Rough Music out of Strange Aeons

Rough Music Front Cover

This morning, we present to you a review of Simon Kurt Unsworth’s Rough Music, which appeared in issue nine of Strange Aeons magazine and which was written by Brandi Jording (© 2012 Brandi Jording/Strange Aeons):

“The elders of convention teach us that there are five fundamental stages of sin, and while I’m a big fan of all five, the ensuing deviation from rectitude can be a real killjoy. So I found it quite fitting that Spectral Press decided to cast us all into a bottomless pit of guilt with their fifth installment. We’ve got a long, hard road ahead of us, but Mr. Unsworth’s “rough music” is there to lull us straight into one man’s personal hell.

Cornish, our rather loathsome protagonist, is an imperious sot; a man living heavily under the influence of egotism and ignorance, oblivious to the things that go bump in his life. But his carefully constructed world (and marriage) begins to collapse under the weight of his infidelity. And one night a strange but familiar creature appears at 3a.m. to perform an elaborate dance meant only for him. It seems there can be no rest for the wicked, and with the darkness comes clarity and revelation. Someone or some thing demands to be seen and heard, and it’s brought an entire troupe along with it.

More of a cautionary tale than an all-out thriller, the poignant notes were meant to be played for those with a lamentable ear. Well written with a subdued atmosphere, it left a bittersweet taste behind. And while I generally prefer a more in-your-face style of writing, I found myself spiraling into the pit along with Cornish, hoping he’d receive his comeuppance, but knowing his downfall would bring about the destruction of another. But such is life. No good sin goes unpunished, and guilt does love its company. A fine if slightly off-kilter installment from Spectral Press, my only complaint would be that we have to wait so long between releases. So here’s to their continuing success. May the coming years bring to them (and to us) new horrors and sins with which to revel in.”

With thanks to Brandi and Strange Aeons! More soon!

The Strange Aeons webite can be found here.

The Respectable Face of Tyranny: the BFS verdict

The Respectable Face of Tyranny cover image

Here, for your enlightenment, is notice of the latest review of Gary Fry’s Spectral Visions novella, The Respectable Face of Tyranny. It’s been posted to the British Fantasy Society’s website and written by Katy O’Dowd. You can pop over here to see what she thought about it.

EDIT: paperbacks are still available direct from us at Spectral – Paypal buttons below (if you want to pay by either cheque or bank transfer, email us on spectralpress[AT]gmail[DOT]com for more details).

UK – £5.99 (£4.99 + £1 p&p)

EU – 9€ (6€ + 3€ p&p)

USA  – $12 ($8 + $4 s&h)

RoW – $12 ($8 + $4 p&p)

More reviews soon!

Nowhere Hall returns to haunt once more

Nowhere Hall cover image

To paraphrase something someone once said, you can never keep a good story down – which is certainly true in the case of Cate Gardner’s Nowhere Hall, as here comes a new review, written by Ann Giardina Magee and posted on The Horrifically Horrifying Horror Blog. You can find out what Ann said about Cate’s tale here.


A small heads up: Alison Littlewood’s Spectral chapbook The Eyes of Water will be available within the first two weeks of June – all subscribers and individual purchasers will have received their copies by the end of the month. Many thanks for your patience.

The Eyes of Water: first review and some news…

Eyes of Water Front Cover

It is with great delight that we present to you the first review of bestselling author Alison Littlewood’s chapbook, The Eyes of Water. This one is by Walt Hicks and has been posted on his Hellbound Times book blog – the review can be accessed here.


It is our great pleasure to announce that Mr. Peter Atkins, screenwriter of Hellraisers II, III & IV and the author of Morningstar, Big Thunder and Moontown, will be writing a chapbook for Spectral. No date has been set yet, so please look for further announcements as time goes on.

For Spectral, this really is fantastic news. Those first four instalments in the franchise are among our favourites here at Spectral Towers and the literary output of Clive Barker, author of The Hellbound Heart upon which the first film was based, line our shelves in pride of place. Peter made an appearance as the Barbie Cenobite in the third film Hellbound: Hell on Earth, and it’s slightly crazy to think that decades later, the man is now going to write for our small-press. Small world, eh?

