Friday 1 December 2023

Book Feature: DEAD LETTERS: EPISODES OF EPISTOLARY HORROR edited by Jacob Steven Mohr

DEAD LETTERS: EPISODES OF EPISTOLARY HORROR features 21 all-original stories from authors like Ai Jiang, Gordon B. White, and Gemma Files, all in epistolary format. That means: stories told in emails, letters, texts, podcast transcripts, and the like.


A video game walkthrough harbors a sinister secret. A grieving sister’s letters cross the barrier between alive and dead (and alive again). A chain of frightening emails is the only evidence a young woman ever existed. And a series of journals follow a dwindling wagon train marching straight into Hell—or someplace worse.

Haunted podcast transcripts. Blood soaked police reports. Bewildering court findings.

Brace yourself for Dead Letters, an anthology that resurrects the chilling power of epistolary fiction—where ordinary documents become hidden records of our darkest fantasies and bleakest nightmares.

Across 21 all-original tales from talents like Gemma Files, Ai Jiang, Gordon B. White, J.A.W. McCarthy, and Red Lagoe, and curated with precision by Jacob Steven Mohr, Dead Letters: Episodes of Epistolary Horror serves up a prolonged sojourn into the macabre—and promises to haunt your sleepless nights.

EXCERPT (from "The Parthas UFO Incident" by T.T. Madden")

Dear scientists,

At first we thought it to be nothing more than a prank. Children from around town would mention something in the sky, a dark shape moving through the night. There have been strange things out in the desert, and even so, we thought little of it. 
And then they started mentioning the men. Some people may think we’re hicks, living out here in the desert, but there’s no place in the world where parents won’t pay attention when their children say a strange man tried to talk to them.

The paper has pictures of all of them, what they arrived in and the men themselves. It looks like a pyramid hovering in the sky. Like an invisible hand lifting one of those Ancient Egyptian structures, except this one is all black. Black as the night. 

The pictures of the men are different. There’s always two of them, and they’re always together. People say they see them out in the desert think they’re lost hikers, a duo who always disappear when people get close. At first, some of us were starting to think a new urban legend was happening right before our eyes. Like the ghost girl who leaves her sweater in your car.

But then something turned.

For the past several weeks, this presence around Parthas has menaced us. I do not know what caused their attitudes to change. Perhaps it was the fireworks. Perhaps they interpreted them as an attack. Since the Fourth of July, the number of car crashes and abandoned vehicles on the highway has gone up exponentially. People driving along the highway say the shapes in the sky follow them. Not engaging, just following. Watching. They say they pass the two men over and over again, standing on the shoulder, eternal hitchhikers begging for a ride that’s never coming.

I know what you must think, that I’m just repeating stories I’ve heard. That people out here in the middle of the desert have nothing better to do than spin tales. No. I’ve seen these things myself, the pyramids and the men, lurking in the sky, in the desert, just outside the trailer park. Always at night. Like they’re waiting for something. Some signal for them to finally come in.

This is the Nevada desert. There is so, so much open sky. There’s no place they can’t see us.

Please. Please send someone.


Jacob Steven Mohr does not believe in human consciousness; his works emerge as though from the ether, fully formed and fully ominous.

Selections of these can be observed in Cosmic Horror Monthly, Shortwave Magazine, Chthonic Matter Quarterly, Weird Horror Magazine, and The Best Horror of the Year Vol. 15.

He exists in Columbus OH.

Follow him everywhere @jacobstevenmohr

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