Archive for ghost


Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2012 by stanleyriiks

Review published courtesy of Morpheus Tales Publishing.


This is the third and final chapter in McMahon’s splendidly brooding Concrete Grove trilogy.

Reading the first two parts of this story isn’t essential to your enjoyment, as the third novel, like the other two, stands on its own, but they are interlinked, and knowing what’s going on beforehand will greatly enhance your understanding of the Grove and appreciation for the events unfolding therein.

This book has several cleverly woven plot strands, including: Marc Price, visiting the Grove for a funeral and investigating the Northumberland Poltergeist, discovers a lot more than he bargained for while delving into his dead friend’s archive; Eric Best, a gangland thug and  protective ex-boyfriend to Abby, will stop at nothing to keep his ex for himself, including murder; DS Royle is separated from his pregnant wife, who can’t live with him or without him, meanwhile, the policeman is investigating the disappearance of the Gone Away Girls, a series of unsolved kidnappings, and then scarecrows start appearing with photos of the missing girls attached… post-mortem photos.

Beyond Here Lies Nothing has the same heavy, brooding atmosphere of the first two books. It is stifling and you can’t get away from it, which adds to the increasing drama, both human and supernatural. Although the human beings in McMahon’s novels are horrible enough, he doesn’t rest there, inserting some strange and spookily unreal action along the way.

Although this is an ensemble piece and lacks the depth of characterisation of the stunning second book in the series, Silent Voices, it is more ambitious in scale and plot. Both previous books lead in to this catastrophic finale.

Although not as brutal and nasty as some of his other novels, this isn’t quiet horror; it still hurts, and that’s what horror is all about – making the reader feel. McMahon does this by drawing us into his story, creating realistically flawed characters and brutally punishing them.

McMahon has his finger firmly on the carotid artery of modern horror.  No horror fan should be without the entire Concrete Grove trilogy and the Thomas Usher novels.

WHAT THEY HEAR IN THE DARK By Gary McMahon – Reviewed

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2011 by stanleyriiks

This review is published with the kind permission of Morpheus Tales, where it will appear in the FREE Morpheus Tales Supplement.

Following the murder of their son, Eddie, Rob and Becky decide to renovate a house, to try to take their mind off things, and to give them some time to heal and a project to work on together. But there is a room in the house that is completely empty of noise. The quiet room.

And the parents of the dead child are haunted, and in the quiet room the ghosts come in silence…

McMahon does this kind of story so well it’s quite sickening. How he manages to tug at the heart-strings and draw you in so deeply in the space of a few pages (in this case just twenty two), is nothing short of remarkable.

This is quiet horror in every sense, the theme echoing the contents of the story. Subtlety reins as we watch the characters attempting to deal with their loss, haunted (literally and metaphorically).

This is another haunting story from McMahon that sticks with you long after reading it. One that plays on your mind and touches a sadness inside all of us who have ever lost anyone.

Spectral Press have launched with this stellar title by McMahon, and with only one hundred copies available, I should imagine they will disappear fast. I’d like to see a printed version to see the quality of the finished product (one of the difficulties of reviewing an ebook version), but obviously one of the problems with limited editions prints is availability.

An evocative and compelling story that really gets you in the gut. Powerful and touching, McMahon delves into the true darkness of our hearts.

For more information on Spectral Press or to order a copy of the book visit their website:

FATHER’S LITTLE HELPER By Ronald Kelly – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 3, 2010 by stanleyriiks

There are certain things about this book that I liked. But most of it is plain and simple and slightly stupid.

The book starts off with Richard McFarland finally having enough one Christmas morning in 1978, and, finding a shotgun, goes to a church near where his car has broken down and shoots half the parishioners.

Fourteen years later, Sonny Beechum’s fascination with true crime comes to a head when he realises he is the son of Richard McFarland and goes on a rampage, heading towards the small town of Cedar Bluff where he aims to finish his father’s work.

All well and good, we’re set up for a reverse revenge tragedy, an all-out action-fest with guns blazing. And to a certain extent that’s what we get. Sonny’s actions take him across country, killing whoever gets in his way, following the instructions of his dearly departed father, whether he appears is a ghost or a figment of Sonny’s fragmented reality.

The problem is that it’s all too easy. Sonny’s a teenager with a shotgun, and yet he’s outsmarting the idiotic police department, the FBI and all the other law enforcement officers. The FBI are unwilling to get more than a single agent involved for most of the book in case the town gets scared. When they do bring some more people in, one a highly trained former soldier, he gets killed almost instantly.

The fact is it’s too easy for Sonny to go around the country killing people indiscriminately. It’s not that easy, and this is where the book falls down. There’s barely any struggle, the teenager is running rings around the police. Our “hero” is meant to be the town Sheriff, but he’s as easily duped as all the rest, and you can’t help enjoying the idiots getting their just desserts. Sonny becomes the anti-hero and you don’t want him to caught until he’s finished with these muppets.

Also we have the problem of characters. There aren’t any worth caring about, which just makes you root for the murderer even more.

Apart from the complete lack of plausibility – throwing in the dad as adviser and Sonny’s true-crime obsession are just not enough to convince us he’s a criminal mastermind – this is a nice violent action novel. I’m not sure I’d go as far as saying it’s a thriller, but there’s enough here to keep you entertained if you can forgive it its problems.

Not bad, but certainly not good. If you find a copy it’s worth reading, but I wouldn’t for a second suggest seeking it out.

