St. Paul’s United Church sits across the field from Burward Forest. One of the congregation’s own, Rick, goes missing for a few weeks. Rumors flew through the congregation as to how he disappeared, and whether his wife Angela had been involved. Angela takes her son to church after a few weeks to try to get some normalcy back in her life and to thank the congregation for their thoughts and prayers. Suddenly, the church service is interrupted when her lost husband stumbles into the sanctuary. Only he has been stripped naked, and sports intricate symmetrical marring and scars all over his body. As the pastor takes Rick into his back office to get him cleaned up and clothed, Angela is frozen in shock. Rick had been abusive, and Angela is afraid to bring Rick back home to threaten her and her son, Alex. Before long, Rick emerges from the office and addresses the congregation. While Rick was missing, he became a prophet for another god. This god is Behemoth, and will truly save the congregation, if only they would devote themselves entirely to this true god. And to prove their devotion, one of the congregation’s children must be sacrificed within 48 hours, or everyone will be slaughtered. Rick demonstrates new and terrifying abilities to inflict pain and death upon anyone who tries to escape. This soon becomes the longest and most terrifying 48 hours for Angela and the congregation as they are torn between faith in the Christian God they’d originally worshipped, and faith in a prophet whose very concrete signs show the power of a different type of god.
I think this is one of my favorite books I’ve read all year. From the beginning, the book had a beautifully dark undertone that sucked me in right away. The tone was creepy and quiet in the beginning, and the suspense continued to build through until the end. Each horrific death or threat from the Behemoth was worse than the last. I quickly learned that perhaps no one would be spared the wrath of this new god. I felt like this book read like a 1980’s horror movie and it was a delight to settle down in the evenings with this book. It wasn’t until after I finished the book that I read the author’s biography, and how he is also a filmmaker. Then it made sense why I so easily pictured this as a movie. He has a real knack for cinematic elements in writing.
Every single character felt real and very consistent. Several characters represented people I know in my own life. There is a lovely mix of personalities and age groups within the congregation that are present in any large group of people, really. It was easy for me to find people to root for until the end, and others whom I wouldn’t have been sad if they came face to face with the Behemoth. The author helps us get to know each character intimately throughout the story. The only issue I had was that sometimes I felt there was a bit of “head hopping,” where the story would jump from one character to the next within a couple of paragraphs. At first when this happened, it was kind of confusing. But very soon I became used to it, and it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story. Looking back, I suppose the book was just doing what I movie would - show all characters within a scene.
The entire story takes place in the short span of 48 hours, but overall the pace was very satisfactory. The book was a little long, so every once in awhile it felt like it was a bit slow, with too much time spent in Angela’s mind. But the story was action-packed pretty much from start to finish. A lot happens in the book, but I didn’t find it confusing at all. Everything was pretty well resolved by the end, and I wasn’t left with any plot holes.
Without giving anything away, I think the ending was beautiful. It was not at all what I had expected. It was both heartwarming and heartbreaking. At the end, I started noticing a bit of a Lovecraftian feel. I’m so glad the ending was as strong as the rest of the book, because I hate when I love the book from the beginning but then feels like the author rushed the ending. This book’s ending was thoughtful and completely unexpected.
Overall, Worship Me is a unique horror story that surprises the hell out of you and leaves you wanting more when you finish the book. Craig writes a beautiful story about humanity, perseverance in the face of disheartening uncertainty, and above all...fear. This is a story about being trapped in your worst nightmare, and the struggle to find a way out without completely losing your shit. I give this a firm 5 out of 5 stars.
About the Author:
Craig Stewart is a Canadian author and filmmaker who learned how to count from the rhyme, "One, two, Freddy's coming for you." He's a creator and connoisseur of everything horror; never afraid to delve into the dark, and then a little further. His written works include short stories, film scripts, articles, and most recently, a novel. He has also written and directed several short horror films that have enjoyed screenings across North America.
