That’s a wrap.


Here we are.

I can’t believe the month is over. It’s actually gut wrenching for me.

Look, you may sit on the other side and say “so what dude, it’s over.” But for me, this was so much more. This was a guy from a town of less than 100 people discovering an author and actually connecting with that author. This was a guy who decided to show the world why he loves these books so much, in the hopes that others discover them as well. Hell, this was a guy who actually has interviewed his favorite author THREE times now. Who has all of his books signed and personalized.

It’s a feeling I really can’t explain in words, even though, for some of you out there, you read my own writing and believe I’m half decent.

For those who are reading this. Just know, that every single time Andrew Pyper has liked any of my posts, shared them or commented on them, it’s a dream come true. That may sound insanely overboard, but when I first spotted ‘The Demonologist’ all those years ago, I never once believed that it would grow to the ability to celebrate Andrew’s work this much.

So, I’m going to stop gushing. Or will try.

May has come and gone. In a very trying time in this world. Books have always been a salvation for mankind when strife hits. I hope you have an author who fills that spot in your readers soul, like Andrew does mine.

What did we do together this month? I managed to cobble together a retrospective on each of Andrew’s releases. Posted reviews of all but two, simply because it has been far too long since I’d read them. Had a fantastic guest review from my friend Jennifer Sullivan. Not one, but two interviews! Two!

And, as you’ve probably seen by now – an amazing contest, where Andrew will sign and personalize a copy of ‘The Demonologist’ to one lucky winner.

I’ll be creating a heading on my menu here on the site, so that all of the retrospectives, interviews and reviews will be easily find-able.

As I wrap this up, the inevitable question of what’s next rears its head. Three things are in the pipeline.

  1. I plan on doing a celebration of J.H. Moncrieff. Her writing is stunning and she’s agreed to tackle an interview. So watch for that.
  2. I also plan on doing a celebration of Duncan Ralston. He is also an amazing writing and he’s agreed to have me give him the gears as well.
  3. What about next May? Well, I definitely can tell you that I’ll want to celebrate Andrew’s work again next year. If he’s willing (hint!) maybe we can see about doing another interview or an AMA or something. We got a year, I’ll get it sorted.

Lastly – I’ve had a few people message to ask about the order of my love of Pyper’s books. That’s a tough one, because I love them all. But for those curious, here is how I would order them from absolute fav to fav!

  1. The Killing Circle
  2. The Guardians
  3. The Homecoming
  4. The Only Child
  5. The Wildfire Season
  6. The Residence
  7. The Demonologist
  8. Lost Girls
  9. The Damned
  10. The Trade Mission

I won’t include the ‘Kiss Me’ collection, purely because of it being a very different focus, but I loved it as well.

To all those who have read, shared, liked and commented – thank you.

To Andrew – thank you.

To Andrew’s books – you’ll never know just how vital a part of my life you’ve been. Thank you for always being there when I needed you.

Until we meet again,


Book Review: The Killing Circle by Andrew Pyper

the killing circle

Title: The Killing Circle

Author: Andrew Pyper

Release Date: January 1st, 2008


“People used to live in every empty house you’ve ever stood in, and this makes them no less empty.”

You can all call me a friggin’ fool. Permission granted.

At a point not too long ago, I only had ‘The Guardians’ and ‘The Killing Circle’ left to read by Andrew and I kept putting them off. Why? Because I was worried about possibly not liking them. I KNOW!

Know having finished them both, I deserve a smack to the head, as those two may very well be the two best books Pyper has written.

‘The Killing Circle’ is one of the most claustrophobic, terrifying and down-right exhaustive books I’ve ever read. As in, you’ll hold your breath the entire time reading it, you’ll flip each page desperately wanting to know what’s going to happen but scared to death about what just may arrive.

‘The Killing Circle’ was an emotional roller-coaster for me, both with the words written on the pages, but also because this represents the final frontier. The last unread book by my favorite author. And while this review is being featured on the second to last day of my PYPER-MAY-NIA, May long celebration of my love for Andrew’s works, if you’ve read his interview that I featured on May 1st, you’ll know that we most likely won’t be seeing anything new from Andrew until probably 2022. I’ll pause so we can all go dab our eyes.

What I liked: Pyper writes like only he can. Every single sentence is lush, glorious and serves a purpose. In ‘The Killing Circle’ we are introduced to Patrick Rush, dad to Sam, widower to Tamara, who is fatigued with his job and decides to try his hand at writing a book. He joins a writing circle, looking for a creative spark, and while there, inadvertently ends up a creek with no paddles.

What Pyper does from here is sheer madness. We get to live and breathe what Rush goes through, what he sees and experiences and as I mentioned in the intro – it’s horrifically stunning. The essence though, for me at least, was the life that Pyper infused into a character that at first you take for granted; the setting. The city. Toronto. Andrew lives where this is set and wow, does he make it a sparkling, gnarly aspect to every single thing that happens, every single minute detail described with minimal details but maximal effect. In all of Andrew’s releases, the setting plays a vital role, to the point where Iconsider him to be the best out there for this. Nothing is pushed aside or skimmed over, Pyper makes sure to gives us the smells, the feels, the experience.

A father and son used to live here.’

The book opens with an absolute bang, and when we circle around to catch up to those moments near the ending, you’ll be so far drawn into the madness that the ending completely caught me off guard. I was reading this in our car, in the garage, as my son at fallen asleep. When ‘the end’ arrived, I was bawling. The floodgates had opened and I had to turn around and look at him, just to ground myself in the real world.

What I didn’t like: Oh yeah, this part of my reviews. I typically work hard to find something I don’t like in my 5 star reviews, and even work harder when it’s Andrew, because only so much of my love affair with his words can be biased, yeah? I’m truly stumped here with this one. Everything was picture perfect. I adored this book, if that’s a statement you can make regarding the subject matter that is put forth.

