This new anthology contains 20 original horror stories, 16 of which have been commissioned from some of the top names in the genre, and 4 of which have been selected from the 100s of stories sent to Flame Tree during a 2-week open submissions window. It is the first of what will hopefully become an annual, non-themed horror anthology of entirely original stories, showcasing the very best short fiction that the genre has to offer.
BUTTERFLY ISLAND by C.J. Tudor
RESEARCH by Tim Lebbon
SWANSKIN by Alison Littlewood
THAT’S THE SPIRIT by Sarah Lotz
GAVE by Michael Bailey
WHEREVER YOU LOOK by Ramsey Campbell
SAME TIME NEXT YEAR by Angela Slatter
MINE SEVEN by Elana Gomel
IT DOESN’T FEEL RIGHT by Michael Marshall Smith
CREEPING IVY by Laura Purcell
LAST RITES FOR THE FOURTH WORLD by Rick Cross
WE ALL COME HOME by Simon Bestwick
THE IMPORTANCE OF ORAL HYGIENE by Robert Shearman
BOKEH by Thana Niveau
MURDER BOARD by Grady Hendrix
ALICE’S REBELLION by John Langan
THE MIRROR HOUSE by Jonathan Robbins Leon
THE NAUGHTY STEP by Stephen Volk
A HOTEL IN GERMANY by Catriona Ward
BRANCH LINE by Paul Finch
I want to thank Flame Tree Press for my copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
After Sundown is a fantastic collection of short stories from established authors and new talent.
Each story was gripping in their own unique way, no story felt the same or was on the same theme. I was really kept on my toes while reading these stories!
There were, of course, a few standouts:
Swanskin by Alison Littlewood. A tale in which swans have their skins stolen and they have to stay in human form, serving their husbands. There was just something so ethereal about this story, and the imagery the author used was so vivid.
Creeping Ivy by Laura Purcell. A historical piece of fiction about a diary unearthed at a dig site and the intriguing story within its pages. This was just a brilliant atmospheric read, I’m definitely putting Laura Purcell’s book on my tbr list.
The Naughty Step by Stephen Volk. A story about a social worker called to a house after a little boy witnesses his mother’s death. Goodness, this pulled at my heartstrings and was creepy at the same time.
Branch Line by Paul Finch. A cold case interview about a young boy who went missing in the 1970s and the unbelievable tale of the survivor. I love a ghost story, and this one was both realistic and creepy.
I had an issue with the fact I felt some stories could have been longer, particularly CJ Tudor’s Butterfly Island, I would have read an entire book about that story!
I would recommend this collection, not only for horror lovers, but if you enjoy stories that really pull you in and keep you enthralled.
About The Publisher:
FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launched in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.
Title: Diabolica Britannica: A Dark Isles Horror Compendium
Date Published: 13th July 2020
Genre: Horror Anthology
Diabolica Britannica is a collection of 14 dark tales from the dark isles. It features contributions from the following authors: Adam L G Nevill, Tim Lebbon, Keith Anthony Baird, John F Leonard, Morgan K Tanner, Arthur M Harper, Christopher Henderson, Beverley Lee, Sarah E England, Catherine McCarthy, Stephanie Ellis, Janine Pipe, Sarah J Budd and Alyson Faye.
I want to thank Yvonne at Insidious book tours for inviting me on this tour and providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I love short stories and I don’t read them often enough, particularly horror, and I saw that Diabolica Britannica was all for a good cause, with all profits going to fund the NHS’ efforts COVID-19 research, so I thought why not.
What I loved was the variety of British horror that was in Diabolica Britannica, from monsters to folklore inspired tales to psychological horror and so much more. Another thing I loved was I now have a whole host of new authors I want to read.
Each story may have only been short but they were creepy, chilling and utterly captivating! Of course there were a few stand outs for me:
Tourist Traps by Christopher Henderson, is a story about a boy who is obsessed with ghost hunting, so much so he takes a ghost tour of London and gets more than he’s bargained for.
The Secret of Westport Fell by Beverley Lee, was an atmospheric historical story about a young woman sent to look after her ailing aunt and ends up taking in a young girl she finds wandering in the cold.
Scripted in Shadows by Morgan K Tanner, is a blood soaked story about a mysterious and murderous book.
The Coven by Sarah E England is about a woman who returns to the town she was born in to find out why her family was forced to flee the country.
