Yesterday saw the ebook launch of Paul Cornell's latest novel Chalk (the paperback version of the book is published next month). And in true Ginger Nuts of Horror style, we have two reviews to celebrate the launch of the book, one from myself and one from our regular contributor Tony Jones.
Is this a meeting of minds or a case of one of us being wrong, read on to find out what we both thought of the book....
We all have secrets that we keep from our loved ones, it's just human nature, but when Angela Gough's fiance Vince's secret life threatens their idyllic life together Vince has to go into hiding, leaving only an enigmatic note as the only clue as to what has happened to him. Angela embarks on a quest to find her lover. A quest that will bring her into contact with the secret world that stands in the sun sheltered place, where she will see the face behind the face of a London far removed from the one we know.
BY TONY JONES
“A nasty business on a remote Scottish island…..”
“Unseemly: a Novella of Horror” the latest release from Jason Parent pulls in at a brief forty odd pages and around 75 minutes of reading, so you could argue it was a longish short story rather than a novella because of its length. However, I’m not going to quibble too much as it was an enjoyable mix of fantasy and horror which successfully dipped into the myths and folklore of old Ireland and Scotland. Celtic mythology isn’t the most popular basis of horror stories, so I’m always interested when I come across a new one.
Since Jason appeared on the horror scene around 2012 he has published a variety of novellas, novels and has featured in a number of short story anthologies. Last year Adrian Shotbolt, writing for The Ginger Nuts of Horror, gave “Wrathbone and Other Stories” a very good review and I would say that this release “Unseemly” fits in very well with the stories in that collection, whether it has enough going for it to merit an individual release I am not sure. Corpus Press are selling the paperback for £3.99, so judge for yourself whether this offers value for money for what’s on offer. However, you can’t argue with the 99p Kindle price in the UK.
The plot is pretty straight forward and opens with Peter on a remote Scottish island which remains unnamed, meeting a former business partner he's done dodgy stuff with in the past who has lured him there with the promise of making easy money to help pay his mounting debts. His ex-partner believes the island hides a secret…. Why does nobody seem to work? Why is everyone so well to do? Rather than heading into Wicker Man territory which was always one distinct possibility poor old Peter and his chums have a more supernatural world of pain waiting in front of them.
“Unseemly” is written in two parts, much of the first half is set in a local pub and sets the scene, for the major kick off in the second half which gets way, way darker as we head into the ancient myths surrounding the legends of faeries and I’m not talking about Tinkerbell. In the end of the day there is only so much you can do with a story that weights in between 40-50 pages, but the author sets the scene well, loads up on atmosphere and it has a real killer ending. So it’s well worth spending your 99p on and is a pretty easy and undemanding read.
If you’re interesting in YA horror Ginger Nuts reviewed “The Call” by Peadar O'Guilin not so long ago, which was a tremendous twist on the Irish faerie myth. It’s a subject I’ve long been a fan of, flip back 25 years and I was devouring the books of Bridget Wood who between 1991-94 wrote a four book series called “WolfKing” which if my memory serves me correctly was amongst some of the most violent fantasy horror I have ever read and the series made a life-long impression on me I have never forgotten. Maybe Jason Parent is a fan of Bridget Wood? His “Unseemly” story certainly dips its toes in her nightmare world and when you get to the final page poor old Peter and his fellow chancers may well be a character in one of Bridget Wood’s novels. Should you be interested the Bridget Woods books have recently been rereleased on Kindle under the author’s other pen name Sarah Rayne.
Some discoveries are better left unmade.
Peter thought he was done with grave robbing, but when a former business partner lures him out to Dungarradh, a small Scottish island with a big secret, he finds himself waist deep in more than local folklore. Is the disappearance of his teammate truly the work of the legendary fae, or is a sinister force at play?
A brand-new tale of dark fantasy and horror, from the bestselling author of WHAT HIDES WITHIN and SEEING EVIL.
BY JOHN BODEN
There are a lot of things to endear this book to me, to many folks, I think. There is the identification with the main character, Isaac. He isn't really a people person, he works shitty hours at a thankless job and he has that perverse Midas touch where once in a while, everything he touches turns to shit. The Nightly Disease is an almost diorama of a cycle in the life of poor Isaac.
