There are not a lot of things I look forward to each year. Most of the time they fail to live up to my expectations. However one thing I do really look forward to is the publication of the latest Black Book of Horror. This anthology edited by Charles Black is im my humble opinion one of the best and most consistent anthologies out there. The range of story styles and mix of lesser known and more well known authors is almost pitch perfect. The Ninth Black Book of Horrors keeps this high level of excellence going for another year.
I do judge a book by it's cover, the cover to this book is excellent, but a book only succeeds if the stories are worth reading.
The rather dashing and extremely talented John Llewellyn Probert, has just announced the release of his brand new spanking novelette, Ward 19.
St Margaret's Hospital has 18 Wards.
And one extra one that no one wants to visit.
But when horribly dissected corpses starting appearing on the hospital grounds, it is about to get very crowded.
The CID coroner Parva Corcoran must work out why the hospital's own staff - dedicated to saving lives - are being targeted by a serial killer who shows no mercy? And why the bodies have been horribly mutilated?
As she starts to uncover the horrifying truth of Ward 19, her own professional past is called into question. And as she digs into the toughest case of her career, the reality is far worse than anything she could have imagined.
'Ward 19' is a gripping suspense thriller, featuring coroner Parva Corcoran, a coroner with a mysterious past, and a character who is as memorable as she is smart
The astute amongst you will have noticed that I haven't got round to reviewing the final instalment of Gary's excellent Concrete Grove trilogy. The reason for this is a simple one, I just can't bring myself to draw a line under what is in my opinion the best horror series published in the last 10 years.
So until I can come to terms with the fact that this series has ended we'll not mention that elephant in the room. Which brings us to Nightsiders, which is Gary's début publication with the purveyors of top class horror, Darkfuse.
Like the best of Gary's work, this novella worms its way under your skin, where crawls through your mind and body and sits there attached to base of your skull sending a chilling shiver down your spine.
To paraphrase Marillion's Script For A Jesters Tear, here I am once more, in the playground of the zombie novel, one more experience, one more entry in a blog self penned.
Considering my distaste of the rotted blotted corpse of the zombie genre, I always seem to, like a fat blue bottle, return to feed on its corpse one last time. As far as meals go though, this was a an extremely pleasant, if somewhat unsettling experience.
This is in all but name a Mammoth Book of Zombies, however unlike the other books in this series that I have read, the contained stories all tie together to create on coherent narrative. Set in the near future the book details first the UK's decent into zombiedon, and then the worlds. The story is told via a series of articles, diary entries tweets, and official reports. In the main this method of telling the story works, the narrative flows along nicely and there is a good degree of tension built up. I particularly liked the Twitter segments of the book, the constraints of the 140 character entry may sound limiting, but it really does help to convey the sense of panic, and hopelessness of the twitterer in question. I also really enjoyed how not all of the entries, were from a military point of view, by having tweets, emails etc from civilians really helped to give this book an emotional core, that is often lacking in zombie novels.
One of the main problems with a zombie novel is making the zombies relevant, if your zombies are just the basic shambling coffin dodgers, then you have to make your story completely about the survivors and this is where a lot of zombie books fail. Just how many times can you read about a group of people holed up in a supermarket. This book gets around that problem, by giving the zombies something more than just the basic shamble and eat way of life. By giving the hoard a figurehead who is in possession of an intellect and an agenda, lifts this book from being mundane. Yes I know this idea has been done before in Brian Keene's The Rising and David Moody's Monster Island, it doesn't stop this book from feeling fresh. I for one was hooked on finding out just who exactly Zombie Zero was.
Overall I enjoyed this book a great deal, the only thing that stopped the book from being an excellent read, was the closing segments of the book. To be fair, Stephen Jones gave himself a tough challenge in creating a linked story anthology, where the standard story form is in the main thrown out. So it is probably no surprise that creating a completely satisfying conclusion to this book would be difficult. It just felt as though one too many rabbits were pulled put of the hat to make the ending work.
However despite the weak ending I would have no difficulty in recommending this book. This is a book that succeeds in doing something different in an overworked genre, whilst still remaining highly entertaining. no mean feat indeed.
To some the glory days of of horror in the 1970's are a time best forgotten. A time when to many of today's readers and critics, the genre had devolved into the most basic and explicit of forms. With to some no redeeming factors. To these people I blow a big raspberry in your general direction. To me the 1970's and the 1980's were a time when horror had a heart, soul, and an ability to be just great, great fun. A time when buckets of blood and buxom babes jostled for screen time.
Luckily for you folks at home, the five horror authors featured in this anthology clearly love this period in the genres history, and provide you lucky people five stories that capture, perfectly, the feel of that bygone age.
There are days when being a book blogger just seems like an an endless drug through a bog of poorly written soulless books. However there are days when being a book blogger is a joyous thing. This folks is one of those joyous days that has you smiling from ear to ear. As mentioned in my review of Tim's novella Long Dark Coffin Tim was one of those authors who I enjoyed a lot, but never made the jump to my must read list. However this all changed with that book, and when I saw that his latest offering was on offer at the review site Netgalley, I jumped at the chance to get my hands on a copy.
And you know what folks they let me have an advance review copy.
Worm is a very simple novella, it took me about an hour to read, but my word what a fabulous hour that was. There are many types of horror books, those that try to examine the darkest parts of our psyche, some try to make us face our primal fears, and some just set out to provide a glorious, fun filled and hugely thrilling read. Worm is one of these books.
The plot is very simple, a thick black sludge starts to rise from below, bringing with it a new species of worm. These are not your common type of garden worm, these are vicious, psychotic, killers armed with a set a razor sharp killer teeth. So it is down to the motley residents of Pine Street to fight back and survive. Not everyone will make, some will become heroes and others will die in all manner of gruesome worm inflicted death.
There is not a lot of characterisation in this book, and very little exposition. The reader is thrown straight into the heart of action. This is not a criticism in anyway, by doing this Tim has stripped away all superfluous text to leave the reader with a lean, mean biting machine of a read.
You will GASP at the descriptions of these devil worms, you will SHRIEK at the over the top deaths that some of the residents endure, and you will HOLLER with joy at the brilliant ending, that gives a little nod to the end of Jaws.
Worm sets out to give the reader a pure and distilled thrilling horror story, something it does with fabulously. Hell just look at the cover you know your in for a good time when a book has a cover like that.
On Pine Street, the houses begin to shake. The earth begins to move. The streets crack open and yards split asunder...and rising from subterranean depths far below, a viscid black muck bubbles up and floods the neighborhood.
Worm has not been published yet, so while you are waiting on it why not click on the links below and get your hands on some of Tim's earlier work
This is a hard novella to characterise, it's not horror, even though it does contain elements of otherwordly cosmic terror. In some ways it shares a lot of common ground with Gary's The Respectable Face of Tyranny an excellent novella from Spectral Press. Both of these publications are as much about relationships within families and the fears associated with modern life.
Tim Curran is one of those authors whose books I really enjoy, but for some reason has never made the transition to the must buy list. If you were to ask me why this is I wouldn't be able to put y finger on it. Out of the five or so of his books that I have read, none of them have disappointed me, but at the same time none of them have ever set my world on fire either.