This Is Horror take on What Gets Left Behind

What Gets Left Behind cover image

As this will be the last post before the Spectral clan (all two of us) head off for the annual shindig that is FantasyCon, we shall leave you all on a high: the latest review of Mark West’s What Gets Left Behind, Volume VII in the acclaimed Spectral Press chapbook series. This one’s by horror writer Adam Millard and has been posted to This Is Horror Magazine’s horror media website. To read the review, please click here.

Anyway, FantasyCon promises to be a wonderful event this year – for our part, we are launching a book (The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine), hosting a reading (with John Llewellyn Probert and Stephen Volk) and moderating a panel (‘Marketing for Newcomers’). Plus, of course, King Death by Paul Finch is up for a British Fantasy Award in the Short Fiction category, and Spectral itself has been nominated for the PS Publishing Independent Press Award. If any of you are going, then please don’t hesitate to make yourself known!

More reviews and news soon!

Another review of What Gets Left Behind

Here’s the third review in as many days of Volume VII of Spectral’s chapbook series, What Gets Left Behind by Mark West. This latest write-up comes courtesy of Geoff Nelder, who runs the Science42Fiction review blog – however, we reproduce it here in full with Geoff’s kind permission:

“You know that graph of world population growth from the birth of Christ to now? It more or less flat-lines for centuries until the last two when it leaps to the top. This story is like that. There are spikes of danger, followed by plateaux where death keeps pace with life, but the last scene is exponentially breathtaking. Mike and his best friend have the usual teen encounters where schoolboy adventures are spiced with running from bullies, and where rain – ‘windows pebbled with water’ – means a diversion from planned activities. Innocent, and yet building. The reader is treated along the way with added nuances such as ‘… browning leaves teeming with small spiders…’ and the sound of trains dot about in the story like a not-so-hidden link. A metaphor perhaps that Mike is no longer in that town of awful discovery leading to fatal distraction. The story only lasts 27 pages but leaves you with a haunting, yet touching, legacy.

At one tense moment, Mike’s friend asks, “Do animals cry?” Mike doesn’t know, but oh yes, they do. Are there more answers than questions in this story? I haven’t tallied, but I commend this story to all with strong stomachs and a desire to scratch a literary nerve right at the peak of that curve.”

More reviews soon!

What Gets Left Behind review at Hellbound Times

What Gets Left Behind cover image

For the second review of Mark West’s What Gets Left Behind, the latest volume in the Spectral Press chapbook series, we have to thank Walt Hicks of Hellbound Times. To read Walt’s thoughts on the story, please go here.


We are currently reading through all the submissions that were sent – due to the high number of these, plus having to prepare for FantasyCon 2012 at the end of this week, notifications will be sent out to all in early October. We here at Spectral Towers would like to apologise to all those writers who have submitted material for the annual for the unavoidable delay and any inconvenience caused. Will be back on track very soon!

Onwards and upwards!

The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine: an Eloquent review

The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine cover image

Just a week until the official launch of the second Spectral Visions novella, The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine by John L. Probert, at this year’s gathering of writers, editors and publishers in Brighton at FantasyCon 2012. The reviews are now coming in regularly, and it is with great pleasure that we can announce the latest one from The Eloquent Page, the book review blog of one Pablocheesecake. This one had us smiling: if you want to know why, all you need do is click here.


Want to win a limited signed hardback copy of John L. Probert’s affectionately gruesome homage to the films of the late actor and horror icon Vincent Price, The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine? Then just answer the question below, set by the fiendish Mr. Probert himself, and you stand to win one of these coveted volumes along with some other great prizes (detailed below):

In the film THEATRE OF BLOOD, how many plays made up Edward Lionheart’s final season of Shakespeare?

THE PRIZESTop prize is a personally signed copy of the hardback, along with a poster of the front cover image (also signed), a paperback copy of Gary Fry’s The Respectable Face of Tyranny (signed), a set of posters of the covers of all the chapbooks published to date, and a Spectral badge.

Second and third prizes for the next two correct entries will be signed paperback copies of The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine, accompanied by a poster of the cover image (unsigned) and a Spectral badge.

