Author and Scriptwriter

'Among the most important writers of contemporary British horror.' -Ramsey Campbell

Saturday 31 December 2016

For Your Edification and Delight, The JCS Saga

Facebook's 'On This Day' function can be fun at times, especially around New Year's. Always interesting to remind myself what I was up when various years came to a close. And a whole bunch of statuses came up from last December 31st...

My beloved Cate loves musicals - and to be fair, I've actually seen quite a few I ended up enjoying (including last night's movie, Thoroughly Modern Millie.) But just as I've never been able to convince her of the charms of Blake's 7 or original Dr Who, there are things Cate loves which, well, I don't.

Case in point: last NYE's movie was Jesus Christ Superstar. Unfortunately, I was on Facebook at the time, and this is what happened. Alcohol may have been involved.

This year I get to pick the film...

(ETA: we ended up with a double bill of Beetlejuice and Gravity, in case you were wondering. Picked one each. And were in bed by half-eleven. We lead such a rock-and-roll lifestyle here.)

Monday 19 December 2016

Things of the Week, 19th December 2016: Pseudpod Podcast Part II, This Is Horror Review The Feast of All Souls

Further nice things have happened. Following on from 'Dermot' getting a truly chilling reading from Alasdair Stuart on the Pseudopod podcast, you can now listen to Lewis Davies' rendition of 'The Moraine' too.

Originally published in Paul Finch's Gray Friar Press anthology Terror Tales of the Lake District, 'The Moraine' follows Steve and Diane, a couple with a troubled marriage, who get lost when an unexpected fog catches them on a Lake District hillside. Trying to find shelter, they instead find themselves on a slope of loose rubble, left behind by the Ice Age glaicers: a moraine.

And they aren't alone there. Something lives under the rocks - and it's hunting them.

'The Moraine' was, along with 'Dermot' reprinted in Ellen Datlow's Best Horror of the Year #4.

Meanwhile, Jake Marley at This Is Horror has reviewed The Feast Of All Souls:

Simon Bestwick has taken what appears on the surface to be a traditional haunted house ghost story, and twisted it into something altogether stranger and unique. Bestwick’s use of language and character, as well as the concrete foundation of his setting... helps to solidify Ramsey Campbell’s statement that Simon Bestwick is “among the most important writers of contemporary British horror.”

You can read the full review here.

Please share far and wide!

Thursday 15 December 2016

Black Road: Devil's Highway

The Snowbooks website this morning!
Yes, that's right! At long last, the waiting's over. The second book in The Black Road, Devil's Highway, is now available to buy in hardback and ebook form.

Following on from last year's Hell's Ditch, Devil's Highway shows Helen Damnation and her allies carrying on their fight against post-nuclear-attack Britain's tyrannical rulers, the Reapers, and their Commander, Tereus Winterborn. But Winterborn and his fanatical henchwoman, Colonel Jarrett, will stop at nothing to destroy her.

Helen finds herself hunted by the inhuman, unstoppable Catchman...

Helen slowly raised her head and peered over the sill through the grimy window. As she did, a steel helmet rose into view; two round glass lenses lit by a pale, flickering light stared into her eyes. Breath gusted from the metal grille over its nose, misting the window. Below that a red and white grin stretched impossibly wide across its face.

For a second time stopped, didn’t exist, and there was just the damp brick room and the Catchman’s face grinning through the window.

The grin widened further still; the Catchman screeched, the glass rattling in its frame. Helen flung herself backwards as a clawed hand smashed through the window...

...directing a battle to the death against Jarrett as the rebel base at Ashwood Fort comes under siege...

The guns opened fire from the shelters, and the ones on the wall hammered down. The ground burst and shattered; men and women dropped and spun; fell and lay still, fell screaming. Danny almost went down as the woman running alongside him pitched sideways. He caught her, staggered, then let her drop; half her head was gone.

A Reaper leant over the battlements to fire at them; Danny fired a burst from the Lanchester and the man pitched over the rail screaming. Danny ducked again, ran on and reached the bottom of the steps, pressing flat against the wall.

Reapers above, firing down; he threw himself flat and the bullets flew over. Cries and thumps of falling bodies from behind. He fired up, heard another SMG fire behind him. Fired the Lanchester up the steps, zig-zagging the barrel. Two Reapers rolled down them. “Come on!”

