New reviews – 30:04:2013

A bumper selection of review to browse through today, so let’s get down to it straightaway with the first one:

Whitstable cover image

This one is the latest for Stephen Volk’s Whitstable, courtesy of The Zone – thanks to Tom Johnstone for the write-up! You’ll find it right here.

PLEASE NOTE: there are now just THREE copies of the limited signed and numbered hardback left – those wanting a copy should get to the Spectral Shop NOW to secure their copy before they all go. The book will NOT be reprinted in this format again!

****

Paul Feeney has been a regular supporter of Spectral Press since its launch nearly 2 1/2 years ago, and he posts mini-reviews on Facebook after reading each publication. The reviews below are of the latest three chapbooks:

What Gets Left Behind cover image

“OK, number 7 in the Spectral Press chapbook series.

Mike returns to the town he grew up in through the 70’s and 80’s, hoping to lay some personal ghosts to rest, and finally say goodbye to his childhood friend Geoff.

It’s a well written story, with some nice touches and clear descriptions and dialogue. The structure is essentially the tale from the past, bookended with passages form the present. Whilst it’s pretty clear what is probably going to happen, more so towards the end, and thus slightly robs the story of some of the surprise, the telling is fine. There are also a few nice creepy moments in the finale, that really get the hairs standing up.

However…

There was something I just didn’t engage with in the story and it took me two reads to figure it out. It doesn’t feel long enough. This is an entirely personal thing for me, because I love the sense of nostalgia this sort of story can conjure, especially when it’s well done and I felt this was where the story most came alive.It just should have been more. For me, it needed more immersion in the past, in order to resonate more with the present. But that’s my perception, not a failing of the writing.

As always, the book itself is lovingly created, and is a nice addition to the Spectral line up. I look forward to more from Mark.”

The Way of the Leaves cover image

“And on to Spectral chapbook number 8.

Two lonely youngsters, who have become drawn to each other through their similar natures, spend their time exploring the woods around their village. They come upon a barrow (old burial mound) and what happens there sets in chain events that will affect them forever.

Great atmospheric story. It’s extremely well written and the narrative flowed very well. Tallerman has the enviable ability to draw a full canvas from only a few words, to create powerful images with minimal description. I found the setting very evocative and there was something ancient and timeless about it (not just because of the subject).

There’s a strong sense of foreboding throughout, a feeling of sad and tragic inevitability. although it’s not really about scares as such, there is room for a couple of nice little creepy moments, such as when the kids are crawling into the entrance to the barrow, at night, in near dark… However, it’s all about the overall atmosphere, which is maintained throughout the tale.

Another solid entry in the Spectral line-up.”

Creakers front cover by Neil Williams

And finally:

“Number 9 in the Spectral chapbook series (yay, I’m now up to date! :-D).

Ray’s mother has passed away and it’s his ‘happy’ task to clean up her home to sell on. However, while he’s staying there, odd sounds and strange visions assault him…the ominous ‘creaking’ sound.
OK, I may be picking this up wrong, but I found this to be quite an amusing tale, despite the dark undertones that pop up as it progresses. When the first round of ‘creaks’ start to sound, I was chuckling away to myself and the prose was light and amusing. Or so it seemed to me. Maybe I was picking it up wrong. I hope not. Of course, this light tone doesn’t last and soon there are hints of darker goings on.I found the story moved easily between these different tones and in fact, the lighter moments helped to define more clearly the darker turns. I really hope this was deliberate.There’s some very solid writing on display here and each reveal is handled deftly and with subtle ease.

A great story and a name I’ll have to look out for in the future. I only hope the parts I found humorous were intentional…”

Many thanks to Paul for taking the time to write these!
More reviews soon!

New reviews – 18:04:2013

The Way of the Leaves cover image

Here we are again with news of a couple of reviews of two of the most recent Spectral chapbooks – David Tallerman’s The Way of the Leaves and Paul Kane’s CreakersConveniently they’ve been written by the same person, Matthew Fryer, and have been posted to his Welcome to the Hellforge blog – the write-ups can be read by going here.

Creakers front cover by Neil Williams

More soon – onwards and upwards!

