Posts Tagged ‘Black Shuck Books’

Nailbiters by Paul B Kane

December 16, 2017 - 8:44 pm No Comments

NAILBITERS by Paul B. Kane.

Black Shuck Books, Kent, UK.
Reviewed by Pauline Morgan.

Where once horror stories tended to involve the supernatural, these days writers have a choice, either to follow traditional patterns of ghost and demon motivated stories while avoiding the clichéd plots or to go more for the splatter-type nastiness. Both types play on the fears of the reader but with the development of the ‘benign’ supernatural being such as the noble vampire, this type of fear as tended to dissipate. There are, though, some excellent practitioners of the ghost as horror story. The world has become a much scarier place and there is a lot of potential in drawing on the concerns and uncertainties of ordinary people. Part of this might be that the news of atrocities reaches more, more quickly, partly with an increasing population there are more people around to might commit them.
In this latest collection of short fiction from Paul Kane, the focus is mainly on the contemporary situation and the horrors that can stalk everyday lives for a variety of reasons. Many of the stories are an exploration of why seemingly normal people carry out abnormal acts. Although most of these stories are seen from the point of view of the perpetrator there isn’t necessarily a sense of having been cheated by not being told the thought processes of how they reached the situation the reader sees them in. Partly that is because the conscious mind is not always in control and reason is not what is driving the actions. Despite what may be thought, horrific crimes are not usually planned in detail.
Grief is a powerful emotion and people often act irrationally under its influence but it can get out of hand as in ‘Grief Stricken’ in which a husband feels the need to punish a surgeon for his wife’s death during a routine operation. The grief in ‘The Torturer’ only comes clear at the end of the story but also results in irrational and horrific actions. Under stress, minds can create fantasies and in ‘Remote’ the protagonist has detached himself from reality, believing that he is an agent on a mission.
The desire for revenge isn’t always associated with grief. Sometimes the victim doesn’t even understand why he has been selected. So when in ‘Cold Call’ a call centre worker hangs up on a potential client he is surprised that the man wants revenge for his perceived rudeness.
Obsessions can be a cause of aberrant behaviour. Janet, the check-out girl in ‘Check-Out’ is obsessed with Mark who once made the mistake of making her think she was important to him. Now she is determined that he will notice be properly. Sebastian in ‘Gemini Rising’ has a different kinds of obsessions. He wants to know who his real parents are and after discovering a passion for cutting up (initially dead) bodies transfers his obsession to twins. OCD is an obsession rooted in the idea that if patterns are not observed, then disasters will happen. In ‘1,2,3,…1,2,3’ Michelle has proof of it, even when Josh tries to show her otherwise. Although the counting does get irritating after a time, it does give insight into the way someone with this disorder thinks.
Fear, too, is strong emotion and although fear may be induced in many of Kane’s victims it is the fear of change that makes Beryl in ‘The Anniversary’ behave the way she does as her husband of twenty-nine years threatens to leave her. Fear of the dark is fairly universal. For Kelly in ‘Blackout’ having the light go out on a night when she is alone in the house bring all those fears to the surface, to the extent that she is irrational. ‘The Cyclops’, too, is a story about fear tough in this case it arises from a misconception and illustrates the need for relationships to be taught in schools.
Horror, as the news keeps showing, can occur in unlikely places, where you are meant to be safe. ‘A Nightmare On 34th Street’ shows that even a visit to Santa’s Grotto on Christmas Eve can prove very hazardous.
Not all horror stories have bleak endings. There is one in this volume that has a happy ending. Also amongst these offerings are a couple of police procedural stories – cops are not immune to having nasty things happen to them. Not all of these stories are perfect as more than one has a predictable outcome. Since the creations of Conan Doyle are now out of copyright, Kane has added to the Sherlock Holmes franchise with ‘The Greatest Mystery’.
All writers would like to see their work on screen. ‘The Opportunity’ is an atmospheric piece showing a felon stalking a woman with the clear intention of murder. Lewis Copson made it into a short film and the script is reproduced here. While we hear horror stories of what script writers do to stories, in this case, seeing both the original and the script it is clear that the latter is faithful to the former and the film itself may well have enhanced the atmosphere.
To add to his versatility, this volume is book-ended by poems.
Paul Kane is a good writer and for the horror reader, this is an excellent book to dip into.

