Some new reviews

What Gets Left Behind cover image

It’s the day after returning from this year’s FantasyCon shindig, where a great time was had by all (we will be reporting on it tomorrow on these very pages), but in the meantime we have three new reviews to tell you about. First are two write-ups on the latest chapbook, What Gets Left Behind by Mark West, from British Fantasy Award-winner Angela Slatter (posted to her blog) and James Everington (posted on GoodReads) respectively. You can find Angela’s review here and James’ here.

Nowhere Hall cover image

The third review is from Angela Slatter again, but this time concerning Cate Gardner’s Nowhere Hall  – you can read the review here.

Apologies for the shortness of today’s blog, still feeling shattered, but there will be more reviews soon, plus a rundown of Spectral’s FantasyCon weekend tomorrow!

Onwards and upwards!

Nowhere Hall returns to haunt once more

Nowhere Hall cover image

To paraphrase something someone once said, you can never keep a good story down – which is certainly true in the case of Cate Gardner’s Nowhere Hall, as here comes a new review, written by Ann Giardina Magee and posted on The Horrifically Horrifying Horror Blog. You can find out what Ann said about Cate’s tale here.


A small heads up: Alison Littlewood’s Spectral chapbook The Eyes of Water will be available within the first two weeks of June – all subscribers and individual purchasers will have received their copies by the end of the month. Many thanks for your patience.

Nowhere Hall still haunts

Nowhere Hall cover image

Just over six months after it was published, we’re still getting the occasional review of Cate Gardner’s chapbook, Nowhere Hall. The one we’re about to link you to was posted on The Horrifically Horrifying Horror Blog yesterday by Shaun Hamilton, who also wrote the piece. Hop on over to the review by clicking here. Thanks to Shaun for the review!


Two things – first, the limited hardback is in the process of being printed even as this is being written, so the final product should be with us very soon, within the next ten days we should think. As soon as the stock arrives the books will be despatched to those who pre-ordered them.

Secondly, expect the first reviews of the novella to start appearing here very soon…

Black Static visits Nowhere Hall: a review

Yes, Cate Gardner’s Nowhere Hall has been out for a while now, but the fine reviewer at Black Static magazine, Peter Tennant, has been saving a few things by this excellent writer so he could review them all at once. And so, in the latest issue of the magazine (#27), Peter reviews not just Cate’s chapbook, but also two of her recent novellas, Barbed Wire Hearts (Delirium) and Theatre of Curious Acts (Hadley Rille Books), both of which are eminently worth getting hold of.  As he writes so eloquently of Cate, she is indeed in a “genre of one”.

Getting to the main point here, however, Peter says of Nowhere Hall:

“It’s almost a stream of consciousness ghost story, if there can be such a thing, with events bleeding into each other and surreal imagery (e.g. Death as a man with an umbrella), not a word wasted and imagery laden with meaning, so that you almost instantly want to read the work again and pick up on all the things you missed first time around, and then again after that, with the assurance that there will always be something new waiting to be discovered.”

Further, Peter also says:

“It is a tale that is as unique as it is eminently readable, the ghost story as something strangely beautiful and beautifully strange.”

However, if you want to read what else Peter says about Nowhere Hall, as well as Barbed Wire Hearts  and Theatre of Curious Acts, then you’ll just have to hunt down a copy of Black Static #27, which is published by TTA Press.

More reviews soon!!

A double review and some news

Today’s review is a double one, courtesy of the fine folk at Shock Totem, specifically a gentleman by the name of John Boden. Like his previous review of Spectral chapbooks for the same magazine, he’s chosen to review two at once and this time out it’s the turn of Cate Gardner’s Nowhere Hall and Paul Finch’s King Death. John loved the first two Spectral publications, so does he feel the same about Volumes III & IV? Click here to find out!


After yesterday’s announcement and call for submissions for the first Spectral Christmas Ghost Story Annual 2012, I have now moved that blog to a new page so that access to the guidelines is permanent until the deadlin of June 30th. If you’re interested and want to know whatt you need to do to submit, then please just click on the relevant page. Thanks!!