Danny up and charging, firing bursts as he went. Muzzles flashed above. A cry; someone just behind him fell backwards down the steps, shot in the throat. Danny advanced and fired, advanced and fired. Slow progress, step by step, bullets cracking by and chipping the wall. The Lanchester emptied; as he changed sticks he saw a Reaper appear at the top, rifle aimed down...

...and facing the secrets of her own past on the Black Road.

She starts screaming, screaming into the dead beneath her. Things shift and stir in the earth. They’re waking. Frank and Belinda, the others, all the ones killed, they’re coming for revenge. Because this is her fault, of course it is. How can it not be? ... Her screams become howls of anguish – not only grief, but torment. There was a saying she’d heard somewhere – from Mum? From Darrow? Hell is truth seen too late. And now she’s in Hell. The dead are waking and coming for her, to tear her apart....

Devil's Highway is one of the most relentless things I've ever written. I'm pretty damned proud of it. I
hope you'll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing the book.

For those who'd rather wait for the paperback, it'll be out on February 1st 2017.

Huge, huge thanks are due to so many people, but especiall my amazing editor, Tik Dalton, who's done a fantastic job. And also to Lisa DuMond at and Anthony Watson at Dark Musings for the first advance reviews of the novel, here and here.

From the Hikeeba review:

What is astonishing is Bestwick’s portrayal of battle... it is frightening how well he grasps the horror and conveys it....  
Hell’s Ditch started the engines and Devil’s Highway pushes the needle into the red as we hold on with a death grip to race through the atrocities and unstoppable action of the second volume, white-knuckled as we are thrust into the middle of the firefights and the helpless fear for those we have come to love and will certainly lose.
Can an author push the machinery even farther towards destruction and keep readers’ nails dug into the iron for more? Maybe not every one, but trust Bestwick. The Black Road has only gotten more horrifying with each volume, but I cannot look away, nor do I want to.

And from Dark Musings:

Who lives? Who dies? These, and many more questions will be answered within the pages of Devil’s Highway... The book fulfils [its] role admirably, progressing the narrative whilst setting things up for the final instalments. The back-stories add an extra edge to the inevitable showdowns and the introduction of a shadowy and mysterious character raises the expectation of new horrors in prospect...
The next part of the journey along the Black Road has begun.

The third novel, Wolf's Hill, will be released in 2018.

Please share this news far and wide!

I'll leave you with some music to suit the mood...

Monday 12 December 2016

Things of the Week, 13th December 2016: Great Jones Street, Pseudpod Podcast, Dark Musings' Feast Of All Souls Review

The last few weeks have been hard work. I've had to get a job in order to pay the bills, and I'm still struggling to fit my writing in around the demands of a day job after three years as a full time author. The job itself is okay, however, although the hours are long, and the people I work with are great. So it could be worse.

Meanwhile, good things have happened.

I'm delighted to announce that my story 'Dermot' is available over at Pseudopod: you can stream or download Alasdair Stuart's excellent reading of the tale here. Another story of mine, 'The Moraine', will be podcast next week.

'Dermot' really is an example of one of those stories that hit a chord - or a nerve - with a lot of people. Along with 'The Narrows', it's the only piece I've written to make an awards shortlist.

So I'm even more delighted to announce that 'Dermot', 'The Narrows' and 'The Moraine' are among five stories that I've sold to Great Jones Street, to be added to the archive of online fiction available through their app. Kelly Abbott and Ken Truesdale are doing great work in trying to popularise short fiction to a general market once more; I wish them every success.

The five tales are:

The Narrows
Lex Draconis
Never Say Goodbye
The Moraine

Hugely proud of them all. (I've always had a soft spot for 'Lex Draconis', as it's very different to my usual thing, so it's good to see it reaching a wider audience.)

And finally this week, that excellent chap Anthony Watson has reviewed The Feast Of All Souls over at Dark Musings.

There is, it has to be said, a lot going on in this book, a mixture of themes and genres and in the hands of a lesser writer it could have turned out to be a car crash. This isn’t the case here though, Simon keeps full control over all the themes and ideas, merging them perfectly into a gripping – and horrific – whole.

I really enjoyed The Feast of All Souls, loved the imagination on display. Scary, thrilling but in places also incredibly moving. 

Many thanks, Anthony!

Now I'm off to work...

