Horror October: Spine Chillers & The Birds #Review #RadioPlays

HO18

Welcome to Horror October 2018!

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that I only recently started listening to audio-books.  I find their success very dependent on the narrator, but on the whole I like the medium as it enables me to get through some ‘reading’ whilst doing other things, which is pretty much necessary these days.

I was looking for some Horror-October suitable audios on my app when I came across two which caught my eye, and weirdly they are both turned out to be BBC radio plays, something I haven’t really listened to before either. 

The first one I listened to was Spine Chillers, a collection of ghost stories by M.R James.

spinechillers

I’ve read some of James’ ghost stories before and quite enjoyed them so I thought this would be a great thing to listen to on an Autumn afternoon walk in the woods.

Unfortunately, because I was walking, I don’t think I was able to give it my full attention, and to be honest I found it quite difficult to figure out where one story ended and another began. 

What I did really enjoy was the actual  radio dramatisation aspect. The sound effects were great; there’s a lovely nostalgia in hearing the wind howl, and a window smash and picturing someone in a sound studio surrounded by props. 

It might be obvious to some, but I was surprised at just how different to an audio-book it was. 

“In ‘Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad’, Professor Parkins embarks on a terrifying journey of discovery after he removes a curious artefact from the ruins of a Templar preceptory; while ‘The Tractate Middoth’ sees diligent curator David Garrett caught up in the machinations of the mysterious Dr Rant when he’s sent to retrieve an obscure manuscript from the library stacks. ‘Lost Hearts’ tells of a young boy haunted by two ghostly children, and in ‘The Rose Garden’, terrifying forces are unleashed when the Goodmans tear down their old summer house. Finally, ‘Number 13’ takes us to the Danish town of Viborg, where Dr Anderson puts himself in terrible danger as he investigates why the hotel he’s staying at does not contain a room 13.” – Goodreads

The Tractate Middoth was my favourite of the stories, unsurprisingly as it’s about a library LOL, but not particularly spooky. The Rose Garden did provide some welcome creepy moments however. 

All of these tales are family-friendly, and would make a really nice alternative to watching a spooky film on Halloween. Gather around a fire with a hot drink and enjoy a ghost story or two, but don’t expect to be scared…unless you have a very low horror threshold.

horroctrating-2

The second one I picked was a dramatisation of Daphne Du Maurier’s The Birds.

thebirds

I’m most familiar with the Hitchcock film – an absolute classic – but I did know a bit about the original story too, although I’ve never read it.

This was a different experience than the James collection altogether. The Birds gripped me from the get-go, and although one of the actors had a really piercing, irritating voice (sorry, but ow! My ears.!) it was great!

The tension builds very slowly, and is helped by the fact that the father is a bird-lover and at first reluctant to believe that the birds are dangerous, but of course, we know that they’re deadly.

The sound effects in this were great too, it added to the suspense and terror perfectly. A great listen for Halloween.

horroctrating-4

30 Days of Horror #17: The Haunting #HO17 #30daysofhorror

30daysofhorror

Join me for 30 Days of Horror in which we spotlight one horror book every day until we reach Halloween!

Tonight, I’ve chosen a great YA ghost story. The Haunting is part of the Red Eye series, a YA Horror imprint (which I love), and I’m hoping to do a special post in association with the publishers/one of the authors soon. Fingers crossed it all comes together. But for now, here’s a taste of The Haunting by Alex Bell. I also reviewed it here.

thehaunting

Available in paperback & ebook, 352 pages

Published February 11th 2016 by Stripes Publishing

 

Some curses grow stronger with time…

People say that all Cornish inns are haunted, but the Waterwitch’s history is particularly chilling. Built from the salvaged timber of a cursed ship, the guest house’s dark secrets go further back than anyone can remember.


Emma is permanently confined to a wheelchair after an accident at the Waterwitch which took place when she was ten. Seven years later, she decides to return to the place where the awful event occurred. But the ancient inn still has its ghosts, and one particular spirit is more vengeful than ever…


A chilling new title in the Red Eye horror series from the author of Frozen Charlotte.

 

Goodreads // My Review

bookdepo

Have you read it? What did you think?

Up Next on Horror October:

This Week in Books

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell #BookReview #HO17

HorrorOct2017

 

ThesilentcompanionTitle: The Silent Companions
Author: Laura Purcell
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 384 pages
Publication Details: October 5th 2017 by Raven Books
Genre(s): Horror; Historical Fiction
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

bookdepo

Inspired by the work of Shirley Jackson and Susan Hill and set in a crumbling country mansion, The Silent Companions is an unsettling gothic ghost story to send a shiver down the spine…

Newly married, newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband’s crumbling country estate, The Bridge.

With her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie only has her husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. But inside her new home lies a locked room, and beyond that door lies a two-hundred-year-old diary and a deeply unsettling painted wooden figure – a Silent Companion – that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself.

Review

 

 

The premise of this book had me at ‘Susan Hill’ and ‘crumbling mansion’, and although it wasn’t without its flaws, I ended up really enjoying it.

