The award-winning and critically-acclaimed master of horror returns with a pair of chilling tales—both never-before-published in print—that examine the violence and depravity of the human condition.
Bringing together his acclaimed novella The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky and an all-new short novel My Heart Struck Sorrow, John Hornor Jacobs turns his fertile imagination to the evil that breeds within the human soul.
A brilliant mix of the psychological and supernatural, blending the acute insight of Roberto Bolaño and the eerie imagination of H. P. Lovecraft, The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky examines life in a South American dictatorship. Centered on the journal of a poet-in-exile and his failed attempts at translating a maddening text, it is told by a young woman trying to come to grips with a country that nearly devoured itself.
In My Heart Struck Sorrow, a librarian discovers a recording from the Deep South—which may be the musical stylings of the Devil himself.
Breathtaking and haunting, A Lush and Seething Hell is a terrifying and exhilarating journey into the darkness, an odyssey into the deepest reaches of ourselves that compels us to confront secrets best left hidden.
Film/TV rights: Dillon Asher at Gotham Group
What They’re Saying:
“There are horror writers who plant you in the cemetery and show you the old grave where the ghoul resides. Then there are writers like Jacobs, who ditch many of the genre’s standard tools while staying true to its essential heart… These stories stitch Lovecraftian cosmic horror into terrestrial elements like murder ballads, and the result is a fiercely original and disquieting work. A must-have for any serious horror collection.” – Booklist, Starred Review
“Falling somewhere between House of Leaves (2000) and The Blair Witch Project, it is a terrifying, gothic descent into madness. This book has a fitting title if there ever was one, and these nightmares are worth every penny.” – Kirkus Review, Starred
“…gorgeously penned and unsettlingly conceived; combined, they form a foreboding mosaic of found objects, lost sanity, and the parallels between personal trauma and the sense of dread that comes from skirting the edge of what is real and what might lie beyond. Foreboding yet fulfilling, this duo of stories stabs at the heart of what it means to be human — and what it means to truly understand how one’s humanity can crumble at a touch.” – NPR
“The audacity of John Hornor Jacobs to write two brilliant, hallucinatory, terrifying short novels that mash up South American poetry and politics, pre-WWII American folk songs, all-too-human depravity and longing, and cosmic horror. And then, he presents them in one book, A LUSH AND SEETHING HELL; one of the best books of the year. Damn him.” — Paul Tremblay, Award-winning author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Cabin at the End of the World
“This book is Hornor at his monstrous best. The tales read like whispered secrets from the mutant offspring of Lovecraft and Borges. Hornor understands that real horror doesn’t just exist in far-flung regions, but is as close as a glimpse of text or the snatch of a song.” — Richard Kadrey, New York Times bestselling author of The Grand Dark and the Sandman Slim series
“It’s time to declare John Hornor Jacobs as major author: every sentence he writes feels drawn from a pit of fire and hammered into a sword. The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky is transporting, disorienting, appalling, and gorgeous.” — Daniel Kraus, Award-winning author of The Shape of Water, Trollhunters, and The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch
“Jacobs just keeps getting better. Seldom has cosmic horror been so naturalistically, so vividly, wrought. The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky is a squirm-inducing glimpse of humanity’s inner darkness, and worse.” — Laird Barron, Award-winning author of Blood Standard, The Croning, and Occultations
“In Jacobs’s work, the present is held in a manacled grip by the foolishness and horrors of the past. His writing is meticulous, detailed, and atmospheric, evoking a sense of place and suspense in equal turns. Horror readers will enjoy Jacobs’s dark vision of human nature.” – Publishers Weekly
“In A Lush and Seething Hell, John Hornor Jacobs shines a light on the unimaginable, and then plunges gleefully deeper, into the abyss. We worry about his characters. We worry about our own sanity, too. Jacobs’ work is some of the smartest and most creative fiction I’ve read.”— Sarah Langan, Stoker Award-winning author of Good Neighbors
