I currently write book and audio reviews for the British Fantasy Society and will publish links to them here as and when they appear.
by Ben Aaronovitch
20 December 2015
Two young girls go missing from a small village in deepest Herefordshire and PC Peter Grant is sent up from London to help with the investigation. This is not because the local police force is short handed but because they have very little experience with PC Grant's speciality – magic and the supernatural. And despite his initial hopes it turns out that PC Grant's very particular skills are indeed required. There is definitely more to this kidnapping than the mundane can comfortably explain...
by Sarah Lotz
18 May 2015
The Foveros liner Beautiful Dreamer leaves Miami on 28 December, promising a New Year's cruise of rest, relaxation and above all fun. There's a casino, cabaret and even séances from on board psychic, America's number one medium Celine Del Ray.
Unfortunately there also seems to be a serial killer on board. When the ship stops dead four days into the cruise things start to go from bad to worse. The engine and communications failures seem irreparable and it's not long before the toilets stop working. Why has no-one come to look for them? How long is the food going to last? Will the killer strike again? And have Celine's “gifts” become real?
by Debbie Johnson
3 May 2015
Liverpudlian music journalist Lily McCain has special powers she really wishes would go away. One touch of someone else's skin and she can see into their future – often as far as their death. As a result she has reached adulthood alone and unhappy with no one to turn to and no reason for her being set apart from humanity in this way.
Then one night an encounter at a gig with a stranger as tall and handsome as he is mysterious and irritating sets in motion a chain of events that not only offer her an explanation but also could be of vital importance when it comes to the future of humanity.
It's not every day that a young woman discovers she's a goddess.
by Paul Kane
1 August 2014
A compilation of supernatural tales that lift the curtain on the ever-present spectre of death and what may lie beyond.
After the death of a hoarder the crew sent to clean up his house encounter more than they bargained for... A hotel room with a deadly secret... A selfless charity worker who is visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve who hope to persuade him to change his ways... An unexpected guest at a funeral... Social media updates from beyond the grave...
by Sarah Pinborough
16 June 2014
Seven years after the Year of the Ripper and the lesser known Thames Torso Murders (as chronicled in the previous book, Mayhem), Police Surgeon Doctor Thomas Bond is finally beginning to reassemble his life from the fragments left after the latter's conclusion. Despite not having been able to reveal the extent of his involvement to anyone, he hopes to be able to put the past behind him and perhaps even marry Juliana, widow of James Harrington, the unfortunate figure at the centre of previous events.
Unfortunately the past will not lie down and be forgotten. When Edward Kane -American traveller and former friend of Harrington – turns up in London everything begins to unravel and Doctor Bond begins to fear that the horror may be returning...
by Sarah Lotz
30 April 2014
The day four commercial airliners crash simultaneously at different points around the globe killing almost all passengers and crew becomes known as Black Thursday. One passenger survives long enough to leave a voice message before dying and the only other survivors are children – one from each of three of the planes – who emerge unscathed into a storm of media attention. How did they survive? Did another child survive the fourth crash? Are the multiple disasters the work of aliens, a harbinger of the apocalypse or just pure coincidence?
by Stephen Baxter
29 April 2014
150 years hence, humanity is making its first steps towards colonising an exoplanet thanks to a drive based on the weird new physics of Kernel Technology, a spin off from spacio-temporal anomalies discovered beneath the surface of Mercury. Yuri Eden is one of the unwitting settlers press-ganged into the colonisation of Proxima C and he soon discovers that the foundation of a new world is full of danger, not least from his fellow colonists.
Back in a divided solar system the cold war between the two main power blocs over control of Kernel Technology hots up when a further discovery is made on Mercury. An ancient but fully functional device that predates humanity and which could promise them the stars if only they could put politics and power aside...
A Sincere Warning About The Entity In Your Home
by Jason Arnopp
22 January 2014
This is no chain letter, hoax or prank. It is a sincere warning about your home and the entity which dwells within. Your home has been haunted for quite some time...
