Posts Tagged ‘Reviews’

Now that Suspended in Dusk has been in the wild for a while, reviews are starting to roll in!
Up on are 12 reviews, 9 of which are 5 Star, 3 of which are 4 star.
I’m super excited that the stories I chose and loved so dearly are being well received by Readers.

You can check out the reviews here:

Forgive me for shameless preening, but I’m dying to share my favourite of them here with you:

They’ve been saying for over forty years that horror’s dead. I bet they’ve (‘they’ being either blocked horror writers or the reader equivalent of Mary Whitehouse) been saying that ever since the genre erupted nearly two centuries ago in the Gothic imagination of a precocious seventeen year old Englishwoman. Though to be accurate, horror fiction has existed since anxious humans first learned how to communicate.

I love it when the naysayers are proved wrong. Simon Dewar’s new anthology, Suspended in Dusk, is a celebration not only of the far-reaching range of horror, but of its world-wide appeal. As an editor Mr. Dewar possesses the catholic tastes of the much-missed Karl Edward Wagner, who loved Jamesian ghost stories as much as he did vampires, werewolves (both had to have some original twist), and modern body horror. Quiet co-exists with graphic, urban with rural, ghosts with splatter. Dewar also possesses a keen eye for quality.

Nineteen stories for £2.58 is a pretty fine deal, too. Though not every theme is to my taste, there isn’t a duff piece in the lot; if you’re a zombie fan this book will put you in dead heaven. I really enjoyed Jack Ketchum’s entertaining introduction which is also a bit of a horror history lesson. All the stories are beautifully written but my favourites included, in no particular order, Alan Baxter’s tender and furious elegy; Karen Runge’s creepy do-gooders; Sarah Read’s awful sun-drenched paradise with its neat end flip; Tom Dullemond’s space oddity, the kind of story that lends itself to repeated readings; and a study in terror from the magnificent Ramsey Campbell, who, after over four decades in the business, still packs a powerful punch.

Despite being American-born, I get tired of horror fiction being Americentric, as so much of the really disturbing stuff doesn’t come from American pens. I’m thrilled to see great horror literature emerging from a variety of countries, as I am to see an anthology that boasts, for a change, a list of names that are new to me. Long may these trends flourish – it can only be good for both writers and readers. I look forward to seeing the future offerings of this very talented editor.

This is the kind of glowing endorsement that I never even dreamed of receiving for my first anthology.

If you haven’t checked out Suspended in Dusk, give it a try. You won’t regret it.


The Ten Books …

Posted: December 14, 2013 in Reviews
Tags: , ,


So I bumped into a writer/editor and spec-fic fan recently by the name of Alexis A. Hunter.  On her blog she took her turn at a game where people went through 10 of their favourite books which made an lasting impression on them.  I figured I can play this game too, so here is my 10.  Thanks Alexis.  Let me know what you think, peeps!

The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
My father read this to me when I was 4-5 years old. I loved every minute of it and it was my first exposure to fantasy, outside of fairy tales.  It was also my first exposure to a sprawling epic story, and it open my eyes to wonder. LotR Definately played a part in my life-long love of speculative fiction. I remember being really sad when Frodo was going  to Mordor by himself and I had a bit of a cry and Dad and I had to take a break from reading. No shame.  What a fantastic memory.

Three Men in a Boat – Jerome K Jerome
Read through this with my father at a young age.  Spent many nights literally in tears we were laughing so hard.  Can’t express the sheer hilarity of this book and the amount of enjoyment I got out of it. There is something of the characters in this book in all of us. This really is the funniest book written in the english language. Ever.

Hell House – Richard Matheson
We’ve all heard a haunted house story.. either around a campfire, in a book or in the movies.- hands down this is the scariest of all of them.  From the freaky seances to the poltergeist rape scenes, this genuinely terrified me on some level.  Also, Matheson clearly did a lot of research into spiritualism and mediumship before writing this so its masterfully done. A must read for horror fans.

Genesis – WA Harbinson
Possibly the best UFO novel ever written. It’s Sci-fi, it’s Horror, it’s alternative history.  With tonnes of real world events from history (cia/govt investigations into Ufos etc)  weaved into the tale, it has a ring of authenticity that is unmatched.  The way he went about weaving things like Roswell, Project Bluebook, the “Washington Invasion” etc into his narrative was masterful and instructional for writers. Genesis is a thrilling and exciting read with fantastic characters and it really makes you think “what if…”

The Horus Heresy Series – The Black Library (Multiple Authors)
In the grim darkness of the far future – There is only war. Mankind is ruled by a benevolent demigod dictator who sends his genetically engineered super-sons and their gene-forged trans-human legionaries out among the stars to unite the human diaspora and repel ravening hordes of aliens and daemons.  It’s cosmic horror, its scifi, its fantasy.  There’s big boom-boom guns, magic and psychic powers. You just can’t top this shit.

