A Duo of Reviews

Home and Hearth © Angela Slater/Spectral Press. Artwork © Neil Williams 2014

Home and Hearth © Angela Slater/Spectral Press. Artwork © Neil Williams 2014

For the first time in a while, we have two reviews to link you to this morning of chapbooks. The first of them is of Angela Slatter’s Home and Hearth from Mario Guslandi and posted to  the British Fantasy Society – you can find that one HERE.

Rough Music cover image

And here’s one of Simon Kurt Unsworth’s Rough Music, which we don’t think we’d come across at the time – it’s from Dreadful Tales, is written by Colum McKnight, and you can read that one HERE.

Dr. Slatter sounds out Rough Music

Rough Music cover image

And so, to end this week on a high note, we have notice of the final chapbook review by Angela Slatter, our Antipodean correspondent. This one’s of Simon Kurt Unsworth’s Rough Music, and you can read the good doctor’s diagnosis here.

NEWS

Meanwhile, even more news about John Llewellyn Probert’s The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine. As you all know, the title is due to be launched at the year’s FantasyCon, to be held in Brighton in the UK at the end of next month. Now that the limited signed hardback edition is to all intents and purposes sold out (there are still TWO copies left to be snagged, however), paperbacks will also be made available for purchase. These will be £6 each and the only difference between these and the hardback will be the omission of the Appendix. If you are not attending FantasyCon but would like a paperback copy please let us know here at Spectral Towers by emailing us on spectralpress[AT]gmail[DOT]com and we’ll reserve one for you.

Looking forward to hearing from you – onwards and upwards!

A trio of reviews

The Eyes of Water cover image

So it’s Monday again, and the weather can’t decide whether it wants to be sunny or rainy so it’s flinging both at us. Never mind, at least there are a couple of new reviews of Spectral chapbooks for you to look at:

First up is regular reader Riju Ganguly’s assessment of Alison Littlewood’s The Eyes of Water, posted to his Goodreads account – you can find that one here.

Secondly, here comes a combined review from the good folks of Shock Totem Magazine of The Eyes of Water and Simon Kurt Unworth’s Rough Music, written by John Boden. You can read his thoughts here.

Don’t forget to order your subscription to this series of critically-acclaimed chapbooks – they often sell out well before publication and a subscription is the only way to make sure you get your copy (Paypal buttons down the right-hand side of this blog for your convenience). At the same time, why not also order a copy of the second Spectral Visions novella, John L. Probert’s The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine – to order, there’s a separate page (listed next to ‘HOME’ in the menu bar above), which gives you all the pertinent details. There aren’t that many left, so if you don’t want to be disappointed, order today!

Look forward to hearing from you!

A Spectral Miscellany

The Respectable Face of Tyranny cover image

For the first post of the week, we bring you a selection of this, that and the other, including the latest quote, some reviews and a bit of news. Let’s start with that quote, concerning the very first Spectral Visions novella:

“Like a jam session between Billy Bragg and H P Lovecraft or a mash-up of Rage Against the Machine and Algernon Blackwood, Gary Fry’s The Respectable Face of Tyranny is a radical — and remarkably successful — marriage of socio-economic outrage and Cosmic Horror.” — Peter Atkins (Screenwriter, Hellraiser II, III, & IV, Wishmaster and author of MorningstarBig Thunder Moontown)

We couldn’t have asked for a better quote from such an eminent fellow!

Staying with The Respectable Face of Tyranny, there’s a review of the novella in the new issue (#29) of Black Static magazine. Peter Tennant, the reviewer says of it:

“This is the finest work I’ve seen from Gary Fry, a story in which he blends numerous concerns about the plight of our world and dresses them all up in reinvented horror tropes, with the world’s financial systems personified as Cthulhuesque entities, a splendidly effective and apt metaphor.”

There are still paperback copies of this book available from us here at Spectral Towers, but in limited quantities – contact us at spectralpress@gmail.com for more details and how to order.

Peter Tennant also reviewed Simon Kurt Unsworth’s Rough Music and Alison Littlewood’s The Eyes of Water in the same issue. Of Rough Music he opined:

“With echoes of The Wicker Man in the masked revellers who appear nightly on The Green, this is a subtle and effective story about the workings of guilt, one that perhaps has more in common with Poe’s ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ as [the] poor [protagonist] is tormented past any point of return.”

And this is part of what he said about Alison’s tale:

“[The Eyes of Water] is a beautifully realised story, with Littlewood bringing the Mexican setting to vivid life, a world of jungles and underwater caves, and also a place where the old rituals are deeply rooted, only hidden by a veneer of Christianity and civilisation.”

If you wish to read the reviews in their entirety, then please pick up a copy of the latest issue, available from TTA Press.

Finally, a snippet of news:  John Llewllyn Probert’s magnificent and gruesomely outrageous homage to the cinematic legacy of the late Vincent Price, The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine, will be up for pre-order tomorrow. There will be two price points: one for those attending FantasyCon 2012 (where it’s being officially launched so people can pick their copies up in person) and the other for those who aren’t (book price + p&p). This is the best way of securing a copy plus for those attending this event and no doubt John can be persuaded to personalise your copy while there. There will also be a free poster of the front cover image for those attending the launch, as well as free wine. Plus, there will almost certainly be an impromptu performance of select passages from the book in addition…. that’s definitely something to look forward to!

Anyway, that’s all for now, so onwards and upwards!

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.

