Away with some pretty interesting minor characters as well. There is the violent mob enforcer Barlow, who has the crazy idea that he will be able to wrangle a demon and make it bend to his will. My favorite though would have to be Tabatha, who works in an occult store and has special skills and knowledge that she uses to help Trisha and Joel. She has a vast knowledge of the occult and is a total badass that can see right through DEMON’s bullshit.

One of the things that I liked was that even though Joel seems to accept Trisha’s explanation of a demon coming to collect her son without question, their pasts add a wrinkle of tension to the story when it comes to the characters around them. Sure, in most horror novels that involve demons or some other supernatural entity, it often takes the characters a large portion of the novel to convince others that what is happening is real. But by giving the two main characters checkered pasts – a history of drug use and arrests – it helps drive the narrative. Joel and Trisha mostly rely on each other and only get help from people who had similar experiences. Who would listen to such an outlandish story from two people who have a troubled history and in Joel’s case a record? Had an encounter with DEMON not happened right before her very eyes, I doubt Joel’s mom would have believed their story.

Dearborn puts an original, frightening spin on the demon story while still maintaining traditional possession themes. Stolen Away is unlike any other story I have read because it’s not simply a possession story, but something far more sinister in my opinion. There is a lot of familiar demon characteristics that come into play especially when they meet Sydeny, a woman who offers her assistance in the battle against DEMON. She tells them that normal bullets wont work and the only way to hurt him is through iron bullets and salt. She also gives them a theory about the demon children and how Brayden could possibly grow up if they get him back. There is also the sacrifices and crossroads aspect of demon lore woven into the story as well.

Also, Dearborn nails some really great and chilling possession scenes in this book. The first time that Trisha’s body is taken over by DEMON, that whole sequence is just incredible. While it definitely has the hallmarks of classics like The Exorcist, there is enough of Dearborn’s own originality and tiny details there that makes the scenes really pop. I don’t want to spoil too much of it because coming across these scenes is half the fun of reading Stolen Away, but during the exorcism there is a scene that utilizes Trisha’s tattoos that I thought was brilliant. There is also some scary creature’s other than DEMON at work. Let’s just say that I will never look at retriever’s the same way again after reading Stolen Away! 

While Stolen Away is a pretty dark story, there are moments of humor that just adds to the enjoyment of the novel and make Joel and Trisha even more realistic characters. When they learn that salt weakens DEMON, they run into a 7-11 and buy all the salt in the store. Joel then ponders if it has to be iodized or if it had to be rock salt. That sort of obliviousness and silly questions is how most normal people would react to a situation the defies everything they know about the world and their own personal beliefs.

There are only a few moments in this novel that didn’t really work for me. There is an interlude focusing on Trisha’s friend Cherry that details the aftermath her interaction with Demon. I liked the section by itself and it is an essential component to the story because we see the impact DEMON has on these women’s lives. However, we go a long period without seeing Cherry again, so it sort of disrupts the flow of the story a little. I did like the juxtaposition between Cherry and Trisha though in how they handled the situation, because Trisha could have easily taken the same path. The mob story line seemed like a cool addition to the story and an added threat for Trisha and Joel to deal with, but it kind of fizzles out as the novel progresses. Barlow does make an important appearance in the novel’s second act, he also has a long absence like Cherry and seems like a weird addition to the story at that point.

Despite those minor issues, I still think Stolen Away is a brilliant novel and will definitely rank high on my “Best of” list at the end of the year. Woman In White was my introduction to Dearborn’s work and while I love that novella, I think Stolen Away is even better. I am a huge fan of Dearborn’s work and after reading these two awesome books I am kicking myself for not being aware of her stuff sooner. I highly recommend Stolen Away and I can’t wait to see what sort of dark stories she unleashes next!

Rating: 4.5/5

LINKS

Kristin Dearborn’s Official Website

Raw Dog Screaming Press’ Official Website

Purchase Stolen Away: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Raw Dog Screaming Press, or grab a copy from your favorite bookstore!

