Ginger Nuts of Horror
BY GAVIN KENDALL
A tale of three gunslingers who hear of a small town church full of silver, the trouble is, between them and unlimited riches, a band of brutal werewolves!
Does this western/horror hybrid have teeth or is it shooting blanks?
By Tony Jones
“The slasher film inspires an entertaining thriller”
First and foremost Riley Sager’s “Final Girls” is an old fashioned page-turner and I really don’t read enough of them. You’ll quite easily begin on a Friday evening and munch up the 342 pages finishing it in good time for the Sunday roast. I most certainly did. Like huge selling “Gone Girl” and “Girl on the Train” it’s also probably one of those books will readers will devour and then claim not to like at all, even though they just read it in two days flat! A guilty pleasure.
An interesting twist on the vampire myth as the last vampire learns that his partner since the Stone Age has killed herself. Rather than face eternity alone he decides to commit suicide by waiting for the sun to claim him. His plans are thwarted however when he's stabbed as the sun rises, his suicide remains successful, yet he retains a degree of consciousness as his soul is now being spread through each subsequent victim that falls to the blade. He must get the knife back and reclaim his soul, the problem is, someone doesn't want him to get it back.
The Truants is a tale of the social underclass, of knife crime, drug abuse and poverty with a clever new interpretation of the Vampire mythology woven between the rat infested tower blocks. It's beautifully written, almost poetic at times, there were several passages that literally stopped me reading for a moment it was so powerful. The way Markham details the grief of a murdered childs mother were stunning, the vile descriptions of poverty and abuse in a small flat where drug addled parents fester whilst their dirty, lice ridden child is in another room desperate for love and attention is simply heartbreaking.
The story is certainly not an easy read, but the elegant way in which it's written pulls you through the blood and filth.
The Truants is a remarkable piece of work that demands to be read.
Following the suicide of his lover, the last of the ‘old-ones’ – ancient immortal beings, as clever as they are ruthless and unable to withstand the light of the sun – has decided to end his immortality. As he sits on a bench on the edge of a council estate to await his demise with the rising of the sun, he is mistaken for an old man, held up at knifepoint by a young man and stabbed before the sun burns his body to ashes. His assailant scurries back into the belly of the estate with the knife in his pocket, the blood of the old-one seared into its sharpened edge.
But once the blade cuts another person, the congealed blood mingles with that of its victim, and awakens in them the old-one’s consciousness from the depths of the afterlife. It is not long before the knife draws blood again, and one by one the youth living on the estate are taken over by the old-one’s mind. Determined to die, he must find and destroy the knife before his soul becomes irrevocably dispersed in the bodies of the city’s children, trapped forever in its feral underbelly. But someone is out to stop him…
By Tony Jones
“Abstract horror which seriously disappoints
“I Am Behind You” is John Ajvide Lindqvist’s first novel to appear in English since “Little Star” in 2011, being a major fan of this highly versatile Swedish author I was really looking forward to reading something new. However, this was a major disappointment and it does not compare favourably to any of his previous four novels. Interestingly, it appeared in Sweden way back in 2014 and the translation has taken a while to materialise, perhaps they struggled to find a home for it? If that was the case, it really would not surprise me. However, a second book (in this projected trilogy) has recently been released in Sweden, so the story does continue. The original title, in Swedish, translates into English literally as “Heaven’s Beach”.
"those who still enjoy the Mythos-inspired stories of Frank Belknap Long, Brian Lumley, or even August Derleth, The Fiddle is the Devil’s Instrument offers the literary equivalent of comfort food"
In genre fiction circles, the name H.P. Lovecraft has long been revered. These days, the most noteworthy of the many, many writers who invoke that name tend to take influence from the man’s more “literary” qualities. They craft subtle, atmospheric, often quite poetic tales of philosophical horror with cosmic implications and an emphasis on suggestion over explication. It’s worth remembering, though, that Lovecraft’s legacy is equally rooted in the realm of pulp fiction.
Indeed, what originally attracted both readers and writers to Lovecraft’s output was not so much his style or worldview (as largely seems the case today), but rather the open-source mythology he created as a background for his tales. From pantheons of alien gods to whole bookshelves stuffed with arcane grimoires, Lovecraft’s sandbox has always been flush with toys practically begging storytellers to jump in and play with them.
I felt tired and old and untrusting rather than darkly delighted. It felt like being trapped in an awful relationship with a narcissist, with no way out.
I have to start out this review with: I wanted to like this more than I did. However, the issue I have with the book isn't going to be one that most readers have. YMMV.
Lost Boy is a dark retelling of the Peter Pan story from Captain Hook's perspective. Jamie isn't based on the historical captain James Cook (which I was half-expecting), but on an ordinary boy. A mostly ordinary boy, who nevertheless is the kind of kid who can keep up with Peter for more years than one likes to think about. If the implications are true, Jamie may go back all the way to 1750--or perhaps just to the mid-1800s. It's hard to tell.
Peter is a bad boy. A truly bad boy, as it turns out. Reprehensible doesn't cover the half of it.
Jamie, on the other hand, is his one true friend, both to Peter and to the rest of the lost boys, and if he has a few anger issues, they're certainly nothing unreasonable, all things considered. Or at least that's what he says--he's telling the story, isn't he? Of course he's put a little bit of a shine on himself...
"It was dirty, physical work, but it was second nature to Alce by now. She still marvelled at the complacency of the oblivious public she dealt with. The ludicrous way they could remain blind to the nature of the wider world until the unpleasant realities of it impinged on their own. She remembered wishing she could feel so immune. She wished she could leave the house one morning and see only the world as it pretended to be. It must be so easy to be ignorant. So happy to not know."
