Victor LaValle’s The Changeling (Review)

The Changeling by Victor Lavalle


Book: The Changeling

Author: Victor LaValle

Published: June 13, 2017

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Although Penguin Random House classifies The Changeling by Victor LaValle as “Literary Fiction” and “Contemporary Fantasy,” LaValle’s book doesn’t fit neatly into either  genre. The novel defines itself in its first line: “This fairy tale begins in 1968 during a garbage strike” (3). While modern audiences may have become accustomed to seeing Hans Christian Andersen’s tales in their sanitized Disney form, LaValle, as well as the characters in The Changeling, work to return fairy tales to their visceral origins, packed with social commentary while incorporating technology and addressing race.

LaValle’s protagonist, Apollo Kwaga, is a rare and antiquarian bookseller and for the first one-hundred pages or so, his life is mundane. The only hints of a supernatural world emerging in the opening pages are seen in pictures texted to his wife Emma that mysteriously disappear before she can show them to Apollo. They have their first child, and Emma suffers from something that looks very much like postpartum depression; however, something shocking happens, forcing Apollo into a new, much darker, magical world.

Like most fairy tales, The Changeling is told from an omniscient third-person point of view, but it delightfully zooms in and out of character’s heads throughout the story, sometimes letting us peer into their thoughts, like Apollo’s eating at a French joint, “and just how much in sweet black Jesus did Bouley Restaurant charge for sparkling mineral water? Did they infuse it with fucking diamond dust before they served it?” (45). Other times it allows the narrator to slip outside of the characters altogether, and offer us observations beyond their self-awareness, like, “But let’s be clear, Apollo Kagwa had been a staunch believer in the idea that he could deliver a baby because he was absolutely sure he would never, actually have to do that” (61). In these asides, LaValle shines. He’s funny and profound at once. His gift for description comes through as well in lines like, “thirty-eight weeks pregnant and [Emma] looked like a hummingbird that had swallowed an emu egg” (43).

LaValle’s love, and intimate knowledge of New York City, is on display throughout the story. Similarly to his recent novella The Ballad of Black Tom (soon to be a show on AMC) and his short story collection Slapboxing with Jesus in New York, LaValle molds New York, the city so many dream of, into a harsher fairy tale. While the whole of the book is contained in New York, Apollo’s travels through the different boroughs, islands in the East River, and in inner-city forests, make the world feel as sprawling and geographically diverse as a whole country.

Perhaps the best part of LaValle’s work in this novel is the way in which he addresses modern social issues through the complexity of his characters and their personal experiences. Apollo identifies as half-Ugandan and half-white. His racial identity—as well as that of his best friend, Iraqi war veteran and fellow black antiquarian book dealer Patrice—is a consistent source of struggle for the character and one in which the author doesn’t shy away from discussing or acknowledging in the context of Apollo’s world and his daily interactions. An example of this: Apollo is on his way to confront a mystical evil and is stopped by the police for being black in the wrong neighborhood. Patrice puts it best when he says, “We can be heroes… But heroes like us don’t get to make mistakes” (299).While the novel addresses gender roles in more serious fashion with Apollo’s ideas of “new Dads” versus “old Dads,”  Patrice also is allowed room in the narrative to address Men’s Right’s Activists in scathing and hilarious terms (“ ‘Women only like jerks.’ That’s the mantra of dudes who have made themselves undateable but aren’t willing to take the blame.” (192)) LaValle’s commitment to crafting a story that doesn’t shy away from political awareness and consequences alone would make The Changeling worth reading. His storytelling demonstrates that if your story contains diverse and fully developed characters at the forefront of its telling, then you’re also creating space for discussing their individualized experiences in a way that gives credence to their worldviews. The personal is still a wonderful place to show the political.

While it has some faults — a slow opening, a few dropped narrative threads, some extra fat in the middle — The Changeling is well worth reading. Even if the ending is a bit abrupt, the closing passage is spectacular. LaValle is reclaiming fairy tales for adults while simultaneously modernising them.. The project is worthwhile, and the author is more than up to the task. Buy this book. You will not be disappointed.

Nisi Shawl’s “Everfair” (Review)

Everfair Cover



Book: Everfair

Author: Nisi Shawl

Published: September 6, 2016

Publisher: Tor Books

Nisi Shawl opens her debut novel, Everfair, with the best part of her talent on display: Shawl has an unmatched ability to describe the way people do things in a way that truly pulls the audience in and demonstrates who her characters really are. The novel starts with this:


“Lisette Toutournier sighed. She breathed in again, out in, the marvelous ari smelling of crushed stems, green blood bruised and roused by her progress along this narrow forest path. Her progress, and that of her new mechanical friend (19).”


