Green and Pleasant Land (Great British Horror 1) edited by Steve J. Shaw: Authors: Jasper Bark, A.K. Benedict, Ray Cluley, James Everington, Rich Hawkins, V.H. Leslie, Laura Mauro, Adam Millard, David Moody, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Barbie Wilde
Published by Black Shuck Books on 24th September 2016
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies
11 stories all set in Britain. Each story set in a different part of Britain, each with its own horrors.
Hermaness by VH Leslie: A couple going on a hike, their relationship on the rocks (no pun intended) and the oppressing fog. Throughout this story, you could sense that something was going happen, the way the author described the scenery you could imagine walking across the clifftop. I completely underestimated the ending.
Meat for the Field by Rich Hawkins: Many times I have driven through a small village and wonder what secrets the community are hiding. This story is about one such village. Everyone is excited about the up-coming festival except Gregor, the keeper of the cornfield. The author kept the mystery of the festival right to end of this story, building up the suspense and Gregor’s torment.
Strange as Angels by Laura Mauro: What do you do when you find a strange flying creature, this was the dilemma that Frankie had. Frankie had used Jimmy as a crutch through most of her adult life, but caring for this creature made her a stronger person. She began to realise just the type of person Jimmy was and that she could stand on her own two feet. I loved the ending of this story and would like to read more of Frankie after the event.
The Castlemarch Man by Ray Cluley: Charlie was a treasure hunter, but not your metal detector type, he uses GPS co-ordinates to find the trinkets. This story is about Charlie going back to Wales a year after the event, but what event we don’t find out till the end. The author mentions the lead up to the event throughout the story and although you know something has happened to Charlie’s wife Lyndsey, you don’t find out till the end. The Castlemarch Man reminded me of an urban myth, whilst you know he does not exist, there is always that small doubt in the back of your mind.
Ostrich by David Moody: A story about a woman who although having everything in life, is not happy. This story reminded me of an episode of the TV series Tales of the Unexpected and it was apt that the episode I was thinking about was mentioned in the story. You could sense her unhappiness with the obsessive nature of her husband and his lawn. I loved that at the end she found happiness in her new surroundings.
Blue Eyes by Barbie Wilde: I loved this story and the dilemma that Gazza had, when he came across the most beautiful woman with amazing blue eyes. Although you knew that he had already made up his mind to do the act, the ending was a surprise and I must be honest, I found the ending really funny and was laughing way after I had finished the story.
A Glimpse of Red by James Everington: I started off thinking this story was about Beyza and Altan and their life in witness protection. The further I got into this story I started doubting myself, was Beyza having a nervous breakdown, did Altan get taken to stop her testifying. The story was intriguing and even after I had finished the story, I was still thinking about it. This story left my emotions confused as on one hand I felt sorry for her as she had lost her child but then I would think that she was the cause.
Mr Denning Sings by Simon Kurt Unsworth: A Sunday morning church service, an unusual setting for a horror story. Mr Denning enjoyed his Sunday worship, but this Sunday is was disturbed by a mystical creature and a cough. The story was written with a lot of detail and it felt you were at the service hearing the cough. I can imagine what happened to Mr Denning at the end but I would love to read more.
He waits on the Upland by Adam Millard: A main concern of any farmer, is the safety of their livestock, but when the sheep on Graham’s farm gets mutilated he is obsessed in tracking down the culprit. On top of this his wife Jenny is ill, adding to the stress. Whilst reading this story you could feel Graham’s anxiety and although he had little patient with his wife, he was worried about her. The ending was unexpected and I don’t know who was more surprised Graham or I.
Misericord by AK Benedict: Isabelle has spent her whole career studying carvings in churches and with her fiancée Katie spent one afternoon looking at carvings, in quite an old church. That was until something terrible happens. When I have been in an old church I have been curious about the carvings on display and I loved the way the author incorporated these to tell the story. It kept my interest to the end as I thought that the reverend knew more than what she was letting on, she felt like she was a big cat stalking her prey. The ending made my skin crawl as I have never liked flying ants and this story just enforced that feeling.
Quiet Places by Jasper Bark: We first come across Sally caring for the village folk that are all comatosed. Going back to when they moved into the village, Sally hoped that it would help David open up, but when they come across The Beast, things take a turn for the worse. Running through the story is a creepy voice which is known as Hettie of the Hedgerow. Researching the family history and the local folklore Sally finds out that the Beast is the fault of an ancestor. Whilst reading the scenes in the forest I had goosebumps and you could sense that it was leading up to a final showdown. The suspense carried throughout the story, but even I could not predict the outcome. You could feel the desperation in Sally and the need to help David and his dark moods. For me Hettie was more horrific than the beast as it certainly knew how to play Sally
This book is a great read and congratulations to Steve Shaw for picking 11 great authors. Each story is so different and I loved every single one. I hope there will be 2nd book in the future.