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Happy publication day The Feast of All Souls and Five Stories High!

Horror hounds, we’ve got a double dose of demonic, er, books, creepin’ and a-crawlin’ into the shops today.

First up is Simon Bestwick’s chilling The Feast of All Souls, a books of secrets, legends and the dark things at the edges of our reality. Read on for more!

The Feast of All Souls

Alice has returned to her old home town to put her life back in order. 378 Collarmill Road looks like an ordinary house. But sometimes, the world outside the windows isn’t the one you expect to see; sometimes you’ll turn around and find you’re not alone.

An old flame of Alice’s – John Revell – reluctantly comes to her aid when the house begins to reveal its secrets. The hill on which it sits is a place of legends – of Old Harry, the Beast of Crawbeck; of the Virgin of the Height and the mysterious Red Man – and home to the secrets of the shadowy Arodias Thorne.

Thorne’s influence seeps up through the ground, infiltrating Alice’s new home, and only she and John stand between Arodias and the rest of our world.

The Feast of All Souls is out now!
Buy: UK|US|Rebellion Store

Next up is a hugely exciting project from our very own Editor in Chief Jonathan Oliver, who has assembled some truly astonishing talent for Five Stories High. The story features five linked novellas from Nina Allan, Tade Thompson, K.J. Parker, Robert Shearman and Sarah Lotz, and charts the goings on in Irongrove Lodge…

Five Stories High

‘They didn’t see the house until they were practically on top of it. A single building emerging from
the dark. It didn’t look welcoming. But the front door was open. The door was wide open.’

Irongrove Lodge – a building with history; the very bricks and grounds imbued with the stories of those who have walked these corridors, lived in these rooms. These are the tales of an extraordinary house, a place that straddles our world and whatever lies beyond; a place that some are desperate to discover, and others to flee. At one time an asylum, at another a care home, sometimes simply a home.

The residents of Irongrove Lodge will learn that this house will change them, that the stories told here never go away. Of all who enter, only some will leave.
Multi-award-winning editor Jonathan Oliver has brought together five extraordinary writers to open the doors, revealing ghosts both past and present in a collection as intriguing as it is terrifying.

Five Stories High is out now!
Buy: UK|US|Rebellion Store

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Five Stories High preorder live now!

The night’s are drawing in and it’s turning chilly out there – which means it’s the perfect time for a slice of proper haunted house horror.

Which is handy, as Five Stories High, our exciting – and terrifying – new horror collection is available for preorder as of right… now!

We’re assembled five amazing talents for Five Stories High, and you can grab each story individually – check the links below for the full line-up and preorder links:

Maggots by Nina Allen
Preorder: UK|US|Rebellion Store

Priest’s Hole by KJ Parker
Preorder: UK|US|Rebellion Store

Gnaw by Tade Thompson
Preorder: UK|US|Rebellion Store

The Best Story I Can Manage Under the Circumstances by Robert Shearman
Preorder: UK|US|Rebellion Store

Skin Deep by Sarah Lotz
Preorder: UK|US|Rebellion Store

Of course, you can also preorder the full collection, complete with the linking narrative. Here’s a little more about it…

Five Stories High 

‘They didn’t see the house until they were practically on top of it. A single building emerging from the dark. It didn’t look welcoming. But the front door was open. The door was wide open.’

Irongrove Lodge – a building with history; the very bricks and grounds imbued with the stories of those who have walked these corridors, lived in these rooms. These are the tales of an extraordinary house, a place that straddles our world and whatever lies beyond; a place that some are desperate to discover, and others to flee. At one time an asylum, at another a care home, sometimes simply a home.

The residents of Irongrove Lodge will learn that this house will change them, that the stories told here never go away. Of all who enter, only some will leave.

Multi-award-winning editor Jonathan Oliver has brought together five extraordinary writers to open the doors, revealing ghosts both past and present in a collection as intriguing as it is terrifying. Along with a linking narrative, this collection features five novellas by Nina Allan, Tade Thompson, K.J. Parker, Robert Shearman and Sarah Lotz.