Our man is the night auditor for a hotel in Texas. He works the night shift and doesn't really like his co-workers...or anyone maybe. Except for the girl with bulimia who binges on the breakfast buffet, barfs it all up and leaves. He has a crush on her. When the stress levels get unwieldy, Isaac goes up on the roof and masturbates onto the cars in the lot below. Possibly shouting an angry "Take that!" as his seed rains down upon the cars and trucks. He fantasizes about violence and revenge against the seemingly endless chain of fucking morons that make up his nights. His usually bad luck starts to dip when one of his co-workers is killed owls. Yep, owls.
This event is a harbinger of bizarre events that involve but are not limited to drunkenness, dildos, black market sneakers, switchblade, murder, robbery, waffles, corpse hoarding and owls. There are a lot of goddamn owls. Isaac find himself in a tight cocoon of criminal activity and lies and as he desperately struggles to free himself and salvage the sad little thing that is his life, he discovers that he might be worth a little more than he ever thought.
The Nightly Disease is snarky and surreal, bitter and biting, and above all relatable. Booth writes with a sly bark that let's you know he's maybe kidding, a little but probably not, that he really means the horrible things he says, probably. maybe.
The Nightly Disease is available from Dark Fuse
Sleep is just a myth created by mattress salesmen.
Isaac, a night auditor of a hotel somewhere in the surreal void of Texas, is sick and tired of his guests. When he clocks in at night, he’s hoping for a nice, quiet eight hours of Netflix-bingeing and occasional masturbation. What he doesn’t want to do is fetch anybody extra towels or dive face-first into somebody’s clogged toilet. And he sure as hell doesn’t want to get involved in some trippy owl conspiracy or dispose of any dead bodies. But hey…that’s life in the hotel business.
Welcome to The Nightly Disease. Please enjoy your stay.
BY JOHN BODEN
Any self-respecting fan of the weird horror should be familiar with the name Matthew M. Bartlett. Not only has he carved quite a name for himself in the wildly weird end of the pool but he has created what could be a signature mythos, his tales (often times scalpel-sharp shardy things that edge under the fingernail of your mind and cause painful unease) involve the town of Leeds and usually in some respect WXXT, an sub natural/supernatural occult radio station.
First coming to my attention via the amazing collection, Gateways To Abomination and then with last years brilliant Creeping Waves, Bartlett has quickly become one of my very favorite authors. With Dead Air, we get a collection of early works concerning our favorite fucked-up town in new England. These are admittedly early experiments or forays into the events and lives that fall within the broadcast area of WXXT. I must admit I was slightly hesitant, looking at it as the literary equivalent to the music industry ploy of "Hey Band X is shit hot right now, their last three albums have been huge, let's get all their early demos and package them up and put them out to sell!!" While it usually proves financially shrewd in effort and outcome, from a product quality standpoint, there is often suffering.
This is not the case here, while there were maybe less than a handful of tales here that didn't wow me, the majority were filled with disturbing images, abominable actions and creepy characters. Of the forty or so tales here (some quite short) there is more grotesque fodder for thought than many full fledged novels. Dead Air contains fragments and character descriptions, public service announcement and advertisements. This makes a boil down of sorts difficult and not all that helpful. What you have here is almost the work of a deranged documentarian. The work is simmering with historical hysteria and lovecraftian lineage. It is a curtain yanked back from a small town cowering in the glow if burning family trees and secrets unkept. It is brilliant., brilliant, brilliant!
I love that now, even three books into his world of haunted radio signals and occult activities in a small town, a town where men turn into goats and the dead usually aren't all that quiet or still, I find that I can't wait for the next one. I find the overall premise so intriguing and haunting that upon finishing the most recent offering, I am wanting the next. He can't put them out fast enough for me.
If you're unfamiliar with Bartlett's work, you need to remedy that, start here or there. Just start reading him. Also worthy of mention are the wonderfully creepy illustrations by Yves Tourigny and the gelefully crayola creepiness of the cover art by Brendan O'Connell.
Dead Air is available directly from the author or Amazon.
Five years prior to the publication of Gateways to Abomination, Matthew M. Bartlett put out a book called Dead Air. That book is now extremely scarce. This volume contains most of the unpublished work from that book, a few dark poems, and stories and fragments that later appeared in Gateways to Abomination and Creeping Waves. It also features magnificently creepy artwork by Yves Tourigny, as well as Tom Breen's original introduction. Witness the early days of dread magus Benjamin Stockton, and of his demonic radio station WXXT, with all its guts, worms, wriggling things, and voices from the dark
'13 Views of the Suicide Woods' collects Bracken MacLeod's shorter works into a formidable collection of varied treats. His novel 'Stranded', released last year was amongst my favourite books. I perhaps don't read as many novels as I do short story collections, novellas and anthologies, but when I do and they are as engrossing as 'Stranded' then I am a happy reader. This collection represents a fine account and progression of a writer that is on an upward trajectory in the field of dark fiction.