Review by Kimberly Wolkens
The title Serial Murders of Mars is a bit misleading. It could be some sci-fi B-movie thing with a bug-eyed monster murdering astronauts. Or it could a mystery criminal procedure that follows an investigator hunting down a murderer that happens to be a bug-eyed monster murdering astronauts. However, it is neither of these things. Instead, Paul Boulet posits a world where space travel was developed in the 1700’s, the British Empire has a mining colony out in space, and a HH Holmes-like murderer is on the loose. Serial Murders of Mars is a mixed bag of mystery, royal bureucracy, mining administration, labor disputes, and murder that ulitmately leaves you unsatisfied.
Let’s get the big issue out of the way, this does not take place on Mars, as the title suggests. The mining colony is in fact on Phobos, one of Mars’ two moons. They constantly go back and forth in the book talking about Mars and Phobos, making it confusing where they are going in the beginning. I understand that adding Mars to the title makes it more alluring, but don’t set us up to think that and then not deliver. This might be a minor thing for some readers, the story takes place in space where they are mining for precious metals and minerals, who cares where the characters are. I just think you are setting us up for frustration right from the start when you tease us with something in the title that turns out to be false.
However, the concept of Victorian space travel definitely overrides my issue with the title. Boulet does an amazing job making us believe that the world could develop spaceships and flight in this era. He even adds a very detailed timeline in the back of the book to show us the steps it took to make this possible. Of course, there’s a little bit of sci-fi magic involved, something to do with shifting time, but it’s pretty easy to suspend disbelief as everything else is thoroughly explained and matches up with how the real world developed space travel. His descriptions of the ships and mining colony remind me a lot of Bioshock, with all the bronze structures, deep sea diving-like space suits, and retro-styled tools. Boulet’s ability to get us fully onboard with this concept is one of the bigger achievements of this book.
For all of you HH Holmes fans out there, this book will be right up your alley. He is clearly the main impetus for the story and the throughline that propels the story forward. Early in the book we learn that one of the administrators of the colony worked with Holmes when he built his murder hotel in Chicago. This comes into play when the royal contingent reaches Phobos and sees the many alterations that have been done to the buildings. Slowly, the characters discover hidden passages, rooms, gates that shouldn’t be there, and a key that controls everything. This all culminates into a mystery revolving around why these changes were made and who is really in charge. Having read Devil in the White City, I quickly started to imagine what twisted shenanigans Holmes could get into in a place like this. Boulet clearly had a lot of fun building up space murder playhouse and throwing his character into it to see how long they could last.
It all sounds like a great concept. However, it is buried under a lot of bureaucracy and administration. The first half of the book is filled with characters going through ledgers, negotiating with the striking labor force, and all the ceremonies that come with bringing royalty to a new mining facility owned by the British. If it wasn’t for the title and that early clue about HH Holmes, you’d think this book was a historical examination on early space travel. Eventually it picks up and becomes a bloodbath, but this all feels rushed and crammed into the end. The beginning is such a slog that it makes the book feel longer than it is and tarnishes a pretty good second half.
There’s a lot of good ideas in here. If you are a fan of HH Holmes, this is a great extension of his story. The descriptions of the colony, the tension of knowing there’s a murderer roaming the halls, and the final scenes all are spot on. The worldbuilding revolving around space travel developed in the 1800’s is amazing and something I’m surprised we don’t see more of. However, the parts don’t make the whole and Serial Murders of Mars left me wanting more.
Stephen King’s latest ‘The Institute’ disappoints this Constant Reader
Stephen King returns to the areas of telekinesis, telepathy and other psychic abilities in his underwhelming new novel The Institute. This might have been fresh and edgy material in the era of Carrie, The Dead Zone, Firestarter but in 2019 it comes across as old hat, with a plot which is more at home in the YA world of Stranger Things than from the pen of the world’s leading horror novelist. It’s worth noting that the leading character of Stranger Things ‘Eleven’ escaped from a place similar to ‘The Institute’ where kids with psychic abilities are routinely experimented upon, a plot very similar to this which also features in the prequel Suspicious Minds.