Five Stories High is available to preorder now!
Buy: UK|US|Rebellion Store

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Dog Days

Depression can be like a wave – sometimes I can see it coming, aware of its approach from far off, and then I can at least prepare myself, batten down the hatches, limit the damage; other times though it hits like a tsunami. I can start a day as right as rain, going about my business and then, suddenly, I’m drowning.

Fortunately, the days like that are getting a lot less common, and that’s because I sought help. Even though I’ve always thought of myself as quite an open person, able to share my problems, it took a lot for me to admit that I wasn’t at all well and I owed it not just to myself, but to the people I love, to try and get better.

Anxiety and depression have been something I’ve lived with for my entire life. As a child and into my teens, I suffered from panic attacks – moments where for no apparent reason, and with no trigger that I could discern, I would be utterly convinced I was about to die. I remember once running home from a friend’s house (I must have been about thirteen) and bursting through the front door, announcing that I was convinced I was going to die. Fortunately, my parents were pretty well-equipped to deal with me in this state. My father has suffered from depression too (once so acutely he was hospitalised) and my mother is a psychiatrist. Even so, looking back, I can’t imagine how stressful, how anxiety-inducing, dealing with a son in such a state was. Lord knows, I find regular parenting exhausting enough in itself.

I grew out of the panic attacks, fortunately, but as with most things related to anxiety and depression, I’m still aware of them somewhere deep in my subconscious, ready to re-emerge if things get bad. Fortunately, I have become more proficient in understanding and coping with my mind.

In my late teens my anxiety manifested as a deep-seated fear of losing control. Specifically, I couldn’t be around sharp knives. Now, that sounds mildly silly, hilarious even, as I type it out (and I’ve never told anybody about this bar one of my counsellors), but it was very real to me and plagued my mind. It would be so easy to hurt myself, I ‘rationalised’, or somebody else with a simple kitchen knife. What if I lost my mind? What if that did happen? Of course, the irrational fear doesn’t become acted out. In identifying the fear, you are putting it in its place. But the thought itself is often bad enough. I was convinced at points that I was losing my mind; that I would go irrevocably insane and be carted off. My father noticed my high state of anxiety and recommended a counsellor to me.

This was revelatory—that I could talk to someone who wouldn’t immediately call for the crazy house doctors to come and take me away; who would show me my irrational fears for what they truly were and help me recognise the tricks the anxious mind plays upon itself. I was given a vital tool for getting back on track, and for the rest of my teens and into much of my adulthood, anxiety and depression became much more manageable.

It is not, something, however, you can cure (though it can be overcome); it is something you learn to manage. And in my mid-thirties the tsunami hit, and I wasn’t the only one pulled under.

I was becoming increasingly tetchy with my family. I have a wonderful wife and two incredible daughters, and they deserve a medal for helping me to cope. Ali (my wife), in particular, told me that I needed help. And of course I did; because I hadn’t used the tools of coping for a while, I’d forgotten them. When you’re in the middle of the storm, sometimes it’s hard to see the storm.

This time self-doubt was the major element of my depression – a nagging, almost constant self-criticism that I wasn’t worthy of my job, or my family, that I was a failure and that nobody respected me, or thought I was worth anything as an editor. Again, a part of me knew this to be irrational, and so I did the worst thing I possibly could: I ignored it, rather than remembering the coping techniques I’d learned all those years ago. And things got pretty bad. I still can’t believe the grace and compassion and, most importantly, love that Ali has shown me throughout.

Now I’m out the other side of the storm, it’s almost like looking back and seeing an entirely different person – how could anybody love that? As a writer self-doubt and professional envy are all part of the package, but this wasn’t the occasional nagging moment easily dismissed; this was eating me. I was incapable of stopping, taking in all the wonderful things that surrounded me, taking in any of my achievements and taking credit for them. Instead, I’d tell myself that I was useless, that anything that didn’t succeed in my line of work was due to my failings and not the strange nature of publishing itself – which is notoriously fickle. I remember once, when the night seemed darkest, bursting into tears on a train journey up to London, where I was meeting a bunch of genre editors for a Christmas do. What should have been a fun evening of fan fellowship was pretty much ruined by my mind saying, You know you shouldn’t be here? You know that you don’t belong as part of this crowd?