“In A Lush and Seething Hell Jacobs shows how a novella can do everything a novel can do and do it better — and he shows it twice. Two excellent, unsettling pieces about forbidden knowledge, lost souls, and struggling selves, one set in Latin America, the other in the American South. Having them together in the same book is like listening to two ghosts talk to one another.” — Brian Evenson, Guggenheim Fellow and Award-Winning Author of Song for the Unravelling of the World, Last Days, and The Warren
“The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky is lush, terrifying, beautiful, and disturbing–and hands-down my favorite novella of the year. John Hornor Jacobs’ language draws you into a world of mounting dread, where all-too-human acts of violence bleed into supernatural horror. I read the last half of the book in one sitting, and I’m going to be thinking about it for a long time. Don’t miss this.” — Daryl Gregory, Award-winning author of Spoonbenders, Pandemonium, Raising Stony Mayhall, and We Are All Completely Fine
“Ending stories of cosmic horror effectively is perhaps the most difficult part of writing them. So much has been hinted at in the early pages of the story, it’s a challenge to arrive at a climax that doesn’t squander those hints by either diluting or overinflating them. Jacobs walks this narrative tightrope with grace and bravura, bringing his novella to a crescendo that is at once shocking and resonant. A story of transformations and translations, of the wounds history inflicts upon the self, of the scars we embrace to save ourselves, The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky is moving and memorable, one of the novellas of the year.” — John Langan, Bram Stoker Award-Winning author of The Fisherman, writing in Locus Magazine
“Jacobs’s A LUSH AND SEETHING HELL is a one-two punch of thoroughly entertaining and richly realized cosmic horror that sends you reeling through a dark and unsettling world. Pays loving homage to its forbears while creating its own beautiful nightmares from the horrors of human history. JHJ’s singular combination of existential dread and menace from beyond had me spellbound and reading through the night.”—Jeremy Robert Johnson, author of Entropy in Bloom
“A LUSH AND SEETHING HELL is what would happen if Nabakov and Faulkner were reborn and decided to collaborate on a pair of psychological horror tales. Frightening, suspenseful, and full of humanity, this book showcases one of the most original voices in fiction.” — Jonathan Janz, author of The Dark Game, The Siren and The Specter, Children of the Dark, and The Nightmare Girl
“John Hornor Jacobs conjures secret histories infused with the truths of real ones, turning the dark material of the twentieth century into shadowy new mythos. This is a horror with politics, one that uses the fantastic to put a mirror up to our most dreadful capacities.” — Christopher Brown, Campbell and World Fantasy Award-nominated author of Tropic of Kansas and Rule of Capture
“The Sea Dreams It Is The Sky is so fabulous, I can’t imagine him achieving anything greater. For many, this would be the crowning achievement. The novella is dark and touching and lovely with enough conspiratorial nastiness that even this old soul was satisfied.” — Weston Ochse, Author of Burning Sky, Seal Team 666
“Jacobs has a true grasp of cosmic horror that goes beyond the tropes of tentacles and antiquity. What’s more is that he keenly understands the very human and very broken hearts at the center of his stories, crafting a narrative of undeniable authenticity. He introduces the reader to despair and shows them there is no bottom to this descent. The title of the collection, A Lush And Seething Hell, is both an invitation and a warning. The horror is seductive and smart, both beautiful and terrifying.” — Jason Murphy, screenwriter, and author of The Black Goat Motorcycle Club, co-host of the YouTube series, The Modern Rogue
“A Lush and Seething Hell expands the borders of cosmic horror and reveals John Hornor Jacobs for what he’s always been: a quiet master among us. A beautiful, haunting book full of beautiful, haunting prose. This is the best of what horror can be.” — Andy Davidson, Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of In the Valley of the Sun, and The Boatman’s Daughter
“As with all of Jacobs’s work, this is a wonderfully conceived piece of fiction that is so incredibly well-written. Jacobs has a tremendous sense of story structure and an equally great ear for dialogue. In his latest work, he taps into a version of cosmic horror that’s all at once vast while feeling deeply personal. The atmosphere Jacobs builds, along with the sense of dread and anxiety, makes for such a largely unique reading experience. This is a smart, layered, and compelling work of fiction, and I adored it. Once you start on Isabel’s journey, you won’t be able to stop.” — Michael Moreci, author of Black Star Renegades, Roche Limit, Star Wars Adventures, and Batman Detective Comics, and Superman
