Spooky Reads

Category: Reviews

The Colony by F G Cottam book cover

Woe unto the super rich, who indulge their fanciful dreams with childlike ambitions. Media magnate Alexander McIntyre has long held a curious interest in a surreal, Mary Celeste-like occurrence over a century and a half ago, and it is his dedicated decadent dalliance in such that forms the basis of F.G. Cottam’s supernatural shocker The Colony. (I apologise for the alliteration but I’ve been watching the Classic Doctor Who serial The Talons of Weng-Chiang and Mr Jago’s ways of speech…

sepulchre

The late, great British Ace of horror fiction, Mr James Herbert, sadly passed away in early 2013. He left behind him an awesome legacy of shock and terror-fuelled prose, from The Rats, through to The Magic Cottage and The Fog, to date his works have graced the shelves of book stores over a period of four decades. Herbert was hugely responsible for my burgeoning love of the darker-flavoured texts from my early teens through to present day. And it is…

doctor_sleep

With Doctor Sleep Stephen King has captured one of those numerous ‘what if’ requests that cascade along the metaverse of popular fiction. What if we met Danny Torrance, that little boy who was shocked and awed by the Overlook Hotel and its minions in The Shining, as a grown-up? Would he still shine? Would there still be bad things lurking the peripheries? And it’s a hard thing to do – to address such a topic – given the mainstream popularity…

Adam Baker's Terminus book cover

The idea of deserted and abandoned underground train and metro stations has always fascinated me. Like a cache of transport history tucked away through metro travel networks, they mark a point in humanities past, and well as that of the labyrinthine structure’s evolution, that’s out of reach for many. Mostly only urban explorers, rail engineers and the odd BBC TV documentary crews get to seek out these anthropological treasure sites. Well, those people and also most of the characters in…

Joe Hill's NOS4R2

Despite its many allusions to an earlier age of horror novel, NOS4A2 (U.K. title NOS4R2) is a unique tale of journeys into new worlds of awful wonder. Joe Hill’s third horror tome comes close at times (some have argued too close) to paying tribute to those works of dread writers, including the authors own father, which heavily peppered the shelving of WH Smiths and other book stores in the 1980s. However, this is a classic, powerful novel of many and…

Stephen Leather's Nightfall

Jack Nightingale’s paranormally-soaked adventures subsequent to his debut in Nightfall have been charted already here on Spooky Reads. In both Midnight and Nightmare, the sequels (in order) to Nightfall, the supernaturally-inclined sleuth pounds the streets of London (and other climes) in order to resolve a variety of horrific conundrums. In all books he makes an unwittingly unique and powerful impact on the world in which he inhabits via the manner of an investigative technique that results in a trail of…

Sarah Pinborough's Mayhem

Over the years I’ve found myself naturally drawn to the menacingly foggy, twilight-basked and torpor-mist soaked pages of Victorian-era supernatural literature. That’s the stuff both penned during the period, and also that set in the timeframe but written outside of it. Like a cartoon bear to a unguarded picnic basket, there’s an atavistic pull toward such fictional climes for this horror reader. There’s good reason for this. Some of the strongest works of dread and gothic fiction came spilling out…

Richard Laymon's The Beast House

Woah! Yes, that’s right. Woah! How else can one start a review of a Richard Laymon ‘Beast House’-based book, but with an exclamation. It probably should be an expletive, given Laymon’s predilection for all things excessive, but I’m feeling a little reserved at present, so a simple woah will suffice. So, where to proceed to next, expletives aside, with this review of The Beast House, sequel to the bloody, over-the-top murder and shock-fest cult pulp-horror book The Cellar? I guess…

James Herbert's Ash

As a huge fan of James Herbert in my youth, I’ve eagerly ploughed through many of that leading British horror author’s works. From The Rats, through The Fog and The Magic Cottage, Creed and of course Haunted, the book that launched the career of paranormal sceptic investigator David Ash, I always found his works terrifically entertaining, mixing a balance of genuine scares with highly approachable prose and healthy injections of splatterpunk. So it was with a great deal of excitement…

Stephen King's The Stand

There are books, and there are books. That is, there are phone directories and there are epic tomes stuffed full of exquisitely crafted text and dutiful tales. And to be clear from the off, The Stand is no phone directory, although the sheer dominance of space it occupies on the bookshelf might make you think otherwise. So what it is about Stephen King’s 1978 horror novel that makes it places it head and shoulders above so many horror books across…