So, once my wife had made me realise just how bad I had become, I sought counselling for the first time in years. And again, I learned about the tricks the depressive mind plays; the irrational thing that tells you lies, and when you’re tired or stressed you believe them. I remember describing to one of my counsellors that I just wanted the ‘noise’ to stop; that my thoughts felt like a constant whirlwind. And what I discovered, or rather re-discovered, was that you don’t need to listen to those voices that tell you are no good, and if you do listen to them, you need to recognise them for what they were.

Months before I finally asked to be put on an anti-depressant, I was of the mind that if I went down the path of chemical treatment I would have failed in some way. I suppose what I feared was an admittance of weakness. But again, that’s the irrational mind for you. After all, if you were suffering from a horrible virus that required medication, you wouldn’t feel foolish for seeking out treatment. Depression and anxiety disorder are an illness; they’re not some sort of bizarre made-up malady.

First of all I was prescribed Sertraline, and after a couple of weeks of feeling nauseous it did begin to make me feel considerably better. It was like a dark cloud had been blown away. However it did, to be quite blunt about it, also give me the shits. So, I moved to Fluoxetine (aka Prozac) and that did the trick and I continue to use it. It’s important to realise that if you do go on medication, it may take a period of trial and error to find the right one for you, but it can be worth persisting – I found anti-depressants revelatory. Fluoxetine helped me to find myself again, and find myself likeable and worthy. I do hope one day to leave them behind and to rely once again on my coping strategies, but while I’m rebuilding those defences, they have been a godsend. There was, for a while, the worry that they would make me less creative, that I wouldn’t be able to write as well, thinking (wrongly, as it turns out) that anxiety and depression are a boost to creativity in some way; that my irrational self also helps fuel my imagination. It’s true that having a strong imagination and suffering from anxiety are likely related, but it’s not true that abiding by anxiety and depression fuels the creative mind. On medication I have been more prolific than ever, able to focus instead on my creativity without the baggage of the irrational mind.

In all of this, I have been blessed with the presence of fellow-travellers: those who suffer from depression themselves and know what it’s like, and how they can help me to cope. I’ve been blessed by a family that even when I’m at my worst, can see the man I actually am and can cut through the clouds to the real me. It can take a lot of patience to live with a depressive, and I’m in awe of the compassion and love that I’ve been shown. My colleagues, too, have been incredibly supportive at times when it’s been difficult to work alongside me.

I’m getting better, but I needed (and continue to need) help. It took other people to give me the courage to seek that help. I hope that together we can share our experiences and so gives others the courage and the help that they need.

If there are two main things I’d like you to take away from this article it is, firstly, that depression lies and, secondly, you are not alone.

About the campaign:

#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Home for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors and blog posts, or reach a media contact, go to Facebook.

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Reading for fun and profit

It may sound like a strange thing to say, but working in publishing has lessened my love of books and reading for pleasure not a jot.

Even though I spend all my working day reading, I also spend a good deal of my free time reading too. I feel naked without a book; there’s always one in my pocket or in my bag, and one of the first things I pack when we’re going on holiday is reading material.

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of reading – spending one blazing hot summer sitting on the flat roof of our porch reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, reading MR. James and Shirley Jackson by candlelight on winter nights (yes, I was that pretentious teen: think joss sticks, skull rings, heavy metal patches on the denim jacket, the works).

Ali, my wife, once said to me, “Books are like oxygen to you.” I always have a stack of the next three books to read by the bedside, and when I finish a book I love getting to add one more to the stack from the shelves and piles that crowd our house.  One thing my Dad would never deny buying us if requested was a book; it was the treat he was always happy to give. When he described his job as a theologian as “basically being paid to read books”, I knew too that that was what I wanted to do – the best job in the world.

