Ginger Nuts of Horror
Hersham Horror Books Presents 5 original stories from the minds of: Alison Littlewood Neil Williams Mark West Adrian Chamberlin Peter Mark May Fog can hide anything: from ghostly encounters, to shape-shifting monsters; from buried childhood memories, to creatures born from the mist-shrouded air around you, to atrocities that have no ending, on a train ride into terror..... FOGBOUND FROM 5
Right I think it' about time I did another real time review. And I can't think of a better book to do this with. Stay tuned for the first instalment.
First impressions well apart from the rather excellent cast of authors this is a great looking book. I particularly like the brilliantly understated cover, the monochrome photo of a fogbound railway track is perfect. It shows that you don't need a load of fancy flashy artwork to convey the mood of the book.
Right I'm going to make myself a coffee and read Alison's story.
The Quiet Coach by Alison Littlewood
Say Hi to Kev, he is one of those people that seem to be everywhere, obnoxious, angry and just downright unpleasant. When he boards the the quiet coach with the sole intention of winding up the other passengers even he couldn't imagined how things would turn out.
If this story of indicative of the quality of the rest of this collection, then we are onto a winner. Alison Littlewood has created a wonderful tale that is full of heartache, regret, and sadness. I loved how Alison used the fog in this story, and description of what the fog may well be is a great concept.
Fal Vale Junction by Neil Williams
This could almost read as a companion piece to the opening story, as it also deals with the loss of a family, and the regret that follows it. In this story, Andrew slowly remembers the events of that fateful night when he lost the rest of his family in a terrible house fire. The tension slowly builds as each new memory breaks through the the thick fog of memory. I thought I had guessed how the fire had started, but I was wrong. This is another emotional piece that is full of some great imagery, I particularly liked the scene with the toy train set, and the screaming face at the windows of the train, a truly chilling scene.
So two stories down, and I am really enjoying this collection, the first two stories are both of a really high standard. Not that I expected any different as I am a fan of both Neil and Alison's writing.
Last Train Home by Mark West.
Alex Griffen is just trying to get home to his family, stuck on the last train home from platform five. Alex's journey is going to take a turn for the worst.
After the last two emotional charged tales, Mark West's story shifts gears, throws more coal into the boiler, and lets out a big blast from its steam whistle to deliver a fast, action packed tale of terror. I really enjoyed reading this punchy tale, that lets rip with a classic horror monster.
Kriegsmaterial by Adrian Chamberlin
Kriegsmaterial, is another excellent World War II story from Adrian Chamberlin. in this story Adrian has managed to take a subject matter that even after all these years could be seen as being a rather insensitive topic for a horror story. However, Adrian has given this story about a mysterious prisoner of ALineuschwitz a moving and touching treatment. This story really touched me, due to the fact that my Grandfather was among the first contingent of Allied soldiers to liberate this dreadful blot on human history from the hands of the nazis. The tale stressfully combines the horrors of war, the horrors of just what a man will do to survive and a brilliant use of folklore. If you are reading this Mr Chamberlin, this story is screaming out for a sequel, or even to be turned into a full length novel. For me this is the highlight so far of this anthology.
End of the Line by Peter Mark May
So it's down to the editor of this rather damn fine anthology to close the book off. End of The Line, is a much more light hearted tale than the previous story. After a night out on the town Garry Harrison, finds himself at the end of the line, and what me very well be the end of his life. While this story may be more light hearted it's still a very satisfyingly gruesome story that gives some nice knowing nods to some of the great zombie films. Yes folks they snuck in a zombie tale. Nevertheless Peter's story is a fun enjoyable read,
with an ending that is open to further adventures.
Fog Bound From 5 is a very satisfying read that brings together some very talented authors, who all manage to bring something different to to the table with this themed anthology. I whole heartedly recommend this book, not only is this a very good anthology, it also works as a showcase for five authors who deserve your time. If you haven't read anything by these guys then this is perfect starting point for you. Read it then go and check out some of their other stuff, you won't be disappointed.
