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Reaping the Dark
Reaping the Dark

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Spectral Press

Whitstable by Stephen Volk

1971. A middle-aged man, wracked with grief, walks along the beach at Whitstable in Kent.  A boy walks approaches him and, taking him for the famous vampire-hunter Doctor Van Helsing from the Hammer movies, asks for his help. Because he believes his stepfather really is a vampire… I like the premise of Whitstable, it's most definitely intriguing. Taking a celebrity like Peter Cushing and crafting a horrific tale around events of his life seems like an ideal fit. The first element of the Read more [...]

The 13 Ghosts of Christmas edited by Simon Marshall-Jones

Christmas - a season of goodwill given to all mankind, and of snowbound winter wonderlands; a time for the gathering of families and friends to share in a bounteous harvest of good cheer, of sparkling decorations and roaring fires lighting up the parlour; and of glittering presents strewn beneath the glorious fir tree, and of excited children full of boundless joy in their hearts. And the time when the ghosts of those long gone, of the restless, the unhappy and the bitter are closest to the living, Read more [...]

What Gets Left Behind by Mark West

In 1981, Gaffney was terrorised by the Rainy Day Abductor. Local girls went missing. And two boys made a terrifying discovery. Now one of them has come home, to try and lay the past to rest. I read Mark West's novelette, The Mill, last year and I was impressed by the author's skill when it came to effectively conveying a sense of loss in his writing. What Gets Left Behind treads similar ground to The Mill, but rather than focusing on family this story is all about the bonds of friendship. West Read more [...]

The Nine Deaths of Dr Valentine by John Llewellyn Probert

The police in Bristol have been confronted by a series of the most perplexingly elaborate deaths they’ve ever encountered in all their years of murder enquiries. The only thing which connects them is their seemingly random nature and their sheer outrageousness. As Detective Inspector Longdon and his assistant Sergeant Jenny Newham (with the help of pathologist Dr. Richard Patterson) race against time to find the murderer, they eventually realise that the link which connects the killings is even Read more [...]

The Eyes of Water by Alison Littlewood

The Mexican cenotés. Flooded caves that fracture the Yucatan Peninsula – places of mystery, the unexplored, and of ancient sacrifice. When Alex meets an old friend while travelling, he doesn’t realise how far the encounter will take him. For Rick is exploring deep beneath the surface of the world, discovering new cave systems, one leading to the next. And when Alex is compelled to follow he has no way of knowing just how deep he will be expected to go, or how dark are the places he will find Read more [...]

The Respectable Face of Tyranny by Gary Fry

What monsters used to achieve with claws, they now manage with pens…   Three years ago, Josh lost a lot of money on the unforgiving stock market. Now he’s divorced and living with his teenage daughter in a seaside caravan. Sally wants a tattoo; Josh just needs work.  For solace, he explores Saltwick Bay, a secluded stretch of beach whose cliff-side rock runs back to the ruthless Jurassic periods. There’s also a rotting boat there, leftover from the violent Second World War.  But Read more [...]

Rough Music by Simon Kurt Unsworth

Rough music: (- n) a loud cacophony created with tin pans, drums, etc,; the cacophonous ringing of bells, hooting, blowing bull’s horns, the banging of frying pans, saucepans, kettles, or other kitchen or barn implements with the intention of creating long-lasting embarrassment. Sometimes, the sounds we hear in the dark have resonances that we cannot foresee… This story has a wonderfully simple premise. A man, called Cornish, is woken every night by a noise that only he can hear. Over a Read more [...]

King Death by Paul Finch

In 1348, England is stricken by the Black Death. The worst pandemic in human history has reached the kingdom of the warlike Edward III, a monarch who in battle against human adversaries cannot imagine defeat. Two thirds of his subjects now perish. Woods become wild again, farmland goes to rack and ruin, villages, towns and castles are left empty, inhabited only by ghosts. Little wonder that fear of the supernatural reaches an all-time high. Little wonder stories ignite about witches and Read more [...]

Nowhere Hall by Cate Gardner

We want to live... In the ballroom, wallflower mannequins stretch their fingers towards Ron. He can't ask them to dance. He's already waltzing with other ghosts. Someone stole the world while Ron contemplated death. They packed it in a briefcase and dumped him in the halls of the ruined hotel--The Vestibule. A nowhere place. Last weekend I felt the urge to read another short story and who better to provide that necessary fix than Spectral Press. I’ve previously reviewed their first two Read more [...]

Abolisher of Roses by Gary Fry

Peter has been married to Patricia for nearly thirty years. He’s a practical man, the owner of a thriving factory and the father of two fine lads. He also has a secret mistress. One day, his wife takes him along to an outdoor arts exhibition involving some of her paintings, staged in a dark, deep wood. But his are not the only secrets in this marriage, and as Peter strays off the only path through the woods, he soon realises that Patricia has more than a few of her own... Abolisher Read more [...]

What They Hear in the Dark by Gary McMahon

Rob and Becky bought the old place after the death of their son, to repair and renovate – to patch things up and make the building habitable. They both knew that they were trying to fix more than the house, but the cracks in their marriage could not be papered over. Then they found the Quiet Room. Written by Gary McMahon What They Hear in the Dark is an intimate tale about love and loss. Rob and Becky have suffered a terrible tragedy and are trying to put the past Read more [...]