It’s not just what’s in the books, though, it’s the objects themselves. I’m not an obsessive collector of pristine hardbacks or first editions, but I am an obsessive book hoarder. True, I’m getting better at passing on books I know I will never read again, but as soon as one goes out the door, five more come in. And then there’s the smell of books – second hand books have a lovely cinnamon musk, their aged golden pages giving up their spice over time. New books have a fresh smell, there’s something promising, almost urgent about them. Hay on Wye is one of my favourite places on earth – not only for the breadth of books on offer in that beautiful town, but for those caverns of titles, exuding their heady scent.

One of the joys of being a parent is that I can now pass on that love to our daughters. The youngest, Lily, is a bit too young for anything beyond Where’s Baby? or The Hungry Caterpillar right now, but Maia, at five years old is getting to be the perfect age for bigger stories. We’ve loved the works of writers and artists such as Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler together, but now I’m getting to read Maia the Narnia novels, and it’s a real joy when you have her absolute attention and you’re sharing a world of imagination and wonder with her.

And because she’s enjoying the Narnia books, there’s other books I think we’ll enjoy together, and those will lead to yet more books, and so on. Reading books is a love that I hope never leaves our girls and stays with them for life, just as it has for their parents.

Follow Jon on Twitter 

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Apocalypse… now?

So, the end of the world. There’s a thing. I’ve published a fair amount of books on the very subject – Abaddon’s Afterblight series, the Task Force Ombra novels by Weston Ochse, Eric Brown’s bleak Guardians of the Phoenix and James Lovegrove’s Age of Aztec, all stand as a few notable examples.

Fictional apocalypses have been a large part of genre for a good amount of time, no doubt becoming more firmly entrenched with the rise of the atomic age and the ever-present threat of nuclear annihilation. The Fallout series of video games have shown us the lure of the myth of the lone hero bringing justice to a broken world, and apocalyptic thinking feels very much part of the present cultural zeitgeist.

But in fiction, where the end is often the beginning of the story, in reality the ‘end’, the oncoming apocalypse is the end of imagination.

Perhaps, ever since the Twin Towers fell in September 2001, and rolling twenty-four hour news became a thing, we’ve been expecting the apocalypse, or anticipating our end on a more regular basis.  There’s always the possibility of a massive rock obliterating all life on earth, a super virus decimating the population, or a devastating war ruining our world for ever more. And maybe if we do find aliens they won’t be friendly and they’ll come and blast our planet to dust? Cheery, huh?

On social media you regularly see a lot of doomy pronouncement along the lines that we’re all f**ked, but if the reality is that things could get a lot worse, why accept that? Why sit back and think, well that about wraps it up for the human race, pass me another beer would you? If the response to climate change is, well that’s the end of us, instead of, how can we tackle this, prevent it, or change how we live with the world, then you’ve already ended the story right there.

I won’t deny that the future often frightens the shit out of me. As the father of two girls I’m constantly worried about what sort of world we’ve brought them into. And as one who suffers from depression I can sometimes slip into the why bother mindset. But a surety of future doom, and a persistent helplessness in the face of that, is a shutting down of some of humanity’s finest assets – our ingenuity and imagination. The response to such a challenging future should not just be an instinct to roll over and take it, but to constantly fight for change and to make things better. Living in misery and fear is not living, nor is it the best of us.

Our fictional apocalypses tell of what may come, of what the world would look like if the worst comes to the worst, but they also serve as a warning and an assurance that as story-telling animals our imaginations can picture better worlds and better outcomes, and our ingenuity can lead us to think how those things can be achieved.

Follow Jon on Twitter. 

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Oliver’s ‘Orrors: The Weird

Our in-house horror hound, Editor-in-Chief and all-round top chap Jonathan Oliver finishes his trawl through the finest frightening fiction out there. Check out the previous instalments (the Slasher, the Creature Feature, the Ghost Story and the Haunted House) and don’t forget, there’s 50% off all our horror eBooks over in the Rebellion Store

The New Weird is the Old Weird. I think it was either China Mieville or M. John Harrison who coined the term New Weird, identifying a type of genre fiction that is hard to classify, taking and defying, as it does, many of genres tropes.

