Flash Fiction Battle: Entry #2 #FFB17 #HO17

ffb2017

Welcome to the second annual flash fiction battle in which four brilliant independent horror authors will battle it out to be crowned the King or Queen of Horror, (well, Horror October at least). 

For the past week and a half, the four participating horror writers have been creating an original short story based on the theme you chose.

The winning theme was ‘Master of Cemeteries’.

You can read the first entry, ‘Holding On’ by Sean Seebach here.

Once all four stories have been published, the vote will open for you to pick your favourite. I will crown the winner on Halloween!

Without further ado, here is Entry #2.

Please do let us know what you think in the comments below. Will this story get your vote?

The Master of Cemeteries

by Justin Bienvenue

I roam the land from the opening gates down to the last stone and rotting tree. I’ve been doing this for so long that I’ve lost count of exactly how long it’s been. You’d think this would be the same old routine and boring ass job but not for me. I own my craft, I appreciate every day and I love my job. Some take on this job and they get scared shitless because they think it’ll be “cool” but they don’t know, they don’t have a goddamn clue how to truly take this job seriously. I love this job because I don’t always work at the same place, no I travel and go where I’m needed. Sometimes I do return to places I’ve worked before, sure the land is the same but the work is different. Ghastly and inhuman some would say but righteous and spectacular for me.

I marvel at the opportunity to dig a hole six feet deep and bury a body into the fresh Earth. Sure there’s maggots, worms and other creatures and insects you’ve never even heard of in the ground below but after a while you don’t even notice em there. Sometimes I go lower than six feet I know it’s a bit unorthodox but I feel it’s a sign of appreciation and honor. Some I bury above six feet because I don’t think they were good in life so why should they have it good in death? What’s the big deal about not digging a body six feet and only digging it 2-4? Well let’s just say man’s best friend and mother nature usually show up to make sure they don’t enjoy their eternal slumber.

My first gig was over in Tucson. They had me bury a ruthless outlaw for gunning down eight people simply for looking at him wrong. Talk about talk being cheap. Well I don’t rightfully condone pointless killing but I felt if I didn’t bury this guy six feet that he was gonna rise up and bury my ass so I made sure he was given a proper burial. I’ve buried every sort of person, you name it. Outlaw, clown, lawyer, garbage man, mafioso, zoo keeper, heck even celebrities. Personally I could give two shits as to what their job was when they were alive but I know some people like to know so I throw it in. I used to be a bounty hunter part time but I didn’t see the point really. Bounty hunting became extinct and it got in the way of this job which has many, many parts to it.

I remember the first day I ever worked in New Orleans. They had me over at the St. Louis Cemetery. They told me it would be a bit different than what I may be used to but they had no idea who they were talking to. IF you don’t know, St. Louis is below sea level like most of the city so when there’s a massive storm or flood, the bodies go a washin’. I did my best fisherman and Charon impression and took them bodies out of the water and back into their crypts. Now for as long as I’d been on the job at that point I thought nothing could upset me but the cleanup I did that day would have given a slaughterhouse janitor the nightmares. There were bodies, limps, morbid looking faces and some of the grimiest, slimiest and slippery stench skin you’ve ever seen. Imagine putting Play-Doh under water and then rubbing it with olive oil and dead meat.

My job isn’t always that messy as I usually just patrol normal ones and do my usual maintenance. I do landscaping of the area, mow the open grass areas and keep the graves looking fresh and up to code. You always know if you’re at a cemetery that I’ve been to because it’s so clean and peaceful. It’s practically a garden only instead of flowers there’s gravestones so it’s pretty much a garden of the dead if you will. So in some ways I’d like to consider myself a gardener, only I don’t make stuff grow…or do I? In all seriousness I make sure no stone is turned, no grass gets weeds and no grave is unfilled. I don’t just harvest the land of the dead and dig their beds I also chisel their tombstones and layer the bricks and concrete in their crypts. Find me another person who does that and I’ll start digging my own grave. I just did it for fun one day when I got done early once and seeing as my stone was good and the family really enjoyed it I decided to add it to my repertoire.