- 'We All Need Somewhere To Hide'
"Tom imagined his life as a transplant operation. The fictional world he’d lived in was being cut out of him and a weighty reality was being wired into the hole it had left behind. But transplants were dangerous, and Tom found himself living at one remove, convinced his body would rebel at any arbitrary moment, rejecting the reality he had been forced to accept."
- 'Songs Like They Used To Play'
Malcolm Devlin's debut short story collection You Will Grow Into Them marks the debut of an exciting new talent. Over the course of ten stories, Devlin shows just how varied Horror and Weird fiction can be, effortlessly fusing elements from folklore, science fiction, regency comedy of manners and urban fantasy into a cohesive and compelling whole. Each story demonstrates Devlin's mastery of prose; his writing is beautiful and clear, and his characterisation deft. The stories are thematically linked through the idea of the coming of age tale. With each story, Devlin uses Horror and the Weird to remind us of the gap between our perception or reality and reality itself, and to explore what lurks in the shadows in between. His writing is fascinated with transitory states and the liminal, the space that exists between the rigidly defined strictures of the world around us. In this his work echoes the philosophical approach of Philip K. Dick and Thomas Ligotti, reminding us of the power of genre fiction to ask profound questions about our relationship to reality.
When I was a kid I recall going to one of my grandparents' friend's house. When I looked on their bookshelf, I saw a few books with striking covers depicting creepy skeletons. One that still sticks with me these days showed a boy's skull peeking out from behind a beanie and scarf as it rides a tricycle towards the reader. I could never remember what that book was. If nothing else, I can thank Grady Hendrix of Horrorstor and My Best Friend's Exorcism for showing me that the book was Tricycle by Russell Rhodes.
That book, among many, many others, came out in the horror publishing boom that started in the late '60s and ended in the early '90s. While some books regarded as contemporary classics came from that boom, such as Rosemary's Baby which Hendrix argues kick started it, many of these books are now out of print and forgotten except by a few aficionados.
In the introduction, Hendrix talks about the book which got him addicted to seeking these out these paperbacks. John Christopher's The Little People had an absolutely ridiculous cover showing Nazi elves menacing a couple with whips in front of a castle. While he found the story lacking, though delightfully insane at times, he sought out more of these paperback oddities.
Each chapter of the book looks at the various trends that sprouted up during the horror publishing boom and some examples of titles that were following the trend. For example, in the wake of the success of Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist, dozens of imitators focusing on Satan and the Catholic Church sprang up. The success of The Omen resulted in many evil children novels, V.C. Andrews and Anne Rice sparked a new interest in Gothic horror and vampires, and so forth.
A big focus here is on the cover art. After all, marketers relied heavily on them to sell new authors, and cover paintings were the standard before Photoshop. In several “Coroner's Report” asides, Hendrix discusses the histories of particular artists and their histories. One of the more fascinating asides talks about the artist George Ziel, a Polish Catholic who survived a concentration camp and lost his Jewish wife to the Holocaust. After he had moved to the United States, he worked as a cover artist, translating the horrors he'd seen in real life to the ones the paintings that would accompany various paperbacks.
While he points out some books as lost masterpieces, such as the works of Ken Greenhall (which are being brought back into print) and The Voice of the Clown by Brenda Brown Canary. He doesn't hesitate to let us know that many of the books had a “so bad it's good” charm to them while others were just bad. For example, it's clear that Hendrix had little use for the entire Splatterpunk movement, a few exceptions like Clive Barker and Joe R. Lansdale aside. This is one of the strongest points in the book. Hendrix could have easily made this a dry reference book, but there's plenty of humour and personality in the writing to make this enjoyable to read on his own.
Of course, one of the problems is that there was so much happening during the horror publishing boom that it often felt like Hendrix had to gloss over many parts of it. Despite that, this remains an essential read for horror fans. There are a lot of books I'll be tracking down after reading this. I hope that this book will help to renew interest in many of these books and will them back into print, or at least get them re-released as ebooks
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Naming The Bones from Laura Mauro is the latest entry in the Dark Minds Press excellent novella series, following on from such great novellas from the likes of Rich Hawkins, Ben Jones, and Gary Fry. These thematically distinct novellas have continually shown that Dark Minds Press knows exactly what makes for a great novella. When the announced that there latest title was from one of the brightest and most talented of the new generation of Horror Writers Laura Mauro, there was a wave excitement around Ginger Nuts of Horror.
Since first reading her short story While Charlie Sleeps in Black Static, this reviewer knew that a huge talent had just stepped onto the stage, and in the short intervening years Laura has grown and developed as a writer in ways that would make many another author green with envy.
Naming The Bones, is Laura's first published novella, and marks her first move away from the short story format, can Laura pull off a longer format story? You will have to read on to find out...
The horror genre is a many-faceted beast. You can have, among many other facets, your feel-good adventure stories where the hero fights the monster and gets the girl, you can have your subtle, multi-layered story whose aim is to make you look at the human condition, or you can have a story that is designed to shock, and make you feel uncomfortable.
Jonathan Butcher's What Good Girls Do is firmly rooted in that last category, this is not a story for those feint of heart, or easily offended. It is a story that pushed me as a reader, one that almost made me put the book aside and pretend that I had never laid eyes on it. This is not one of those warnings designed to make the book sound nastier than it is, What Good Girls Do is one of the hardest books I have ever read, but is it a book that is worth reading? Read on to find out what I thought.