Wakenhyrst, Michelle Paver

This was my first Paver read having heard some good things about her, and it thrust me straight into a solid Gothic historical yarn with some genuinely creepy moments! The novel is perhaps misnamed: it focuses on the house Wake’s End set beside the local fen, some three miles from the village of Wakenhyrst; and,…

Lost Acre, Andrew Caldecott

This is a deliciously quirky trilogy of novels! Many many things in the books, Rotherweird and Wyntertyde should not work, and yet they somehow do. Gosh! Wyntertyde had left us on a cliffhanger: a second mixing point was discovered; Bolitho was revealed as Fortemain and then dispatched; the vile Calx Bole had succeeded in resurrecting…

Melmoth, Sarah Perry

Look! It is winter in Prague: night is rising in the mother of cities and over her thousand spires. Look down at the darkness around your feet, in all the lanes and alleys, as if it were a soft black dust swept there by a broom; look at the stone apostles on the old Charles Bridge, and at all the blue-eyed jackdaws on the shoulders of St. John of Nepomuk. Look!

2018: A Year in Books

So here it is. New Year’s Eve and, being a dad to a five year old and generally quite antisocial, I am at home with family, a glass of chilled champagne and, currently, Pointless on the television. Living the high life! But I’d have it no other way. The little one is upstairs reading Emma…

See What I Have Done, Sarah Schmidt

Lizzie Borden took an axe And gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, She gave her father forty-one. Oh, Sarah Schmidt can write! What a strange strange thing to start a review with! But there is writing and there is writing and Sarah Schmidt can write! Not only can she create a…

The Black Book of Secrets, F. E. Higgins

Every year, I determine to teach at least one text which is new to me that year – which with a shrinking pool to choose from at GCSE becomes harder year-one-year – and that is why I have stumbled upon F. E. Higgins’ The Black Book of Secrets. It is an odd little book –…

The Loney, Andrew Michael Hurley

There is something very frustrating about this book. It was so close to being great that the fact that it wasn’t great is so disappointing. The premise sounded brilliant: members of a religious community go on a retreat to an isolated location; suspicious and sinister villagers mill around; a young boy is being prayed for…

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson

Ah, Doctor Jekyll I presume! This is one of my favourite concepts for a book and, like Dracula and Frankenstein, such a hugely evocative character and concept. It is intuitively resonant that lurking within all of us, behind the mask and veneer of social mores and decency, is a rampaging, amoral, bestial, primitive, reptilian beast….

Anno Dracula, Kim Newman

I have a confession. I love Dracula. Both the character and Stoker’s novel. And I love vampires. Not the sparkly, fairy, effete version populating Meyer’s asinine attempts at fiction (“Dear Dracula, do you remember that one night seventeen years ago? Well, we need to talk. Sincerely, Tinkerbell”) but full blown raging bloodlust sensual sexual visceral…

Iron Angel, Alan Campbell

Having read Scar Night some years ago and noticing it and it’s sequels online, I downloaded them. I had memories of the city of Deepgate, suspended over an Abyss like the gaping maw of some vast creature (urban planning council had a lot to answer for!). I recalled a scarred feral angel whose monthly bloodletting…