Thus begins a terrifying tale in the form of a letter to the reader from an alleged previous occupant of their home. This clever conceit adds an extra dimension of terror to the narrative as the reader cannot help but imagine the events described therein playing out against a very familiar background, the bedroom in which they fall asleep every night and to which they no doubt already from time to time awake suddenly in the night for no readily apparent reason.
by Sarah Pinborough
8 September 2013
Most traditional fairy tales don't stand up to close examination. Quite apart from the thin characters and weak plots, most of the values espoused therein are old fashioned narrow-minded and unjust. This is fair enough when you consider what the world was like when they were first written, but becomes more of a problem when modern adaptations – whether via panto or Disney – stick so closely to the script that they're in danger of indoctrinating another generation of children with their traditionalist rhetoric.
Charm on the other hand is a contemporary revamp of Cinderella that tackles these issues head on and exposes them for what they are. Whilst some of the racier sequences mean this that this is very much not a book for children it is an adaptation that retains all of the key features of the traditional tale – the classic fairy tale kingdom with all fixtures and fittings intact – and yet forces the reader to look at them in a very different light.
Hammer Chillers: Don't Go There
by Stephen Volk
31 July 2013
John and Laura Daulby are paying an unexpected visit to a Greek island paradise – but unfortunately leisure is the last thing on their minds, having been summoned from the UK by the authorities after their son Andrew is discovered into a coma.
Despite their awkward history – they never got on particularly well – John can't believe that Andrew simply overdosed and sets out to get to the bottom of the affair. A series of photographs on his son's phone seem to indicate that a local woman has been spending a lot of time with Andrew before the accident. It's not long before John is singled-mindedly attempting to track down the mysterious Stheno.
John's search draws him down not only into the unfamiliar hedonistic world of music and drugs but further into more exotic and mysterious territory. For just how many centuries has Stheno been bewitching unsuspecting men – and is he about to become her next victim?
Hammer Chillers: The Devil in Darkness
by Christopher Fowler
30 July 2013
The St Petersburg International Archive is being moved from its hundred year old premises to a brand new state of the art facility across town – but in the meantime there's a little bit of work still to do before the building is finally cleared. Late one Friday afternoon British researcher Mia shares the decrepit lift with local electrician Andre.
Unfortunately they never reach the exit when the ancient elevator becomes trapped between floors. Still, surely it's only a matter of time before someone rescues them?
As the days pass survival becomes ever more desperate and when Mia learns from Andrei that the building once had a much darker purpose she begins to fear that what does eventually come for them may no longer be alive...
Hammer Chillers: Sticks and Stones
by Robin Ince
29 July 2013
When talent show contestant Sam Pinker starts getting somewhere she is sure her life is about to change. However she is unprepared for the torrent of abuse directed at her online by an internet troll. Still, she does her best to ignore it – after all it's not as if he actually can do anything to her is it?
Neil Stanley is a hard-working man; his wife is shocked at just how many hours he has to spend at his computer in the evening. However, things are not what they seem. Neil is addicted to internet abuse. Neil is Sam's troll.
Neil's obsession grows and the abuse he directs at Sam becomes ever more foul and lurid until eventually it seems as if it's taking on a dangerous, noxious life of its own.
It's no wonder they're called trolls...
by Sarah Pinborough
18 June 2013
It's Snow White, but not as you know her...
...although that may depend upon how you interpreted the story when first reading it as a child. Different types of children will read fairy tales in different ways. If during your childhood you always found yourself rooting for the baddies – whether the wicked witch, the evil queen or the big bad wolf – then Poison is a modern retelling that you will almost certainly enjoy.
Hammer Chillers: Spanish Ladies
by Paul Magrs
17 June 2013
Phil's Mummy doesn't have much in her life – just the occasional evening out at the Friday night bingo with her friend Reneé, looking after her socially awkward middle aged son and making her Spanish Ladies – cheap dolls she buys and customises to use as toilet roll covers. She has dreams of visiting Spain herself one day and has nightmares about her son being taken away from her by some cheap blonde bit...
Whilst there's no sign of her dreams ever coming true, her nightmares might. Mummy begins to have her suspicions about what Phil's been up to. If she's right there's no telling what she might do...