THE GRAVEYARD BOOK By Neil Gaiman – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2010 by stanleyriiks

It’s difficult to review a book like there. And there are so few books like this. Books that you experience, rather than read. Books which envelope you, books which takes you to a new world and let you explore that world and introduce you to new friends.

Books that touch you. Writers that speak to you.

These are rare things. Much like The Thief of Always, The Hobbit, and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, The Graveyard Book is a tale of wonder, of imagination, a coming of age tale of adventure.

Nobody Owens’s family is killed one night when he’s a toddler, and whilst the murderer is searching for him, Bod slips out and finds himself in a graveyard, adopted by the ghosts who live there. But to keep Bod safe from the murderer he can’t leave his new home, and must learn to live the life of a live human within his ghostly confines.

Bod slowly grows up, learning the skills he needs to survive in his strange surroundings, but longing for the life of a live person, without even knowing it.

Gaiman creates a magical world, part Harry Potter, part Tim Burton. The plot follows the trials and tribulations of Bod’s growing up, a simple tale, but with the ever growing presence of the murderer making life all the more difficult for the young child.

Ok, so there are several places where things are nicely slotted into place and then become suddenly important, Bod meeting a witch and then needing her magic to escape after being trapped by a dodgy pawnbroker. But these aren’t glaring, and it’s only those reading this with a critical eye that are likely to notice.

And that’s what I mean by this being a difficult book to review. While you read it you enjoy it, you love every minute of it. You can’t help but feel a tug at the heartstrings every time you put it down, the urge to continue discovering the story made me finish the book in barely two days, despite a full-time job interfering.

This is the kind of book that children should be made to read. Not because they can learn from it, although they will, but because this is the sort of book that makes you feel you have discovered a wonderful, magical world, and will make children want to read more.

The Graveyard Book will no doubt make Gaiman many more fans, and deservedly so. He’s created a wonderful world and filled it with people who you can’t help but love.

Enchanting and beautiful. I cannot recommend this book enough.

FALSE GODS By Graham McNeill – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 28, 2009 by stanleyriiks

The second instalment of the epic Horus Heresy legend sees the beginnings of rebellion. A betrayal by the commanding officer on Davin brings Horus and the Mournival (his elite champions and advisors) to the moon of Davin on a quest for revenge and justice. But they all get more than they bargained for, the moon of Davin, the betrayer, it is all a part of an intricate plot. A plot to kill Horus.

When Horus is injured and on his death-bed, desperate measures must be taken to save the most important soldier in the Universe. Unfortunately they are left with only one choice: to take Horus to Davin’s surface and leave him in the Snake Temple to be administered to by its priests. Despite the entire idea being completely against the Emperor’s teachings, the desperation of those left to make the decision means that any measures will be taken to save Horus’ life.

Up to this point we have the traditional war-torn savagery of the Warhammer 40K universe. But as Horus is on his death-bed, we have a kind of A Christmas Carol scene where Horus is visited by a ghost to be shown the future of the universe to try to convert him over to the dark side. As this is the turning point of the entire Warhammer universe it just feels weak, insubstantial and not entirely convincing. After this halfway point not much happens, the intrigues continue to build, but most of the plot of this novel has already been told. The thing is, it’s still gripping. The petty intrigues, and lies and schemes keep your attention. This is not the blockbuster of the first book, but a good solid second instalment (similar to The Empire Strikes Back), which can’t help but fail in its turnabout of the Warmaster, but other than that continues to entertain.

Can’t wait for the third instalment.

HEART-SHAPED BOX By Joe Hill Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2009 by stanleyriiks


Debut novels are often not judged on their merit, but rather, on their author’s potential. First novels are often more heart-felt, simpler, more personal and direct than the books that follow.

While the Heart-Shaped Box contains all the goodness of a debut, it feels much more accomplished, more experienced and complex than most first novels.

At the book’s heart it an emotional integrity you rarely find with veteran authors, let alone newbies. Judas Coyne is a semi-retired rock star in the vein of Ozzy Osbourne, a Satanic-ish rocker in his mid-fifties, and a collector of strange items. When his assistant finds a ghost for sale on an auction website Coyne buys it, little knowing that the ghost in question is the stepfather of his ex-girlfriend – who killed herself after Coyne threw her out – and is out for vengeance against the man who ruined his daughter.

What follows is a chase across the US as Coyne and his current girlfriend attempt to outrun the ghost and destroy it, while the ghost plays havoc with their minds, trying to punish Coyne and getting him to kill his girlfriend and then himself.

There is no black and white here, only shades of grey, as the ghost uses the bad in Coyne to create the horrific scenarios.

This is tense stuff, brutally realistic and heart wrenching, despite the ghostly aspect. Besides that there’s far too much child-abuse, in all its varied forms, for this to be just entertainment.

What Hill has produced is a book that makes you uncomfortable and nervous, makes you enjoy some of the pain, and produces a character in Coyne at once unlike able and loveable.

Much more complex and daring than a young novelist normally allows themselves to be, Heart-Shaped Box is an extremely accomplished novel. It’s one of those books it hurts to put down, but in some ways it also hurts to pick up. Hill writes with a skill that makes this writer want to give up. Every single word drags you deeper into the story, wanting to find out more as the mystery unravels.

Heart-Shaped Box is one of those rare treats, a first novel that astounds in its brilliance and leaves you begging for more. Give me more Joe Hill!


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