Review: High Moor 3 Blood Moon

•February 1, 2016 • 4 Comments

The Site That Should Not Be

26803158The High Moor saga is one of those rare series where each book is better than the last. Graeme Reynolds is a man who loves his werewolves, but he likes them visceral and dangerous. If you’re tired of teen angst and sexy wolves, this is the series for you. And Blood Moon is the best yet.

The werewolves have been exposed, and you can imagine the response by the non-wolf public. Our heroes are hunted, not only by the government that wants to understand and take advantage of their secrets, but by the leaders of the pack who blame them for ripping away the veil of secrecy that had protected the other werewolves. At the same time, people who live ordinary lives—except, you know, for once a month—are now targeted for extermination. And it’s all coming to a head where everything started—the village of High Moor.

Heavy, right? Reynolds is…

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The Rats And The Ruins: James Herbert’s Domain. By Simon Bestwick

•December 9, 2015 • 4 Comments

The Rats And The Ruins: James Herbert’s Domain.

 

James Herbert’s career, of course, began with The Rats. It established his trademdomainark style very early on: direct and confrontational, with solid, often working-class characterisation and a take-no-prisoners attitude. And it created a highly effective monster for the 1970s and ‘80s, imitated by a host of lesser writers pressing normally innocuous creatures into service as bloodthirsty flesh-eaters.

Nearly all these imitations fell flat, because they were missing one vital ingredient: the ability to locate and tap into a deep, universal fear. Time and again, Herbert, at his best, had it.

Many people fear feral rats: dirty, disease-spreading creatures, vicious when cornered or when their prey was helpless (just ask Orwell’s Winston Smith.) Herbert, born and raised in London’s bombed-out post-war East End, knew that very well. By making them bigger, more aggressive and more ruthlessly cunning, he linked them to another primal dread – being eaten alive – and created a genuine nightmare creature, one he revisited in two further novels, Lair and Domain.

In Domain, Herbert’s instinct for finding a near-universal psychological pressure point was at its most unerring. He deployed the rats in a new, imaginatively challenging environment even more frightening – and plausible – than them: the aftermath of a nuclear attack.

The novel opens with a precise, clinical description of a nuclear bomb exploding over London, then leads into a demonstration of another of Herbert’s strengths: the vignette. The in-yer-face nature of his narratives always made a high casualty rate inevitable, but for those deaths to be anything more than splatter, they had to befall people we at least gave a damn about.

Herbert had honed the ability to paint a character in immediate, empathetic terms before killing them off, and he deploys it brilliantly here. We’re used to the opening chapter introducing our principal characters, and Herbert plays on that expectation: we meet in succession an elderly Jewish grandmother, a stingy garage owner, a high-class prostitute, a phone engineer in the Post Office Tower and a police constable on his first day on the job. We meet them, we share their hopes and fears, experience a flicker of hope that this one may be our protagonist, our anchor in the chaos that follows – and then they die.

Only at the end of the chapter, with the introduction of civil servant Alex Dealey, do we at last meet one of the book’s principal characters, and even he isn’t the main protagonist: that’s ex-pilot Mike Culver, who pulls Dealey to shelter.

Meanwhile, the rats, having sensed their human arch-enemy is now weakened, emerge from hiding in search of prey…

In the aftermath of the explosions, Culver, Dealey and, Kate, another survivor, find their way to a government blast shelter. After the worst of the fall-out has dispersed, they venture into the ruined city above; later still, forced out of the shelter, they search for the government’s central bunker, only to find that the rats have swarmed through it and killed everyone there.

More bleak vignettes are scattered through the book. A work-from-home businessman hides in his cellar with his family. A teenage girl is menaced by a rapist in the cinema where she and a hundred others have taken refuge. A misanthropic salesman finds he’s sharing his homebuilt blast shelter with a cat. None end with even a glimmer of hope. In some, the rats bring havoc and death, but it’s easy to think these are the lucky ones: the other cases are often more disturbing. The saddest and most haunting scene of all portrays a housewife, her mind broken; tying her dead family to chairs around the kitchen table and serving them a breakfast of mouldy, silverfish-ridden cereal, she chatters to them as if it’s just another day.