Actually, scratch that – I remember something. Ramsay. The detective. Ohh, he ground me wrong. So yeah, the detective! Take that!

Why you should buy it: Really? OK. Well, you should buy it because it’s Andrew Pyper, of course, but if you like crime-thrillers/mysteries with the perimeter brushing of a supernatural read, you can’t go wrong here. One thing that actually caught me off guard, was when I came to the end of the book, read the thanks from the author note and then flipped the digital page – it had a list of Andrew’s books, from then. The sheer fact that this book was his release before ‘The Demonologist’ made me do a double-take. Insanity. Pyper does continue to get better and better, but do not ignore his back catalog. He has never released a poor book, and ‘The Killing Circle’ may just be the best book I’ve ever read. I’ll be pondering that statement for some time, that’s for sure.

Easy 5/5

The Circle closes…

the killing circle

The Killing Circle was released in 2008.

And then there was one.

One book left, one post left. What a conclusion.

Tomorrow features a wrap-up, but this is the final retrospective.

I’d read them all. ‘The Killing Circle’ was the only one remaining. I’d conquered my demons and dove into ‘The Guardians’ and after I raved about it on Twitter, two or three others replied, saying ‘The Killing Circle’ was even better, and that I needed to get on it.

Yet, those strange old fears kept tugging at my readers brain. This one didn’t have a synopsis that I typically would be drawn to read. In fact, if Andrew’s name wasn’t on this one, I’d probably never have given it a second thought, let alone buy it on Kindle and in paperback.

A widower who hates his journalist job, joins a writing circle to see if he can finally write his novel. He struggles with the loss of his wife and with raising his son. But, this is Andrew. This is Mr. Pyper. Not all is how it seems and before long members of the writing circle begin to feel like they are being followed, as people around them disappear or are found dead.

When I finished ‘The Guardians’ I raved. I gushed. I told my wife how amazing it was and that I’d just read a novel so good, that I didn’t think anything would ever top it. I wanted to read it again right away, to go back and visit those characters.

But ‘The Killing Circle’ got its ferocious talons into my eyes and goddamn I don’t think I blinked or breathed once. It is absolutely suffocating. The tension is palpable, the anxiety to such another level that for those with claustrophobia, you’ll need to go read this in an open field under a sunny, cloud-free sky.

I hate to call this Andrew’s ‘magnum opus’ simply because he’s released so many stellar releases since, and even his books prior were amazing. But something about this book delivered on another level and when I sent Andrew the book specific questions, his answer told me why. This book is greatly autobiographical in terms of setting/location and while I’ve raved about how Andrew always does such an amazing job of elevating the location of each book and makes it into a character, this one went to another level. Each street has a pulse and a plot point and Andrew never lets up.

Since I finished reading this, two things have really stayed with me.

  1. I should’ve waited to finish reading this to send the questions to Andrew! While the one question was great and thorough, I would easily substitute the question about the number 29 in a heart beat.
  2. I can’t stop thinking about every aspect of this book. The beginning at the drive-in, the middle with the writing circle characters and the ending, far out in the middle of nowhere.

It’s a book that has left a scar on my readers psyche, a book that’ll long stay with me and one that I’ll be praising as a template for people to read when they want to feel pure terror.

How foolish of me now, to have had this fear for so long that I’d find a Pyper book I didn’t enjoy or love!?

‘The Killing Circle’ was the final nail in that coffin, a book so good, that I feel ashamed it was the last one of Andrew’s I read.

From book one to the very last, Andrew has created characters and worlds that I’ll be forever grateful for. Books that have helped me and got me through rough patches. Books that have taken me back twenty years and made me think of moments I’d long tucked away somewhere unseen.

When you find an author that feels like each book they are writing just for you, hold on to that author. Don’t be afraid of change or that a new book, or one you haven’t read yet may not connect with you. It will. Even if you don’t like it, they’ve still invited you into their world, so by all means, make sure to visit.

To think this is the last retrospective fills me with a bit of sadness. It’s been a really amazing journey through these books, and while I haven’t added all of the life events that have gone along with reading each book, just know that I have them jotted down on a word doc. Some have made me smile, while others have brought me to my knees. But it’s all been worth it. If even one person has purchased one of Andrew’s books because of any of these posts, I’ve done my job. And thank you.

I have one more post scheduled for tomorrow –  a wrap up post. But for all intents and purposes, this is the end.

I don’t know what next May looks like. I’d hope to find some way to celebrate again. Maybe not to the depths and extent of this years, but I’ll think of something.

So, to Andrew Pyper – THANK YOU.

To every one who has read these, liked them, shared them and commented on them – THANK YOU.

This has been the ride of my life.

Maybe, just like Andrew writing ‘The Killing Circle’ its felt like this because of how personal it has been?



Book Review Revisited – The Guardians by Andrew Pyper

(*This was originally posted on this site on April 1, 2020)


Book Title: The Guardians

Author: Andrew Pyper

Release date: January 1st, 2011

“There was something wrong about a house people chose not to live in.”

Look, there really is no secret to my adoration of Andrew Pyper and his books. At this point the only two I haven’t read from him were ‘The Guardians’ and ‘Killing Circle.’ Why hadn’t I read them? Two reasons really – 1) Pyper is my grounding author. If I have no Pyper to read, what can I turn to when I’m struggling or in a slump? 2) God forbid, what if the unfortunate happened and for some reason I didn’t like one of them? I know, I know, probably not going to happen, but it’s a worry.

Then life hit. It’s a weird world we’re living in and with COVID-19 creating so much unknown and for many people a loss of enjoyment of normally enjoyable activities, reading has become a solitude for many.