Sunday 11 December 2016

The Lowdown with...Simon Strantzas

Simon Strantzas is the author of Burnt Black Suns (Hippocampus Press, 2014), Nightingale Songs (Dark Regions Press, 2011), Cold to the Touch (Tartarus Press, 2009), and Beneath the Surface (Humdrumming, 2008), as well as the editor of Aickman’s Heirs (Undertow Publications, 2015), a finalist for both the World Fantasy and British Fantasy Awards, and winner of the Shirley Jackson Award. He also edited Shadows Edge (Gray Friar Press, 2013), is the guest editor of The Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Vol. 3 (Undertow Publications, 2016), and co-founder and Associate Editor of the non-fiction journal Thinking Horror. His writing has been reprinted in Best New Horror, The Best Horror of the Year, The Year’s Best Weird Fiction and The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, and published in Cemetery Dance, Postscripts, the Black Wings series, and elsewhere. His short story, “Pinholes in Black Muslin”, was a finalist for the British Fantasy Award, and his collection, Burnt Black Suns, a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award. He lives with his wife in Toronto, Canada.

1. Tell us three things about yourself. 

I'm Canadian.
I've been writing professionally for about fifteen years.
I think everyone should wear a beard.

2. What was the first thing you had published? 
My first professional sale (by which I mean the first story selected by a legitimate editor in the field) was "A Chorus of Yesterdays" in All Hallows. However, by the time I'd realized it was accepted (due to some miscommunication), I'd already placed two other stories in other markets. Of the group, I believe the first to actually see print was "The Autumnal City" in Wicked Hollow. (It was so long ago, however, I may be mistaken.)

3. Which piece of writing are you proudest of? 
The story I'm working on now, of course. But other than that, I've always been happy with the way my story "Out of Touch" came out. It balances the three pillars of fiction—plot, character, and theme—seamlessly and equally. It's not always something every story concept lends itself to. On the whole, I'm less proud of stories until they're out in the world, fending for themselves. It's only then I gather enough emotional distance to adequately judge them.

4. …and which makes you cringe? 
I don't tend to release stories I find cringe-worthy. The closest I've come is cringing at some of the venues in which my work has appeared. When I started writing, the small press (as good as it had become by that time) did not have the abundance of tools that are available now to create truly professional-looking volumes. That, coupled with editors with a basic lack of design-sense, led many venues to release books that looked wholly unappetising, to say the least. It was an embarrassment to have one's name associated with them. A number of markets like this still exist, unfortunately, but for the most part design has since gotten a lot better, and the truly awful venues less prevalent.

5. What’s a normal writing day like? 
When in the midst of a project, I'm in front of my keyboard at 6AM, working for an hour or so. Then, typically, I'm back in front of it from 8PM to 10PM. During those two phases I am either writing, editing, or a mixture of the two, depending on the project's stage. I attempt to fit any reading I'd like to get done around this schedule (with varying degrees of success). It's surprising, though, what a small amount of time can do. A simple 250-500 words a day, every day (or nearly every day) adds up quickly.

6. Which piece of writing should someone who’s never read you before pick up first? 

Each of my books tends to focus on a different aspect of horror fiction, so where to start really depends on the specific reader's interest. For most, I think new readers would respond most to COLD TO THE TOUCH, which is a quiet book of Strange stories, or BURNT BLACK SUNS, in which the mysteries are less obscured and more cosmically Weird.

7. What are you working on now? 
I'm elbow deep in completing my fifth collection of short stories and novellas, and I hope to have it done at some point next year (and, with some luck, in reader's hands the year after). Once that collection is done, I'll turn my attention once again to the short novel I've been working on, off-and-on, for the past few years. Who knows? I may even finish it this time. Those two books will likely take me another few years to complete, by which point I should have a whole slew of new irons in the fire.

Saturday 10 December 2016

Ingrid Bolsø Berdal and Roar Uthaug

So, Cate and I watched the season finale of Westworld the other night, which was great. I think it's one of those shows I admire for its ingenuity and brilliant storytelling than actually love in the way I love shows like Battlestar Galactica, Game Of Thrones or The Wire, but nonetheless it's great.

Not least because it features one of my favourite actresses, who ended up being one of the coolest things about that final episode, not least because of this bit:


Yep, it was Armistice, played by Ingrid Bolsø Berdal. Apparently she's become a fan favourite, which isn't a surprise. She's one of Norway's leading actresses, but Hollywood only seems to have worked out what to do with her in the past couple of years.

Berdal's first lead role was in a horror film that made my Halloween Top 10 back in October - and still one of the only slasher movies I like - Cold Prey (2006),  together with its 2008 sequel, Cold Prey: Resurrection.