I’d be hard-pressed to stop reading. Her sentences are both beautiful and informative while moving at a moderate pace that leaves me wanting to learn more about the worlds she spins.


Everfair’s other strength, is the hope invested in every page. Shawl believes in her characters, and they in turn, honestly believe in themselves and the country that they’re building. Everfair tells the history of a fictional African country that opposed King Leopold II’s genocide in Congo. Her Everfair, is a country made of immigrants that the country’s leaders, including the aforementioned Lisette Toutournier, teach to work together for the common good of all. Despite the book’s optimism, race and tribal birth do make a difference in the course of this country’s history, but this makes the book feel all the more real and thoughtful on its examinations of cultural debt, assimilation, and what is goodwill?


Rather than having a set main character, Everfair as a country serves to function as the book’s focus. I’ve never read a book that does that before, although as I understand it James Michener’s books work similarly. It’s an ambitious conceit, but one I fear ultimately holds the book back from its full potential. Before the Author’s Note, the book has a two-page long list of characters and a map. The rotating point of view focuses on the country’s Mote – in Shawl’s government a group of advisors to the king and queen. It’s a large shifting groups, and many of the characters in the two-page list get chapters from a close, third-person point of view. In terms of inclusivity, this is a good because different characters from different backgrounds are given voices with weight. In terms of a coherent narrative, it causes problems. The chapters have to be short to cover the thirty year span of the narrative and include all of these characters. Keeping track of who the point of view character is, what they’re doing, and how they’re impacting the country’s history can be extremely difficult at times. The short chapters are hard to settle into and enjoy because they’re over so quickly.


There’s also months long jumps between almost every chapter. “Mombasa, Kenya, September 1915” ends shortly after Fwendi discovers that she and all of the other principal characters in the hotel they are staying at are going to be arrested in the morning. The chapter ends on a cliffhanger, and had me genuinely excited to see how they were going to escape. But the next chapter starts in October, leaving however the characters got away unknown. Frequently the fun parts of genre writing are relegated to those gaps between chapters. As a decision that helps the book focus on the country rather than the people, it’s a good choice. As a decision for entertaining readers, it’s not.


Everfair isn’t written to entertain though. Shawl addresses this while her characters are debating whether or not Everfair should enter into World War I when George Hunter says, ““That was why there was no more beauty in the world. War had killed it” (256). He seems to be voicing Shawl’s commentary that war isn’t fun, but destructive, a message that feels extremely more relevant now than when the book was released in September.


In many ways, Shawl’s first novel accomplishes what it set out to do. It provides an alternative history of how a genocide could’ve been stopped and by extension how readers can and should attempt to stop future genocides. It exudes hope in a time of hopelessness. It features lesbian, polyamorous, and interracial relationships as well as people of color without exoticising or othering them. It certainly has its issues – mostly stemming from the short chapter structure in a narrative with a massive scope – but Everfair sets out to do important work and for the most part, it succeeds in doing it.

Han Kang’s “Human Acts” (Review)



Human Acts Cover



Book: Human Acts

Author: Han Kang

Translator: Deborah Smith

Published: January 17, 2016

Publisher: Hogarth

Human Acts, Han Kang’s second novel translated into English (and 6th overall), is breathtakingly good. Its opening follows Dong-Ho from a close second-person perspective and slowly reveals to the reader that he is surrounded by the bodies of those who were killed in the brutal put-down of the Gwangju Uprising, a real demonstration in South Korea where paratroopers opened fire on protesters. Dong Ho is helping families find the bodies of their loved ones and helping the other volunteers dispose of the unclaimed.  Kang writes that Dong-Ho is young enough that his “PE jacket is buttoned up to the top,” cleverly showing with that detail that he’s much too young to be helping families identify corpses. There are so many dead in the city that they cannot perform individual ceremonies for each of them.

Kang never returns to Dong-Ho, but what happens to him is the start of a brilliant thread that weaves multiple points of view together as the story shifts into following others who were unlucky enough to experience different edges of the same tragedy. Kang’s narrative handle on what actually happened to the bodies is minimal. In the same way that her Booker International Award winning novel The Vegetarian never goes into the perspective of the eponymous and pained main character, Human Acts never shows the reader the entire bloody disbursement of the protestors. It doesn’t need to do this when instead it can show us different people swept up in the tide of its violent aftermath. And as disturbing as it was to open the novel with Dong-Ho in the makeshift morgue, Kang ups the ante with each point of view, revolting the reader more and more with escalation after escalation of suffering.