Right from the start the premise feels very familiar, King often revisits old themes so there is nothing wrong with that. There is a secret school/prison which kidnaps kids who have unique abilities, experiment upon them, and try to enhance/control them for their own ends. Who are ‘they’? Secret government agencies? The CIA? And before we know it the story heads straight into The X-Files territory, sadly there is no Mulder or Scully to save the thin plot which is stretched over 480-pages. There was not much more to it and lacked the depth of what we have come to expect from this author. Having read every Stephen King novel, with an exception of a few Dark Tower efforts, I would place this effort comfortably in the bottom fifth. King sleep-walks his way through this tale and although regular readers may well soak up its familiarity with some nostalgia, this Constant Reader has read so many startlingly good other dark fiction novels in 2019, this falls well short of all of them by some distance.
The Institute opens by introducing former cop Tim Jamieson who is slowly heading to New York, possibly to work in security whilst he decides what to do with the next stage of his life. However, when he is passing through a small South Carolinian town he is hired as a ‘Night Knocker’ which is a bottom-of-the-rung policeman with no ability to arrest or carry a weapon but helps keep the peace on the streets. This small-town sequence was very entertaining and the sort of thing King does very well, however, after page forty Jamieson disappears from the novel until quite near the end. This was a shame as he was an outstanding character who deserved more page time and was better company than most of the residents of The Institute which we shortly meet. When Tim eventually did return it was in a support role and I did not feel his reappearance gelled with the opening chapter.
Much of the story is seen, in the third person, from the point of view of Luke Ellis who attends a school for gifted children. This twelve-year-old is so bright he can digest and understand a semester’s worth of post graduate world history and politics in a couple of weeks. He also has psychic abilities which his parents choose to ignore, which manifest particularly when he is stressed. Before long he is snatched and wakes up in a replica of his own bedroom, realising he is no longer at home, is introduced to a group of other kids who live there. They all have different abilities, including those who can read minds and move stuff. They have certain freedoms, but in reality they are there to be experimented upon and are no more than rats in a cage and much of the book is about the plight they face.
I failed to find the teenagers particularly engaging who came across as rather cold or dull. For the most part the story was set exclusively in the institute/prison which became repetitive fairly quickly. The children are experimented upon and I found these sequences uninspiring and they’re punished for not following instructions exactly, but soon band together. Sadly, the villains in the story are pail imitations of others which have graced the pages of King novels, some of which are little more than bureaucrats, which was part of the political message the novel is pushing. A recently reviewed The Forgotten Girl by Rio Youers on Ginger Nuts of Horror, a novel which had many similarities to The Institute, but the Youers had a terrific villain in Dominic ‘The Spider’ Lang, which this book seriously lacked. The big boss of the Institute dishes out a few slaps, otherwise adds nothing to the non-existent fear factor and otherwise comes across like a stern Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and administers the occasional anal probe.
King recently snarked a Twitter response to The Telegraph reviewer Jake Kerridge who commented upon the low quality of his endings; he should not have bothered as this particular effort was telegraphed from ten miles away and strayed into action novel territory and for the most part seemed to forget the horror element. As the rag-tag bunch launched their unlikely assault on The Institute I half expected the cast of Stranger Things to throw themselves into the mix.
If you are a Stephen King fan who is happy to read anything the author puts out you may well find this non-threatening effort perfectly serviceable, but if you follow horror closely (and don’t just read the big boys) this novel falls well short of the best of 2019 which it should be judged against. If you want to be terrified take a pop on something else brand new: try Andrew Cull’s terrifying debut Remains or Cody Luff’s dystopian nightmare Ration. If you fancy hang around until Halloween Adam Nevill’s truly monstrous The Reddening hits the shelves around then; now there is a horror master writing at the peak of his powers. Finally, if you fancy a genre-bending mind-twister which will have you scratching your head or scouring the internet for answers then seek out Iain Reid’s Foe. If King is going to continue to release work as mediocre as this then his huge readership may well lose patience and start looking elsewhere.
