The paperback edition of The Destroyer of Worlds is being published today. You can pick it up at your local indie bookstore or use one of the online order links below (the book is still available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook editions as well).
Written and directed by Stephen Cognetti, Hell House LLC concerns a 2009 haunted house attraction staged in the abandoned Abaddon Hotel in Rockland County, New York. On opening night, a mysterious disaster claims the lives of fifteen people. Five years later, a crew making a documentary about Hell House fall victim to the same dark forces that caused the original tragedy. The movie you end up watching is a meta-documentary that combines video from both 2009 and 2014.
This documentary framing helps Hell House avoid the pacing problems that bog down too many found-footage films. And while there are some jump scares, most of the tension comes from the very Lovecraftian sense of mounting dread as you watch these doomed people ignore danger sign after danger sign until it’s too late.
Cognetti followed up Hell House with two direct sequels that expand on the Abaddon Hotel’s mythology and change the scenario just enough that you don’t feel like you’re watching the same movie three times in a row.
Last year brought a spinoff sequel, Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor, which shifts the setting to an isolated mansion in the same county as the Abaddon Hotel. The backstory here is that in 1989, Eleanor Carmichael and her daughter Catherine were brutally murdered in the manor, while her husband, Arthur, and her son, Patrick, went missing; police discovered a single set of footprints in the snow leading away from the house. The mystery of what happened remains unsolved.
Fast forward to 2021. An internet sleuth named Margo Bentley arranges to rent the Carmichael Manor for five days. She brings along her girlfriend, Rebecca, her brother, Chase, and some cameras to record the ghosts who are rumored to haunt the manor.
Like the original Hell House, Carmichael Manor is structured as a documentary, so we know from the outset that none of these three are getting out alive, but even without the upfront spoiler, it wouldn’t be hard to guess the ending. During her initial walkthrough of the property, Margo asks the rental agent what’s behind the locked pair of French doors in the upstairs hallway. “Old storage,” he replies, vaguely. “I don’t even have a key for it anymore.” After he leaves, Margo gets the doors open and finds that the stored items include a pair of life-sized clown mannequins:
This is the point where I’d be speed-dialing the rental office to find out whether it’s too late to get my deposit back, but Margo doesn’t want to leave, even after the clowns start moving around the house. And while Rebecca and Chase have a bit more sense, they wait too long to force the issue. Bad luck for them, but if you like scary movies about terrible decision-making, it’s a lot of fun to watch.
The entire Hell House LLC franchise is streaming on Shudder and AMC+, and the first three films are also available free, with ads, on Tubi.
The paperback edition of The Destroyer of Worlds will be published on Tuesday, and to help celebrate, I’ll be appearing at a special event at the Woodinville Tasting Room of the Darby Winery in Woodinville, WA next Saturday, February 24, starting at 2 PM. Tickets are $45, which includes a signed copy of the novel and your first glass of wine. You can RSVP using the link on this page.
I will also be reading and signing at Queen Anne Book Company on March 13 starting at 6 PM. (Admission to that event is free.)
If you’re in the Seattle area and you’d like to get a book signed in person, I currently have two upcoming events scheduled:
On Saturday, February 24, I’ll be reading and signing at the Darby Winery’s Woodinville Tasting Room, starting at 2 PM. The $45 admission fee gets you a copy of the novel and your first glass of wine. Details here.
On Wednesday, March 13, I’ll be reading and signing at the Queen Anne Book Company starting at 6 PM. (Admission to this event is free.)
The event will be livestreamed on YouTube, and the video will be available on YouTube afterwards. You are also welcome to (virtually) attend the event—no VR goggles are required, just a (free) Second Life account. Click the “Join Now” button on the Book Club page to get started. (N.B., you’ll want to do this in advance, as it takes some time to create your avatar and get used to moving around the world.)
Tomorrow night at 6:30 PM I’ll be appearing at Brick and Mortar Books in Redmond, WA, to chat with author Alexandra Oliva about writing scary stories. If you’re in the area, we’d love to see you in the audience.
In related news, last week’s Reddit AMA was a blast. You can check that out here. Although the AMA is officially over now, I’m still keeping an eye on the thread, so if you’ve got a question that hasn’t already been covered, go ahead and post it and I’ll either answer it there or on the upcoming reader Q&A episode of the Destroyer of Worlds podcast.
And speaking of the podcast… I was in the middle of the Reddit AMA when I discovered that the WordPress podcast plugin I’d been using had stopped working. After some troubleshooting, I figured out that this was caused by an irresolvable conflict between the plugin and the software used by my web host’s servers. I managed to restore the podcast feed by switching to a different plugin, but that led to a new problem where the feed URL is now slightly different, and when I tried to update the URL on various podcast directories, a couple of them—looking at you, Spotify—stubbornly refused to accept the change. All of which is to say I’ve still got a few kinks to work out, but for now you can listen to the podcast here, on Apple Podcasts, on Amazon Music. or on Google Podcasts.
Tomorrow, starting at noon Eastern/9 AM Pacific, I’ll be answering questions on the r/books subreddit. If there’s anything you want to ask about my novels, my writing process, or pretty much anything else, please stop by.
You can also check out my previous Reddit AMA sessions from 2020 and 2017.
Just a reminder that tomorrow night I’ll be at Powell’s City of Books in Portland, OR, reading from The Destroyer of Worlds, taking questions, and signing books. The event starts at 7 PM. Hope to see some of you there!
And coming up next: on Wednesday, April 26 I’ll be doing an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit. Then, on May 4 at 6:30 PM, I’ll be at Brick and Mortar Books in Redmond, WA for “Word Craft with Alexandra Oliva,” a discussion about writing (RSVP here).