Horrifying Hallowe’en Reads – Day Nine

Good versus evil. Light versus Darkness. Heaven versus Hell.

The never-ending battle for control of our world has always been a staple in horror fiction. So much so, in fact, that it has almost become a cliché. Then, right about the time you start to feel as if this age-old conflict just isn’t scary anymore, a writer comes along – two, in this case – who reminds you that it isn’t the darkness that is so troublesome, but rather what lurks within it.

LONDON MACABRE
Steve Savile

A man walks confidently through the night time streets. He is Nathaniel Seth, is one of the Brethren, a shadow society of occult dabblers and black magickers who hide away in the darkest parts of the city, in corners where they could not be seen by polite society. Little did Seth know that his own life was only hours from ending, his flesh to be taken as host for a daemonic entity clawed all the way out of hell’s pit in the centre of the hollow earth because Seth himself breached the Catamine Stair.

Now things are afoot. Strange things. The lions of Traflagar have fulfilled their prophecy, climbing down from the plinths around Lord Nelson’s column to defend the city. The daemon is out, stalking tender prey through the gaslit streets, meat markets, fish stalls and slaughter houses of Whitechapel. He has a taste for women, though not ordinary women. These women are different. Special. They may look like whores but they have the blood of angels flowing in their veins. If he can kill enough of them, bathing in their innocent blood, then the daemonic Seth believes he can open the ancient Ald Gate–one of the seven great gates of London–the last gate to Eden, and go home, even if it means tearing London herself apart.

The gates are guarded by The Seven, bloodsucking angelkind put there to guard a very special prisoner. A prisoner who cannot be allowed to escape. Satanial. The Devil by another name. Cast down and trapped in a hell on earth, watched over by Uriel, the mad Archangel. Can the men of Greyfriars stop the daemonic Seth from opening the gates and all hell breaking loose?

Savile is a writer who has been quietly making a name for himself in the horror and fantasy genres for some time now. He has written for major franchises such as Star Wars, Stargate, Primeval, and Slaine, while at the same time producing terrifically dark thrillers such as Silver. In LONDON MACABRE, he turns his attention to the eternal battle as it plays out on the streets of London.

The Greyfriar’s Gentlemen’s Club is a collection of practitioners of the Art; a well-heeled, pipe smoking, brandy-quaffing set of brave adventurers who soon realize they are in far over their heads. Utilizing their skills, as well as their endlessly resourceful retainer Mason, the group find themselves in a desperate battle for survival as they protect the City from the dark and devious designs of their Arch-enemies, the Brethren.

The story itself is a grand epic, a heart-in-throat battle for reality itself that is a solid mix of Victoriana, magic and fantasy, with the divine struggle playing out in the background. One of the great strengths of the story is Savile’s familiarity with the city itself and he makes it come alive in ways that adds depth and realism to his tale that were greatly appreciated by this U.S. based reader.

If you are looking for an introduction to this terrific writer, LONDON MACABRE is certainly a great place to start.

 

SANDMAN SLIM
Richard Kadrey

Life sucks, and then you die. Or, if you’re James Stark, you spend eleven years in Hell as a hitman before finally escaping, only to land back in the hell-on-earth that is Los Angeles.

Now Stark’s back, and ready for revenge. And absolution, and maybe even love. But when his first stop saddles him with an abusive talking head, Stark discovers that the road to absolution and revenge is much longer than you’d expect, and both Heaven and Hell have their own ideas for his future.

Resurrection sucks. Saving the world is worse.

Kadrey’s anti-hero Stark is one of the coolest characters to come around in years. Betrayed by the group of mages he considered his friends, Stark’s living body is sent to Hell – affectionately known as Downtown in the series – and spends the next eleven years fighting to survive as an arena combatant. He picks up a bit more magic while there as well, making him a damn bit harder to kill.

Stark escapes and returns to Los Angeles, gunning for the leader of the group that sent him Downtown. His adversary has grown rather powerful in his absence, however, and may prove harder to handle than Stark expects.

Kadrey’s prose is lean and mean and filled with ironically self-aware commentary that can be absolutely hilarious. Don’t let that humor fool you, though, because this first installment in a new urban fantasy series is just as gruesome and dark as the other books we’ve discussed to date, perhaps even more so. One thing is certain – you won’t want to miss SANDMAN SLIM.

 

********************

Joseph Nassise is the author of more than twenty novels, including the internationally bestselling Templar Chronicles series, the Great Undead War series, and the Jeremiah Hunt trilogy. He is a former president of the Horror Writers Association, the world’s largest organization of professional horror writers, and a multiple Bram Stoker Award and International Horror Guild Award nominee.

You can find him online at Shades of Reality.

Click here for a full list of Joseph’s picks!

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