There are days when this book reviewing gig feels like a huge millstone, faced with a pile of mediocre self published drivel, I often wondered why I do this. Then there are days when the thoughts of and memories of every terrible book, I have had to endure, gets bleached out of my mind by the sheer brilliance of a book. This folks is one of those wonderfully good days. If you have heard of Alex Miles, you'll know what I am talking about. Although not many of you will have at the time of writing this review. This is not only his début publication, it is also the début publication from Karōshi Books, the new imprint from Johnny Mains, Peter Mark May and Cathy Hurren. If the Glory and Splendour is indicative of the quality books we can expect from Karōshi Books, then the future is looking very bright for all concerned.
Glory and Splendour is a collection of six stories that showcases an author who has an amazing talent for writing wonderfully evocative, dramatic, Gothic and at times humorous stories. These stories are not bound to any specific genre, apocalyptic Gothic horror, science fiction, and Dystopian futures are all paid a visit in glorious fashion by an amazingly talented writer. A writer whose talent far outweighs my ability to heap prise on. Sometimes when you read an authors début publication you cut them a little bit of slack. They are still honing their craft, still finding their voice. There was no slack cut with this book, in fact I'm beginning to wonder if The Mystic Little Pedlar, who appears in at least two, if not three of the stories here hasn't given Alex Miles a special pen. I hope not because his wares always come with a terrible and tragic price.
I loved everyone of these stories, when I read this book, I was having a pretty shitty time of it. And for while, this book transported me to a world full of wonder, light years away from drudge of real life. Three stories in particular struck a chord with me, these were:
Glory and Splendour, a truly amazing first person story set in a dying, rotting world. Our narrator has been shut away from the outside world, in a house that itself is slowly scumming to the rot of the world at large, both from the outside and from within. When a certain mysterious pedlar appears with a gift that can hide all the ugliness of the world, you just know this is not going to end well. This is a wonderful example of modern Gothic story telling, it is a deeply personal story, while at the same time manges to paint of brilliantly detailed picture of the decaying world at large.
Deep Stitches, is one of those splendidly subtle stories that initially had me scratching my head, wondering what just happened? But the story slowly sunk into my subconscious and the realisation as to what did just happen slowly percolated its way to the surface I was left with an overriding sense of awe, here I was standing in the presence of a truly gifted author.
Hitting Targets, is probably my favourite of the lot. How Alex manages to construct a story that is both very funny yet extremely chilling at the same time I just don't know. Let alone how he manages to turn an Estate Agent, probably one of the most hated breed of people in the UK, into a likeable character. Stuck in a loveless marriage, and faced with selling an unsellable house, Harvey must pit himself against Mr Vanquisher, and his Hammer of Gaia, in a battle where there is more than just hitting targets at stake. This story will have you laughing out loud one minute, then biting your fingernails to the quick the next. This may be the most light hearted story of the collection, however it displays perfectly Alex's skill at handling different genres perfectly.
Glory and Splendour is an apt title for this collection as it is both glorious and splendid. I urge you to purchase this book when it is released it was a pure joy to read, relish and savour
l am a man cursed with a very limited attetion span. Even with a house full of gadgets books, games and a music collection that threatens to force me out of the hoose I get bored, and fidgety. You may be asking what has this got to do with this book. well before reading this book I had already watched and enjoyed the film of this book.
It may come as a surprise that I am not a huge fan of honor movies. Too many of them sacrifice a good story, tension and a cast of decent characters for pathetic attempts at shock. Panic Button, when you consider just how little gore is actually in the film was, for me, one of the tensest films I have watched in a long time.
So why pick up a book where I already know what is going to happen? To be honest it's not something I normally do. Probably., the main reason is I really enjoyed Frazer book The Lamplighters, and if memory serves me correctly I think I got a copy of this book before I saw the film.
Panic Botton is an excellent novel on many levels, as a horror thriller it works very well. Fraser plies on the tension from the word go, a maintains it right to the end.
However it also works exbemly well as a chilling commentary on the modem phenomenon of social media. There has been a number of films and books that have tried to tie horror and social media together, most have been unsuccessful. Mainly because the social media aspect has been tacked on in a vain attempt to keep a dying franchise going on for one more pitiful episode.
