{Graveyard Shift) To celebrate PS Publishings novella imprint, Absinthe Books, author George Mann is this week’s co-warden.

I want this to be a platform for EVERYONE within the horror community; authors, publishers, bloggers, reviewers, actors, directors, artists. I could go on, if you work in the genre then you are more than welcome to apply for the job.

The rules are quite simple…

You are invited to imagine yourselves as warden for an old graveyard, and choose eight books, preferably horror/dark genre, to take with you to cover your shift; here you can discuss why you chose the books.

As well as the books, wardens are allowed one song/album to listen to. Again, an explanation for this choice is required.

You must also discuss one luxury item you can bring, which must be inanimate and not allow communication.

If you’d like to take part in The Graveyard Shift then please submit an application to gavin@kendallreviews.com

A new shift is about to begin and things are going to be a little different. There will be four authors working the shift, Marie O’Regan, George Mann, Laura Mauro and SJI Holliday.

To celebrate Absinthe Books, a new novella imprint via PS Publishing, all four will work this weeks #GraveyardShift. The second author we are going to meet is…

George Mann

The goddess Amaranth, Queen of the Broken, has been reborn for the first time in generations and now resides once more in her distant tower, observing the world through her strange, fractured eyes. Three pilgrims set out on the trail to find her, each for their own reasons: Pallor, the Knight of Perish, who wishes to die by a worthy hand and will challenge the goddess to a fight to the death; Nok, the tribal Wolkin, who carries her brother’s bones to beg Amaranth to restore him to the afterlife; and Ambrose, the monk, charged by his Order to seek the answer to the unanswerable question at the heart of his faith. Each of these pilgrims will be tested on the road to their inevitable convergence—and each will be granted answers, of a sort, from the Broken Queen…

You can buy Broken Things: A Tale Of Durstan directly from PS Publishing HERE

Books

Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand

I came to this short novel from Elizabeth Hand late, only picking it up earlier this year after eyeing it with interest for several years. And I’m so glad I did.

The book takes a documentary-style approach, presented as a series of interviews, to examine the writing and recording of a seminal ‘acid folk’ album by a fictional band, the surviving members of whom are recalling the events that took place during a particular summer in the 1970s. Back then, the band’s manager had hired them an old mansion, Wylding Hall, to be used as a communal living and rehearsal space. Of course, things go terribly wrong when certain members of the band come to discover that the house holds deep and sinister secrets—rooms that should not exist, scores of dead birds in corridors that may or may not exist—and the band’s lead singer/songwriter begins to investigate strange rituals of transcendence. I won’t spoil the end, but it’s incredibly well crafted, beautiful and creepy.

The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again by M. John Harrison

Mike Harrison is my favourite fiction writer and his new novels are always an event. None so much as his latest, this year’s The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again. Cleverer people than me have already dissected the book, teasing out its hidden meanings, but suffice it to say that the prose absolutely sings, even as the book works its way under your skin to unsettle you. It is a love story, of a sort, set against the backdrop of a post-Brexit Britain in which parts of the population are slowly metamorphosing into a new/old species—a fact to which the two lead characters remain blithely ignorant. It is a true delve into the weird, but beautiful and elegiac at the same time. My favourite novel of the year, and a book I know I will return to again and again.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

A lovely little book full of strangeness, that begins with a dislocating sense of confusion that slowly resolves the further you read, like the unfolding of a puzzle box that finally reveals its secrets. And they’re dark, occult secrets, too. To talk too much about this book is to reveal too much and spoil it for any prospective readers but suffice it to say—you should read it. Told through the journal entries of the eponymous Piranesi, who lives in the House, a massive structure filled with countless rooms and corridors, monuments and statues, and is home to a captive ocean. There is only one other inhabitant of the house, and Piranesi’s journey to realisation, his awakening, is our journey, too. I gobbled this book up in a couple of days and I loved every moment of it.

The Lore of the Land by Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson

I’ve had a love affair with British myths and legends since I’ve been a child, and The Lore of the Land is pretty much the definitive guide. Brimming with hundreds of capsule tales it offers up stories of key figures of legend, from Spring-Heeled Jack to Sweeney Todd and many more beyond.

The book is a romp through the mythic, psychic landscape of Britain, taking in hauntings, curses, lovers’ leaps, possessions, ghostly kings and spectral dogs. Filled with the bizarre, outlandish and terrifying, this is a guide you could lose yourself in for weeks.

Carnacki The Ghost Finder by William Hope Hodgson

To my mind, Edwardian occult investigator and debunker Thomas Carnacki is William Hope Hodgson’s greatest creation. A detective in the mould of Sherlock Holmes, Carnacki’s few short adventures are related by his friend, Dodgson, one of a small circle of loyal friends to whom Carnacki is willing to report his tales over supper. Several of the mysteries at first appear to have a supernatural solution, only to be revealed by the detective to have more mundane origins, but others see demonic manifestations and spiritual horrors, such as the horrific pig demon at the heart of the ‘The Hog’.

