I’m having a novella and shorter book season and reading through a stack of books that I bought recently. Of these, so far, I thought GATEWAYS TO ABOMINATION by Matthew M. Bartlett was very special. This book hit me as a series of expressionist nightmares and I was quickly struck by the presence of an original imagination inside the Abominations (always a pleasure to get that voltage). I was also slightly reminded of the respective visions of Mark Samuels and Thomas Ligotti (but with sex) and there’s a touch of a T.S Eliot style wasteland in these bizarre and hideous creations. As this book is priced at less than a fiver on Amazon UK, for the price of a pint in London, here’s a longer lasting delirium at much better value, and a more effective method of degrading your sanity.
An absolute gem is STARDUST by Nina Allan. Fans of M John Harrison and Aickman take note. Always liked Nina’s stories in multi-author collections, and she’s brilliant on panels at cons, so I picked this up at Fantasycon. I’d say that two of my favourite recent horror stories are in this collection of novellas and longer short stories – ‘Wreck of the Julia’ & ‘The Gateway’. Her writing is so clear and precise too that reading her work is like a cooling eye-balm (one of those writers who make me tuck my shirt in and want to do better).
Another writer, who I won’t offend by calling new (as he has three novels and a novella out) is young, Rich Hawkins, whose cosmic BLACK STAR, BLACK SUN possessed a horror energy of sufficient intensity to make me sit up straight. A descriptive force that shifts from the raw to the nuanced and that reminded me of fellow Brit’, Gary McMahon. Hawkins’s tendency to obsessively investigate the grotesque also reminded me, dare I say it, of my own hideous preoccupations . . .