Panic Button succeeds because the social media aspect is integral to the story. Character wise you could argue that the people trapped on the plane are well worn clichés . You have the party wild boy, the nerdy computer geek, the innocent virginal girl, and the single mother with problems, yet the strength of characterisation is so good it makes each of these characters seem fresh and folly formed.
This is an extremely good novel, that works wonders with the locked room horror novel. I highly recommend reading this book, after wich you really should go and see the film as well
HAVE YOU READ THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS? Four young people win a trip of a lifetime to New York, courtesy of their favourite social-networking website – All2gethr.com. On board the private jet, they are invited to take part in the in-flight entertainment – a new online gaming experience. But this is no ordinary game. Trapped at 30,000 feet and forced to play for their lives and the lives of their loved ones by their mysterious captor, they are about to learn that putting your life on-line can have deadly offline consequences… In PANIC BUTTON, Frazer Lee explores timely fears about online privacy and security, cyber bullying and identity theft. Based upon the screenplay of the film praised as “The Social Network of shocks” by Film4 FrightFest’s Alan Jones, this taut thriller holds a mirror up to our plugged-in society and compels us to peer behind the online personas that hide our true selves. "THE SOCIAL NETWORK OF SHOCKS. A CHILLER SO TIMELY, GRIPPING AND SMART" Film4 Frightfest "A GRIPPING PSYCHOLOGICAL NIGHTMARE. NAIL-BITINGLY TERRIFYING" Abertoir Film Festival "BRITISH HORROR AT ITS BLOODY BEST" Sky Movies "THE BEST BRITISH HORROR IN YEARS" Aint It Cool News
Twenty years ago three young boys staggered out of an old building, tired and dirty yet otherwise unharmed. Missing for a weekend, the boys had no idea of where they'd been. But they all shared the same vague memory of a shadowed woodland grove…and they swore they'd been gone for only an hour. When Simon returns to the Concrete Grove to see his old friends and unearth painful memories from his childhood, things once buried begin to claw their way back to the surface. The hummingbirds are flying again, bringing a warning of something terrible. Bad dreams take on physical form and walk the streets of the estate. A dark, hideously patient entity is calling once again from the shadows, reaching out towards three terrified boys who have now grown into emotionally damaged men. And the past is about to catch up with them all, staining their lives with a darkness they could never truly escape. Welcome back to the Concrete Grove. The place you can never really leave...
Silent Voices is the second part of Gary McMahon's loosely teird together Concrete Grove Trilogy. Those of you who are familiar with my blog will know that Gary is held in the highest regard here at Ginger Nut Central, and The Concrete Grove, was one of, if not my favourite read of last year. Those of you not familiar with Gary's writing, you really are missing out on one the best horror writers of our generation. His novels and short stories are never easy reads, they will grab your heart mind and soul and proceed to kick seven shades of hell out of them. When you turn the last page of a McMahon novel, you may well be battered and bruised but you will also realise that you have just read a damn fine piece of fiction.
Silent Voices, reads like an extremely personal novel Gary has written some very moving passages on childhood friendship, parents and the feelings of regret, loss and what if. Linking these themes together is a brilliantly plotted story that combines terrific other worldly horror with that of the horror of modern life. The Concrete Grove and the area is a wonderful creation, I love how the horror and despair of the town has been ingrained in the lives of those who populate the area. it almost feels as though the citizens themselves have been possessed by the evil and transformed in soulless demons prowling the streets praying on the helpless and feeding on their misery.
The three main characters of this novel are all brilliant creations, they are so well formed you begin to wonder which is based on Gary and who exactly Gary based the other two on. They are all deeply flawed, the psychological scars they carry run deep, and have shaped their lives ever since that fateful night. From Simon the ultra successful business man scared of emotional commitment, to Marty the bare knuckle fighter, who is determined to turn his body and mind into an unfeeling thing of iron.
A few characters from The Concrete Grove make a welcome reappearance in this novel, and they help to ground this novel into the overall mythology of the series. I have to say though that while this is the second part of a trilogy, you can read this as a standalone novel, and it will still be a first class read, but I urge you to pick up the first part of the trilogy, as it will only add to your enjoyment of this stunning book.