But while New Weird is a useful term, the weird in fiction is hardly new. (Seek out Jeff and Ann Vandermeer’s brilliant The Weird anthology for a history of the uncanny and strange in fiction, and many fine examples of such stories.) From Alice in Wonderland through the novels of Gormenghast, through to the genre bending works of China Mieville, the weird has been a force running through fiction for a long time.

Horror is an important part of the weird, and vice-versa. In fact, there is an argument to be made for horror being a tone, rather than a genre. You can find the discomfort and terror that horror provides in works that have never fallen under the label, and horror novels are frequently published merely under the banner Fiction.

The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien is one of my very favourite ‘horror’ novels. It was introduced to me by an old form tutor during my A levels, who noticed that I was reading William Hope Hodgson and recommended O’Brien’s deeply strange novel as something I would enjoy. I fell in love at first read and was delighted when it turned up on my university English course a few years later.

It’s so very difficult to sum up the plot of The Third Policeman, taking in, as it does, the strange philosophies of the mysterious de Selby, a rural comedy set in Ireland, the love a man has for his bicycle, policeman who are so attached to their bicycles they become bicycles themselves, and one of the most chilling and unique visions of hell ever to appear in literature.

Needless to say, what you should do is read The Third Policeman and let it work its disturbing charms on you.

Honourable Mentions
The Course of the Heart by M. John Harrison
From Blue to Black by Joel Lane
Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter
A Man Lies Dreaming by Lavie Tidhar
The New Girl by S.L. Grey

From Solaris
The Fictional Man by Al Ewing
Osama by Lavie Tidhar
Cannobridge by Jonathan Barnes 
Dream London by Tony Ballantyne
Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory

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Oliver’s ‘Orrors: The Slasher

The Slasher is such a well worn trope of horror, it’s arguably become a bit tired.

Of course, you have your classics like Halloween or Psycho, but when it comes to making the serial killer truly scary there are more misses than hits in the movies these days. In novels, however, the author is able to take us much deeper within the killer’s mind, making the murders that much more insidious and disturbing. You only have to look at the works of writers such as Lauren Beukes or Michael Marshall to see how much an essential part of genre the serial killer story still is.

Down River by Stephen Gallagher has everything a good serial killer novel should – it starts off slowly, lets us spend time with the characters, subtly suggesting the terrors to come, before Gallagher pulls out all the stops in what turns into a full-throttle, bloody thriller. Gallagher demonstrates an uncanny control in manipulating the elements of the story, building the plot carefully; there is not a wasted word and the set-pieces are thrilling and horrifying.

Gallagher understands that the story of a killer must also be a story about humanity’s capacity for evil. It’s no good just having a masked killed with a mysterious, and ultimately unexplained, motive. For a killer to be truly terrifying, he or she has to reflect something that we can identify with, that we wouldn’t wish to admit is within ourselves.

Honourable Mentions
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
Path of Needles by Alison Littlewood
The Face that Must Die by Ramsey Campbell
No One Gets Out Alive by Adam Nevill
Kiss it Away by Carol Anne Davis

From Solaris and Abaddon (don’t forget there’s currently 50% off all horror titles in the Rebellion store!)
Plastic by Christopher Fowler
Ritual Crime Unit: Disturbed Earth by E.E. Richardson
The Happier Dead by Ivo Stourton
Cold Warriors: Ghost Dance by Rebecca Levene
Talus and the Frozen King by Graham Edwards

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How does 2015 measure up?

As you will definitely have seen, today is Back To The Future day. We won’t patronise you by explaining what that means, sufficed to say if you don’t know, well, it’s probably too late for you.

We’ve decided to throw ourselves into the Back To The Future-fest by asking ourselves: how does the 2015 that is measure up to the 2015 that was? Team Rebellion ponders small towns, technology and tiny, tiny pizzas…


1985-me is still looking up at the sky waiting for the device, any device, which will fly me to my destination instead of walking, driving or taking the bus. I live in London so alright, yes, there are public bikes I can rent for less than the price of a return bus trip and cycle across town and that doesn’t suck. But I think Amsterdam had something similar in the eighties, so we haven’t travelled that far. Of course the grown-up me would be horrified if the sky was filled with the rage-based drivers that clog the roads, dripping strange and no doubt deadly-in-thirty-years particles from their exhausts. So maybe it’s a matter of small mercies.

