The End by Kayleigh Dobbs
Black Shuck Books , Horror , Kayleigh Dobbs / January 26, 2024

After a much-needed* sabbatical from The Eloquent Page, I’m back to it with a renewed sense of purpose. 2024 promises a whole host of great new genre fiction and I intend to point you in the direction of some of the best. I’m easing back into reviewing this year with a short story collection for Black Shuck Books called The End by Kayleigh Dobbs. It’s a small but perfectly formed anthology picking apart my very favourite sub-genre – apocalyptic fiction. Let’s dive right in… The Claim They Stake – Since Billy stopped taking his medication, events have taken a worrying turn. Billy is most concerned about his elderly neighbour. Mr Tiley has gone from being a kindly old gentleman to a lizard creature wearing a human suit.  Billy’s sense of paranoia feels palpable. The growing sense of his panic and desperation is infectious. I’m sure if I was in the same position I’d be bowing down to our reptilian overlords in a matter of minutes.  If, like me, you’re old enough to remember shows like V or sports pundit turned raging conspiracy theorist, David Icke, this story will be a real treat. I have to make an apology to the…

Aliens: Bishop by T R Napper
Horror , Sci-Fi , T R Napper , Titan Books / December 11, 2023

Please note, Aliens: Bishop is a direct sequel to the events in Aliens and Alien3. If you’ve not seen both of these cinematic gems then the book-related waffle that follows will contain some mild spoilers. Consider yourself duly warned! Massively damaged in Aliens and Alien3, the synthetic Bishop asked to be shut down forever. His creator, Michael Bishop, has other plans. He seeks the Xenomorph knowledge stored in the android’s mind, and brings Bishop back to life―but for what reason? No longer an employee of the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, Michael tells his creation that he seeks to advance medical research for the benefit of humanity. Yet where does he get the resources needed to advance his work. With whom do his new allegiances lie? Bishop is pursued by Colonial Marines Captain Marcel Apone, commander of the Il Conde and younger brother of Master Sergeant Alexander Apone, one of the casualties of the doomed mission to LV-426. Also on his trail are the “Dog Catchers,” commandos employed by Weyland-Yutani. Who else might benefit from Bishop’s intimate knowledge of the deadliest creatures in the galaxy? This week I’ve been reading Aliens: Bishop by T R Napper. Based on the book blurb it ticks…

Red River Seven by A J Ryan
A J Ryan , Horror , Orbit / October 31, 2023

A man awakes on a boat at sea with no memory of who he is or how he came to be there. He’s not alone – there are six others. None of them can remember their names, but all bear the scars of recent surgery. When a message appears on the onboard computer – Proceeding to Point A – the group agrees to work together to survive whatever is coming. But as the boat moves through the mist-shrouded waters, divisions begin to form, and the group is plagued by questions. Who is directing them, why have they lost their memories, and what are the screams they can hear beyond the mist? Regular readers of The Eloquent Page know I’m drawn to apocalyptic fiction like a moth to a flame. When it comes to the fall of humanity, I just can’t get enough. I’m not entirely sure what that says about me but we dont have time to unpick that right now. We’re here to discuss Red River Seven by A J Ryan.  That first paragraph is about as close to a spoiler as I can get when it comes to talking about this book. Something, somewhere has gone horribly wrong….

Looking Glass Sound by Catriona Ward
Catriona Ward , Horror , Thriller , Viper Books / April 20, 2023

In a lonely cottage overlooking the windswept Maine coast, Wilder Harlow begins the last book he will ever write. It is the story of his childhood summer companions and the killer that stalked the small New England town. Of the body they found, and the horror of that discovery echoing down the decades. And of Sky, Wilder’s one-time best friend, who stole his unfinished memoir and turned it into a lurid bestselling novel, Looking Glass Sound. But as Wilder writes, the lines between memory and fiction blur. He fears he’s losing his grip on reality when he finds notes hidden around the cottage written in Sky’s signature green ink. Catriona Ward’s new novel, Looking Glass Sound, is an exploration of love, loss, and trauma viewed through the eyes of a man revisiting his formative years.  Even as an adult, the still lurking pent-up frustrations of teenage angst make Wilder Harlow the most unreliable of narrators. His entire life has been shaped by the events during the summers of his youth, and his perspective is skewed at best. It would be easy to pity Wilder, but by turns, he is both the hero and then the villain of the piece. The…