Onwards and upwards!

A Respectably Eloquent review

The Respectable Face of Tyranny cover image

The following review, kindly put together by pablocheesecake of The Eloquent Page book blog, has just come in, less than five minutes before we wrote this blog entry. It’s a nice little review, and we particularly like this bit:

“Spectral Press has a knack for publishing short stories and novellas that challenge reader perceptions and this latest release is no exception. For me the best psychological horror feels all too real and I would include Gary Fry’s novella in this select group.”

To read read the rest of the review, please click here.

More reviews soon!

Spectral news 21:05:2012

Spectral Press logoTo start the week off on some positive notes we thought we’d talk about some things going on in the world of Spectral. First, Alison Littlewood’s chapbook The Eyes of Water will be available within the next two to three weeks.  It’s a fantastic little tale, inspired by a trip to Mexico and a visit to the cenotés of the Yucatán. These flooded cave systems are as dangerous as they are beautiful, as Rick is about to discover…

Secondly, the cover to John Llewellyn Probert’s magnum opus, The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine, is currently being put together by JD Busch – preliminary sketches should be with us soon and then will come the exciting process of turning it into a fabulous cover image. We can’t wait to see what JD comes up with, but his ideas so far are definitely in tune with what we had in mind.

There’s been another quotable quote sent to us for Gary Fry’s The Respectable Face of Tyranny novella, this time from Laird Barron, author of The Croning, who said of it:

The Respectable Face of Tyranny is a bleak tale of personal hell set against a canvas of cosmic horror. In revealing the machinery that powers modern civilization, [Gary] Fry’s gaze is pitiless. Almost as pitiless as the dark forces that feed upon hapless humankind.”

There’s also a new Amazon review of the novella courtesy of Gef Fox (Wag The Fox), which you can find here.

Onto other stuff:

In the New Year (yes, we plan that far ahead), the print run of each chapbook will increase to 125 to allow more people to acquaint themselves with both the chapbooks and the imprint, as well as get to know the work of some of the best authors out there. However, subscriptions to the chapbooks will be increasing in January, too, due to increased postage costs: they are still available at the old price, from Volume VIII onwards, until the end of this year – so take advantage by ordering a subscription now to save some money before the price rise (includes resubscribers).

A word about the future: we here at Spectral Towers are mooting the possibility of increasing the number of chapbook issues to six per year, ie from quarterly to one every two months. This is JUST a possibility at present and an idea we’re throwing around: one of the reasons we’re thinking this way, however, is the fact that we have many wonderful authors lined up to appear in chapbooks and this would be one way of reducing the waiting time for them. We are envisaging, however, that it won’t be happening before the March 2014 issue, Volume XIII, at the earliest. Comments are more than welcome upon the subject – nay, are actively encouraged.

There are a couple of other exciting developments in the initial planning stages, but we’re keeping those under wraps for later in the year until we’ve fleshed them out more fully. We here at Spectral are confident that the imprint has a good future ahead of it, and we certainly intend on keeping moving forward, albeit at a comfortable pace and without overstretching things. We sincerely hope that you’ll be here to share that future with us.

Competition reminder…

The Respectable Face of Tyranny cover image

This time last month, we launched a small competition whereby anyone who purchased a paperback copy of Gary Fry’s Spectral Visions novella, The Respectable Face of Tyranny, could win themselves a signed proof-sheet of the cover (which is infinitely suitable for framing), for which the deadline was today. But we have decided, in our infinite wisdom, to extend the deadline to the end of this month. All you have to do is click one of the Paypal buttons below, and your name will be entered into the prize draw (for other methods of payment, please contact us at spectralpress[AT]gmail[DOT]com for details). Simples, as certain furry creatures are wont to say…

The new deadline is now MAY 31st 2012. 

ALL prices include postage and packing

UK – £5.99 (£4.99 + £1 p&p)

EU – 9€ (6€ + 3€ p&p)

USA  – $12 ($8 + $4 s&h)

RoW – $12 ($8 + $4 p&p)

We look forward to hearing from you!