I could go on but I’d think I’d be boring you with this review soon!
Diabolica Britannica is packed to the brim with talented authors and a must if you love horror.
About The Authors:
Catherine McCarthy is a spinner of dark tales, often set in the wilder regions of her native Wales, U.K.
She has published two novels and a collection of short stories, and is currently querying a dark fantasy novel,The Wolf and the Favour, which is entwined with ethereal elements and Celtic lore.
Several of her stories have been published in anthologies such as Graveyard Smash, Dead Alive, and Diabolica Britannica, and earlier this year she won the Aberystwyth University Imagining Utopias prize for creative writing.
She lives in a two-hundred-year-old farmhouse with her illustrator husband and its ghosts, and when she is not writing she may be found hiking the rugged coast-path or squirrelling among ancient churchyards for story inspiration.
Keith Anthony Baird is the author of The Jesus Man: A Post-Apocalyptic Tale of Horror (Novel), Nexilexicon (Novel), And a Dark Horse Dreamt of Nightmares (Book of Shorts) and This Will Break Every Bone In Your Heart (Novelette). His works can be found on Amazon and Audible. He is currently working on a dystopian novel titled SIN:THETICA.
Diabolica Britannica is his brainchild and was developed in response to 2020’s global pandemic. A collective of British talent seemed the obvious vehicle to bring further horror to the masses, but ensuring some relief in the process by donating all profits to help fight COVID-19.
When not at his desk writing, you might find him up a mountain, snorkelling on a coral reef with his partner Ann, or having fun with his grandson. Failing that, it’s a good bet he’ll be on Twitter.
Janine Pipe is a Horror lover and writer who was first introduced to the genre as a child reading ‘Salem’s Lot – and she hasn’t looked back since. She is inspired by Stephen King and cites Glenn Rolfe, Hunter Shea and Jonathan Janz as her favourite current writers. She likes to shock with her writing, there is usually a lot of gore and plenty of swearing … She is very thankful to her biggest cheerleaders, her husband and daughter and her mentor, Graeme Reynolds. She chews the fat with fellow authors on her blog – Janine’s Ghost Stories and reviews for Scream Magazine and Nightworms.
You can find her work at Tales to Terrify, Ghost Stories the Podcast and The Horror Tree. Several of her short stories have been published, including an all female anthology with Kandisha Press.She is currently writing a splatterpunk novella about a teenage vampire hunter. .
Christopher Henderson was born in Streatham, south London (UK), a few months after the first human beings landed on the Moon. At the same time, only a few miles away on the other side of that city, other human beings were preparing to hunt and stake a supposedly genuine vampire in its lair in Highgate Cemetery. It was the beginning of 1970, the overture to a very weird decade.
Throughout Christopher’s childhood, popular culture was steeped in the eerie, the macabre, and the uncanny. The supernatural, it seemed, was only ever a half-heard whisper away – and it never stopped talking to him.
Half a century later, Christopher continues to haunt south London. In a parallel life, he was for many years involved with the scientific and open-mindedly sceptical study of paranormal and fortean phenomena, and he is the author under a different name of several non-fiction books specializing largely in folklore and ghost stories. In this incarnation, however, he writes horror fiction, and especially supernatural horror fiction, as he attempts to escape the deeper horrors that plague the real world.
He is the author of Artemis One-Zero-Five (a horror/SF novel set in the near future, partly in London and partly on a remote asteroid) and The Horror at Lavender Edge (a supernatural horror novel set in 1970s London). Currently, he is working on a sequel to The Horror at Lavender Edge.
Stephanie Ellis writes dark speculative prose and poetry and has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Her latest work includes the novella, Bottled, published by Silver Shamrock, who will also be publishing her novel, The Five Turns of the Wheel in October. She has recently been published in Flame Tree Press’ A Dying Planet anthology with “Milking Time” and is included in Silver Shamrock’s upcoming Midnight in the Pentagram anthology with “Family Reunion”. Her poetry can be sampled in the Horror Writer Association’s Poetry Showcase Volume 6 and in the upcoming Volume 7. She has collected a number of her published, and some unpublished, short stories in The Reckoning, her dark verse in Dark is my Playground, and flash in The Dark Bites, all available on amazon. She is co-editor of Trembling With Fear, HorrorTree.com’s online magazine. She is an affiliate member of the HWA and can be found at https://stephanieellis.org and on twitter at @el_stevie.