Tales of New Mexico by Joseph D’Lacey and Unquiet Waters by Thana Niveau

November 30, 2017 - 8:35 pm No Comments

Tales of New Mexico (Black Shuck Shadows Book 2) by Joseph D’Lacey
Published 10th September 2017
63 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies


Two short stories, completely different but one thing in common, the backdrop of the desert of New Mexico.
The Gathering of the Sheaves. Nicholson is on a quest, he has heard of a cactus that holds unusual properties and he wants to get his hands on it. As a Victorian Englishman in the wilds of the New Mexico desert, he was not prepared for the basic living conditions and the danger of his journey. At the start of this story I did find it a bit confusing, however when I realised the story was jumping between the journey of the cactus discovery and the build-up to the find, the story clicked. The descriptive way the story was written gave you an understanding on how dire Nicholson’s journey was. Closing your eyes, you could picture the sights and smells of New Mexico and similarities to the old western films come to mind. Having Chigger as his guide, draws him into the supernatural world of the Native Americans. This has so much in for a short story and what Nicholson goes through for made me grimace.
The Vespertine. When a stranger goes to a medicine man for healing. This story starts off in Austria and how he became ill by what I think are vampires, to him being used like a lab animal and the horrendous experiments done to him. As he is relaying all this to the medicine man you can sense the desolation in his voice. This was my favourite of the two and I read it quickly. Throughout you are wondering whether he will get cured. A great ending.
This is a great book for a quick read, for 2 short stories it has a lot of horror in, but it also makes you think. Scattered through both stories are the native American’s struggle with their land. I enjoy reading this author’s work and again I was not disappointed.

Unquiet Waters (Black Shuck Shadows Book 3) by Thana Niveau
Published on 29th September 2017
68 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies


Water can be deceiving, one minute it is calm the next your life is in danger. These 4 stories capture the fearfulness of water.
To Drown the World: Evan had not seen his sister Lea, for many years. Not a lover of water, he could never understand her fascination. When he finally saw her, her living arrangements were dire, and she was acting very strange, but when he wants to get her to safety, the water is something to fear. Whilst this story has a horror feel, the real horror is humans polluting the oceans.
The Reflection: Ever had a dream that you were drowning, Allan has but can never find out who is trying to kill him. A regular guy with no enemies. This all changes when he meets a familiar face. Throughout this story, there was a sense of dread, you know something is going to happen to Allan. The suspense is built up as Allan encounters more people. Through Allan’s confusion, you do not see the ending coming.
Rapture of the Deep: To get Natalie out of her depression of breaking up with her boyfriend. Her best friend Jo takes her on an exciting holiday. With Karl, Jo’s boyfriend, they go on a boating holiday, where Natalie is taught to snorkel. From the start, you know that Jo is trying to help, but Natalie is too depressed to realise the help. However, when Natalie goes snorkelling, she is in awe of the sights and she starts to get uplifted. With her life in danger, the sound she hears has a siren feel to it. This is a sad story
Where the Water Comes in: My favourite story of the four. Tara lives in her dream home, happy with her life but has a strange drinking habit. She likes drinking seawater, usually infused seaweed tea. She also had a fascination of water and she put her body through a lot to get her fix. She even dreamt of the sea. As the house began to change so did Tara. This story builds up to the grand reveal and whilst reading this story, I did not have any idea what changes were going to occur.
With all four stories, the author knows how to set the scene. With water facts scattered throughout, you could tell that she did her research. As a new author to me this was a good introduction to her work.