Hammer Chillers: The Fixation
by Mark Morris
12 June 2013
Neurotic busybody Ian Hibbert is becoming increasingly frustrated by life in Darwell. When him and his family first moved there fourteen years ago it was a pleasant place to live but recently it has been turning into a slum, rubbish piling up uncollected in the streets and gangs of hooded youths running unchecked across the estates.
With a couple of like-minded neighbours he starts the Clean Up Darwell group and is determined to make the town once more a pleasant place to live even if they do have to collect all the rubbish themselves.
To Hibbert's shock and surprise his initiative is met with outright hostility and after his daughter is attacked it becomes clear that someone wants Darwell left just as it is.
Is there no one to turn to?
Hammer Chillers: The Box
by Stephen Gallagher
12 June 2013
The Box – nickname for the device used in the final session of the helicopter safety training course at the maritime college after which participants will get the certificate they need to go and work out on the oilrigs. The principle is very simple. The Box is a reproduction helicopter cockpit that is dropped into a tank of water to simulate the conditions of a sea crash.
Given the calibre of the participants, this shouldn't be a problem. However, once they emerge some of them are visibly shaken by the experience, refuse to talk about it and drop out before completing the course.
What is happening to them down there? What's in the Box?
The Venus Complex
by Barbie Wilde
5 June 2013
In a car accident deliberately initiated by driver Michael Friday his cheating wife is killed and it takes weeks of physiotherapy before he himself is able to return home and once more take up the reins of his job as art history professor at the university.
However it soon becomes clear that he has come back changed.
Through the pages of the journal his shrink suggested he keep, his new obsessions and twisted thoughts steer him off on a far darker path than the one he had hitherto been following and it isn't long before his violent sexual fantasies spill over into reality and the Syracuse Police Department have a serial killer on their hands...
Doctor Who: War Against the Laan
by Nicholas Briggs
1 June 2013
Cuthbert, ruthless CEO of the ubiquitous Corporation, is determined to find out what the swarm of alien Laan are doing on Earth and whether he can make use of them – not to mention getting revenge on them for wrecking one of his precious experiments… Even allying themselves with Earth President Moorkurk is no guarantee that the Doctor and Romana will be able to stop him – Cuthbert has fingers in many important pies and is unafraid to do whatever it takes to succeed. Unfortunately if he does it may wipe out billions of innocent Laan – and spell the end of all life on Earth...
Doctor Who: The Sands of Life
by Nicholas Briggs
23 March 2013
Sheridan Moorkurk may very well have just been elected President of Earth, but soon discovers that even the President can finds it difficult to say no to Cuthbert, CEO of the all pervasive Corporation. Nearby the Doctor, Romana and K9 are startled to discover a space-going swarm of aliens, the Laan who number in their billions, heading for the SaharaDesert, nearly destroying one of the Corporation's space platforms on the way in and disrupting one of Cuthbert's experiments.
What are the aliens' intentions? The TARDIS crew are caught in the crossfire of what could be the beginning of all out war between the Humans and the Laan...
Doctor Who: The Auntie Matter
by Jonathan Morris
8 March 2013
Having denied him the Key to Time, the Doctor and Romana are on the run from the Black Guardian. Sending the TARDIS off on remote control to flit around a couple of thousand worlds at random to throw their hunter off the scent, the two Time Lords take refuge in “one of the three great periods in Earth history” – London, England during the roaring twenties.
Leaving the Doctor tinkering with a home made etheric field disturbance detector, Romana pops out to browse bookshops in Bloomsbury. But each of them unbeknownst to the other is drawn into an investigation of the alien incursion in Hampshire. It appears that there is more to gormless toff Reggie Bassett's Aunt Florence than might at first meet the eye...
The Mad Scientist's Daughter
by Cassandra Rose Clarke
18 February 2013
When Cat is only five years old, her father brings a ghost called Finn back to their house in the countryside, a ghost who is to become her tutor despite her mother's concerns. After a while Cat realises that Finn is not a ghost but an android and her initial fear and distrust metamorphose into what she thinks of as friendship. It is only when she starts having contact with the outside world that she realises that Finn is unique. Nevertheless despite the disapproval of society at large Finn remains very important to Cat and central to her life. But as she grows up the questions remain...