Tom Fletcher's The Ravenglass Eye

Tom Fletcher’s writing has piqued my interest since I read his powerful debut The Leaping back in 2010. Its unique style, meshing of colloquial and esoteric supernatural ruminations coupled with what’s clearly a genuine passion (and talent) for this horror writing malarkey, made this reader sit up and take notice. His second novel, the Lovecraftian-sounding The Thing on the Shore was equally troubling; its hints of malevolent, evil entities merging with the everyday mundane yet surreal, were incorporated alongside excellently…

Brian Moreland's Shadows in the Mist

The Third Reich’s obsession with the paranormal and occult make for some rich storytelling veins from which to mine some compelling prose. Many writers have tried, and as many succeeded as failed, in covering in fiction (or non-fiction) the known proclivities of Nazi Germany’s desire to probe the unknown and mysterious. In Shadows In The Mist Brian Moreland crafts an accomplished debut; an action-adventure book, and supernaturally and horror-fused blend of historical fact with finest fictional embellishments to keep the…

Gary McMahon's Silent Voices

Silent Voices continues on from Gary McMahon’s brutalist urban-supernatural trilogy-opener The Concrete Grove, keeping steady pace with the shocking fluidity of that story. Again it’s the Needle, a behemoth abandoned residential tower block, that forms a geographical and paranormal centre point to the story which has grown around it. However, the characters we encounter in this book have a deeper and more involved history with the Concrete Grove than those in the preceding tranche of this tale, and it would…

Adam Nevill's Last Days

Just a few pages into Adam Nevill‘s supernatural horror novel Last Days and I was reminded why exactly he’s my favourite British horror author. His deft touch with all things in the arena of dread literature, his ability to craft a masterful supernatural tale within highest quality prose, and continue to deliver highly appropriate shocks throughout; these things are all evident here. Last Days is the story of Kyle Freeman, an independent film-maker with some minor-successes under his belt, but…

Plague Town by Dana Fredsti

Many have written entertaining, chilling renditions of zombie lit to keep the horror fiction fan entertained; though as many, if not more, have stumbled in their attempt to frame this area of the dread-literature canon. With Plague Town we’ve a zombie book aimed at the more mainstream pulp-horror audience, and it’s one whose author Dana Fredsti has balanced decently, and with a nod to those finest traditions which have gone before, ideas and their implementation to create an entertaining –…

Double Dead by Chuck Wendig

There’s definitely something of the tongue-in-cheek to Chuck Wendig’s sublime horror writing. At times Double Dead veers to the comedic, but the element of genre fiction, the scares, terror and downright dread, are still quite apparent and well implemented. It’s a fine balancing act, and one which Wendig pulls-off distinctly and without need for any inappropriately over-kill horror writing apparatus. When we meet our anti-hero, the leather-jacket clad Coburn, he’s just awoken from a slumber during what has clearly been…

Nightmare by Stephen Leather

When we last left hard-boiled and supernaturally-inclined PI Jack Nightingale (in Nightmare‘s prequel Midnight) he’d met with the demon Proserpine to discuss her numerous and quite flagrant attempts to kill him. That meeting had concluded with something of an uncomfortable revelation for Jack, and a realisation that he really needed to stop trying to read the intentions and guesswork of the otherworldly and diabolically-evil-influenced party-set. Nightmare, the third book in the series, opens at a rapid pace. Leather is an…

Phantoms by Dean Koontz

Dr. Jenny Paige’s mother has just died, and taking up the maternal mantel she collects her younger sister Lisa to come and live with her in the remote mountain community of Snowfield. On returning home the town seems strangely deserted. But then Jenny comes upon the body of her housekeeper and things begin to worsen, to quite horrific levels. A little more investigation reveals that Snowfield is far more than simply desolate, that the body count is escalating, and it…

Deadfall Hotel by Steve Rasnic Tem

I sought a suitable metaphor to describe my experiences with Deadfall Hotel. I thought about using the patchwork quilt, with its multi-segmented, sometimes jarring and other times interweaving and flowing nature. That might have been more than adequate. Then something more appropriate fell into place, as I recalled a scene from the book where hotel manager Richard Carter is assigned a task by the caretaker to check on some cleaning work recently undertaken by some contractors. Richard has put together…

The Mystery of Dr Fu Manchu

The delightfully macabre, mysterious and drenched-in-pea-soup-fog stories and characters that have evolved from gaslight London have made for some damn fine reading. Following on the heels of Sherlock Holmes‘ Moriarty, Sax Rohmer’s enigmatic, dastardly, mystically-charged villain Dr. Fu-Manchu came crashing into the twentieth century. And what an impact he made. Published in 1913, The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu has a firm footing in the world of crime fiction, for Fu-Manchu is without doubt the early twentieth century’s answer to Dr…