Author: Catherine Jordan

Epeolatry Book Review: Daughters of Darkness by Theresa Derwin, Ruschelle Dillon, Stephanie Ellis & Alyson Faye


Our reviews may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the links in this article we may receive a small commission or referral fee. This happens without any additional cost to you.

Title: Daughters of Darkness
Author: Theresa Derwin, Ruschelle Dillon, Stephanie Ellis, Alyson Faye
Genre: Horror 
Publisher: Black Angel Press
Release Date: 12th Feb, 2021

Synopsis: A quartet of established female horror writers from both sides of the Atlantic have joined supernatural forces to bring you – Daughters of Darkness – a publication from the women-run indie press Black Angel.These stories will take you across the centuries, from Whitechapel to New Orleans, from dark humour to Gothic, weaving the weird with the macabre.Within these pages, meet the myriad monsters these female writers have conjured, letting them loose to roam and cast long shadows.Beware – this is only the beginning …

With a forward from Lee Murray, four writers offer a selection of 20 varying works within this anthology. Stephanie Ellis gives 2 longer stories, while the remaining 3 women penned six pieces.

Theresa Derwin leads the collection of includes poetry and shorts. She authored two original takes on the victims of Jack the Ripper, and explore who-really-done-it. “Isolation” examines the gloom and the weight of our toughest decisions. “Tummy Bug”, my pick from her stories, told a relatable and alienating narrative regarding women’s reproductive system (a neatly packaged body horror). 

Ruschelle Dillon’s witty and gruesome writing…let’s just say I won’t look at cats the same way again. Dillon gives the reader a haunting and biting example of jealousy, a journalist who fails to heed warnings, mental illness accompanying a dollhouse, one hell of a Halloween party, and my favorite—song tunes which humor the tale of life and death between a hatchling and a moth. 

Stephanie Ellis’s longer yarns, “Painted Ladies” and “Beyond Hope”, added not only variety, but depth. Ellis peels away the masks and the lengths women go to retain their beauty—its painful love and loss. She explores corporate irresponsibility and the buried emotions of human connection. I favored “Beyond Hope” with its flavors of Dante’s Inferno and the movie Poltergeist.

Alyson Faye’s poetry and stories kept me turning pages even though my dinner sat waiting on the table. I heard scratching noises in the walls, I met a dandy of a ventriloquist and his creepy fiend, and I visited a family in a ghost town. Her western horror, “The Blasted Tree” was my favorite of Faye’s, and it brought to mind several photographs I have of gangly trees growing amongst nothing else in the barren desert. 

Women have a unique perspective on horror. Most females have a talent with body horror. All four of these writers deserve a place on everyone’s bookshelf.

5 out of 5 stars

Available from Amazon.

Epeolatry Book Review: Till We Become Monsters by Amanda Headlee


Our reviews may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the links in this article we may receive a small commission or referral fee. This happens without any additional cost to you.

Title: Till We Become Monsters
Author: Amanda Headlee
Genre: Supernatural Thriller/YA
Publisher: Woodhall Press
Release Date: 1st June, 2021

Synopsis: Monsters exist and Korin Perrin knew this as truth because his grandmother told him so. Korin, raised in the shadow of his older brother Davis, is an imaginative child who believes his brother is a monster. After the death of their grandmother, seven-year-old Korin, blaming Davis for her demise, tries to kill him. Sixteen years following the attempt on Davis’ life, racked with guilt, Korin comes to terms with the fact that Davis may not be the one who is the monster after all.

Past wrongs needing to be righted, Korin agrees to a hunting trip with his brother and father. But they, along with two friends, never make it to their destination. An accident along the way separates the hunters in the dark forests of Minnesota during the threat of an oncoming blizzard. As the stranded hunters search for each other and safety, an ancient evil wakes.

I tend to judge a book’s reading potential by its cover. Till We Become Monsters cover design—a rendering of a recognizable antlered skull dripping with danger—earns 5 stars. 

Family history and jealousy are the bones to this monster, the children are its flesh. 

Korin Perrin is a little boy who’s quite aware that monsters are real. So says his grandmother, who is quite the storyteller. Set in small-town Minnesota with a population of just 278, Korin’s older brother Davis is a brat; no spoiler there. Korin had a special relationship with his grandmother. It has abruptly ended. And Korin blames Davis. 

Headlee does a great job setting her account. I feel myself getting comfortable in Grandfather’s leather reading chair. I hear Grandmother’s tone, and her love for Korin. Minnesota’s cold, cold winter, which bodes well for any thriller, made shiver and reach for my blanket.

