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Spine-tingling tales for Halloween

By James Argendeli
CNN Headline News

"El Dia De Los Muertos" by Brian A. Hopkins

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(CNN) -- Just in time for Halloween, the Book Lizard offers his own version of trick or treat. These goodies won't rot your teeth, but they are guaranteed to get pulses racing -- especially if read by the light of an autumn full moon.

First, here's the trick.

"El Dia De Los Muertos" by Brian A. Hopkins is one of those reads where once you finish the last page, you start the story again to enjoy the book on a deeper level. It is that good.

"El Dia De Los Muertos" takes place in modern-day Mexico on the Day of the Dead. Its themes, however, are all gods and monsters. Main character Rick Bennington is an archaeologist working for a Mexican oil company. He's recently suffered a family tragedy -- his daughter was killed and wife seriously injured in an earthquake. These disasters have fueled Bennington's compulsion to use Aztec deities to try and resurrect his daughter and resume his happy life.

Hopkins researched Mexican and Aztec culture and history to create believable, lifelike characters in this ominous tale of fate.

From the present to the past ... and now for the treat.

From British authors Simon Clark and Tim Lebbon comes a first collaboration, "Exorcising Angels." Inspired by the life and work of Welsh-born author Arthur Machen (1863-1947), this novella explores the nature of belief. What if a work of fiction took on a life of its own?


Taking place during the London Blitz of World War II, this story cleverly introduces ex-Lt. Delamare Smith. Was it a "miracle" that saved his troops in the trenches fighting in the war-to-end-all wars -- World War I? Did he really witness heavenly archers bombard the enemy? While looking for proof and peace of mind, Smith enlists the aid of writer Arthur Machen, who wrote a fictional newspaper story that eerily matches Smith's recollections.

This compelling atmospheric tale has the reader eager to unearth the clues to solve the mystery. The deeper question of "what is the reality of truth or myth that keeps our hope alive?" is left for the reader to decide.

But don't stress -- this is not just a tale of mysticism. It is still very much a boo-tale with shock and awe. Clark and Lebbon also contribute a solo short story each to round out the collection.

The authors have signed "El Dia De Los Muertos" and "Exorcising Angels," and Earthling Publications has published them in limited editions.

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