Archive for Editorials

Edge of Dark Water.

Joe R. Lansdale.

Mulholland Books/Little, Brown and Company, 2012.  

Reviewed by Michael R. Collings

The river flowed on like nothing had ever happened on it, to us or anyone else. It was just the river. I had the sudden idea it was like life, that river. You just flowed on it, and if there came a big rain, a flood or some such, and some of it was washed out, in time it would all wash back together. Oh, it might look some different, but it would be the same, really. It didn’t change, but the people on that river did. I knew I had. And Mama had, and so had Terry, and maybe Jinx—but with her it was hard to tell.  (291)

These lines from Joe R. Lansdale’s beautifully written Edge of Dark Water give away nothing of the plot of the novel—other than that there is a river involved, and four people—but in a larger sense it helps define the entire effect of reading this meticulously crafted novel.

Four people, each trying to escape something, all running away from something, set out on a barge on the Sabine River in East Texas, pursued by their pasts, their memories…and several vicious men determined to kill them or bring them back. They face natural disasters, they meet helpers and hinderers along the way, they confront issues of life and death, they come face to face with mortality, and eventually they arrive—altered physically and emotionally—at the aptly named Gladewater, a place of rest, regeneration and recovery. So much for the overt plot.

By itself, it is sufficiently interesting to keep readers involved over the 300 pages of the novel.

But what makes Edge of Dark Water more than just an engaging read and elevates it to the level of a deeply meaningful experience is the deft hand of master storyteller Joe R. Lansdale who, from the beginning, weaves intricate characters, at times explosive action, and a haunting sense of archetype and organic symbol into much more than just a well-handled plot.

From the first line, Lansdale introduces us to an other-world, an other-time, that is both here-and-now and sometime in an unspecified past. There is a bit of the conventional “Once upon a time” fairy-tale opening in the arresting first sentence: “That summer, Daddy went from telephoning and dynamiting fish to poisoning them with green walnuts.”  And that is appropriate, since many of the events in the novel are equally fairy-tale-like. There is a cruel step-father (sort of); a frightful ogre that seems more unstoppable force of nature than human; a wicked witch who lives in a tumble-down cottage deep in the woods; a small party that might almost be gypsies but that are actually refugees from the Great Dust Bowl in Oklahoma (one of the few time references in the novel); even a rather bland Prince Charming character who, for a brief time, offers shelter to the wanderers.

At the same time, there are biblical references, ironic names that suggest important elements of characters’ make-ups and backgrounds, a raft that—along with the colloquial tone of the narrator—suggests Huckleberry Finn and his voyage of discovery and maturation along a longer, but parallel river.

All of these disparate elements come together in Edge of Dark Water to create an at-times gentle, at-times terrifying story. Lansdale has chosen well: characters, landscape, episodes, language—all work to make the novel unforgettable.

Highly recommended.

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Hellnotes Ad Special – Today Only!

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Looking to reach a bigger audience of horror readers and horror fans? Well, this just might be the best opportunity you’ll have all year long.

Hellnotes is offering a one-day ad special you won’t want to miss. You can pick up a large sidebar ad (600px x 350px) for a full year for only $475. Normally, these ads sell for $100 monthly or $900 yearly. So you’re saving yourself almost 50% on this opportunity.

As with all our ads, you can change the image and the link as often as you’d like. No extra charges. And if you need help with the design and layout of your ad, we offer those services for free. Just ask!


Drop us a line at:

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Pride & Prejudice & ZombiesAgain, we’d like to thank Brian Sammons and Quirk Books for the copy of the Deluxe Hardcover Edition of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies to giveaway.

Charged with answering this question:

Who wrote the original Pride & Prejudice and who wrote Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.

The answer to the question: Jane Austen wrote Pride & Prejudice and Seth Grahame-Smith wrote Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.

Our winner is Kent Knopp-Schwyn.

Congratulations! Your book is on its way to you.

Thanks to everyone for participating!

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February Ad Package Bargain

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The holidays are over and its time to get back to building your business. Whether you’re a small press publisher, a writer looking for more readers, or an artist looking for new clients, we can put you in front of a vast audience of die hard horror fans.

First, we’re introducing a new ad space to Hellnotes this month: Mid-Sized Sidebar Ad (280px x 300px). This is set up to help smaller advertisers find a place on our a website. Here are the ad rates for this new ad space:

  • $50 monthly
  • $125 quarterly
  • $245 six months
  • $450 one year

Drop us a note if you’d like to take advantage of this new opportunity on Hellnotes (

Now, for our February Ad Package Bargain:

A Hellnotes Sidebar Ad (280×300)
A Dark Discoveries Sidebar Ad (250×300)
A JournalStone Sidebar Ad (250×300)
A JournalStone Store Sidebar Ad (250×300)
A Quarter Page Ad in Dark Discoveries Magazine (Horizontal 4.25” x 5.5) (Issue 23)

All for only $300. A savings of over $225!

Drop us a line ( if you’re interested in exploring new opportunities on Hellnotes and its sister publications. We’d love to work with you in finding new horror fans for your projects.

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Pride & Prejudice & ZombiesThanks to our Brian Sammons and courtesy of Quirk Books, we have 1 copy of the Deluxe Hardcover Edition of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies to giveaway. The only catch is the winner must reside in the United State, Canada, or the UK.

Well, that’s not the only catch. The winner will also have to answer this question:

Who wrote the original Pride & Prejudice and who wrote Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.

Easy enough, right?

Send your answers, along with your name and mailing address to

Since we’ve made this one on the easy side, we’ll collect all the correct answers in a hat and do a drawing on Sunday night. Then on Monday, we’ll announce the name of the winner and have Quirk Books get a copy of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies on its way.

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Grab An Ad While We’ve Got An Open Space

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Hellnotes, under the guidance of JournalStone and in cooperation with Dark Discoveries, has a few ad spaces opening up this month. It’s a great time to take advantage of this opportunity.

For example, you can pick up a Hellnotes thin sidebar ad (600×180) for three months for only $200.

Or we can offer you a great package – a Hellnotes full sidebar ad (600×350), plus a Dark Discoveries sidebar ad (250×300), and a JournalStone sidebar ad (250×300) – for only $200 for the full month or $450 for three months).

Or we can offer you a full page, color ad in Dark Discoveries magazine for only $250, a savings of 50% over our standard price (for the April 30th issue).

Or just about any combination that might interest you. Just drop us a note ( and let us know what you’re considering and we’ll work with you any way we can.

There’s no better way to reach horror fans!

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2 Advertising Slots Available

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As we approach December, Hellnotes has two sidebar ads becoming available and we’d like to offer them at a great discount. Here’s the deal, you get a large sidebar ad (600×350) on Hellnotes, a (250×300) sidebar ad on Dark Discoveries, and a (250×300) sidebar ad on JournalStone Publishing for the month of December for only $200. It’s the best deal we’ve offered, and it will give your ad plenty of exposure throughout the month.

If you’d like, you can even ad a (250×300) sidebar ad on the JournalStone story website to the deal for only $60 more.


Drop us a note at Hellnotes Ad Package and we’ll work with you to make sure you’re 100% satisfied.

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