Saturday Smalls — May 11th, 2019

May 11, 2019

This week’s mini review round-up includes the following:

  1. adult horror short story
  2. MG fantasy graphic novel
  3. adult western graphic novel
  4. adult horror/sci-fi manga

The Town That Feared Dusk by Calvin  Demmer

TITLE: The Town That Feared Dusk
AUTHOR: Calvin Demmer
GENRE: Horror

Sylvia Bernstein doesn’t want to end up on a dead-end path like a former journalism colleague. She begins searching the tabloid’s archives for a story that can get her career back on track. A strange bridge, with an abnormally high rate of suicides, seems like the perfect place to start. She journeys to the little town, eager to investigate, but encounters a tale far more sinister than she ever expected…


Deep down she knew what she had seen was real, but the tale was taking an even stranger turn than what she’d expected. How far could the known reality stretch before the fabric tore and someone was flung out into space, or madness?

The Town That Feared Dusk is one of those short stories that manages to pack such a punch in so few pages, I was beyond impressed by its impact. Calvin Demmer is a pro at flash fiction, and I’ve loved everything I’ve read by him so far, so I knew Dusk would be good, but I didn’t know it would tell such a complex story so effortlessly.

When Sylvia’s colleague takes his own life in the middle of researching a place called the Suicide Bridge, she’s convinced that something odd is going on and decides it’s a scoop she can’t miss out on. Once she arrives, she finds that things are not at all what they seem. With this being such a short story, I can’t say more than that about the plot, but I can tell you that it was a tremendously fun read! Not only does it build up a fantastic backstory and setting, but the events are so suspenseful and intriguing. It’s no surprise that Calvin Demmer has earned yet another five-star rating from me.

Thank you so much to the author for providing me with this review copy in exchange for an honest review!

Cassandra Steps Out by Isabelle Bottier

TITLE: Cassandra Steps Out
AUTHOR: Isabelle Bottier
GENRE: Fantasy

Cassandra has a gift. Animals can show her what they’re thinking. And she’s done keeping her talent a secret. The trouble is, other parts of Cassandra’s life are changing too. Her mom has a boyfriend she really likes, but his daughter can’t stand Cassandra. And Cassandra’s best friend is about to leave town. Not even her trusty dog Miss Dolly can make things feel okay. When Cassandra gets on the trail of a lost cat, will she be able to help its owners? Or will her first case be a flop?


I’m not giving this one a star rating because, while I actually didn’t enjoy it very much, I think a kid would. I usually enjoy MG stories despite them being very young, but Cassandra Steps Out just didn’t click well with me, from the formatting of the panels to the story itself. The art is very cute, though, and an animal psychic main character? I can see that going over really well with kids!

Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Stage Dreams by Melanie Gillman

TITLE: Stage Dreams
AUTHOR: Melanie Gillman
GENRE: Western

In this rollicking queer western adventure, acclaimed cartoonist Melanie Gillman (Stonewall Award Honor Book As the Crow Flies) puts readers in the saddle alongside Flor and Grace, a Latinx outlaw and a trans runaway, as they team up to thwart a Confederate plot in the New Mexico Territory. When Flor–also known as the notorious Ghost Hawk–robs the stagecoach that Grace has used to escape her Georgia home, the first thing on her mind is ransom. But when the two get to talking about Flor’s plan to crash a Confederate gala and steal some crucial documents, Grace convinces Flor to let her join the heist.


If you’ve ever caught yourself thinking, “Man, there really aren’t enough queer AF westerns in the world, are there?” (I have!), let me tell you, Stage Dreams is everything you’ve been looking for. It follows the heist of a Native woman and her new captive-turned-friend, a lovely trans southern belle escaping her father’s wishes that she join the Confederate army. While the story takes place during the Civil War, not much of it actually focuses on that element; primarily, we’re here to watch two ladies break into a party, steal a map, and fall in love in the process. It’s cute, it’s heartwarming, the art is lovely, and I enjoyed it so much.

Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Elfen Lied Omnibus Volume 1 by Lynn Okamoto

TITLE: Elfen Lied Omnibus, Vol. 1
AUTHOR: Lynn Okamoto
GENRE: Horror/Sci-fi

Captured and isolated against their will, the Diclonius species are a threat waiting to break free. When a young Diclonius girl, Nyu, escapes from the research facility she was being held in, she manages finds solace in two allies, until danger finds her again, putting everyone at risk. However, her enemies soon realize they’re in over their heads as an attempt to subdue Nyu results in unspeakable tragedy.


I never read Elfen Lied when it was first made popular, so I thought now would be a great chance to finally pick up the series. Sadly, I was immediately turned off from the story by how ridiculously over-sexualized certain characters are: specifically, a girl who’s described as looking like she can’t possibly be over 15 years old, and another girl who says she’s 12. It was just all a little too cringe-inducing for me, and on top of that, almost all of the characters were tremendously unlikable and the plot was hard to follow.

It seemed like the author kept introducing more random details to the mutants’ natures that made no sense and came totally out of left field, just to keep the drama up. I pushed through the rest of the omnibus to see if it ever got any better, but it honestly felt like the entire story consistently went further downhill as it went on.

Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!


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More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

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    1. Cassandra Steps Out does look really cute, though I’m with you that I like MG but usually upper MG more than ones geared towards the younger end of the age range.
      Also I just noticed your new avatar! It’s great!

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