THE 11th BLACK BOOK OF HORROR – Reviewed by Mario Guslandi

11thblackbook_zpsbsssfok2THE 11th BLACK BOOK OF HORROR

Edited by Charles Black

Mortbury Press 2015

Reviewed by Mario Guslandi

The eleventh volume in the successful series edited and published by Charles Black continues to offer new, exciting material to horror fans, always with a distinct trend towards the more graphic aspects of horrific fiction.

The current instalment includes fourteen original tales penned by established authors in the field , whose contributions provide an effective source of shivers and disturbing sensations for many evenings of pleasantly scary reading.

Among the various stories assembled in the book, some have especially pleased your humble reviewer.

First of all I’d like to pinpoint “Two Five Seven” by Thana Niveau, a creepy tale where an old radio becomes the vessel to convey forbidden information about the relative of a little girl.

Another winner is Edward Pearce’s “ East Wickenden”, a sinister piece à la MR James, portraying a greedy man haunted by an inhuman creature seeking vengeance.

Equally worth mentioning is the excellent “Teatime” by Anna Taborska, a vivid horror story featuring a sadistic killer who finally gets his long due punishment.

Other, well crafted and accomplished tales are Stephen Bacon’s “Lord of the Sand” , depicting the well deserved fate of a stern former sergeant who served in Iraq, and David Williamson’s “And the Dead Shall Speak”, which revisits in an unusual way the time honoured subject of the séance by showing how a fraud gets in actual contact with a vengeful spirit.

The other contributors to the present volume are Tom Johnstone, John Llewellyn Probert, Kate Farrell, Stuart Young, David A Riley, Tony Earnshaw, Marion Pitman, Sam Dawson and John Forth.

Long live this hair-raising, delightful horror anthology series!


Day Boy by Trent Jamieson – review

IMG_4555Day Boy by Trent Jamieson

Text Publishing

ISBN: 9781922182838

I’ve been a fan of Trent Jamieson for a long time but even then I was dubious about this book. A vampire story. I’m so over vampire stories.They’ve been done to death (pun intended) and so many people claim to be re-imagining the vampire mythology yet so few actually do. Peter Watts did in Blindsight, for example, but most people just put the same old mythology in different settings.

But Jamieson has created something truly brilliant here. In some ways he has put the same old mythology in a different setting – in this case, a post-apocalyptic Australia – but he’s also tweaked that mythology in certain fundamental ways that makes it fresh and interesting. A lot of it isn’t explained and if I have any problems with this book, that’s it. I’d like to know more about the apocalypse and the rise of the Masters, but given our first-person point of view character it’s understandable that we don’t get that.

In some ways this is a YA novel, then it gets utterly dark and brutal and you wonder if teenagers might be better off avoiding it. Then again, I was reading Stephen King at 12 years old and I turned out fine. (Shut up, you can’t prove anything.) Regardless, this is a book with a massively wide appeal even though it’s solidly genre in so many ways – slightly-YA, horror, post-apocalypse, yet a fantastic achievement in the exploration of relationships, particularly the father/son relationship, that will appeal to any reader, whether they enjoy genre fiction as a rule or not.

The characters are strong, especially the sad and brooding Dain. Through him we get insights into the lives of the Masters, refracted through the lens of the protagonist, Mark’s, understanding. Mark is the Day Boy of the title, tasked with looking after his Master during the day and he lives in a small regional town with a few other Masters, each with their own Day Boy. They politics of the Masters and the intertwined yet separate politics of the Day Boys is fascinating and superbly drawn.

The writing is beautiful and powerful, an assurance of voice that’s rare and hard to maintain, but Jamieson nails it. The mythology of the new world, post-whatever kind of apocalypse that’s never fully explained, is rich and compelling. I have one question that still snags – why are there no female masters? But it’s not a question that in any way detracts from the book, and, according to a comment I read from Jamieson, there is a reason and he hopes to explore that in future books. So I’ll be looking forward to that. I loved this book and consumed in no time at all. Highly recommended!

(And mark my words, this book will win awards.)


Soliloquy For Pan, ed. Mark Beech – review by Mario Guslandi


Edited by Mark Beech

Hardcover, Egaeus Press 2015

Reviewed by Mario Guslandi

Are you a lover of high quality dark fiction? Are you an educated person with an interest in classical culture? Do you favour perfectly bound, elegantly produced books including interesting illustrations?

If you would answer “ yes” to at least one of those questions here’s the book for you, a splendid , classy volume completely devoted to explore and revisit the ancient myth of the disreputable pagan god Pan.

Editor Mark Beech has assembled a bunch of new tales written by some of the most talented, inspired by the goat-footed god , his power and his ability to influence the behavior of human beings.

Among the various contributions some are especially worth mentioning.

The riveting “Panic” by RB Russell , quite in keeping with the anthology’s theme, effectively portrays the downfall of a British woman, who, seeking refuge in an isolated cottage in the moors, gets deeply involved in the rites of the pagan god.

Reggie Oliver’s uncanny storytelling ability is fully displayed in the superb “The Maze at Huntsmere”, where a labyrinth in a country estate becomes the venue of very dark events, turning a comedy into a tragedy.