Ray Bridges works at an electronic store, which anyone who has ever worked retail will testify-working with the public sucks. I mean, people are assholes. All of them. but our Ray is a friendly guy. He's smart and considerate and caring and juts looking for love and a happy future which would be quite easy to attain were it not for his little quirk: He's only sexually attracted to women who are missing limbs. A foot , a finger, an arm...doesn't matter as long as they are not whole, he's ready to get down to business.
Then things happen to further complicated Ray's already crowded plate of deception and secrecy-there is a serial maimer on the loose. A person who is not killing women but mutilating them and leaving them amputees. On top of that, Ray finally finds the girl of his dreams. She makes his heart go pitter-pat...but he can't get intimate with her because she still has all of her factory original parts. Maybe he'll luck out and she'll cross paths with the stranger who's hacking up women in the night? And just who is the Hackettsville Hacker anyway?
Limbs is over-the-top and riddled with dark humor. It's a nod to 90's horror movies with it's genre-bending blend of buddy/romantic comedy with serial mutilation and sexual strangeness. While it did seem a little long for the subject, but over all it was a lot of fun and I enjoyed my time with these oddball characters.
A fun and slightly sick romp of a novella.
Limbs is available from Grindhouse Press
I am not a monster.
Ray Bridges, a professional electronics salesman, is looking for love in all the strange places. He spends most nights sneaking into support group meetings for the disabled in order to satisfy his deepest, darkest desires—to hook up with unfortunate, down-on-their-luck women who’ve recently lost a limb. There's a name for Ray’s preference; it’s called acrotomophilia, a paraphilia involving amputees.
Conflicted, Ray wishes he could change. But he can’t. His body won’t let him. Nor will his mind. He’s destined to live this life, forever. That is . . . until he meets the perfect girl. Falls in love with her. Only problem: her arms and legs are attached.
Unable to find her attractive, Ray embarks on a dark, twisted journey of self-discovery, one that will force him to make an impossible choice: abandon his pursuit of true love or find a way to make it work, even if that means getting the girl of his dreams to shed an appendage.
Weird, comedic, and often raunchy, Limbs is the craziest love story ever told.
Dreams are hard to capture on page. You might wake up in the middle of the night and fumble for a pen and paper, grasping at the last moments you remember. Then in the morning you look at what you wrote and none of it makes sense. Well, In Dreams We Rot, you don’t have to worry about any of that, because Betty Rocksteady did all of the hard work for you. In her first collection of short stories she has tapped into the secret well of nightmares to offer up a healthy serving of madness and heart, delivering one of the best collections of the year.
Rocksteady held back nothing with the 21 stories you’ll find here. She’s bared her soul for all and isn’t afraid of what’s exposed. There are stories about love, sex with skeletons, the death of children, the desire for what you can’t have, the urge to create, and cats. Each story has something that will touch you deeply, finding that place you don’t want to talk about and prodding at it until you have no choice but to face your thoughts and feelings. There are some things in here that make you question humanity, but also make you cheer on those that find the strength to deal with the terrible situations they find themselves in. It’s a powerful collection that could have come across as heavy handed, yet Rocksteady expertly navigates the concepts presented here to give us something that feels natural and poignant.
You will come out of this book hating a lot of society. Most of the men in these stories are dicks that treat women like shit. Women also don’t look so great here either, they insult other women or hate children. Families bicker and fight, never listening to each other. It’s a tough brutal look at real life, but there’s a truth buried in here. I appreciate that Rocksteady didn’t shy away from holding a mirror up to humanity and let us see that everything is not perfect. Life isn’t all roses and sunshine, it’s dirty and painful.
