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Supernatural thriller takes Houdini’s niece from Coney Island to upstate’s Esopus Island

Brooklyn BookBeat

July 8, 2016 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Book cover courtesy of Glenn Herdling

Glenn Herdling, a former editor and writer for Marvel Comics, has published “Piper Houdini: Nightmare on Esopus Island,” the second book in a series about the fictional niece of the legendary Harry Houdini. The character is a 12-year-old girl living in Coney Island during the 1920s.

While the bulk of the action in the new novel takes place on Coney Island’s famed boardwalk, the plot culminates on an island called Esopus, a deserted strip of wooded land with rocky outcroppings in the middle of the Hudson River. 

“This island was the perfect setting for the conclusion to my story because it has an eerie history that continues to pique the curiosity of Hudson Valley residents and visitors alike,” Herdling said. “That’s because in the summer of 1918, the renowned British occultist Aleister Crowley canoed out to Esopus Island and spent 40 days and nights there in meditative isolation.”

Crowley and Esopus Island both made their debut in the first novel of the series, “Piper Houdini: Apprentice of Coney Island,” though the name of the island was only alluded to. In the novels, the year is 1926, and Crowley has returned to the tiny island to conclude his sinister ritual. Only Piper and her friends from the Dreamland Freak Show stand between him and the demonic subjugation of the human race.

Along the way, Piper encounters a variety of real-life luminaries from the 1920s, including author H.P. Lovecraft and a Rudolph Valentino zombie.

“I rode the Wonder Wheel as part of my research for the Piper Houdini novels, but I have never set foot on Esopus Island,” Herdling admits. “It’s something I intend to do before the end of the year.” 

“Piper Houdini: Nightmare on Esopus Island” is currently available exclusively as an e-book at Amazon.com and will be released in print later this year. 

Herdling began his publishing career at Marvel Comics, where he wrote some of its most popular titles, including “Spider-Man,” “The Avengers,” “Deadpool,” “X-Men” and more. He currently works in the financial sector as a communications specialist. 

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