Share The Horror (Book Review) CHILDREN OF CHICAGO by Cynthia Pelayo

Children of Chicago by Cynthia Pelayo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, this book was much darker than I thought it was going to be… and I loved it! I mean, it’s about the Pied Piper, so I should have known it was going to be grim.
The characters were done so well, as was the dialog. There were moments of terror (like when one kid is laughing like a maniac when she certainly shouldn’t be), some bloody goodness, and enough mystery to keep me turning the (Kindle) pages like a madman.

Children of Chicago was my first read from Cynthia Pelayo, but it will not be my last.
Definitely recommend this one to you horror creeps out there!

View all my reviews

Cynthia “Cina” Pelayo is two-time Bram Stoker Awards® nominated poet and author. She is the author of LOTERIA, SANTA MUERTE, THE MISSING, and POEMS OF MY NIGHT, all of which have been nominated for International Latino Book Awards. POEMS OF MY NIGHT was also nominated for an Elgin Award. Her recent collection of poetry, INTO THE FOREST AND ALL THE WAY THROUGH explores true crime, that of the epidemic of missing and murdered women in the United States. Her modern day horror retelling of the Pied Piper fairy tale, CHILDREN OF CHICAGO will be released by Agora Books on 2/9/21. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, a Master of Science in Marketing, a Master of Fine Arts in Writing, and is a Doctoral Candidate in Business Psychology. Cina was raised in inner city Chicago, where she lives with her husband and children. Find her online at and on Twitter @cinapelayo.

My Favorite Reads of 2020

These are my top reads of 2020 (released in 2020). They’re sort of in order, the top three (Magpie/Survivor/Ring) being too close for me to choose. It was probably the best year in horror fiction that I can remember. There’s always a bunch of good books, but this year was super packed. If you don’t own these books, make a list and start grabbing them! And I strongly believe this year is going to be just as freaking good.

As I always do, here’s the list of other great books just outside of my Top 11:

MISFITS by Hunter Shea, TOMB OF GODS by Brian Moreland, TRUE CRIME by Samantha Kolesnik, THE BELL CHIME by Mona Kabbani, MYSTERY ROAD by Kevin Lucia, and THE INVENTION OF GHOSTS by Gwendolyn Kiste

Other books that I enjoyed Best non 2020 reads WHERE THE CRAWDAD’S SING by Delia Owens, DECEMBER PARK by Ronald Malfi, DEAR MARTIN by Nic Stone

Favorite Non Fiction: AMERICAN PREDATOR by Maureen Callahan (not from 2020) END OF THE ROAD by Brian Keene

Favorite Anthology: Bludgeon Tools edited by K. Trap Jones and Survive With Me edited by Kenneth W. Cain

Feel free to check out my GoodReads page for my reviews.

If you haven’t read my 2020 release (UNTIL SUMMER COMES AROUND) check it out. Definitely for fans of 80s/coming of age/vampire stories.

Stay safe, stay positive!


2 upcoming novels and 5 future releases. 2021-2022 is time to #GetRolfed

Everything has been announced through official channels, so I can now share with you what I’ve been up to.

As of tonight, I am finishing up revisions on my next novel. That book is ASCENSION AGENDA. This is the sequel to my 2015 Samhain Publishing novella, BOOM TOWN. The book should be out from Jack Bantry’s Splatterpunk Books this spring with a cover from the great Zach McCain. Stay tuned for that cover and release date.

I’m also finishing up edits for my next Flame Tree Press novel AUGUST’S EYES. This one drops August 17th. ARCs should be available in February or March.

You can pre-order from your preferred retailer here: AUGUST’S EYS

The official edition of my 3rd short story collection NOCTURNAL PURSUITS will be released November 30th as the first of my 4-book deal with Silver Shamrock Publishing.

NOT the official cover

The deal with Silver Shamrock includes the collection and three separate novellas.

The first of those novellas is nearly finished and is titled SOMETHING IN THE GROOVE. This one features Lee and Rhiannon from my novel THE HAUNTED HALLS. It also is a tie-in with my short story “Master of Beyond” from the WELCOME TO THE SHOW anthology (Crystal Lake Publishing). Urban shaman Lee Buhl must track down a haunted vinyl record. What he finds is much, much worse than he bargained for, and now he needs the help of an old friend to keep the evil forces connected to the record from unleashing upon the earth. Scheduled for release January 11th, 2022

Next up is THE COBBS. It’s a sequel to my splatterpunk novella CHASING GHOSTS (Sinister Grin Press). If you wondered what became of the surviving members of the savage Cobb family…you will soon find out. Scheduled for release on March 29th, 2022

The third and final Silver Shamrock novella will be titled VINCENT. I’ll give you more details on that one down the road. VINCENT is scheduled for release August 30th, 2022.

