Monday, 18 December 2017

The White Road - Review




Sarob Press has answered the prayers of a host of bibliophiles by publishing a lavish collection of Ron Weighell's stories. The original Ghost Story Press volume has long been a collector's item, and it's easy to see why. This is a book that deserves to be dubbed a classic of supernatural fiction. It contains two dozen stories ranging in quality from good to excellent, and is very much in the British weird tradition.

The Sarob volume is illustrated by Nick Maloret. As well as a superb dustjacket, there are remarkable end-paper and cover art. I am a terrible photographer, but I thought I would try to capture them regardless.



See? Told you I was rubbish at taking pictures, but at least you get some idea of the quality of Maloret's work. The overall feel of the book is luxurious, of course, and proclaims it a genuine collector's item. But what of the stories themselves?


Saturday, 16 December 2017

More Audio Spookery

Want some more weird and wonderful stuff to listen to in the run-up to Yuletide? Here are some readings of classic tales, beginning with E.F. Benson's story of dire doings in a quaint little place not unlike 'Tilling'. It's as if Miss Mapp had gone a bit feral.



Now for a bit of Walter de la Mare. This is a Sixties US radio adaptation of one of Walt's best-known stories, and I think it comes across well.



If you liked that, you'll probably like this. The Black Mass adapted an M.R. James story that, while nobody's absolute favourite, is enigmatic and interesting. What were they up to? And what happened on that final, fateful night?



A Canadian radio show, next - Nightfall, which ran from 1980-83. This is their adaptation of a classic tale of girl-on-girl vampirism, which in the early Seventies spawned several films featuring young women in anachronistic nighties.



Finally, we're back to Montyworld and a reading of 'Casting the Runes' by Michael Hordern.

'Backseat Driver'

'I stir the thick red generic alphabet spaghetti, all the while eyeing the rat poison looming tantalisingly within arms reach.'

Thus begins Nicky Peacock's contribution to Women in Horror Annual 2. This is a more playful work that the two preceding tales. It begins with a portrait of a dysfunctional marriage in which the wife is also acting as mother to an overgrown adolescent - a man obsessed with conspiracy theories and the like.

When we join her she resolves to leave him, taking her trusty old dog, and just driving off into the night. Unfortunately she strays off the highway onto a country road, where she finds a hit-and-run victim of a rather unusual kind. This is the first of a series of encounters that come straight from the realms of urban legend-based horror movies.

I found this one enjoyable enough, though - paradoxically, given the content - a bit bloodless. Running review continues, though I suspect I won't get finished until the New Year.


Wednesday, 13 December 2017

'Behind the Music'

The second story in the Women in Horror Annual 2 (see below) is by Madison McSweeney. It begins with a couple of cops discussing a badly injured woman who has fallen from a hotel balcony. The room in question belongs to a rock singer, Silas Oddside, and obvious conclusions are drawn. We then flashback to a young lady called Cherry who blags her way backstage at a rock concert to try and get jiggy with her favourite singer.

The story unfolds as the cops gradually discover just how strange Cherry's encounter with Oddside was. The revelation is foreshadowed, and it's quite neatly done, though I did wonder exactly how a career in rock music could be balanced with Oddside's unusual habits. Hey, it's only a story, right? A story set in 1987, as it happens. This was during the horror boom, and 'Behind the Music' does have an Eighties vibe - a time when the genre was shaking off some of its more cumbersome Gothic baggage, but also becoming more self-consciously trendy.

So, an okay story with some good moments, but nothing special. Stay tuned for more takes on WHA 2.