In The Silent Companions, we first meet Elsie in an institution. She can’t talk and the doctors seem very wary of her; she’s mad; a lost cause. But there is one doctor who tries to help her to communicate, to hear her story.

Elsie tells the story of how she came to The Bridge, an old mansion with incompetent staff, pregnant and husbandless. Now a Lady of the House, Elsie tries to adjust to her new life, but the mansion is strange, cold, and unwelcoming. Her only friend is Sarah her late husband’s sister, who she finds dull, but beggars can’t be choosers as they say.

When Elsie and Sarah come across a locked attic room whilst exploring the house, they wonder what could possibly be up there. Then, all of a sudden, the door isn’t locked anymore. In the room is something that will propel a series of bizarre and dangerous events – a silent companion.

I had never heard of silent companions, and this book compelled me to look them up. They are strange wooden paintings made to look like people with shading and the like. They’re pretty creepy by all accounts, especially when they start multiplying and moving of their own accord!

It took me a while to get into this book- I wasn’t a fan of the beginning- but by the time Elsie and Sarah found the first companion I was already starting to get intrigued, and from then on I was hooked.

What I struggled with was the structure. Now, I don’t know whether it was down to the digital proof (which could be resolved now it’s published) but there was no indication of when we shifted in time which was really off putting. It threw me off on a lot of occasions. It also took me a while to realise that a second storyline came from a diary that Sarah found – also in the attic – and gave us an origin story as to the original ghost/companions. It would have certainly benefited from a dinkus or *** each time, so the reader doesn’t have to work too hard in figuring out where they are in the story, and whose storyline we are following.

However, this was a great read overall. As the premise suggests, it is a return to a traditional ghost story in the style of the likes of Susan Hill & Shirley Jackson, and it’s an impressive diversion from Purcell’s usual historical fictions.

horroctrating-4

Up Next on Horror October:

30 days of Horror: What will day 16 bring?

Horror October: The Travelling Bag and Other Ghostly Stories by Susan Hill #BookReview #HorrorOctober

horroroctofficial2016

a2Title: The Travelling Bag and Other Ghostly Stories
Author: Susan Hill
Series: N/A
Format: Hardback, 160 pages
Publication Details: September 29th 2016 by Profile Books
Genre(s): Short Story Collection; Supernatural; Ghost Stories
Disclosure? Nope I bought it! 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

 

Walter Craig was a clever scientist. As a young man he took away all the honours and prizes and some of his work was ground-breaking. But after he became seriously ill, his genius faded, and he needed the help of an assistant. When Silas Webb was appointed to the job he seemed the perfect choice, but he always preferred to work alone, even in secret. Then, quite suddenly, Webb disappeared.

Why ?

Later, Craig opens a prestigious scientific journal and finds a paper, containing his own work, in detail, together with the significant results he had worked out. The research is his and his alone. But the author of the paper is Dr Silas Webb.

Craig determines that he will hunt Webb down and exact revenge.

Were it not for a terrifying twist of circumstance, he might have succeeded.

Review

As I mentioned in my recent review of Self-Made Man by Poppy Z Brite, short story collections are always a bit ht and miss for me. I find short stories in general to be too vague, too brief, or just downright confusing. However, I do think an exception to the rule is generally when concerning ghost stories.

I think ghost stories tend to work in this medium. Being short and snappy and not too complex is often what make a great ghost story in my opinion, and so I was hoping for good things from this new Susan Hill collection. And I wasn’t disappointed.

I enjoyed the titular story very much. Hill mastered the whole eerie atmosphere/building suspense thing a long time ago, and you can see it here in spades. Plus, the pay off is worth it too. This story creeped me out because I, like one of the characters, am terrified of moths. They’re just gross. No need!

Other stories include Boy Twenty-One, a gentle story about two friends, one whom disappears, and then returns…but no one else can see him. This had to be my least favourite. It wasn’t bad, just a little predictable.

Alice Baker, however, the third story in this collection was by far my favourite. Hill has such a stunning way of making ordinary things seem spooky. Like a new girl in an office of close, seemingly-too-nice-to-be-true colleagues.

The fourth and final story, The Front Room is one I can barely remember to be honest. It features an evil mother taken in by her son and daughter-in-law and that’s about all my caffeine-addled brain can squeeze out right now. Obviously it didn’t blow me away!

So there you have it. A mixed bag but very enjoyable overall. A great book to batten down the hatches with this Halloween.

horroctrating-3

The Travelling Bag is available in a stunning pocket hardback, and is 30% off at The Book Depository now. 

 

This Week on Books 12.10.16 #TWIB #HorrorOctober

icon2

Welcome to my weekly post, where I sum-up what I’ve been up to in bookland the past week. 

 

Greetings blog friends. It’s been another busy old week in the land of Horror October; Here’s what I’ve been reading…

twib-35.jpg

 

Now:  The Travelling Bag and other Ghostly Stories ~ Susan Hill

I’ve almost finished this story collection. I’ve enjoyed it, but it hasn’t blown me away.

Then:  Reckless ~ Cornelia Funke 

I found this really disappointing considering how much I’ve enjoyed her other books. My review will be up on Saturday. 

Next: ??? 