The Eyes of Water by Alison Littlewood: promo video

Eyes of Water Front Cover

Once again, Mark West of Rude Dude Films has put together a short promo video for the next chapbook, Alison Littlewood’s sold out The Eyes of Water, to give you an idea of what it’s all about. It captures perfectly the stunning beauty of the Mexican cenotes in which the story is set – but still, behind that beauty lurks danger for the unwary….

Thanks to Mark for his work on this one…

Talking of being sold out, this neatly brings me on to the issue of subscriptions – many of you are now coming up to the end of your current subs (with most ending with Volume VII), so I would humbly suggest that any who wish to continue subbing should renew as soon as possible because these little chapbooks tend to sell out quickly. Another incentive is that the yearly price will soon be going up (but only slightly) in line with the recent ludicrous increases in Royal Mail postage rates, so buying now will mean that you get your chapbooks at the old rate. We here at Spectral will make it as painless as possible but, rest assured, there will still be the same attention to detail and high quality that are the hallmarks of the imprint. More details will be forthcoming as to when the prices will be increased and what the new rates are going to be.

Following on from that, we have decided that, from the March 2013  issue (Paul Kane’s Creakers – Volume IX), there will also be an increase in the print numbers of each edition, to 125. This is being done to allow more people to experience what Spectral is all about. We think this will be a good move, and is further confirmation that we are heading in the right direction.

Onwards and upwards!

Amazonian wonders

The Respectable Face of Tyranny front cover

Over the weekend, Spectral had its Amazon review cherry popped, not once, but twice. The first of those reviews was posted by Riju Ganguly on the Amazon UK site and can be found here.

The second review is by Ann Giardina Magee from all the way over in New Orleans and was posted on the Amazon US site – her review can be found here.

Thanks to both Riju and Ann for taking the time to write the reviews! More reviews soon!

The Respectable Face of Tyranny: a quotable quote and a mini-review

The Respectable Face of Tyranny cover image

So, to return to a semblance of normality after the euphoria of being nominated for some awards, here are a couple of nice things people have said about Gary Fry’s Spectral Visions novella. First a quote:

“An excellent novella from Gary Fry. The Respectable Face of Tyranny is set on the North Yorkshire coast, and the author shows us a place at once familiar and strange, beautiful and threatening . . . His characters are caught up in vast, uncontrollable events, responding as best they can in a world where the unexplained hovers just beyond the visible and the mundane.”
Alison Littlewood, author of A Cold Season

And now, a mini-review, posted by Paul Feeney on his Facebook page:

“The first of Spectral Press’s original novellas, and leading the charge is Gary Fry’s  The Respectable Face Of Tyranny. This is a beautifully written piece of work, and although only 40 pages long, manages to cram enough ideas and detail in it for a full length novel. The book itself is beautifully put together, and the cover photo is amazing and really sets the tone for the story inside.

Although ostensibly about a father, Josh, who has lost his financial security in the recent crisis, and is forced to relocate to a caravan near Whitby with his teenage daughter, it is also about the general fears we experience in an uncertain world, especially since the economic crash, and also about concerns specific to Josh as a father. He mulls over the recent past, while also contemplating world changing events from WW2 to the big bang. He is also prone to seeing odd things as he walks the eerie beaches, but tries to put these visions down to stress. Like a lot of the stories Spectral Press has put out so far, there is an uncertainty as to the reality of the supernatural overtones. This lends an air of discordance in the story, which works well within its confines. The possibility that Josh has inherited his mother’s mental illness is alluded to, but there are also other scenes which appear to confirm the existence of what Josh is experiencing. Inevitably it is up to the reader to make their own judgement on these things, and like most good horror/supernatural stories, it is not really about that anyway. It’s about becoming displaced from a once secure position, it’s about change, it’s about realising that some things are completely out of our control and it’s about sometimes facing up to the mostly insignificant part we play in the world. There is a sense that the universe we inhabit is illusory, and all attempts at control are futile. A very well written story, and a great way to begin Spectral Visions.”

More reviews soon!