Dark and Lonely Water by Graeme Reynolds

When Samantha Ashlyn is forced to return to her home town to write an article on a series of drownings, she initially resists, finding disturbing similarities to her childhood experiences. However, once she starts looking into the assignment, she finds that things are not what they seem. An ancient evil is rising again, aided by what appears to be a centuries-old conspiracy to keep it hidden. With the help of a disgraced police diver, Sam races to stop the nightmare before more lives are lost. Not realising that her investigation has put herself and those she loves in terrible danger. I’ve not read any horror at all so far this year so it’s high time I correct that particular oversight. The best way to remedy the situation? The latest novel from Graeme Reynolds, he of werewolf classic High Moor. His latest release, Dark and Lonely Water appears at first glance to be just a creature feature. Good news friends, it is a creature feature. It is most definitely that, but also so much more.   Right from page one, the novel has a deliciously downbeat quality that I really enjoyed. All the characters are just a little bit broken. The plot…

The Hollows by Daniel Church
Angry Robot , Daniel Church , Horror / November 11, 2022

In a lonely village in the Peak District, during the onset of a once-in-a-lifetime snowstorm, Constable Ellie Cheetham finds a body. The man, a local ne’er-do-well, appears to have died in a tragic accident: he drank too much and froze to death. But the facts don’t add up: the dead man is clutching a knife in one hand, and there’s evidence he was hiding from someone. Someone who watched him die. Stranger still, an odd mark has been drawn onto a stone beside his body. The next victims are two families on the outskirts of town. As the storm rises and the body count grows, Ellie realises she has a terrifying problem on her hands: someone – or some thing – is killing indiscriminately, attacking in the darkness and using the storm for cover. The killer is circling ever closer to the village. The storm’s getting worse… and the power’s just gone out. A bit of seasonal, wintry horror this week. The Hollows by Daniel Church is a fresh take on old-school creature features.  Officer Ellie Cheetham is a lowly police constable responsible for upholding the law in this rural, isolated community. During the worst snowstorm in years, she finds…

The Vessel by Adam Nevill
Adam Nevill , Horror , Ritual Limited / October 30, 2022

Struggling with money, raising a child alone and fleeing a volatile ex, Jess McMachen accepts a job caring for an elderly patient. Flo Gardner—a disturbed shut-in and invalid. But if Jess can hold this job down, she and her daughter, Izzy, can begin a new life. Flo’s vast home, Nerthus House, may resemble a stately vicarage in an idyllic village, but the labyrinthine interior is a dark, cluttered warren filled with pagan artefacts. And Nerthus House lives in the shadow of a malevolent secret. A sinister enigma determined to reveal itself to Jess and to drive her to the end of her tether. Not only is she stricken by the malign manipulation of the Vicarage’s bleak past, but mercurial Flo is soon casting a baleful influence over young Izzy. What appeared to be a routine job soon becomes a battle for Jess’s sanity and the control of her child. It’s as if an ancient ritual was triggered when Jess crossed the threshold of the vicarage. A rite leading her and Izzy to a terrifying critical mass, where all will be lost or saved. It’s nearly Halloween so it seems appropriate that this week’s review visits the darker side of human…

Family Business by Jonathan Sims
Gollancz , Horror , Jonathan Sims / October 21, 2022

