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WIU English Professor Releases Much Anticipated Literary Horror Novel, 'White Horse'

November 10, 2022

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MACOMB, IL – A member of Western Illinois University's English faculty has written and released a new-wave horror novel, "White Horse," to excellent reviews from some high-profile media and publishing outlets.

Professor Erika Wurth's new book was released Nov. 1 through Flatiron/Macmillan Books. Since then, she has appeared on Good Morning America, received a singular rave review from the New York Times and her novel has been named the Book of the Month for November by Target, Night Worms, BOM and Tattered Cover, amongst others. It has also been featured or reviewed by countless outlets, such as Buzzfeed, NPR and Publishers Weekly.

Even before "White Horse" was released it was named one of the most anticipated novels for Fall 2022.

The novel's pages follow character Kari James, who frequents Denver, CO's "White Horse" bar. The "nicotine-fueled thrill ride," is about an Indigenous woman who "must face her family's dark past after discovering a bracelet haunted by her mother's spirit." The bracelet, given to James by her cousin, conjured visions of her missing mother, but also of "Lofa, a Chickasaw boogeyman."

"Her mother's ghost, crying and bloodied, sends Kari from Idaho Springs, the dingy trailer park where she grew up, to Lakeside, a rusting amusement park, to The Stanley, the haunted hotel that inspired The Shining," said a narrative of the book. "She visits the independent bookstore, 'Tattered Cover,' and, seemingly, every dive bar in Denver. Hunted by the Lofa at every turn, Kari's journey toward a truth long denied by both her family and law enforcement forces her to confront her dysfunctional relationships, the death of her childhood best friend, and her desire for the one thing she's always wanted but could never have."

As an urban Native writer of Apache/Chickasaw/Cherokee descent, Wurth's story is partially inspired by the mysterious death of her Indigenous grandmother.

Reviews of Wurth's book include, "Equal parts horror and magical realism with a noir edge, you can practically smell the cigarette smoke and stale whiskey seeping from the pages ...You won't find anything else like it this fall," from the Seattle Times, and "Past demons beget present terrors in this chilling, well-paced debut that's perfect for fans of Stephen Graham Jones…. With tangible characters, insightful dialogue, and the horror and painful beauty of discovering one's truth, Wurth's debut is must-read horror with a big, bleeding heart," from a starred review in the Library Journal.

Wurth came to WIU in August 2005, and teaches classes in creative writing and fiction. She is also a Kenyon and Sewanee fellow and a narrative artist for the Meow Wolf Denver installation.

For more information about Wurth's work, visit

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