West of Eden – Harry Harrison
An alternate history tale where dinosaurs never became excinct and continued to live and evolve alongside humans. With the all the pep of a inter-species war of extinction, a coming of age tale and a thimbleful of romance -West of Eden has something for everyone. Another book that really made me sit and think “What if..?”

Off Season – Jack Ketchum
I’m not sure this is my favourite of Jack’s works, but honestly this story smashed me for six.  The sheer graphic horror of this book, is amazing. The grand-daddy of splatterpunk novels, Jack took the in-your-face horror of movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and translated it onto the written page for the first time. The only way it could’ve been more disturbing is if he actually penned it in human blood.  A harrowing and disgusting survival horror tale that unfolds over the period of 24 hours, with ferocious inbred cannibals pitted against holiday makers and a near-retirement police officer. An truly amazing writer – also highly recommend his other seminal works such as The Girl Next Door.

The Shadow over Innsmouth – HP Lovecraft
The grandfather of Cosmic Horror, HP Lovecraft was a racist fossil with some very bad writing habits.  He could tell an amazing tale though and, in the case of The Shadow over Innsmouth, he excelled himself.  A young sight-seeing travels to a town where he must flee from the inhabitants are half-men half-fish worshipers of an ocean dwelling god called Dagon. It’s creepy as hell and, through the use of various interlocutors, Lovecraft takes the reader through a story spanning well over a century. The audiobook version found in “The Dark Worlds of HP Lovecraft” read by Wayne June is truly terrifying as are Wayne’s rendition of Lovecraft’s myriad other stories.  Highly Recommended.

Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle
Ok Ok, so Sherlock Holmes was a character and not a book, but i’ve read all of the novels and short stories and I can’t name a singular favourite. While Holmes and Watson were both relatively one dimensional characters they were still
fantastic and Sherlock is, hands down, one of the great characters in English literature. In addition, the impact the stories had on English literature ( they were the first real “serials” ever, I think) cannot be underestimated.  The Sherlock Holmes tales are like detective mystery cut with crack cocaine. Thrilling and addictive, possibly mind altering.

The Wheel of Time – Robert Jordan
From a young age I’d wait eagerly for each new book to come out as I made my way through this series. I’ve never, EVER, spent so much time theorising what may have actually happened or what my have occurred in a novel or series of novels as I have with this.  From the fully realised world, to the languages, to the maps, to the cultures, to the magic system. This is one of the examples of fantasy world building around.  I love some of the characters, I hated some of them so much I wanted to hurl the book across the room – but each and everyone one of them was real, like a living breathing person on the page.  I’m not sure I’ve ever loved another series before like I love the wheel of time, and I’m not sure I ever will.


I recently had the fantastic opportunity to listen to the audio version of “In The Tall Grass” by Stephen King and Joe Hill.

This is a novella and its a short but very creepy ride.

Basically the story involves a young pregnant girl Becky Demuth, on the road for a vacation with her twin brother, Cal. She’s going through the process of deciding whether or not she’ll keep the baby or put it up for adoption. They pull off the highway to investigate the sound of a young boy crying out for help from a field of very long grass.  They quickly find themselves disoriented and lost and are separated and confronted by various denizens of this field.

This is a ripping read, or listen, and a great way to pass an afternoon or evening. The audio version, narrated by Stephen Lang, is well read.  Some audiobook narrators, frankly, suck. Stephen Lang does not but nor does he give certain scenes the sense of urgency that truly good narrator would have.  I found the voice of the young boy to be particularly annoying but I guess it fit in well with the story, especially when Cal exclaims “Fuck the kid!” and starts his desperate attempt to get out of the long grass. I guess, perhaps, that I was thinking “thank fuck that kid was annoying, get out of there!” more than I was worrying about safety of the characters

This story has the feel of some of King’s earlier stories, such as “Children of the Corn” but I felt that some of the punchier moments in the story were almost definitely Joe Hill’s handiwork. I could be wrong though!  Guessing who wrote which parts was definitely part of the fun of reading this collaborative piece.

The story is, in some respects, something that we can all relate to. Everyone knows the feeling of someone calling out for help. Everyone knows the kind of disturbing primal fear that ensues when you’re lost, and most of us have been disoriented or lost in a nature setting (forest/bush land/etc) at least once in our lives. There is something in this story that everyone will find compelling.  There’s also something in this story that most people will find repulsive as well.  I wont go into details but the story is slightly gorey and the ending is a tad sickening. Its certainly no splatterpunk or bizarro bloodbath, there are a few scenes of intense violence and a final ungodly act which is the icing on the cake.

The story starts slow and builds up to a bang and has an outro/epilogue which makes you think “oh god no..” and, in a way, leaves itself open for a sequel, even.  I can see this one being made into a pulp horror screenplay and a B grade direct-to-video movie one day.  This is good, old fashioned horror.  *thumbs up*

Worth a read or a listen and most horror fans will enjoy the tale.
I spent a lot of time wondering which bits Stephen or Joe wrote and what the father-son collaborative process was like.

Get it. Read it. Enjoy it.