While it’s not quite a novel-in-stories, Kang’s mastery of voice and characterization makes every chapter feel as though it could stand on its own as a short story in this world. Kang shifts the sections and the approach of each story to fit its teller.  Depending on the character’s own personal view of the world, some sections are realistically detailed and full, while others slip into the eerie and lyrical supernatural. Human Acts, however, always remains gritty in its level of sometimes nauseating detail, whether it’s describing government censors destruction of manuscripts or jailers treatment of their prisoners.

Because the novel is based on actual events, Kang’s decision to never show the central event means there’s never an opportunity for the reader to revel in the violence. It’s powerful to read among the protests in the current American political climate. Human Acts offers a sobering look at what could happen to the individuals in attendance — with whom I have stood and will stand with again — under a more totalitarian government.

When it comes to reviewing a book this good, there’s not much more to say, other than go out and buy it. Kang has clearly worked hard at her craft for a very long-time, as has translator Deborah Smith, and it shows in every sentence. The book takes the ugliness of a tragedy and brings the reader to sit with it and to learn from it.


Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s “Certain Dark Things” (Review)

Certain Dark Things


Book: Certain Dark Things

Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Published: October 25, 2016

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s second novel, Certain Dark Things, tells the story of a blood feud between two vampire clans being fought in Mexico City, where vampirism is outlawed. The story’s told through a rotating close third-person point of view, with each chapter assuming a mix of objective facts and subjective thoughts from the novel’s principal characters: Domingo, Atl, Ana, Nick, and Rodrigo. Atl and Nick are different breeds of vampires from warring clans enmeshed in a cat-and-mouse game as Nick and Rodrigo hunt Atl across Mexico city.

The book starts with a brilliant reimagining of a meet-cute. Domingo – a young trash collector – riding on a train, spots a beautiful woman. He approaches her and she invites him back to her apartment… to feed as it turns out. It’s a good set-up, and I like the work that Moreno-Garcia does with Atl’s decision to bolster Domingo’s now decreased blood supply with orange juice and iron pills rather than kill him. The choice drives Atl’s emotional arc. She’s in mourning and unmoored from everything she’s known. Those feelings drive her to cling to Domingo, and as the conflict escalates, Domingo becomes more and more of a liability because of his ignorance, his peaceful nature, and his physical weakness.

What I love about the opening is that the reader is treated to a usurping of a traditional motif – the young man who accosts an unassuming woman on a train is the one who is brutally punished for it, not the other way around. She takes blood from him multiple times. He’s punched, kicked, and imprisoned. He loses his best friend and his job. The novel truly shines in the stories of the humans being dragged in their wake because they’re the characters whose lives we get to see put together before they fall apart.

Nick and Rodrigo have the inverse of Atl and Domingo’s relationship, where Rodrigo’s experience clashes with Nick’s impetuousness, slowing the human down. While Atl and Domingo and Nick and Rodrigo run parallel, both duos negotiating the vampire-human partnership’s uneven power dynamics, the fifth point of view character Ana Aguirre is a wildcard. She’s the police officer initially tasked with investigating the vampires’ actions, and she’s the character that Moreno-Garcia truly stacks the deck against. Ana’s outmatched, not having nearly the physical power of the vampires. She’s a woman in a male dominated police force and is discriminated against. She’s mother of a high school daughter she can’t afford to take care of. Because she’s hunting both vampires without a more powerful patron, she starts the story as a wildcard. While it’s obvious to the reader that Ana will eventually take a side, there’s no way to be sure of which side it will be.

Through the middle, Moreno-Garcia uses the tension of Ana deciding which side to take to drive the story. She ups the ante by introducing a violent gang that wants Ana to give the vampires to them rather than the police. The offer they make her is a moral one as much as a financial one and watching Ana’s contact persuade her is fascinating. During that exchange, the contact says, “We both want the same thing, Detective. We want safer streets.” It’s immediately compelling. Why do cops go bad? Maybe because in the beginning going bad is the way to do good, and Moreno-Garcia illustrated it beautifully. But this is where my main issue with the book starts.