Please your answers to the question to us here at Spectral Towers on spectralpress[AT]gmail[DOT]com, to arrive no later than the 30th September 2012 ( the deadline has been extended from the 24th). The winners will be notified via email after FantasyCon 2012 and your prizes will be despatched in the first week of October.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

What Gets Left Behind: first thoughts

What Gets Left Behind cover image

What Gets Left Behind by Mark West, the latest chapbook from Spectral Press, gets its first review, and it also continues the tradition of Jim McLeod being amongst the first to air his reviews on Spectral output. Mark’s tale is very much grounded in the everyday reality of a specific time and place, yet the concerns of the main protagonist Mike are very universal and will be familiar to all. To read what Jim thought about What Gets Left Behind please go here.

The Respectable Face of Tyranny cover image

We also have another review for you to read, but this time the focus is Gary Fry’s Spectral Visions novella The Respectable Face of Tyranny, which (with the kind permission of Graeme Reynolds, who wrote it and uploaded it to GoodReads) we reproduce in full below:

“Spectral Press are fast becoming major players in the world of horror fiction. Their limited edition chapbooks are beautifully presented collectors editions, containing stories that disturb and challenge the readers perceptions in equal measure. It was with a fair amount of excitement that I started reading their first novella length work – The Respectable Face of Tyranny by Gary Fry.

Josh is struggling to cope with his life. The economic downturn led to him losing his high paying job, his expensive home and his wife. To try and get himself back on his feet he moves into a caravan near Whitby with his teenage daughter, where he spends his time caring for his ailing mother and walking through the surrounding countryside, to try and make some sense of where his life went wrong. Before long he starts to see apparitions above the bay at night, and comes across strange carvings on the beach. Is he catching a glimpse of something ancient and terrifying, or have his recent troubles brought on the same dementia that claimed his invalid mother?

This is a very introspective piece of work. Gary Fry is quite obviously very familiar with Whitby and the surrounding area, and describes not only the town and its surroundings, but the people that live there in a level of detail that was quite astonishing. I’m not sure if I can remember reading anything recently that evoked such clear mental images for me. Similarly, the characters of Josh and Sally, his daughter, are beautifully drawn, to the extent that they were very real to me right from the start. Against this vivid backdrop, the insidious cosmic horrors that Josh has to contend with also become very real.

The Respectable Face of Tyranny is a slow paced and measured novella, that takes its time in painting a vivid picture and building the terror of both the creatures that Josh encounters and his own fear of losing his mind.

Very highly recommended for those that want something a little deeper and disturbing than the average horror story.

4 out of 5 stars.”

More reviews soon!

The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine: the paperback

The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine cover image

So here it is, the paperback edition of The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine by John Llewellyn Probert, now available for all you lovely people to buy and make your very own. Prices quoted below include postage and packing. All orders will be processed and sent out in early October, after the dust has settled in the wake of FantasyCon 2012. Your copy is a mere click away!

UK – £7.50

EU – £8.50

US & RoW – $16

Looking forward to hearing from you!


For those of you who may be interested, even slightly, in the  witterings of Spectral mainman Simon Marshall-Jones, may we direct you to a short interview just published on the Starburst Online website. Starburst was for many, many years one of the most essential magazines for all things genre, but sadly, like many things in today’s web-connected world, it ceased publication some years back: now, thankfully, someone has seen sense and resurrected this fine publication, but with the added bonus of not just being available in physical format like the original, but also in a continually-updated online edition. The interview can be found here.

Onwards and upwards, as we are wont to say!

Geoff Nelder investigates The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine

The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine cover image

So, here we have yet another review of John L. Probert’s Spectral Visions novella, The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine, from that man Mr. Geoff Nelder. Here’s the review in full:

“I’ve often warned people not to become ill in the Bristol area because I’ve seen what the health workers are like from television’s Holby City and Casualty. However, if said people want a spectacular death then writhing ablaze at the end of a chain dangling from the beautiful Clifton Suspension Bridge would be in their top ten. Of course, if that happened involuntarily then we have an intriguing murder mystery, especially when it is just one of several unusual and yet not historically unique deaths.