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!

A review from Innsmouth

And still the reviews for Nowhere Hall come in, just as I am about to publish the latest volume in Spectral’s chapbook series. This one is from The Innsmouth Free Press and is a very in-depth look at Cate Gardner’s story, perceptively drawing out the underlying details and flavour of the tale. Again, I am glad that it’s yet another tick in the positive column and if you want to read what reviewer Josh Reynolds said about it, then please click here.

If you have missed out on this or any of the other previously published chapbooks, then you’ll be pleased to know that they will all be reprinted in a collected volume at some point in the future, and the collection will also feature extra content. Keep checking back here regularly for updates on that and all the other exciting things in store for Spectral in 2012 and beyond!

Nowhere Hall gets another review…

And here we are, on another cold and grey Monday morning, wondering just how quickly we can make the week go by until it’s the weekend again. Well, here’s something that will at least occupy a small portion of that time: a great new review of Cate Gardner’s Nowhere Hall, this time from Richard Baron and posted to his personal website – you can get to it by clicking the link here.


And now, a little news of something happening later on… a fabulous Spectral/Read Horror competition. Details will be revealed in all their wondrous glory on the Read Horror website sometime today, and I can guarantee that it’s an extremely wonderful competition, with some magnificent prizes to be had… either keep a look out on the site itself, (and while you’re there, check out the 100 Horror Story Recommendations), or come back here tomorrow when I will be blogging about it. I foresee this as being quite a popular competition….

LATE EDIT! The competition has now gone live on the Read Horror site – get to it! =)

A new review of Cate Gardner’s Nowhere Hall

This one is courtesy of Chris Bissette and appears on his eponymous blog – I’m glad to say that it’s yet another wonderful review, and it’s also absolutely fantastic to hear that as a result of reading this chapbook Chris went out and bought Cate’s Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits and Other Curious Things collection from Strange Publications – one of the manifold reasons why Spectral was set up in the first place, to provide a showcase for the best in current genre writing and to encourage readers to explore the authors’ other published works. To read the review, please click here!

Post-con news, reviews and other things…

FantasyCon 2011 is, very sadly, over, but there’s always next year’s event to look forward to, which many attendees are already doing (this one included). There will be a full report of what happened on these pages within the next few days (including a review of Saturday night’s fabulous theatrical entertainment) but, in the meantime, here’s what you can be getting on with Spectral-wise – to wit, notices of two reviews of Nowhere Hall, two interviews and a new column.

The first review is from The Black Glove online ‘zine, wherein Nickolas Cook calls Spectral “…one of the most exciting, and truly literary, of the small press horror publishers to come out of the UK…” – his write-up is both succint and insightful, and you can read what he said here.

Review number two is by Adrian Brady, and can be found in the new Morpheus Tales Review Supplement (#14) which is available to download for FREE  from here. You’ll find the write-up on page 33, Brady saying of Spectral that “… [I]f this short but scary chapbook is anything to go by, Spectral Press is in the top flight of the small presses…” – gratifying stuff indeed!

In the same issue you will also find a new column, appropriately called Ramblings of a Tattooed Head, in which I will, as is my wont, pontificate and ruminate on matters genre or on whatever subject happens to be keeping me in thrall at that particular moment. This issue the column, which starts on page 25, sets out my stall and my credentials, but I will be looking at whatever aspect of genre is bothering me from the next instalment.

Following the column and starting on page 29, is the first of the interviews with me – this essentially fills out my column with an in-depth discussion and explanation of what it is I do, as well as my motivations and influences. The second interview was conducted by Morgen Bailey for her Writing Blog and goes into similar depth concerning Spectral Press and the processes involved in choosing stories, editing and preparing for publication. The interview can be found here.

Finally, for today at least, is some excellent news: award-winning author Robert Shearman will be writing a chapbook tale for Spectral, which is provisionally slated for a March 2014 publication date. Look out for more details over the coming months!

Anyway, that’s it for now – I need to gather my thoughts regarding FantasyCon 2011, so look for a full convention report here within the next few days.