The nuanced, complicated conflict gets resolved quickly, and in a simple, generic manner that doesn’t match the complexion of the issue’s introduction. It seems throughout the book, Moreno-Garcia demonstrates a talent for setting up fruitful scenarios, but she also demonstrates a tendency to rush through the climaxes. Here’s a minor example. The set-up for this action scene was several chapters long, and we find our heroes are cornered, then:

Atl pulled out a knife from between the folds of her jacket and threw it at one of the men, hitting him square in the middle of his forehead. The other man reacted quickly enough, grabbing a gun and shooting at her, but the bullet did not hit her hard and she landed on the man’s chest, breaking his neck with one clean movement.

From there, it goes to resolution and then the next, escalated conflict. A few chapters were spent getting the characters into this situation and then it resolved in two sentences. The book rushes opportunities like this frequently. By making the guards totally incompetent or Atl totally overpowering, the reader misses out on what makes fight scenes fun: the tension of not knowing what will happen next, and it pervades most of the book’s climactic scenes.The book doesn’t linger in its biggest moments, and that makes them feel small.

My other criticism was the book references Dracula and other vampire fictions too often, though it is in service of a thematic message. Moreno-Garcia has invented twelve vampire species for this world, yet the human companions are called Renfields, after Dracula’s human lackey in the Stoker novel. Though Moreno-Garcia does lampshade it when Atl thinks, “it was such a coarse term foisted upon them by Anglo popular culture,” the references takes away from the richness of the world she’s built by constantly reminding the reader of other fictional vampires. In Domingo’s point of view, there are very frequent references to vampire comics, movies, and books. While there are a few specific titles referenced, it’s much more often generic “vampire comic books.” I suspect that part of the work Moreno-Garcia is doing with these references is showing how representation of minority groups, in this case vampires, shapes the way they’re perceived by the public, as represented by Domingo. Which it absolutely does. Representation matters. Domingo constantly asks Atl about her physiology because he’s only familiar with her allegorical race/literal species because he’s only been exposed to vampires through pop media. I’m glad she brought us there, and when she’s highlighting the way stereotypes can destroy relationships, it’s working brilliantly. The book doesn’t need all of the references to get there though.

Moreno-Garcia earned awards and praise for her first novel Signal to Noise and edits the excellent The Dark Magazine. She deserves praise for writing a diverse cast of complicated characters and using her platform as a writer to address lack of representation with Domingo and Atl’s relationship, workplace gender discrimination with Ana’s police force, and the stigmatization of interracial marriages through Bernadino’s dialogue. The novel isn’t perfect, but it’s well-intentioned, exciting, and at times, beautiful. It’s more than enough to have me excited to read what Moreno-Garcia’s written so far and to check out her next project.

Ken Liu’s “The Paper Menagerie” (Review)

The Paper MenagerieBook: The Paper Menagerie

Author: Ken Liu

Published: March 8, 2016

Publisher: Saga Press

In the wake of the US election of a man whose rise to power was heralded by white supremacist groups, racists, sexists, bigots, and homophobic politicians, whose hateful rhetoric drove a deeper, manipulative wedge between the disenfranchised and the bourgeois of America , a coworker said something that surprised me: “What we need now is art.”

I’d imagined the sentence ending with “revolution” or “meaningful protest” or “Canadian citizenship.” Even as a writer, someone who ostensibly believes that art can make a difference, I wasn’t ready to hear that what we needed was “art.” I also wasn’t ready to go create works that would nudge the giant pendulum swinging from tense acceptance to open hatred to swing a little further into acceptance. I believe writing can do that. If I didn’t, why bother? That hope is why I spend my free time reading submissions for Spectators and Spooks, trying to find that perfect piece, a ghost story that illuminates a world view different from my own white-passing, straight cis-male perspective that can move me to understand and love a character from a different background and space and time that has been overlooked and dishonored.

While Ken Liu doesn’t do much by the way of ghosts – not in the supernatural sense at any rate – in Paper Menagerie he works to move that pendulum of otherness, that weight that I am yet unsure of how to move for myself or others. He moves. He moves me. He presses his words together into fantastical stories while not shying away from tackling political themes. Some readers and writers alike insist that the political has no place in fiction. They’re wrong. Writers—whether they be poets, philosophers, journalists, or anyone who embellishes words onto blank pages—should be the consciences of the societies that produce them. Ken Liu shows us both future and past wrongs  of how society treats the other and how the other is to view themselves in his short story collection, The Paper Menagerie.

