Abolisher of Roses review

If things had gone to plan I would now be waiting for a coach to Newcastle at the fine new coach-station in Milton Keynes, to begin the first leg of my journey to historic Melrose in the border country of Scotland. Unfortunately, the workshop I was meant to have given has been postponed until early next year, and it’s entirely due to legitimate and unforeseen circumstances. However, I shall not be wanting for things to do in lieu of that, as Spectral always demands a lot of my time and this has given me an opportunity to clear some of those items that need seeing to.

In the meantime, I shall point you in the direction of the latest review of Gary Fry’s Abolisher of Roses, written by David Hebblethwaite and posted on his Follow the Thread blog. Generally speaking David has liked what Spectral has put out, but he wasn’t so keen on this one. It’s by no means a negative review, though, and his conclusions are all down to personal taste on this one, I think. But judge for yourself: the review can be found here (it’s the second one down, after Hollis Hampton-Jones’ Comes the Night).

Anyway, I’m off to send email reminders to people…. =)

Spectral: 3-in-1 review number 3

Well, this week, as you guys may have noticed, there were no reviews available to me to upload on Monday, thus breaking my recent custom – but this midweek post more than makes up for that. It’s from the esteemed folk at Strange Aeons Magazine and it will appear in the Fall 2011 issue (Number 7), debuting at the HP Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, Oregon, in the US this weekend. With the kind permission of KL Young, Executive Editor of Strange Aeons, I reproduce it here – and this is what they had to say:

This issue, we’re reviewing a line of chapbooks from the newly created Spectral Press imprint. From their site: Spectral Press is a small independent imprint publisher; issuing very limited edition signed and numbered single story chapbooks in a high-quality presentation on a quarterly basis, and concentrating on the ghostly/supernatural end of the literary spectrum.

If you’ve picked up a chapbook before, you know it’s basically an 8.5”x11” stack of pages, folded in half and stapled on the spine. They’re cheap and easy to make, and they look like it. Right off the bat, Spectral is throwing all of that out the window. While the format remains the same, Spectral Press knocks you out with the gorgeous cover art and paper stock, the beautiful text choice and layout, and the spectacular content. Each issue is limited to 100 copies, making them extremely collectible.

Each new chapbook is an “issue”, and Issue I is “What They Hear in the Dark”, by Gary McMahon. After the violent death of their son, Rob and Becky buy a new house in an attempt to keep their minds and bodies busy as they work through their grief. In this “fixer-upper” of a house (a thinly-veiled metaphor for their own relationship), they find a “Quiet Room” – a place where sound literally cannot be heard. Both of them have a solitary, supernatural experience in the room; Rob’s negative, Becky’s positive, and this conflict is what drives the story towards its inevitable, creepy conclusion. If there are any complaints, it is that the characters are a little weak, their identities not quite fleshed out or believable – but McMahon is such a strong writer that it’s easy to forgive, and at 20 pages long you haven’t got time to really notice. An excellent start to this new publishing house!

In “Abolisher of Roses” by Gary Fry (the second offering from Spectral Press), we are introduced to husband and wife Peter and Patricia, at a hoity-toity outdoor art show that Patricia has been invited to show at. At first this feels like familiar Twilight Zone fare – Peter, our point of view character, is broadly painted as uncouth and unlikeable, alternately thinking about how little he enjoys or understands art, and how much he does enjoy his mistress. It’s fairly obvious he will get his comeuppance as he travels farther – and further – into the woods, away from the real art show and into one specifically designed for him. But Fry manages to pull a few tricks from his sleeve, and his skill in storytelling is apparent. The ending is satisfying and unexpected – as every ending should be.

Finally, Spectral’s Issue III is “Nowhere Hall”, by Cate Gardner. In Gardner’s story, our protagonist, the suddenly jobless Ron, is lured into a run-down hotel by a strange umbrella with an even stranger message: We want to live. Help us. Inside, Ron is faced with bizarre memories and imagery, some familiar tropes of the genre, and some not-so.

Gardner tells a confusing and mind-bending story, bordering on stream-of-consciousness and disregard to structure, all things I’m not a fan of. BUT… her mastery of the written word is so strong – in fact, she’s a fucking Jedi when it comes to painting a picture with words – made this my favorite of the three chapbooks. Sure, I might have had to re-read that paragraph anyway, just to understand what was going on in it… but I re-read it first because it was just so beautifully written.