Now, I don’t want you to think all of the stories are downers that make you question the world, because she does throw in hope where it’s needed. Some of the characters find happiness in the end. But, I think it needed this dash of realism. It gives each story the heart it needs to be more than just a spooky story. There’s plenty of horror here, Rocksteady just added the touch of real life to show that humans can be just as scary as monsters.
But, don’t you worry, this isn’t just a collection of stories that’ll make you want to live alone on an island. This is horror collection by one of our great horror writers. Rocksteady knows exactly what makes a story haunting and has no problem delivering. We have stories about demon skulls that want effigies and sacrifices, an evil ocean that drives an island mad, a car that plays with the mind, and ants that sing and bite. Hell, there’s even an amazing story about creating art that is also a love letter to old cartoons. All of it shows off Rocksteady’s range, from writing the weird, to writing straight horror, to explore the terror of love. And her ability to tease out the horror, keeping it just under the surface until it’s too late for you to back out, really makes you appreciate how much control she has over you with her words.
There are disturbing things in here. Be it the characters and their actions, or the monsters and nightmare creatures that haunt the pages. Every story packs a mean punch that’ll knock you down but have you begging for more. Rocksteady has shown here that you can mix the horrors of real life with the terrors of dreams to create something truly wonderful. In Dreams We Rot is already at the top of my list for best books of the year and will definitely be something I go back to in the years to come.
FICTION LIKE A FEVER DREAM
A voyeur becomes the one being watched, terrifying beasts are stitched together, strange new insects appear, ancient sex gods rise, and an island on the brink of madness falls apart.
Betty Rocksteady's debut collection blends surrealism and horror, tearing apart tropes as words bleed and transform down unexpected avenues of nightmare logic. These twenty stories run the gamut from splatterpunk to somber. They're hot and wet and nasty, guaranteed to leave you with an unspeakable sense of dread.
“…I’m going to find you Andrew. And I’ll wear your skin like a trophy.”
Out now from Speartip Publishing ‘The Return of Moloch’ is a radical departure from previous books I’ve read by Lee McGeorge and it swings wildly between rather deliberately mundane imagery and the kind of irreverent 1980s horror which made the careers of such writers as Shaun Hutson, Richard Laymon and Graham Masterton. The more bloodthirsty and dare I say it— older— among us could well be satisfied by this although a lot of the horror is initially more stated via flashback than actively immersive. That soon changes though and what we have is a very nasty book indeed, one which I believe will shock a lot of people for more reasons than just the horror content.
Is it a pastiche of the great and good from yesteryear? Not at all, as it’s politically very aware of the various moods of the present-day with Social Justice Warriors, Millennials and general assorted ‘snowflakes’ being targeted for hostile put-downs, as a result it comes across as slightly heavy going in places albeit with a distinct finger on the pulse of modern Britain. Although it’s very much a book of the here and now— very punchy and accurate, it has so many references which are destined to become short-lived that I fear it will in time prove rather dated. It’s also a book which is bound to offend a lot of people as the viewpoints within are at odds with one-another and the racist and sexist comments are probably going to be as repulsive to some readers as the often shockingly violent content would be.
Is it all just following a trend for extreme horror though? I don’t think so, as although I have read quite a lot of extreme horror offerings I would say that The Return of Moloch has a much higher than average concept with a generally better quality of writing. It’s rather more intelligent than the general gore-fests and there is a much richer and more involved story which although primarily centred on a soldier and involving significant bloodshed wasn’t Gung-Ho stereotypical, instead being partly fact-checked by actual Paratroopers, so the attention to detail is there and above all else convincing, making for a much more rounded character in the main antagonist. I got around 40% of the way through and suddenly realised that there had been something missing since the beginning of the book — an actual hero. Leaving the titular Moloch aside, the main character is really the Paratrooper, John Prentice, who as a veteran of the Falklands conflict has quite literally been through the wars, which still has not fully prepared him for his encounter with the Demon Moloch. It’s an encounter which is a mutual fight for survival, with consequences which see Prentice in a situation where he is no longer free to pursue his life. When that time comes we see Prentice trying to adjust to a world which had passed him by as well as being part of another world he wouldn’t have believed existed. The last thing that Prentice could ever be is the hero of the hour— that much is made crystal clear very early on. The Return of Moloch actually has shades of Stephen King’s ‘Apt Pupil’ too as Prentice gets a young apprentice called Weston and has to train him to kill, it’s all darkly serious stuff with an internal logic which is gripping even though utterly repulsive.