The Way of the Leaves: two new reviews

The Way of the Leaves cover image

The two reviews posted below of David Tallerman’s competition-winning story, The Way of the Leaves (and reproduced with the full permission of the publishers), are both from Morpheus Tales magazine – they liked it so much the reviewed it twice. The first is by J. S. Watts:

A reviewer’s life is not always a predictable one. I chose to review David Tallerman’s The Way of the Leaves thinking it was a new novel – I’ve enjoyed his previous, full-length work. I was therefore a bit disappointed to discover it was only a thirty two page short story, but I’m pleased to say the disappointment was short-lived. It is more than just a short story. It is a very fine, award winning short story.

Published by Spectral Press in 2012, The Way of the Leaves won the Spectral Press 2012 Horror Short Story Competition. Personally, I wouldn’t describe it as horror. To me, it seems more like dark fantasy, but whatever it is in terms of genre, it is haunting, dark and lyrical: a tale of dread and foreboding and a discovery that will change two teenagers’ lives forever.

To tell you any more would be to give away the plot, but clearly, if you stumble across an ancient “place between places”, you cannot guarantee that you’ll ever fit back properly into the place you first came from.

Go and read the story for yourself – you won’t regret it.

And this second one is from Stanley Riiks:

It goes some way to showing you the sheer quality of the Spectral Press publications that when they run a competition for their eighth chapbook, they have the likes of David Tallerman (author of Giant Thief and Crown Thief, published by Angry Robot Books) entering.

I haven’t read Tallerman’s novels, but an established author with a publishing contract entering a short story competition for a small press publisher is a massive achievement for Spectral. And Spectral deserves that kind of dedicated, that kind of pull, because they are brilliant at what they do.

The eighth (only the eighth and they’ve already confirmed their reputation as one of the best British small press publishers!) magazine-style chapbook features Tallerman’s story, a story of two teenagers whose adventure ends in disaster, but that doesn’t even begin to do justice to this story.

Yes, sure, it’s a simple enough story of love and loss, but it’s the sadness that Tallerman portrays that clutches at your heart-strings. It’s well written and the characters are well-rounded, and it reads nicely, but I truly wasn’t impressed to begin with. Halfway through and I was still not thinking this was anything special. I’m glad I persevered (it’s not that this isn’t a brilliant story, it is, but it needs time to build);, it builds into a heart-wrenching urban fantasy. A personal tale of deep loss, and hope and hopelessness.

Tallerman provides a soul-chilling tale worthy of the Spectral name. If you haven’t subscribed to this limited-edition chapbook series you may be too late. It’s mostly sold out and deservedly so. The very best of British.

Although the chapbook itself is sold out, there will be a collected edition of all eight volumes coming out later this year, in paperback and eBook.  There wull also be a very special collector’s edition of TEN only boxsets of all eight chapbooks in their original format, housed in a red Wibalin cloth-covered and gold foil stamped slipcase – more details soon!

More reviews soon!

A new video and a new review

The Way of the Leaves cover image

This morning we bring you the latest promotional video, by Rude Dude Films, for the December Spectral chapbook, The Way of the Leaves by David Tallerman. This one captures the tone of the story perfectly – so hats off to Rude Dude for this atmospheric effort! Enjoy!

The 13 Ghosts of Christmas cover image

Next up is this review for The 13 Ghosts of Christmas over on Heathen Harvest,  a webzine normally devoted to some of the more out there areas of the musical universe. Simon Marshall-Jones, Mr. Spectral himself, wrote for them for a couple of years whilst he was involved in running a record label, so this somehow feels like coming home for him. Anyway, if you want to read what they had to say about this volume, then click here.

More reviews soon!

11:12:2012 – more reviews

And so, on this misty and crisply frosty Tuesday morning (looks like winter is here at last), we are thrilled to bring you two more reviews of recent Spectral publications:

The Way of the Leaves cover image

First, Mark West takes a look at David Tallerman’s chapbook story The Way of the Leaves and reports his findings on Goodreads. As it’s a short review, I reproduce it here in full:

“Two children – the narrator and his friend Charlotte – love reading and, ostracised by the other kids in the village, begin to escape on walks, to find somewhere quiet where they can read in peace. On one such adventure they discover the barrow, a hill upon a hill, a wondrous and mysterious place that piques their curiosity. That night, they go back to explore it but even though they have torches and supplies, Charlotte disappears and can’t be found. This is volume 8 of the Spectral Press chapbook line – for which I have a real fondness – and it’s great to see the marque not only maintaining but improving on its level of quality (both the story and its presentation). The winner of the This Is Horror/Spectral Press short story competition, this is very good indeed, creepy and atmospheric, claustrophobic and quite terrifying at times, with believable child characters and a nice sense of history repeating itself. Combine that with some excellent turns of phrase “my legs were soft as rotten peaches”, great characterisation and a good pace and this is a real winner. Highly recommended.”