It’s not often that you get to watch a new publishing house begin with such strong content. This is exciting and fascinating stuff, and you want to get in on the ground floor – you’ll be paying for your kids’ college tuition with these super-collectibles in 20 years – because if you don’t think Spectral Press is going to be moving into bigger and better stuff pretty quickly, you’re crazy.

These books are sold out. But you can buy subscriptions for their new releases at [their website – which is right here folks!].

What a fantastic start to the day – this is the kind of review that all publishers (and authors) kill for. Onwards and upwards!! =)

Spectral 3-in-1 review #2

In an effort to spread the good word about Spectral Press, I have been sending all three of the so-far published chapbooks to all and sundry if they stand still long enough. One of those who did stand still long enough was Gef Fox, who very kindly reviewed What They Hear in the Dark by Gary McMahon, Abolisher of Roses by Gary Fry and Nowhere Hall by Cate Gardner for Skull Salad Reviews. I am very pleased to say that the write-ups are excellent and you can see for yourself by going here to read what he said.

Also, there are now (again provisionally) only SEVEN copies of Paul Finch’s King Death left, which means there are only seven subscription places remaining as well. I recommend that anyone who has been dithering about whether to purchase a sub or not should do so now, as I can see Volume IV selling out way before its publication date (December 5th 2011). There are Paypal buttons down the right-hand side of this website, so it couldn’t be easier to order one. If you’re after an individual copy of King Death, then please Paypal £3.50UK/£4.50EU/$8US/$12RoW to spectralpress[AT]gmail[DOT]com. If there are no more copies left, let me know whether you want a refund or if you’d like a copy of Volume V instead, Simon Kurt Unsworth’s Rough Music.

A mini Abolisher review and some major news…

First up, on this I-can’t-decide-whether-to-be-sunny-or-cloudy early September Monday morning, is a mini-mini review of Gary Fry’s Abolisher of Roses from Australia’s premier writer of the fantastique, Angela Slatter – you can read it here!

Next up is some major news, at least from my perspective. Up until now, Spectral Press has been run more or less as a ‘hobby’, as it isn’t my primary source of income. From January next year, however, I am considering putting the imprint on something of a more professional footing, alongside the freelance editing.

At the moment, I don’t make much money from Spectral, with a profit per year in the hundreds not thousands, and I’m not envisaging that it ever will bring in any substantial returns: nevertheless, I feel that, judging by the success and the reputation that it’s garnered already in such a short time, it might be worth exploring this option. I am certainly planning on expanding the imprint at some point, with new lines of books such as novellas (Spectral Visions) and the Spectral Signature Editions, as well as the possibility of audiobooks and eBooks, too.

The last thing I want Spectral Press to do is to stand still, but neither do I want to overextend myself too soon. All this expansion will be gradual – any new lines will be introduced once every one or two years. There is most definitely a bright future for the imprint, I have big ambitions for it and therefore I want to grab every opportunity that comes my way in connection with it. I want to build Spectral into something worthwhile, an entity that will become a permanent fixture within the genre community and a name that will be synonymous with quality and be respected for what it’s trying to achieve.

No doubt I can do all that even if I kept it as nothing more than a ‘hobby’ but I am of the opinion that the imprint and the aims I have for it will be taken more seriously if I approach everything from a professional angle. Please note, however, that this is only being mooted as a possibility at present – it might be that I WILL go professional, so to speak, but in a couple of years’ time instead. It really is a matter of exploring my options, of which there appear to be many.

But, whatever is decided, Spectral Press has a very bright future ahead of it!!

(And, on another note, this is Spectral’s 100th post…)

Two new reviews and news

First off is a fantastic review of Nowhere Hall from Colum McKnight of Dreadful Tales, who calls it “… [a] whirlwind of greatness… contained within the pages of yet another brilliant Spectral Press release…”. If you want to know what else Mr. McKnight said, then please go here.

And now here’s a somewhat neutral review of Abolisher of Roses from Robert Morrish on his Twilight Ridge blog. It certainly isn’t a negative review, but neither is it a positive one – I guess you can’t win ’em all, as they say. You can read what Robert says here. =D

Going back to Nowhere Hall briefly, I will start to send out copies to everyone that’s bought one within the next few days. Thanks to everyone who has waited patiently for their copy!

More reviews and news!

These came to my attention just this morning: two reviews of Spectral Volumes I & II posted on the She Never Slept website. Both chapbooks were insightfully reviewed by Brandi Jordling, and the What They Hear in the Dark write up is here and the Abolisher of Roses one can be found here. Many thanks to the fine folks over at She Never Slept for the reviews!

