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{Book Review} The Devil’s Dreamland by Sara Tantlinger

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Sara Tantlinger is one of the first horror poets I ever read. Back in 2018, I read her collection Love For Slaughter. Not only was her poetry brilliant, it put horror poetry on my radar. The Devil’s Dreamland is a themed poetry collection about H.H. Holmes, a famous serial killer from the late 19th century.

Sara Tantlinger draws from the disturbing tales and accounts of H.H. Holmes. And I’m convinced we need more grisly poetry. The Devil’s Dreamland transcends horror poetry. I have a feeling this poetry collection will kick off a new sub-genre of horror poetry. It truly is a groundbreaking achievement, and I’m willing to bet it’ll win a Stoker award. (Update: The Devil’s Dreamland won a Stoker!)

I didn’t know anything about H.H. Holmes before reading this collection. Sara Tantlinger took me to school, though. I learned a lot about H.H. Holmes and his “Murder Castle” located in Chicago, Illinois. The red cover is fitting given the collection contains so much blood and guts. The blood literally drips from every page. The Devil’s Dreamland reads like a documentary.

There’s so much sex in his violence. H.H. Holmes’ murderous escapades are stomach churning, yet fascinating. Tantlinger’s poignantly fierce lines cut like a knife. Holmes is a bedlamite through and through. And Tantlinger capture’s the tension and macabre in each of the poems, chilling you to your core.

The Devil’s Dreamland reads like an autobiography I didn’t know I wanted to read. H.H. Holmes is considered the first American serial killer. With every historical account, fact and speculation become intertwined–this made the poems even better. Horror poetry will never be the same after this collection. The Devil’s Dreamland is an avant-garde poetry collection. Sara Tantlinger is a trailblazing horror poet. I look forward to reading more poetry collections based on serial killers.

 

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H.H. Holmes committed ghastly crimes in the late 19th century. Many of which occurred within his legendary “Murder Castle” in Chicago, Illinois. He is often considered America’s first serial killer. In her second book of poetry from Strangehouse Books, Sara Tantlinger (Love For Slaughter) takes inspiration from accounts and tales which spawned from the misdeeds of one Herman Webster Mudgett, better known as Dr. Henry Howard Holmes. Fact and speculation intertwine herein, just as they did during the man’s own lifetime. There’s plenty of room in the cellar for everyone in The Devil’s Dreamland.

“…chilling poetry…” —Linda D. Addison, award-winning author of “How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend” and HWA Lifetime Achievement Award winner

“…morbidly creative and profound crime documentary…one of the best works of horror poetry I’ve read in years.” —Michael Arnzen, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Grave Markings and Play Dead

“…fascinating and absolutely riveting…powerful and vivid prose…will stay with you long after you’ve closed the book.”—Christina Sng, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of A Collection of Nightmares

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