“The dark, measured prose, mixed with this gradual immersion into otherworldly horror, makes the novella confident, powerful and abiding. Parts of it are not easy to read, the author does not flinch from the description of what a brutal regime can and would do. And yet, I find myself, too, wondering what it would be like to travel to Magera, and photograph and document, and bear witness to what I might find there. The imagery and landscapes reminded me of The Motorcycle Diaries, but the depiction of those landscapes and the use put to them is far, far different. The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky is possibly Jacobs’ best work yet.” — Paul Weimer, writing for the Skiffy and Fanty Show
“Lovecraft meets Bolaño in the waning days of the Pinochet regime… This was creepy and evocative, and indisputably better written than 95% of the genre. Good stuff.” — Daniel Polansky, author of Lowtown and A City Dreaming
“The author does an excellent job of immersing the reader in this culturally rich setting […] but it’s Avendaño’s backstory that is the Lovecraftian foundation of the story […] raising the story from something merely good to something deliciously sublime.” — Kirkus Reviews
“A Lush and Seething Hell is a fascinating collective work, considering questions of the power of art and the weight of history via wildly surreal imagery and an unnerving, but still oddly beautiful tone. With a gift for lurid detail and well researched historical reference, Jacobs demands your attention and holds it tight, refusing to let go until the last page turns. For horror fans, certainly, it is an absolute must-read.” – Barnes & Noble SFF Blog
“To read A Lush and Seething Hell is to recognize that just as the human heart is capable of boundless beneficence, it also contains fathomless cruelty, and though we may try to hide from that awful truth, it always finds a way to slither through, creeping up on us when we feel ourselves most safe.” – Chris Kluwe, writing for Lightspeed Magazine
“Equal turns poetic and hypnotic, Jacobs resurrects the surreal imagery of Jorge Louis Borges and couples it with visceral prose that cuts to the bone.” — Teresa Frohock, Author of Miserere: An Autumn Tale and Where Oblivion Dwells
5/5 Stars – “This is a lushly literary narrative, one that is first and foremost a character study of political exiles, and Jacobs’s authorial skills are tack sharp. Highly recommended. ” — Michael Patrick Hicks, author of Broken Shells and Mass Hysteria
“A masterpiece of modern cosmic horror that grounds itself in humanity. Jacobs does a lot with a little; his prose is lyrical and evocative. The setting and characters are captivating and unique to the genre. Moving cosmic horror away from the dreary hills of New England and to the streets of Málaga, Spain and the mountains of South America was a refreshing change. The result is a surprisingly deep novella that recasts cosmic horror’s themes with a raw originality. I was enthralled from start to finish.” — K.M. Alexander, author of The Stars Were Right and Old Broken Road
“I’m not going to sugarcoat the facts here—this story terrified me. This song that keeps coming up and the strange events that happen after it is sung and listened to—it’s unnerving. Again, I was captivated by Jacobs’ storytelling style and his impressive use of specific details, which really must come from his extensive research. I kept experiencing this inability to remember that what I was reading was fiction. This illusion adds to the bone chilling nature of the story. I loved this novella. It’s one of my favorites now. I will be recommending this one a lot and keeping an eye on anything John Hornor Jacobs releases in the future.” – Sadie Hartman, aka MotherHorror, writing at Cemetery Dance
“The Sea Dreams It Is The Sky reads like House of Leaves had an unholy demon baby with The Shadow of the Wind. In the best way. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, then rest assured: it’s terrific, it’s horrific, and it’s smart as hell. Part Gothic horror and part cosmic horror combine with all political horror, the true stuff of nightmares. John Hornor Jacobs understands horror intimately and knows just what to show and what to only suggest so that unease lingers even after fright wears off. After all, it’s the things you can’t see that scare you the most.” — GEEKLY INC.
“The world feels lived in, complete, unlike Lovecraft’s stories that often feel disconnected from the world in general. And although this ‘cosmic horror’ novella is less about cosmic horror and more about the very human horrors we unleash upon each other, the aura of the book remains quite unsettling. You cannot trust this world — not on the road, not in the pages of a book, and not in the offices of government. Hell, you can’t even trust it in your local cafe. That’s the kind of horror with the potential to crawl inside your head and take up residence.” — San Francisco Review of Books