Horror fiction has many faces, many moods and many styles. It can chill you to the bones with the most atmospheric of passages, turn your stomach with some gross out imagery, or it can make you smile with a wild sense of abandonment. But above all else horror should entertain.
So when you get your hands on an anthology that manages to do all of the above and more you know you have gotten your hands on a rather special book.
Demons and Devilry is the fourth anthology from Hersham Horror. Featuring five stories based around the sadly neglected sub genre of Black Magic and Demonology from some of the best writers working today, Demons and Devilry captures the very essence of what makes for a great horror read. And when an anthology has stories from both Thana Niveau and the John Llewellyn probert you just know you are in for a fabulous time.
Remember all those classic films, those films that scared you as a kid, iconic films featuring the likes of Christopher Lee and Vincent Price. Those very British horror films where a tweed jacket, a hero who looked like your dad and dusty tome were all that were required to defeat Lucifer and his minions. Now remember that giddy feeling of enjoyment that those films brought to you, you want to feel that again don't you? Well you are in luck for this book is like one of those films.
Peter Mark May's The Abhorant Man has the honour of being first up to bat in this rather fine anthology. Starting of in Carthage in 146 BC, where the Roman army is in the process of sacking the city, the Priests of Baal are in possession of an ancient item that just may be the key to saving their city. However as things are wont to be in such tales things don't go according to plan and soon something sinister is unleashed. Fast forward to 1924, and a team of specialist are on their way to the City to investigate the discovery a temple. This is no ordinary Society, they have been charged with protecting us from Demons, spirits, and the dark denizens that inhabit darkest shadows of our world. Once there the team encounters that beast that was unleashed all those years previously with shocking results.
The Abhorant Man is a great start to the anthology, the story rushes along at breakneck speed with some great ideas and imagery peppering the narrative as it moves towards a chilling and memorable conclusion. Full of derring do and stiff upper lips The Abhorant Man is a great adventure horror story. However, I felt the overall story was suffocated ever so slightly by the stories length. This is a story that would have benefited from a longer treatment. If you are reading this Peter I would like to see more from these characters.
Thana Niveau's Little Devils, casts aside the derring do of the the previous story for a far more intimate and personal story of devilment. Sisters can't live with them can't take them to a building site with a group of your friends for some illicit adventuring. Arabella and her little sister are doing just this. Soon they will discover that there are worse things than falling into wet cement and discarded power tools lurking around this building site.
Thana's story drips with tension, and terror, with an ever building sense of dread that just oozes from the page as the children slowly discover the true terror of what awaits them. With a truly terrifying and unexpected ending Little Devils is a dark masterpiece of of writing, just don't be fooled by the jaunty title this is brilliant creepy horror story.
John Llewellyn Probert's The Devil In The Details, takes a rather more lighthearted approach. Opening with cinematic panoramic description, where the camera sweeps across the stormy Welsh cliffs along the headland to dark mysterious house where devilish things are afoot. We meet Maxwell Chantry, and he has a problem, he has been waiting years for the stars to align and he needs a Virgin to sacrifice in his ritual. First World problems they are a real downer.
Those of you who are regular readers will know that I am a huge fan of JLP's writing. There is something special about his works that speaks to me. They have a power to bring a smile to my face no matter my mood. And this story does that with with great gusto. Mysterious Mansion, dastardly villains, evil plots and black magic all come together in one gloriously gratifying tale that will not fail to impress you.
David Williamson's The Scryer has a similar base theme to that of JLP's story but tackles in it in a different way. Where JLP's story is a glorious 1970's style cinematic romp, David Williamson's story is like Thana's one a much a more intimate and personal take.
Daniel Kelly is not just a loser, like the rest of his family he's not a particularly nice man. When A Mr Pink knocks on his door with news that will change Kelly's life forever things take a rather unpleasant turn of events. Kelly is the heir to an unknown ancestral home the last living direct relative of the infamous Alchemist and Scryer Edward Kelly. The discover of old chest and a mysterious mirror will can only lead to tragedy and death. This is tight little take that handles Daniel Kelly's mental descent really well, however like the initial story in this anthology I felt the story could have done with being a little bit longer, just to give the story some room to breath.
Stuart Young's Guardian Angel has the honour of rounding off this anthology. It is also the longest story in the anthology, closer to a novellette than a short story. Young makes excellent use of the expanded length to deliver the most complex story of the anthology. This is for want of a better word the most adult story of the anthology, with Young letting fly with a tense highly sexual story involving both demons and Guardian Angels. This is an intense action packed story that skillfully splits the narrative into once the action gets going, and boy it really does get going. I particularly enjoyed how the physical horrors of the earthly realm are just as horrific as those from the spiritual realm. With the character of Rebecca, Young as created and excellent central character who, much like one if the themes of the story, ascends from being an innocent passive character when we first meet her to a heroic character who will quite literally save herself.
Demons & Devilry is a brilliant anthology, one which manages to perfectly balance stories of a lighter tone with more dark and heavy tones. This is an exceptional anthology, where all of the stories manage to deliver on the entertainment level, and where two thirds of the stories are exceptional examples of stories within this genre. If you are looking for some demonic fun, then this book is the ideal book for you.
Hersham Horror Books Presents 5 original stories from the minds of: Peter Mark May Thana Niveau John Llewellyn Probert David Williamson Stuart Young The Fourth anthology in our PentAnth range brings you five more satanic and demonic tales that hearkens back to an age when Dennis Wheatley was the king of horror.
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