And last but not least:

My contribution to the excellent Splatter Western series from Death’s Head Press. BLOOD PREDILECTION is a short novel and will appear as part of the books released from DHP sometime in 2022.

By the end of 2022, I’m sure you’ll all be sick of me and demand I take a break. That’s the plan, but I think I say that once a year. 🙂

I don’t expect you to buy all these books, but I’ll love and appreciate every purchase, review, and/or share you’re willing to help me and these great publishers out with when the time comes.

Until then, stay positive and stay safe!


2020: It Wasn’t All Bad

I was grateful to have a number of releases this year, a strange time to put out books, but things turned out all right. My small publishing company (Alien Agenda Publishing) also managed to come through the pandemic with some of our best works yet.

Without further ado….

Early on, Alien Agenda Publishing released the latest Jackson R. Thomas novel: RISE

In May, my first book with Flame Tree Press, UNTIL SUMMER COMES AROUND, finally landed.

In November, Alien Agenda Publishing released its first charity anthology, SURVIVE WITH ME. All the proceeds will be donated to the American Indian College Fund.

November also saw the release of my latest audio book. Signing on with Fireside Horror was a no brainer and the outstanding performances by an all-out phenomenal cast of vocal talent made my short story collection, LAND OF BONES, come to life like a movie.

And December delivered the ALIEN AGENDA PUBLISHING 2020 SAMPLER.

2021 promises much more, including my next Flame Tree Press book (AUGUST’S EYES), my first with Splatterpunk Books (ASCENSION AGENDA), and my third short story collection, this one with Silver Shamrock Publishing (NOCTURNAL PURSUITS). There may also be a few surprises along the way.

From Alien Agenda Publishing… I’m hopeful we’ll see new works from Brian Fatah Steele and Jackson R. Thomas (no contracts signed yet, so stay tuned).

To all my publishers-thank you. To all my editors–thank you. To all the writers that supplied the stories for the anthologies–thank you. To all my readers–thank you. to all the artists working on the covers or behind the scenes–thank you. To all the reviewers who gave my works the time of day when they did not have to do so, whether they loved it or hated it–thank you. To all my friends–thank you.

I hope you guys stay safe and well. Let’s make 2021 the best thing ever.

#Staypositive #staysafe

Chris Cornell

I thought it would be cool to share some interviews I really enjoyed watching this year. These are older, but up first is Chris Cornell

SURVIVE WITH ME: 5 Questions with Heather Herrman

SURVIVE WITH ME features sixteen of my favorite writer buds. Each of them gave these stories to me for this charity anthology. ALL proceeds go to the American Indian College Fund. You can order your eBook or paperback copy HERE Or discover more about this wonderful cause here: AMERICAN INDIAN COLLEGE FUND

Tonight, we welcome in Heather Herrman. I met Heather online after reading her excellent Bentley Little-esque novel, CONSUMPTION. We’ve kept in touch ever since and she has some pretty big things on the horizon. I’m so happy to have her and her wonderful story in this special anthology.

Heather Herrman

What inspired your story in SWM, “Hold Still”?

I am so interested in the idea of secret places. When I was a kid, I’d constantly be on the lookout for secret doors (who am I kidding, I still am). This story was a “what if” you accidentally found one of those pathways to another world and took it? Beyond that, it’s always fun to turn gender tropes on their heads.

What causes would you like see get more attention?

Adult literacy. I used to work for two fabulous organizations that supported this and would love to see both of them get more attention. The Minnesota Literacy Council and The Loft Literary Center, both located in Minnesota. All adults deserve and need access to the opportunities literacy brings, both on the professional and personal levels. Beyond that art/literature should be a right, not a privilege.

I loved your novel, Consumption. Will we see a paperback edition released?

Thanks so much! I’d love to see Consumption out in paperback, and fingers crossed someday that will happen. Right now my publisher is keeping it strictly in ebook format, but who knows what the future holds? 

2021 promises to be a good one for new releases. What can we look forward to from you?

 I’m so excited to announce that my Young Adult debut, The Corpse Queen, will be out from Putnam in Fall 2021. It’s a macabre murder-mystery featuring a serial killer loose in 1850’s Philadelphia and a young grave-robber, Molly Green, who must become an anatomist in a male-dominate industry to stop him. I love the characters so much and can’t wait to introduce them to the world! 

Give me three aromas that lift your spirit. 

Creosote after a desert rain

Burning piñon

Coffee. Always coffee.

You can read Heather’s story, “Hold Still,” in SURVIVE WITH ME.

