It's fitting that my début post on the new site should be a review of the latest release from one of the true masters of the genre.
"1971. A middle-aged man, wracked with grief, walks along the beach at Whitstable in Kent.
A boy approaches him and, taking him for the famous vampire-hunter Doctor Van Helsing from the Hammer movies, asks for his help. Because he believes his stepfather really is a vampire…"
There is a great misconception that horror is just about big scary monsters and buxom women who need saving. When horror is at it's best it becomes more about the human condition than many so called non genre literary works. Whitstable is one such book. Stephen Volk has produced a novella that is works both as a gripping thriller and as a beautiful and heart breaking tribute to one of horrors finest stars.
This is a story of two polar opposite, but interwoven narrative threads. Firstly there is extremely moving and intimate account of Peter Cushing coming to terms with the death of his beloved wife Helen. These passages are achingly beautiful, very few books have actually caused tears to well up in my eyes. The love and respect that the author has for peter Cushing is laid bare on the pages, and as a reader you cannot help but become totally immersed in this poignant tale. It is not an easy read, Volk paints a factional biography of Cushing with a warts and all. By showing, that Cushing was a man full love for his wife and those around him, while also being a stubborn man, and at times a man too full of pride. Volk ensures that you the reader will feel nothing but compassion for Peter in his time of mourning.
As for the second thread, it couldn't be more different. Where the passages with Peter as the main or sole protagonist have a for want of a better term quaint and cosy, almost picture postcard feel to them, Those that feature Les Gledhill are shocking to say the least. The way in which they explode into the narrative and rip apart the the safe world of a 1971 Whitstable is really impressive. This is not just a clash between hero and monster, it's clash between a true English gentleman and a thuggish brute. The passage where Gledhill first confronts Peter is truly gripping, and when Gledhill swears at Peter for the first time I was truly shocked, it just felt so brutal, and animalistic.
Volk capitalises on these feelings with a chilling scene set inside a film house, where the two protagonists confront each other while The Vampire Lovers plays in background. This i one of the most enthralling and terrifying passages I have read in a long time.
Not all monsters are real, but sadly some are all too real.
Sadly the limited edition has sold out, but never fear folks you can still pick up a copy of the paperback, from the Publisher by clicking here.
Or you can hop on over to Amazon by clicking the link below.
It's Peter's birthday this weekend, and I can't think of a better way to celebrate it than by getting a copy of this book.