Spooky Reads

Tag: Supernatural

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…

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…

It’s hard to emphasise enough the wide cultural impact of Dickens’ classic Christmas novella A Christmas Carol, dealing with the haunting of the now infamous Ebenezer Scrooge. Not only has it become so much a part of Christmas tradition in the Western world, but as with Dickens’ other works has seeped into wider societal consciousness that its themes and specific characters are a strong in our minds as brand as Apple or other behemoth corporate logos. In our current times…

Oh, the haunted house. Centrepiece to many a piece of classic horror fiction, whether with creaking floorboards, strange noises from the attic, wallpaper dripping blood, and possibly an Indian-burial ground near the vegetable patch; you know the drill. In a classic twist from his editing last year’s strong horror anthology The End of the Line with its focus upon the Underground, Solaris’ editor Jon Oliver has continued to pull out the stops with House of Fear to deliver a top-notch…

Fresh from inking his acclaimed genre-spanning hybrid The World House and its sequel Restoration comes Guy Adams, with this latest Sherlock Holmes offering from Titan Books. The Breath of God is an ambitious attempt to evoke the supernatural elements in ways that Conan Doyle never would’ve dared with his Holmes books. One might argue though that The Hound of the Baskervilles certainly came close, in spirit at least, before its paranormal aspects were debunked by Holmes. Whereas that book drew…

I must admit that given the prevalence of zombie literature out there I can get a bit fed up with the whole walking dead thing. Whether, as Coleridge put it, ‘they groaned, they stirred, they all uprose…’ they’d better do so in a manner of story that isn’t boring, and leaves me wanting to provide them with a cranial drill, a drinking-straw and simply let them have at my frontal cortex. In a way Tim Waggoner’s Dark War, starring ‘self-willed’…

bag_of_bones

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…

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…

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…

Christopher Farnsworth’s Blood Oath is a fast-paced and supernaturally-charged action horror-thriller that introduces us to government vampire Nathaniel Cade, and his ongoing duty to protect the people and interests of the United States. There are powerful forces of evil at work around the globe, and it’s Cade’s duty to take care of things too dangerous, or secret, for mere mortals to become embroiled in. The book opens in a remote, ex-East European Bloc state where we’re soon introduced to Cade…

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…

I love Brutalist architecture. Whilst many find the style cold, hard, and aggressive, I’ve always found it comfortingly progressive, exciting and daring to be different from the norm. Encompassing buildings such as the Trellick Tower and Royal Festival Hall, whether or not it’s your cup of tea, you can’t say the Brutalist movement has an inappropriate name. Gary McMahon’s The Concrete Grove is a Brutalist horror novel. I’m not just referring to Le Corbusier’s terminology for the ‘concrete’ often used…

Adam Nevill’s powerful supernatural horror novel The Ritual was released last month, and consistent with his earlier two horror outings delivered high quality shocks and scares aplenty. Adam kindly spared me a not inconsiderable chunk of his time to answer a few questions about his books, the sources for inspiration that lay behind them, some feedback on writing and publishing, and on why horror should be disturbing. His earlier novels Apartment 16 and Banquet for the Damned marked Adam as…

House of Fallen Trees by Gina Ranalli is a supernatural tale, baited with a dark chunk of psychological terror. As the book opens we meet Karen Lewis, a writer who bears lingering and somewhat dreadful thoughts in regards to the disappearance of her brother, Sean. When Karen starts to receive strange and enigmatic, but harrowing, messages in her dreams, that then appear to break across into reality, she has reason to begin to doubt her sanity. But the persistence, and…

On a list of the things I hate, from personal experience, camping trips and journeys into Scandinavian forests rank fairly high. Add a male bonding session, and you’ve pretty much got my concept of Hell. Throw in a heady ritualistic atmosphere however, and genuine, life-threatening menace to this mix, and there’s  a good outline for a horror novel that I’d certainly green light, were I an editor. Adam Nevill has chilled many a reader with his earlier two novels, supernatural…

Banquet for the Damned is Adam Nevill’s debut novel (under his own name, that is – he’s penned a hefty other nine volumes in a different genre under pseudonym) and this work is a welcome addition to the supernatural literary canon. As with the book which followed it, Apartment 16, Nevill crafts a dark and moody world, dripping gothic fantastic and dreadful scenery, with an unkempt and uneasy atmosphere running in parallel which sets the reader comfortably ill-at-ease. From the…

the_magic_cottage

When a cute young couple go house hunting, away from the big smoke of London town, they find the property of their dreams in the shape of an idyllic, but dilapidated, cottage named Gramarye. Tucked away in the harmonious folds of Hampshire’s New Forest, it initially seems out of the pair’s grasp. Luckily, a stipulation in the will of the late owner of the property that a ‘suitable person, or persons’ live in the cottage brings a welcome opportunity, and…

Twilight left a mostly a positive impression upon me. I found room for general praise in my review of that book, for taking classic gothic elements and fusing them into modern fiction in a manner appealing to many, and not just to Stephenie Meyer’s agent. Enter then its sequel. New Moon opens with Bella dreaming. She dreams of doomed love with her boyfriend Edward Cullen; but is there any other type betwixt vampire and mortal human woman, in popular fiction…

Tom Fletcher’s 2010 debut horror novel The Leaping was an eye opener in the direction of the new blood emerging on the circuit in its skilled author; it was also a breath of fresh air in regards to his approach to the genre. At its heart lay a group introspective, an exploration of relationships, platonic and otherwise, within a circle of friends. And beneath this lay a slumbering, brutal tale that was equally raw, honest, and often times beautiful and…