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Book reviews Books Fiction

Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi review – ‘a sharp critique of modern epistemology and a cutting-edge reworking of a classic horror tale’

It’s almost a decade since Ahmed Saadawi wrote and published Frankenstein in Baghdad (2013). Yet with its English translation by Jonathan Wright only published in 2018, its impact has been felt belatedly in many Anglo-centric literary circles. One can’t help but wonder at the conjunction of the novel’s publication with the two hundredth anniversary of its predecessor. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was first published in 1818, and it’s tempting to think that the introduction of English-speaking readers to Frankenstein in Baghdad was deliberately timed, however unlikely that may be. In any event, Saadawi’s novel functions not only as a fascinating retelling, but also as a darkly funny and moving story about war, loss, and vengeful bodies.

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Book reviews Books Fiction

The Golem (Dedalus European Classics) by Gustav Meyrink review – ‘grotesque, opulent detail’ in a Prague ‘viscerally evoked’

There are some cities that are entirely transformed by the writers who reproduce them. Dickensian London is a unique entity entirely distinct and yet strangely akin to the real city that spawned it. Dostoevsky’s St Petersburg is a dark mirror of its more tangible yet no less monumental counterpart, filled with strange characters that channel the warped, often fantastical spirit of their surroundings. James Joyce’s Dublin is made up of multiple, unique voices and their own experiences of the city, a tapestry of individual spaces.

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Book reviews Books Fiction

Where We Live by Tim Cooke review – the splendour of the natural world collides with urban decay

Where We Live, the debut collection from Tim Cooke, fits into an emergent tradition of writing that blends evocative depictions of landscape with a harder edge: harsh reminders of urban corrosion, intimations of horror.

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Book reviews Books Fiction

Wyrd and Other Derelictions by Adam L.G. Nevill review – avant-garde horror that’s unapologetically weird

There’s an affinity between horror and the avant-garde. From the visceral dystopian visions found in Burroughs’ Naked Lunch and Ballard’s The Atrocity Exhibition, to the gothic-infused surrealism of films like Jane Arden’s The Other Side of Underneath and Bill Gunn’s Ganja & Hess, and even to David Lynch’s projects over multiple mediums, experiments in form frequently amplify the nightmarish aspects of horror (both horror as a genre and horror as an emotion). Adam L.G. Nevill’s recent collection of stories entitled Wyrd and Other Derelictions is part of that avant-garde horror tradition. 

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Book reviews Books Fiction

Only the Broken Remain by Dan Coxon review – ‘weird horror to chill, unnerve and, occasionally, raise a wry smile’

In recent times, fans of literary horror have been treated to a remarkable spate of short story collections that explore the fuzzy boundaries between genres and between worlds. The writers of these books might be considered heirs to the “strange stories” of Robert Aickman or the “dark tales” of Shirley Jackson. The latest addition to this pleasing trend: Dan Coxon’s debut Only the Broken Remain.

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Book reviews Books Fiction

The Boatman’s Daughter by Andy Davidson review – a southern gothic tale adorned with folklore and witchcraft

The Boatman’s Daughter begins with an epigraph, taken from line two hundred and forty-three of The Tempest. If what’s past is truly prologue, then Shakespeare’s play undoubtedly proves to be the genesis of Andy Davidson’s second novel. But displaced to the bayous of the Deep South, with a gloss of supernatural horror, this tale of power and betrayal undergoes its own transformation, a mutation that seems less the work of charms and baseless visions than of some rough, unhallowed magic. 

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Book reviews Books Fiction

The Burning Girls by C. J. Tudor review – ‘frightening apparitions and ever-mounting tension’

“In Chapel Croft, You don’t have to play with fire to get burned…” and so goes the blurb on this thriller laced with supernatural elements, mystery, and horror. The story gets off to a cracking start with a short prologue which the reader later learns to be a flashback.

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Book reviews Books Fiction

Red Hands by Christopher Golden review – ‘Golden clearly has the magic touch’

A family on a day out to celebrate July 4th experiences the unthinkable. 

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Book reviews Books Fiction

Matt Wesolowski’s Six Stories series gets a superb new addition in Deity

In 2016, Orenda Books published Matt Wesolowski’s Six Stories, a mystery shot through with elements of horror. It was one of the first novels to use the conceit of a true crime podcast to inform its structure: the story is told through episode transcripts, with the show’s host, Scott King, acting as narrator.

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Book reviews Books Fiction

The Unforgetting by Rose Black review – gothic drama delights with its richly-evoked period setting

Rose Black’s debut novel The Unforgetting starts with Lily Bell waking in an unfamiliar room, hearing the sea outside and smelling burnt toast; her dreams of becoming an actress on the Victorian stage are about to come true – or are they?