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.
For the sake of Twitter characters and in looking for something a little more punchy, I’ve now decided to call this feature The Graveyard Shift. (#GraveyardShift)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
A new shift is about to start and the warden is…
The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
The Exorcist is one of the scariest books I’ve ever read – shocking and brilliant, it’s almost fifty years old but in my opinion it’s timeless in its execution of conjuring true horror. The visual horrors and the grotesqueness that Blatty is able to achieve with mere words makes the film look like a child’s colouring book – they are images that stay with you, with many making me feel pretty uncomfortable, wincing whilst reading them – the words go deeper than the films visuals ever could.
The characters are superbly fleshed out in the novel with us learning more about Father Karras and his crisis of faith – making his character arch so much more important to the reader, adding much-needed power to his character and a reason for his reluctance at performing an exorcism as he tries to medically prove Regan’s symptoms as mental illness and not possession. The additional deepening of the plot around Detective Kinderman is another masterstroke that Blatty wields (but William Friedkin opted to cut from the film) it adds a whole other dimension to the storytelling and aids in pulling the reader into a deeper story as the detective sets about trying to uncover the recent murder outside the MacNeil’s house – which snowballs out of control adding more tension to this already taut and masterful story.
I’d champion all you horror fans to read this phenomenal work of fiction. Don’t just be content in watching the film and casting judgements at how badly it’s aged – delve into the book and discover the true meaning of horror that is as visceral today than it ever has been.
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
People seem to be drawn to the circus like puss from a boil, ensnared within its tendril-like fingers that creep and crawl through neighbourhoods, latching on and enticing people with the promise of the spectacular, offering escapism to the trappings of their lives and all the fun of the fair. Where the bright lights dazzle, the entertainment is breath-taking and with the introduction of the freak shows the oddities are arrestingly peculiar.
I find the whole premise of the circus alluring but also haunting, there is something about the way it rolls into town, a caravan of the perverse and strange. It may have something to do with a harrowing event I had as a child.
I was about seven and was lost within a dimly lit mirror maze. Claustrophobic and terrified, alone, in a dimly lit upright coffin, where only my scared petrified face stared back at me. That was until the clown came to save me, or should I say thirty or forty of them, each one reflected, each one searching me out with white face, red nose, green hair and white gloves. Needless to say I was rescued, needless to say I had nightmares for a time – and I’ve never stepped foot inside a circus, or a mirror maze again.
All the fear, anxieties, dread, terror, ambiguity and freakishly whimsical delights the circus conjures are expertly and masterfully woven into the delightfully creepy and fiendishly brilliant ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes‘ written by Ray Bradbury.
Lair by James Herbert
‘Lair’ reads like a cat and mouse game but this time it’s the rats chasing the cat (cat = us). If you could compare his first book of the series The Rats to Lair it’s a little bit like Alien and Aliens; the first is shocking, horrific and brilliant; the follow up takes it up a notch, the reader (or viewer) knows what they are seeing so this time it’s more character-driven and action-based. I’d highly recommend you grab yourself a copy and enjoy what is becoming one of my favourite genres; the Creature Feature.
There are some wonderful set pieces to this sequel, some moments that combine action, suspense and horror (the demise of Jan Wimbush will live long in the memory); but then there are moments of reflection which allow time for character development. I would say ‘Lair’ is a more complete novel than ‘The Rats’ and in my opinion shows how much James Herbert had developed as a writer in the years between writing his sequel (James Herbert release The Fog, The Survivor, Fluke and The Spear).
The New Uncanny by Various
This collection is so good that it has quite literally jumped into my top books I’ve ever read, each short story is wonderfully crafted and masterfully executed, and each is unique – showcasing the brilliance of each writer perfectly. It has been a long while since I’ve read an anthology and could recount to you each and every story just from the title – that is the heart-stopping power that resides in The New Uncanny. Some anthologies however great they are, always have a weak link in there somewhere, it may be down to the readers preference of course – but sometimes you find a story that is a bit of a place holder, a bit of a filler – trust me with The New Uncanny it is all killer no filler!
Let’s not forget that this isn’t a new collection, it’s been around since 2008 and was reissued recently – how it has taken me so long to discover this anthology I will never know… but I will also never forget discovering it!