The rats were, themselves, the product of a mutation caused by nuclear testing, so in a sense the wheel has come full circle in Domain. Indeed, at the end Culver is haunted by his glimpse of a clutch of mutant baby rats, and their resemblance to human embryos, implying we have more in common with the rodents than we’d like to admit.

Domain, to be blunt, scared the living shit out of me when I read it aged eleven, and it wasn’t – most of the time – because of the rats. It’s probably Herbert’s best novel; I still remember it years later, and it’s partly responsible for making me still write weird shit today.

 

Simon Bestwick is the author of Tide Of Souls, The Faceless and Black Mountain. His short fiction has appeared in Black Static and Best Horror Of The Year, and been collected in A Hazy Shade Of Winter, Pictures Of The Dark, Let’s Drink To The Dead and The Condemned. His new novel, Hell’s Ditch – like Domain, a horror novel set in the aftermath of a nuclear strike – is out now.

Hell’s Ditch

High Moor 3 is done! Release on 27th October 2015. And some early reviews

•October 12, 2015 • 5 Comments

And here is the finished cover in all its glory

Hi Guys – no need to check your calendar. It’s not April and I have finally put High Moor 3 to bed. I got the last edits back this morning, build the ebook and paperbacks and the ebook is sitting on Amazon for pre-order right now.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B015M6CKPE/

When I find five minutes I will endeavour to bore you all rigid over the coming weeks with blog posts, interviews and the like, but in the meantime I thought I’d point you in the direction of some early reviews to whet your appetite.

First review bragging rights went to the wonderful Gingernuts of Horror website, who said, among other things:

Blood Moon is darker and bloodier than the previous books in the series. The werewolves are more vicious than ever, and Reynolds does not hold back the violence in this book, so if that kind of thing bothers you, beware. However, there is a bit of humour thrown in to break up the violence and tension, and Reynolds demonstrates that he can write more than gore and brutal death scenes.”

http://www.gingernutsofhorror.com/4/post/2015/09/horror-fiction-review-high-moor-iii-blood-moon-by-graeme-reynolds.html

 

Then the awesome Horror Maiden herself, the lovely Angela Crawford, had this to say…

“This action packed thrill ride is filled with enough chills and terror, along with an astronomical body count, to please any horror lover out there. The characters are fantastically written and believable.”

http://horrormaiden.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/high-moor-3-blood-moon-by-graeme.html

 

And then Stormblade Productions got in on the act, with this great review.

Due to the brutality of Blood Moon it has taken the top spot for the best Werewolf novel I’ve ever read. Fact. “The unfortunate soldier’s torso fell twenty feet to the bloodstained ground, trailing intestines behind it like the streamers on a kite.” Lines like this gave me such a visual that it had to have that spot.

http://stormbladeproductions.com/reviews.html

 

I’ll keep posting them as they come in. Sorry for the wait. Hope it was worth it.

A Different Kind of Horror – UPDATE!

•September 9, 2015 • Leave a Comment

#AuthorLipsyncBattles – You know it makes no kind of sense😀

Horror Reviews for You

Hey everyone,

With all the utter crap going around on the social media sites these days, I wanted to bring you something fun and in most cases, more terrifying than anything these guys could ever write.

A couple days ago, Matt Shaw challenged horror authors to a lip sync battle using the hashtag #AuthorLipsyncBattles. He called out specific authors by name, but invited any horror author who wants to participate. A few authors have taken him up on his challenge. There are no rules. Simply choose a song and lip sync in the most entertaining way possible.

These are the entries so far.

Matt Shaw – 1

Matt Shaw – 2

Matt Shaw – 3 (language warning on this one)

Jack Rollins

Graeme Reynolds

Shaun Hupp – 1

Shaun Hupp – 2

Chris Barnes (Narrator)

Luke Smitherd

Glenn Rolfe

If you want a good laugh, check out these videos. More…

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Recent, Decent Werewolf Movies you probably missed

•September 3, 2015 • 5 Comments

The cinematic werewolf is one of those monsters that is done, with a few noteable exceptions, incredibly badly. The fact that the werewolf transformation effects seem to have peaked over thirty years ago with American Werewolf in London is, quite frankly, depressing and while there was a flurry of great movies in the early 2000’s (Ginger Snaps Trilogy and Dog Soldiers), the majority of films featuring everyone’s favourite cursed, hairy beast have been somewhere between crap and absolutely god-awful.

