A Look Inside the Spookiest Literary Party of the Year


The Masquerade of the Red Death is the one night every year where we gather in Brooklyn, celebrate with our community, and raise funds to support our work. It is also the night the spirit of our party patron saint Edgar Allan Poe is strongest, and the spooky vibes reach their peak! This year, our friends, readers, writers, and beloved colleagues from the literary sphere showed up and showed out, fabulously decked in horns, feathers, and most thematically, many stunning and creative masks. Themed cocktails were sipped, tail-feathers were shaken, and party-goers ended the night with an armload of free books! Here is a recap of the red-soaked revelry of this most spooky night, captured by photographer Jasmina Tomic.

Our party favor is a Verso tote bag overflowing with free haunted house novels!

Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s story “The Fall of the House of Usher,” EL editors curated a giveaway table of novels and short story collections that feature houses—haunted, alive, or just plain creepy—as characters. The offerings include well-loved classics—The Shining, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, The Haunting of Hill House—and exciting newer titles—Devil House, In the Dream House, Broken River, Terrace Story, Caul Baby, Out There, and Bluebeard’s Castle.

 Bring your own mask, or take one of ours!

Thanks to to our beverage partner Interboro Spirits, the open bar included a Poe-themed cocktail hour: The Gold Bug, The Black Cat, and The Tell-Tale Heart.

It was a full house! And we just love seeing people mingling with books in hand.

This year, our honored guests are authors Morgan Jerkins, author of Caul Baby and Hilary Leichter, author of Terrace Story. 

It’s been a banner year for Electric Literature, after winning the Whiting Literary Magazine Prize in 2022. Executive Director Halimah Marcus announced that this year, Electric Literature had three stories in Best American Short Stories and two stories in Best American Mystery and Suspense, the first online literary magazine ever to do so. 

In her speech, Editor-in-Chief Denne Michele Norris said: “Last year we announced the success of the Both/And fundraising campaign, our groundbreaking essay series centering trans and gender nonconforming writers that published this spring. Earlier this year we designed and launched a new creative nonfiction program. I’m really thrilled to announce that we’ll begin to publish these essays, weekly, on Thursdays, in mid-January.” Marcus added: “And as if we didn’t have enough going on this year, we partnered on the launch of Banned Books USA, an initiative to giveaway banned and challenged books to readers in Florida, for only the cost of shipping.”

After remarks, it was time to hit the dancefloor!

The DJ, novelist Ryan Chapman, had us all sweating and screaming on the dancefloor. In other words—he knows his tunes. And did we mention he has a new novel coming out this next spring?

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Some guests did not deign to unearth themselves from beneath their haunted dwellings—they brought them along to party! (Could it be One Story founder Hannah Tinti and managing editor Lena Valencia? They’ll never tell.) The deadliest couple of the night for the second year running goes to Catherine LaSota, founder of The Resort, and Karl Jacob.

Can we have a little commotion for the masks??

The turnout was deadly, mysterious, and stylish. (We promise the photographer has not been turned to stone!)

We love a good cape and this fabulous flock of crows, having a murder of a time (crow pun intended!).

We spotted so many book authors getting their grove on at the party. Picture here—from top to bottom, left to right—is Isle McElroy (People Collide), Greg Mania (Born to Be Public), John Manuel Arias (Where There Was Fire), Jennifer Baker (Forgive Me Not), and honoree Morgan Jerkins.

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Say boo for the photobooth!

And that’s a wrap from Electric Literature team. Left to right: Former interns Nzinga Temu and Lauren Hutton, Halimah Marcus, Books Editor Jo Lou, Denne Michele Norris, Recommended Reading reader Maddy Adams.

Thank you to our sponsors for making this gathering of incredible and vibrant book people possible! See you all next year!

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