Are the feelings she has for Finn reciprocated or is this all in her own head? Is she using him just as much as those who think of him as only a machine?
Doctor Who: The Oseidon Adventure
by Alan Barnes
16 January 2013
Having been outwitted at the eleventh hour, the Doctor and Leela can only watch in horror as the Master's scheme appears to succeed and his new allies – the Kraals – arrive through the wormhole to begin their invasion of Earth.
However, this turns out to be an uneasy alliance. Can the Master really trust Marshal Grinmal and the Second Kraal Army and can either of them trust their human ally, the “feeble minded reactionary” Colonel Spindleton? Things are not what they seem and when the Doctor is taken prisoner and locked up on the Krall's home-planet Oseidon, it is up to Leela to take charge...
by Trent Zelazny
7 January 2013
Perry is at rock bottom.
Waking up mid afternoon lying in the dirt, his wallet and cell phone stolen, his recall of the previous evening flawed and fractured, all he can do is return to the scene of his last coherent memory. The bar. Here he can start drinking again before beginning his quest to find out what just what happened to him and who took his possessions. Enlisting the help of fellow barfly Talia, he embarks on a journey which forces him to confront the tragedy in his recent past, an event that sits at the centre of his mind like a tumour slowly eating away at his sanity...
Doctor Who: Trail of the White Worm
by Alan Barnes
29 December 2012
Arriving in the Dark Peak in Derbyshire in 1979, the Doctor and Leela stumble feet first into the middle of a frantic search for a girl who's gone missing. The panicky locals fear that the You Know What, a legendary Great White Worm that has haunted the area since Roman times, stealing cattle and terrorising the populace, has taken her. The Doctor isn't so sure. Whilst the worm itself may turn out to be very real, there is something else at work here and it comes as no surprise when he discovers that some of the strings are being pulled by the decaying hands of his old nemesis the Master...
The Beast in the Basement
by Jason Arnopp
19 October 2012
A writer has locked himself away in a remote cottage to finish the eagerly awaited final book in the popular Jade Nexus trilogy before the imminent deadline.
It's not easy.
The existing ending just doesn't satisfy him, there's an impatient agent on the end of the broadband connection, an opportunistic burglar after the blu-ray player, an attractive new neighbour in the cottage across the way, the memory of a life-changing tragedy in his recent past and, most worryingly of all, the eponymous Beast he has shut up in the basement...
Tales from the City
by Philip Purser-Hallard
19 October 2012
The City of the Saved – a conurbation the size of a galaxy – lies outside of time, beyond the end of the universe. Its inhabitants? Every human being who has ever lived. From the earliest Neanderthals, through victims of contemporary infant mortality to the strangest of their post-human descendants, all are resurrected here. All human afterlife is here because – despite hints of a technological underpinning to this miracle – this is to all intents and purposes the hereafter...
Doctor Who: Energy of the Daleks
by Nicholas Briggs
8 October 2012
The Doctor brings Leela to London in the year 2025 – he was aiming for 2015 – to find a city in crisis. The international energy shortage has led to increased austerity and suffering, and although the GlobeSphere Corporation is promising to deliver a plentiful new energy supply it is at a price many will be unable to afford, much to the anger of the large crowd of protestors gathering outside their headquarters in Trafalgar Square. As the peaceful demonstration is violently suppressed by uniformed guards in blank visors, the Doctor begins to suspect that GlobeSphere and their resident genius Damien Stephens are merely pawns of something far worse as he detects the handiwork of the evil Daleks behind the faceless corporation...
Doctor Who: The Wrath of the Iceni
by John Dorney
10 September 2012
The Doctor gets more than he bargained for when his latest trip to teach Leela about her ancient Earth ancestors places them both in the middle of the Roman occupation of Britain in 60 AD. Finding a kindred spirit in Warrior Queen Boudica, Leela is puzzled and then frustrated by the Doctor's refusal to help with the fight against the Romans and eventually decides to leave the TARDIS all together...