For me – I went two days in a row without reading a book. That’s substantial. So, I decided to abandon my two current reads – and decided to dive into ‘The Guardians.’

I now really regret having waited so long to read this.

What I liked: This may very well be the first coming-of-age thriller/horror story I’ve read from a Canadian author, especially one of this magnitude (does The Troop count?). For me, Pyper is the best writer on the planet for a reason – every single sentence he writes is sublime, but he is always willing and capable of writing the gore-iest, scariest scenes out there. The book takes place in two time periods – Grade 11 in Grimshaw and present day aka 20 years later after the events in the past. We follow Trevor (Trev to his friends) as he returns to Grimshaw after a close high school friend dies. It is through the past and the present that we learn about the secret they kept from all those years ago, and how that secret created ripples through each of their lives until now.

Pyper crafted a gem here. In Canada the writing and pacing of this is akin to the show ‘Corner Gas’ or for the newer crowd ‘Letterkenny.’ This is small town Canada to a T. If you’ve grown up in the middle of nowhere you understand the phrase “Every small town has it’s secrets. Every small town also learns how to forget them.”

We get to see the relationships between the four friends, all members of the local hockey team ‘The Guardians’ and its through this friendship that unspoken things are agreed upon as only childhood closeness can allow.

I absolutely loved the ‘Memory Journal’ aspect that then lead into the present day going’s on. The book is filled with sorrow and despair at how things were and how they are now, but Pyper makes you connect with the characters, feel for them, but also desire to know just what happens.

What I didn’t like: It’s hard to sum up, but what I didn’t like was the main character Trevor and how much he reminded me of myself. Trevor left small town Grimshaw and owned a night club and was a big deal, according to him. He doesn’t want to go back, but he knows he must for his friend and to try and put closure on what happened all those years ago. I did a similar thing. For me, I longed and desired to leave where I grew up as fast as I could and for many, many years, I had my nose raised at those that stayed behind and never left. But who am I to judge? If they are happy, great. It’s their life. It took me many years to let myself let go of my snobbish views. So, reading how Trevor was acting and reacting reminded me a lot of my younger self. Uncomfortably so.

Why you should buy this:  This book is going to stay with me forever, really. The small town setting, the characters, the happenings. It was just a perfect read at a time I needed a perfect read. It was also one of the scariest, nerve rattling books I’ve read in some time. Every time we learned more about the Thurman house and what was going on there, it became creepier and creepier. Pyper did such a stunning job of crafting a heartfelt story that is interconnected by a phenomenal ghost story.

I now only have ‘The Killing Circle’ left to read from Pyper and I’m probably going to jump into that in the next day or two. I’ve tossed aside the notion that I may not enjoy it, because frankly, Pyper is the perfect author voice for this reader. Time and time again he’s answered this horror fans call with a stunning read and he did it once again here.



I finally take a chance…


The Guardians was released in 2011

Here we are. Two last posts, not counting the wrap up post. Can’t believe we’re almost at the end.

What got us here? One collection and eight books. Which left two novels. ‘The Guardians’ and ‘The Killing Circle.’ Finally, after the stunning ARC that was ‘The Residence’ I knew I had to finally get over my fear of finishing Andrew’s books.

So, really, why hadn’t I read these yet?

Well yes, part of it was my concern that I might stumble upon a Pyper book I didn’t enjoy. But, the real reason I’d not read ‘The Guardians’ yet was ridiculous. I stumbled upon a poor review of it on Goodreads. It swayed me. It got to me. It wasn’t detailed, it wasn’t an in-depth analysis of the novel. No, it was some crappy 2 star review that said something like “poor attempt at a haunted house book.” Some junk like that. And for whatever reason, that review stuck in my head and stayed there.

But, then I looked at the calendar and chuckled. It was going to be May soon. One year ago I did an attempt at Pyper-May-Nia! I wanted to actually do it well this year, something worthy of what Andrew has brought to my life. I knew I needed to read them all, and I flipped a coin and voila – ‘The Guardians’ was next.

This may very well be the first Canadian coming-of-age story I’ve read. It’s set in a small Canadian town and is small-town personified. Hell, Andrew could very well have walked the streets of Burton, where I grew up and set it there. I was stunned. Between the main character having a neurological condition, the heading back home after being away for so long story line and the inevitable running into old acquaintances, Andrew crafted a pure gem. But underneath all of that – this was one of the finest haunted house, paranormal stories I’ve ever read. It left me shattered in places, scared to death in others and the characters were so well done, I easily pictured those friends I had so many years ago in their places.

I make no secrets that I struggle to process where I came from. How things unraveled and while some of it was my fault, some of it was my former friends fault as well. I see it when I go back and run into them in Overwaitea, or at Carson’s Corner. I feel it when I see them post throwback photos and I’m never in them. It’s a point of my life that is filled with such joy but also such incredible sorrow.

‘The Guardians’ covers so much of those feelings. Once again, it seems like Pyper has written a book just for me and its an odd thing. I read a book like this and I want to message Andrew and just gush about it, but I try to walk that line of fan well. I don’t want to come off as crazy or pushy or too fan-boy (although I probably have and Andrew has been kind enough to not block me yet!) I imagine a lot of readers discover this with books they love. It’s a strange place to be, much like it’s a strange place when you go back home.

Andrew sets the tone with this book with two key lines. The first was that small towns have a way of forgetting the past. Bingo. Absolutely correct. Again, every time I go back to visit I am constantly surprised to see who is married to who now and who has kids with who.

The second line, which is a familiar refrain, is that you can’t always go home again.

Watching our main character try and come to grips with the death of a childhood friend as well as the clutch this haunted house has on their group was fantastic.

Once again, Andrew delivered a ‘must-read’ book.

When I finished reading this I was truly blown away.