Alyson lives in West Yorkshire, UK with her husband, teen son and four rescue animals. Her fiction has been published widely in print anthologies – DeadCades, Women in Horror Annual 2, Trembling with Fear 1 &2, Coffin Bell Journal 1, Stories from Stone, Ellipsis, Rejected ed. Erin Crocker)and in many ezines, but most often on the Horror Tree site, in Siren’s Call and The Casketof Fictional Delights.
In May 2019 Night of the Rider, was published by Demain in their Short Sharp Shocks! E book series and later that year Demain published her 1940’s crime novella – Maggie Of My Heart.
Currently she has stories appearing in the Strange Girls anthology (ed. Azzurra Nox), two charity anthologies, Burning Love from Things in the Well, and Amongst Friends (Gypsum Sound Tales); another Gypsum anthology, Colp: Black and Grey and by Emerald Bay Books, Horror for Hire: First Shift.
Her work has been read on BBC Radio, local radio, on several podcasts (e.g. Ladies of Horror), posted on YouTube and placed in competitions.
She performs at open mics, teaches, edits for an indie publisher and hangs out with her dog on the moors – in all weathers.
A full list of her publications can be found via her author page on amazon:-
John F Leonard
John messes around with words for a living. He was born in England and grew up in the industrial Midlands. That was where he learned to love scrawny cats, the sound of scrapyard dogs and the rattle and clank of passing trains.
His official education mostly involved English, Art and History. Everything else came later. The employment record is somewhat difficult to summarise. Chequered is probably a good word for it. Shop worker and office boy, sculptor and odd-job man, fraud investigator and thief. It’s all the same, when you boil it down. Pay your way and try to have a good day.
He enjoys apocalyptic stuff, horror, comedy and football (not necessarily together). A family man, John now lives a few miles from the old Victorian house in which he was born. Scribbling scary stories seems to keep him vaguely sane (accurate at time of writing). Current projects include more tales from the Dead Boxes Archive, another everyday cosmic horror novel from the Scaeth Mythos, and new books set in the post-apocalyptic world of Collapse.
Beverley Lee is the bestselling author of the Gabriel Davenport vampire suspense series (The Making of Gabriel Davenport, A Shining in the Shadows and The Purity of Crimson) and the gothic horror, The Ruin of Delicate Things. In thrall to the written word from an early age, especially the darker side of fiction, she believes that the very best story is the one you have to tell. Supporting fellow authors is also her passion and she is actively involved in social media and writers’ groups.
You can visit her online at www.beverleylee.com (where you’ll find a free dark and twisted short story download) or on Instagram (@theconstantvoice) and Twitter (@constantvoice).
Morgan K Tanner
Morgan K Tanner is a writer, drummer, and golfist currently residing in the English countryside. The idyllic surroundings make it an ideal place to write, drum, and hide the bodies. The busy sound of the typewriter is perfect to drown out the hum of the antiquated torture equipment.
When not writing or inflicting pain and suffering on his numerous victims, he indulges himself in all things horror and metal.
He is the author of An Army of Skin, The Mind’s Plague and Other Bites of Brutality, The Unbeliever & The Intruder; a Short Sharp Shocks! Book, and The Snuggle Zombies; his attempt at a horror book for kids.
You can praise or indeed abuse him by visiting www.morganktanner.com or find him on Twitter @morgantanner666 and Instagram @morganktanner
S.J.Budd is a dark fiction author from Cornwall. Her work has appeared in The NoSleep Podcast, Aphotic Realm, Sanitarium Magazine, Siren’s Call Publications, Deadman’s Tome and many others.
When not writing she is mostly reading, tending to her huge collection of cactus plants and going for long walks in the country-side..She spends far too much time on twitter @sjbuddj. You can find out more about her stories at www.sjbudd.co.uk
Title: 5 adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Maurice Barkley
Date Published: 20th February 2018
Genre: Mystery/short stories
1-Extreme danger. Children’s lives are at risk.
2-Holmes prevents an injustice and triumphs over a greedy family.
3-A train arrives 3 years late. Only Holmes can solve this one.
4-Holmes battles blundering politicians and a master criminal.
5-An elaborate crime with a strange motive.
I want to thank the Write Reads for inviting me on this blog and providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I always find it interesting when an author takes on literary legend and one of my favourite fictional detectives, Sherlock Holmes.
