New review – 25:04:2013

Whitstable cover image

Here’s yet another new review of Whitstable, this time courtesy of Sanatarium magazine and reviewer Rob Salem, who gave it a 95% rating. With the kind permission of the magazine, we reproduce it here in full:

“With Whitstable, author Stephen Volk has successfully woven a tragic love story into the horror genre. The protagonist, perhaps one of the most beloved actors in all of classic horror film, Peter Cushing, is coping with the grief of his wife’s recent passing when he is confronted with one of mankind’s most terrifying monsters. Part vampire tale, part love story, the plot takes us from the indescribable grief that Mr. Cushing feels at the loss of the love of his life to a bit of redemption through being the monster hunter that he so often played in the Hammer series of monster movies.

Volk succeeds in telling a tale that captures the public and private image of Cushing and weaving that into a plot that deals with monsters that are far too real. What is presented is a melancholy but effective means of addressing a real-world social element that people know exists but are afraid to face realistically; from the onset of the secondary plot-line (as I perceived it, the grief and his coping with it were the real story), it is fairly obvious what issue is being addressed, but the author does a remarkable job at teasing the imagination while making clear that monsters such as this story’s antagonist are real; Volk makes a fair run at using metaphor to address the monster, adding to the nagging horror that this particular novella evokes.

Volk’s writing is clear and evocative, while being somewhat verbose. It captures some of the feeling of classical horror writings, but he maintains a relatively modern feel that should be easily accessible to the average reader. Where Volk really succeeds though is in the pathos of his writing; any reader with a sentimental heart can’t help but be caught up in the emotional distress that Mr. Cushing is described as going through, and this, coupled with the catalyst of the antagonist’s story is where the author hooks the reader. Though seemingly slow to start, with the reader inundated with almost every facet of Mr. Cushing’s grief-stricken existence, Whitstable grabs you and holds you close, emotionally investing anyone with a heart in its heartwrenching, but ultimately perfectly-paced commentary.

In the end, Volk’s Whitstable should be considered a major success – one of horror film’s favorite actors is given a poignant treatment that makes him a hero in his real world, by being portrayed as the gentleman that he is reputed to have been at all times, rather than through some climactic physical battle between the hunter and the monster. The only fault I find with this particular novella is that it ended too late; Volk sets up a very meaningful and evocative moment that would have been perfect to end on, yet he chose to carry on with further almost elegiac exposition. In spite of that, Whitstable is absolutely worth the read, and the praise that is surely coming; fans of Hammer films and especially of the late, great Peter Cushing should definitely consider this a ‘must-read.”

Thanks to Sanatarium magazine for this. Their website can be found here.

More reviews soon!

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