Linda E Rucker contributes the excellent “The Secret Woods” in which childhood secrets and long lost memories – including a friendship with the great Pan – come alive again for a young woman coming back home, while John Gale provides “The House of Pan”, a disturbing tale featuring a man dealing with a dangerous inheritance.

In the vivid, enticing “The Rose-White Water” Colin Insole depicts the unrelenting powers of the god Pan even in an age where old myths are losing strength.

Stephen J Clark’s “Lithe Tenant” is a fascinating psychological thriller revolving around a man’s suicide, the reasons for which are investigated by his son and by the father’s best friend, with unexpected results.

In the intense “Honey Moon” by DP Watt, a newly wedded couple spending their time in a remote country cottage are overwhelmed by a Pan-induced storm of passion and lust.

The book also includes some excellent, engrossing critical essays about the Pan myth (“The Rebirthing of Pan” by Adrian Eckersley, “An Old God Almost Dead: Pan in the 1940s” by Nick Freeman, “The Role of Pan in Ritual, Magic and Poetry” by Diane Champigny, not to mention a London Magazine article by Robert Louis Stevenson , “Pan’s Pipes”), and a few pieces of poetry.

In addition, the volume is graced by numerous, breathtaking antique illustrations featuring Pan in various situations and attitudes.

The only sore point is that the book, offered in a limited edition of only 300 copies, went out of print before publication. Then why to review it in the first place? Because, fortunately, editor/publisher Mark Beech has announced that a second edition is already in the works. Be alert, to grab a copy as soon as it’s available!


Peripheral Visions by Robert Hood is out now

The last element of the publication of Peripheral Visions: The Collected Ghost Stories (by Robert Hood) is now completed, with the release of Volume 2 of the trade paperback version. The 800+ page cloth bound volume and equivalent two-volume trade paperback versions are now available, as well as ebook formats of each. The hardcover (cloth bound) version has internal illustrations by Nick Stathopoulos, and is the premier title in IFWG Publishing Australia’s Dark Phases series of excellence in horror and dark fantasy. Curiously, the single volume ebook version has the same illustrations, but are treated differently – collectors note this if they want the complete experience. Nick was also the genius behind the cover art and designs for all the editions.

Peripheral Visions by Robert HoodThe first wave of the numbered limited edition has been shipped, but until all 200 copies are purchased, the offer will continue. Bonus material is offered with the limited edition, including Robert Hood’s dark YA title, Backstreets (paperback) as well as the chap-ebook Haunted Flesh, a collection of zombie stories by Robert Hood.

Peripheral Visions by Robert Hood

Without a doubt, the hardcover version of Peripheral Visions has been an outstanding success – proven by its sell out at Supanova Melbourne (the Melbourne Launch of the title) last April, as well as great sales at Continuum 11 a few weeks ago. Robert Hood will be turning up at Oz Comicon Melbourne on 27 and 28 June, where he will sign any purchases. We will have plenty of the cloth bound editions available.

Also, stay tuned – the Sydney Launch will occur in July and a formal announcement will be forthcoming very soon.

Rob and Nick (plus an uninvited guest) [Photo courtesy of Cat Sparks and Nick Stathopoulos]

Rob and Nick (plus an uninvited guest) [Photo courtesy of Cat Sparks and Nick Stathopoulos]

Cohesion Press upcoming releases

Cohesion Press continues to be busy and shows no signs of slowing down.

FUBAR by Weston Ochse has just been released. Print and ebook are now live, and the ordering period for the signed/limited edition is open until September.

“A wild blend of nail-biting thriller action and out-of-the shadows horror. This is the supernatural thriller at its most dynamic. Perfect!” —Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling-author of Dead of Night and The King of Plagues

FUBAR Weston Ochse

Also, Cohesion Press has just signed Patrick Freivald for the final three books in his Matt Rowley series. The first two were released by Journalstone, but Cohesion has them from now on.

Their next release will be The Road to Golgotha, through the Cohesion Comics imprint.
For sale online (print) in a week or two, with the official release at Melbourne Oz Comic Con June 27-28. Amanda J Spedding and GN Braun will be there all weekend for signing.

After that, in July and August, they will release the first two of a projected seven-book series (Secret Files of the League of Silence series) by Jack Hanson.
July – Cry Havoc by Jack Hanson
August – Forlorn Hope by Jack Hanson


Their complete release schedule for the near future is:

June – The Road to Golgotha (Cohesion Comic #1)
July – Cry Havoc by Jack Hanson
August – Forlorn Hope by Jack Hanson<
August – SNAFU: Survival of the Fittest
September – Blurring the Line (ed. Marty Young)
October – TBA
November – SNAFU: Hunters featuring James A Moore and Patrick Freivald
December – [Untitled] (Cohesion Comic #2)
January (2016) – TBA
February (2016) – SNAFU: Future Warfare featuring Weston Ochse and Brad Torgersen
March (2016) – TBA
April (2016) – [Untitled] by Patrick Freivald (Matt Rowley 3)
May (2016) – TBA
June (2016) – TBA
July (2016) – TBA
August (2016) – SNAFU: Creature Feature