Once I had to bury a famous pianist so I crafted a giant tombstone that looked like a piano. The family loved it but the people of the cemetery and the townspeople thought it was too much. They learned to appreciate it..after I told them I could make some for them when they died. I haven’t worked there too much since. As I said though I travel a lot going from graveyard to graveyard in hopes to make each one greater than the next one. I should have my own show on HGTV called “Flipping Graveyards” because I mean I’m that good at what I’d do.

I won’t need another job for as long as I live, heck I’ll probably still be doing this when I’m dead if they let me, you know the guy upstairs or the guy down below? I mean I am helping them..at least I think I am. If you need someone to take care of the deceased I’m the one you call. I have a list of titles on my resume; gravedigger, undertaker, mortician, gravestone carver, crypt builder, gardener, landscaper, embalmer, among many others. When you need a person to care for your loved ones I’m your woman, the master of cemeteries.

The End

(999 words)

Meet the Author

10485404_757753684263043_2574212950198527792_nJustin Bienvenue is an indie author and poet. He is diverse in several different genres but mainly writes horror and poetry.

He published his first book The Macabre Masterpiece: Poems of Horror and Gore in 2010 and later had it republished in 2013. He also published the Western Horror A Bloody Bloody Mess In The Wild Wild West in 2013, Like A Box of Chocolates another book of poetry in 2014 and a Crime Thriller Opium Warfare. He has also written several stories and poems which have been published in anthologies.

When not writing novels he also writes short stories and drabbles, and on his blog. He is currently promoting his latest novel while also working on Hundred Year Old Horror, a Horror Blog.

 

Goodreads // Amazon // Twitter

Up Next on Horror October:

30 Days of Horror: Phantoms

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30 Days of Horror #18: Redder Than Blood #HO17 #30daysofhorror

30daysofhorror

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

Tonight’s horror book choice is by an author that I’ve been meaning to try for ages now. This book was only released in April, but when I first saw the cover I thought it was from the 90s or something. I like it! It’s a short story collection of horror-interpreted fairy-tales. Sounds awesome.

redderthanblood

Available in digital formats only, 209 pages

Published April 4th 2017 by DAW

A vampiric Snow White whose pious stepmother is her only salvation….
A supernatural Cinderella who strikes at midnight, leaving behind a prince mad with desire….
A sleeping beauty never meant to be woken…


In her World Fantasy Award-nominated short story collection, Red as Blood, Tanith Lee deconstructed familiar fairy tales, recapturing their original darkness and horror in haunting new interpretations. Behind gilded words and poised princesses, she exposed a sinister world of violence, madness, and dangerous enchantments.


With Redder than Blood, Lee resumes the tradition of twisting tales. Among its nineteen tales, this volume explores unnerving variations of Beauty and the Beast, The Frog Prince, Snow White, and other classics, including three never-before-published stories.


A recognized master fantasist, Tanith Lee has won multiple awards for her craft, including the British Fantasy Award, the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement in Horror.

 

Goodreads // Not My Review

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Have you read it? What did you think?

Up Next on Horror October:

Flash Fiction Battle: Entry #2

Flash Fiction Battle: Entry #1 #FFB17 #HO17

ffb2017

Welcome to the second annual flash fiction battle in which four brilliant independent horror authors will battle it out to be crowned the King or Queen of Horror, (well, Horror October at least). 

For the past week and a half, the four participating horror writers have been creating an original short story based on the theme you chose.

The winning theme was ‘Master of Cemeteries’, and the stories have started rolling in. Once all four have been published, the vote will open for you to pick your favourite. I will crown the winner on Halloween!

Without further ado, feast your eyes on Entry #1.

Please do let us know what you think in the comments below. Will this story get your vote?

Holding On

by Sean Seebach

“It’s my job,” Ben said to his wife. “It has to be done.”