Maybe the most far-fetched idea in the whole of Back to the Future is that of a thriving small town in 2015, full of people both young and old. Give me some disaffected teenagers hanging out in the rain by the dilapidated bus-shelter while working age stiffs are at best travelling to the nearest big conurbation to work, while pensioners rifle through the charity shops on the dilapidated main street, and then we’re talking.

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Editor-in-chief Jonathan Oliver

Let’s face it. Hoverboards would be a right pain in the arse. I get annoyed enough as it is with cyclists on the pavement and running red lights, so if I had to also contend with some no good punk kids on their flying planks, I think I’d spend most of my time in a barely contained rage. Flying cars would be cool. Until they start dropping from the skies.

I was 7 in 1985, and I must admit I can’t remember a huge amount about back then. But I was 11 in 1989, when the film came out (and yes, I saw it at the cinema too), and if I could go back in time and dazzle myself with a story of this future, I guess one of the first things would be how damn good video games are now. I used to have a ZX Spectrum 128K (oh yes, that’s one-two-eight, count them my friends) and games were cool and all, but I quickly got bored of them. I actually stopped playing video games and read more books instead (I know, bloody swot!). But now games are incredible – they’re narratively more complex, graphically dazzling and give the player a lot more.

Also, I’d enjoy telling my 11 year old self that I would one day work at 2000 AD, meet some of my very favourite writers and work for a living reading and shaping stories.

But yes, I’d be disappointed we hadn’t got out of the solar system, and that we still had a bloody Tory government.

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Abaddon commissioning editor David Thomas Moore

The lazy answer is the technology. No hover boards, flying cars, self-tightening sneakers or holobillboards, but if you’d found 1985-era David and told him he would one day carry a device about the size of a deck of cards in his pocket that was around 10,000 times more powerful than his Commodore 64, which could run for nearly 2 days without recharge, could make phone or video calls – most of which would be free, covered by his contract – anywhere in the world, could play several video games, and would be permanently connected to a global network that could do everything from show all TV and films, to shopping, to accessing what can fairly be described as the whole collected knowledge of the human race, and would cost no more (for both the device and the connection) than a halfway decent meal in a chain restaurant every month, he’d have told you to fuck off.

Actually, he might not have told you to fuck off, because he was ten. I’m not sure; in my fevered imaginings, he’s also sporting three days’ stubble and smoking a cigarette, and I don’t think either of those things were true either. Certainly he’d have been extremely sceptical.

But the subtler, stranger shock to me is the change in how people think about the end of the world. Books like The Hunger Games are still very popular, and of course we’ve all had those conversations – at tedious length, in some cases – about what we would do in the event of a zombie apocalypse, but it only occurred to me a couple months ago how similar these conversations are to the conversations me and my mate used to have in the ’80s, when we were talking about, y’know, the original-recipe apocalypse. It’s weird to realise how most people younger than me have never really had that fear (although way things are going, who knows?).

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Rob Power, PR & Marketing coordinator

Of course Back To The Future got loads wrong about 2015, but it wasn’t too far off the mark. We’re about to have Star Wars VII, which isn’t quite Jaws 19 but… well, it’s quite a bit better really isn’t it? We don’t have hoverboards but we do have these bad boys, which I recently saw a squad rolling down Oxford Street on as if it wasn’t the most absurd thing that had ever happened anywhere.

Our 2015 isn’t that bad, as long as you scrub your brain of all the Tories and inequality and panic-attack inducing future shocks. Like petulent digital dictators, we can talk to tiny glowing rectangles and they will do our bidding. A man in Peru can order a hand-crocheted My Little Pony hat from a girl in Swindon, and have it in his hands within a week. Oh, and we’ve probably just discovered the remains of an actual Death Star.

So really, I’m about as happy with 2015 as I have been with any other year*. Ultimately, the biggest disappointment for me when I think of Marty McFly’s future is that we still haven’t figured out how to put a tiny pizza in a metal box, press a button and turn it into a massive pizza. So let’s get on that, yeah?