I had already contacted Andrew and asked if he’d be up to another Pyper-May-Nia! and if so, would he be on board to be a bit more in depth. He kindly agreed.

I told him that I just needed to read ‘The Killing Circle’ and I would send him the book specific questions.

When I finished ‘The Guardians’ I was sure that I’d found my new favorite book of all time.

That was before I read ‘The Killing Circle.’

Book Review Revisited – The Residence by Andrew Pyper


(*This review originally featured here on February 28, 2020)

Title: The Residence

Author: Andrew Pyper

Release date: September 1st, 2020

“My dear Clara, it seems that the White House is haunted.”

– Major Archie Butt, summer 1911.

The only written record of ‘the Thing’ that haunts the White House has always fascinated me. Growing up, my Grandma Hankins always had copies of the Weekly World News sitting around her house, and I remember one such story vividly – the ghost in the White House. Is it Lincoln’s son who died while he was in office? Is it Pierce’s son who died in a train accident prior to his presidency?

No matter what it is, Pyper has latched onto an amazing moment in US paranormal history and created a stunning dread-filled story.

It’s no secret I’m a Pyper fan. His writing voice is second to none and his novels have a way of immediately capturing your attention and then keeping you engrossed. One such trait Pyper has, that many “high profile” authors lack, is his willingness to go there. The darker areas. The seedier spots of horror. A perfect example is the ending to his last novel ‘The Homecoming,’ or the horrors that he wrapped his readers in with ‘The Demonologist.’ Pyper is willing to make his readers squirm and with ‘The Residence’ boy does he ever.

What I liked: While I was reading this, I tweeted out how this book read like Pyper’s writing in 2020 with the dread he infused in ‘Lost Girls.’ When I read ‘Lost Girls’ I knew something bad had happened, something I didn’t want to know. But Andrew pulled me along and when it came together you felt heart broken and despondent. Much like Andrew Cull’s recent release ‘Remains,’ ‘The Residence’ at its core is a story about grief and how it affects those impacted by it. Both physically and psychologically. There are essentially four main characters playing out here; President Pierce, his wife Jane, The White House itself and the presidency. You see, as things continue to spiral and Jane grows more and more withdrawn, Pierce constantly has to decide what can and can’t be made public and how the perceptions of the people to his decisions will look. Pierce had a presidency marked with highs and lows within the slavery era, and while Pyper touches on that, he does so with delicacy.

The story arc of Jane was really well done, and while you may argue that the main character was Pierce, I’d suggest that the true character to follow was her and her struggles, her acceptance and her resolve.

The secondary characters here were also fantastic. Pyper used them as fantastic set pieces, coming and going as needed and aiding when asked. You could see that they had a singular devotion – to the house and the presidency.

Lastly – ‘the Thing.’ The synopsis tells us upfront that after losing their son Bennie and then moving into the White House, Franklin and Jane begin to experience things. That synopsis does not prepare you in the least for what is to come. Pyper has once again crafted some amazingly frightening moments, parts in this book will stay with you for many, many years to come. To say I was riveted really doesn’t do it justice. Outstanding frights.

What I didn’t like: I loved this book, but there was two small parts that I found wishing for more. The first was Jane’s relative. Because Jane is unwilling to participate in public events, Pierce recruits a stand-in for her. They do develop some feelings towards each other; Franklin struggling with seemingly having lost his son to death and his wife to grief, but then for a period, the relative disappears and we don’t hear much from her.

The second part that I wished for more was hearing about the sisters who rose to prominence in paranormal circles. Pyper does have them both for a period featured and then one of the sisters returns near the end, but the paranormal fan in me was hoping they’d play a bigger role.

Neither of these things worked as a detriment to the overall story, and truthfully – this is more me splitting hairs to show that I can look at and read a Pyper book fairly!

Why you should buy it: This one ticks off a number of boxes for horror/thriller/ghost fans. This has moments that made me feel like it had been influenced by The Shining as well as Books of Blood period Barker. The descriptions are lush yet pointed, creating a claustrophobic setting in a house that is expansive and a mansion.

Pyper, to me at least, is the most confident writer I’ve ever read who is unfailing in his approach to delivering. From the beginning, to the middle and then the ending, everything has a place, a purpose. Just look at the toy mentioned throughout – The General. If you have any plastic army men kicking around, you’ll never look at them the same way after one particular scene.

I know I frequently sing my praises for Pyper – but rightfully so. After delivering a stunning novel in ‘The Homecoming’ to return in such short time with an absolute gem of historical fiction with this shows he’s really found a groove and there seems to be no slowing down.

Recently it was announced that this book had been picked up for production to become a historical fiction/non-fiction series. Now having finished this book, that couldn’t be a more perfect fit.

For new fans or fans of old, Pyper has given us another gift and easily one of his best books. I’m so thankful to have been allowed to give this one an early read and it didn’t disappoint.

Thank you to Skybound Books, Simon & Schuster, Simon & Schuster Canada and Andrew Pyper for the copy for review. Thank you to Michael Patrick Hicks for giving me the heads up that this was available on Edelweiss and thank you to Edelweiss for the approval. I already have the Hardcover and the Kindle copies pre-ordered!



Pyper brings us a new ghost story…


The Residence will arrive September, 2020!


Alright, so thus far, you’ve all come along on this retrospective journey of my travels through Andrew’s books. While technically we are down to two that have been released, there are three in his bibliography. ‘The Guardians’ and ‘The Killing Circle’ sat wallowing on my TBR for the exact same reasons I’ve moaned about this entire month like a giant douche. “Ohhhhh, but what if I don’t like a book from my favorite author… wahhhhh!”


But then Andrew announced that he would be having a book released in 2020.


