David A Riley, is one of those authors, whose name I was familiar with, but one whose work I wasn't really familiar with. So when David announced the release of this collection of five short stories / novella's I thought this is as good a time as any to sample his work. Was it worth it? You'll have to read on to find out.
Kicking of this collection is Their Own Mad Demons, in which career small time crooks Nobby and Stinko (a pair of brilliant names, I love it when criminals get proper criminal names) are hired to help out at a dodgy deal at a junkyard. When this goes the way of all things and torture and murder are added to the mix, Nobby finds himself haunted by a very peculiar spirit. Haunted to the point of desperation Nobbly must return to the scene of the crime and try to exorcise the stench of his past.
This is great start to the collection, with a perfect mix of gangsters and ghosts, David A. Riley has created a wonderful gritty tale full of great characters and an excellent twist on vengeful spirit. This story gets right up your nose in the best possible way.
To most blokes being trapped in a pub is probably a great thing, free beer and as many bags of peanuts you could eat is my idea of heaven. However after reading Lock -In, I now no longer wish this to be this case. This is a very claustrophobic tale thats takes a well used theme of lurkers in the dark and shapes it into an original and truly tense story.
The Fragile Mask On His Face, is perhaps the most shocking and horrific tale in this anthology. This is definitely not a tale for those of you with a weak stomach. This story returns to the town of Edgebottom, and in particular The pub of the previous story, and features another fabulous Black magician, this time one with a penchant for skinning faces, glorious stuff.
The True Spirit, after a terrible massacre that left ambulance driver Harold Briscombe so traumatised that he suffered a breakdown and never returned to work. Now years later the only pleasure that Harold has in his life is his allotment and his cat loving wife Alice. When two of her cats go missing the the prime suspect of their angry neighbour. But soon he is found dead at the bottom of his stairs apparently the victim of a silly fall. To make things worse Harold's allotment gets vandalised. However when a mysterious and charismatic stranger arrives and promises to out things right. Harold suspects there is more to this young man than meets the eyes, so he decides to follow him one night, is this just what was intended to happen all along?
This is a brilliant story that captures a that unsettling and terrifying feeling of many great horror stories of the 1970's. This is the sort of story that would have been a highlight in such films as From Beyond the Grave.
The Worst Of All Possible Places is the final tale is the final tale in this excellent collection.
Bill Whitley only has two options left to hom, become homeless or take up residence in the dumping ground for all of Edgebottom's undesirables, Daisyfield House. The house itself has been witness to many tragedies, built on the site of a church that was the scene of a mass killing, this a place where the dead don't stay dead, and where real horror stalks its corridors.
This is a fitting end to a remarkable collection. Robert Rankin has his Brighton, Terry Pratchett has his Discworld, and so David A. Riley has his Edgebottom, and I for one know which of these worlds I would like to take a return trip to. In an era where so many authors are trying to find a unique twist on the horror the story, at the expense of a well written story, it is a refreshing to come across an author who understands how to write a scary, gripping and down right entertaining story. His Own Mad Demons is what I like to call good old fashioned horror, and this is a shining example of that.
I can't wait for the release of David's latest collection later on this year.