There are a couple of ‘heroes’ as such who do come into play later on and one of those is Andrew Moore, a former policeman Prentice stabbed 30 years previously in an encounter which left Moore psychically connected to Prentice. Also on the side of the good is Krisi, a female officer who, much to her annoyance is better known for being the face of a Police Campaign Poster than for her actual policing ability. All of the main characters, no matter how small their role in events may be, are well fleshed-out and believable, which is a good thing to read as it makes everything a no-brainer to just be lost in the story without hanging on to any personal flaws. There are plenty of ‘WTF’ moments and an ending which I wasn’t expecting at all; all in all it’s well worth the read and even though it’s around 63,000 words you probably won’t want to put it down once you’re into it and will devour it in a single sitting. Worthy of a 4.5 on the Gingernuts scale.
For a chance to win one of 5 signed copies of The Return of Moloch simple retweet this tweet And comment on the tweet with which TV show you would love to see return.
Many thanks to Lee McGeorge for the competition prizes. For more information on Lee please check out the links below
website and downloads: www.lee-mcgeorge.co.uk
chat with the author: www.faceboo
Adam Nevill’s return gives us one of the outstanding horror novels of 2019
The south Devon area of England is well known for its rugged and natural beauty; its stretching coastlines and meandering paths loved by ramblers, however, after reading Adam Nevill’s outstanding new novel The Reddening you may well decide to book your next holiday elsewhere. The author has been a south coast resident for a few years now and, although his last two novels have also been set roughly in this area, this ninth outing is dominated by its locality. Highlights include threatening landscapes, secluded farms with vicious secrets and a sea full of dangers rather than its picturesque beauty. One thing is for certain; the offices of the south Devon Tourist Board will not be stocking The Reddening! Long-term fans of Nevill are going to love this brutal tale and if you have never previously dipped into this author, here is as good a place to start as any. If it is to your liking, Nevill’s back-catalogue is so good it rivals the very biggest names in world horror.
The story has several very clever strands which I will cover briefly, some out of context to avoid spoilers. Whilst out paragliding Matt Hull discovers the entrance to a cave which leads to the excavation of a hugely important archaeological site concerning early man, however, once the experts have spent some time examining their discoveries they realise this was a location of ritualistic mass slaughter, terrible suffering, and cannibalism spread over many years. The level of detail, and descriptions, of the manner of these deaths was simply outstanding and it perfectly sets the tone for what horrors lies ahead. Even though these monstrosities occurred thousands of years previously, the brutality was so extreme it still scares those hearing about it for the first time in the press conference.
The cover of the novel depicts the silhouette of a creature which is clearly connected to the caves in some way. Don’t go into this novel expecting some cheap monster rampaging creature feature, there is significantly more to the story than that. The pacing is exquisite and the discovery of the caves is only one part of a very cleverly drawn and complex conspiracy which is one of the strengths of the novel. One of the golden rules in horror fiction is never reveal your hand too early: Adam Nevill wrote the book on this important literary technique and expertly leads the reader a merry dance on what horrors lurk in the underground caverns.
