Spooky Reads

Tag: British horror

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…

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…

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…

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…

The Faceless by Simon Bestwick

Simon Bestwick’s The Faceless is a sturdy beast of a horror book. This grim, supernaturally-loaded tale of genuine melancholy, with a compelling and well evolved plot, is tinted with a sense of despair and anguish. It’s often bleak and ugly – as a tale laced with themes of war and suffering should be – but the story underpinning it is finely crafted. A series of mysterious and dire events have been slowly unravelling in the town of Kempforth. From the…

Juggernaut by Adam Baker

Something wicked lays waiting, dormant yet coiled to react, deep in the heart of the Iraqi desert.  For Lucy and her team of mercenary opportunists a chance at a fortune comes when she learns of a hidden haul of millions of dollars of Sadam’s gold. But danger lurking both subtly and provocatively soon reveals itself to the rag-tag collective, and they encounter horrors beyond their wildest reckoning. So it is that Adam Baker returns with a vengeance with Juggernaut. The…

As a youth I loved watching Hammer Horror flicks – a habit thankfully that’s continued to this day. They are delightfully creepy, superbly melodramatic, absolutely kitsch at times, but nonetheless passionate in their attempt to output a unique tranche of terror onto the big screen. So it was with some delight that I dipped into Hell Train by Christopher Fowler to discover a most impressive tribute to this slice of ghoulish cinema. With a title like Hell Train you can…

In retrospect, some things really aren’t a good idea. Kanji-based tattoos you don’t know the true meaning behind, blind-dates setup by dubious acquaintances, and most of the 1980s from a fashion perspective. Night of the Crabs, by Guy N. Smith might at first glance seem like such a thing. With its garish title, this pulp paperback from the 1970s might appear as a b-movie throw-back and adaptation. The picture of a giant crustacean threateningly waving claws in the air, mandibles…

A Matter of Blood sees Sarah Pinborough craft a bleak, near-future semi-dystopian setting for this the first in her horror-thriller trilogy The Dog-Faced Gods. The government and population are broke: the financial system has collapsed, handed a life-line via a global corporate behemoth The Bank. The NHS is at breaking point and is available for few people, a woeful situation compounded by a new, more virulent strain of HIV that’s rapaciously claiming more victims. As if this state of play…

Dead Bad Things is a fierce and primal supernatural novel. Brutalist horror writer Gary McMahon has succeeded not only in gestating further the furtive world he seeded in its prequel, Pretty Little Dead Things, but has also excelled in exuding a sense of menace and threat rarely seen in paranormal fiction. But be under no illusion, this is bleak stuff. Black stuff. Chose a metaphor: chiselled from onyx, painted on pitch canvas, cut from darkest cloth; any are suitable. I…

Susah Hill writes amazing supernatural tales. I figured it’s better to flag my status as being ‘in awe of Susan Hill’ as soon as possible; not that there’s usually any room for confusion. Hill is a modern day expert as regards the ghost story, and her novella The Woman in Black one of the finest examples of supernatural literature to date. When it comes to setting a scene, and soaking the reader in a world written in spookiest ink, Hill…

In the finest tradition of pulp-horror prose comes Sarah Pinborough’s Breeding Ground. With wefts of Masterton, Laymon, early-Herbert et al. this rip-roaring terror-romp starts quickly and picks up speed to deliver a shocking and entertaining read to the genre fan. Matt and Chloe are a young couple with everything going for them. With both in good jobs, and enjoying a steady and loving relationship, it’s with great excitement they receive news of Chloe’s pregnancy. Matt starts to get a bit…

Thomas Usher sees dead people; for the more cynical out there this could mean any number of things. It could mean an author scraping the barrel of ideas, it could mean a clichéd ghost book that brings nothing new to the game, or it could be a writer daring to engage an oft-used and familiar genre topic in a unique and involved manner. Luckily for the reader, Gary McMahon’s Pretty Little Dead Things is an exercise in tackling what might…

Ritual creator Graham Masterton, a most prolific horror writer and famous for his Manitou series of books, was the first author to genuinely shock me. The content in question I considered to be absolute overkill in its use of violence, and associated emotional overplay, to elicit a response from the reader. I think I was around fourteen, and had wandered around to the library to pick up a few books to read. I don’t think it was too long before…

Imagine, if you will, a book so spooky that the person responsible for transcribing it from the author’s notes and cassette tape wouldn’t do so, unless there was someone else with them in the house. Such behaviour is more than understandable, given the atmosphere of Susan Hill’s ghost novel The Woman in Black. Its subsequent evolution into a highly successful West End play (running since 1989), and soon to be released film starring Daniel Radcliffe (aye, he of Harry Potter…

Gary McMahon’s 2010 horror-thriller Pretty Little Dead Things raised the bar for supernatural fiction with its spooky spin on the traditional private investigator role. Its protaganist, Thomas Usher, and the haunted, tortured quest upon which he’s thrust combined to create a powerful read. A recent BFS Fantasy Award nomination for that book is a definite nod toward McMahon’s growing credentials as a horror fiction writer of note. Likewise, McMahon’s recently published The Concrete Grove, the first in a trilogy of…

Only the awarding of a Blue Peter badge can normally get me as excited as I am right now. You see, the shortlist for the BFS Fantasy Awards 2011 was released a short while ago, and it’s a giddy time for our beloved genre. Whilst it’s great indeed to see strong books, authors and tales being deservedly nominated, it’s still more than compelling to see who will walk away a winner in the various categories. So, down to business. The…

Anno Dracula’s author Kim Newman is somewhat responsible for my love of horror fiction. He and Stephen Jones fostered my curiosity for the genre via their Horror: 100 Best Books review anthology. As you can tell from this site, that interest has evolved somewhat over time. I picked up that book when I was thirteen, and for many years it was my guiding light in navigating the world of the dread literature. I still turn to it nowadays, twenty years…

Written over a century ago, Bram Stoker’s Dracula is epic both in stature and its game-changing nature. It’s a book that’s hugely influential not only upon the world of literature, but on popular culture too. Sometimes its success makes it feel as though it has been pushed into the shadows by the very beacon of horror which it created. That being, of course, the vampire Dracula. Don’t get me wrong; Stoker didn’t invent the vampire. In novella and novel format…