Bag of Bones by Stephen King

Posted on 20th September 2011 in Reviews

Bag of Bones, a 1998 horror novel by genre emperor Stephen King, is in some ways a typical book for its author. It’s got extremely strong characterisations backed with a rich weft of story-telling. There’re also multi-plot sequences spuriously kicking off alongside, but not necessarily synchronously to, one another atop a freaky picket-fence township and paranormally-infused Maine, New England setting.

The style of its opening is as trademark to King as furtive glances from diminutive clusters of pale-green skinned, atavistically challenged web-toed sea-shanty dwellers are to Lovecraft. We get to know our narrator via a touching retelling of the events surrounding his wife’s death some years prior to the main events of the book, and along with that a cavalcade of other innocuous, irrelevant, minor, major and crucial players in this story are marched out into the narrative. Click here to read more.. »

The Small Hand by Susan Hill

Posted on 12th August 2011 in Reviews

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 knows the score.

John Keats once wrote a letter to an acquaintance, J. H. Reynold, as to how he would impress him with emotionally charged prose:  “I’ll cavern you, and grotto you, and waterfall you, and wood you, and water you, and immense-rock you, and tremendous sound you, and solitude you…” he promised. As in a similar style to the Romantic poet, Susan Hill has a toolset to effect all of the finest literary gothic traditions. Click here to read more.. »

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Posted on 8th July 2011 in Reviews

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 fame) should not therefore surprise anyone familiar with its source material. It’s got panache, and it’s genuinely chilling. Click here to read more.. »

Hell House by Richard Matheson

Posted on 20th May 2011 in Reviews

Richard Matheson’s Hell House is one of the finest haunted house books out there. If you’ve a passing interest in the genre, or specifically in the ‘houses-that-are-haunted’ sub-genre, then do yourself a favour and check this novel out.

It tells the story of Belasco House, or Hell House, which we learn early on to be the Mount Everest of haunted houses. In the past it has twisted, smashed and destroyed those souls who have sought to understand, control or even temper it. Even before it was haunted, for its former living inhabitants, it was a communal den of sin and iniquity the likes of which few civilised places know. Sounds like a good place for a party, then; just be sure not to advertise it on Facebook. Click here to read more.. »

Afterlife by Douglas Clegg

Posted on 5th May 2011 in Reviews

Julie Hitchinson’s life is torn apart when her husband Hut is murdered in what is a suspected serial killing. Almost immediately, patterns relating to the manner of his demise begin to rise to the surface in a manner clouded in enigmatic mystery.

Julie soon begins to question her grasp on reality, as well as her own sanity, as she begins to delve into her surroundings to try and piece together an answer for the strange things that have been occurring. Enlisting help in the form of a TV psychic, she sets off to unravel links between a long abandoned private psychical research centre named Daylight, and its place at the heart of the recent disruptions and turbulent strangeness in her life. Click here to read more.. »