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.


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!

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.


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.


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!!

Rough Music: Reader’s Review #2

Rough Music by Simon Kurt Unsworth

There are two things that amaze us here at Spectral Towers: first, that Spectral is truly an international imprint and, secondly, that readers appreciate what we’re trying to do and often set about reviewing the stories we publish. This Reader’s Review fits the above to a tee, as Riju Ganguly, the reader in question, is from Gujarat in India – here’s his review:

“I had received this book today, in somewhat “out-of-shape” condition. I promised to myself that I have to ‘straighten’ out the book physically, before I dive. And then, returning to an empty house after the office-hours (wife & daughter not here right now), it seemed most natural that I should pick up this slim volume and, you know, take a quick look and then change, have dinner, etc. etc. Naturally, Simon Kurt Unsworth’s compelling proce caught me by the rough of my neck, and dragged me across the pages. Shame on you SKU! You didn’t even allow me to have my customary tea, before this terrifying story of rage, love, exploitation, half-hearted attempt at redemption, and eventual retribution & loss, was over.

The story is about Cornish. He is, as we get to know, not a nice man. Every night, at around 03-00 hours, he is awakened from sleep by a group of people who create tremendous noise, while wearing masks and standing outside his house. Somehow this noise is not heard by anyone else. And then Cornish watches a curious drama being enacted by these people in front of his house, night-after-night unfolding newer acts & actions, and eventually…

Read this book. I don’t know whether Spectral Press still has any copies left or not (they publish these exquisite chapbooks in highly limited editions), but Cold Tonnage or Fantastic can be helpful. This is top-notch stuff, from the pen of one of the best story-tellers of our time. Highly recommended.”

Riju gave Simon’s chapbook 5 stars on Goodreads – here’s the link to the Goodreads review.

(Unfortunately, this chapbook is completely sold out and unavailable from anywhere else – sorry!)

A trio of Rough Music reviews

Rough Music Cover

Here at Spectral, there was a great start to the week yesterday (more on that below) and today we’ve had a boost to that good start in the form of some new reviews of Simon Kurt Unsworth’s Rough Music, the fifth in Spectral’s line of quarterly chapbooks. The first of those reviews is from Anthony Watson, which can be found posted to his Dark Musings blog –  if you’d like to know what he thought of Simon’s story, then please follow the link from here.

The next review is from Gef Fox over at Skull Salad Reviews – see what the wily Mr. Fox has to say about Rough Music here.

And finally, Jassen Bailey of The Crow’s Caw review blog also gives an account of what he thinks of the chapbook – you can find out what Jassen thought of it here.

(Talking of reviews, I’ve just discovered this very short review of Paul Finch’s King Death, posted in The Black Glove horror ‘zine – check it out!)


You know that great start to the week I hinted at above? Well, it was because the limited hardback edition of this novella from Gary Fry SOLD OUT  yesterday!! Yes, all 100 copies have now been spoken for. However, fear not – some copies can be currently ordered from the This Is Horror online shop, and the book will also soon be available from Fantastic Literature in the UK, as well as Jeff ‘N’ Joys (UK), Bad Moon Books (USA), Ziesing Books (USA), Camelot Books (USA), Wrigley Cross (USA) and Nightfall Books (USA) – links to those will be provided to them once the books have been shipped.

You can also buy it in paperback form, but this version omits the bonus novella contained in the hardback – details of how to order this version can be found here.

Rough Music: a reader’s view

Rough Music Front Cover

We here at Spectral love getting feedback from readers and subscribers as well as reviewers – and subscriber James Bennett has just sent us this short but excellent review of the latest chapbook, Simon Kurt Unsworth’s Rough Music – this is what he had to say about it:

Rough Music is the fifth release in the Spectral Press line of chapbooks and another fitting addition to the collection. Simon Kurt Unsworth is a British horror writer, whose work has appeared in several acclaimed anthologies, including Never Again, Lovecraft Unbound and The Very Best of New Horror. In 2008, he was nominated by the World Fantasy Awards for Best Story.

Rough Music is another impressive feather in his cap. The story centres on Cornish, a married man who is trying to resolve a troubled relationship with his wife, Andrea. As events in the story slowly unfold, Cornish begins to hear a strange musical discord in his neighbourhood late at night. When he looks out of his window, naked and afraid, and sees the grotesque troupe come to dance on the local green, he finds himself drawn into a weird confrontation with the shadows of his past…

The author takes nothing for granted in this story and handles the unravelling of the plot with patience, skill and genuine depth of feeling. Kurt Unsworth uses crisp, clean prose to draw the reader through the unsettling, enigmatic scenes. Rough Music is subtle and will make you think. The story remains haunting and engaging throughout, the themes of loneliness, guilt, secrets and loss compelling from start to finish. The atmosphere is wonderfully claustrophobic, something for horror fans to savour. The main character’s dread is increasingly chilling as the bizarre performance outside his window swells from the initially annoying into a menacing cacophony. What does the troupe want? Why have they come here for Cornish? An air of mystery pervades the narrative beautifully.

Rough Music is a thoughtful, eerie and fascinating tale, and while the discordant theme turns our eyes to the shadowed corners of our own hearts, the ambiguous ending strikes just the right note.

Highly recommended.

Many thanks to James for taking the time to put this together!!

If there are any other readers/subscribers out there who would like to put forward a review of ANY of Spectral’s publications, then please do so – send them to spectralpress[AT]gmail[DOT]com. We look forward to hearing from you!!