However, all is not lost. Over the last couple of years there have been a few absolutely fantastic werewolf films that may have slipped under your radar. And I thought it was about time that I shared a few of my more recent favourites, for those of you who are looking for a change from the classics.

Wer (2013)

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When an American family are slaughtered on a camping trip to rural France, the police initially suspect a bear or similar wild animal is responsible. It doesn’t take long for them to launch a murder investigation, however, and arrest a hirstute giant of a man called Talan Gwynek for the atrocities. An American human rights lawyer takes on the case for Talan’s defense as things are not quite adding up – chief among them being the fact that her client is suffering from a debilitating disease that should it be proven, would mean he could not possibly have committed the murders.

To say any more would do the film a disservice. Suffice to say that something that starts out looking very much like a legal drama quickly turns into a very effective, almost realistic take on the werewolf legend. The action in the later half of the film is quite brutal and the transformation scenes are subtle enough to retain the initial realism while being more than enough to show that this really is a werewolf that they are dealing with. Things get a little overdone towards the final act, but this remains a thoroughly enjoyable take on the werewolf legend, with a bit of pseudo science thrown in for good measure and enough carnage to satisfy any horror gore hound. 8/10

Attack of the Werewolves (Game of Werewolves) (2011)

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Tomas is an unsucessful writer who is invited to return to his childhood home to collect an award. Despite warnings from his mother he returns to his home town, only to find that perhaps the locals were not quite as forthcoming about the reasons for his invite as they could have been. He is, infact, there to end a curse that was placed upon the village over a century ago. No prizes for guessing what the curse entailed…

I love this film. Despite the fact that it’s in Spanish, the comedy comes across extremely well, with plenty of laugh out loud moments among the carnage. The practical effects are surprisingly good and it walks that very difficult line between comedy and horror with a confidence that few films manage.

I realise that subtitles films are not everyone’s cup of tea, but I strongly recommend you check this movie out. It’s hilarious, well plotted, well acted and doesn’t shy away from the blood letting. 8/10

When Animals Dream (2014)

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16 Year Old Marie is going through some changes. She spends her time in a small Danish fishing village with her father, alternatively helping to care for her wheelchair bound mother and working at the local fish processing factory. She is mostly shunned by the townsfolk, who treat her with something between contempt and fear. However when it becomes apparent that she may be suffering from the same illness as her mother, the people in the town feel that they have to take action.

This film is gorgeous. From the bleak setting, to the washed out colour scheme and the absolutely pitch perfect acting, this film blew me away. Despite it being subtitled, the dialogue is minimal, with most of the work being done through action and body language. I probably could have followed the story with the subtitles turned off, such is the quality of the performances.

When Animals Dream is, in tone if nothing else, the werewolf equivalent of Let The Right One In, but in many ways I actually think this is the better film. The theme of a young girl going through change and having the strength to make her own decisions about her life are possibly a little heavy handed at times, but its a riveting, melancholy and minimalist piece of film making and deserves to be considered a classic. Probably the best film I have seen this year in any genre. 9/10

Howl (2015)

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Joe is a young ticket collector for a rail company who, having just been passed up for promotion, agrees to work the late night shift to give him a chance of spending time with Ellen, an attractive colleague who is also working the same shift. When the train hits something while passing through a forest and the driver goes missing, Joe has to rally the passengers to survive the night as they come under attack by something in the woods.

I really enjoyed Howl. The beginning especially does a great job of building tension, even if its a little slow to start off with. There is a palpable sense of dread among the passengers, especially after an ill fated attempt to walk to the next station reveals what exactly happened to the driver. The attacks are fast, brutal and utterly vicious.