She tucked her face into her husband’s neck, rubbed her nose into his flannel collar, then kissed his unshaven cheek before leaving a coffee filled thermos and ham sandwich with him. The coffee would get drank. She had her doubts about the latter, noticing Ben’s flannel hanging loosely from his body. Everything had changed so quickly for them.

But she knew Ben was right. It was his job as the caretaker of Cedar Grove Cemetery to do the work that had to be done. She took a moment to gaze at the purple streaked sky before firing up the family’s 2001 Plymouth Neon, the one that fought to remain forest green against the orange colored rust, and thought about how proud she was to have Ben Taylor as her husband.

…..

Ben picked up the plastic grocery bag his wife had left him and took a squat next to the pile of dirt where he left his spade. He unscrewed the thermos cap, poured, and sipped black coffee during the chilly October twilight.

Across the street, he heard children laughing, screaming, yelling “trick or treat!” at the top of their little lungs. Visions of toddlers dressed as dinosaurs, spacemen, princesses flashed through his mind. Huddled together in small groups, holding the hands of their Mom and Dad, only to let go once they were close to a walkway that led to the porch. Then, a full on joyous sprint, high-pitched screeching, heavy breathing, wide smiles. Plastic bags decorated with witches and castles and bats and cartoonish looking boogiemen being whipped open. More smiles as handfuls of sugary goodness fell into those bags. Bags that Mom and Dad would surely have to go through once darkness fell.

His stomach turned sour.

He picked up the sandwich his wife had left him and unwrapped it. He put it to his nose and smelled it. When was the last time he ate? Ben couldn’t remember. He hadn’t eaten in so long that Ben wasn’t sure if he even liked ham anymore, let alone sandwiches.

He took a greedy bite anyway. He chomped around for a few seconds before spitting it out. He wasn’t ready to eat. Not yet. Maybe later.

The sun fell faster and soon it would be dark. If Ben didn’t get a move on, he’d be working by the light of the lantern. This was okay by him. He wanted to hear the children a little longer.

…..

The moon was almost visible now, a large white china plate hanging in the darkest sky imaginable. Gray, elongated clouds hovered in front of it. They were so close to each other they almost touched. Crickets began chattering to one another in the copse of trees close to where Ben was. Every now and then their chirps drowned out from the call of an owl. The children’s voices from across the street became nothing more than an echo. Ben picked up his spade and began to work.

He had done this so many times before. He tried to convince himself this was just like all the others. But he couldn’t fool what the heart knew. Trying to move on, to push through, was something he and his wife would have to learn as they lived. But Ben needed something to hang on to, something he could feel.

He took a moment to give his hands a break. They began to bleed in the cracks of his palms. He removed his flannel and wiped sweat from his face. When he exhaled he saw his breath and the cool air felt good. He straightened his back and glanced down and regarded the missing pooch from his beltline.

“Heck of a way to lose weight, Ben,” he said. “Didn’t even have to exercise.”

Then it came to him.

“Exercise.” He took a deep breath. “Running.”

Running was the word he needed to find the memory that he would…

“Hold on to forever. Bobby, you’re…”

“Running! Look Daddies! I’m running!” Bobby is running all right. He’s running in the backyard. His arms are outstretched along with his chubby hands. He is smiling and his head is tilted back so his eyes are squinting into the sunlight. White light enhances the child’s blonde hair, mainly at the flared ends where the wind has caught them, forcing them to flap like little wings…

“Daddies, I spin.” Bobby holds his arms up. Daddy grabs a hold of Bobby’s hands and asks him if he’s ready. “Readies,” Bobby says with a nod and a grin. Daddy plants his feet into the tall, soft green grass and begins to spin. Bobby’s feet lift from the grass and into the air. Their eyes lock onto each other. In the corners of their eyes, the world is spinning in a kaleidoscope of color: green, blue, white, brown. Daddy’s worries vanish in that moment. The envelopes stamped with PAST DUE in red letters, asking the cashier to return the snack cakes and bubble bath at the register to prevent an overdraft (just the necessities on this shopping trip, Bobby. Sorry), the anxiety from watching the price screen on the fuel pump go higher and higher are all forgotten in the whirlwind…