‘The Homecoming’ wasn’t even a year old and already we had news of a new release! AND even better;

That’s frickin’ right! A TV Series. Now, obviously we can’t get our hopes up, way up, because the TV and Movie industry are fickle jerks. Pyper fans have been patiently waiting for adaptations of ‘The Demonologist,’ ‘The Damned,’ and ‘The Homecoming,’ for a bit. But ‘The Residence’ seems like as close to a sure thing as most sure things are.

On my end, the announcement of the new novel meant two immediate things – 1) I pre-ordered the hardcover. 2) I pre-ordered the Kindle version.

I’d struck out previously in my attempt to acquire an ARC for ‘The Homecoming,’ so I didn’t get my hopes up. When I’d asked Andrew previously about who to email regarding getting onto a review’s copy list, he kindly passed on the contact information, but I never heard back. (I’m not saying this to get anyone in trouble or anything, just what happened!)

I saw Andrew post a photo of his physical ARC’s one day and sent him a congratulations message. I’m that type of person. I like to congratulate, support and build people up. And I’m also a card guy. I just like to let people know that I truly do appreciate them and that I don’t take anything for granted. (Just ask Andrew! I’ve probably sent him 10 thank you cards over the past few years!)

But then I was chatting with my pal Sam on Instagram, and she said I should email the ARC person again. So, I messaged Andrew to ask who to contact for this book. I didn’t want to assume it was the same publicist and look like a big time jerk for cold-emailing someone not even affiliated with the release.

Insanely, Andrew offered to send me a copy. I’ll wait while you pick your jaws off the ground. I haven’t been sharing too many of my personalized copies from Andrew, but I’ll share this one!


That’s right! I came home from work one day and saw a package from Andrew! My wife hadn’t even told me it arrived and IT WAS A PHYSICAL ARC!

Now, I need to jump back before the physical ARC arrived. I get a decent amount of digital review books from Netgalley. But one day, over on Twitter, the fantastic Michael Patrick Hicks tweeted at me that ‘The Residence’ was available on Edelweiss. I’d never used Edelweiss and heard they were difficult to get approvals from. I signed up and requested the book for review and amazingly, I was approved about three days later.

This time, I didn’t wait. I dove into the book that night and over the next three nights, Pyper took me to a time in the White House that I’ll never forget. To sounds in the halls, rooms unseen and a family under enormous stress – both from Political happenings, but also from horrific loss.

Of course, this is a Pyper book, so while the historical narrative is engrossing, it’s the little dashes of the paranormal he injects early on that will make you wonder just what is happening. The way Andrew pulls the reader along, to have them need to know what is going to happen next is always stellar, but with ‘The Residence’ he’s found another gear. Whether it was having a set-in-stone floor plan already available, or two characters that share the spotlight that have such a troubled history already, but in this book, Andrew alternates between thriller and sorrow as deftly as someone flipping a coin and calling it in the air.

‘The Residence’ shows that there really is no slowing down with Andrew. As The National Post stated before and as used on many of his book covers, “Pyper could be the next Stephen King,” and I’m pleading with the powers that be to make that a reality here. Andrew has concurred Canada and is the King of the Horror/Thriller world up here. The world is next. And I’m confident that ‘The Residence’ will be that crack in the chain mail armor that will let the rest of the world fully embrace ‘the next one’ as ‘the already here one.’

As for me, I’m always waiting to see what Andrew will announce next!

Book Review Revisited – Kiss Me by Andrew Pyper

Kiss me

(This review originally featured on Kendall Reviews on July 12, 2019)

Title: Kiss Me

Author: Andrew Pyper

Release date: 1996

Ok, ok, I’ll finely admit it – Andrew Pyper is my favourite author. Wait? You didn’t know that! Well, what rock have you been living under?

Seriously, from my PYPER-MAY-NIA celebration (where I got to interview him!!!) to my frequent sharing of Pyper related stuff on Twitter – I have been a massive fan since I discovered ‘The Demonologist.’

But truthfully, I was scared to read ‘Kiss Me.’ Why? Well, I knew this book wasn’t a horror/thriller collection of stories. I was worried that maybe, just maybe, this wouldn’t be enjoyable and then it would affect how much I loved his writing. How foolish does that sound?

Now that I’ve read ‘Kiss Me,’ I’m thoroughly kicking myself in the backside that I waited so long. A great writer is a great writer and in his debut collection, released all the way back in 1996, Pyper delivers a collection of stories that resonate beyond a time or place.

Much like he did with ‘The Homecoming’ this book will read differently for each person based on where they grew up and where their life took them.

The stories within this collection are a cavalcade of growing up in small-town Canada tales. It’s like a high school reunion where you sit down and chat with someone about what happened after everyone graduated. There was only one story in this collection I didn’t connect with; “The Author Shows a Little Kindness,” but even then the story was told with such high quality that it didn’t lag or diminish the overall feel.

I wished I had read this a long time ago. Sometimes though, a person has to be in a certain time and a certain place to cherish the subtleties in a release even more, so I’m happy that I finally tackled this collection and I think everyone should give it a read. It may not be HORROR or a PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER, but it will speak to you and really does show that Pyper is a truly talented writer.

I can’t pick out a singular stand out tale for me, simply because I loved every other one, and liked the single story that didn’t connect. That’s a fantastic job done by a phenomenal writer.

Star Rating (out of 5): 4.5*

A collection of unexpected literary gems!

Kiss me

Kiss Me was released in 1996

Look, so far along the way on this journey, I’ve been candid about each and every experience reading Andrew’s work.

‘Kiss Me’ frightened me to no end.


First things first – the cover. I actually love this cover. Especially versus the ‘Kiss Me’ Kindle single cover;


No offense to whoever designed that – but it reminds me of a Molson Canadian beer commercial, while the lady on the cover holding the beer and savoring her smoke in silent contemplation in the original, really spoke to me.