As with any good story, I was pulled from the comfort of my chair into the dark world of changelings, wendigo, and bears–oh my! A lot happens within this tale that I can’t discuss due to spoilers. There are woods and there are hunters. I will tell you there’s a twist—I do love twists! Headlee’s novel (her first, by the way) is an easy read, and it’s not laden with a huge cast. Good dialogue, and plenty of action to keep you reading. I read a galley copy so I won’t refer to any typos or formatting issues.  

4 out of 5 stars

Available from  Bookshop and Amazon.

Epeolatry Book Review: The Loosening Skin by Aliya Whiteley


Our reviews may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the links in this article we may receive a small commission or referral fee. This happens without any additional cost to you.

Title: The Loosening Skin
Author: Aliya Whiteley
Genre: Weird Fiction
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: 23rd Feb, 2021 (reprint)

Synopsis: Rose Allington is a bodyguard for celebrities, and she suffers from a rare disease. Her moults come quickly, changing everything about her life, who she is, who she loves, who she trusts.

In a world where people shed their skin, it’s a fact of life that we move on and cast off the attachments of our old life. But those memories of love can be touched – and bought – if you know the right people.

Rose’s former client, superstar actor Max Black, is hooked on Suscutin, a new wonderdrug that prevents the moult. Max knows his skins are priceless, and moulting could cost him his career.

When one of his skins is stolen, and the theft is an inside job, Max needs the best who ever worked for him – even if she’s not the same person.

Includes an exclusive short story set in the world of The Loosening Skin.

Ever hear the cliché, beauty is only skin deep? The author’s premise asks, what if love were only skin deep? Though dark and sad, this was a love story. And it centered around all things love: unrequited, self, selfless, detached, sexually based attraction, and unconditional. 

In my mind, true love lasts forever. Sexually based attraction is lust. Self-love changes as we change. So as I read, I kept thinking—if the love was real, then it would last regardless of a moult because love is not a feeling or an emotion. The act of caring and giving to someone else. Having someone’s best interest and wellbeing as a priority in your life. To truly love is a very selfless act. 

But this is fiction, and Whiteley’s unique story falls under the weird fiction genre. Her tale belongs to Rose. In the novel’s first half, Rose’s present is told in first person present tense, and her past (backstory) in third person past tense (the chapters are titled with a time stamp to help follow the narrative). The second part of the novel encompasses Rose’s future through the eyes of a secondary narrator—Mikhael Stuck. The narrative jumps around, but like reading a classic or another language or a foreign idea, I quickly got used to it. 

This quote sums up Rose’s perspective about moulting:

If only other emotions were lost in the moult. Fear, pain, guilt, sadness: why must these remain? Some people say it’s because those emotions are true, lasting, while love could never survive for longer. But I think love is the strongest feeling of all, and that’s why it has to die, and be sloughed away. Otherwise it could kill us. I remember how I would’ve taken a bullet for Max, or murdered someone who threatened him. Surely I’m better off without those false feelings. 

Why are skins like this? We’re never told in Rose’s world—they just are. With Rose, a new skin equals a new life—the old one’s personality and emotions end. She looks the same, but isn’t. She remembers the transition, but not the emotional attachments. 

This is one of those rare books that on the surface sounds unrelatable, until you read it. What if you could shed your emotions like a snake sheds its skin? A fresh start. You wouldn’t miss those emotions because they’re gone. What a relief, right? Or…maybe not. In Whitley’s novel some people save their skins, and those feelings can be awakened when the old skins are touched. 

Interesting, thought provoking, and unusual, I give this 4 out of 5 stars.

Available from Bookshop and Amazon.

An interview with Author Jo Kaplan

An Interview with Jo Kaplan, author of It Will Just Be Us

Describe your book cover; what are we seeing? How did it come about?

“In Wakefield Manor, a decaying ancestral mansion brooding on the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia, there is a locked room.” So starts the novel—and that mysterious locked room lies at the end of the third floor hallway. I like to think we’re getting a glimpse of that hallway in the book cover. We see a vine-covered wall, which also evokes the setting of the swamp, and on that wall a mirror reflecting the hallway back at us. Maybe my favorite part of the cover is the shadowy face of a boy—the ghost who becomes integral to the story.

I adore how the cover designer, Melanie Sun, brought all of this together, and with beautiful colors, too! The publisher had asked me some very detailed questions to help nail down the best cover for the book, and I think they all did a spectacular job.


