No new content – Archive only

It is with regret that we are closing Thirteen O’Clock to new content. We may re-open at some point (never say never), but for now there is just not enough time for us to manage the site. If anyone out there wants to take it on, please contact us and let us know. But contact one of the editors (ideally Alan Baxter) directly, as the TOC email address is no longer being monitored and emails will not be seen.

For the immediate future, the site will remain as an archive, but if the cost of hosting and renewing the domain becomes too difficult, that too will go. Enormous thanks to everyone who has in some way contributed to this site over recent years, and thanks for all the great dark fiction. Make sure you continue to seek out and consume all the fantastic dark fiction Australian and international creators are regularly producing.

So long, and thanks for all the grim.


Malevolent Visitants by CE Ward – review by Mario Guslandi

ward_malevolent_visitants-174x254Malevolent Visitants by CE Ward

Sarob Press , 2016

A review by Mario Guslandi

Malevolent Visitants is the third short story collection by CE Ward, following Vengeful Ghosts and Seven Ghosts and One Other, all published but the excellent small imprint Sarob Press.

A follower of MR James, Ward is a gifted author, able to recreate truly Jamesian atmospheres, not providing simple amateurish pastiches, but writing excellent, subtly disturbing original tales, cleverly plotted and elegantly told.

The current book assembles a bunch of new, delightful ghostly tales able to elicit pleasant shivers in the reader.

Here we have a few fine examples. “At Dusk” is a story full of insidious menace set in the gloomy atmosphere of a country graveyard, while “One Over the Twelve” is a tale of depravity and murder, where punishment comes from beyond the grave.

The dark, unsettling “Merfield Hall” depicts unholy practices taking place in a cursed mansion owned by a disreputable character.

The excellent “The Gift” , a sequel to MR James’ “The Experiment”, is a truly antiquarian tale full of disquieting, forbidden secrets, while “The House of Wonders” is a sinister piece revolving around a contemptible amusement house exhibiting frightening samples of real horror.

My favourite story, perhaps, is “Squire Thorneycroft”, a veritable delight for any ghost story lover. A superb story indeed, enhanced by an unforgettable, terrifying final scene.

As customary with Sarob Press titles, the print run is very limited, so I strongly advise you to hurry and purchase a copy of this charming collection of dark fiction.


Magrit by Lee Battersby – review by Greg Chapman

Magrit coverMagrit by Lee Battersby

Walker Books Australia

Review by Greg Chapman

Lee Battersby’s Magrit is one of those tales that sweeps you away into the beauty of the macabre and leaves you with a pang of sadness in your heart.

Although it doesn’t feel like a horror story, or even a children’s story, Magrit sits on that fine line between the two, and this is where Mr Battersby’s skills as an author really shine.

To give you a taste of the story, Magrit lives in an unknown cemetery in an unknown town, with a puppet made of bones for company. Her life amongst the slow decay is going swimmingly, until she hears the cry of an infant child.

Despite her puppet’s warnings, Magrit decides to become a surrogate mother to the child and this is where the story begins to verge into questions of morality, specifically life and death, loneliness and love.

Although correlations could be drawn between Magrit and Neil Gaiman’s, The Graveyard Book, they are minor, and the story’s appeal comes from the mystery surrounding Magrit and the graveyard she lives in and her relationship with the child, Bugrat.

I was quite easily swept into this cemetery with every turn of the page (and in fact, I finished the story in one sitting). Illustrator Amy Daoud’s quaint illustrations also added to the text perfectly.

Magrit has plenty of soul, sadness, despair, and hope. It’s a delightfully dark fairy tale, full of Battersby’s whimsy and charm. Most of all, it’s got the makings of a classic.

Highly recommended for all ages, Magrit will go on sale from Walker Books Australia in March.


Blurring The Line, ed. by Marty Young – Review by Greg Chapman

12003146_879319075487621_892517258321694034_nBlurring The Line

ed. by Marty Young

Cohesion Press

Review by Greg Chapman

Blurring the Line was definitely not the anthology I expected.

But, in this case, that’s a very good thing.

Described as a collection of fiction/non-fiction, Blurring the Line delivers on its intent of exploring the grey area between real and inventive horror, and in doing so, revealing just how diverse – and satisfying – horror fiction can be.

Commencing with probably the most definitive non-fiction piece, Tom Piccirilli’s Our Doom is Nigh, is a poignant and revelatory insight into his battle with cancer. From there though, the lines do indeed begin to blur. What follows are stories that delve into paranoia, witchcraft, cryptids, human anomalies, conspiracies and several cracking ghost stories.

Some of the stand-out tales included Lisa Morton’s Woollen Shirts and Gumboots, Tim Lebbon’s Clown’s Kiss, Miskatonic Schrödinger by Steven Lloyd Wilson, Consorting With Filth by Lisa L. Hannett, Hoarder by Kealan Patrick Burke, With These Hands by Brett McBean, The Body Finder by Kaaron Warren, Paul Mannering’s Salt on the Tongue and Annie Neugebauer’s Honey.

All in all, the selections by editor Marty Young, are inspired and several of the stories even managed to have me scanning Google to see if there was any truth to them.

The only negative – if there is one – was the inclusion of the “non-fiction” articles interspersed between the stories. Although I believe they were designed to give the reader a taste of the proceeding stories, I found the articles occasionally inhibited the flow of the stories. But this is just the reviewer’s personal opinion.

Blurring the Line is a very solid anthology of horror stories that certainly kept me enthralled and entertained and wondering what is truth and what is fiction.




Of Sorrow And Such by Angela Slatter – review

25664279Of Sorrow And Such by Angela Slatter


Mistress Gideon is a witch. The locals of Edda’s Meadow, if they suspect it of her, say nary a word—Gideon has been good to them, and it’s always better to keep on her good side. Just in case.

When a foolish young shapeshifter goes against the wishes of her pack, and gets herself very publicly caught, the authorities find it impossible to deny the existence of the supernatural in their midst any longer; Gideon and her like are captured, bound for torture and a fiery end.

Should Gideon give up her sisters in return for a quick death? Or can she turn the situation to her advantage?

Angela Slatter is one of my favourite authors, an absolute master fantasist. Her collections Sourdough and Bitterwood are among my all-time favourite collections ever, and this novella is set in the same world. You don’t have to have read those collections to enjoy this book though – it’s an entirely standalone story with gorgeous prose, fabulous characters and a dark, grim plot.

Slatter does a great job of evoking the cunning woman in the patriarchal society trope, but breathes entirely new life into what could easily be old and stale ideas. Her women are powerful, but not entirely nice. They’re often selfish survivors driven to questionable actions. The men are not simply moustache-twirling bad guys, but complex and complicated characters with equally difficult lives. All of these things are expertly woven into a dark and spellbinding plot.

The story does start slowly, but it builds in intensity, particularly from the middle onwards. The slowness is never boring, though, because Slatter’s work is simply a joy to read. Beautiful prose, tight dialogue and evocative description abound. And if you haven’t read her collections of short fiction, I highly recommend you do, for all the same reasons as those above and more.

And again, this is a story which proves the value of the novella length, perfect for this tale. I can’t recommend this one highly enough. (And there are lots of novellas in the Tor line, either out now or forthcoming, that demand attention.)