Dark Satanic Mills (Great British Horror #2)

October 24, 2017 - 9:49 pm No Comments

Dark Satanic Mills (Great British Horror #2)
Published 29th September 2017 by Black Shuck Books
292 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies


As the nights are drawing in, there is nothing better than curling up with a good book. Dark Satanic Mills is one such book. We have all grown up with stories about monsters and urban legends, stories that have you looking over your shoulder, long after you have finished reading it. So, find a comfy chair, dim the lights and get ready to read 11 short stories that tick all the boxes.
Here are a few of my favourites:

Tools of the Trade by Paul Finch: Adam an investigative journalist has a meeting that if the information got out, will put a lot of people in a state of frenzy and will net him millions. Dick, a lowly council worker has a passion, he loved the paranormal. Whilst doing a séance in an unused hotel, he comes across an item that could solve one of the oldest cold cases ever. The story picked up intensity the moment they went into the hotel, being an abandoned building, you get the unexplained noises and the shadows that grow without light source. From the start all they had in mind was the amount of money they would make, at the end they had other plans with the items.

The Lies We Tell by Charlotte Bond: Cathy had a regular family, 2 children and a hardworking husband. The one golden rule in their house was no lies. In control of her life, she got what she wanted, but a constant clicking noise was threatening to ruin her life. Cathy was an ambitious working mom, although quite selfish. The persistent clicking noise was constant throughout the story and played with your imagination. One thing that gets you thinking is how many little white lies are told in a 24hrs.

Sleeping Black by Marie O’Regan: When Seth inherited a large Victorian house from his grandfather, a chimney sweep by trade, but as this is the 20th century the chimneys are cleaned by machinery. Whilst this is a ghost story, it explains the horrendous conditions that young boys went through cleaning the chimneys in Victorian times.

/d’ʒʌst/ by Carole Johnstone: When pairs of hands are left with notes written using the International Phonetic Alphabet, DCI Rafiq is at a loss. She has no idea who the victims are and had not a clue what the notes mean. Calling on the help of James Gavin and expert in IPA, she is involved in a cat and mouse situation. Not only had she a serial killer to catch, she was also trying to sort out her personal life. Before I read this story, I had never heard of IPA and I had to google all about it. Whilst the murders played a part in the story, the notes and DCI Logan’s life where the reason behind the story. The way the notes were explained added to the story, but for me I loved the twist at the end, where the killer was revealed and their reasonings behind the murders.

Great British Horror #1 was such a good read, I did wonder how it could be topped. But Steve Shaw has surpassed himself. A good choice of authors with a variety of stories. A must read for horror lovers. I for one hope there will be a Great British Horror #3

The Hyde Hotel: An Anthology of short stories

September 17, 2016 - 10:42 am No Comments

The Hyde Hotel:  Authors: James Everington, Alison Littlewood, Iain Rowan, Dan Howarth, Amelia Mangan, S P Miskowski, Ray Cluley, Alex Davis, Cate Gardner, Simon Bestwick

Published by Black Shuck Books on 5th January 2016

168 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

28483441An anthology of short stories all set at the Hyde Hotel. A hotel that attracts guests at their worst point in their lives, be it a guest who is fleeing domestic violence to a hitman on another job. Each guest has their own story to tell and they all have different experiences when they stay at the Hyde Hotel.

I enjoyed every story, and each one had something different to offer. If you are a lover of Horror, Paranormal, mystery, suspense then you will find a story to read.

My favourites were Wrath of the Deep, I liked the fact that modern met the past, a dirty cop had to retrieve an ancient relic to escape capture, but some decisions are not easy to make. Tick box mainly due to the unexpected ending and Something like Blood, the way the story is told you can really imagine what is going on in the hotel room. To wrap the book up Checking out finalizes your stay at the hotel.

This a great read and the stories let my imagination go wild. Definitely a 5-star rating on the book, but if I had to rate the hotel on trip adviser, would it be a place that I would like to visit, I don’t think so