“Daddies, look! I fall.” Bobby falls down. “Daddies! You fall…too!” Daddy also falls, right on his back. He looks over at Bobby who has his arms once again stretched out to his side. Daddy does the same. They face each other, make eye contact and smile. Together they raise their feet to the clouds then watch the sky as the dizziness slows…

Ben finds that memory in the darkest of moments, one that he will hold on to for the rest of his life, as he spills the last of the dirt onto the gravesite with the tombstone marked:

Bobby Taylor

February 5, 2015-October 24, 2017

The End

(988 words)

Meet the Author

ffb17-seanInfluenced by Stephen King and Rod Serling, Sean Seebach has written four books: A Looking in View, Autumn Dark, Our Monsters Are Real: The Pig Man and his latest release Unknown Vol 1.

When Sean isn’t writing or managing a wonderful barbecue joint with amazing people, he enjoys reading, cooking, and listening to rock n’ roll. He currently lives in Ohio with his wife, daughter, and son.

Goodreads // Amazon // Twitter // Website

Follow the fight on Twitter

Huge thanks to all four writers, especially Stephen for helping to coordinate.

30 Days of Horror #7: Some Will Not Sleep #HO17

30daysofhorror

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

This evening’s choice is a horror story collection by Adam Nevill. I haven’t read this yet, or anything by Nevill for that matter but I’ve heard great things about his work. I’ve actually had one of his books, Banquet of the Damned sat on my TBR shelf for a number of years so I have no excuse. But you know, it’s all part and parcel of being a book hoarder isn’t it!

somewill

Available in all formats (incl. Audio), 250 pages

Published  October 31st 2016 by Ritual Limited

 A bestial face appears at windows in the night.

In the big white house on the hill angels are said to appear.
A forgotten tenant in an isolated building becomes addicted to milk.


A strange goddess is worshipped by a home-invading disciple.
The least remembered gods still haunt the oldest forests.
Cannibalism occurs in high society at the end of the world.
The sainted undead follow their prophet to the Great Dead Sea.
A confused and vengeful presence occupies the home of a first-time buyer . . .

In ghastly harmony with the nightmarish visions of the award-winning writer’s novels, these stories blend a lifelong appreciation of horror culture with the grotesque fascinations and childlike terrors that are the author’s own.

Adam Nevill’s best early horror stories are collected here for the first time.

 

Goodreads // Not My Review

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Have you read it? What did you think?

Up Next on Horror October:

Week #1 Wrap-up

Horror October: The Flash Fiction Battle Story Prompt Revealed #ffb17 #HO17

ffb2017

Welcome to the second annual flash fiction battle in which four brilliant independent horror authors will battle it out to be crowned the King or Queen of Horror, (well, Horror October at least). 

All week you have been voting for your favourite horror story prompt which the four participating authors will base their story on, and the results are in!

4th Place: Sister Shadow (13% of the vote)

3rd Place: An obscure relic (17%)

2nd Place: The kids are made from tricks not treats (21%)

And the winner is…

Master of cemeteries

with a whopping 42% of the vote (20 votes).

Thanks to everyone that voted!

So, it’s now time for the four participating authors to rack their depraved brains and get writing their best scary story.

Meet the Authors

 

Justin Bienvenue

10485404_757753684263043_2574212950198527792_nJustin Bienvenue is an indie author and poet. He is diverse in several different genres but mainly writes horror and poetry.

He published his first book The Macabre Masterpiece: Poems of Horror and Gore in 2010 and later had it republished in 2013. He also published the Western Horror A Bloody Bloody Mess In The Wild Wild West in 2013, Like A Box of Chocolates another book of poetry in 2014 and a Crime Thriller Opium Warfare. He has also written several stories and poems which have been published in anthologies.

When not writing novels he also writes short stories and drabbles, and on his blog. He is currently promoting his latest novel while also working on Hundred Year Old Horror, a Horror Blog.