*Which is about 17% happy, FYI.

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Oliver’s ‘Orrors: The Creature Feature

Our Editor-In-Chief continues his trawl through the annals of classic horror fiction as part of our month-long Halloween celebrations (speaking of which, don’t forget there’s currently 50% of all our horror eBooks in the Rebellion store). This week: the creature feature…

Everybody loves a good monster movie, but when it comes to horror novels, a good monster is harder to pull off. Erm… so to speak. Certainly, one cannot underestimate the influence of the works of H.P. Lovecraft on monsters in fiction. You can barely move for tentacles these days. But to make monsters scary in literature is actually no mean feat.

Adam Nevill is a modern master of terror (and also a model of a modern major general)* and when it comes to ‘proper’ horror Adam cannot be beat. He brings a brutal sensibility to his books, an uncompromising vision of gruelling terror, touched with a lyrical and spiritual sensibility worthy of writers such as Robert Aickman or Arthur Machen. The Ritual is, for me, one of Adam’s best books.

Four friends go on a hiking holiday in Scandinavia, and things go from bad to worse as they stumble across a site of terrible occult power. Nevill builds the tension brilliantly and the pay-off is one of my favourite ‘big horror’ moments of recent years.

Also, there’s a terrifying scene in an attic which will stay with me forever. It’s incredibly grim and gritty stuff, though while Nevill may be riffling on modern horror movies and the trope of the terrifying cult, this vision is uniquely his.

And what have we learnt from this? Go for the beach holiday next year instead. Adventure holidays only end up in being eaten.

*May have made that up.

Honourable Mentions
The Hunger by Whitley Streiber
The Nightwalker by Thomas Tessier
Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer
Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite
IT by Stephen King

From Solaris and Abaddon
Pax Britannia: Evolution Expects by Jonathan Green
Dreams of Shreds and Tatters by Amanda Downum
Dream London by Tony Ballantyne
Tomes of the Dead: I, Zombie by Al Ewing
The Night Clock by Paul Meloy

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Oliver’s ‘Orrors: The Ghost Story

Our Editor-In-Chief – and in-house horror aficionado continues his rundown of the greatest horror novels ever to have scared the pants off the good, book-reading people of the world (check out last week’s instalment).

This week, he’s looking at the ghost story, and the work of the much loved (and greatly missed) Graham Joyce…

Okay, this is sort of a cheat, as this is a ghost story where the ghosts are elusive. In much the same way that The Haunting of Hill House can be read as a haunted house story where the house isn’t actually haunted (not in the traditional sense), The Silent Land by Graham Joyce is a ghost story without the ghosts.

The thing with the ghost story is that it represents a branch of the horror genre that doesn’t necessarily have to be horrifying, or even frightening. Instead, the ghost story represents a tale of loss, a tale of yearning, a desire for the living that can not be fulfilled and, as such, it is often a more lyrical and moving sub-genre.

The much-missed Graham Joyce was a beautiful writer. His books always have depth, and an emotional core to them that draws the reader and leaves them breathless by the end. The Limits of Enchantment and The Tooth Fairy both left me in pieces.

The Silent Land is possibly the best of the later works by Joyce. In it a couple are trapped in an avalanche at a ski resort, only to find, once they have dug themselves out, that they are now in a strangely silent, eerie world. It’s a novel that oozes atmosphere, but most importantly, it’s a novel flush with human warmth. Graham Joyce’s work gets to the core of what it is to be human, with all our foibles, failings and depths, and The Silent Land represents the finest of this genre-defying author.

Honourable Mentions
The Servants by Michael Marshall Smith
Our Lady of Darkness by Fritz Leiber
Dark Matter by Michelle Paver
Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill
The Three by Sarah Lotz

From Solaris – don’t forget, there’s currently 50% off all horror in the Rebellion shop!
The Faceless by Simon Bestwick
Magic edited by Jonathan Oliver
Regicide by Nicholas Royle
Loss of Seperation by Conrad Williams
Blood Kin by Steve Rasnic Tem