Gary's writing will grip you on the first page and will lead on on a wonderfully crafted story that will keep you hooked right to the heart breaking conclusion. We are only a quarter of the the way through the year, but it looks as though we have already found the book of the year as far as I am concerned.
Some horror books are excellent because they delve into the deepest parts of our psyche, and try and shed light on makes us us. Some are excellent because the author has an amazing talent for writing wonderful prose, and some books are just excellent, because they entertain the reader with a blockbusting balls to the walls story.
I'm happy to say that Evil Eternal is one of the most refreshing entries in the balls to the wall type of horror novel that I grew up reading, in many a long year.
Right from the first chapter, where we are introduced to the lone wanderer, who has the power, among many others, to cause trees to rot in an instant, you as the reader will be captivated. Just who is this vile malicious man. Don't worry folks for all is revealed, in glorious fashion. And it looks like our wanderer has big plans for our little corner of reality. But don't worry folks, for we have our own weapon against the evil, in the looming powerful, and rather frightening Father Michael. Father Michael, is the Catholic Church's super secret one man army, tasked with fighting evil whenever it takes root in our world. To paraphrase the film Braindead, "Father Michael kicks arse for the Lord." This is a clergyman, who would rather use crucifix shaped throwing star to dispatch the demons in the this book than the power of prayer.
Out of the two main characters Father Michael is the most interesting, I won't say to much about who and what he is, as this is an integral part to plot, suffice to say that Shea, has created an excellent protagonist for this book, one in which the reader will feel both pity and admiration.
The revelation as to who the wanderer is is a great use of Christian folklore, however, when compared to Father Michael, this character feels slightly underwritten, and at times becomes a sort of pantomime villain. It would have been nice if both the main characters had been developed as well as Father Michael.
However, with this in mind, if you are looking for a brilliant action based horror, then Evil Eternal fits the bill perfectly. In an age where so many horror authors seem more concerned about being literary, and taken seriously, it was a joy to read a book by an author that understands how to wrie an enjoyable, thrilling and fun horror novel.
When everyone around him grew ill to the point of ending their own lives, Isaac began to realise that there is something terribly wrong with him. That he is, in some way, tainted. But the further he digs into his family's past the more he understands that he is not merely tainted, but is a conduit for an immeasurable power.
It is always a great feeling to read a book that breaks your run of bad books. Although to be be honest, after reading two of Clayton's stories in Dark Minds and The Horror Anthology of Horror Anthologies it was no great surprise that this was going to be a very good read.
Arcs is an very well written dark and atmospheric novella, that charts the journey of discovery of Isaac as he tries to figure out just why everyone ends up committing suicide after spending time in his company. Clayton's writing is tight, descriptive and excellently conveys Isaac's sadness, loneliness and desperation to find the truth about himself. The passage where Isaac recounts how is foster family transforms from a pair of deeply attentive and loving parents to such apathy that they end up killing themselves is heart wrenching. Clayton keeps the reader guessing as to the nature of the Isaac's affliction right up to the ambiguous ending of this excellent and satisfying novella. Highly recommend.
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Justice seeks a Stranger.
In the Land of magic and shotguns, where Gods pit themselves against each other and man, Strangers are a breed apart – loners, angels, demons – who walk into the towns of Natives, taking what they want.
A Native named Justice is pushed to far by a Stranger, and embarks on a quest to the furthest reaches of the Land, from the Frontiers to the Funeral Wastes; the Sudducee Plains to the Mainland Kingdoms.
His journey will drag others along in it's wake and will take him to death and beyond.
And all the while, the Gods watch and plan …
Fourteen years have passed since Gary Greenwood, first crossed my path. It was a chance meeting, back in the good old days when the local Waterstones had a book buyer that took chances, and stocked books that weren't sure fire best sellers. On the same day that I picked up Gary's début novel The Dreaming Pool, I also picked up the début novel Mesmer, by Tim Lebbon. It was a good day, a very good day in fact, discovering two talented authors in one day is a great thing. In those intervening years, Tim carved his name in the genre with vigour, while Gary has sadly remained much more low key.
