As a big fan of Paul Finch and his historical horror I was delighted to see his first outing as an editor. I was even more excited when I saw the range of contributing authors he had included. This is the first in a planned series with each collection focusing on a different geographic area and drawing on the local myths, legends and paranormal happenings for inspiration.
While the stories are the big draw I was pleasantly surprised by the addition of articles between each story which focus on the local mythology so here you can read about The Mad Clown of Muncaster, The Tawny Boy and The Black Hound of Shap among many others.
The stories are consistently excellent but the following were some of my highlights. Little Mag’s Barrow by Adam L. G. Nevill is a tense and unnerving tale of a businessman who gets what he deserves in a remote cottage. The Moraine by Simon Bestwick is a nice old fashioned monster story set among the mountains of the Lake District. By way of contrast Peter Crowther’s Jewels In The Dust is a story full of emotion and pathos as a family enjoy one final outing together. Above The World by Ramsey Campbell is, as you might expect, a beautifully written tale full of vivid descriptions of nature as a man seeks his past among the Lakeland fells.
Walk The Last Mile by Steven Savile again takes us in a different direction in a dark and powerful tale about sexual abuse. Anna Tarboska with Night Of The Crone, takes us back among the standing stones of the district with a gory and highly entertaining tale which sees a group of young men get more than they bargained for when they awaken Long Meg and her daughters. Reggie Oliver’s tale, Striding Edge, is a strange, but enjoyable story, in which a young man meets an old school acquaintance who is involved with a strange cult. Gary McMahon’s story shines even among these gems though, Along Life’s Trail has a fantastically oppressive atmosphere which builds as a man explores an abandoned pub and meets the ghosts of the past.
This is my kind of book a widely variable collection exploring an interesting selection of local weirdness and doing it with some style. Thirteen stories and twelve interesting articles for £8.99 seems pretty good value to me but when those tales are by some of the best horror writers in the UK then it’s a no brainer. Congratulations to Gray Frair Press and Paul Finch for an excellent start to what promises to be a definitive series of local horrors.