Stories From the Plague Years

by Michael Marano | :: Jump to Buy Links ::


Michael Marano and the Forbidden: Introduction by John Shirley

Days of Rage
Little Round Head
Prayers for Dead Cities
The Siege
Two for Marian
. . . And the Damage Done
Exit Wound
Winter Tales
Winter Requiem

Afterword by Michael Marano

Click to enlarge and spotlight cover

Stories From the Plague Years is the first fiction collection from award-winning fantasy author Michael Marano. Nine tales arranged in a haunting symphony that guides readers through a tour of the darkest landscapes of human existence.

Here, fury and hate grow so strong, they cannot be held within one man’s body, and manifest themselves to devastating effect. Cities contain second, unseen cities populated by the vengeful ghosts of those who died too soon. Countries fall to famine and war. But these are also the tales of love lasting beyond death, love existing beyond all hope, and friendships never forgotten. Within are the widely praised stories “Winter Requiem,” “The Siege,” and the controversial “Burden,” as well as two original novellas, including the Shirley Jackson Award-nominated “Displacement.”

Marano, acclaimed for his evocative voice, paints lush portraits both terrifying and tender, injecting even the darkest of fantasies with a punk rock sensibility and a touch of the humane. With Stories from the Plague Years, he presents snapshots of a time when our world collided with evil, sickness, and self-destruction, and left behind lasting scars on those who dared to survive.

| Introduction by John Shirley. |
| Illustrations by Gabrielle Faust. |

eISBN: 9781927469316

Other CZP books by Michael Marano:

Praise for Michael Marano

“‘The falling snow, dropping from the darkened sky, reminded her of the steady rain of souls upon the plains of her homeland. Although, unlike the souls, the snow did not scream.’ When I read those lines (from Michael Marano’s Dawn Song), I got up, turned on all the lights and checked the locks. It put me in mind of Anne Rice.”
—William Peter Blatty, author of The Exorcist and Legion

“Michael Marano’s beautiful, elegiac Dawn Song is more than just one of the greatest horror novels of all time, it’s also one of the most powerful and haunting novels the latter-half of twentieth century. Marano’s exquisite prose elevates Dawn Song far beyond the literary equivalent of a darkly brilliant Hieronymus Bosch tableau, rendering characters of such multifaceted vividness that they are as real to me today as they were when I first encountered this masterpiece in 1998. Dawn Song is the novel every literary horror writer wishes they had written, and the novel every discerning, cultured horror reader, who doesn’t care to check his or her brain at the door when they open a novel, needs to read.”
—Michael Rowe, Shirley Jackson Award-nominated author of Enter, Night, Wild Fell, and October

“Ambitious in its scope and heart-breaking in its portrayal of the corruptive power of loneliness and lust, Dawn Song delivers a powerfully disturbing and seductive vision of the battle between good and evil. Following in the footsteps of Dante Alighieri, Michael Moorcock, and Clive Barker, Marano’s award-winning debut novel breathes wild new life into the cosmology of Heaven and Hell.”
—Helen Marshall, author of Gifts for the One Who Comes After and Hair Side, Flesh Side

“Michael Marano achieves horror with a vision of evil, not with mere unpleasant physical detail. His feverish story is convincing, frightening, and urgent. Dawn Song is dark fantasy with all the lights on. This author spares us—and himself—nothing. Thank God.”
—Fred Chappell, author of Brighten the Corner Where You Are and Hello, I’m Bound to Leave You

“You have never experienced anything like the world of Dawn Song. This novel is a delight of incisive language and lush imagery. Michael Marano is a masterful observer of the human condition and of all the horror and beauty lurking therein.”
—Tananarive Due, author of The Between and My Soul to Keep

“Both lyrical and horrifying, Michael Marano’s Dawn Song is a memorable debut. There are no clichés or stereotypical horrors here, but a story that is unusual and compelling and writing that is rich with dark, seductive beauty. It is a tale of ambiguous evil, told through a cast of characters (both human and otherwise) who possess every shade of grey found between the darkness and the light. Dawn Song is guaranteed to linger in your imagination and haunt your dreams.”
—Nancy Baker, author of Cold Hillside, The Night Inside, A Terrible Beauty, and Blood and Chrysanthemums

“Mike Marano has a knack for conjuring heartbreaking details that feel unbelievably familiar, for creating characters you’re just damn sure you’ve met at some point. Marano’s Dawn Song captures a queer zeitgeist and melds it with a mythic evil that’ll send chills up your spine. Dawn Song is frighteningly evocative—I loved it.”
—Thomas S. Roche, co-editor, Sons of Darkness: Tales of Men, Blood, and Immortality and Brothers of the Night: Gay Vampire Stories

“A fresh take on an old problem—how to make the monsters slither into the REAL world. This one does it.”
—Jack Ketchum, author of The Girl Next Door and Off Season