For anyone who has read, arguably, Nevill’s masterpiece No One Gets Out Alive the address of 82 Edgware Road should set off plenty of warning bells and maybe a few shivers of revulsion. The Reddening has its own equivalent: Redstone Farm. If you ever go rambling close to disused quarries in south Devon make sure you heed the ‘NO TRESSPASSING’ signs, otherwise you’ll regret it. This was a stunning location and was described with the horrible decrepit detail which will be familiar to regular readers of his fiction. There were scenes inside this farm, including when a character is hiding in the house, which were as unrelentingly unpleasant and nail-biting as anything the author has written. Worryingly, it does not look like there is much farming going on in Redstone. Overall, the descriptions were outstanding from the mangy stinking sheep which seem to be stalking campers to the threat of being hunted through the bramble infested local forests and being clubbed to death with blunt instruments.
Kat writes for a local lifestyle magazine, ‘Devon Life and Style’, and is present when the archaeologist makes the big reveal, her photographer boyfriend Steve is also interested in the amazing discovery. Intending to write a feature, she is instead sucked into a dark world which is right on her doorstep, she never imagined could exist. Kat soon meets Helene, who has her own interests in the archaeological dig, and is investigating the apparent suicide of her brother Lincoln. The deceased had an odd pastime; he recorded natural sounds which came from deep within caves and other natural environments. Soon Helene realises Lincoln was recording very close to the site of the dig not long before he died. The mystery deepens and plays out exquisitely over 400-pages.
Sounds and music both play a crucial part in adding to the oppressive atmosphere where permeates throughout The Reddening. The sounds captured by Lincoln which Helene listens to are deeply unpleasant and are described via waves of bestial grunting and other unnatural noises which soon have Helene revaluating what her brother had unwittingly stumbled upon. The novel also features a highly convincing folk music vibe which harks back to the 1970s glory years and a now reclusive former singer who was once big enough to play festivals to the scale of Knebworth. The seventies flashbacks were very convincing and I smiled at the references to the “mad crusties from back in the day.” There were many other funny musical references, including the “Hippy Slipknot” and “Filth Pigs are fucking here!” which may well have been a nod towards industrial metal band ‘Ministry’.
If you follow Nevill on social media you will know he is a fan of long-distance sea swimming. Perhaps there was a touch of personal fears built into the novel; it includes a stunning scene which is spread over several chapters where a character is dumped far out at sea to drown. This individual is a born fighter and the battle for survival is so intense the reader will feel they are also in the water fighting for life whilst hypothermia kicks in. This was, quite simply, outstanding writing and one of the most thrilling sequences in the book. A different type of horror.
I’m amazed that after eight previous novels, the first of which was published in 2004, Nevill can still come up with refreshing new fiction which does not particularly tread over old grounds, except in the very general sense of ‘horror being horror’. Long-term fans are bound to make their own comparisons and there is a tiny similarity to House of Small Shadows, but only in a broad folk-horror sense, but there is a slightly bigger connection to Last Days which also includes flashbacks to the seventies, otherwise it is all new. The plot is a very clever one, which effortlessly moves over time periods and has many very clever strands which pull together as the brutal body-count rises with the novel heading towards an outstanding climax revealing what ‘Reddening’ and its cryptic variations really means.
This is Nevill’s first novel released on his own Ritual Limited label which also published his outstanding short story anthologies Some Will Not Sleep and Hasty for the Dark. At the time of writing the limited edition (and signed) hardback version of 400 copies was close to being sold out via his website, otherwise the paperback and ebook is released at the end of October.
If you’re new to Adam Nevill and would like to investigate him further here are links to articles written by myself on the Ink Heist site.
I rank and discuss Adam’s first eight novels (purely my personal choices and you’re welcome to disagree):
I interviewed Adam and we cover The Reddening amongst many other aspects of horror:
Supernatural horror does not get much better than The Reddening. If you’re a fan of slow build-ups, heavy atmosphere, superb and intricate plotting, bloodletting and a novel which has a unique sense of time and place then you are going to love this quality story.
One million years of evolution didn't change our nature. Nor did it bury the horrors predating civilisation. Ancient rites, old deities and savage ways can reappear in the places you least expect.
