The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All by Laird Barron, review

barronThe Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All by Laird Barron
Publisher: Night Shade Books (September 3, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-1597804677

Laird Barron is well-established now as one of the premier horror writers working today. He’s recognised as leading the new breed of cosmic horror writers, taking his cues from Lovecraft’s mythos, but Barron’s work stands very well on its own. He’s almost developing his own mythos and this third collection is further cementing that position.

Each story in this latest collection is connected to one degree or another, but each stands alone well. There’s room in Barron’s stories – space to breathe and feel the world we’re in while reading. Not all of the stories worked for me. One or two were even too roomy and slow. One yarn in particular, the last story, was far too self-indulgent for my taste. That story, More Dark, is a tale of drunken horror writers going to see a reading by the new big thing in horror and the associated surrealism of the man’s ability. It would have worked, perhaps, if it didn’t try to be so clever. The self-reference was one thing, but the supporting cast was drawn from writers and editors real writers and editors in the field would know. Characters like horror editor Ellen D and fantasy magazine editor GVG. As a writer, I found it trite and I wonder if readers not in on the joke would feel lost. Of course, that also raises the question of who beyond the writers and editors of short horror fiction actually read it? But that story was the only real low point for me. The high points are very high and more than make up for it.

The Redfield Girls, for example, is an excellent character-driven story and a truly subtle horror. You can feel how cold the lake is while reading. The Carrion Gods in Their Heaven is a brilliant piece of work and not quite like anything I’ve read before. By far the best story in the collection for me was The Men from Porlock, a fantastic effort in terms of historical accuracy and colloquial realism while being a perfect example of Barron taking old Mythos ideas and making them totally his own. The book is worth it for this story alone, but there are plenty of others worth your time.

Barron is a writer you need to read if you’re a fan of horror and this book is highly recommended.


The Tenth Black Book of Horror, ed. Charles Black, review by Mario Guslandi

BBH10The Tenth Black Book of Horror

Edited by Charles Black

Mortbury Press 2013

Here it comes, the tenth volume of the successful British horror anthology edited and published by Charles Black. The series has consistently provided excellent new material for horror fans, featuring stories by both well known authors and newcomers (some of whom, in turn, have eventually achieved notoriety, thanks also to the inclusion of their fiction in that prestigious venue).

The tenth issue – assembling fifteen brand new tales – continues the tradition of the previous volumes, but somehow with a nastier character and a tendency towards violence and gore which has not always worked for me.

Having made it clear that #10 is not my favourite volume, I must admit that also the current book includes some good stuff worth mentioning.

To me the best story is “The Last Testament of Jacob Tyler” by David Surface, a well-crafted example of supernatural horror at its best, featuring a man making his living with his rifle.

Angela Blake’s “Stiff” is a grotesque story of sexual obsession and lust, with a paranormal, horrific side, while “The War Effort” by Carl P Thompson is a dark piece revealing the tricks to survive and manage post-war problems.

David Sutton contributes “The Pre-Raphaelite Painting” a solid piece of fiction where a femme fatale returns from a long-gone past to haunt an unfortunate man, and Paul Finch provides “Marshwall”, a very atmospheric, although not quite plausible tale about family secrets and a sinister rocking horse.

Finally, “The Last Wagon in the Train” by Andrea Janes is a disquieting, macabre western taking place under the blasting sun of the desert.

- review by Mario Guslandi

McDermott’s Caution: Contains Small Parts now available

Twelfth Planet Press has just released the ebook version of Caution: Contains Small Parts, an intimate, unsettling collection from award-winning author Kirstyn McDermott.

A creepy wooden dog that refuses to play dead.
A gifted crisis counsellor and the mysterious, melancholy girl she cannot seem to reach.
A once-successful fantasy author whose life has become a horror story – now with added unicorns.
An isolated woman whose obsession with sex dolls takes a harrowing, unexpected turn.

Four stories that will haunt you long after their final pages are turned.

Available now from Twelfth Planet Press for $5.95. Print copies can be purchased here.

‘Kirstyn McDermott’s prose is darkly magical, insidious and insistent. Once her words get under your skin, they are there to stay.’ – Angela Slatter, British Fantasy Award-winning author of Sourdough and Other Stories

‘The supernatural lurks in the shadows of Kirstyn McDermott’s first collection, an ambiguous or mundane presence that keeps these four quasi-horror stories feeling palpably real … McDermott’s poignant stories defy genre labelling, being primarily about damaged people seeking solace, escape, or meaning. The otherworldly merely gives them a chance to find it, and makes these unflinching but touching stories even more evocative and irresistible.’ – Aurealis, Issue 64

HWA Roundtable 14 – Audiobooks

The HWA’s 14th Horror Roundtable is coming up later this week over on the HWA website, and it will focus on Audiobooks. Here are the details.

When: 18 December, 2013
Time: 9pm EST (use the Time Zone Converter to find your local time: for those on Sydney time, this is 19 Dec at 1pm)
Special Guests: David Niall Wilson, Jeffrey Kafer, Scott Jacobi, and Kevin Pierce

Audiobooks: The digital age has seen the popularity of audiobooks skyrocket; it is now a billion dollar industry, with a >30% growth rate in past few years and no signs of slowing. In a busy world, audiobooks are providing a way for us to get in our reading time even when we can’t sit down with an actual book; now we can ‘read’ while driving to work, working out at the gym, cooking dinner, or even doing the housework. And cooler still, you can synch from your ebook to the audio-version seamlessly. But how do authors and publishers get quality audiobooks made? What’s involved? And what are some of the pitfalls to look out for? Our guests for this roundtable have been involved in all aspects of audiobook creation, from narration, production studio engineering, to publishing, so come along and find out what they have to say.