Dawn Song is sublime in the classic sense, the intersection of the sacred and the profane, sensuality and sterility, beauty and death. Achingly beautiful and heart-rending, Marano’s characters do battle with the demons that haunt each and every one of us—broken families, lost loves, missed opportunities—while also being pawns in a greater battle between the forces of Hell. Integral to it all is the Succubus, one of the most innovative and evocative treatments of these mythological characters I’ve ever seen. Dark, seductive, and alluring, she cuts a path of elegant destruction as she collects the souls necessary to learn her true Name. A majestic creature, she will continue to haunt you long after you’ve turned the last page and closed the cover.”
—Pam Keesey, author of Vamps: An Illustrated History of the Femme Fatale, editor of Daughters of Darkness: Lesbian Vampire Stories and Women Who Run With the Werewolves: Tales of Blood, Lust and Metamorphosis

“. . . Marano’s vivid, suspenseful fantasy set in Boston at the time of the Gulf War is a compelling drama in which two monstrously evil entities do violent battle, using both humans and evil spirits as pawns.”

“. . . [J]uxtaposes scenes of hauntingly perverse beauty with vignettes of stark and grotesque horror in this compelling and disturbing tale of occult warfare and transcendent faith.”
Library Journal

“Densely original, poetic, imaginative dark-fantasy that treats Belial and his minions with jarring insight. . . . [P]articularly vivid, flesh-crawly descriptions of Hell that Dante never thought of. Pain and perpetual twilight pulse through a tale that leaves a taste of sulfur on the tongue. Read at your own risk.”

“. . . [A] gorgeous piece of work. [Marano’s] imagery is consistently evocative and his pacing deliberate, giving the reader just enough time to walk around in his characters’ heads and feel compelled to move forward. It’s to his credit that Marano also creates a monster whose motivations are understandable without making her into a cliched faux Ricean tortured soul. For these things to come together in a veteran novelist’s work is expected; for it to happen in a debut novel is amazing.”
—Thomas Deja, Fangoria

“It has probably been years since I have read a dark fantasy/horror novel that at times made me physically cringe. Dawn Song takes me to dark terrifying places that I only remember from the first time I saw The Exorcist back in the ’70s.”
—James DeMaiolo, Barnes & Noble Explorations

Dawn Song proves to be a remarkable debut, taking a Dantesque blend of theology, social commentary/satire (yes, there is some humor here!), and horror, imbuing it with more compassion than Dante generally managed, and exploring the complex, often terrible realities of the 20th century in its final decade. . . . [T]he novel packs a genuine intellectual, moral, and passionate punch, unknown to formulaic horror.”
—Farren Miller, Locus

Dawn Song may do for Boston what The Exorcist did for Washington, D.C. and The Stand for Las Vegas and Boulder. . . . The eventual power of the story’s repressed passions is undeniable. By the time Dawn Song paints its distinctly weird Christmas Eve, with all its cinematic confrontations and assorted dooms, the patient reader has already discovered he or she’s the recipient of a magnificent holiday gift: a first novel that functions well on its own, but which also heralds the emergence of a fresh and genuine talent.”
—Ed Bryant, Locus

“Marano’s debut horror novel is a distinct creation unlike the flood of imitative horror fiction that ebbed a few years back. . . . Marano is one of a handful of new horror writers who seem to be redefining that genre, and who may well help initiate its next wave of popularity.”
—Don D’Ammassa, Science Fiction Chronicle

“. . . [A]n extremely interesting and highly promising first novel which . . . has been inspired by the author’s study of alchemy and Kabbala. It strikes me that it probably was inspired by just such studies, for its characters, both natural and supernatural, are ever in a state of transmutation and always moving along the limbs of the great tree of life from one illumination to another. . . . The whole book is an attempt to instruct and to help and is wise enough to do it in a highly entertaining way. I will be curious to see what Mr. Marano does next with his alchemy and his Kabbala and his kindness.”
—Gahan Wilson, Realms of Fantasy

Dawn Song is a richly challenging book, but it draws you in with considerable power and seductive strength. Marano’s wickedly macabre (and perhaps slightly demented) mind mixes the medieval world of succubi, demons, alchemy and Kabbalah with an intelligent modern perspective to achieve a richly terrifying feast for readers. . . .”
—Paula Guran, DarkEcho

“Michael Marano has written a lyrical and gorgeous novel of dark disturbances. . . . This is a first novel that will be cherished for a long time to come.”
—Awards Page,

“Michael Marano is a writer’s writer, and Stories from the Plague Years is a haunting tour of Marano’s fierce imagination. This collection is the perfect combination of lush writing, memorable characters, and stories served raw.”
—Tananarive Due, American Book-Award winning author of Blood Colony, The Living Blood and My Soul to Keep

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