Lifestyle journalist Katrine escaped past traumas by moving to a coast renowned for seaside holidays and natural beauty. But when a vast hoard of human remains and prehistoric artefacts is discovered in nearby Brickburgh, a hideous shadow engulfs her life.
Helene, a disillusioned lone parent, lost her brother, Lincoln, six years ago. Disturbing subterranean noises he recorded prior to vanishing, draw her to Brickburgh's caves. A site where early humans butchered each other across sixty thousand years. Upon the walls, images of their nameless gods remain.
Amidst rumours of drug plantations and new sightings of the mythical red folk, it also appears that the inquisitive have been disappearing from this remote part of the world for years. A rural idyll where outsiders are unwelcome and where an infernal power is believed to linger beneath the earth. A timeless supernormal influence that only the desperate would dream of confronting. But to save themselves and those they love, and to thwart a crimson tide of pitiless barbarity, Kat and Helene are given no choice. They were involved and condemned before they knew it.
The Reddening is an epic story of folk and prehistoric horrors, written by the author of The Ritual and three times winner of The August Derleth Award for Best Horror Novel.
If you would prefer a signed limited edition version of the book you can order one direct from Adam's website by clicking here
CREEPSHOW BY SIMON BROWN
A good book about films should run loud and fast with passion, jamming crazy through the pages, weaving through the paragraphs at a hundred words a minute, everything should be ripping past you in a glorious haze. Kim Newman tears through with passion from the first page and often don’t let up until the last page.
…this book ground me to a halt.
The Author’s position as an Associate Professor really shows in his writing. I felt like I was in class.
I’m not questioning the passion of the author, but the passion just wasn’t there in the words; too stuffy and academic.
Maybe that’s just me. It could well be. I love Romero’s work as much as I love King’s, I love them like a fat kid loves cake, but it’s all in the telling.
I found myself painfully dragging through the pages of a bloated dissertation. The subject itself wasn’t all that bad. It appeared informed but at times padded with digressions. It makes too many comparisons and then takes further digressions from there that begin to verge on rambling.
It strikes me as a book for the hardcore fan, the film student, and with that in mind, those readers would have a great time with this particular book. Sadly, while I did enjoy CREEPSHOW, I am not a BIG fan which perhaps why this book really wasn’t for me. Yes, it was informative, and yes, it did cover many a subject in such a short space, but again, too academic.
But it might be for you.
Let’s see if the next title gives me more of a ‘buzz’ (I’m sorry, I just can’t resist a pun)
THE FLY by Emma Westwood
This is what I hoped and expected of The Devil’s Advocate series. The passion is there in the prose, giving insights into part of the film you may have otherwise have missed. The author pulls you in with their infectious and obvious love for this film and in doing so makes you appreciate it so much more as well. The author gives a detailed history of The Fly from its literary roots to the original film and to the remake.
The book touches upon the subtexts of the film, many of which may surprise you, for instance who would have thought that it was in part a rumination on old age (?).
It examines the subtexts of Seth Brundle’s disease as a more fundamental matter, beyond the assumption that it was a metaphor for AIDS. The book also argues stories of magical transformations (from Aesop to Shelley) have always been part of humanity’s narrative canon, articulating that universal sense of empathy for all life forms that we feel; expressing a desire for transcendence that every religion also expresses; prompting us to wonder if transformation into another living creature would be a proof of the possibility of reincarnation and some sort of afterlife and is thus, however hideous or disastrous the narrative, a religious and hopeful concept. Also the book argues that this is more than a body horror film, more than a remake, more than a film based on a Sci-Fi story from the 50’s that ultimately The Fly is above all a love story. I saw the film in a new light after this book and I have no doubt that you will as well after reading it.
Rob Teun writes Sci-fi, Horror, and Fantasy. He lives in Lincolnshire with his family. He can be found on Twitter: @rob_teun