Once again, I find interactions with my life and the settings in Spectral Press publications. As a teen I used to cycle with pals from my home in Cheltenham to Bristol with the famous suspension bridge and the nearby zoo as our destination. These coincidences are beginning to freak me out… And so we have a hot air balloon murder, and so did I in my thriller, Hot Air. Quite different modus operandi, and mine was over Bath not Bristol, but still too close for comfort.

Detective Inspector Jeffrey Longdon and Sergeant Jenny Newham rule the investigation. One effectively rules her patch with a wagging finger and vertical palm of her official hand, while the other is a coffee addict, but at least of good quality beans. It’s rather worrying that the police smile a lot – it’s not what the public expect, even more unnerving here, but then why not laugh in the face of adversity?

The zoo’s ‘Captain Clowney’s Creepy Crawly Creature Feature’ and much of the tone in the story is reminiscent of Father Ted (Jack’s Dreamy Sleepy Nightie Snoozy Snooze….) lending humour to the visceral horror, making it even more creepy than the normal nail-biter. Fear of clowns gets an outing. I didn’t have Coulrophobia until now. To have a Point of View character die in grisly torment works well. One can only hope that numbness overcame agony in time.

Even the furniture in this story can ‘creak ominously’.

Poe’s Phibes is posthumously unearthed. A classic story, immortalised further in film, is glorified here. Vincent Price would be proud.

‘All our safe houses are full at the moment, sir.’ – classic dry humour. Had me spluttering in my liquid Valium. I would like to think that contemporary police are quicker at solving crimes than Longdon and Newman but I have my suspicions.

Thank you, John Llewellyn Probert for giving me another reason for staying away from Bristol.”

More reviews soon!

FantasyCon 2012: paperback offer

The Respectable Face of Tyranny cover image

For those of you out there who are going to be at the event of the year in Brighton between the 28th and 30th of this month, there will be a special offer available to attendees on the paperback editions of Gary Fry’s The Respectable Face of Tyranny and John L. Probert’s The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine – in other words, if you buy both at the same time, it’ll only cost you £9 instead of £11. They will still be available separately at the usual prices.

Look forward to seeing you there!

The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine cover image

The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine: a view from the Ginger Nut himself

The Nine Deaths of Dr, Valentine cover image

The wonder that is modern electronic communication has meant that the very latest review of John L. Probert’s Spectral Visions novella, The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine, has just landed on our virtual desk here at Spectral Towers, so that we can tell you all about it the same morning it was uploaded. It’s from the Scottish wonderboy Jim McLeod of Ginger Nuts of Horror fame and, if you want to know what he thought about John’s novella, then all you have to do is click here.

More reviews soon!

FantasyCon: the 2012 edition

FantasyCon 2012 logo

It’s that time of the year once more, when the widely dispersed clans of Writers, Publishers and Editors all gather in some hotel somewhere (in the Royal Albion Hotel in Brighton again this year) and chat about all things genre and books. This year, unlike our previous attendances, things are slightly different for us: we have a book launch going on, a reading to host, a panel to moderate and an awards ceremony to be nervous about. In between we shall be meeting up with various people to talk ‘business’ over drinks, and we are hoping to be able to report some good things when we get back in terms of new novellas and chapbooks. Spectral is definitely going through some exciting times, and we have a feeling that even better things will be coming your way in 2013 and beyond!

Anyway, for those interested, here’s our FantasyCon schedule for this year:

Friday 28th September, Bar Rogue, 9pm – 10pm: launch of The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine by John Llewellyn Probert. There will be free wine, and John will be signing both the hardbacks and the paperbacks. Posters will also be given away as well as Spectral badges.

Saturday 29th September, Readings Room 134, 9:30pm – 10pm: Spectral at the Movies reading, with Stephen Volk and John L. Probert.

Sunday 30th September, Fitzherbert Room, 10 am – 11am: Panel, Market Information for Newcomers, with Christopher Teague (Pendragon Press) and Peter Mark May (Hersham Horror).

Sunday 30th September, Regency Lounge, 1pm onwards: nervously pacing up and down and biting fingernails at the Awards Ceremony….

If any of you out there are planning on attending, then please do make yourself known to us. This promises to be a great event, the highlight of the year, and what a great setting into the bargain. There will be a further post nearer the time with more details of the event itself, such as Guests of Honour and the programme of events due to be held.

More news soon!