1. DAMAGE by Rosalie Parker
Each of the stories that make up DAMAGE represent a new take on the theme of difference and strangeness in human life. There are elements of traditional horror, fantasy and the supernatural, but also of beauty, humour, compassion and love.
- In ‘Homecraft’ two children learn to survive in a derelict building;
- a rock singer deals with her addictions in ‘Siren’;
- in ‘Selkie: A Scottish Idyll’, the traditional Celtic tale is given a modern twist;
- the title story follows an asylum-seeker leading a double life;
- the strange rituals of a group of bird watchers are charted in ‘Boom Bird’;
- and in ‘Northern Light’ an Icelandic myth unravels in a contemporary setting.
DAMAGE explores the fragility of life and love and how they can sometimes survive against the odds, despite the damage that is done to them.
“Parker is back . . . displaying once again her elegant and perceptive narrative style, but also a high degree of eclecticism in her choice of subjects, atmospheres, and genres.”
2. THE WRACK LINE by Robert Edric
An isolated stretch of the North Sea coast. A place of endless tides and shifting sands. A place of blurred boundaries, where land, sea and sky merge into seamless, unknowable patterns, and where every calm surface conceals its unexpected, turbulent depths.
A man arrives to spend the overheated summer in an abandoned chalet. Adrift in his own faltering life, he slowly embraces the failed and struggling world in which he unexpectedly finds himself, existing in a kind of limbo between an unfulfilled past and an uncertain future, the days and weeks merging into a season of restless abandonment as he allows himself to be drawn into the deceptively powerful currents of the place.
“Clearly drawing from the stories of both M. R. James and Algernon Blackwood, THE WRACK LINE examines the disorder, apprehension and, ultimately, the fear which forever lies beneath the calmest and most ordinary of surfaces. It is a tale of lost conviction and squandered expectation, and one in which the briefest glance of a shape in the evaporating mist or a handful of fine, warm sand trickling through trembling fingers is equal to any other horror of the world, dreamed, imagined or real.”
3. THE PARTS WE PLAY by Stephen Volk
An illusionist preparing his latest, most audacious trick . . . A movie fan hiding from a totalitarian regime . . . A pop singer created with the perfect ingredients for stardom . . . A folklorist determined to catch a supernatural entity on tape . . . A dead child appearing to her mother in the middle of a supermarket aisle . . . A man who breaks the ultimate taboo—but does that make him a monster? . . .
In this rich and varied collection of Stephen Volk’s best fiction to date, characters seek to be the people they need to be, jostled by hope, fears, responsibility, fate, and their own inner demons—and desires. These tales of the lies and lives we live and the pasts we can’t forget include the British Fantasy Award-winning novella, NEWSPAPER HEART.
“Stephen Volk is gradually earning the label as a master of the British horror short form. If MONSTERS IN THE HEART gave us a glimpse of this excellence, then THE PARTS WE PLAY has blown the screen door wide open…”
4. THE STONES ARE SINGING by R.B. Russell
The view from John Dowson’s living room window is a miniature masterpiece. It reveals Venice in decay; crumbling, soft pink brick, and the ever-changing jade waters of a minor canal. But one morning the composition is marred by an old jacket draped carelessly over the iron railings of the balcony. This almost insignificant alteration to the perfect, arranged order of Dowson’s life is just the first of many changes which become more profound as the days pass.
THE STONES ARE SINGING suggests that even the smallest of changes in our world can hint at parallel existences, and the ability, for some to move between alternative realities.
“A remarkable novella . . . Raymond Russell confirms, once again, his extraordinary talent as a perceptive writer of elegant, subtly disquieting fiction.”
5. THE SEARCHING DEAD by Ramsey Campbell
Dominic Sheldrake has never forgotten his childhood in fifties Liverpool or the talk an old boy of his grammar school gave about the First World War. When his history teacher took the class on a field trip to France it promised to be an adventure, not the first of a series of glimpses of what lay in wait for the world. Soon Dominic would learn that a neighbour was involved in practices far older and darker than spiritualism, and stumble on a secret journal that hinted at the occult nature of the universe. How could he and his friends Roberta and Jim stop what was growing under a church in the midst of the results of the blitz? Dominic used to write tales of their exploits, but what they face now could reduce any adult to less than a child…
Ramsey Campbell recently returned to the Brichester Mythos for his novella THE LAST REVELATION OF GLA’AKI. His new trilogy THE THREE BIRTHS OF DAOLOTH further develops the cosmic horrors he invented in his first published book, THE INHABITANT OF THE LAKE. THE SEARCHING DEAD is the first volume, to be followed by BORN TO THE DARK.