REVIEWED BY JOE YOUNG
The English translation of the Icelandic writer Vladimar Ásmundsson’s Makt Myrkranna.
By Hans Corneel De Roos.
Foreword by Dacre Stoker.
Afterword by John Edgar Browning.
Published by Overlook Duckworth/Peter Mayer Publishers.
It’s one of those names which automatically fills in its own back-story. In 1897 Bram Stoker created what has turned out to be a phenomenon, a 19th Century horror novel which is still enjoying global popularity in the 21st Century and will most probably still be entertaining people for centuries to come. It is as seemingly immortal and indestructible as the Count himself.
I’d say it’s a fair bet that there will be very few locations and very few peoples globally who are unfamiliar with at least some aspect of the Dracula legend, either of Vlad Tepes or Stoker’s creation, or indeed of vampires in general, so it could be fair to say that it’s all a bit commonplace. Regardless of the saturation, when the word was put out at the Ginger Nuts of Horror that there was an ‘alternative version’ of Dracula coming up for review I pounced on it hungrily. Here’s why:
Time Travel sounds like fun, well that's what most people think before they embark on a jaunt through the timelines. Jump back in time and accidentally step on a flower and what do you know, a half-mad celeb is in charge of the US. Go forward in time and run the risk of being captured by a race of underground dwelling troglodytes. Trust me time travel is not a good idea, and no matter what the face changing so called Dr tells you don't do it.
By Tony Jones
“Robert McCammon’s vampire epic ‘They Thirst’ reappraised, 36 years on"
There was a lot of interest in our recent review of Robert McCammon’s The Border (2015) a fantastic mix of science fiction and post-apocalyptic fiction which is sadly currently out of print, but keep an eye out for the e-book hopefully later in the year. In light of this we are revisiting the author’s vampire classic They Thirst which was published way back in 1981 and has recently been republished in trade paperback by Subterranean Press, along with a few of his other novels. So 36 years on how does They Thirst hold up? Picking up novels from your childhood and teen years, can often be a disappointing experience as often they’re best left as memories….
REVIEW BY JOHN BODEN
2016 was truly the year of the Coming-Of-Age novella. A sub-genre that is very much my favorite. When John Skipp mentioned to me that I ought to read Nathan Carson's Starr Creek, that it was a odd twin to my own novella, Jedi Summer With the Magnetic Kid, I took it to heart and struck up a friendship with Carson. Long story shot, I got his book and tore through it an a few evenings (I mainly read at bed time) and Man, what a fun romp it is.
We open with a small group of friends plotting an excursion into the woods to take acid and explore, while they make their plans there is a more sinister plan unfolding involving a man named Puppy and revenge against a biker who wasn't very nice to him. While those two threads threaten to converge in a hostile and horrific manner, we meet two boys with a penchant for porn and the creature they discover in the woods.
Starr Creek is a veritable smorgasbord of all things glorious about growing up in the 80's: muscle cars, heavy metal cassettes, dirty magazines and junk food and probably for some drugs. Carson uses these nostalgic linchpins to hold together a wild adventure that involves alien creatures, unbridled violence and a strange commune. The writing is rich and very clearly from the heart--as the best writing should be. He has an unwavering eye for nostalgia, for the interaction between youth and adults and events, all realistically painted.
While I finished Starr Creek, wishing it were a bit longer, It had the hook baited enough that I will sign up for and read anything Carson puts out. If you've got that coming-of-age itch, Starr Creek will scratch it...and probably draw blood.
Starr Creek is available from Lazy Facist Press.
"STARR CREEK is a phenomenal weird fiction debut. Laird Barron meets Jack Ketchum in David Lynch's TWIN PEAKS. I loved it!" - Brian Keene, best-selling author of THE COMPLEX and THE RISING
"Carson is a fresh new voice in Lovecraft country, and his prose dazzles." - Wendy Wagner, author of STARSPAWN and SKINWALKERS
Starr Creek is the debut novella by Portland writer and musician Nathan Carson. Set in 1986 rural Oregon, Starr Creek features Heavy Metal teens, Christian biker gangs, and hopped up kids on 3-wheeled ATVs. They all collide when strange occurrences unveil an alien world inhabiting the Oregon woods.