But compared to all of Andrew’s other works, all of his ‘horror/thriller’ stuff – this looks like it may very well be from a different author.

Secondly – the stories. This isn’t/wasn’t marketed in the least bit as a ‘horror/thriller’ collection, and rightly so. It isn’t. We didn’t begin to see Pyper’s true leanings until ‘Lost Girls’ arrived a few years later.

Now, before the Pyper-super-super fans jump down my throat (Randall, I’m looking at you!), I am aware that Andrew has other short stories out there. I haven’t read every short story from him, as I haven’t snagged those anthologies as of yet. As well, Andrew collaborated with a very cool company on an “experience package.” Which I haven’t seen. “The Buried Puppet” from The Mysterious Puppet Company looks great (and if you want to order one – or love me enough to buy me one and sent it; and Andrew wrote the narrative for it.

But ‘Kiss Me,’ is none of that.

What ‘Kiss Me’ is, is a collection of stories that feature a staggering amount of Canadiana and homage to the every-person. I’ve often described this collection as a The Tragically Hip album on the written page. Where Downie used lyrics and his voice, Pyper uses words and his writing voice.

Once I cracked the pages open (in reality, loaded my Kindle hahaha!) I found that I was reading Pyper as Pyper, just without the level of absolute horror or stressful anxiety that is normally attached to his work.

So, while I personally believe, this is the forgotten Pyper book, I wish more people would  read this and experience the stunning stories that are featured here. This collection reads like a cross-Canada journey. We get so many different people, from different walks of life, but with the ease with which Andrew writes, you immediately feel like you are reading about a relative, a colleague or a friend.

The review I wrote for Kendall Reviews is being revisited today as well, which is a bit of a chuckle, seeing as I got a non-horror book to featured on a horror site, but that is purely from the Pyper name. Andrew is renowned for his dark fiction.

To wrap this retrospective up, I really would love it if you would take the journey and discover just how phenomenal of a writer Andrew is. This collection perfectly encapsulates that, by having a “horror/thriller” writer pen some stunning literary stories, but still using the same writing voice.

Amazing stuff.

As always.


Andrew Pyper Books In-Depth

Hey friends! Hello and welcome to a very cool second interview that Andrew so kindly agreed to do!

Before we start, big thanks to all of those who’ve followed along so far! This has been a very cool project this year and with only one more week to go, I’m sad that we’ll come to the end!

Alright! So, without further wait, when I proposed doing a second Pyper-May-Nia! I asked Andrew if he’d be up to doing a new interview, but also a second “interview.” I have the second interview in quotes, simply because it’s not a traditional type of interview. This one is made up of two questions each about every one of Andrew’s books!

Kiss Me

Kiss me

Andrew Pyper’s debut collection ‘Kiss Me’ was released in October 1996.

Steve: When you look back on those stories now, do they feel foreign to you as the writer you are now versus then? The emotions and nostalgia within them must return immediately and transport you to a different time.

Andrew: Probably every book you write (and probably every book you read) acts as a time machine. They mark a personal time and place in a way unlike other experiences – at once intimate and solitary, swimming in the subconscious, surprising to yourself. Because it’s a collection of short stories, Kiss Me transports me to a broader period of times (the years over which the stories were written) and individual moods (unlike a novel, which usually marks one major life change or state of being). They are the stories of my teens and 20’s. As I think the cover copy put it, they are stories of “firsts”: first kiss, first heartbreak, setting childhood behind. They are also my first real attempts at writing fiction worthy of publication, so they’re marked by a searching for who I was as a writer. What was my “voice”? I think you see even back then an inclination toward the dark revelation, the Gothic, the sinister possibilities that follows the ends of the narratives. Signs of things to come.

Steve: Do you have a personal favourite story from that collection?

Andrew: I don’t know if it’s my favourite, but I used to love to choose “If You Lived Here You’d Be Home By Now” when I was invited to give public readings from the book. It has some funny parts (always good for reading to an audience) and very specific settings that would have resonated with the people I was reading for (Queen West in Toronto in the late 80s – a very different place than it is today). And it has an unexpectedly hopeful ending. Come to think of it, it would be fun to read that story to an audience again to see if it still has emotional/humourous traction (like a Buster Keaton movie is always funny) or whether it’s a product of its time (like a sitcom).

Lost Girls

lost girls

Andrew’s debut novel, ‘Lost Girls’ was released in 1999.

Steve: This was your debut novel and it was a hauntingly beautiful piece. Was it based on a specific story you’d heard before or read about?

Andrew: Lost Girls was a combo platter of a number of my concerns at the time – concerns that largely remain with me, though they’ve mutated over the years. What do we see on that plate? The way the past reaches into the present in forms more frightening the deeper its been buried. Small town weirdness. An investigation that isn’t really about what it starts off being about. Ghosts. Water. A crime. So the inspirations for that book are numerous, and while I didn’t know it at the time, they formed an adaptable template for what would roll out to be my life’s work.

Steve: What happened in this story was awful, but how the town reacted was very typical of a small town. I remember being just devastated when I was done reading this. Was this a hard book to write emotionally?

Andrew: It was like finding myself. Which, yes, can be an emotional test for sure. But it was also an exciting, revelatory process – all these dreams and obsessions and fears erupting on the page, each of them declaring “That’s you!” in one way or another. I don’t think I realized going in to writing Lost Girls how personally involving the process would be.

The Trade Mission


The Trade Mission was released in 2002.

Steve: Set in the deep Amazon, this was a fantastic tale of survival in a truly inhospitable place. I saw photos of you scouting the area for research. Did actually going there make the book darker or give you a better appreciation of how hard survival would be? When you went to scout, did you have any uncomfortable or uneasy events occur?