Definitely Hunter of the Dead by Stephen Kozeniewski, or the author might cry. Or pull out of the Flash Fiction Battle. I’m not sure which would be worse. :p 

New on the Shelves

Nothing – I’ve been very restrained this week!

 

OK, that’s it for this week. I’m not going to be taking part in Waiting on Wednesday during October because… well, there’s enough going on around here!
 
 

If you’re joining in leave the link to your answers in the comments so everyone can take a look 🙂

Up Next on Horror October: This Year in Horror (part 2)

Revisiting An English Ghost Story #BookReview #HorrorOctober

horroroctofficial2016

It has become somewhat of a tradition to kick off the Horror October proceedings by reblogging my favourite read from the previous year. And I’ve also noticed a bit of a pattern. They aren’t necessarily the highest rated book I read, but rather the one that has stuck with me the whole year through.

The first time around I chose The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black and last year I chose Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory. These are certainly books that I think about often, and An English Ghost Story is no exception. 

An English Ghost Story ~ Kim Newman

new3
Format: Paperback, 315 pages
Publication Details: October 7th 2014 by Titan Books
Genre(s): Horror; Supernatural
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it.

Goodreads // Purchase

A dysfunctional British nuclear family seek a new life away from the big city in the sleepy Somerset countryside. At first their new home, The Hollow, seems to embrace them, creating a rare peace and harmony within the family. But when the house turns on them, it seems to know just how to hurt them the most—threatening to destroy them from the inside out.

Review

This was the last book I read for Horror October, and I’m so glad because I finished the month on a high.

An English Ghost Story was exactly what I was looking for! It was a book which started with promise. I was absorbed from the beginning even before anything spooky happened and then it built up its suspense and creepiness in a masterful, almost majestic way.

The Naremore family move into a grand old house in the countryside which was previously owned by a famous children’s author whose popular series of books were about a haunted boarding school. It turns out that these books were a lot less fictitious than anyone would have believed.

However, the ghosts, spirits, or presences (however you would like to refer to them) struck the Naremore family as friendly, and they found The Hollow an enchanted place to live. A place where they were finally happy; it had brought the family together in a way they had not felt before.

Unfortunately for them…the family had been lulled into a false sense of security and bit by bit, the ‘others’ in the house start to make life very difficult in The Hollow. The dream home, becomes a nightmare. They are turned against each other, and it looks as if they won’t wake up until there’s no one left.

This book was delicious for a horror fan like me. Ghost stories aren’t usually my favourite because I often find them unbelievable and just not scary enough, but I loved how ‘real’ An English Ghost Story felt. It gradually built up momentum as the house began to turn against them and slowly pulled their family apart. I couldn’t put it down.

It was funny in places, certainly creepy, and had some great gory, gross-out moments, but it felt magical too; it had a whimsical feel about it, like reading through a dream.

I was very impressed by my first delve into Kim Newman’s imagination, and I can’t wait to read more. Maybe I’ll finally get round to Anno Dracula now!

unicorn rating 4


Next up on Horror October: Review – Haunt Me by Liz Kessler

An English Ghost Story by Kim Newman #BookReview

HorrorOct2015

An English Ghost Story ~ Kim Newman

new3
Format: Paperback, 315 pages
Publication Details: October 7th 2014 by Titan Books
Genre(s): Horror; Supernatural
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it.

Goodreads // Purchase

A dysfunctional British nuclear family seek a new life away from the big city in the sleepy Somerset countryside. At first their new home, The Hollow, seems to embrace them, creating a rare peace and harmony within the family. But when the house turns on them, it seems to know just how to hurt them the most—threatening to destroy them from the inside out.

Review

This was the last book I read for Horror October, and I’m so glad because I finished the month on a high.

An English Ghost Story was exactly what I was looking for! It was a book which started with promise. I was absorbed from the beginning even before anything spooky happened and then it built up its suspense and creepiness in a masterful, almost majestic way.

The Naremore family move into a grand old house in the countryside which was previously owned by a famous children’s author whose popular series of books were about a haunted boarding school. It turns out that these books were a lot less fictitious than anyone would have believed.

However, the ghosts, spirits, or presences (however you would like to refer to them) struck the Naremore family as friendly, and they found The Hollow an enchanted place to live. A place where they were finally happy; it had brought the family together in a way they had not felt before.

Unfortunately for them…the family had been lulled into a false sense of security and bit by bit, the ‘others’ in the house start to make life very difficult in The Hollow. The dream home, becomes a nightmare. They are turned against each other, and it looks as if they won’t wake up until there’s no one left.

This book was delicious for a horror fan like me. Ghost stories aren’t usually my favourite because I often find them unbelievable and just not scary enough, but I loved how ‘real’ An English Ghost Story felt. It gradually built up momentum as the house began to turn against them and slowly pulled their family apart. I couldn’t put it down.

It was funny in places, certainly creepy, and had some great gory, gross-out moments, but it felt magical too; it had a whimsical feel about it, like reading through a dream.

I was very impressed by my first delve into Kim Newman’s imagination, and I can’t wait to read more. Maybe I’ll finally get round to Anno Dracula now!

unicorn rating 4