Daily Archives: October 16, 2011

The Drowning Pool by Syd Moore

Published by Avon (Harper Collins)

‘On a drunken night out with friends in the seaside town of Leigh-on-Sea, widowed teacher Sarh unwittingly creates a séance. Sarah and her son Alfie are then subjected to a terrifying series of a hauntings, and Sarah becomes convinced that the ghost is that of a 19th Century Sea Witch, and namesake Sarah Grey.’

I loved the tone of this book, the investigations into the past history of Leigh-on-Sea and the barbaric practices of Matthew Hopkins (the legendary Witchfinder General) and his ilk, all of which helped greatly to make the terrors of Sarah’s reality even more frightening.

It’s cover brilliantly conveys the past being brought back by the seaside location and the fact that this is a tale where a lost soul wants the truth to be heard.

Through a series of letters and research the tale begins to become clearer to Sarah, but not any less scary as it moves along.

And, for a novel where the ghost element is so steeped in the past, the most modern scene of a haunting, where another character tells Sarah she can see the ghost standing behind her whilst they are on skype together is the one that will keep me awake at night.

A haunting and powerful ghost story, which manages to succeed both with the historical and the modern elements.

Perfect Halloween reading material.



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The Shadow on the Stairs – Ann Halam

Published by Barrington Stoke

A great little (and I do mean little, clocking in at just 71 pages (and that includes some with illustrations) ghost story for the spooky season.

Although one of Barrington Stokes’ books designed initially for reluctant readers this tale of Joe and his worry of what is causing the shadow on the stairs and the terrible night when he discovers just what it is, is a great read for all ages and perfect for a commute.

I was pleased to hear my daughter comment when she saw it on this week’s reading pile that her friend at school was reading the same book this week and she loved it too.



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A Matter of Blood by Sarah Pinborough

Published by Gollancz (Orion Books)

If you enjoy a good crime tale and you’re also on the lookout for something a bit supernatural and not of this world to put the fear of god up your central character and you, the reader, then seek out ‘A Matter of Blood’ by Sarah Pinborough.

I’m late to this, as book two is already on the shelves and it’s a trilogy by the author, who was one of several new names to me for seeking out after this year’s Harrogate Crime Writing Festival.

Set a few years in the future, but with economic problems and ‘The Bank’ as a central mysterious and villainous organisation, the book has a huge resonance in the here and now of 2011.

The streets are plagued with people falling foul of ‘Strain 2’ – an Aids-like disease with no working drugs, and trapped in the middle of more than one horrific case as well as all the horrors that his world has to offer him, is DI Cass Jones.  A great character, haunted by his work, his own dark past, and the ghost of his brother – Cass is on the search for the truth into his brother, sister-in-law, and son’s deaths in what appears to have been a murder suicide.

There’s also the small matter of a killer on the loose, victims with ‘Nothing is sacred’ written on them in blood and then skilfully outlined with the eggs of flies.

As the dark trio of plots that run throughout the equally dark book, they appear to be heading towards a collision, somehow linked and with Cass racing to discover some truths before he looks set to be destroyed when they smash together.

Dark fantasy, dark crime, or just a bloody good pre-Halloween read – ‘A Matter of Blood’ delivers, and the premise that ‘The Man of Flies is Among Us’ is a very scary thought indeed.



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