Andrew: My research trip to Brazil for The Trade Mission was mostly to get a feel of the physicality of the rain forest. How to write about its particular humidity, its smells, the look of the Manaus riverfront? A sensory expedition. And while that was enormously useful, I think what I got from that trip that was really helpful was the feeling I had of just being a tourist. Being a bit lost all the time, not understanding the language, noting how the food was different, trying to read the signals of people I had contact with. The strangeness of being the foreign visitor. That became the foundation of the novel’s theme in a way I hadn’t anticipated before I went to Brazil. And the condition of feeling alien against the novel’s premise of a pair of tech bros who think they’ve found a “universal” morality app – this became the ironic touchstone for the project.

(Photo One: Andrew preparing to take a dip into the River Negro

Photo Two: A secret grave along the river bank.

Photos used with permission by Andrew Pyper)

Steve: While it was originally released as The Trade Mission, it was also released as Dark Descent. Was there a specific reason for that?

Andrew: The US hardcover edition was titled The Trade Mission, but its sales left something to be desired, particularly coming after the success of Lost Girls. So they re-titled it for the mass market paperback edition. Sales-wise, I don’t think it made any difference.

dark descent


The Wildfire Season


The Wildfire Season was released in 2005.

Steve: As someone who has lived under evacuation order from a serious forest fire, you absolutely nailed the tension and unpredictability of fire and the damage it does in the outdoors. The fire itself was its own, well developed character. Was that the most challenging aspect when writing this book?

Andrew: First of all, thank you. The Wildfire Season is the most deeply researched of my books, in the sense that I did the most work preparing to write it. Fires, bears, living in a small community in the Yukon. It was all new to me. But the hard part came later, when I had to decide how to move between the different narrative strands of the story and how much weight and time to give to each of them. I sometimes think of a novel as a console of dials, each one controlling the volume of a particular voice. How loud should each one be? Turn them all too low and you can’t hear anything. Turn them all to 10 and it’s just noise. So you toggle between them, turning and lowering and – this is the crucial bit – using some more than others. The Wildfire Season required many decisions of this kind, and they’re decisions that invite second guessing. But I think once I had Miles and Rachel in my head, they became the heart of the book, the thrumming beat that goes through the whole thing even though they only share a few of its pages.

welcome to ross river

(Welcome to Ross River sign, picture used with permission by Andrew Pyper)

Steve: What drew you to Ross River? Oddly enough, a former co-worker of mine grew up near Ross River. When I mentioned the book he said, “yeah, there’s only two things there – fire fighters and beer drinkers and that’s usually one and the same.”

Andrew: Well, sounds like I picked the right place then! At the time, I chose Ross River because it was the right dot on the map: small, overlooked, isolated, the literal end of the road. When I traveled there to research the place and its physical surroundings it confirmed my expectations. I got into a bar fight my first night there (a longer story for a different time!) and saw a number of people caught in some form of in-between space. The old ways vs. the new ways. Town vs. the bush. Pride vs. sadness. Addiction vs. clean. You’d drive into Ross River and think “Nothing happens here,” but you’d be wrong. There were a lot of decisions having to be made internally by everyone who lived there. And it was that tension – Should I stay or should I go? – that is the central question for all the characters in the novel.

andrew pyper ross river

(Andrew scouting the Fox Fire location. Photo used with permission by Andrew Pyper)


The Killing Circle

the killing circle

The Killing Circle was released in 2008.

Steve: Your Instagram handle is apyper29. Patrick uses Brain Dead 29 in the book. Coincidental numbering or is 29 a meaningful number to you?

Andrew: Yup. It’s my birth date.

Steve: The book reads with very lush descriptions of walking around Toronto. How much did the day-to-day mundane moments of life inspire you to write this book?

Andrew: It’s a very location-specific book, and the location was my immediate neighbourhood at the time. I made a deliberate decision to try and weave a Gothic monster story into an urban, contemporary space that you wouldn’t normally associate with the supernatural or horrific. So while the one half of the novel is “real,” the other half is literally about the imaginative: a circle of writers making stuff up. I was attracted to the idea of having a character – and a reader – start out feeling secure about where the boundary between those two worlds existed, and then erasing the boundary as the story went along.


The Guardians


The Guardians was released in 2011

Steve: The Guardians was a thoroughly enjoyable coming-of-age story. I can’t stop thinking about it and digesting what I read and it’s set itself nicely on my mental shelf of favorite book I’ve ever read. Just left me stunned. I felt it was elevated even further by the main character having a neurological disorder. Had you been wanting to write a coming-of-age story before this? Do you have a personal favorite coming-of-age book?

Andrew: Thanks again – that’s very kind of you to say! I don’t think I was looking to write my version of the coming-of-age novel, but that’s what The Guardians turned out to be. I set out initially to write my take on a haunted house story. To make it my own, of course, required characters and a setting and narrative premise specific to my inclinations, something that had meaning for me, which started me down the path toward what is probably my most autobiographical novel. The more personal I made it the more it made sense as a story (which is not always the case). As for the second part of your question: The Catcher in the Rye hit me right in the sweet spot when I first read it.

Steve: As you say in the book, every small town has a haunted house. Growing up, did you have a haunted house that you remember, or the house that the kids stayed away from in the neighborhood?

Andrew: There were a few “creepy houses” in Stratford, but I don’t recall any of them being designated as “the haunted house” in quite the decisive way as the house in The Guardians. I assembled a lot of the stories I heard from my father (who was a doctor, and knew a lot of the violent/scary/weird scuttlebutt from the hospital) and combined them with horror fiction tropes and imagined a town where every other house was a haunted house. I saw my town as more dangerous and secretive than it probably was in reality, but after a while, seeing things through the imagination becomes more real than not.

The Demonologist

demonologist paperback

The Demonologist was released in 2012

Steve: ‘The Demonologist’ seems to be many people’s first Pyper book, and it was also my first. Did you know you’d written something special when you were finished?