The 13 Ghosts of Christmas cover image

Next up is Serendipity Reviews assessment of The 13 Ghosts of Christmas, the first in what is hoped to be a revival of an old tradition – a yearly volume of midwinter spooky ghost tales,to be read aloud to a group of celebrants on Christmas Eve (preferably in front of a roaring log fire, with a glass of port in hand and the faithful hound sleeping on a cosy rug by the grate). Anyway, if you want to know whether the thirteen stories in this collection achieved what they set out to do, then go here to read the write-up.

More reviews coming soon – onwards and upwards!

10:12:2012 – Two new reviews

The Way of the Leaves cover  image

Another beautifully crisp and sunny morning here at Spectral Towers, and we have two new reviews to bring you, including the first review of David Tallerman’s The Way of the Leaves, the winner of the Spectral Press/This Is Horror short story competition held earlier this year. This one’s from The Hellbound Times‘ Walt Hicks, and can be read by going here.

The 13 Ghosts of Christmas cover image

The second review is, as you can probably guess, a write-up of The 13 Ghosts of Christmas, Spectral’s first Christmas Ghost Story Annual and their first ever anthology. This one’s by Theresa Derwin and posted to her Terror Tree  blog – to get the lowdown in what Theresa thought of it, just click here.

There are still copies of this collection available, but not very many. It’s officially being published this Friday (14th December) but it’s currently still available for pre-order from here.

Look out for more reviews soon!

The Way of the Leaves: cover reveal

TWOL cover

Here it is – the cover to December’s chapbook, The Way of the Leaves by David Tallerman, the winner of the Spectral Press/This is Horror short story competition held earlier this year. The photo was taken by a very good friend of ours, Lyn Jenner, and once again the talents of the magnificent Neil Williams have made it into something spectacularly spooky. It’s a particularly apposite image, given the theme of the story, hints of which you’ll be able to glean from the back cover blurb quoted below:

“The barrow. The hill upon the hill. A place that was old when the Normans came to England. A place of mystery and secrets and uneasy truce.

Now, two children find themselves drawn to the ancient tor, caught in events beyond their understanding. And what they find in the darkness beneath will shatter the course of their lives forever.”

This is going off to print today so should be available early next week. There are a few individual issues left for sale, but not many – so, if you’re interested in acquiring a copy please contact us on spectralpress[AT]gmail[DOT]com.

More soon – onwards and upwards!

Spectral Press news

Spectral Press logoThe first item on our agenda this morning is to let you know that Mark West’s What Gets Left Behind, Volume VII in the chapbook series, is now SOLD OUT. This means that all subscriptions will now start from the issue following, David Tallerman’s The Way of the Leaves. So, if you’re keen to discover just why this exciting new imprint has made the waves it has in the genre, then may we suggest you take out a subscription immediately – it’s the only surefire way of ensuring you receive every issue Spectral publishes. You will find handy Paypal buttons down the side of this blog, along with several options for how long you can subscribe for – 1, 3 or 5 years. (If you wish to pay by either cheque or bank transfer, then please contact us at spectralpress[AT]gmail[DOT]com for more details)

Which brings us on to the next item: the possibility, which we are currently entertaining, of upping the print run of each chapbook slightly. It would only be a small increase, to something like 110 or 125 copies per issue. This is only a possibilty at present, but we think it’s an idea worthy of serious consideration nevertheless. Thoughts are most welcome on this.

Talking of increases, at some point in the near future, the subscription rates will be going up a little – this is entirely unavoidable, as the powers that be at Royal Mail have seen fit to put their rates up, sometimes quite spectacularly so. We will endeavour to keep the price hike to the absolute minimum, in order to make it as painless as possible. Watch out for further details as and when.

And, in something completely unrelated, this is Spectral’s 200th post!

Anyway, we here at Spectral would welcome any suggestions about the proposed increase in the print run of the chapbooks – please do let us know your thoughts!