Forgotten Sisters

  • Library Journal Starred Review

A city’s haunted history and fairy-tale horrors converge for two women in an addictive novel of psychological suspense by a multiple Bram Stoker Award–nominated author.

Sisters Anna and Jennie live in a historic bungalow on the Chicago River. They’re tethered to a disquieting past, and with nowhere else to go, nothing can part them from their family home. Not the maddening creaks and disembodied voices that rattle the old walls. Not the inexplicable drownings in the area, or the increasing number of bodies that float by Anna’s window.

To stave off loneliness, Anna has a podcast, spinning ghostly tales of Chicago’s tragic history. But when Anna captures the attention of an ardent male listener, she awakens to the possibilities of a world outside.

As their relationship grows, so do Jennie’s fears. More and more people are going missing in the river. And then two detectives come calling.

They’re looking for a link between the mysteries of the river and what’s housed on the bank. Even Anna and Jennie don’t understand how dreadful it is―and still can be―when the truth about their unsettled lives begins to surface.

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The Mexican board game of Lotería is a game of chance—similar to bingo. However, in Lotería instead of matching up numbers on a game board, players match up images. 

There are 54 cards in the Lotería game, and for this short story collection you will find one unique story per card based on a Latin American myth, folklore, superstition, or belief—with a slant towards the paranormal and horrific. In this deck of cards you will find murderers, ghosts, goblins and ghouls. This collection features creatures and monsters, vampires, werewolves and more.

Many of these legends existed long before their European counterparts—passed throughout the Americas via word of mouth, collected just like the tales the Brothers Grimm. These are indeed fairy tales—Latin American fairy tales—but with a horrifying slant.

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The Shoemaker’s Magician

  • Library Journal’s Best of 2023
  • Library Journal Starred Review

“A gripping story filled with ghosts, mystery, and history.”
—Library Journal (Starred Review)

“Haunting.” —Publishers Weekly

A fabled lost movie. An increasing body count. How much do you risk for art?

Paloma has been watching the Grand Vespertilio Show her entire life. Grand, America’s most beloved horror host showcases classic, low-budget and cult horror movies with a flourish, wearing his black tuxedo and hat, but Paloma has noticed something strange about Grand, stranger than his dark make-up and Gothic television set.

After Paloma’s husband, a homicide detective, discovers an obscure movie poster pinned on a mutilated corpse on stage at the Chicago Theater, she knows that the only person that can help solve this mystery is Grand. When another body appears at an abandoned historic movie palace the deaths prove to be connected to a silent film, lost to the ages, but somehow at the center of countless tragedies in Chicago.

The closer Paloma gets to Grand she discovers that his reach is far greater than her first love, horror movies, and even this film. And she soon becomes trapped between protecting a silent movie that’s contributed to so much death in her city and the life of her young son. With The Shoemaker’s Magician, Cynthia Pelayo continues to establish herself as one of the most powerful voices in riveting, thought-provoking dark fiction.

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Crime Scene

  • Winner of the Bram Stoker Award in Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection)
  • Nominated for an Elgin Award

Cynthia Pelayo sings a song for the least of us, the victim we want to forget as soon as possible, the one who disappeared before ever really appearing. With a fairy tale gaze and a heart bigger than the world, her siren song insinuates itself past our defenses, past the hardened calluses and apathy we’ve erected to protect ourselves from the everyday horror of another missing girl. 

Pelayo relates the familiar story, poem by poem; a body is found, a brutal crime investigated, clues take us in circles, and lead us nowhere. We are on an epic journey, the hero’s journey, and it must play out to the end in all its painful, ticking moments. Pelayo imbues her hero, Agent K, with the entirety of our dedication and that crumb of hope we’ve been hiding, saving for later. We will need to save for years, for decades, if we want to come out the other side. The job takes its toll, the answers are never complete and whys fracture, crack and spread. Still there is no turning away. We must bear witness, though it changes and contorts us.

What They’re Saying

“In Crime Scene, Cynthia Pelayo dips her quill in a secret wound of pain that not all writers are brave enough to explore. Unflinching and raw, Crime Scene is a harrowing exploration of human suffering and firmly establishes Pelayo as one of the most exciting and original poets working today.” —Eric LaRocca, author of Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke and Other Misfortunes

Crime Scene is a held breath without release or escape. Pelayo dissects our grimmest cultural obsessions and aims an unrelenting microscope at our tragedies and sins. There is lightning beneath this book’s skin. Harrowing to the last.” —Hailey Piper, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Queen of Teeth

“Just read Cynthia Pelayo’s Crime Scene in one sitting. This book rips true crime away from the fabulists and, with all the shock of a blood spatter, brings it back to the stark, lonely dead end it has always been.”—Daniel Kraus, The Ghost That Ate Us

“Few poets dig so deep into the dark heart of human suffering as Cynthia Pelayo, and I can think of no better example of her lyrical fearlessness than the epic narrative poem that is Crime Scene. Raw and uncompromising, Pelayo is, quite simply, one of the best and most important writers in the business.” —Kealan Patrick Burke, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Sour Candy.

“Pelayo’s Crime Scene is undoubtedly the Odyssey of crime literature. Each poem unveils the darkest parts of human existence while seeking to understand the reasons behind those most evil impulses. The result is a beautiful, heartbreaking reckoning that lingers long after reading the final passage.” —Heather Levy, author of the Anthony nominated Walking Through Needles.