Kingston To Cable is, to my knowledge, only the fifth book published by him. This book mixes the genres of fantasy, Science Fiction, Lovecraftian Horror, and the Western genres. It may sound like a horrible mix match, that cannot decide what it wants to be, but don't worry folks this novel works wonderfully. Greenwood combines all of these genres to create a dream like world, where magic coexists with bullets, and Gods walk the lands. The story is told from a number of view points, with the narrative shifting from first person to third person, it could get confusing, but thankfully the narrative stays as one coherent piece, with each chapter of the novel, pushing the story along to it's climax.
Like all good Westerns, Kingston To Cable starts with a Stranger making his way into town. Yes it's clichéd, but who cares. It's when the second stranger turns up in town, that things start to heat up, so much so it leads to the creation of another Stranger, yes, that's Stranger with a capital S. In this world Strangers are drifters who travel from settlement to settlement, some are benevolent, others are evil, but all treat the locals with a cold sense of disregard. They are a warrior breed, all use guns, some also use magic. The Strangers are a great twist on an old staple.
If there is a weakness to the book, its the world of Kingston and Cable, it could have done with a stronger sense of identity, at one point we have a God dressed as a jester working behind the scenes moving his chess pieces into place, to having a gun fight in that wouldn't be out of place in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. It's a minor point but, it does change the tone of the book slightly. And any novel that litters it's text with refrences to the late, great Ronnie James Dio, gets super bonus points, you will hear about The Man On The Silver and Rainbows in The Dark among others. This really was a nice touch.
Overall, this is a brilliant novel, well told, thought provoking at times, with a great sense of vision and imagination, let down ever so slightly by a little case of identity crisis. The last time a read a novel that mixed genres similar to those here, that was this good was David Gemmell's The Jerusalem Man, yes this book is that good.
On a final note, for those of you that read this review, if you know where Gary Greenwood lives, can you please knock on his door and tell him to get his finger out, I don't like having to wait this long to read the next Gary Greenwood novel.
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In the Lancashire town of Kempforth, people are vanishing. Mist hangs heavy in the streets, and in those mists move the masked figures the local kids call the Spindly Men. When two year old Roseanne Trevor disappears, Detective Chief Inspector Renwick vows to stop at nothing until she finds her. In Manchester, terrifying visions summon TV psychic Allen Cowell and his sister Vera back to the town they swore they'd left forever. And local historian Anna Mason pieces together a history of cruelty and exploitation almost beyond belief, born out of the horrors of war while in the decaying corridors and lightless rooms of a longabandoned hospital, something terrible is waiting for them all.
When Simon first announced this novel, it went straight to the top of my must reads / most anticipated lists for 2012. The book sounded like another excellent entry into the new breed of intelligent and gritty UK horror, spearheaded by the likes of Gary MacMahon, Adam Nevill and Simon Kurt Unsworth. So when it was finally released, I dropped everything else I was reading, and dove straight into this book.
I'll be honest I found the first 30 pages or so to be pretty hard going, I just couldn't get into the rhythm of the writing, and I was getting a little bit concerned. However everything seemed to just click into place after about half and of reading, suddenly I was devouring this book, completely engrossed in the well plotted, creepy tension packed story. The narrative is told from three viewpoints, that of the detectives investigating the case, Anna Mason, the local historian, investigating the going ons in a long abandoned hospital, and finally from the view point of TV psychic, Allen Cowell, and his sister.
It would have been easy to for all of these narratives to become messy and confusing, however Bestwick, intertwines these view points with great skill. Breaking up the story are a set of testimonies from survivors from World War 1, while they added an extra dimension to the horror of the story, they did feel a little bit superfluous to the overall story. However in the grand scheme of a novel that is so well written, these passages are a minor quibble.
And thank you Simon, for introducing me to the Spindly Men, just what I needed, another fictional monster that refuses to leave my brain. At least they have some good company in there, what with The Long Legged Men from Masterton's Prey, and the Tall Tailor from Struwwelpeter, having a time share up there. In this day and age it takes a lot of skill, and perhaps a truly deranged mind to come up with a monster that will terrify a reader, as much as The Spindly Men.
The Faceless is a modern masterpiece of British horror. That after a slightly stuttering start, transforms into the must read horror novel of the year so far.