That’s not to say that Howl does not have its problems. Some of the characters, especially the token city boy wanker and annoying teenager, are perhaps overdone. A few of them do some amazingly stupid things (lets go off by myself into the woods, with a torch, when you know the place is crawling with werewolves, because you heard a noise… yeah…) and far too many of the deaths happen off camera. While this builds suspense early on, I found it becoming annoying as the movie progressed. Also, in the later scenes the werewolves, quite frankly, spend too much time pissing about and posturing in front of their prey, which, given the fast, brutal initial attacks, also irritated me a bit.

That said, Howl is a decent addition to this list. When it works, it really does work. The comedy elements are well done, with a few laugh out loud moments, and it has enough suspense and scares for me to forgive its shortcomings. 7/10

Flash Fiction – The Nowhere Man

•March 14, 2015 • 1 Comment

Been a little while since I did anything on here. My apologies. It’s actually been a while since I got a writing groove on but tonight (which watching a dumb rom com) I had the urge to get something done. So – movie was paused and I rattled this out. It might be shit, but at least its a story. Feel free to let me know what you think.

The Nowhere Man by Graeme Reynolds

The old man sat alone in the bar and watched the people around him going about their lives. A young couple, sitting at the table across from him spoke to each other in whispers, intent only on each other.  The girl’s clothes and makeup were immaculate, despite the hour. Seven in the evening, which meant that she’d gone straight home from work and gotten herself ready. Her eyes shone as her partner, a good-looking man with a carefully dishevelled appearance, spoke to her in a low voice. The old man watched as the strings of their lives streamed out into the future, intersecting with other bright blue lines of possibly in bright bomb-bursts that created new lines of life in trails of orange, green and scarlet, each extending off into their own infinite possibilities.

He smiled to himself.  A small, sad expression.  Gratified to witness the potential futures unfolding before the young couple that contrasted the fading, lonely line of his own existence – stretching out for a few short years until it faded to nothing. His own line brushed against others; a brief brightening that created a few vague, quickly forgotten interactions on the futures of those that he came into contact with. A smile. A couple of choice words, or a phrase uttered in passing conversation that would be remembered at some point in the future, without the person remembering where they had heard those words before, or who had spoken them. Small, meaningless intersections with other lives that had little effect beyond the immediate future.

It had not always been that way. In his youth, the man’s life had been filled with possibilities. A spider web of interactions that had affected the lives of those around him. Chance introductions between acquaintances that had blossomed into love, marriage and children that blazed their own bright lines upon the future. Random meetings and discussions that had erupted in a cascade of potential futures, where the world had belonged to him and those he met. All of that was in the past now, though. He’d made a decision, years ago, that the small bubble of reality that he’d created with her would be enough. That he needed nothing else. He’d moved away from those who knew and loved him, holding their shared reality close as they chased a dream. Until that dream had faded and he found himself alone in a prison of his own making, the interactions with others reduced to little more than fleeting illumination along a progressively darker future.

He sighed and made his way to the bar for another drink. Another small dose of oblivion to numb his breaking heart and pass the empty hours. To dim the awareness of the lives extending around him. He smiled at the young girl behind the bar, aware of the shy, veiled glance that she gave to her colleague and the intertwining dance of the lifelines – a dance that in seven or eight months would have another partner – the child in her stomach hardly the size of a pea at this stage but already colouring their combined futures with an incandescent golden glow.

The shove came from behind. Unintentional but still with sufficient force to make him stagger, sloshing the contents of his glass across his shirt. A young man in grey tracksuit bottoms and a faded baseball cap, stumbling forward and forcing his way to the bar. He did not even apologise. Hardly even seemed aware of the contact. The barmaid frowned at him and shook her head. “Go home, Billy. You’ve had too many. I’m not serving you.”

Billy snarled, and the vinegar stench of his unwashed clothing assailed the man’s nostrils. A few slurred insults hurled before he staggered off towards the exit, watched by the barmaid and her partner, who now stood beside her with his arms folded.

The man saw the lifeline of the drunk stream out before him. A diseased, sickly thing, filled with undirected anger and bitterness tainting it and everything it came into contact with. An intersection with the young couple in the corner. Three lines coming together in a dark eruption. Only one line continuing on.

