Ill At Ease
by Mark West, Stephen Bacon and Neil Williams
Published by Penman Press, 2011.
The ease of publishing in electronic format is both a curse and a joy. While it allows every cellar dwelling hack to realise their dreams and have a published “book” in the marketplace, at the same time it also allows hard working and talented authors to find a market for material that might not have existed in the old tree based publishing world. That presents us (the readers) with a problem, how to sort the wheat from the chaff, and believe me there is a lot of chaff. Well, not to worry dear reader, for I have come to the rescue wielding my trusty kindle and will be highlighting some of the better ebooks out there of which, Ill at Ease is a perfect example.
Waiting For Josh by Stephen Bacon is an emotionally charged story where the dreams and hopes of youth are spoiled by this “tragic tale of lost lives”. Reflecting back on childhood while attending a friends funeral brings back lots of memories, not all of them good. Its a deeply melancholic tale which examines how different paths in childhood can lead to completely different outcomes in later life. I enjoyed the simplicity of this tale and its focus on the characters, that simplicity adds to rather than detracts from the sense of empathy the reader has for the two childhood friends.
Come See My House In the Pretty Town by Mark West again looks at divergent relationships this time from the perspective of college friends. A facebook message reunites Simon and David in the rural idyll of Hoelzli but again it’s a reunion haunted by ghosts of the past. Here the insular rural village becomes a major part of the story complementing the claustrophobic atmosphere and the feeling of impending doom that pervades the tale. Throw in a few nasty clowns (well to be fair all clowns are nasty) and you have a very enjoyable revenge story.
Closer Than You Think is by Neil Williams, a writer I haven’t encountered before, and is a ghostly tale of a haunted child’s car seat. It’s a well written tale with a gradually increasing pace and tension as it builds to a grisly and terrible climax. It manages to grip the reader to the final page and although probably the weaker of the three stories here it showcases a writer with great potential.
All three stories in this collaboration focus on the psychological horror of relationships and the mundane realities of modern life, consequently they work well as a collection. This probably demonstrates the huge advantage of e-publishing. Here we have three authors combining to produce a piece of work greater than the sum of it’s parts, a thematically cohesive collection, something that would have been much more difficult in the traditional publishing world. The other huge advantage is you can pick up the Kindle edition of this for £1.42, so now readers should play their part and reward this venture by buying it. By doing so you will be supporting some real talent in the horror genre and nabbing yourself an excellent anthology of solid horror writing at the same time.
Rating 4 out of 5
You can buy this books from the Kindle Store here :-