Ginger Nuts of Horror
BY TONY JONES
“A trilogy of stories which fails to ignite
“Bury Them Deep” was one of several works premiered by Hersham Horror Books at the recent FCon held at Peterborough written by Marie O’Regan, an author who has had many short stories published over the decade or so. I recently reviewed, and loved “Perfect Darkness, Perfect Silence” by Richard Farren Barber, which was also published by Hersham, so I was keen to take a look at another of their new releases.
Unfortunately “Bury Them Deep” falls way short of the superb heights reached by “Perfect Darkness, Perfect Silence” principally because the headline act is around sixty odd pages, relatively short as novellas go. The paperback is padded out to 110 pages with two further short stories “Ssshh…” (nineteen pages) and “Suicide Bridge” (eighteen pages). I would seriously question whether this is worth the £8.00 paperback price tag. At first glance it looks like you’re buying a novella, but actually a fairer description would be three short stories.
“Bury Them Deep” was obviously the centrepiece of the trilogy and deservedly so, but it was not strong enough to carry this as a standalone release. Although it opens with a slightly disjointed and confusing start it soon finds its feet. Maddie is a troubled young woman who is being tracked by a serial killer, the same murderer who may well have slaughtered her mother. Much of the story is told from Maddie’s point of view, who can hear the voice of her dead mother, seeing her as some sort of guardian angel. Some of the story is also told from the point of view of the serial killer Frank, irritatingly told in italics. There is also a supernatural angel to this part of the story which links to Maddie. It was an entertaining enough story which the author tells us in the end notes initially began with an idea of writing a story featuring a killer obsessed with bones.
“Ssshh…” tells the story of a Halloween dinner in which Ciara hosts a séance with a medium and a group of would-be friends. She promises to contact the dead and answer questions from her guests, some of which it all as some sort of a joke. Of course, the supernatural is real, but who is playing whom?
The third and final offering “Suicide Bridge” opens with John Smith feeling sorry for himself and about to throw himself from a bridge, a popular suicide spot. A ghostly young woman appears and tries to talk him out of it. Sarah Ryan, of course, has her own tale to tell and John quickly realises that death might not be any kind of picnic, especially if eternity on the bridge awaits…
If these stories appeared in most anthologies they would be perfectly serviceable and are decent enough reads, however, I doubt they are strong enough to merit standalone in a product such as this. “Bury Them Deep” is also available on the Kindle for £3.50 and free for Kindle Unlimited, which is fair enough, but if you’re going to publish as paperback then the content needs to have much more whack than this, especially in the overcrowded horror field we currently live in where fantastic horror novellas appear with great frequency. I’ve recently been spoilt by reading new ones by Adam Nevil, Ronald Malfi and “New Fears” edited by Mark Morris and this falls way short of those.