For more, check out her website:

SURVIVE WITH ME: 5 Questions with Kristin Dearborn

SURVIVE WITH ME features sixteen of my favorite writer buds. Each of them gave these stories to me for this charity anthology. ALL proceeds go to the American Indian College Fund. You can order your eBook or paperback copy HERE Or discover more about this wonderful cause here: AMERICAN INDIAN COLLEGE FUND

Tonight, we welcome someone from my neck of the woods, Kristin Dearborn. Kristin and I attended the same school together back in them 90s. She has been published by Dark Fuse, Raw Dog Screaming Press, Crossroad Press, and more. Her short fiction has appeared all over the place, and I’m proud to have her with us in SURVIVE WITH ME.

Kristin Dearborn

What inspired your story in SWM, “Mrs. Cleaver”?

“Mrs. Cleaver” was inspired in part by all the true crime podcasts that tell us about missing women, but in particular the podcast COLD, which details Susan Powell’s disappearance. Her story–or rather the story of her husband Josh (we know his end; Susan’s remains a mystery but I can’t imagine it’s good) is one of manipulation and a descent into a hellish marriage with a controlling partner. 

 What causes would you like to see get more attention?

An average of 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States — more than 12 million women and men over the course of a single year. As horror fans, we consume these stories as entertainment, but I think we have a responsibility to be aware of the reality behind the fiction. I love horror, and enjoy true crime, but would love to live in a world where it was all in the past or fiction. Intimate partner violence is one of the scariest things I can imagine: it’s a theme that reappears in my work, and I like to shed light on the reality behind it when I can.

 It’s been a bit since we’ve gotten a KD novel or novella. What’s coming from you in 2021-2022?

With Covid, the release schedule has gotten a little snarled up, but the next project coming from me is a rip-roaring creature feature about an airboat ride in the swamp gone terribly wrong called “The Amazing Alligator Girl.” This novella will be out from Bloodshot Books sometime next year and involves a lot of chemically enraged alligators.

 Your book, Woman in White, is awesome. What’s another legend you’d love to write about?

As for legends, I’m a sucker for cryptids. I’m working on shopping a novel featuring the Skunk Ape AKA Florida bigfoot. I dream of someday writing a yeti book set in the Himalayas, but the right story hasn’t come to me yet. Did you know Aleister Crowley attempted to summit K2 in 1902? There’s gotta be a yeti story in there somewhere!

 What are three things that warmed your heart in 2020?

Three things that warmed my heart in 2020:

Getting to spend more time with my favorite dog friend Tali as I spent more time at home.

Helping clients at my day job (I’m a financial advisor) weather the ups and downs of the 2020 stock market.

Watching my in-person community shift to a virtual one with very little loss of impact. It’s not impacted my monthly book club, has enhanced my weekly Dungeons and Dragons game, and helped my weekly business networking meeting!

Discover more about Kristin at her website: HERE

Survive With Me: 5 Questions with Lucas Mangum & Hunter Shea

SURVIVE WITH ME features sixteen of my favorite writer buds. Each of them gave these stories to me for this charity anthology. ALL proceeds go to the American Indian College Fund. You can order your eBook or paperback copy HERE Or discover more about this wonderful cause here: AMERICAN INDIAN COLLEGE FUND

Tonight, we welcome two more contributors and authors I consider friends. Lucas Mangum and I met at World Horror Con in Portland, Oregon back in 2014. We were just two fresh faced weirdos that felt out of place among hallways walked by such giants as Jack Ketchum, Gord Rollo, Wrath James White, and the recipient of that years Bram Stoker Awards Grandmaster of Horror Award, Brian Keene. Here we are six years later, and I’m happy to see the success Lucas has is having with his works, and to have him included in this anthology.

Hunter Shea is a man that needs no introduction… but he’s one of the people in this industry I’ve spoken with the most, so I have to say something. He’s such a cool, laid back dude, and he knows his hair metal! (Tesla, man.) Hunter has written tons of great monster books for publishers big and small. I’m grateful to have his new story included here. I’m also grateful for his friendship and his advice whenever I seek it out.

So, let’s talk to the boys…

Lucas Mangum

What inspired your story in SWM, “The Hand of Violence”?

I always wanted to write a proper slasher, and I thought SWM’s theme was perfect for that. As far as the narrative itself, I think my best short stories tend to be as fast-paced as possible. We all know the slasher genre and its tropes, so I set it during the final showdown and used  brief glimpses of backstory to show what made my story different.

What causes do wish would get more attention?

I don’t have a specific charity in mind, but anything that addresses mental health is going to have my support provided it’s run by honest people. I’ve stayed in a psych ward, and I’ve been on more meds than I can remember. And I know there are people out there with struggles even more frightening than mine. We need the resources to find help when we look for it, so I’m all for anything that helps in that department. 