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Use these hashtags to help spread the word about Stolen Away!-  #StolenAway #DEMON #KristinDearborn

Stolen Away Synopsis

Trisha will admit she’s made a few mistakes in her life but that checkered past is behind her. She loves her kids, even if it’s tough being a single mom. But her loyalties are put to the test when her infant son disappears in the middle of the night, and his big sister says a monster took him.

Now Trisha has to face the full truth behind the one-night-stand that produced Brayden in all its scaly torridness – Brayden’s father wasn’t human and isn’t interested in sharing custody. However, even though DEMON has pulled this stunt many times before, he made a mistake when he chose Trisha. The one thing she won’t do is give up her son without a fight. Along with her ex-boyfriend, Joel, Trisha is dragged back into the seedy underworld in a desperate fight to reclaim her son, only this time she’s got a lot more to lose.

About the cover

The cover was created by Italian artist Daniele Serra. He is a winner of the British Fantasy Award and has worked with companies such as DC Comics, Image Comics, Cemetery Dance, Weird Tales Magazine and PS Publishing. Recently his work was featured as interior art in a scene of Stephen King’s The Cell, with Samuel Jackson looking it over. Visit his web site to see more of his art: http://www.multigrade.it

Praise for Kristin Dearbon

“In Stolen Away, Kristin Dearborn writes with a confidence and ferocity that demands you keep turning pages. Where lesser writers would flinch and look away, Dearborn tells the tale the way it should be, with cruelty and fascination for both her characters and the story. Kristin Dearborn isn’t just a writer to watch, she’s a writer to watch out for. If she’s swinging, you might want to duck, because she hits hard!—Bracken MacLeod, author of Mountain and Stranded

“Kristin Dearborn’s fast-paced horror thriller, Stolen Away, will possess readers as they strap in for a demonic thrill ride of sin and redemption.”—Stephanie M. Wytovich, author of An Exorcism of Angels

“Gripping nonstop suspense and unsettling horror that blazes the pages from start to finish. You’ll swear Stolen Away was written by a seasoned veteran of best-selling novels. Expect to want more after reading the second novel by Kristin Dearborn, an author whose work will shoot her straight to the top of reading lists.”—Rena Mason, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Evolutionist

“Kristin Dearborn catapults readers into an intricately layered world that is bleak and terrifying but never so damned as to be without hope or redemption.  If the devil, so to speak, is in the details, then this book raises hell, exploring not just demons internal as well as external, but also all the beautiful, heart-wrenching, contradictorily complex, powerful little things that define human experience. This book earns a prominent place of the bookshelf of any fan of demonic fiction.” —Mary SanGiovanni, author of The Hollower trilogy and Chills

“Horror born straight from a nor’easter, Dearborn’s Woman in White is a great read for a winter night—with a monster I’ll never forget.” Christopher Irvin, author of Federales and Burn Cards

“Kristin Dearborn’s Woman in White is a rip-roaring monster tale with sharp-eyed characterization and something to say about the power dynamics between men and woman. Thought-provoking and entertaining as hell!” Tim Waggoner, author of Eat the Night

“Great stuff! Suspenseful, quickly paced, unpredictable and wonderfully evil tale. Kristin Dearborn’s best yet!” Jeff Strand, author of Pressure

“Dearborn has a wonderful sense of the macabre, along with the ability to balance the spookier aspects of her work with well-rendered, solid characterizations…Sacrifice Island is a blazing fast read, with engaging characters and a compelling narrative.” The Maine Edge

Sacrifice Island is a fresh and interesting take on a tried and true horror setup.” Examiner

Kristin Dearborn Biography

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If it screams, squelches, or bleeds, Kristin Dearborn has probably written about it. Kristin has written books such as Sacrifice Island (DarkFuse), Trinity (DarkFuse), and had fiction published in several magazines and anthologies. Stolen Away was recently a limited edition offered from Thunderstorm Books, which sold out.

She revels in comments like, “But you look so normal…how do you come up with that stuff?” A life-long New Englander, she aspires to the footsteps of the local masters, Messrs. King and Lovecraft. When not writing or rotting her brain with cheesy horror flicks (preferably creature features!) she can be found scaling rock cliffs or zipping around Vermont on a motorcycle, or gallivanting around the globe. Kristin’s latest DarkFuse release is Woman in White.