Spectral Volume III, Cate Gardner’s Nowhere Hall, will be going to the printers this week – just a final look over today, then off it goes. In the meantime, press info-sheets and what have you will be cunningly concocted through the magic of Word and then I can begin sending stuff to reviewers and websites. If you run a book blog or website and would like a PDF copy to review, then please contact me at spectralpress[AT]gmail[DOT]com, along with details of your blog or site please.

All systems go! =D

A review and some news…

First, we have a new review (and yet another positive one) of Abolisher of Roses from Page Horrific, written by Walt Hicks. The review can be accessed by following this link. Many thanks to Page Horrific and Walt for the review!!

In further news, the PDF proofs for Spectral Volume III have been approved by the lovely Cate Gardner, so it’ll only be a matter of weeks before Nowhere Hall will be landing on the doormats of subscribers and purchasers. Thanks go to Daniele Serra for the stupendous cover, and Neil Williams for all his superb work of putting everything together and doing justice to Cate’s story and Daniele’s artwork!

Not long after Spectral Volume III’s publication, it’ll be on to starting work on Paul Finch’s contribution, King Death. THIS time, however, I have asked Neil to design the cover early, so it gives Mark West time to actually come up with a book trailer BEFORE it sells out.

Don’t forget, subscriptions and resubs are still available, but there are very few left, so I would suggest hurrying up – and, as I am not planning on upping the print run, once the 100 places are gone then that’s it. In other words, it’s first come first served for the foreseeable future. Sorry, folks!

Black Abyss review

Spectral is just over six months old now, and still the positive reviews keep coming in. The latest has just been posted by Black Abyss, where they review both Gary McMahon’s What They Hear in the Dark and Gary Fry’s Abolisher of Roses. The people at Black Abyss consider “Spectral Press’s new range of chapbooks…” to be ” …really something special…” and that “this series is already proving to be unmissable…” The review can be found here.

So, if you’ve been dithering over the decision whether to order a four issue subscription to this rapidly rising publishing star of the horror, supernatural and dark fiction scene then this is further incentive to get your order in now. Purchasing couldn’t be easier – there are Paypal buttons provided on the front page for your convenience. If you want to pay through any other means please contact Spectral at spectralpress[at]gmail[dot]com for further details. However, there aren’t many places left from Volume IV onward, so if you’re interested in subscribing it’s advisable to buy one soon. (If you’d like to reserve a subscription, then write to the above email address telling us so and we’ll keep you a place for a whole month).

Onwards and upwards!!

Morpheus Tales review and other stuff…

The reviews keep coming in for both Gary Fry’s Abolisher of Roses and Gary McMahon’s What They Hear in the Dark. The Morpheus Tales Review Supplement #13 carried write-ups of both, saying of Spectral Volume II that “… [y]ou are unlikely to find better outside of a Best of Horror collection by Stephen Jones…’ which is high praise indeed. Adrian Brady concludes his bite-sized review of Spectral Volume I with the words ‘… [i]f the quality of the fiction and chapbook are anything to go by then Spectral Press have a grand future ahead of them…’ – it’s more than gratifying to see that people are definitely getting what the imprint is all about.

You can read the full reviews by downloading the Morpheus Tales Review Supplement from here completely free – Abolisher of Roses is reviewed on page 13 and the What They Hear in the Dark review can be found on page 31.

(There’s also a review of Nowhere Hall [Spectral Volume III] author Cate Gardner’s collection from Strange Publications, Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits and Other Curious Things, in there as well, which is definitely worth checking out if you want an utterly different take on things…)

If you liked what you read of Gary McMahon’s grim take on urban horror in the first chapbook Spectral published, then you may be interested in his latest series of novels, the Concrete Grove trilogy, published by Solaris. The first one, The Concrete Grove, is due out this month on the 7th (despite what it says on the website) and I can thoroughly recommend that you get your mitts on a copy. Gary is definitely a rising star in the horror scene. More details of the novel can be found if you follow this link.


Black Static 23….

… has a review of Abolisher of Roses within the Casenotes section, written and compiled by Peter Tennant. You’ll have to buy a copy of the magazine to get the full review, but Peter says, in conclusion, that ‘…[Abolisher of Roses] is both disturbing and compelling, a story that is a complex, character-driven piece and at the same time directly addresses philosophical concerns as to the usefulness of art.’

Chalk up yet another positive review for Gary Fry’s chapbook and, by extension, the Spectral Press imprint. Get your copy of Black Static #23 now, available from here.