Just like Doyle’s Holmes, there have been several authors who have continued Carnacki’s adventures in recent years, although Hodgson’s originals remain a personal favourite of mine.

Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar

I do enjoy a spot of Stephen King (don’t we all?) but this is a recent favourite, a short novel set in his famous Castle Rock and co-written with Richard Chizmar. Apparently, King had started the book as a novella and had stumbled on it and sent it to Chizmar unfinished. Chizmar then suggested a way to end the book and King invited him to collaborate on it to rework and finish it. I’ve done some co-writing myself and I’m always interested to hear how other authors approach the process. The book the two authors ended up with is, of course, seamless, but more than that, it’s a triumph of character and story. A girl is handed a box by a strange and sinister man—pressing buttons on the box will have terrible consequences, and this knowledge, along with the responsibility of being the box’s keeper, shape Gwendy’s entire life as she comes of age. It’s subtle, dark and clever, and I’m anxious to read the recent sequel by Chizmar.

Doctor Who and the Daemons by Barry Letts

Like many people of my generation interested in genre, the Target novelisations of the classic Doctor Who serials played a big part in my youth. In an era when reruns were sporadic and the older stories weren’t always available on home media, these slim volumes were our only insight into the stories that had already been and gone, and I used to fetch copies of these books out of Darlington library and pore over their pages. One of the very best of these novelisations, and one that made a huge impression on me, going on to become a clear influence, was Barry Letts’s novelisation of his own scripts for The Daemons, a Third Doctor tale about ancient barrows, hidden terrors, animated statues of gargoyles and a Devil-like species from the ancient times, who, once awoken, wish to devolve their power to a worthy vessel. Throw in maypoles, a corrupt vicar and sinister rituals, and you have an early step for the series into the realms of folk horror. Bliss.

Bauchelain and Korbal Broach by Steven Erikson

Set in the world of Erikson’s expansive secondary world fantasy series, The Malazan Book of the Fallen, this series of six novellas (collected in two batches of three) are by turns wickedly funny, wittily literary and gleefully grim. They follow the trials and tribulations (and rising fortunes) of the two eponymous necromancers and their sullen manservant, Emanicpor Reece, as they travel from village to town to city in their sinister wagon and find themselves inevitably tangled up in local affairs—which they twist to their advantage and gain. Until, that is, Korbal Broach’s ‘experiments’ on the local populace (which typically involve chopping, stitching and reanimating) start to draw too much attention and they’re forced to leave. These are marvellously funny stories, but always with something interesting to say about the human condition or the life of a writer.

Music

Once I Was An Eagle by Laura Marling

Laura Marling is a profiler of the human condition, particularly as it relates to women and womanhood, and to me, her songs are as much spells as they are musical poems. The opening four songs of this album, in particular, form a suite that’s at once transformative and soothing. The perfect accompaniment to a graveyard shift!

Luxury

Lindt milk chocolate balls

The only luxury worth having.

Broken Things: A Tale Of Durstan

The goddess Amaranth, Queen of the Broken, has been reborn for the first time in generations and now resides once more in her distant tower, observing the world through her strange, fractured eyes. Three pilgrims set out on the trail to find her, each for their own reasons: Pallor, the Knight of Perish, who wishes to die by a worthy hand and will challenge the goddess to a fight to the death; Nok, the tribal Wolkin, who carries her brother’s bones to beg Amaranth to restore him to the afterlife; and Ambrose, the monk, charged by his Order to seek the answer to the unanswerable question at the heart of his faith. Each of these pilgrims will be tested on the road to their inevitable convergence—and each will be granted answers, of a sort, from the Broken Queen…

You can buy Broken Things: A Tale Of Dreams directly from PS Publishing HERE

George Mann

George Mann is a Sunday Times bestselling novelist and scriptwriter. He’s the creator of the Tales of the Ghost novel series as well as the supernatural crime series Wychwood and the popular Newbury & Hobbes, two of which are in development as television shows. He’s written comics, novels and audio dramas for properties such as Star Wars, Doctor Who, Sherlock Holmes, Judge Dredd and Dark Souls, for publishers and studios including Lucasfilm, Tor, BBC, Legendary, IDW, Titan, Panini and Audible. He’s currently part of the writer’s room for a number of animated television series based on the popular Warhammer 40,000 franchise, and his creator-owned comic, Engineward, launched recently to sell-out success from Vault Comics.

Twitter: @george_mann

Linktree: GeorgeMann

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