Find more about Kristin online at kristindearborn.com or Facebook.

Want to Feature Kristin Dearborn?

If you would like a copy of the book for review or to conduct an interview with Kristin Dearborn, please contact Erin Al-Mehairi, Publicist, at Hook of a Book Media: hookofabook@hotmail.com.

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BOOK INFO

Length: 139 Pages

Publisher: DarkFuse

Release Date: February 28, 2016

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review as part of the Woman In White Blog Tour

Woman In White is my first experience reading Kristin Dearborn’s work and I was hooked as soon as I read the synopsis. I couldn’t help but think it had all the hallmarks of my favorite type of horror story – A fierce storm stranding inhabitants in a small town cut off from civilization, a bizarre mystery, and elements of the supernatural. After reading Woman In White, I can safely say it lived up to my expectations and I am so glad I signed up for the novella’s blog tour!

Woman In White opens with Dennis, a man traveling to his lovers house in the middle of a pretty vicious winter snowstorm in Maine. He is jolted when he sees a woman unexpectedly standing in the middle of his lane and almost loses control of his car when he attempts to avoid hitting her. He can’t believe his eyes. The woman was wearing a thin white dress and no shoes, which was odd considering the harsh weather. Dennis struggles with the decision to help the woman, having had a few drinks at the bar and plans to meet Mary Beth Stanton. He is unnerved when thoughts of a horror story pop into his mind and contemplates high tailing it out of there but ultimately decides to help. His attempts at communicating with the woman fail and he ultimately wraps her up and escorts her to the warmth of his car. Despite the creepy aurora that surrounds the woman (not leaving footprints, a catatonic trance, etc), Dennis heads towards town to help the woman.

The next morning, Angela Warren is working her shift at the diner and overhears some regulars talking about how his car was found in the middle of River Road, abandoned aside from a massive quantity of blood that coated every inch of the vehicle. Dennis wasn’t the only person to go missing. Despite the blood evidence left in the car, the cops were unable to say with confidence the blood belonged to Dennis. There were issues with the samples preventing them from matching it to Dennis.

State Trooper Vince Staghorn and forensic chemist LeeAnne Dudley are tasked with taking a trip from Portland to Rocky Rhodes to look into the latest disappearance. They think this will be a quick open and shut case and a chance to get away together and spend time where no one will discover their secret affair. However, it doesn’t take long after their arrival in Rocky Rhodes that they get a call about another crime scene. This latest report marks the fourth missing person in the last few weeks and as they begin combing over the scenes for evidence, LeeAnne makes a startling discovery about the blood that others have overlooked. There is usually a lot blood found at the crime scenes, but something had broken down the DNA. Usually this means someone attempted to destroy the evidence, but LeeAnne was unable to find any proof of that happening. The other thing that connected all of the cases was that all of the victims reported missing were men. It soon becomes clear that something sinister is going on as more and more men are going missing around Rocky Rhodes.

As the worst snow storm in ten years brings Rocky Rhodes to a halt, LeeAnne, Angela and Mary Beth are plunged into a search for answers that will bring them face to face with unimaginable horror as they learn the shocking truth about the Woman In White.

What intrigued me the most was Dearborn’s original take on the Woman in White/White Lady urban legend. I don’t want to spoil Dearborn’s reveal in any way because the twist about what is really going on is one of the things that makes this novella so enjoyable. I thought for sure that Woman In White was going to be a traditional ghost story or maybe a vampire story, but I was totally surprised by what Dearborn unleashes on readers with her Woman in White figure in the second half of the story. While I thought her take on this figure was awesome and pretty damn frightening, I would have liked some more background about the character. There are a few scenes from the Woman In White’s perspective, but it never really gives a concrete picture of its motives or how it chooses its victims.