Tell me about your novel’s genesis, and its inspiration.

It Will Just Be Us is, first and foremost, a haunted house story. I love a good haunted house story and knew I wanted to write one—but I also wanted to do something a little different with the haunting, and with the notion of ghosts. It was definitely inspired by great haunted house books like The Haunting of Hill House and House of Leaves, as well as by the dark psychology, moody atmosphere, and twisted history of the Gothic tradition.

But the idea of a house haunted by echoes of the past really coalesced from a concept into a story with the genesis of Julian, and the question of whether we can be haunted by the future as much as we are haunted by the past.

Tell me about Julian and his inspiration.

So, here’s a funny coincidence: I was writing this book around the time my sister was pregnant with her first child—my nephew. And the book is about Sam Wakefield, whose sister is also pregnant… with her son, who may or may not be the creepy faceless ghost Sam keeps seeing around the house. To top it off—and this really was a total coincidence—my nephew’s name sounds surprisingly similar to Julian.

But that’s where the similarity ends. My nephew is a sweet boy and couldn’t be further from the sadistic Julian.

The key question that really inspired the whole situation with Julian is that philosophical question: would you kill baby Hitler? In this case, if Sam is really being haunted by the ghostly presence of her sister’s unborn son, and he is as evil as this ghost seems to be, then what will she do to stop him?

I love creepy kids in horror, so it was also just a great opportunity to play with that trope!

Without giving away the novel’s ending, did you know where it was heading? In other words, were you headed toward that ending, or…?

Yes, I knew exactly where it was headed. I actually find it almost impossible to start writing a novel without some sense of its conclusion. I like to know where it’s all heading so that I can work out how to get there. I love when a story surprises me, though—there are often elements of the ending I haven’t quite worked out yet that crystallize once I’ve written my way there. But in terms of the main events and revelations, well, once I realize where a novel is going, it seems almost inevitable.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

It’s probably pretty clear from my previous answer that I’m a plotter. Often the middle section of a novel is less planned-out than the beginning and end, so there’s still plenty of room to see where the story takes me as I write it, but I like to have at least a basic sense of plot to guide me.

Where do you write?

Currently, I’m lucky enough to have a home office that provides a peaceful place to write, although one of my cats nearly always jumps up onto my desk and gets in my way when I sit down, and he’s just too adorable to push away. I love having a private, quiet place to write, but it’s only recently that I’ve gotten to enjoy that, since my husband and I lived in a one bedroom apartment with a small desk against the living room wall, so I had to learn how to tune out whatever was going on nearby when I wanted to get my writing groove on. Sit me down in my own space with a cup of coffee and I’m set!

What is the first horror novel you ever read, and what made it appealing?

You know, that’s a great question, and I truly cannot remember. I’ve been reading horror since I was a kid, starting with the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books and the Goosebumps series. My first horror novel was probably some forgettable children’s horror book from the library—I used to churn through as many of those as I could get my hands on. I was just drawn to everything about the horror genre: the delightful spookiness, the ghosts and monsters, the supernatural encroaching on the real. Once I started reading horror, I just never stopped.

Do you have a favorite female author?

There are so many amazing women horror writers; one of my favorites is Shirley Jackson. We Have Always Lived in the Castle was another big inspiration for It Will Just Be Us, and is a book I could just read over and over again. Her short fiction is deliciously unsettling, too.

Some other favorites are Joyce Carol Oates, Gemma Files, T. Kingfisher, Jennifer McMahon, and S.P. Miskowski.

Who’s your favorite female villain?

This is a hard one. I think I’m going to have to go with Annie Wilkes.

How do you watch horror? (In your pjs, alone, with popcorn?)

In the dark. I always have to turn out the lights to watch. It’s just so much better and more immersive that way! Not alone, though—my husband likes horror, too, so we usually watch things together.

What writing tools are a must?

I think the only 100% necessary tool is your brain. For me, personally, I need a computer, though. I’m way too impatient to write by hand, and my fingers move much faster on a keyboard. All I really need is a word processor and a cup of coffee, but it’s also helpful to have something on hand to jot down notes and ideas throughout the day, whether it’s a little notebook or my phone.

Best writing advice you’d like to share?

Be wary of all general advice.” – Richard Bausch

Epeolatry Book Review: It Will Just Be Us by Jo Kaplan


Our reviews may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the links in this article we may receive a small commission or referral fee. This happens without any additional cost to you.

