Tuesday, 26 September 2017

The Outsiders Edited by Joe Mynhardt

The Outsiders is a really cleverly written horror anthology featuring some pretty fine horror talent from critically authors such as Stephen Bacon, James Everington, Gary Fry, V.H.Leslie, Rosanne Rabinowitz and Kevin Lucia contributing the introduction.I loved how these stories were written by different authors but the stories work really well together creating a really quirky horror anthology.

What's really clever about this is that the five stories all are centred around a mysterious cult like gated community known as Priory. In this very small and secular society they worship a strange eldritch sea creature who communicates via colours offering them wisdom and enlightenment in return.

The cult is headed up by a nefarious Charles Erich who is worshipped, adored and feared by his fellow residents all hand picked by him to come an live inside Priory an exclusive neighbourhood that everyone wants to live in. At first glance it seems the perfect neighbourhood, no crime, everyone looks after each other and lives in perfect harmony.

Yet underneath the surface, literally, lives the sea creature older than humanity that they worship. Caring for this beast comes at a price it must be fed, with souls.

In the first tale, The Subprime by Gary Fry we meet a young 19 year old boy Lee Mann who has always lived his life as an outsider growing up in a broken family, always having to fend for himself. He's determined to make the best of himself which he starts to do after accepting a dream job selling mortgages for Mr Phillips a resident of Priory. However soon he starts to have seconds thoughts regarding the ethics of his new boss and soon tries to find a way out.

Impossible colours by James Everington sees a police community support officer investigate the apparent suicide of a local man, Marty Young. Everyone has written him off as a mad man but as she investigates his death further she finds some disturbing information regarding the exclusive gated community in Exham town. She also learns that her and Marty are not so different after all.

Stolen From the Sea, by Stephen Bacon, follows the story of a grieving father who yearns to leave Priory after falling in love with another woman following the death of his daughter. He yearns to be free again and together with his new love, they hatch a plan to run away.

Precious Things by V.H.Leslie, witnesses the demise of a long and stable marriage. Petra soon yearns for more than what her increasingly distant husband Bernard can offer. As she tries to rebuild the bridge between them she soon realises he is keeping secrets from her.

In the final tale, Meat Motion and Light by Rosanne Rabinowitz we find the tale of Claudia who managed to escape the repressive Priory. Now she's free to do whatever she wants, be the person she was always meant to be. But her mother, still living at Priory calls her back to return to Priory. It's a call she can't ignore despite the many warning from those closest to her.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Quiet Places by Jasper Bark

"In the quiet of the forest, the darkest fears are born."

Sally thought she'd found her happily ever after when she finally moves with her boyfriend, David McCavendish,back to his ancestral home of Dunballan, a remote town in the Scottish Highlands. She struggles to adapt to country life after spending many years in London. Once more she is the outsider, everyone  is guarding a secret, even David, the family curse of the McCavendish clan. The curse soon takes hold of David and Sally must work with ancient primitive magic to save the man she loves.

This is yet another great book from Crystal Lake Publishing who are building up quite a reputation as publishers of great horror fiction. I've read many of their titles fiction and non-fiction and they're all brilliant.

What really stood out for me straight away was how original the book was, for a novella it really packs a punch. There's some pretty deep questions raised in here which will leave you unsettled long after you have finished reading this book. What lies beyond our world? Is there a part of us that is immortal? Where do we go when we die?

There's many different sub-genres of horror in Quiet Places such as folklore horror, cosmic horror, apocalypse horror, Lovec
raftian horror and they all mix perfectly to produce something very original. There's also an element of  a detective story where Sally rummages around in the ancient library of the McCavendish family seeking out old journals of the occult. If like me, you love ancient folklore,  H.P Lovecraft and being scared then you'll love Quiet Places!

The story itself is told in a really imaginative way where we are presented with a horrendous situation and are then taken back further and further through time to figure out what happened. I found Sally really relatable, an outsider who's never felt accepted anywhere or by anyone apart from David. He is her true home which is why she will stop at nothing to save him by lifting the family curse.

When a strange beast starts lurking around their remote cottage Sally knows she has to step up and fight back for the sake of David. She must discover the family curse that David for some unknown reason is so desperate to keep from her. He's been distant and she hopes that by helping to free him it will bring them closer together.

I really love the imagination that has gone into this book, it is a really unconventional book. I don't want to give away the plot but it doesn't end in the way I thought it would and the outcome is truly macabre. I loved it!

Quiet Places by Jasper Bark from Crystal Lake Publishing is out 29th September!!!!!
Available from Amazon

About the Author

Jasper Bark finds writing author biographies and talking about himself in the third person faintly embarrassing. Telling you that he’s an award winning author of four cult novels including the highly acclaimed ‘Way of the Barefoot Zombie’, just sounds like boasting. Then he has to mention that he’s written 12 children’s books and hundreds of comics and graphic novels and he wants to just curl up. He cringes when he has to reveal that his work has been translated into nine different languages and is used in schools throughout the UK to help improve literacy, or that he was awarded the This Is Horror Award for his last anthology ‘Dead Air’. Maybe he’s too British, or maybe he just needs a good enema, but he’s glad this bio is now over.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Some Will Not Sleep by Adam L.G.Neville

Hailed as the UK's answer to Stephen King, this guy deserves to be a horror star in his own right. His stories are genuinely really creepy and it's not often that I come across horror stories than genuinely scare me and leave me creeped out long after I've finished reading. But Adam L.G.Nevill is one of them.

So far I've read quite a few of his short story anthologies, Before you Sleep, Tales from the Crypt and now, Some Will Not sleep. Each tale is amazing, with Adam Nevill tales there are no duds. He has incredible range as a writer using a variety of settings providing a really diverse landscape of tales.

There are 11 short stories featured in here,  some of which you may be familiar if you've already read his free ebook, Before you sleep. A few of these I had already read, such as The Ancestors, Florrie and Where Angels Come in but it didn't matter. I couldn't wait to read them again particularly The Ancestors, a seriously creepy tale.

Some Will Not Sleep is another really solid collection, Pig Thing was an absolute highlight for me, set in New Zealand it tales the tell of a British family moving over and trying to adapt to their new way of life when a strange creature begins to develop an special interest in them. It's an absolutely brilliant tale.

I also really enjoyed Yellow Teeth, this is a very dark tale set in London when a young man receives an unwelcome visitor from his past who refuses to leave. Such a good tale! Anyone who has ever had to put up with a nightmare flatmate will immediately relate to this. Mother's Milk was also really dark and sinister which stayed with me for a long time.

When I first read Before You Sleep, a free taster book I found on Amazon,  it was the first time I had ever read his work. Containing just three stories I read it over and over again. I was completely hooked and vowed to  read everything he'd ever produced.

There's real craftmanship that has gone into these tales. Not a word out of place or off kilter. I heard his writing being described as horror with a literary edge which is to say it is really very good writing. He is a master at bringing his tales to life with really vivid but concise descriptions which allow you to see the story as well as experience it. He really knows how to build up tension and the threat of horror, you know something bad will happen but it is impossible to be one step ahead and guess at what is about to happen.