Who are some of the authors you’ve interacted with that have helped you out the most?

I’ve had a lot of writers help me over the last ten years. Most recently, I’ve gotten a lot of support from Max Booth III, Autumn Christian, Ryan Harding, Shane McKenzie, Wesley Southard, and Wile E. Young.

How do you work your writing around family and your day job?

I’m very fortunate right now, because I work part time. I do a lot of my writing in the morning before my kid gets up and some more before I go to bed. Throughout the day, I just get it in where I can.

Give me three things that made you laugh this week.

Three things? Let’s see… first, a line I wrote in my collaboration with Wesley Southard that I won’t spoil here. Second, the many twists and turns of the Fritz Lang movie, Scarlet Street. Last, pretty much anything that comes out of my four-year-old’s mouth is comedy gold. When he counts to twenty, he almost always skips thirteen. Not sure what that’s about, but it makes me wonder if triskaidekaphobia can be innate.

Hunter Shea

What inspired your story in SWM, “Into the Night”?

 I love all things alien and abductions. I’ve written several other abduction stories in the past but they’ve never seen the light of day.  This was an opportunity to explore the true horror of the alien abduction experience, but with a little tongue in the ol cheek. Not to mention, I know we share this particular interest, so it only seemed right. 

What cause do you wish would get some more attention?

My wife and one daughter both suffer from a rare auto immune disease called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Depending on the type of you have, it can be either mildly irritating to life threatening. It has some similarities to lupus, and some people, like my wife, have both. I remember coming across doctors who had never heard of it, but that’s starting to change. More research needs to go into treating and possibly curing this disease. Unfortunately, I don’t think enough people have it (thank God) for it to warrant the time and money that will take. 

When are we gonna get a Bigfoot v. Mothman book from you?

 First, I have to write a Mothman book. I have about five story ideas for a Mothman story. One of these days, I’ll settle on one. 

I loved your novella, The Waiting. Are there any novellas in the works?

Thanks Glenn. I’m actually looking to get that back out soon. I’m currently working on a new bigfoot book for Severed Press that should be out in 2021. It’s going to be a ton of fun. 

Give me three movies that people might be surprised to find out you love.

OK, I guess it would be She’s the One, Bring it On and True Love (not to be confused with True Romance). 

New Release: A Mega All-Star Cast for the LAND OF BONES (Fireside Horror) Audiobook

FIRESIDE HORROR has brought my short story collection to life. Holy hell, the amazing cast assembled by owner Joe Hempel is un-fucking-believable!

I now have an idea what it’s like to have a movie or TV show made of one of your books. I mean, the performers here bring each of these tales to life in ways that had me mesmerized. And I wrote the damn things!

I want to thank Fireside Horror for the opportunity to share these short stories in new medium, and for bringing this cast together.

On a personal note, while I absolutely love every performance in here, for someone that’s been listening to each of Matt Godfrey’s audio book versions of the Paperbacks from Horror titles, getting to listen to Matt deliver his talents to the novella included here, Too Much of a Dead Thing, was a dream come true.

You can get your audio, eBook, or paperback edition of LAND OF BONES here: LAND OF BONES

And check out much more from Fireside Horror here: FIRESIDE HORROR

Cover Reveal and Pre-order for my novel, AUGUST’S EYES

“Rolfe is the real deal, folks, and anything he writes is well worth checking out.” – Gord Rollo, author of The Jigsaw Man and The Crucifixion Experiments

When dreams start bleeding into reality, a social worker is forced to face the mistakes of his past.

A serial killer has found a way to make his land of graveyards a sinister playground to be bent at his sadistic will.

The secrets behind August’s eyes will bring two worlds together, and end in a cataclysm of pain and ruin.

Pre-order your copy in eBook, paperback, or hardcover here: AUGUST’S EYES

Glenn Rolfe is an author from the haunted woods of New England. He has studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King, Richard Laymon, Brian Keene, Jack Ketchum, and many others. He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness.

He is a Splatterpunk Award nominee and the author of Until Summer Comes Around, The Window, Becoming, Blood and Rain, The Haunted Halls, Chasing Ghosts, Abram’s Bridge, Things We Fear, Boom Town, and the collections, Slush and Land of Bones.
Look for his next novel, August’s Eyes, coming from Flame Tree Press in the summer of 2021.


We’re still pretty far out from the actual release (8.17.21), but I’m sure we’ll be chatting this one up in the not too distant furture. For now, here you go. I love this story and this freaking cover.

Oh, and don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads TBR: AUGUST’S EYES GoodReads