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Book reviews Books Fiction

Petra’s Ghost by C.S. O’Cinneide review – a touching tale of grief

Secrets are at the haunting heart of this touching page-turner of a debut novel by C.S. O’Cinneide.

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Book reviews Books Fiction

Bone Harvest by James Brogden review – beautifully written folk horror

Bone Harvest isn’t afraid to start at the beginning. Part one of James Brogden’s latest folk horror novel is entitled “prepare the ground”, and the cultivation metaphor – cycles of growth, reaping, ploughing-in and lying fallow – also dictates the author’s approach to his story.

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Book reviews Books Fiction

Elsewhere by Dean Koontz review – a comfortably familiar but offbeat tale

Dean Koontz is a first-class storyteller. I have fond memories of squirrelling under the covers in my childhood bedroom with his horror novels, worried my mother would deem them too adult, or some other protest prefixed with “too” that would see me denied his riches. Revisiting Koontz now had no less of a thrill.

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Book reviews Books Fiction

The Apparition Phase by Will Maclean review – a pitch-perfect evocation of the haunted 1970s

“And so the first thing my twin sister and I did, when we finally got access to a camera of our own, was fake a ghost photograph.” Maclean opens The Apparition Phase with Abigail and Tim – two precocious and insular siblings trapped in 1970s suburbia, obsessed with all things creepy and unexplained – faking an apparition and showing the resulting picture to a vulnerable schoolmate.

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Book reviews Books Fiction

The New Abject: Tales of Modern Unease review – a broad-ranging and diverse anthology

Back in 2008, Comma Press created a cult hit with their anthology The New Uncanny, which invited authors to write stories in response to Sigmund Freud’s theory of the uncanny or unheimlich. The collection won that year’s Shirley Jackson Anthology Award and even spawned a film, Matthew Holness’s modern British horror classic Possum. 12 years later comes The New Abject. As co-editor Ra Page’s introduction puts it, “The horror, disgust or recoil we experience when we are faced with what we have shed, let go, expelled, sloughed off – that is the fear of the abject.”

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Book reviews Books Fiction

The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher review – a whipsmart return to the world of Blackwood’s Willows

Following the Machen-inspired The Twisted Ones, T. Kingfisher takes on another classic of weird fiction by presenting a hole in the wall of a Curiosity Museum which leads to the “region of singular loneliness and desolation” described in Algernon Blackwood’s 1907 The Willows. It’s an incredibly engaging idea, and the book powers along with a likeable narrator, a well-sketched supporting cast, and the author’s clear delight in genre. If you’ve ever wondered how Blackwood would meld with a pacey plot, a touch of Buffy, another of House of Leaves, another of Annihilation – then this is one for you. 

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Book reviews Books Fiction

London Incognita by Gary Budden review – a modern masterpiece of the urban wyrd

Our introduction to the tenebrous, haunted streets of London Incognita is the Shirley Jackson Award-nominated “Judderman”. Set in 1972, it sees two brothers, Gary and Daniel Eider, explore the city’s dark corners and “thin places” as they attempt to catalogue its hidden stories, those that belong to the forgotten, dispossessed and abused.

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Book reviews Books Fiction

The Women of Weird Tales review – a beautifully curated collection

Most horror fans instantly recognise “Weird Tales” as the pulp magazine that jump-started the career of H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury and other popular horror writers in the early 20th century. However, one detail that appears to be consistently omitted from the magazine’s history is the frequent contributions of women writers who were also some of its most popular contributors.

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Books Fiction Interviews Non-fiction

Edward Parnell interview: ‘I wanted to breathe some sort of flickering life into the ghost of their memories’

Ghost stories are often not about ghosts at all – they are about people. And so goes Edward Parnell’s Ghostland, a deeply personal and quietly magnificent reflection on what it is to be human, through a genre-blending mix of memoir and narrative non-fiction.

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Book reviews Books Fiction

The Night Will Find Us by Matthew Lyons review – a cinematic, intelligent blend of folk and cosmic horror

The Night Will Find Us by Matthew Lyons wastes no time in taking us into the woods, and fans of supernaturally active forests – from Adam Nevill’s rural Sweden in The Ritual to the Burkittsville woods of the Blair Witch Project – will find much to enjoy in its deftly-conjured location. But the novel’s bold and satisfying blend of folk and cosmic horror put me in mind of Gemma Amor’s masterful White Pines, and this comparison only grew stronger as the novel continued, demonstrating its deep preoccupation with grief and loss.