JUST ANOTHER DEAD-END JOB. DEATH. IT’S A DIRTY BUSINESS. When Diya Burman’s best friend Angie dies, it feels like her own life is falling apart. Wanting a fresh start, she joins Slough & Sons – a family firm that cleans up after the recently deceased. Old love letters. Porcelain dolls. Broken trinkets. Clearing away the remnants of other people’s lives, Diya begins to see things. Horrible things. Things that get harder and harder to write off as merely her grieving imagination. All is not as it seems with the Slough family. Why won’t they speak about their own recent loss? And who is the strange man that keeps turning up at their jobs? If Diya’s not careful, she might just end up getting buried under the family tree. . . Way back in 2020, I read an excellent anthology by Jonathan Sims called 13 Storeys. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Everyone loves a haunted house don’t they? Two years down the line and the author is back with a new novel, Family Business. The sadness that inhabits the main protagonist, Diya, feels palpable. The death of her best friend means she has lost one of the few constants in her life….

The Creeper by A M Shine
A M Shine , Head of Zeus , Horror / September 25, 2022

Superstitions only survive if people believe in them… Renowned academic Dr Sparling seeks help with his project on a remote Irish village. Historical researchers Ben and Chloe are thrilled to be chosen – until they arrive. The village is isolated and forgotten. There is no record of its history, its stories. There is no friendliness from the locals, only wary looks and whispers. The villagers lock down their homes at sundown. It seems a nameless fear stalks the streets, but nobody will talk – nobody except one little girl. Her words strike dread into the hearts of the newcomers. Three times you see him. Each night he comes closer… That night, Ben and Chloe see a sinister figure watching them. He is the Creeper. He is the nameless fear in the night. Stories keep him alive. And nothing will keep him away… For a reader like me, The Creeper by A.M. Shine is the perfect nightmare fuel. I have a tendency towards night terrors and on more than one occasion I’ve woken in the middle of the night utterly convinced there is someone in the room standing over me*. With that in mind, I am either absolutely the worst or…

Dead Water by C. A. Fletcher
C A Fletcher , Horror , News , Orbit , Supernatural / August 8, 2022

AND THE WATER SHALL CALL THEM HOME A water-borne blight hits a small community on a remote Scottish island. The residents are a mix of island-born and newcomers seeking a slower life away from the modern world; all have their own secrets, some much darker than others. Some claim the illness may be a case of mass hysteria – or even a long-buried curse – but when ferry service fails and phone towers go down, inconvenience grows into nightmarish ordeal as the outwardly harmonious fabric of the community is irreversibly torn apart. This week’s review is the deliciously unsettling new horror novel Dead Water by C A Fletcher. Still broken by a traumatic loss, Sig lives a quiet existence. Shunning human contact whenever possible, she is happy to spend her time alone. Obsessed with free diving, Sig only finds real peace when swimming deeper and deeper below the waves. Dark thoughts swirl around in her mind. Would it be so bad if she just drifted away? Over the course of a weekend, Sig is forced to confront a supernatural force that has been released near her home as well as the inner demons plaguing her increasingly fragile mental state. In…

The Unfamiliar Garden by Benjamin Percy
Benjamin Percy , Hodder , Horror , Sci-Fi / January 10, 2022

The night the sky fell, Jack and Nora Abernathy’s daughter vanished in the woods. And Mia’s disappearance broke her parents’ already fragile marriage. Unable to solve her own daughter’s case, Nora lost herself in her work as a homicide detective. Jack became a shell of a man; his promising career as a biologist crumbling alongside the meteor strikes that altered weather patterns and caused a massive drought. It isn’t until five years later that the rains finally return to nourish Seattle. In this period of sudden growth, Jack uncovers evidence of a new parasitic fungus, while Nora investigates several brutal, ritualistic murders. Soon they will be drawn together by a horrifying connection between their discoveries—partnering to fight a deadly contagion as well as the government forces that know the truth about the fate of their daughter. Happy New Year, welcome to 2022 and what promises to be another epically good year for genre fiction. This week we are off to a flying start with The Unfamiliar Garden by Benjamin Percy. Before we get down to it, I should point out that though this is the second book in the series. Knowledge of book one is not required* as references made…