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Children of Chicago

  • Nominated for a Bram Stoker Award in Superior Achievement in a Novel
  • Library Journal Starred Review
  • Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review

This horrifying retelling of the Pied Piper fairytale set in present-day Chicago is an edge of your seat, chills up the spine, thrill ride. ‪ When Detective Lauren Medina sees the calling card at a murder scene in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, she knows the Pied Piper has returned. When another teenager is brutally murdered at the same lagoon where her sister’s body was found floating years before, she is certain that the Pied Piper is not just back, he’s looking for payment he’s owed from her. Lauren’s torn between protecting the city she has sworn to keep safe, and keeping a promise she made long ago with her sister’s murderer. She may have to ruin her life by exposing her secrets and lies to stop the Pied Piper before he collects.

“Pelayo masterfully ratchets up the tension and the scares.” – Publishers Weekly (Starred)

With superior worldbuilding, a relentless pace, a complex heroine, and a harrowing story that preys off of current events as much as its well-developed monster, this is a stellar horror novel that fires on all cylinders, from the first page through to its horrible conclusion. For fans of dark fantasy based on fairy tales such as Seanan McGuire’s “Wayward Children” series or novels by Helen Oyeyemi, with just the right touch of Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski.” – Library Journal (Starred)

“”Pelayo has crafted a love story to Chicago, particularly the Latinx community, weaving history, culture, and landmarks into the fabric of the story until the city practically breathes. It is also a love story to fairy tales, and Pelayo intersperses retellings throughout the book, examining the structure, meaning, and value of the original tales. Pelayo’s dark, reimagined fairy tale will have readers leaving their lights on long after they’ve turned the last page.” – Booklist

“Part police procedural, all horror, Cynthia Pelayo’s CHILDREN OF CHICAGO is an immensely entertaining and thoroughly chilling novel, which just so happens to combine two of my favorite things: Chicago and fairytales. I challenge you not to have a good time with Pelayo’s book. The confidence and style on display here say she’s destined to become one of the greats.”―Kealan Patrick Burke, Bram Stoker Award-Winning author of SOUR CANDY, KIN, and THE TURTLE BOY

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Into The Forest And All the Way Through

Nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection

Into The Forest And All The Way Through is a collection of true crime poetry that explores the cases of over one hundred missing and murdered women in the United States.

“This book shook me, ripped my heart out, and haunts me still. Into the Forest and All the Way Through shines a harsh light on a subject society has been far too content to ignore…and it’s about goddamn time. This Is a vital collection.” -Kealan Patrick Burke, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Sour Candy.

“This is not an easy book to read. It will shatter your heart, and anyone who has experienced life as a woman will know all too intimately the fear in these pages, the choking dread of what could happen if I go for a walk too late, go to the grocery store at night, find myself some place at the wrong time…” -Sara Tantlinger, Bram Stoker Award winning author of The Devil’s Dreamland.

“For readers of mystery and true crime, this is a heartbreaking but important read as it gives voice to the missing and the murdered, the lost and the afraid. By no means is this collection an easy read, but Pelayo approaches the subject matter with compassion, honesty, and an urgency that begs people to wake up, to speak out, and to continue to have hard conversations with their children and loved ones.” -Stephanie Wytovich, American poet, novelist, essayist and Bram Stoker winning author.



A mysterious virus sweeps across the country, mutating rapidly as it jumps from person to person. Cities are locked down. The skies are clear as all planes are grounded. Some people panic, while some go to heroic lengths to save those they love―and others use the chaos as an opportunity to engage in purest evil. In “Lockdown,” 19 of today’s finest suspense, horror, and crime writers explore how humanity reacts to the ultimate pandemic. From New York City to the Mexican border, from the Deep South to the misty shores of Seattle, their characters are fighting for survival against incredible odds. An anthology for our time, showing how the worst crises can lead to the best of us. Proceeds from LOCKDOWN will go to support BINC, the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, as it seeks to help booksellers recover from the devastating COVID-19 crisis. 

“Come Away, Come Away” was written by Cynthia Pelayo. This is an impeccable finish to Lockdown. I don’t want to ruin it for a reader, but it plays with a classic tale in the perfect way (and mentions the ocean).” – Crime Element


A collection of original and riveting stories that tackle one of the most important and controversial issues of time: The Border. La frontera is full of stories. Real stories, not the ones you see in the news. The border is a powerful place where countries collide. It’s a weird space of dreams, struggles, promises, lies, fear, and redemption. It’s a multicultural and bilingual space where people know that hustling to protect your loved ones or offer them a better life is a drive strong enough to blur ethical codes. Sadly, the border is also a place where drugs make people a lot of money, corruption stains everything, and violence fills the landscape with danger and ghosts. Now, some of today’s most talented authors will visit this space from their perspective―showing the world what they see on both sides. In a landmark anthology, acclaimed author Gabino Iglesias presents 15 stories from an incredibly talented and diverse roster of authors that look at all aspects of border crime―immigration, law, trafficking (both human and narcotics), and everyone trying to exploit the divide for their own benefit. Thought-provoking, shocking, violent, raw, emotional, and unforgettable,BOTH SIDES will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about borders, both domestic and international.

“Cynthia Pelayo’s “The Lament of the Vejigante,” which explores the casual racism faced by a Puerto Rican and her growing respect for her family’s strength and resilience.” – Publisher’s Weekly