Sunday 20 February 2022

Issue 49 Coming Soon!

I thought I'd list the contributors and throw in little samples from their stories, too.

“It’s a decent little engagement, what with the world situation.” That was how Gerald Stackpoole’s agent, the lugubrious Raymond Duck, had sold the summer season on Hemsby pier, back in March. “I admit, it’s not the Palladium, but it gives you a chance to feather the nest in case…” and he’d waved his hand vaguely, sketching the multiplicity of unknowns that 1939 might hold in store. And in that poky office four floors up on the Charing Cross Road, it had seemed like a sound enough strategy. In Hemsby, however, at the wrong end of August, Gerald had his doubts.
'The Woofle Dust' by Steve Duffy

To kick off, I’ll have to admit how much I loved to watch Gregory sitting so elegantly in his office chair, his slim legs crossed, that charming smile on his face, talking the good talk. It was easy to admire his fatal facility, the knack of being able to speak well on almost any subject, to entertain, inform or divert attention from an awkward question. It’s a skill I all too obviously lack. I’ve never had any charm or elegance myself. I’m good with facts and figures, that’s all, and I like to think I can recognise talent when I see it.
'All Talk' by Rosalie Parker

The rain had stopped by the time the tour had ended. Robert, the eldest of the siblings, surged ahead of the others and proceeded deeper into the carefully manicured gardens, evidently glad to be outside, despite the damp that still hung in the air and clung to everything like a second skin. His brother and sister squealed loudly and chased after him. An elderly couple admiring an intricate display of peonies moved out of the way just in time.
'Another One to Love Them' by David Buchan

I learned of Candler’s death and coming funeral by way of a small, black-bordered card that lacked both envelope and stamp. It fell free as I gathered up my post from the communal mat, and at first I took it for an advert for a taxi company, since they often leave such cards, but then I saw my name, and that of Candler, and read on.
'Candler's Ceremony' by Sam Hicks

Thursday 3 February 2022

King Satyr by Ron Weighell (Sarob 2021) - Review Part 2

I paused in my reading of this fascinating book to make a note of this remark by one key character:

"When Hegel called Giordano Bruno 'Bacchantic' he didn't mean it as a compliment."

This is not a conventional horror novel. The speaker is Aridela, a beautiful woman who becomes the lover and 'perfect Priestess' of Cyrus. The latter's quest to discover the truth about the long-vanished artist Gaunt takes him into the realm of a group of wealthy cultists, to which Aridela belongs. At first, it seems he has found his spiritual home. This is despite the fact that Cyrus is working-class and lacks formal education. But then the actual Bacchantic ritual of the Pan worshippers takes place, and things become rather unpleasant. Weighell handles the transition from erudite table talk to extreme violence with consummate skill.

Cyrus, appalled by what he has seen, breaks up with Aridela and returns to the grim round of dead-end jobs and solitary questing after arcane truths. Eventually, this takes him to a seaside town where he attempts to question Westfall, a sick old man who knows something of ritual magic. At first, Westfall seems harmless enough, but Cyrus soon comes to realise that he has strayed into a very dangerous presence. He makes the mistake of being too flippant with Westfall and suffers for it. Without going into details, our hero narrowly avoids falling victim to a very well-realised supernatural menace.

Supernatural Tales 56 - contents

The next issue - due out in the autumn - will see a mixture of familiar names and some newbies. I hope, as always, that the stories find fav...