Water Shall Refuse Them by Lucie McKnight Hardy
There seems to be a huge outpouring of novels and short stories with a folktale vibe of late, books such as Folk by Zoe Gilbert, The Reddening by Adam Nevill, Lanny by Max Porter and not to mention the wonderful This Dreaming Isle Anthology edited by Dan Coxon. It’s a ripe genre, a genre that has inspired many a tale, over many a year, they are the foundation to our lives, whether we realise that or not. These are stories that were told to us growing up, as children enjoying a bedtime story, or hearing them uttered around a campfire. Many of us have even grown up in places where fables and folklore are commonplace.
So, it is a genre that is part of us, ingrained in us, it shapes and transforms us, it inspires our storytelling and enthuses our imagination. Water Shall Refuse Them at its heart is a folktale, a disturbing and wonderful piece of storytelling and could even be classified as I have seen the phrase being banded ‘Folk Horror‘. But whatever label you put on it, it doesn’t change the fact that Water Shall Refuse Them is a powerful piece of fiction that you can drown yourself in
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Bradbury first wrote Fahrenheit 451 in 1953 and I would have loved to have known how it was received in the 50’s, twenty years after the Nazi book burning, a campaign conducted by the German Student Union (DSt) burning books which they viewed as subversive or as representing ideologies opposed to Nazism. The themes that Bradbury weaves into his story are both uncomfortable and bold at the same time, one can’t help but read his words and be stirred into action.
Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is widely known as a cult classic, it’s mentioned with great affection in the dystopian world and also science fiction realms; the book I would suggest transcends cult classic and becomes a must-read book for anyone who loves literature. A book that I would highly recommend to all you bibliophiles out there to pick up and read, its themes and prose are magnificently constructed and executed. There is so much great writing in this book that it has quite literally taken me aback at how fabulous it really is and what a brilliant writer and visionary Ray Bradbury was.
Remains by Andrew Cull
Discovering ‘Remains‘ in 2018 will remain the benchmark for any horror fiction I stumble upon in years to come – there is a reason it was on the ballot for The Stoker Awards. Cull has single-handedly and exquisitely lifted the bar when it comes to writing horror – and it will be a hard task for many of the emerging and established horror writers to reach that bar now, blowing many of his contemporaries out of the water with his raw and unflinching style and his dramatic, disturbing and eerily poignant prose.
Remains is a gripping tale of grief, a grief that pulls at a person like an undercurrent, pulling them down into a dark abyss. It’s a book full of the monstrosities of the mind, of darkness lurking in the shadows waiting to smother you in its cold embrace and drown you within its grief.
Rumours by Fleetwood Mac
Ross Jeffery is the author of Juniper. A Bristol-based writer and also Executive Director of Books for STORGY Magazine. Ross has been published in print with STORGY Books, Ellipsis Zine 6, The Bath Flash Fiction Festival 2019, Project 13 Dark and Shlock Magazine. His work has also appeared in various online journals such as STORGY Magazine, About Magazine TX, Elephants Never, 101 Fiction, Ellipsis Zine, Soft Cartel and Idle Ink. Ross lives in Bristol with his wife (Anna) and two children (Eva and Sophie).
You can follow Ross on Twitter @Ross1982
Juniper is the first book in Ross Jeffery’s novella trilogy: a post-apocalyptic horror about an insane American town seemingly at the edge of reality. As Juniper suffers from scorching drought and medieval famine, the townsfolk are forced to rely on the ‘new cattle’ for food: monstrous interbred cats kept by the oppressed Janet Lehey.
But there’s a problem: Janet’s prized ginger tom, Bucky, has gone missing, flown the coop. As Janet and her deranged ex-con husband Klein intensify their search for the hulking mongrel, Betty Davis, an old woman clinging to survival on the outskirts of Juniper, discovers something large and ginger and lying half-dead by the side of the road.
She decides to take it home…
Juniper is surreal, dark, funny, and at times: excruciatingly grotesque. Buckle up for a wild ride through the dust-ridden roads of a tiny, half-forgotten American town…
You can read the Juniper Kendall Review HERE
Ross spoke to Kendall Reviews about Juniper. You can read that interview HERE