My Halloween Short Picks of 2015!

If you’re looking for a short bedtime scare this Halloween, here’s my pick of some of the best new indie talent around!

A Monstrous Place by Matthew Stott

monsttGaiman fans will love this novella. A dark, fantastical journey into a truly monstrous place.

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vampirePeter Cawdron’s take on the Dracula legend is creepy and innovative and a welcome boost to the genre.

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kamikaz Christopher Boore’s short is a jarring tale of the early days of an apocalypse where zombies have been weaponised. Fast and deadly, with a killer ending.

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towerDaniel Arthur Smith has a new series of scary shorts starting with this terrible tale of tentacles. Read at your peril.

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z-ballWill Swardstrom’s football zombie short is a fitting end to this scary weekend. Tense and scary. And sporty.
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maegentaBob Williams’ Magenta is a quick and creepy story with a twist in the tale.

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Book Review: : Library Of Souls (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children # 3) By Ransom Riggs (Quirk Books)

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Spoiler Alert! If you haven’t read the first two books in the series, you may want to read those before continuing as there are major spoilers within.

It’s been quite the journey for Jacob Portman and his peculiar friends, just as he was settling in to life as a peculiar in Miss Peregrine’s loop, everything was ripped away and out hero found himself on a dangerous trip across wartime Britain in Hollow City on a quest to find Miss Peregrine, which ended in disaster, with most of the peculiars captured by Caul, Miss Peregrine’s evil brother.

In Library Of Souls, Jacob and Emma must enter a dangerous loop in order to find their friends and ymbrynes who have been taken by the villainous Wights. Jacob is still coming to terms with the discovery that he has the ability to control hollowgasts and the effect having such a connection with these monsters has on him (they did after all, kill his grandfather.)

The loop we are introduced to this time is very different to the others we have encountered before. It’s a hellish place, ruled by wights where peculiars are enslaved and their essence harvested as a drug. Jacob discovers that Caul is seeking The Library Of Souls, where past peculiar’s souls are kept, which also gives access to their abilities, giving ultimate power to whoever finds it.

While Riggs’ world building has been impressive so far, he has certainly upped his game for this final outing, providing an eloquently detailed landscape to

Library Of Souls is a much more intense affair than the first two books, and is all the better for it. While there was plenty of action in Hollow City, it did feel at times as if the narrative was lagging slightly. This is certainly not the case with this final part. This feels like a much bigger story, with much more at stake. There is a terrific sense of urgency throughout as our desperate heroes stumble their way across this terrifying environment and the pace gathers momentum steadily until it reaches rollercoaster proportions at the spectacular finale.

While Riggs’ world building has been impressive so far, he has certainly upped his game for this final outing, providing an eloquently detailed landscape populated by many new characters, some heroic and sympathetic to Jacob and Emma’s cause, some more ambiguous, driven by motives that are not quite clear until later in the story, but each is memorable and well-crafted, and bring an interesting dynamic to the plot as it unfolds.

As with Hollow City, the “found” photographs are mostly used to illustrate certain characters and while still a nice touch, I didn’t find them as atmospheric or as necessary as I did with the original book. This doesn’t detract from the reading experience in the slightest though.

I think Library Of Souls is probably my favourite of the three. It’s on a much more epic scale than it’s predecessors and is given the unenviable task of finishing a well-loved series, and thankfully it does so on all counts. In particular, Riggs absolutely nails the ending, bringing a highly enjoyable trilogy to a very satisfying end.

 

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Book Review: A Monstrous Place by Matthew Stott

monsttAnother debut this month, and just in time for Halloween, here comes A Monstrous Place, Matthew Stott’s first book in his new Tales From Between series, aimed at early teens upwards. First thing you notice is the striking cover art, which for me always ramps up my expectations of what’s inside.

A Monstrous Place tells the story of Molly, a young girl who finds herself caught in a nightmarish world, as her friends and neighbours start to go missing. After a visit from her grandmother’s ghost, she must enter the world between awake and asleep to thwart the evil plans of those responsible.

What follows is a beautifully creepy tale brimming with vivid and macabre imagery. Stott’s alternate supernatural world is stylishly constructed and populated with all manner of ghoulish characters, each more terrifying than the last, and as Molly makes her way through this hellish world, we see her character develop and adapt quickly to her new surroundings, determined to undermine the threat to her and her family at any cost.

Molly’s still a child however, and thankfully it’s not lost in the narrative, her sense of wonder and naiveté pushes her ever-forward, often to her peril as she tends to wander into all the wrong places.

A Monstrous Place is one of those gems that is becoming all too rare these days in indie publishing. It’s a cleverly-constructed and superbly-written tale that’s not for the faint of heart, but for those who like a scare at bedtime, you’ll not find better.

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Book Review: The Quantum Door by Jonathan Ballagh

quantumSuitable for early teens upwards, Jonathan Ballagh’s debut The Quantum Door is the story of two brothers Brady and Felix, who happen to venture onto their neighbour’s land and discover a gateway to a huge adventure filled with technological marvels.
After rescuing a young girl, Nova and her robotic dog Achilles, the brothers find themselves wrapped up in a complicated scenario involving everything from rogue robots to all-powerful AI beings and all manner of strange and wonderful creatures they meet along the way.
The story progresses effortlessly without getting too bogged down in the science, but the writing is confident enough to make even the younger reader understand the basics of the technology represented in the story, and cleverly mixes factual science with more fantastical elements to bridge the gap and make it believable.
A classic coming-of-age adventure fused with a epic techno-rollercoaster that demands you turn every page, and a very impressive debut.

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