Directed by Roar Uthaug - remember that name, because you'll be seeing it again - this follows a group of Norwegian twenty-somethings who take refuge in an abandoned ski lodge in the mountasin range of Jotunheim after one of their group is injured. Huge creepy and atmospheric, it has great performances all round, particularly from Berdal as Jannicke, who's basically Norway's answer to Ripley. Mats Stenberg's sequel is almost as good as the first film, with Berdal reprising the lead role.

The next film I saw starring Berdal wasn't a horror movie, but a sweet, funny comedy drama from 2008 called De Gales Hus (the same year as Cold Prey 2!)  The title roughly translates as House Of Fools, and stars Berdal as Aina, a young woman who's institutionalised at the Varden Hospital after a suicide attempt. It manages to look out mental illness, depression and recovery in a sensitive and intelligent way, while being bloody funny and touching too. Also stars a couple of other Cold Prey alumni, Rolf Kristian Larsen and Fridtjov Såheim. This one hasn't had a UK release and you'll need to track down the Norwegian edition, but it's worth it. It's become one of my go-to comfort films.

And a couple of weeks ago we saw Escape (2012), which reunited her with director Roar Uthaug and Cold Prey scriptwriter Thomas Moldestad. Set in mediaeval Norway in the aftermath of the Black Death, is stars Berdal as Dagmar, the psychotic leader of a gang of bandits who kidnap teenager Signe after killing her family. Signe escapes, or tries to. Simple enough, but Uthaug is great when it comes to action scenes, cranking up tension and making the Norwegian landscape look stunning (admittedly, not a hard task) and is superb when it comes to the deeper emotional elements too. Berdal is fantastic as Dagmar, managing to make her a terrifying villainness, but also oddly sympathetic. I'm pretty sure someone at HBO saw this film and basically said "Okay, I think we've found our Armistice here..."

Berdal's also appeared as the Horned Witch in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013) and Atalanta in Hercules (2014).

We've loved every Roar Uthaug film we've seen, and his 2015 movie The Wave was no exception. It's basically a disaster movie, made on a small, tight scale, and packs more punch, soul and atmosphere than a dozen bloated spectacles of the San Andreas variety. Kristian (Kristoffer Joner) is a geologist in the lakeside town of Geiranger, where a rock-slide can trigger a potentially lethal tsunami. (This is a genuine threat in Norway, and very much a 'not if but when' scenario.) The first third to a half of the film is low-key and slowly building, with a small group of likeable characters (one of Uthaug's directorial skills is making good, nice people interesting!) and had Cate and I wanting to move to Norway - until the rock-slide actually happened and the sirens soundED, giving Geiranger's inhabitants 10 minutes to get to high ground before the 85 metre wave hits the town. That sequence alone is one of the most, riveting, frightening things I've seen in a long time, and thereafter the film doesn't let up, either dramatically or emotionally.

(Sidenote: The Wave co-stars Fridtjov Såheim, who seems to get killed in every film I've seen him in. Is he Norway's answer to Sean Bean?)

So there are some great viewing recommendations for you. In the meantime... did I mention that Berdal's also a singer and musician? I'll leave you with something showing a very different side of her, The Cactus Song.

Sunday 4 December 2016

The Lowdown with... Rosie Garland

Recently named ‘literary hero’ by The Skinny, Rosie Garland is an award-winning poet, novelist and singer with post-punk band The March Violets. With a passion for language nurtured by libraries, she started out in spoken word, garnering praise from Apples and Snakes as ‘one of the country’s finest performance poets’.

Her award-winning short stories, poems and essays have been widely anthologised. She has received the DaDa Award for Performance Artist of the Year, the Diva Award for Solo Performer, and a Poetry Award from the People’s Café, New York.

Debut novel The Palace of Curiosities (HarperCollins 2013) was nominated for both The Desmond Elliott and the Polari First Book Prize. Second novel, Vixen, was a Green Carnation Prize nominee. Her next novel, The Night Brother is published June 2017.

1. Tell us three things about yourself. 

This is the most difficult question, isn’t it?

Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. An early memory is my grandmother reading aloud: wild tales full of dragons and magical happenings. It planted a lifelong love of reading, and of being read to. It’s why I enjoy poetry events so much. It’s not simply because I enjoy reading my own poems – I get a massive buzz from drinking in the words of others.

If I didn’t sing I’d be miserable. There’s always a musical project or two going on. One of the best-known is my alter-ego, Rosie Lugosi the Vampire Queen, cabaret chanteuse and mistress of musical mayhem. At the other end of the scale is post-punk band The March Violets. We reformed in 2007 and have been amazed at the positive response from our audiences. Not that we are content to rehash tunes from the 80s – we have written dozens of new songs, and they go down well, too!