Title: It Will Just Be Us
Author: Jo Kaplan
Genre: Vampire Thriller
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Release Date: 8th Sept, 2020

Synopsis: A terrifying new gothic horror novel about two sisters and a haunted house that never sleeps, perfect for fans of Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

They say there’s a door in Wakefield that never opens…

Sam Wakefield’s ancestral home, a decaying mansion built on the edge of a swamp, isn’t a place for children. Its labyrinthine halls, built by her mad ancestors, are filled with echoes of the past: ghosts and memories knotted together as one. In the presence of phantoms, it’s all Sam can do to disentangle past from present in her daily life.

I love Shirley Jackson. I love haunted house stories. Most of all, I love a great ending. Kaplan’s novel delivers all three. This is a gothic tale about an eyesore of a mansion on the edge of a swamp. Wakefield Manor is inhabited by ghostly memories, literally. There’s a twisted spine of a staircase and broken furniture covered in white sheets. Her book centers around a family of women and their conflicts. But this is not about the past. A new appearance—the future—takes center stage, and it’s in the form of a creepy kid.

This is Samantha Wakefield’s narrative, written in first person point of view. Sam, her pregnant sister Elizabeth, and their mother Agnes, reside in the home. They are unafraid, yet unhappy. Kaplan writes that the house is webbed in shadows of the distant past. “I have seen memories here that are too old for me to remember, older even then my mother and my grandmother…”

Sam is privy to apparitions of her younger self and of her ancestors. Sam’s visions are harmless and untouchable… Until the futuristic child enters the picture, a faceless boy, her sister’s unborn baby.

It’s easy to recognize the unapologetic inspiration from Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle. In fact, Kaplan’s story invokes many recognizable character names: Julian, Agnes, Jonah, Clementine, Constance, and Meriday. But don’t be mistaken—this is not a retelling of Jackson’s classic. Kaplan’s fresh prose includes an entity in the swamp, a dark hallway, and a secret locked room. This slow burner lingered in my imagination long after I put it down.

5/5 stars

Available from Bookshop and Amazon.

Epeolatry Book Review: Dracula’s Child by J. S. Barnes


Our reviews may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the links in this article we may receive a small commission or referral fee. This happens without any additional cost to you.

Title: Dracula’s Child
Author: J. S. Barnes
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: 22nd Sept, 2020

Synopsis: Evil never truly dies… and some legends live forever. In Dracula’s Child, the dark heart of Bram Stoker’s classic is reborn. Capturing the voice, tone, style and characters of the original yet with a modern sensibility this novel is perfect for fans of Dracula and contemporary horror.

It has been some years since Jonathan and Mina Harker survived their ordeal in Transylvania and, vanquishing Count Dracula, returned to England to try and live ordinary lives.

But shadows linger long in this world of blood feud and superstition – and, the older their son Quincey gets, the deeper the shadows that lengthen at the heart of the Harkers’ marriage. Jonathan has turned back to drink; Mina finds herself isolated inside the confines of her own family; Quincey himself struggles to live up to a family of such high renown.

And when a gathering of old friends leads to unexpected tragedy, the very particular wounds in the heart of the Harkers’ marriage are about to be exposed…

There is darkness both within the marriage and without – for new evil is arising on the Continent. A naturalist is bringing a new species of bat back to London; two English gentlemen, on their separate tours of the continent, find a strange quixotic love for each other, and stumble into a calamity far worse than either has imagined; and the vestiges of something forgotten long ago is finally beginning to stir…

Bram Stoker’s classic continues…

It’s just as dark, evocative, sensual, and horrific. Many have tried to capture Stoker’s voice, and J. S Barnes gets an A +++ . A masterpiece. (I’m channeling Ralphie’s essay in the iconic Christmas movie, A Christmas Story.)

It’s been at least twelve years since Dracula’s demise in Transylvania, and Mina and Jonathan Harker are attempting a regular life in England with their son, Quincey. Several subplots come together within this novel, all told and gathered in first person diary-format. Mina Harker’s journal entry opens on 6 November 1903, and a tragedy has brought her back to journaling. The familiar cast has reunited: Jonathan, Dr. John Seward, and Professor Abraham Van Helsing.  Lord Arthur has a new wife, Lady Caroline Godalming, and the Harker’s have a 12-year-old son, Quincey (named after the deceased Quincey Morris).