 

Gabino Iglesias

bwgabinoiglesias

Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX.

He’s the author of ZERO SAINTS, HUNGRY DARKNESS, and GUTMOUTH. He is the book reviews editor for PANK Magazine, the TV/film editor for Entropy Magazine, and a columnist for LitReactor and CLASH Media. His reviews have appeared in Electric Literature, The Rumpus, 3AM Magazine, and many other print and online venues.

Gabino’s latest release is an anthology of crime stories inspired by the songs of Johnny Cash.

You can find him on Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias.

Stephen Kozeniewski

ffb17-sk1Stephen Kozeniewski (pronounced “causin’ ooze key”) lives in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. During his time as a Field Artillery officer, he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star.

He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds much more impressive than saying his bachelor’s degree is in German.

He has written numerous horror novels including Braineater Jones, The Hematophages and Hunter of the Dead, and has been published in various anthologies.

Stephen’s latest release, Slashvivor! is a collaboration with none other than Stevie Kopas, the reigning champion of the Flash Fiction Battle! It was released September 1st 2017.

Sean Seebach

ffb17-seanInfluenced by Stephen King and Rod Serling, Sean Seebach has written three books: A Looking in View, Autumn Dark and Our Monsters Are Real: The Pig Man.

When Sean isn’t writing or managing a wonderful barbecue joint with amazing people, he enjoys reading, cooking, and listening to rock n’ roll. He currently lives in Ohio with his wife, daughter, and son.

Unknown: Vol 1 (Hidden Worlds) is Sean’s latest release which was published September 22.

Follow the fight on Twitter @Lipsyy

Huge thanks to all four writers, especially Stephen for helping to coordinate.

Keep your eyes out for the first story!

Horror October: Flash Fiction Battle – Voting Ends Tomorrow! #ffb17 #HO17

ffb2017

Welcome to the second annual flash fiction battle in which four brilliant independent horror authors will battle it out to be crowned the King or Queen of Horror, (well, Horror October at least). 

Just a quick reminder that Voting ends on Friday 6th October at midnight (GMT)

What’s going on?

The flash fiction battle will see four of the best independent horror writers produce an original short story (1000 words or under) based on a prompt chosen by you!

When?

Voting ends on Friday 6th October at midnight and I will announce the winning prompt on Saturday 7th. The writers will then have until the 21st Oct to get their stories to me. Once all four stories have been published another vote will open so you can pick your favourite story and I will crown the winner on Halloween.

 

I’ll be introducing the writers in a later post, but for a sneak peak you can check out their Amazon author pages below:

Justin Bienvenue

Gabino Iglesias

Stephen Kozeniewski

Sean Seebach

Follow the fight on Twitter @Lipsyy

Huge thanks to all four writers, especially Stephen for helping to coordinate. Now get voting!

Horror October: Revisiting Self-Made Man by Poppy Brite #HO17

HorrorOct2017

It has become somewhat of a tradition to kick off the Horror October proceedings by reblogging my favourite read from the previous year.

Back in 2014, Horror October #2 saw me reblog The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, followed by Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory in year three. And last year I took another look at An English Ghost Story by Kim Newman.

To be honest, I struggled to decide this time. Although last year’s Horror October was a brilliant month, none of the books I read for it truly stood out. I enjoyed nearly all of them, but I wasn’t completely blown away by any single book.

I have however decided to reblog my review of Poppy Brite’s short story collection, Self-Made Man. Out of all the books, this is the one that has stayed with me the longest.

 

Self-Made Man ~ Poppy Z. Brite

selfmade
Format: Paperback, 180 pages
Publication Details: July 22nd 1999 by Orion
Genre(s): Horror; Short Stories
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it.

Goodreads

This collection of 12 short stories from Poppy Brite contains collaborations with Christa Faust and David Ferguson and an introduction from Peter Straub.

The collection also includes America, which features Steve and Ghost, the central characters in Lost Souls.