I’m currently working on a new musical act with multi-instrumentalist Éilish McCracken (Rose McDowall, Sgt Buzfuz, Slate Islands, Ida Barr). I’m inspired by the enduring influence of Music Hall and its power to subvert whilst being thoroughly entertaining. We play the part of time-travelling suffragettes - Armed with banners, a twinkle in the eye and a spanner for throwing into the works, we have travelled to the present day to perform updated versions of nineteenth-century classics such as The Boy I Love Is Up In The Gallery, I’m Shy Mary Ellen and Hold Your Hand Out, Naughty Boy – and many more.

Oh, and I make jam. It reminds me of being a kid and picking blackberries with my mum, the alchemy of transforming fruit into delicious goo.

2. What was the first thing you had published? 
From early on, I wrote stories for my toys (they were good listeners), and made them into teeny books. But I tasted the heady excitement of first publication at the age of 11, when I sent a ‘knock knock’ joke into a competition and it was printed on the wrapper of a Walls ice lolly.

3. Which piece of writing are you proudest of? 
It’s got to be The Palace of Curiosities. Not because I think it’s the best thing I ever wrote (it isn’t), but because it changed everything.

Here’s the short version: I was with a reputable London agency for twelve years, and gave them four and a half novels. But however hard I tried (and did I try), nothing seemed good enough. Then my agent stopped replying to my emails. My confidence was shot. I was at the point of giving up on writing fiction.

I realised that if I was going to get anywhere it would be under my own steam. In 2011, Mslexia magazine announced their first ever Novel Competition. Go on, I said to myself. One last fling. I dusted off novels #3 and #4 and sent them in. Both made the shortlist of ten. I was astounded: maybe I could write fiction, after all. Then novel #4 (published as The Palace of Curiosities in 2013) won outright. Within a week I had an enthusiastic new agent. Within a fortnight she had seven publishers in a bidding war over a novel I’d been told was unpublishable.

 I’m proud because I didn’t give up. Despite all the rejections, I kept going.

4. …and which makes you cringe? 

Novel #2. It’s awful. Repetitive characters, four timelines running alongside each other and even worse, it’s boring. Let’s just say I learned a lot about how not to write a novel. It’s tucked away at the back of a drawer and that’s where it’s staying.

5. What’s a normal writing day like? 
I don’t have a typical day and flexibility suits me fine. Having said that, I do try to get started in the morning – otherwise I’d put it off and put it off, and suddenly it’d be midnight.

I find the blank page daunting (don’t we all) and have developed a variety of routines and rituals to get the engine running. I start with three pages of journaling. It’s like rubbing the crust out of my eyes. And in company with many creatives, I’m a fan of Julia Cameron's Morning Pages. [NB - FROM EXPERIENCE, I CAN RECOMMEND THESE TOO! SB] I engage with small exercises and build up gradually. I compare it to being an athlete – I’d pull a muscle if I didn’t warm up properly. And, like an athlete, I exercise every day.

6. Which piece of writing should someone who’s never read you before pick up first? 
I guess that depends… fiction, poetry or music? If you like the sound of a novel set in a Victorian sideshow, populated with strange folk who exist on the fringes of society – I suggest The Palace of Curiosities. If your tastes run to a historical novel set in an isolated village in plague-ridden 1349, where the arrival of a mysterious young woman turns life upside down, try Vixen (The Borough Press 2014). Maybe poetry is your thing – in which case, you could check out Things I Did While I Was Dead. Or hang on till December 2016 for my new collection, As in Judy (both are with Flapjack Press.). And if music gets your mojo working, try The March Violets latest album, Made Glorious!

7. What are you working on now? 
I am adding the final touches to my next novel, The Night Brother. It’s out in June 2017, with my wonderful publisher, The Borough Press. There’s even a link to pre-order on Amazon. *ahem ahem*  And as I mentioned above, I have a new poetry collection coming out this December! Called ‘As In Judy’, it’s my first collection for years. I’m very excited. There’s a tour planned (that’s another plug, by the way) so keep an eye on my gig list to see if I am coming to a town near you…

© Rosie Garland 2016

Thursday 1 December 2016

Feast On Our Souls!

(It's funny if you say it fast.)

Yes, today's the day - The Feast Of All Souls is out now! You can buy it on Amazon UK or US, or direct from the Rebellion Store.