Wander and lust take a portly Maurice Hallman through Europe. Hallman was my favorite character, a scoundrel, a victim, and a hero. Hallman’s journal entries introduce us to fellow hedonist Gabriel Shone, a young, charmingly handsome traveler. The two Englishmen meet in Brasov, Transylvania with a common “craving for the forbidden and the dark”. At an unsavory tavern, they are approached by a dark and beautiful woman named Ileana. She introduces herself as a guide, “a leader for those curious persons who wish to be venturing into the forests and the mountains and to what lies beyond”. Castle Dracula.

Arnold Salter is about to leap into the Thames River. He begins his diary entries when his suicide is foiled by an unexpected interruption. A curmudgeon, a distanced and purpose-driven politician named Lord Tanglemere, calls out to Mr. Salter as he teeters on a ledge. Tanglemere “in a cool patrician drawl”, asks Salter to join him and his council as they embark on an emergency to save the English “country from wrack and from ruin”, “to circumvent Parliament and the Upper House and take control of the state”.

The private diary of Ambrose Quire, Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis. Articles from The Times, The Pall Mall Gazette, The Daily Telegraph, and The Westminster Prism. Letters, telegrams, postcards, notes left behind on writing desks. These documents have been collected and handed over to a publisher to tell the story of Dracula’s new rise aided by the secretive upper ranks in government. Their goal? Bring about a new world, an acceptance of the new order.

Money, sex, religion, and politics are the evoked evils, and both God and Satan are called to action. Bloodsuckers, shape-shifters, derelicts and detestables have trounced the cowards and conformers. The brave and the few realize they have welcomed in a power that they never understood while living in denial of its true nature—they fight back. But do they succeed? Read the book to find out.

And you must pick up this novel and sink into Barnes’s adverbs, his mastery of the perfectly chosen verb and adjective. Enjoy his seamless word-flow, his on-point structure, his current and believable prose. Admire how the four forms of conflict (there are arguably more) are showcased: man versus man, man versus society, man versus the supernatural, and man versus self.

This tome is now a treasured book kept on my desk for reference, nostalgia, and enjoyment. Bravo!

6/5 stars

Available from Titan Books, Book Shop, and Amazon.

Epeolatry Book Review: Boneset and Feathers by Gwendolyn Kiste


Our reviews may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the links in this article we may receive a small commission or referral fee. This happens without any additional cost to you.

Title: Boneset and Feathers
Author: Gwendolyn Kiste
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Broken Eye Books
Release Date: 3rd Nov, 2020

Synopsis: Boneset & Feathers is a novel of witchy folk horror by Bram Stoker Award-winning author Gwendolyn Kiste, in which a young woman must re-ignite her magic against the threat of the dreaded witchfinders.

First let’s talk about the beautiful cover. The orange, yellow, and red illustration fit the book’s autumnal release date, and the novel’s setting. It’s an artistic rendering of something brewing, and it evokes a dark, nostalgic feel. The imagery within the pages is reflective of the cover—fiery, magical, and contemplative.

Boneset & Feathers is a novel by Bram Stoker Award-winning author Gwendolyn Kiste. For disclosure, she’s my writing mentor, but this review was neither requested nor compensated. I read her books because she’s a great writer.

Written in first person, Odette (the main character) offers a somber narrative, She’s portrayed as a young woman who though wise beyond her years, is baffled, saddened, and conflicted with her persecution. Why would villagers fear a petite, pretty young woman who can heal, guide, and teach? Ah, but we all fear what we don’t know, which is the heart of Kiste’s tale.

At 161 pages, the action moved along, offering plenty of internal and external stones of conflict to throw at poor Odette. Readers expect a good struggle and unwittingly look forward to it because a story without it leads to boredom. Conflict keeps to J.N. Williamson’s (prolific horror writer and 2003 recipient of the Horror Writer Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award) first commandment of writing, “Thou shalt not bore thy reader.”

I often think about deficiency in characters, where something is amiss and it gets in the way of their quest. For example, the unfortunate looking beast in love with a beauty, or the happy little hobbit who must save the world from the big bad orcs. Consider Kiste’s opening line: When the first crows fall from the sky, the villagers know I’m to blame. We quickly learn that Odette is the last witch in the village, and subject to a literal witch hunt. Birds are falling from the sky, a haunting child visits her, and Odette makes mysterious trips to the graveyard. She’s an orphan; her family has been burned at the stake, and so with no one else to turn to, she feels alone. For me, the story was about acceptance, more to the point, about not feeling accepted in your own home, and trailing loneliness. Quite a deficiency for dear Odette who wants to fill her empty void with family and friends, leave the darkness behind, and share her helpful knowledge with the local villagers. She has a relatable quest, and I think we can all identify with it in some way. I won’t spoil the ending, but suffice it to say that with this closing line– “Let us begin,” I’ll say, and the birds will sing in tune—Kiste’s ending left me quite satisfied.


