Favourite authors include John Connolly, Lee Thompson, Ed Lorn, Craig Saunders, Joe Hill, Kealan Patrick Burke, Mark Lawrence, Joe Abercrombie, Michael McBride, James Newman & Stephen King. Just to name a few.
I also collect Signed first editions, wish I'd got more money, there's so many books I want and there needs to be more hours in the day.
Behind Closed Doors is a short story anthology from some of the UK’s premier and up and coming horror writers.
Come and meet the residents of the Watch Tower apartment block, one of the most prestigious apartment blocks in the country and home to some of the most twisted, depraved people in this world. A den of immorality, wickedness and a body count that comes straight from the warped nightmares of Matt Shaw.
Stories by Michael Bray, Matt Hickman, Shaun Hupp, Craig Saunders, Ian Woodhead, Andrew Lennon, Stuart Keane, Paul Flewitt and Matt Shaw, with a kind of introduction and last words by Mr. E Jones.
There's one or two stutters along the way but Behind Closed Doors packs in more than its fair share of violently gruesome frivolities. With torture aplenty, brutal death, sharp implements, brutal death, gardeners, more brutal death, demons and to finish, a little bit more brutal death.
My favourite story has to be Apartment 3B with Resident: Connor Fox written by Stuart Keane. Connor phones his alcoholic wife whilst on business but he also has an apartment in the Watch Tower complex and Alice, who isn't his wife, is due any minute. This is a gripping tale of madness and guilt as the protagonist’s sanity constantly flips in terrifying perspectives. Closely followed by Paul Flewitt, Apartment 16c and demonic horticulture (don’t laugh).
Andrew Lennon writes a revenge tale of the cheated husband variety from Apartment 2B Residents: Mr & Mrs Murphy. Husband is a butcher and he's pretty handy with a cleaver, coupled with the cringing hobby of taxidermy.
Matt Hickman gives us Apartment 6A Resident: Lisa Harper, an attractive career woman who has been taking things to the extreme with drug and alcohol usage. Lisa gets a bit of a surprise when she stumbles in on boyfriend Daniel in a somewhat compromising position wearing a Rainbow mask (prepare yourself Zippy). She's gone downhill ever since and is currently engaged in a drunken one nighter with Michael, and another revelation is about to hit so to speak, with a large sex toy.
Final story comes from the man himself Matt Shaw with Apartment 8B Resident: Phil and its party time, with a slight difference, minutest details really with regard to the amount of beating pulses in residence. Read it you'll see.
Highly twisted and entertaining extreme horror shorts from an immensely talented ensembles.
Beholder by Graham Masterton is my second short story from the openbooks.com website that is available to copy, share, do whatever you want with it and if you feel it's worth some money, then pay something with the links provided.
Beholder has a bit of a modern day fairy tale vibe going on with young Fiona who never leaves the house, her mother says she's too beautiful and would come to harm. This is a house with no mirrors and beauty is of course in the eye of the beholder, who is the beholder? Why, anyone who looks at you.
This is a simple yet truly horrific short story, I read the second half with a wince permanently etched on my face. To say anything else would give things away but you need to read this and completely unprepared is the best way. Masterfully told by a legend of horror, brilliant stuff.
Numbers 16:32 by Brady Koch is a short story available on the openbooks website, the book can be shared, copied and passed to friends, whatever you want. There's a link embedded in the text and you get the option to pay pretty much what you think it's worth.
I paid the recommended price before I read the story just to get it out of the way and on reflection probably made a mistake but it's a small sum so not a major disaster. The books free or you can pay so you're not doing anything illegal by sharing it, sounds a good deal.
An interesting premise sees Korean War veteran Joseph reacting to screams from the property he rents out to a government research company. He phones the police and pretty soon the sheriff arrives with a field representative from Taladez to inspect the body he's found. A body that can't possibly be alive with the size of the crater in its head but is moving none the less.
So the stories certainly interesting but unfortunately riddled with errors that I always find hard to forgive in short pieces of fiction.
Unbelievably The Grownup is my first read from Gillian Flynn and I did quite enjoy this dark little novella.
You may have seen this quote already but I have to include it because, well it's a legend, a quote amongst quotes. Chances are it might not stand up to the test of time but I'll never forget it and it introduces the stories protagonist and vocation.
'I quit because when you give 23,546 hand jobs over a three-year period , carpal tunnel syndrome is a very real thing.'
So she's in the process of moving from hand jobs to scam artist in the guise of a fortune-teller when she meets Susan Burke. And soon she is employed to rid Susan's house of evil spirits and step-son Miles is integral. Then it's exploration of the demon child phenomena and it did grip me as things swung from is he? To isn't he? All told this was a story that keeps you guessing, some delicious twists and the kid is pretty likable for a possible sociopath, definitely interesting with an ambiguous finale.
I've been on a bit of a Craig Saunders splurge recently starting with The Estate, on to Rain and the final one being A Strangers Grave. And they just get better, dark fiction with a mixture of fascinating characters, occasionally funny moments, gripping plots but most of all just bloody good reads.
Rain starts with John March and his not too busy bookshop, in fact there's only one regular customer and he comes in attempting to sell a few books. Mr Hills last visit finished with him saying something a little odd John thinks briefly but what comes later is way past odd. Mr Hill dies that night and John is the beneficiary of two amazing things, firstly a will worth 5 million pounds.
And secondly a strange wooden box containing a lock of hair, a finger bone and a tooth in a jar of water. A simple message says. 'Blood and bone and hair and tooth'.
Then a phone call.
'You have something of mine. Give it back and I will let her live.'
Then comes the Rain.
Followed by screaming, sirens, and death, lots of it.
Smiley, Mandy and the rest of the gang aren't up to much, smoking some weed, you know the score. Until they're caught by a policeman, not your average copper, this one needs a job done and there's something not altogether right about this guy.
'Something in the man's eyes. Something cold. His eyes were black. Weird. Full-on black, like they'd been painted in by a kid. The others didn't look around. They sat silent, defeated.
Smiley looked into the policeman's eyes.
He wished he hadn't, but by then, he couldn't look away'.
The rain is alive, it has murderous intent and it’s fucking scary stuff. There's a lot going on to keep the interest alive, I have to say it's brilliantly imaginative and the evil contained within the rain combined with its urgent needs left me slightly staggered and more than impressed with Craig Saunders once more.
John March, his wife and her carers, Smiley and Mandy will face off against the unthinkable. And you can't help but run the gauntlet with them, every rain soaked step. This author has written some incredibly dark and gripping fiction, and it's a complete joy to slowly work through his back catalogue.
Recommended, no, more than Recommended and well worth dipping your toes into this murky water.