The door to the bar slammed against the wall as the drunk left. The young couple in the corner’s hands touch. They smile and finish their drinks, then retrieve their jackets from the chair beside them.

The man was barely aware of the barmaids voice as he stepped away from the bar, leaving a crumpled ten pound note behind him. The possibilities drained away before him – his vision narrowing until only a single path remained. One last choice. One last mark he could leave on the world.

He reached the door at the same time as the young couple. He smiled at the woman, then said “Is that your mobile phone underneath the table?”. They paused, instinctively patting their pockets. That second was all the time he needed. All the time he had left.

The man stepped from the pub into the dark car park. Felt, rather than saw the glare of the headlights. The pain was agonising, but mercifully brief as the car impacted his body, shattering bone until fragments carved their way through nerve and muscle. For the briefest of moments he was flying – all pain forgotten – defying gravity until it regained its hold and drew him close once more in a final crushing embrace.

The young couple stood at the door to the bar, their lifelines blazing. The drunk leaving his car, slurring “I never saw him. He just came out of nowhere.”

As the light faded from his eyes and his body grew cold, the man smiled then breathed his last.

Guest Blog by William Holloway. The Thing in the Basement – HP Lovecraft and Racism

•January 14, 2015 • 4 Comments

hpl_portraitBeing a worthy young man, it was an inevitability that you would come into your inheritance, as you hail from a historic family that traced it’s origins in New England all the way back to Roanoke. You receive a letter from an executor telling that your long lost uncle, a thin gaunt New England eccentric,  has disappeared, leaving his estate in Providence to you. You’ve never met him, but your grandmother always said he looked just like you, he spoke just like you, before crossing herself and looking away. You had always chalked this up to mere superstition…

Ah, Providence! Both timely and temporal, of rain swept streets and fog enshrouded boulevards, gambrel roofed homes and witch haunted memory! You set out at once to inspect this new addition to your portfolio, and are instantly charmed by it. It feels like home, it feels like a part of you went missing and has been returned by an act of providence. The library is sumptuous, the tomes both byzantine and welcoming. You’ve only heard darkly veiled whispers of the the Necronomicon, Cultes Des Ghoules, De Vermiis Mystiris, The Incendium Malificarum, and Pecul Numeritor, having spent time as a professor of letters at Miskatonic University.

But now, all of this is yours, a whole world to explore.

It feels right. It feels like home.

But then…the horror in the basement!  Aberrant, ruggose, a thing that should not be! It appears to be a column, but the angles are wrong. It is vulgar, unsightly, evocative of dark aeons best left forgotten to the sands of time. Why has such singular beauty been marred by such hideous blemish? What madness drove the former inhabitant, that thin gaunt New England eccentric, to force it where it need not be?

Yet the next day, the executor cables you with news of monumental import. The column, the heinous eidolon can be removed, and the the shadows and peaks of fog enshrouded Providence can once again dream beneath the black stars of infinity in something like peace.

What, you might ask, is our good narrator going on about?

Essentially, this column, this eidolon, this thing in the basement is not a load bearing structure. In fact it has nothing to do with the house other than that the builder put it there, seemingly out of spite for himself and everyone else. The thin gaunt New England eccentric is none other that HP Lovecraft, and you, the buyer are really reading one of his stories.

What then, you ask is this pillar, this eidolon of terrible angles and nameless meaning?

Well, it does have a name. That name is racism.

But the moral of this story, a story now being told by the reader to the author, is that this pillar is not essential to the story, this house shall not fall, but rather continue to dream its dreams into the minds of others for untold aeons.

HP, you say, “This racism has nothing to do with the story. We could just name the cat Bob. Those swarthy hordes in the Horror at Red Hook could just be anyone we currently find alien, exotic, threatening. or just plain suspect. Perhaps Furries?  Perhaps suspicious types who dress up as colonial era philosophers and debate the rights of man in witch haunted Providence?”

So, HP asks, “This racism, as you call it, is not part of the essential nature of the thing?”

No, you answer, it is not.