Andrew: I’ve grown to be wary of those feelings about a book once it’s finished. One’s sense of a novel’s accomplishment – and one’s own confidence – ebbs and flows in such dramatic ways that such assessments are rendered of little use, if not outright hazardous. But yes, I felt I’d struck a mythic vein with The Demonologist, something I felt very close to. It’s a story that took root in my life during the writing in a way that was different from the others. Without going into details I’ll say that while it was an exciting book to write, it frightened me a little too, like I’d invited a guest into my home that I had to keep a close eye on.

Steve: When you wrote ‘The Demonologist’ did you have an actor in mind for Professor Ullman? If it was made today, is there an actor you see and think ‘that’s Ullman!’

Andrew: The Demonologist has been in development for a movie for a long time now, and over that time various names have been tossed out to play David. One that I put forward at one point was Denzel Washington – he has such an amazing way of conveying grief and conviction through his eyes and his body alone. But right now? There’s a few ways you could go on the casting, really. I just think it would be important to find someone who can convey that interior darkness that David carries.

The Damned

the damned

The Damned was released in 2015

Steve: This was such a great read. I remember zipping through this when I bought it. I really felt like the house Danny’s sister perished in could’ve been any house on any street. Did you base the house on a real, specific place?

Andrew: The location of that house and its exterior details are specific to a house that I chose when I was researching the book in Royal Oak, a suburb of Detroit. But its interior was made up from rooms I’d encountered in my past: the main floor was from my grade nine girlfriend’s house, the upstairs bathroom (where the afterlife scene with Danny’s mom takes place) was from my own house growing up. You pull in whatever fits, whatever feels real to you as you go into a scene.

Steve: Twins have always spoken of this very unique, almost telepathic connection between them. Were there any sets of twins that really stood out to you?

Andrew: I needed the twins of The Damned to be linked but very different. That relationship was modeled, loosely, on fraternal twins I know who – at least back then – fought all the time but would stick up for each other with equal ferocity. That dynamic of simultaneously being at war with each other and for each other was what I wanted to capture.


The Only Child

the only child cover

The Only Child was released in 2017

Steve: You know how much I love the opening line of this book. It ties into the amazing ending and the pure carnage that gets unleashed. Did you have the three books/stories this was based on as the inspiration for this story originally or did it evolve into that?

Andrew: The inspiration came from an observation I made (and possibly made by others several times before, but was just new to me) that the English language, modern tradition of the “monster” were all versions of one of three conceptual sources: the parasite (vampire), the undead (zombie), the diseased psyche (serial killer). And where did these concepts come from? Notably three novels published within the nineteenth century: Frankenstein, Dracula, Jekyll & Hyde. From there, I speculated about how there might be a single being that inspired all three of these stories – the monster that inspired all monsters. This was the concept that pulled me in.

Steve: Did you do any specific location scouting for this book? Your descriptions – specifically when our antagonist describes the meetings with Mary Shelley – were so vivid, when I Google mapped it, it was so accurate! (Yes, yes, I Google mapped it.)

Andrew: Ha! Yes, I traveled to most of the locations in the novel, though I also did a bit of Google mapping myself too. I spent some time in Hungary imagining where my characters would have contact with each other, where they came from. Along the way I was nearly attacked by a guard dog on the grounds of a shuttered asylum – a real experience that made its way into a scene in the book.


 The Homecoming

the homecoming cover

The Homecoming was released in 2019

Steve: The father/head of the family that owns the house/acreage is very mysterious. He himself was a character that was minimally featured but when he did show up, added significantly to the story. Was that character based on anyone from history?

Andrew: The Homecoming was a response to the question – put to myself by myself – of how I would approach a “classic” murder mystery. My version ends up breaking a lot of the rules and expectations of the form, as I bring in elements of other genres, other worlds. Without giving too much away, the matter of identity plays a central role in the story, and how we understand ourselves, our families, where we come from. So the father figure of the novel is at once the dominant figure of the novel, and in another sense is a total absence. He’s not based on anyone in particular. In my mind he is the “absent father,” a role that plays a part, I suspect, in many of our lives.

Steve: The book is such a perfectly crafted thriller set in the Pacific Northwest. I’m going to assume you’ve seen the memes about ‘staying in a mansion for $1 million with no phones etc.’ Did that at all inspire the initial making of ‘The Homecoming’?

Andrew: While I was familiar with the trope of “staying in a haunted house overnight to win a fortune” – a set-up that’s been around since Haunting of Hill House and probably well before that too – I wasn’t really aware of all the different versions of the challenge online until after the book was finished. “No phones” is of course now a fantasy world that is harder and harder to convincingly build, as they seem to have been fused to our bodies. As an aside, I’m working on a project where I proposed that a character forget her phone at one point and even though she did so in a moment of emotional turmoil and distraction, the people I’m working on the project with refused to accept that anyone would ever forget their phone no matter what. So…yet another challenge for us novelists!


The Residence


The Residence will be released September 1st, 2020!

Steve: The story of Pierce, his wife Jane and the ghost is incredibly fascinating. While researching it, did you find many White House haunting stories?

Andrew: I certainly did. The White House has a rich history of association with the paranormal and the occult that I was only superficially aware of when I stumbled on the story of the Pierces. It really is this mythical hub of strangeness that lies at the very centre of the capital, the country.

Steve: This question is from our friend Sam Brunke-Kervin: With ‘The Residence’ being based around true events, what other “true” ghost story would you love the chance to turn into a novel?

Andrew: The true horror story behind the Amityville hoax. That would be complicated and fun.




How amazing was that?!

Thank you so much, Andrew, for responding with thoughtful, insightful and candid replies. I’m blown away.