Review

For Horror October, I decided to read Self-Made Man, a book of short fiction by Brite that I’d never got round to buying. My friend Dora found it in a charity shop and lent it to me. I was dubious after not really loving Love in Vein, another story collection of his.

Short stories just don’t seem to be my thing, even by authors that I love.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by Self-Made Man. It begins with a very short story written from the perspective of a maggot in a slaughter-house which is basically a showcase for Brite’s ability to make disgusting, putrid things sensual.

Arise, is a story about Cobb, a reclusive ex-pop star who faked his own death, who hears that his old band-mate has died. He then gets a mysterious letter saying that he has left his secluded house to him. Did he know all along that Cobb was alive? And why would he leave his house to him? I really liked this story. It had twists and turns and lots of intrigue.

The titular story, Self-Made Man was a hit too. It’s very much in the same breath of novel, Exquisite Corpse, based on cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer. It’s not for the faint-hearted.

Vine of the Soul was a winner too, which reunites us with two characters from Drawing Blood. 

The rest of the stories I could take or leave, but my favourite part of this book was the author’s notes on each story. Fascinating, as ever.

horroctrating-4

This short review was posted as part of a spotlight on the author, written especially for Horror October 2016, which you can find here.

 

Strawberries at Wimbledon by Nikki Moore #BookReview #MiniReview

icon-bookreview

 

strawberries

Title: Strawberries at Wimbledon
Author: Nikki Moore
Series: Love London #5
Format: Kindle Edition, 40 pages
Publication Details: May 14th 2015 by HarperImpulse
Genre(s): Romance; Short Story/Novella
Disclosure? Nope! I bought it (even thought it was free!)

Goodreads 

Purchase

The one that got away?

Sipping Pimms and eating fresh strawberries at Wimbledon are the perfect start to the British summer for Rayne. Immersed in her career as a journalist in the City, she’s been too busy and distracted to give men – or other outside interests – much of a chance lately. That’s something her friend Lily thinks she should correct, coming up with the perfect ‘sex with an ex’ solution – much to the amusement of the crowd on Centre Court!

When Rayne runs into old flame Adam, former good guy who is now all grown up with a hint of bad boy about him, it’s a tempting thought. But is that such a good idea, when she knows that four years ago, she broke his heart?

Back from travelling the world and settling into running the family business, Adam never expected to see his university girlfriend again. And he definitely didn’t think he would still be angry with her for running away, or that she would still have the same stunning effect on him. But she does, so maybe the perfect way to get her out of his dreams and from under his skin, is to have a hot sex-filled night with her? The only trouble is, one night might not be enough…

First love – can you ever go back? 


Review

Strawberries at Wimbledon is the fifth in a series of short romances set in London. I haven’t read any of the previous stories but they stand alone nicely. I love tennis, especially Wimbledon so that’s what drew me to this one.

The story is about journalist Rayne who is invited to Wimbledon by her best friend for a girls day out. What they didn’t bank on was bumping into Rayne’s ex, and first love Adam.

I enjoyed this light-hearted short read. It had lots of cute moments and enough backstory to make it interesting. I’ve been to the Wimbledon Championships a lot and I think the author did a good job in evoking the atmosphere of it. It did come across as a bit outdated however, as the queuing system and other things mentioned have moved on a bit in recent years, but it really didn’t impact on the essence of it.

I can only speak for this particular story, but I reckon the Love London series on the whole is a perfect read for summer. If you’re looking for something flirtatious and fun to read in the sun, then look no further!

unicorn rating 4

Online Writer’s Circle – Join me!? #Writing #WritersWanted

whedon

I’m trying to write more and blog less at the moment…if you know what I mean. I have so many unfinished short stories, picture book ideas and one disaster of a YA novel and I think joining a writer’s circle/ group would be really useful, for motivation if nothing else.

This is where you guys come in. Does anyone want to join a casual, online writer’s circle (before I trawl the wider internet)? It would be really great to share work and get feedback from fellow bloggers instead of total randoms. If you’re interested leave a comment or email me (see contact page) and we can discuss it from there! 🙂 

 

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.