Doctor Who: Renaissance Man
by Justin Richards
5 August 2012
Deciding to continue Leela's education with a visit to the opening of the new Renaissance Gallery at the Morovanian Museum on Morovania Minor, the Doctor is perturbed when instead the TARDIS deposits them both at Reginald Harcourt's manor house in the English countryside.
Or does it?
As the travellers are shown around Harcourt's impressive collection it becomes clear that things are not what they seem and it is up to the Doctor to fill in the blanks in more ways than one.
Doctor Who: Destination Nerva
by Nicholas Briggs
24 July 2012
En route from Victorian London, the Doctor and Leela receive an interstellar distress signal – from Kent in 1895. Landing outside a manor house during a midnight thunderstorm they discover the aftermath of a pitched battle between Lord Jack's troops and the peaceful alien Drellerans, the last survivor of whom warns them of the dire consequences should the humans escape with the alien star ship. The chase takes them 400 million miles into space and 1000 years into the future where the newly built Space Dock Nerva in orbit around Jupiter is about to come under attack from an unexpected foe, an attack which if successful could spell the end of life on Earth...
Doctor Who: The Emerald Tiger
by Barnaby Edwards
19 July 2012
Calcutta, 1926. The Doctor is determined to watch “possibly the greatest match of the greatest tour in the history of cricket” whether his companions Tegan, Turlough and Nyssa like it or not. Unfortunately no sooner have they arrived than a man infected with rabies bites Nyssa and the only hope of a cure, the TARDIS medical kit, is unreachable due to the Doctor's blue box having been accidentally loaded onto the private train now pulling out of the station. A chase by Rolls Royce and balloon leads the travellers into a lost world deep in the jungle, inhabited by bizarre chimeras and overseen by the bright green all-seeing eyes of the mythical Emerald Tiger...
Doctor Who: Wirrn Isle
by William Gallagher
3 July 2012
It's the One Hundred and Sixty First century – returning to Earth after the Solar Flares, the sleepers from Nerva have begun to repopulate the planet with help from their GalSec cousins. However after forty years, their northernmost colony in Loch Lomond come face to mandible with an old enemy. All that stands between them and absorption are the Doctor and his new friend Flip, both of whom have blundered through a transmat from NervaCity...
The Lost Men: An Allegory
by David A Colón
1 July 2012
The year is 2206. In a post-apocalyptic America, the human population has been devastated. Most people only ever know their parents, their partner (“the one”) and their single offspring. In addition to this each of them is also allocated a “counsel”, a one to one mentor with apparent precognitive powers who guides them through late adolescence into adulthood and eventually partnership.
The Lost Men is the tale of one such couple, Mann and Faith, and the details of their lives before and after being brought together by their mentors, Joy and Paine. The only snakes in this future Eden are the eponymous lost men, feral outsiders who do not abide by the rules of this new world, savages who seem to exist only to destroy.
Doctor Who: The Fourth Wall
by John Dorney
13 June 2012
Hitching a ride back from the Battle of Waterloo in the TARDIS, new companion Philippa 'Flip' Jacksonis disappointed to discover that the Doctor's plans for the next few days seem to involve little more than watching the Test Match on TV. Meanwhile media mogul Augustus Scullop is preparing to revive his flagging multimedia empire with a private screening of his new SF TV drama Laser, shot using a revolutionary new immersive technology. Unfortunately for the Doctor and Flip, interference caused by Scullop's device puts them and everyone else in very real danger...
Doctor Who: The Curse of Davros
by Jonathan Morris
7 June 2012
Riding the night bus home from a club, Flip and her boyfriend Jared are jolted from their humdrum existence by the sight of a flying saucer crashing nearby. Alighting to investigate, they discover an escape capsule that the authorities have missed, an escape capsule containing a groggy man known as the Doctor...
by Paul Magrs
26 May 2012
Alan is fourteen and lives in a flat in Manchester with his heavily pregnant mum. Whilst mum believes that window cleaner dad has simply run off, Alan knows otherwise, having witnessed first hand his father being kidnapped by the mysterious beings known only as the Ninnies. The problem is that no-one aside from his school friend Amy Aziz plus Marlton and Bunty (the two strange old people who live in the flat upstairs) believe him...
© 2015 Chris Limb