LGBTQ+ owned, horror-themed bookstore opens in Highlands neighborhood

by Sophia Lee

When most Louisvillians think of local book shops to hang around, they tend to patronize the city’s staples — Carmichael’s or the Book & Music Exchange. In terms of niche sub-genres and cult picks, there isn’t a large variety for us queerdos to browse. As Louisville continues growing, we’ve seen an abundance of food, clothes, and music shops popping up around town, but many book junkies, such as myself, have found obscure and independent literature hard to come by — particularly that of horror genres have been difficult to obtain, unless ordering from some grossly overpriced, mass media production company. 

When Jenny Kiefer announced the grand opening of her dream vision, Butcher Cabin Books, Louisvillians flooded the streets with lines wrapped around the corners of Barrett Avenue. Butcher Cabin Books is a new, local horror bookstore that has been quickly accumulating a following here. Their grand opening was October 15.

“It was actually the opening weekend that was kind of crazy because we didn’t expect, we expected a small line, but we didn’t expect it to be a line going down the street and around the corner by Nitty Gritty for three hours,” Kiefer said. “So we sold out. We sold a lot of our new stock and obviously sold a lot of the old stock and so we’re currently trying to figure out what we want to do about buying stock from people because we’ve been collecting and sourcing that stock that we had for over a year before the grand opening. That opening pretty much sold us out. So we’ve had to kind of scramble to source used books.”

Kiefer added that the opening of her store continues exceeding her expectations. The shop got its name from the history of the building itself as it used to be a butcher shop with wooden paneling that makes the inside look just like a cabin. The store’s stock is an inclusive mixture of new and used books.

Kiefer is a 33-year-old horror reader and author. Though she has been working for a long time to put out a horror novel of her own, Kiefer does have several shorter publications within various horror series throughout the shop.

“We have an anthology here that I have a story in called Howls from the Dark Ages [An Anthology of Medieval Horror]. And my debut novel comes out with Quirk Books  — They do a bunch of horror nonfiction too. But they’re publishing my debut novel but it doesn’t come out until January 2024.”

Being a queer author herself, Kiefer seeks to highlight LGBTQ+ horror authors within her shop, and is actively looking for queer horror authors to collect from and host events within her shops space. Her upcoming novel, THAT WRETCHED VALLEY, is a survival horror inspired by the Dyatlov Pass incident but set in the Kentucky mountains. 

“We do have our LGBTQ section, where we feature either stories about that, or authors who are in that community,” Kiefer said. And I want to grow that section. So if anybody has a recommendation or book that they know about, they can let me know. And I can try to order it.”

Kiefer knows all the ins and outs of horror literature, both local and broadscale. Though her shop showcases many big names such as Stephen King and Kealan Patrick Burke, Kiefer is heavily focused on illustrating how local Kentucky horror authors are growing massively within the scene. 

One of these quite well-known local Lexington native, Laurel Hightower, author of Whispers in the Dark and Crossroads, will be making a guest appearance at the bookstore on November 12th to do a live podcast episode with Graveyard Coffee Talk for fans. Graveyard Coffee Talk is a paranormal/folklore podcast that specializes in the macabre sector of horror. 

“Yeah, it’s been really interesting to see. I’m excited to see how the business can grow and how we can get more events in that sphere, like when Civitas [CivitasLGBTQ] came in. They did an event called “Queers in Horror”, it was a couple of people that had a filmmaker talk about that topic,” she said. “That was really interesting…I can’t think of any more fun or interesting things we could do in that realm but definitely something we’re interested in [doing more of].”

Hightower will be signing books from 4 to 6 p.m. — completely open to the public — the podcasting will begin at 6 p.m. This is a free ticketed event but there is limited space available. Grab your tickets: here. Limited to 2 tickets per person, and the shop is asking that people release tickets if they are unable to attend. In December, the store will begin having events with a podcast called Hillbilly Horror Stories. Horror fanatics can check out their podcast episodes on any streaming platform, or on their website here.

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