In “Literomancer” and “A Brief History of the Trans-Pacific Tunnel,” Liu shows readers a past and present woe: the cost of colonialism on the society being colonized. These stories both show the gritty details and state-mandated murders that take place in colonized lands to sickening effect. But the colonial story that surprised and amazed me was “All the Flavor.” Liu shows the potential strength of globalism, depicting Chinese settlers who fled the indentured railroad contracts and settled in a cowboy filled Idaho City. The Chinese men introduce Chinese New Year, dumplings, and the Chinese god of war to the Americans and as the Chinese become Americanized they better the Americans by teaching them Chinese traditions. The story has a  mythic tone, depicting the adventures of the Chinese men, portraying them as tricksters adjusting to, then manipulating their new home. Liu does this while drawing parallels between the Chinese and American settlers who moved to this new place for the same new beginning. The exchange of ideas leaves both groups better-off than they were. Some may criticize the story, claiming that the Chinese characters are depicted without faults, and that’s true. I’d argue that these characters have as many faults as Chinese characters in most American Western movies have redeeming characteristics, though I’ll admit, the lack of faults does at a certain point expand to a lack of conflict and a sluggish middle section.

Liu is fond of citing sources, and for good reason. “All the Flavor” ends with a list of historical references. In this one he uses citations to prove that there were in fact Chinese people in the west outside of the railroad, and though the story implies a happy ending, the facts did not. He succinctly, with citation, outlines the future that these men would face as the state legislators banned them from coupling with American women and led to their eventual extinction in the west, and purging from the American popular image of it.

Liu uses the citations to put exclamation points at the end of a few other stories as well. “The Litigation Master and the Monkey King” and “The Man Who Ended History” finish the collection, and they end with equally somber notes sections highlighting the real, awful histories Liu is drawing inspiration from. These stories address the theme of remembering the victims of massacres. To read these stories is to remember the victims of these massacres. The brutal acts in both stories are belied by their frames. “The Litigation Master and the Monkey King” uses a folklore trickster to bring out the truth of a massacre that was suppressed for 250 years. Rather than open with a staging of the massacre, Liu opens with the Litigation Master having a talk with the Monkey King — who has been drinking for the last few centuries straight — and proceeding to litigate. The scenes are light-hearted too. The interactions feel like something out of a buddy cop movie where the central conflict is still important but so are the characters at play. The amazing thing about Liu is that when he gets to describing the massacre, he shifts from this lightness to utter darkness without jolting the reader mid-read. His prose guide the reader lithely through a potential minefield without exploding.

In “The Man Who Ended History” he uses sci-fi conventions to deliver the reader to a similar place of destruction and recognition. Framed as the transcript of a documentary, this story takes us into a future where time travel is real, but can only be used to go to one moment before that moment can never be visited again. He draws parallels between the way this time travel works with the way archeological excavations destroy the artifacts that they’re uncovering. Once he gets through the frame and the legal debates he gives us another, lesser known historical tragedy: the human experiments performed by Japanese soldiers in Unit 731 on Chinese prisoners. Describing how they’d test whether a prisoner was frostbitten and ready for an experiment or not, one of the guards says, “To make sure that the arms have been frozen solid, we would hit them with a short stick. If we heard a crisp whack, it meant that the arms were frozen all the way through and ready for the experiments. It sounded like whacking against a piece of wood.”

What makes Liu special aside from his championing for the remembrance of massacred peoples is that while the stories described so far can be brutal, he’s also got lighter stories. “State Change” is a story following the life of a woman who was born with her soul outside of her body. If it melts, she’ll die. The story delves into how she negotiates that world. “The Regular” is a noir where a technologically enhanced private investigator hunts down a serial killer in a well-evoked future Boston.

The Paper Menagerie isn’t without its shortcomings though. In the earlier stories especially, Liu has some conceptual stories in the style of Jorge Louis Borges that lack character action and some stories that have the emotion and character action but lack inventiveness. “Perfect Match” creates a world where an A.I. directs everything the protagonist does, but the protagonist is an underdeveloped character and thus his arc doesn’t work. “Good Hunting,” another early story, has an incredible ending that I struggled to get to because the character’s lives were told in too much detail without enough conflict. But as I said, the collection improves as it goes. It’s not until “The Regular,” the sixth story of the collection that he really manages to bring these two strengths together. “Perfect Match” also fell victim to what I think the other weakness of this collection is, the weakness of all failing political stories: it fails to imagine the world with enough complexity. The A.I. in “Perfect Match” is immediately and obviously the conflict of the story because big data is portrayed as bad in almost every work of sci-fi it appears in. Liu doesn’t anticipate a savvy reader, or at least adjust in a way to accommodate them. Instead, he follows through with a protracted awakening and subsequent attempted sabotage and meeting with the company behind the A.I., all the while the reader is getting progressively more bored because they get the point. It’s a lack of nuance that damns bad political stories. It takes the surprise and awe, the fun and the excitement out of the story and sucks the reader dry.

