All things ‘horror’ this way come

Horror bookshop Raven’s End opens on Portage Avenue

Raven’s End Books is a new shop catering specifically to horror fans.

Daniel Crump

Perhaps starting with childhood nightmares, a fear of the basement or tales told by flashlight, horror is a topic that Chelsea McKee-Trenchard, owner of Raven’s End Books: The Horror Bookshop, believes touches everyone.

“I’ve seen such a wide demographic in customers, from young teenagers to people well into their 60s and 70s who are excited to find a new array of horrors to get into,” McKee-Trenchard says.

Located at 1859 Portage Ave., Raven’s End opened on Jan. 4 as a one-stop shop for books on all things creepy. From vampires and zombies to body horror and splatterpunk, Raven’s End carries a vast selection of macabre books for people who, she says, “enjoy the darker side.”

But it’s not all jump-scares and gore.

“Horror is anything where you’re (in a) situation you’d rather not be,” McKee-Trenchard says.

She points to an episode from Netflix’s Wednesday, where a gothy, wide-eyed Wednesday Addams watches Legally Blonde.

“That’s a horror for some people,” she says. “Like, we’re not judging.”

Local specialty bookseller Michael Bumsted of Whodunit Books says he is “really excited” about what McKee-Tren- chard is doing.

Whodunit, which ran exclusively as a mystery-novel store before branching out in 2018, has been in business for nearly 30 years, proving specialty bookstores have a place in Winnipeg.

“She has a very exciting opportunity to provide service to a largely underserved population,” Bumsted says, referring to Winnipeg and the west of Canada.

Mainstream bookstores and libraries rarely carry the titles that interest McKee-Trenchard and her customers, which is a big reason Raven’s End exists.

“Trying to find a feminist werewolf novel can be really hard,” she says.

There’s even a market for horror cookbooks – something McKee-Trenchard was unaware of until she opened her shop. Raven’s End boasts a wide selection, including the H.P. Lovecraft-themed Necronomnomnom Cookbook, witchy recipe tomes and horror-movie-inspired titles, as well.

Raven’s End currently carries works from three local authors, including Chadwick Ginther (Graveyard Mind), (editor) Serena Keshavjee (The Art of Ectoplasm), and J.H. Moncrieff (The Restoration). In the coming months, McKee-Trenchard intends to add more.

Indigenous horror, along with queer horror, is “a huge hit,” McKee-Trechard says, with works by Stephen Graham Jones (The Angel of Indian Lake) and Jessica Johns (Bad Cree) flying off shelves.

“Part of our thing here is to give voice to marginalized voices,” she says. “That’s the whole history of what horror is all about.”

In addition to spooky books, Raven’s End carries horror-themed games, puzzles and other retail items, and plans to host classes and special events.

A Silent Book Club, which takes place every third Thursday, will appeal to introverts like McKee-Trenchard, who find “constant social interaction” taxing but enjoy connection.

After nearly three decades in the book biz, Bumstead says the key to getting the best books and service is to go to “places where people have real passion and knowledge about what it is that you like.”

And that place is a local independent bookstore.

“She’s going to do great because she cares a lot about her material,” Bumsted says.

Raven’s End Books is open Tuesday to Saturday at 1859 Portage Ave. Follow @ravensendbooks on Instagram for details and store hours.

Published in Volume 78, Number 17 of The Uniter (February 8, 2024)

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