And there's loads of stuff to go with it.

Here, just fr'instance, I am over at Sci-Fi Bulletin, talking about the overlap between Horror and SF (Hodgson and Lovecraft and Kneale, oh my!):

How do you tell a ghost story when you don’t believe in ghosts? Or when you don’t believe in everything that the existence of a ghost would normally imply – God, religion, an afterlife?

There’s always been an overlap between horror and science fiction; if they emerged as distinct genres in the nineteenth century, it was as different branches of the same tree. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, although rooted in the Gothic – and one of horror’s most instantly recognisable ‘brands’ – was nonetheless a vehicle for Shelley’s political and moral speculations on the possibilities of technology – which is about as science fictional as you can get. It wasn’t unique among her work, either – her later novel The Last Man prefigures dozens of other post-apocalypse novels (including M.P. Shiel’s The Purple Cloud (1901) and Richard Jefferies’ After London (1885).)

Meanwhile, and on a lighter note, I'm over there at Civilian Reader, talking about the fun process by which I've come up with titles:

...I stopped banging my head against the desktop, picked splinters out of my forehead, poured a large whisky and started throwing out potential titles.
Twenty or thirty of them.
None of which seemed right.
I can’t remember why I settled on The Faceless, but sheer exhaustion may have played a part.
Jon loved it, and so do I. I now can’t imagine the book being called anything else...

Coming up: I'll be blethering away further in an interview, then donning the interviewer's hat myself to talk to a real-life ghost-hunter...

Meanwhile, in Canada, library staff vote every month for their favourite upcoming books, via BookNet Canada’s Loan Stars readers-advisory program. Their picks for December are:

  1. Books for Living, Will Schwalbe (Knopf)
  2. Small Admissions, Amy Poeppel (Atria/Simon & Schuster Canada)
  3. The Twilight Wife, A.J. Banner (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster Canada)
  4. Kill the Next One, Frederico Axat (Little, Brown and Company/Hachette)
  5. In Sunlight or In Shadow, Lawrence Block (WW Norton/PRH Canada)
  6. The Gardens of Consolation, Parisa Reza (Europa Editions/PRH Canada)
  7. The Ice Beneath Her, Camilla Grebe (Ballantine/PRH Canada)
  8. The Feast of All Souls, Simon Bestwick (Solaris/Simon & Schuster Canada)
  9. Last Year, Robert Wilson (Tor Forge/Raincoast Books)
  10. Out of Bounds, Val McDermid (Grove Atlantic/Publishers Group Canada)
Have I mentioned lately that I love Canada?

And finally, the first advance reviews have come in...

Mallory Heart at The Haunted Reading Room: "an expansive horror novel constructed on a tautly plotted framework, delving into history, quantum physics, and the space-time continuum... not a story for the easily upset, [but] a novel with powerful impact."

"Don't confuse this with a simple ghost story," warns Tony Jones at Ginger Nuts Of Horror. "It has layers that go much deeper... The Feast Of All Souls certainly did not disappoint."

"Very well-written and atmospheric," says The Story Collector. "Spooky... plain disturbing... what horror should be."

Lora at Lora's Rants and Reviews, however, felt "It doesn't take long for Alice's experiences to become truly frightening. However... I felt let down by later chapters in the book. The story was an interesting read in itself, but suspension of disbelief didn't really happen and there were too many changes in scene or direction for it to flow smoothly." (Can't win 'em all!)

The review that affected me most, however, was by Lilyn G at Sci-Fi and Scary: "I’m always nervous when I go into a book where the main character has lost a child. As a child loss mom myself, I’m sensitive to how it’s handled. I’m also afraid (especially in horror reads) of the needless detailed almost graphic depictions that some authors like to include in their books of dead children. Luckily, The Feast of All Souls has a talented writer who handled the child loss angle well and didn’t need to stoop to depictions of dead kids to get his point across. Simon Bestwick did a fantastic job of illustrating how even though it feels like your whole life can be overcome by grief, you still manage to go on."

As someone who has no children and probably never will, it meant a great deal to hear from someone who'd gone through what Alice has been through that the portrait of her loss rang true.

There are more reviews on Goodreads - most of them good! - so you now hopefully have lots of good reasons to buy The Feast Of All Souls. And if none of the others work, you can just buy it for that brilliant cover by Ben Baldwin...

I'll also soon have some news on the delayed release of Devil's Highway. Watch this space!