Reviews and news 19th October 2012

The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine cover image

First off, we received notice this morning of a new review of John L. Probert’s Spectral Visions novella, The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine, posted to the Dread Central website and written by Pestilence. It contains this rather fine quote:

“…Probert’s tale remains a total delight from start to finish – aiming somewhere between the thrilling, the camp and the humourous, The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine lands smack bang in the middle of brilliance.”

You can read the rest of the review here.

For those interested, paperback copies are still available, although there are very limited stocks available – please send remittance (£8UK/£9EU/$16US & RoW) via Paypal to spectralpress[AT]gmail[DOT]com. It is also available via Amazon UK and Amazon US.

The Eyes of Water cover image

Also, there’s a new review of Alison Littlewood’s chapbook story, The Eyes of Water, on David Hebblethwaite’s Follow the Thread blog – it’s the third one down and can be found here.


We’ll be announcing the winner of the recent The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine competition on Tuesday next week – so please do look out for that! However, on Monday, we will FINALLY be revealing the Table of Contents of the very first Spectral Christmas Ghost Story Annual – we’re very excited by the line-up we’ve chosen. It was an extremely tough decision to make – there were more submissions than we’d anticipated and the standard was very high. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take everyone’s story, but there will be plenty more chances to submit to future editions of the Annual.

The Annual even has a proper title now:  The Thirteen Ghosts of Christmas – come back Monday and all will be revealed!

Onwards and upwards!

Rough Music: a new review from Follow the Thread

So, to start this new week off, here’s a link to a short review of Simon Kurt Unsworth’s chapbook from David Hebblethwaite’s Follow the Thread blog. To find out what he thought of this latest publication from Spectral Press, just click here (it’ s the third one down).

The chapbook itself will be sent out to subscribers either at the end of this week or the beginning of next (most likely the latter). All that remains to be done now is for the signature sheets to be signed – and that’s being done tomorrow.

And then, it’ll soon be time for the first Spectral Visions novella to be released – there aren’t many copies of the limited hardback version left and it’s very close to being completely sold out. Click the link here to get details on how to order the book.

Onwards and upwards!

Reviews and news

Don’t know about you, but it felt like Christmas had come early at Spectral Towers yesterday – TWO reviews of King Death and a write-up on Cate Gardner’s Nowhere Hall! So, without further ado, here they are:

King Death review number one is courtesy of David Hebblethwaite from his Follow the Thread blog. David notes especially one aspect of the story which I completely agree with and would love to see happen at some time – that Paul Finch’s tale begs to be read aloud. In common with quite a few other reviewers who have made similar observations, the rich cadences, poetry and power of his descriptive language immediately plunges the reader headlong into the picture of the medieval world Finch is painting and would lend itself readily to an atmospheric live reading. I sincerely hope that one day in the future this will indeed come to pass, maybe in some grand old hall or castle. The rest of the review can be read here and is the second one down the page.

Meanwhile, the second King Death review is one from a good friend and subscriber, Tim James, to which he gave 5 stars and posted to Goodreads. In this particular case I will quote the write-up in full here, with his permission:

“I feel slightly guilty in reviewing this chapbook when I have not reviewed the previous publications – even more so as I always intended to… 

Spectral Press is (at the moment) a small independent publishing company with a big heart and aspirations and seem to be making a solid impact on the scene, making it something to watch. 

Their output, for the moment, is limited to chapbooks – stories of about 20+ pages, all with a slightly spectral bent.

King Death is, as stated the fourth book released to date, it seems to be the least ghostly of the first four, but is (only just) my favourite. 

Set during the reign of King Edward III of England, it tells the tale of a single man, using the decimation of the plague to make his own selfish advantage. 

In such a short story there is limited room for character development, but Finch keeps the cast small, basically two characters, the main character Rodric a veteran of countless campaigns and a young boy he encounters on his travels. But it is not these two characters that so illuminated the chapbook for me, it was the description of the landscape, the plague ravaged country that really sold the book. 

There is a genuine feel of a land fallen into decay as people are viciously claimed by something that could only have been seen as the wrath of god. There is a sense of hopelessness and a constant darkness that evokes the feeling of a time that has to be seen as one of the darkest in Europe’s history.

That Finch manages to capture this in just 22 pages is a testament to his skill as a writer. 

The last line though, sells the whole thing, and just keeps it within the realms of Spectral Press’ remit.”

Thanks to Tim for taking the time and trouble to write up a review!

Next up then is a rather spiffing review of Nowhere Hall, this time from the virtual pen of Glynn James (no relation to Tim, by the way!) and posted to his personal website. It’s another great write-up of a wonderful (and wondrous) tale by an equally wonderful writer – and Glynn provides food for thought in his last paragraph. If you want to know what he says about it, then please click here.


Spectral is already thinking about the future, 2014 to be precise. Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed two new additions to the publishing roster listed at the top right-hand corner of the home page – Rob Shearman and Angela Slatter. Both these fine writers are award-winning authors, and Spectral is very excited and pleased to be able to add them to the swelling ranks of great authors joining the imprint’s already fine roster. More details will follow in due course!

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…. =)

First Nowhere Hall review!!

I’ve just arrived back from a jaunt to Liverpool, and one of the first things I see in my email inbox is a review from David Hebblethwaite of Spectral Volume III, Cate Gardner’s Nowhere Hall, and posted on his Follow the Thread blog. Although quite short, nevertheless it’s a very insightful, as well as a positive,write-up – you can read the review here (it’s the third book down, after book reviews of Jon Courtenay Grimwood and Jonathan Trigell).

Yet another Spectral Volume I review…

Here’s another great review from David Hebblethwaite, as posted on his Follow the Thread blog. Here’s what he had to say about What They Hear in the Dark and Spectral Press (this follows two short reviews of current Nightjar Press titles):


Coincidentally, there’s a couple with a new house and a relationship under strain in Spectral Press’s first title,‘What They Hear in the Dark’by Gary McMahon. Rob and Becky are renovating a house whilst still coming to terms with the death of their son Eddie, and find a strange room which, according to the plans, shouldn’t be there. They call it the Quiet Room, because it seems to absorb all sound.

There is, of course, something mysterious about the Quiet Room, but McMahon’s ultimate focus is less that than the characters of Rob  and Becky. What impresses me most about the story is what’s going on beneath the words and imagery, the way that the Quiet Room comes to embody the couple’s different responses to Eddie’s death — for Becky, the silence is comforting, as she feels it brings her closer to Eddie; for Rob, the Quiet Room is a place of fear, caused by his search for a deeper explanation for his son’s death than the one Becky has accepted. These conflicting views come to reflect the wider tensions in the couple’s relationship, making for a nice balance between character and atmosphere. McMahon’s story is a good start for Spectral Press; I’ll be keeping an eye on what they do in the future.


I couldn’t have wished for a better start for the imprint – copies of this are going fast, so secure yours today!