* * * * *

Here’s how the HWA’s Horror Roundtable works:

1. The Horror Roundtable will run every month on the HWA blog. You do not need to register to follow the discussion, or to post comments/questions.

2. For each Roundtable, a group of special guests will be invited to participate in a discussion on a selected topic. The guests’ profiles will be posted on the website prior to each Roundtable, along with the topic of discussion.

3. The Horror Roundtable will begin with our guests discussing the topic.

4. After the first half hour, the Roundtable will be opened for the general public to comment/ask questions, while our guests continue their discussion.

5. After one hour, our Guests will leave, unless there are lots of comments and questions from the audience, in which case they will remain for a further half hour. After that, our Guests will check back in from time to time during the week to provide further comments on anything posted in that time.

6. At the end of the week, the Roundtable will be closed, but it will remain online so people can go back and read it at their own leisure. No further comments will be allowed.

7. An announcement about the next Horror Roundtable, including the next set of guest profiles, will be posted towards the end of each month.

The HWA Horror Roundtable was the brainchild of Weston Ochse and is managed by Marty Young. If you would like to take part or have a topic that would make for an interesting discussion, please contact Marty at

Past Roundtables can be viewed here.

ill at ease 2 now available

Following on from the critical success of “ill at ease” comes volume 2, featuring seven original horror short stories, all of them guaranteed to give you the chills. The anthology is published by PenMan Press and available from  Amazon in both print and digital editions.

Joining the original trio of Stephen Bacon, Mark West and Neil Williams this time are Shaun Hamilton, Robert Mammone, Val Walmsley and Sheri White.

You will descend into an underground train station to uncover a dreadful secret and watch in horror as a paradise holiday turns sour. You will see a bullied boy who’s helped by local history and share the anguish of a father, losing his child in a shopping centre. You will take a trip with a cancer sufferer and share the pain of a couple, desperate for a child. You will discover that history needs to be kept somewhere.

Seven stories, seven writers and you.

Prepare to feel “ill at ease” all over again.

The New Look Carnies

The new cover for the re-release of Carnies, by Martin Livings, has just been revealed, and it looks fantastic. Coming in 2014 from Cohesion Press.

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The small town of Tillbrook has a secret. One that has been kept for over a hundred years.

Journalist David Hampden needs a good story to resurrect his flagging career. His damaged brother, Paul, just needs to find some meaning for his life.When David is alerted to a century-old carnival, the idea of a feature story is too good to pass up, so he drags Paul along to Tillbrook to act as his photographer. What they find is darker than they could ever imagine.Paul becomes part of the exotic world of the Dervish Carnival, est. 1899, and David must risk everything to save his brother. Even though Paul might not want to be saved.

Come on in, and enjoy the show. No photos allowed.

More details soon…

Warren wins 2013 ACT Writers’ and Publishers’ Fiction Award

Through Splintered Walls, the short story collection by Bram Stoker Award nominated author Kaaron Warren, has won the 2013 ACT Writers’ and Publishers’ Fiction Award.

The 2013 ACT Writers Centre Award winners were announced at the end-of-year Christmas celebrations, held on 12 December at the Bogong Theatre in Gorman House Arts Centre, Braddon.

About Through Splintered Walls (Twelfth Planet Press, 2012):

Country road, city street, mountain, creek.

These are stories inspired by the beauty, the danger, the cruelty, emptiness, loneliness and perfection of the Australian landscape.

Paperback: $18.00 + postage
Ebook: $5.95

‘Every Warren story is a trip with no map.’ – Gemma Files

‘Her fiction shifts across genres smoothly and intelligently, never settling for the easy path… she doesn’t flinch.’ – Andrew Hook

‘As with most of the best horror writing … the power of Warren’s strongest stories comes from the mirror they hold up to our everyday practices and prejudices.’ – Ian McHugh

Shirley Jackson Award winning author Kaaron Warren has lived in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Fiji, She’s sold many short stories, three novels (the multi-award-winning Slights, Walking the Tree and Mistification) and four short story collections. Two of her collections have won the ACT Publishers’ and Writers’ Award for fiction, and her most recent collection, Through Splintered Walls, won a Canberra Critic’s Circle Award for Fiction, two Ditmar Awards, two Australian Shadows Awards, an Aurealis Award and a Shirley Jackson Award. Her stories have appeared in Australia, the US, the UK and elsewhere in Europe, and have been selected for both Ellen Datlow’s and Paula Guran’s Year’s Best Anthologies.

She was shortlisted for a Bram Stoker Award for “All You Can Do is Breathe”, and was Special Guest at the Australian National Science Fiction Convention in Canberra 2013. Kaaron will teach a workshop at next year’s Aradale Creative Writing Retreat in February. You can find her at and she Tweets @KaaronWarren

About the Awards:

The ACT Writers’ and Publishers’ Awards are an Australian literary award presented by the ACT Writers Centre for the best books in the categories of non-fiction, fiction, poetry and children’s literature written in the Canberra region.

The full list of winners and highly commended for 2013 can be found here.