Sublime Horror

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Category: Book reviews (page 1 of 6)

Gothic Remixed by Megen de Bruin-Molé review – an enlightening examination of Frankenfictions

We live in a time of remixes. Arguably, we live in a time that is itself a remix. Culture, history and politics all seem to repeat themselves, changed only slightly from one iteration to the next, with increasing rapidity. Whether it’s blockbuster movie sagas or wars in the Middle East, everything seems unpleasantly familiar.

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The Other People by C. J. Tudor review – a tightly-paced and gripping crime thriller-horror hybrid

C.J. Tudor has garnered a shining reputation as a prolific author of psychological thrillers, gaining praise from author heavyweights such as Stephen King and Lee Child. The Other People was my first introduction to C.J. Tudor’s work, after hearing her on a panel speaking passionately about the audiobook adaptations of her previous two novels, The Taking of Annie Thorne (2019) and The Chalk Man (2018).

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Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss – national identity and sacrifice in the good old days

Ghost Wall opens with a human sacrifice. She is led, unblindfolded (because she knows what is coming), to the sound of chanting and drums, “unsyncopated with the last panic of her heart.” Her family and neighbours look on as the men take a blade and cut away her hair, and then place a rope around her neck. “There is an art to holding her in the place she is entering now, on the edge of the water-earth, in the time and space between life and death, too late to return to the living and not time, not yet, not for a while, to be quite dead.”

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Dark Spring by Unica Zürn – a devastating and disturbing coming-of-age

It is hard to know where to begin with Dark Spring. This novella was written in 1968 and proceeded the suicide of its author by just a few years. It is autobiographical (Zürn has said that it’s based on events from her own childhood) yet there is a clear separation between the narrator “I” and the author “I”. Continue reading

Remember The Dead at Halloween and Christmas review – a collection of rarely seen seasonal ghost stories

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for ghost story enthusiasts. We are spoiled! Both Halloween and Christmas offer the same spooky potential, not only for new tales to tingle the spine but the reemergence of the old. Rather apt of course, as a major supernatural trope is the past crashing in on the present.

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Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon by James Lovegrove review – a felonious Father Christmas

It was over a year ago that I last reviewed one of James Lovegrove’s Sherlock Holmes pastiches. Going into it, I will admit, I was sceptical. Not only can pastiches be poorly done, but this particular book was not an ordinary pastiche. While, I have subsequently learnt, this wasn’t a new concept, Lovegrove had transported Sherlock Holmes into the world of Lovecraft, a bizarre mash-up that, on paper, should never have worked. To my surprise and delight, it did. Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon, however, is a more conventional Sherlock Holmes story, but it still has plenty of ability to surprise and delight in almost equal measure.  

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The Remaking by Clay McLeod Chapman review – a story that didn’t need to be told

The Remaking by Clay McLeod Chapman is a novel based on a true story. Well, true in that the story is a genuine bit of local folklore, one that seems to have captured the attention of the internet, but that’s where the truth probably ends. The legend goes that in the early 1900s, in Kentucky, a young girl called Mary Evelyn Ford and her mother were believed to be witches by the local townsfolk. Rather than let the law deal with the pair, the townsfolk burned them. The mother was buried far away from the town in a forest, while the daughter was buried in Pilot Knob Cemetery. The young girl is said to be buried in a lead-lined coffin, covered in gravel and concrete, with the grave surrounded by an iron fence of interlocking crosses to keep her from rising again.

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The Lost Ones by Anita Frank review – a ghost story with great ideas but lacking suspense

There are lots of shadows in Greyswick, the setting for this supernatural mystery-cum-whodunit by debut novelist Anita Frank. Mrs Henge seems to occupy most of them: she is the ominously-named, sexually predatory and grey-eyed (“I wondered what treacherous depths they concealed”) housekeeper to whom we are introduced early on. From the moment her character is established with the broadest of brushes, we know exactly where we are as readers.

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Alien: Prototype by Tim Waggoner review – there are far better stories out in the darkness of the Alien cosmos

I love Alien. Perhaps the only things I love nearly as much as Alien are the non-film spin-offs that have been slowly populating the property’s galaxy over the past decades and which are, in some cases, better than some of the films. The late 80s Dark Horse comic series, for example, is still perhaps some of the most terrifying Alien content ever released. And, more recently, the excellent Alien: Isolation made full use of the immersion that only video games can provide to construct a hugely atmospheric narrative.

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The Wayward Girls by Amanda Mason review – a dark and shimmering tale

It’s 1976 and a heatwave has hit the UK. Loo and her many siblings, including her older sister Bee whom she must share a room with, are relocated to an old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere in their parents’ attempt to start a new life. But strange things begin to happen on Iron Sike Farm and after a series of loud knockings from the walls and unexplainable bruises on Loo, the family are terrified of what is haunting their house.

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