5/5 stars

Available from amazon.

Epeolatry Book Review: Altered Carbon: The Art and Making of the Series by Abbie Bernstein


Our reviews may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the links in this article we may receive a small commission or referral fee. This happens without any additional cost to you.

Title: Altered Carbon
Author: Abbie Bernstein
Genre: Sci-Fi
Publisher: Titan Books 
Release Date: 31st March, 2020


Go behind the scenes of Altered Carbon in this exclusive collection of art. Packed with concept art, final designs, and artist commentary plus previously unseen storyboards.

Awaken into the cyberpunk world of Skydance’s Altered Carbon. Stacks – implanted chips that store human consciousness – have made death obsolete. When Envoy Takeshi Kovacs finds himself sleeved in an unfamiliar body and assigned to investigate the murder of a wealthy businessman, he begins to uncover the seedy underbelly of a society where death is no longer permanent.

This richly detailed and beautiful coffee table book takes readers from the glittering Aerium to the gritty streets of Bay City. Featuring development art, stills, set photos, storyboards, and VFX builds from the first two seasons, plus interviews with cast and crew. Altered Carbon: The Art and Making of the Series will bring readers into this visually stunning futuristic world where technology has transformed mortality.

My most favorite thing about a new coffee table book? Opening it for the first time. The crackling of a new spine, the whiff ink, the glossy feel of each page in my fingertips. And I also hope to learn something after I close it, to have a take-away.

“Altered Carbon is set in a future where human consciousness is digitized as digital human freight, or DHF; an Individuals memories, personality, emotions, everything that comprises their identity.” This is the intro to Bernstein’s newly released coffee table book. Immortality is something we’ve all fantasized about. Countless books have been set upon this idea. In an ambiguous 300 years into the future, Altered Carbon takes it to a new level: soul imprisonment within a “stack”. Bernstein quotes executive producer/director Nick Hurran, “It’s a frightening thought, what Richard K Morgan has created in the world going forward.” 

Bernstein portrays the challenges involved in adapting Morgan’s novel into a Netflix Series. Her book is a behind-the-scenes look at the series production. It’s an artistic commentary, and a guide companion.

I binge-watched this series on Netflix before reading the futuristic trilogy, written by Richard K. Morgan, that the show was based upon. I love sci-fi, and action. Altered Carbon is often described as Blade Runner meets The Matrix. A mixture of sci-fi and film noir. Since there is so much world building in this series, it’s no surprise a coffee table book would be forthcoming. So, with that in mind, this hardcover edition, which covers season 1 and 2, was a great resource.

Bernstein’s book walked me through The Ground, The Aerium, and Off World. The Ground is reminiscent of rainy, dark and dirty dystopian city streets. It’s low rent, and seedy. The Aerium is home to the boastful greedy uber-wealthy who have built their castles above the city, so high in the sky that they can’t be touched. Off World encompasses areas like Harlon’s World (a planet about eighty light years from Earth). Throughout, we are immersed in storyboards, set photos, and concept art. There’s also a cool glossary towards the back. Interviews and quotes with producers, designers, VFX persons, cast, and actors pepper the narrative. 

There’s a definite theme underlying Altered Carbon. My take on that will differ from yours. Bernstein explores the show’s theme with several quotes. Actor Chris Conner, who plays AI Poe (as in Edgar Allen Poe), says he sees Altered Carbon as, “the struggle to be human.” Showrunner Allison Schapker says, “How much of what makes me ‘me’ is tied to the mind, the body, the soul?” Writer and producer of Altered Carbon, Laeta Kalogridis, says, “But also we’re trying to explore the idea of imbalance in resources, when too much goes to a small group, and not enough to everyone else.”  

Overall, Bernstein filled in the few questions lingering in my mind, and helped clear up any confusions, too. I think the most important take-away for me was how well this book stands alone. Meaning, I didn’t feel like I had to have read the novels or watched the series in order to enjoy Bernstein’s book and its visual content. There are close-ups, pictures, sketches and 3D renderings, and diagrams. Her book delves into characters, sleeving process, stacks, weaponry, Ocular Neural Interface (ONI), holograms, Songspires, the AIs, and Elders. Yes, the terminology is extensive. And I’d highly suggest this compendium while watching the series.

5/5 stars

Available on Amazon and Book Shop in the US, Forbidden Planet in the UK, and Booktopia in Australia.