Now that we’ve gone meta with our parable, we can discuss the real heart of the matter: The Lovecraft Problem. Howard Philips Lovecraft was a writer of no mean proportion, only what he did with that writing was a shame and a caution and an eldritch horror. He was a racist, a real racist. He believed, as many did at the time, that race was the primary determinant of individual and group characteristics. This is not subjective racism, that he was a racist is not in debate. No my dear readers, Lovecraft’s racism was real, actual racism.

To a man of today, it’s jarring. There you are reading this fascinating wordsmith and you come across it, and are launched out of an engrossing tale and straight into the fact of it. It’s racist. It really is.

But you keep reading, you shake your head, and you finish the story. That story was awesome, but that completely unnecessary addition well nigh ruined it. But you keep reading his stories anyways, in fact you read all of them. You become one of the cult, one of those people referred to as Lovecraftians. There’s one on every bus. They’ve got tentacle tattoos and funny taste in just about everything.

Then someone reads an article to you from a highbrow and sophisticated arbiter of nothing such as The New York Review of Constipated Snobbery. It says Lovecraft sucks. You ignore it until you hear that word. The R word. Racist.

You ask yourself; How did I do it? How did I file away that nasty nugget of truth about this man, how did I reconcile this?

It is here that your dear narrator must step in and make a confession. I really had to think about it. How exactly did I square this circle? And here, ladies and gentlemen is my answer: Lovecraft’s Racism is not essential to his prose, to his monsters, or to his universe. If you removed it, it’s essence would remain intact.

His monsters, his universe, were created by a a horrifying childhood and a terrible and precocious vulnerability. The swarthies in The Horror at Red Hook, the name of the cat in The Rats in the Walls, and a few other examples that slip my mind, are not why you read Lovecraft or why I read Lovecraft. As I said, you could engage in a bit of cut and paste and make those baddies from The Horror at Red Hook into Furries, hell you could turn them into Lovecraftians and the story would still work. Yes, Lovecraft’s intentions were racist. But the story itself doesn’t actually hinge on race.

The cat? Call him Bob and read on.

Is this dismissive? Yes, that’s the point. If you’re going to be a reader rooted in the present day, you can’t really read Lovecraft and not find some means to reconcile yourself with his racism. Granted, its harder with Lovecraft. His racism wasn’t merely the institutional racism of the day, it was especially bitter and spiteful.

How dare I say this isn’t important?

OK, you wanna watch me say it again? It isn’t important. He was a racist and he snuck it into his writing, but it isn’t essential to his writing, none of his stories hinge on race. Yes, there are people who analyze and interpret and have very important sounding titles, ironic glasses, and a turtleneck. They are professor blah blah of blah blah blah and they are here to make a fuss. In other words they are engaging in the time honored tradition of rent seeking.  But ask yourself; what’s worse, you living with the fact that an author you like was also a racist or being a rent seeking twat? You liking a guy that was scared of his own shadow and consequently scared of everything else, or being one of the multitude currently preening and polishing their halos?

Are they shouting from the mountaintops that Mahatma Ghandi was a racist? Are they going to retire their Che Guevera shirts because he was a racist and a war criminal?

Somehow I doubt it.

In short, buy the old house in Providence. It’s got an ugly past and a gross thing in the basement, but you’ll survive with your sanity and soul intact. (maybe)

William Holloway is a horror novelist from the Great State of Texas. His first novella, aptly titled Death in Texas, was written in 1998 and correctly presaged the zombie apocalypse hysteria that swept the zeitgeist of the 2000’s. It has since been lost to time, but rumors of it’s existence abound.

More than a decade later he put pen to paper and began his cosmic horror series, titled The Singularity Cycle. The first novel was titled The Immortal Body and was self published in 2012. Not many people read it, but those that did saw something unseen in cosmic horror…

The Immortal Body, and it’s follow up, titled Song of the Death God, have been acquired by British Horror Maven Graeme Reynold’s Horrific Tales Publishing along with his standalone novel entitled Lucky’s Girl.

http://www.amazon.com/Luckys-Girl-William-Holloway-ebook/dp/B00MQ8YFL4/