“A novel which looks set to become one third of Campbell’s masterpiece: a trilogy about who he is as a man and what he’s always striven to achieve as an author.”
6. LIMERICKS OF THE ALARMING AND PHANTASMAL by Ramsey Campbell
Ever mischievous, Ramsey Campbell has delighted his fans—and certainly the team here at PS Towers—by regaling them with a staggering ability to limmer (or whatever the verb might be for producing small five-line rhymes designed to amuse and promote groans). Able to create these mini poem-ettes at the drop of a hat (or even a cleaver), it didn’t take much to persuade him to fill an entire book and, furthermore, for us to approach the equally prolific Pete Von Sholly to come up with some illustrations to boot.
Let me hope this collection of folly
Leaves the reader less saddened than jolly.
It might well be a mess
If it weren’t for PS
And the equally great Pete Von Sholly.
As you’ll very soon see when you look,
All the names of the tales have been took.
If not knowing the titles
Should nibble your vitals,
There’s a list at the end of the book.
7. QUIETER PATHS by Alison Littlewood
Take the paths less travelled, to the flooded caves of Mexico, the remote forests of Croatia and the vibrant cities of Morocco. Discover the secrets whispered by a Neolithic stone circle and the ancient tales of Ilkley Moor.
Alison Littlewood’s brand of quiet dark fiction will lead you through lands rooted in myth, legend and mystery. Alison’s short stories have been picked for Best British Horror 2015, The Best Horror of the Year and The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror anthologies.
8. A WIZARD’S HENCHMAN by Matthew Hughes
Erm Kaslo is at the top of his game: a hardboiled confidential operative in the ultra-high-tech civilization of The Ten Thousand Worlds that spans the entire galactic arm known as The Spray. But the universe is about to arbitrarily change its fundamental operating premise from science to magic. Technology will cease to function and all of Kaslo’s hard-won skills and abilities will be useless.
As the change nears, a handful of would-be wizards are jockeying for position in the coming race for supremacy, squabbling over the few ancient books and paraphernalia that survive from the long-forgotten age when magic last ruled the cosmos. Kaslo goes to work for Diomedo Obron, a wealthy dilettante with more money than common sense who hopes to emerge as a powerful thaumaturge.
But there’s worse to come: an ancient evil has been biding its time for millennia, waiting for the age of science to end. Now, its moment finally arrived, it reaches out from another plane to strike with deadly force. And only Kaslo can stop it—if he can live long enough.
“Hughes has been the best-kept secret in science fiction for too long: he’s a towering talent.”
“If you’re an admirer of the science fantasies of Jack Vance, it’s hard not to feel affection for the Archonate stories of Matthew Hughes.”
9. THE FIENDS OF NIGHTMARIA by Steven Erikson
The king is dead, long live King Bauchelain the First, crowned by the newly en-cassocked Grand Bishop Korbal Broach. Both are, of course, ably assisted in the running of the Kingdom of Farrog by their slowly unravelling manservant, Emancipor Reese.
However, tensions are mounting between Farrog and the neighbouring country of Nightmaria, the mysterious home of the Fiends. Their ambassador, Ophal D’Neeth Flatroq, seeks an audience with King Bauchelain who has thus far rebuffed his overtures. But, the evil necromancer has some other things on his plate.
In order to quell potential rebellion nearly all the artists, poets, and bard wannabes in the city have been put to death, however a few survivors from the Century’s Greatest Artist competition languish in the dungeons bemoaning their fates. Well, just moaning in general really… and maybe plotting escape and revenge. An added complication is that the Indifferent God is loose somewhere in the bowels of the castle.
10. THE SINS OF ANGELS by Keith Miller
When literary and detective agent George Zacharias finds a fallen angel on a Cairo street, his first thought is profit. Zacharias and his sidekick, Tomo, hide the angel as they try to figure out who she is and where she came from. However, they soon find themselves pursued by sinister forces.
Terrified, the two hapless detectives flee with their catch, first to the city’s seedy underbelly, then into the desert, where they take refuge in a hidden monastery. There is no escape from their pursuer, however, for he is Lucien Yaldabaoth, the prince of darkness. As Zacharias slowly pieces together the angel’s story and uncovers Yaldabaoth’s nefarious purposes, he realizes there is more at stake than he had imagined.
“Written in a terse, noir style, the evocative mix of the mundane and the fabulous has a dreamlike quality.”
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