Thankfully, Liu avoids these pitfalls more often than not in his work by his attention to developing strong characters. The title story earned a Hugo and a Nebula award because it combined amazing character work — the touching story of a young man and his relationship with his immigrant mother — with magical realism, the mother breathing life into origami animals. The moment at the end of the story where the son has his mother’s last letter translated to him is the strongest in the collection, and one of the great moments in literature.

Paper Menagerie is a strong story collection, with prose that will send you running for a dictionary but not bounce you out of the story, with a tone that is both whimsical and striking. Liu is already a big name in sci-fi, and with his inventive mix of historical fiction, sci-fi, and magical realism along with his dedication to telling stories that commemorate real tragedies, we hope his audience is only going to grow bigger and bigger. 


Submission Calls for 2017!

Dear Fellow Spooksters,


First of all, I would like to thank you all so much for supporting us as we venture forth as a literary journal into uncharted waters. It means the world and the moon to us that you have supported our contributors, our work, and most importantly, our mission to bring tales of otherness to the forefront. We were blessed to publish some first time writers and artists and share that work with the world and that is a type of gift that we are eternally grateful to have been able to share with you all.

As we move into January 2017 and as we reflect on the tiring time that was and still is 2016, we are pleased to announce that we are opening our doors for submissions in a range of categories: Poetry, Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Comics (Memoir/Personal). Like last year, we will also be hosting two contests for our artists: a Cover Art Contest (strictly for Boston Artists) and also a Short Story Contest. This issue’s short story contest will be of the theme: BENEATH THE CITY. We are most excited for this category as we are looking forward to hearing what tales you weave that dissects, examines, and exclaims what happens in and hidden from the mainstream culture. What beats in the heart and beneath the heart of the city? What rises up? What falls? All submissions will be open this year from January 1st, 2017 until May. We can’t wait to read what you send to us.

It is important now more than ever that we persist to tell our tales and share our shadows. It is important more so now than it was before to find the shadows that are covering other people’s experiences and to shed light onto them. Share the work with us and work to share with us. We are what we do and the stories we choose to tell.





Harvard Book Store, On Demand Printing, & Us!

We’re excited to announce that our first issue will be printed by Harvard Book Store, Cambridge’s premier independent bookstore since 1932, this month!

We’ll be using their Espresso Book Machine to print first edition copies of our first issue for all our readers, editors, artists, authors, and supporters. While we aren’t currently selling our first issue, we are open to the idea of a doing a smaller run after our release…but that is all depending on you! If you’re interested in having an issue of Spectator & Spooks (aside from reading our beautiful online design premiering 10/21/16 on our site), then contact us via email or Twitter. If we have enough requests, we are open to sending out issues to our readers and spreading the work of our great artists, writers, and editors.



Production has begun!

We’re excited to announce that production has begun for our first issue of Spectator & Spooks!


In celebration of Issue #1, and all spooky things to follow, we’ve added a new section to our page: Artwork. Here you can find upcoming and previously published artwork from our magazine. Our cover for our inaugural issue is designed by: Christopher Woods. Our featured artist for our first issue is: Helen Laser.


We are so grateful to be able to feature their work and can’t wait to share their designs with you this October!


Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 12.57.36 PM

Spectator & Spooks is a literary magazine devoted to art that explores otherness.

Is this a literary magazine about ghosts? Yes! Also, no! We want art about what it is like to be on the sidelines of history, of daily life, and also of life. So, yes, send us your ghosts…but don’t shy away from sending us stories of ghastly encounters in life as well. We welcome fiction, nonfiction, and articles tackling this subject and theme. We love to see work that experiments with genre boundaries and are looking for works from a diverse audience. We currently do not offer payment for accepted submissions but we do support our writers in publicizing their work on social media outlets. We are working to find a way to pay our contributors.

We are now taking submissions in the following genres:

Short Stories

Personal Essays




Please submit your work to our submittable page here

Thank you for sharing your ghosts. ♥