 Dearborn does an excellent job of crafting tension by setting her tale in Rocky Rhodes, a small town located in the Maine wilderness. It is isolated and cell phone service is virtually nonexistent, which makes it the perfect location for the horrors Dearborn unleashes on the town and its residents. I am a big fan of horror stories that are set in the winter. The idea of being stranded in the wilderness due to the elements and the inability to call for help makes for a creepy setting and only amplifies the terror felt by the characters. Ever notice how when you go outside during a major snowstorm and everything seems to be quiet and still? Normally this would be a peaceful and beautiful experience, but with the strange disappearances swirling around Rocky Rhodes, it creates a suffocating atmosphere of fear. Dearborn’s vivid descriptions of the storm and the town is one of the things that really helped me lose myself in Woman In White. 

Dearborn builds an impressive cast of characters and despite the relatively short length of Woman In White, she brings them all to life, from the main characters down to random residents of Rocky Rhodes. Angela struggles with the small town nature of Rocky Rhodes and the rumors surrounding her personal life, biding her time until she can leave behind her abusive ex-boyfriend for a new start in the city at college. Her ex Nate tries to maker her life a living hell, but Angela still finds herself torn between him and her feelings for  Jason, the owner of the diner who had been in the military. Mary Beth mourns the death of her lover Dennis. She was always careful not to refer to him as her boyfriend, but it is clear that his disappearance weighs heavily on her life. Woman In White offers up plenty of supernatural thrills, but there is also elements of real-life evil sprinkled throughout the  story. Angela’s ex Nate is every bit as creepy as the titular Woman In White. He is a total slimeball and throughout the course of this novella, his increasing displays of evil and brutality is responsible for some truly hair-raising moments.

Woman In White is a thrilling novella that offers the perfect mix of atmospheric tension and gruesome scenes that I think will appeal to a wide variety of horror fans. I was totally caught up in the action from the moment I started reading and I have a feeling Woman In White will make my year-end list in the novella category. While Woman In White works well as a standalone story, I can’t help but hope that Dearborn writes another book featuring the Woman In White in the future!

Rating: 4.5/5

LINKS

Kristin Dearborn’s Official Website

DarkFuse’s Official Website

Purchase Woman In White: Amazon, DarkFuse, or your favorite bookstore

Woman In White tour graphic

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about Woman In White! – #WomaninWhite #DarkFuse #IcyHorror

Woman In White Synopsis

Rocky Rhodes, Maine.

As a fierce snowstorm descends upon the sleepy little town, a Good Samaritan stops to help a catatonic woman sitting in the middle of the icy road, and is never seen or heard from again. When the police find his car, it is splattered in more blood than the human body can hold.

While the storm rages on, the wave of disappearances continue, the victims sharing only one commonality: they are all male. Now it’s up to three young women to figure out who or what is responsible: a forensic chemist, a waitress struggling with an abusive boyfriend, and a gamer coping with the loss of her lover.

Their search will lead them on a journey filled with unspeakable horrors that are all connected to a mysterious Woman in White.

Praise for Woman In White

“Horror born straight from a nor’easter, Dearborn’s Woman in White is a great read for a winter night—with a monster I’ll never forget.” Christopher Irvin, author of Federales and Burn Cards

“Kristin Dearborn’s Woman in White is a rip-roaring monster tale with sharp-eyed characterization and something to say about the power dynamics between men and woman. Thought-provoking and entertaining as hell!” Tim Waggoner, author of Eat the Night


“Great stuff! Suspenseful, quickly paced, unpredictable and wonderfully evil tale. Kristin Dearborn’s best yet!” —Jeff Strand, author of Pressure

About Kristin Dearborn

kdearborn

If it screams, squelches, or bleeds, Kristin Dearborn has probably written about it. She’s written books such as Sacrifice Island (DarkFuse), Trinity (DarkFuse), and had fiction published in several magazines and anthologies. Stolen Away was recently a limited edition offered from Thunderstorm Books, which sold out. She revels in comments like “But you look so normal…how do you come up with that stuff?” A life-long New Englander, she aspires to the footsteps of the local masters, Messrs. King and Lovecraft. When not writing or rotting her brain with cheesy horror flicks (preferably creature features!), she can be found scaling rock cliffs or zipping around Vermont on a motorcycle, or gallivanting around the globe. Find more on Kristin at http://kristindearborn.com/.