Lies of Tenderness [Hardcover] Stephen Volk
A COLLECTION by Stephen Volk
PUBLICATION DATE May 2022
INTRODUCTION Priya Sharma
COVER ART Pedro Marques
Unsigned Jacketed Hardcover — ISBN 978-1-78636-849-2 [£25]
100 Jacketed Hardcover signed by the author — ISBN 978-1-78636-850-8 [£35]
ABOUT THE BOOK
A woman parks her car outside a fateful, familiar motel. The last giant of Albion finds connection with a soul not long for this world. A lightning-struck man seeks meaning for his longing and loss.
In this new, startlingly wide-ranging collection, Stephen Volk explores hidden truths and secret wishes, deceit and delusion, the paths not taken, and the pang of dreams unrealised. Proof once again he is “once of the most provocative and unsettling of contemporary writers” – with seventeen tales that break boundaries, and will break your heart.
- Introduction by Priya Sharma
- The Holocaust Crasher
- The Airport Gorilla
- The House That Moved Next Door
- Unchain the Beast
- Outside of Truth or Consequences
- The Little Gift
- The Black Cat
- Beat the Card Home
- A Meeting at Knossos
- The Naughty Step
- The Flickering Light
- Bad Language
- Story Notes & Acknowledgements
"Masterful... (I was) impressed not only by the superlative writing, but also the breadth of subjects and moods. Highly recommended!" Mick Garris, director/producer The Stand, Bag of Bones, Masters of Horror, Nightmare Cinema
"New work by one of the benchmark voices in strange stories is always great news. One of the most accomplished, ambitious and stunning storytellers around" Hookland
"The breadth and depth of imagination on display here is matched by a mastery of mood and tone, with many stories displaying a wry restraint that belies the intensity of emotion... Excellent" Con Connolly, Phantasmagoria Magazine
"A pleasant wave of melancholia runs through this collection including a werewolf tale like no other, the fall out from grief, and the consequences of lying on an inhuman scale. Stephen Volk's handling of character is so real, so raw, ny heart was racing a number of times. His casual insertion of LGBTQI+ characters is sublime" Simon J Ballard, writer for We Belong Dead and Cinema in the 70s magazines
"The atmospheres here are dark and sinister, but the narrative style is consistently elegant, sensitive and totally captivating... A highly recommended collection by a truly great writer" Mario Guslandi, Black Gate
"To describe the writer Stephen Volk as a master of contemporary macabre is only to tell the truth – but that's not the whole story. Rather like his great predecessor Robert Aickman, Volk's work might be more generally described as being located within the wider realm of the 'strange' – in all manifestations of that word. The new collection, Lies of Tenderness (from the enterprising bijou publisher PS Books), is a varied and accomplished volume that demonstrates the range of the writer's achievement... Volk's imagination is given free rein in a variety of off-kilter narratives – such as 'Sicko', a clever riff on Hitchcock's Psycho... If you enjoyed (his) work either on screen or the page (as in his innovative Dark Masters Trilogy), you need not hesitate" Barry Forshaw, Crime Time
"Superb... In addition to being attracted to 'difficult' subjects and people, there's a real sense of anger in many of these stories; a sense of profound dissatisfaction with the brutality of the status quo, and a desire for things to be other, better... Lies of Tenderness is another absolutely outstanding collection from a writer who continues to challenge, to grapple with contentious ideas and subjects, and who in the process produces work with an incredible range of moods, textures and emotions. but which are united by an exceptional level of quality" Kit Power, Ginger Nuts of Horror
"If there's the potential for a story, and Steve Volk sees a way of developing it, then he will - and if that means entering territory and mindsets that are outside the reader (and the writer)'s comfort zones, then so much the better... Another unsettling, thought-provoking and highly-recommended collection. 10/10" Paul Simpson, Sci-Fi Bulletin
Great variety of dark shorts and novellas
This huge volume features 17 stories from one of the finest voices in modern horror, a few presented here for the first time.
In ‘The Holocaust Crasher’ we meet a speaker who may not be what he seems, and a truly terrifying plane crash is reported through the eyes of ‘The Airport Gorilla.’ A man is reunited with a ghost from his past in the eerie ‘The House That Moved Next Door’ and childhood friends become famous monster movie makers in early 60s Mexico in ‘Unchain the Beast,’ which doubles as a fantastic political revenge tale.
‘Outside of Truth or Consequences’ is a slick take on the mad scientist trope, while novella ‘The Little Gift’ finds a man’s world turned upside down on the night he must make a life-changing decision. ‘The Black Cat’ questions the motivation of a murderer, then parents try to figure out life without their grown son in the crushing ‘Beat the Card Home.’
‘Vardoger’ is Volk’s slick, novella-length look at doppelgängers, then things take a turn towards fantasy in ‘A Meeting at Knossos,’ as we meet the fabled Minotaur. ‘Sicko’ reimagines Hitchcock’s PSYCHO, only with Marion not falling victim to Norman Bates. Fans of the film (and novel) should love this. Then a social worker has her hands full as she attempts to console a young man in ‘The Naughty Step.’
An interrupted affair becomes ‘Adventurous’ in this unusual mash up of suburban sin and Narnia-like adventure which turned out to be one of my favorites of the lot, then superstition, death, and destiny are explored during a dinner party in ‘The Flickering Light.’ A writer deals with the dementia and death of his mother before becoming the cause of a tragedy in the devastating ‘Bad Language,’ and ‘Agog’ is another fantasy featuring an invisible giant who is possibly the last of his race.
The collection ends with a new novella titled ‘Orr,’ a poignant look at a man—who has been struck by lightning 9 times—dealing with fellow survivors and a post-wife life.
Most of the horror offerings here are subtle, and some need perhaps a day or two for their chill factor to work their way into your psyche. There’s a fine variety on display, allowing the author to show off his skill across several genres. I’ve been enjoying Volk’s writing for years and wish more American readers would discover him. This is a great place to start.