Coming Soon -

The Terror by Dan Simmons
Strange Tales Vol III ed by Rosalie Parker
In The Courts Of The Sun by Brian D'Amato
Creatures Of The Pool by Ramsey Campbell

Friday, 8 January 2010

The Tooth Fairy by Graham Joyce

The Tooth Fairy
by Graham Joyce
Publisher: Gollancz, 2008.

You know the Tooth fairy right, cute little pixie type with wacky hat. Loveable creature much admired by young children as it sneaks about taking discarded teeth and swapping them for vast sums of money. Turns out they are not quite that nice after all.

Sam accidentally sees the Tooth Fairy one night and things take a downward turn from then on. You see, this tooth fairy, is an evil manipulative spirit and the fact that he/she is seen binds it to Sam, neither is particularly happy with this situation.

This book is not really about fairies though, good or bad. It’s about growing up; it’s about dealing with all life’s problems through a difficult adolescence. It is, in fact, a coming of age story.

Set in the late sixties the book also plays out in tandem with the sexual and cultural revolutions taking place in that period. Sam and his friends are faced with increasingly complicated and often tragic family histories. Trying to make sense of this whilst being confronted with an often malevolent spirit makes Sam’s life particularly difficult and for the reader, particularly interesting.

Graham Joyce’s use of a normally happy childhood symbol in an altogether more malevolent form is genius. It allows him to exaggerate and emphasise the difficulties Sam experiences growing up. That difficult period of puberty as new feelings and experiences begin to come to prominence is given added mystique.

Needless to say sex plays a prominent role throughout the book as Sam’s urges awaken against the background of a general rise in promiscuity in the late 60’s. The offsetting of Sam’s innocence with the Tooth Fairies experience provides a rich vein of confusion in Sam’s mind which Joyce exploits to the full.

So the tooth fairy becomes a metaphor for life’s difficulties. The characters are engaging, the plot compelling and original and the balance between humour and pathos is beautifully realised. Anyone expecting a fantasy or fairy story should steer clear but anyone who enjoys a gritty psychological drama with plenty of horrific overtones will really enjoy this book.

Rating 4 out of 5

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Carnacki: Ghostfinder (The New Investigations) by William Meikle

Carnacki:Ghostfinder (The New Investigations)
by William Meikle
Published by Ghostwriter Publications, 2009.

Sometimes I just love to get stuck into a great big book (thank you Stephen King) but at other times you can't beat a short punchy ( and pulpy) story. Ghostwriter Publications with their Penny Dreadful range are filling a large gap in the market. Previously these stories would only have been available through short story collections but now we get the chance to purchase single stories, attractively presented, by some excellent authors at very reasonable rates.

William Meikle is a pulp master and surely one of the most prolific horror writers on the Scottish scene with around 14 of these chapbooks already published in the Penny Dreadful range and more seemingly released on a daily basis.

The Carnacki collection comprises three William Meikle stories : The Larkhill Barrow, The Blooded Iklwa and The Sisters of Mercy (although disappointingly this is not about the late eighties Goth band). Star of all three books is of course Thomas Carnacki. As I am sure you will know Carnacki was an invention of William Hope Hodgson and was something of a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Ghostbusters. Fans will be glad to know that William Meikle's Carnacki is a faithful reproduction (even the rainbow coloured electric pentacle survives intact).

The Larkhill Barrow sees Carnacki called in to assist the army who appear to have disturbed something deep in an ancient burial mound during exercises. It's an excellent ripping yarn as Carnacki's strange theories meet the armies much more conventional thinking.

The Blooded Iklwa sees an ancient zulu menace transported to Edinburgh by a soldier out to get revenge. Again it's a fast paced adventure mixing ancient traditions with Carnacki's strange brilliance.

In The Sisters Of Mercy a London hospital is haunted by ancient witchcraft. Carnacki sets about defeating the evil with new and even more bizarre equipment.

So three short stories each beautifully presented with full colour glossy covers and each a thrilling Carnacki adventure told by a master pulp writer. Yes they are short, yes they are pulpy but I for one am a fan and will be investigating more in the series soon.

Rating 4 out of 5