Dreadful Tales takes on Rough Music

Rough Music by Simon Kurt Unsworth

And so, here we are at the start of yet another week and, like we seem to do most Mondays, we bring you news of another new review. Following promptly on the heels of their review of Paul Finch’s King Death, Dreadful Tales posted a write-up on Volume V in the chapbook series, Simon Kurt Unsworth’s Rough Music. Again written by Colum McKnight, it’s yet another perceptive and in-depth review. It can be found here.

THE NINE DEATHS OF DR. VALENTINE BY JOHN LLEWELLYN PROBERT (SPECTRAL VISIONS #2)

We are currently drawing up a list of prospective purchasers of the second novella in the Spectral Visions line, so if any of you out there are interested in securing a copy then please let us know either by leaving a comment here or contacting us via spectralpress[AT]gmail[DOT]com. We’ll be looking to put the limited signed hardback edition of the book on pre-order around June/July time (publication is due in September) and it’s most likely to retail for between £15 and £16, and the cover will either be cloth boards with foil blocking and dustjacket OR full-colour cover boards, plus there’ll be coloured endpapers and a silk ribbon bookmarker. There will also be a paperback to follow shortly after that. Details of the book can be found here.

We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

A Rough Music solo spot

Rough Music by Simon Kurt Unsworth

Just a quick blog today, to  let you know about a brief review of Simon Kurt Unsworth’s chapbook which has just been posted at Paul D. Brazill’s You Would Say That, Wouldn’t You blog, which you can read here. You can also read a Short Sharp Interview with Spectral mainman Simon Marshall-Jones on the same site, which can be accessed here.

Enjoy!!

Another duo of Rough Music reviews

Rough Music by Simon Kurt Unsworth

Today, we have two reviews of Simon Kurt Unsworth’s chapbook story for you, one from a blogger and one from a reader. So, without further ado:

The first one is courtesy of Colin Leslie, which he posted to his Black Abyss blogsite last night – the review can be found here.

Next we have a write-up from reader and subscriber Clayton Stealback – this is what he had to say:

“Every now and then I come across something from an author whose work I haven’t read before and I think, ‘Wow!’ Simon’s offering of Rough Music did that for me and certainly puts him firmly up there with my favourite writers from the small press world. Rough Music is yet another fantastic addition to Spectral’s growing portfolio of limited edition chapbooks.

The story pulled me in from the outset, keeping me glued in my chair and reading until the very end. Simon generates an atmosphere in this story which is nothing short of amazing, being fascinatingly creepy and sublimely haunting. Even now, several weeks after having read Rough Music, the scenes from Simon’s renderings still come into my head…and I smile.

For me, Rough Music isn’t a piece of writing which tells the reader a story: it’s a piece of writing which enthrals the reader. Simon doesn’t just tell the tale: he unravels it, revealing ever more disturbing layers beneath. It’s a brilliant piece of writing, well controlled and masterful, which totally engaged me as a reader and put me firmly behind the eyes of the main character.

To summarise Rough Music up in four words: Downright creepy and enthralling.  I’m going to remember it for a long time, and I’m looking forward to seeing more from Simon in the future.

Great work Simon; great work Spectral!”

There’ll be more reviews very soon – stay tuned!

The Respectable Face of Tyranny & Rough Music: new reviews

The Respectable Face of Tyranny by Gary Fry

Today, we have two new reviews to tell you about. Firstly, hot on the heels of the review Walt Hicks posted on his Hellbound Times blog recently (see yesterday’s entry) comes this new review of Gary Fry’s Spectral Visions novella. This time the write-up is courtesy of Jim McLeod of The Ginger Nuts of Horror blog fame, for which many thanks. Walt loved the novella, but does Jim feel the same? Find out by going here.

Rough Music by Simon Kurt Unsworth

Secondly, here comes a write-up of Simon Kurt Unsworth’s Rough Music chapbook, this time from This Is Horror magazine and written by Dan Howarth – you can read what he said here. Thanks to Dan for the write-up.

More news and reviews soon!

A duet of reviews: Rough Music

Rough Music by Simon Kurt Unsworth

Another bright and sunny Monday morning here at Spectral Towers (although snow has been forecast this week for Scotland and the North of England, with the possibility of it spreading elsewhere later in the week) – but that doesn’t matter as we’ve received two new reviews of Simon Kurt Unsworth’s Rough Music chapbook, which is enough to get things off to a good start.

First up is this one from the Morpheus Tales Review Supplement (#16 – April 2012) by Stanley Riiks:

“The quarterly limited edition chapbooks of Spectral Press continue to impress with Unsworth’s short tale of manipulation and guilt. The possibly supernatural element of the story may also be a manifestation of psychosis, as Mr Cornish is kept up for several nights by a mysterious noise. When he goes to investigate it, he finds a man outside his window banging a wooden spoon against a piece of metal. When he goes to investigate the same noise the next night, more mysterious dark figures appear just outside the light from the lamppost. Cornish is attempting to fix his failing marriage, and the sleep deprivation is not helping.

I can say without a doubt that this is not the finest of the very fine chapbooks from Spectral Press. Unsworth does a pretty decent job, but compared with previous stories, this is predictable and not outstanding. It’s not bad, and it certainly doesn’t bring into question its inclusion alongside Paul Finch’s gruesome King Death or Gary McMahon’s disturbing but subtle What They Hear In The Dark. But compared with the rest of the stories on offer, it feels a little like the poor cousin.

Rough Music deserves to be read, but doesn’t quite live up to the standard of previous editions. Spectral Press continues to produce the very finest in fiction, and maintains a quality of fiction difficult to match.”

The second one is from Shiny Shorts, and is written by Mario Guslandi – what is his opinion of this story from the World Fantasy Award nominee? Click here to find out.

More reviews soon!!