As the clock ticks down towards Halloween, here are a few recommendations for anybody looking for some suitable reading matter. All these were written in the last decade or so, by rising stars in the field.
1) The Dancer In The Dark by Reggie Oliver
Reggie Oliver’s emerged in recent years as one of the best British writers of weird fiction, and this 1980s-set novella draws both on his skills in the macabre and his long and intimate knowledge of the world of theatre. Allan Payne, a young actor, is cast in a new play by playwright Sir Roger Carlton, alongside fading star Billie Beverley. Carlton, along with director ‘Pussy’ Cudworth and leading man Talbot Wemyss, are both old associates of Billie, but cruelly conspire to push her out of the play. Shortly after, she dies in an accident, but her presence haunts the production, and one by one, those who wronged her fall prey to her ghostly revenge.
Where to read it: Mrs Midnight and Other Stories.
2) When The Moon Man Knocks by Cate Gardner
Okay, now I’m biased here, as the author is my wife, but When The Moon Man Knocks is, in my view, a stone masterpiece. This beautiful and heartrending novelette revolves around grieving widow Olive and the sinister Hector Wynter. Hector claims he can contact the dead, who live on the moon and come to earth in the form of message-bearing paper birds. But with every message, less of them remains...
Where to read it: Black Static #48.
3) Free Jim’s Mine by Tananarive Due
From Due’s award-winning and phenomenal collection Ghost Summer. Georgia, 1838: escaped slaves Lottie and William seek out Lottie’s uncle, Jim. The only free black man she knows, he even has his own mine. Lottie begs him to hide them from their pursuers. He does, but the only shelter he’ll offer them is in his mine. And Lottie and William soon discover they aren’t alone down there. Just what sort of price has ‘Free Jim’ paid for his prosperity?
Where to read it: The Dark.
4) A Prayer For The Morning by Joseph Freeman
Dunning and his family visit the ruins of town lost to the sea, including the remnants of its leper colony. Drawn there alone by night, he finds the colony’s former inhabitants still haunt their former home.
Where to read it: Terror Tales Of The Seaside.
5) Hell Hath No Fury by Keris McDonald
Angela, a painter, marries Colin, the only son of tyrannical Edward Gissons. Edward sets out to make her life a nightmare, manipulating her Down’s Syndrome son Josh to hurt her. But when he dies, she discovers that the nightmare is only beginning.
Where to read it: At Ease With The Dead (sadly not cheap!)
6) Fabulous Beasts by Priya Sharma
Today, Eliza is wealthy and successful. But once her name was Lola and she lived in poverty. She changed from one thing to the other. She does that a lot. Fabulous Beasts is her story, and it’s superb.
Where to read it: Tor.com.
7) The Bury Line by Stephen Hargadon
Hargadon’s based in my former hometown, Manchester, and brings its seedy side brilliantly to life. The Bury Line is a chilling and nightmarish evocation of modern work culture. That’s really all I can say about this story without spoiling it.
Where to read it: Black Static #42.
8) The Devil Under The Maison Blue by Michael Wehunt
Sexually abused by her father, teenager Gillian confides in her neighbour, the dying jazzman Mr Ellings. Ellings tells her a tale from his youth, of his journey to New Orleans and the creature he met in the crawlspace under the Maison Blue nightclub. And then he plays her – and her Daddy – a tune...
Where to read it: The Dark.
|Usman Tanveer Malik|
9) Ishq by Usman Tanveer Malik
A haunting, beautiful love story and horror story all in one. Polio-stricken Parveen and shakerkandi vendor Hashim fall in love. Even as Parveen sickens, dying slowly from bone cancer, he tends her lovingly. Even after she dies. That description doesn’t even begin to capture the sheer beauty and anguish of this tale.
10) Night of the Crone by Anna Taborska
Bored and looking for kicks, agroup of rowdy Lake District teenagers desecrate the Bronze Age stone circle known as Long Meg and her Daughters. In revenge, Long Meg comes to life in the form of a demonic crone that hunts them down in one long night of terror.
Where to read it: Terror Tales Of The Lake District.