Remains: Andrew Cull
Reviewed By Steve Stred
- Paperback: 214 pages
- Publisher: Ifwg Publishing International (16 Sept. 2019)
In 2018 I was introduced to some fantastic collections. Many of these collections were filled with stories that gripped you, scared you and made you cry.
One such collection that elevated itself for me, was Andrew Cull’s Bones.
This collection really caught my eye starting with the cover and once I finally bought a copy, the words within opened up some intense doors.
Now – I’m one of those. Yup, those reviewers. I’m a reviewer who will typically message an author after reading something that moved me or shook me and thank them. I don’t do it for the interaction or for the off chance that we’ll click and become best friends. I just want them to know that they created something that affected me.
So it was, that I finished Bones and I sent Mr Cull a message on Twitter and said thank you, and why I enjoyed the stories.
Since that time, I’ve interacted and messaged with Andrew a bunch and through that, we’ve become decent online friends. The kind (at least I hope) that if we both, for some odd reason, ended up in the same place at the same time, we’d visit.
Through this burgeoning relationship, I was offered the chance to beta-read Remains, Cull’s new full-length novel. I jumped at the chance. Truthfully, if I would have known how wrecked this book would leave me, I might have second guessed my decision. I’ve been given permission to review the copy I’ve read by Andrew, and from the discussions we’ve had about my experiences with the book, it’s safe to say nothing major is going to change.
So what’s Remains about?
Remains starts out as a slow burn, as we watch this descent into grief. A mother trying to come to grips with the worst thing to ever happen. Her son, taken and murdered. Now she needs and wants closure.
With Lucy, our main character, Cull has created one of the most-realistic figures in a book I’ve come across in some time. She could be my sister, my mother, a friend. She is one of the most developed, grief-filled characters I’ve ever read. You feel her pain, you feel her sorrow and my god does Cull keep crushing the reader’s hearts. At one point I ugly cried three times in a thirty-minute reading stretch.
But don’t fret horror fans. Andrew ensures that this book isn’t just a sad book. Oh no, Cull fills this story with a few dump truck loads of creepiness. You’ll feel that inkling behind you growing during a number of sections. You’ll be pulling your feet up tight, tucking the blankets in, ensuring that as you read and the shadows grow longer, you’ll not leave any of yourself exposed and defenceless.
The house that the majority of the story takes place in, is a magnificent character all on its own. Cull introduces the ‘mythology’ of the house early on when a group of kids arrive. The kids, of course, need to prove their moxy to each other, by telling the story of what happened there, but by also trying to get inside.
From this moment on, Remains gallops forward. What started as a slow burn now becomes a full throttle run through a darkened hallway. We need to get to the door, get into the room and turn on the lights before the shadows and what’s in them get you. Andrew though isn’t content to end the carnage once the lights on. He keeps filling the narrative with more and more clues, as Lucy discovers.
Overall, Cull has created a stunning masterpiece and I know this will feature on numerous “best-of” lists at the end of the year, and rightfully so. I’d wager that this will garner some award consideration and I’m firmly putting this up on my shelf as one of the best ghost tales/paranormal tales I’ve read. Ever.
The secondary characters are fantastic and even though they play a lesser role, Cull has developed great depth for each one. The story features two of the most devastating, horrendous death’s you’ll come across in some time, and you’ll cringe and smile when you see some nods towards Final Destination and Omen all at the same time.
To close up this review and in an effort to keep it spoiler free, I was blown away by the time period this book covered. The symbolism wasn’t lost and it made the ending both a phenomenal finale but also another instance of horrendous grief. Kudos on Andrew for wrapping it up in a truly amazing way.
This is a 2019 must-read, a game changer for Cull, proving his seamless transition from the short story format to the long read, and it shows how effectively he can put the words down on paper from a cinematic vision he has in his mind.
I’m truly humbled and honoured that I was allowed to beta-read this one and I’ll be pre-ordering this for sure once the official release date is announced.
Star Rating (out of 5): 5*
Most likely my 2019 book of the year.
Grief is a black house. How far would you go?
What horrors would you endure if it meant you might see the son you thought you’d lost forever?
Driven to a breakdown by the brutal murder of her young son, Lucy Campbell had locked herself away, fallen deep inside herself, become a ghost haunting room 23b of the William Tuke Psychiatric Hospital. There she’d remained, until the whispering pulled her back until she found herself once more sitting in her car, calling to the son she had lost, staring into the black panes of the now abandoned house where Alex had died.
Tonight, someone is watching her back.
Steve Stred is an up-and-coming Dark, Bleak Horror author.
Steve is the author of the novel Invisible, the novellas Wagon Buddy, Yuri and Jane: the 816 Chronicles and two collections of short stories; Frostbitten: 12 Hymns of Misery and Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick, the dark poetry collection Dim the Sun and his most recent release was the coming-of-age, urban legend tale The Girl Who Hid in the Trees.
On June 1st, 2019 his second full-length novel, The Stranger will be welcomed to the world.
Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.
Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog OJ.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official website here
Ahhh… nothing like the annual summer family camping trip, right?
Malcolm, his wife Sam and their two kids have been staying at the same cabin, at the same campground for years now. Heck, Malcolm’s been coming to the campground since he was a kid.
Miles and miles of groomed trails, hiking, kayaking on the pristine lake. What’s not to like?
But this year… well this year’s different. You see, roof repairs have caused them to have to change their plans. Now they’re staying at the cabin at the end of season, in fact they’re the last campers before it closes for the winter.
While happy to be spending time with the family, Malcolm feels a shift.
The caretaker next door makes it known he hates him.
The trees… move and dance, as though calling him, beckoning him.
Then on a seemingly normal kayaking trip, the family makes a discovery.
YOU TAKE FROM ME
I TAKE FROM YOU
Something’s out there, just on the other side of the fence. Malcolm’s positive it’s just the caretaker trying to scare him, teach the family a lesson.
But what if it’s not…
What if there is something out there?
The Stranger is the second novel from Steve Stred and 9th release overall. The Stranger is another offering following in the footsteps of similar books Invisible, YURI and The Girl Who Hid in the Trees. As Steve describes his works; “dark, bleak horror.”
With this release, Steve has decided to look deeper into what makes humans tick. He confronts two key elements of mankind; bigotry and our environmental footprint.
Featuring stunning cover art by Chadwick St. John (www.inkshadows.com), The Stranger will be a story that will leave you feeling uneasy and have you looking at the trees differently.
Maybe it’s not the wind making the branches sway…