Friday, 30 June 2017

Review - The Book Club by Alan Baxter

I love cosmic horror. I love the mind numbing terror and pervasive weirdness of it, and I adore reading about inter-dimensional powers and creatures that lurk in the great depths of the universe.  I've been a fan of the genre for many years now, with icons such as Lovecraft and Barron all keeping me up late at night with stories of dark horror and depth. So when I started to read The Book Club I was hopeful that it would live up to the rich legacy that has come before it. After finishing it I was stunned. It lived up to my expectations... and then some. 

The Book Club is one of the best novellas that I've read in all of my years as a reader. I can't remember the last time I was so enthralled by a story, or so emotionally wrecked by the plot twists and conclusion to the story. On the surface the story is relatively simple. The wife of protagonist Jason Wilkes goes missing after attending her book club meeting one night, and Wilkes spends the aftermath of her disappearance desperately trying to get information out of the other shadowy members of the club. Relatively straightforward, right? Well Baxter then takes the story and drops it off a cliff into the darkest places of your imagination and bombards you with cosmic twist after cosmic twist. And don't get me started on that finale. Gut wrenching, yet also fucking awesome. 

The Book Club basically combines everything that I love about cosmic horror with the thrills and spills of a police procedural and mystery story. As a story it also has incredible heart and soul, with an emotional tone that I could relate to immediately (as a husband and father of a young child). The cosmic horror itself is original and subtle at first, and abrupt and jarringly awesome towards the end. There are things we shouldn't mess with in the dark depths of reality, and Baxter gleefully plays around with this notion in this novella. 

To put it simply, this book is nightmare fuel (in a good way). Baxter continues to grow and impress as a storyteller, and I can't wait to see what he releases next. The Book Club is a must read for fans of cosmic horror, horror, and mystery stories.

5 out of 5 stars. 

You can pick up a digital or hardback copy here. There are also signed limited edition copies of The Book Club available here. Get in people, you won't regret it. It's worth buying for Ben Baldwin's cover art alone!  

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Review - Evil is a Matter of Perspective

The title says it all. In this anthology, evil really is a matter of perspective. And damn, it's fucking fantastic! Featuring some of the sharpest stories I've read in many years, this anthology delivers on so many different levels. Enjoy morally demented characters? This tome has you covered. Like cracking action sequences and bloody mayhem? You'll find it in spades. I was enthralled from start to finish as I waded through familiar universes and some that weren't so familiar. In fact, one of the coolest things about this anthology was that it introduced me to some new writers whose work I am now dying to check out more. 

Did I have any favourites? Well I thought Michael R. Fletcher's 'The Broken Dead' reinforced my view that he's the best up and coming talent in dark fantasy right now. I adored Alex Marshall's 'The Divine Death of Jirella Martigore', and Teresa Frohock and Shaun Speakman impressed with 'Every Hair Casts a Shadow' and 'The Darkness Within the Light'. My favourite story, however, was 'Blood Penny' by Deborah A. Wolf. Telling the tale of a demon-tainted waif, Wolf weaved a dark and suspenseful story of revenge and black magic that left me stunned and overjoyed at the same time.

All in all I loved this book. I can't really top that. Evil is a Matter of Perspective is, hands down, one of the best dark fantasy tomes I've ever read. If you like grimdark or fantasy fiction you'll find a lot to love here. 

Five out of five stars. A must read for speculative fiction fans. 

Buy a copy today.