This book contains five stories; The Holborn Toy Shop, The Legacy of Doctor Carus, The Train From Plymouth, The Whitehall Papers and The Grosvenor Square Furniture Van.
Each story stays true to the original Sherlock Holmes stories in setting and pace but Maurice Barkley still manages to stamp his own unique take on both Sherlock and Dr Watson.
There are of course cameos from Inspector Lestrade, Mrs Hudson, Wiggins and the irregulars and even Sherlock’s brother Mycroft.
The Legacy of Doctor Carus and The Train from Plymouth were my favourites as they felt the most like the original stories while also being fascinating mysteries too!
I did feel a couple of the stories weren’t quite as strong, mystery wise, as the other but of course that’s just my opinion.
5 adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a quick and engaging read that is a nice nod to the original stories.
About The Author:
Maurice Barkley lives with his wife Marie in a suburb of Rochester, New York. Retired from a career as a commercial artist and builder of tree houses, he is WRITING and busy reinforcing the stereotype of a pesky househusband. Favorite relaxation is throwing peanuts to squirrels, blue jays, cardinals and chipmunks from his porch. Once he built a doll hair-making machine using an old sewing machine. It worked, but his wife got tired of making Raggedy Ann dolls, so it sits in the garage.
Hello lovelies, today I’m very excited to share a very special book When Stars Will Shine, an anthology of short stories compiled by Emma Mitchell and released on the 9th December. It’s just £5 or $6.47 to pre-order on Kindle and every penny goes to the charity Help For Heroes. If that doesn’t tempt you enough, then here’s the blurb:
When Stars Will Shine is a collection of short stories from your favourite authors who have come together to deliver you a Christmas read with a twist.
With true war tales that will break your heart, gritty Christmas crimes that will shake you to your core, and heart-warming tales of love lost and found, this anthology has something for everyone. And, with every penny made being sent to support our troops, you can rest assured that you’re helping our heroes, one page at a time.
From authors such as Louise Jensen, Graham Smith, Malcolm Hollingdrake, Lucy Cameron, Val Portelli, and Alex Kane, you are in for one heck of a ride! When Stars Will Shine is the perfect Christmas gift for the bookworms in your life!
Fredrick Snellgrove, Private 23208 by Rob Ashman
Four Seasons by Robert Scragg
The Close Encounter by Gordon Bickerstaff
Believe by Mark Brownless
What Can Possibly Go Wrong? by Lucy Cameron
Mountain Dew by Paul T. Campbell
The Art of War and Peace by John Carson
A Gift for Christmas by Kris Egleton
Free Time by Stewart Giles
Died of Wounds by Malcolm Hollingdrake
The Christmas Killer by Louise Jensen
The Village Hotel by Alex Kane
A Present of Presence by HR Kemp
The Invitation by Billy McLaughlin
Brothers Forever by Paul Moore
Girl in a Red Shirt by Owen Mullen
Pivotal Moments by Anna Osborne
Uncles Christmas by Val Portelli
Time for a Barbeque by Carmen Radtke
Christmas Present by Lexi Rees
Inside Out by KA Richardson
Penance by Jane Risdon
New Year’s Resolution by Robert Scragg
Family Time by Graham Smith
I’ve pre-ordered a copy myself, if you’d like to order your copy, you can use the links below:
Today I’m bring you not one but three reviews of the Scott family short stories by Amanda Paull. A big thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on this tour and providing a copy of these books.
Title: Let’s Dance (Scott Family Short Stories, Book 1)
She’s helping out a friend. His dad’s hip’s gone. Could a farcical mix-up lead to love?
Ballroom dancing is the last thing Laura wants to try. But her best friend is desperate to meet a hip-swinging Adonis, so before she knows it, Laura is cha cha cha-ing in the back of the Dog and Duck with nerdy Ben. At least no one else need ever find out. No such luck. Her mother is armed with a social media page and dangerous. The shenanigans begin. What a pity Ben’s now looking rather dapper. Will he scarper? Or is Ben made of sterner stuff? If you like innocent, laugh-out-loud family mayhem, you’ll love Let’s Dance, the first Scott Family.
Laura is dragged by her friend Shona to her latest fad to keep fit and find a man; Ballroom dancing. Unimpressed by the doggy pub where it’s being held and even less by the selection of men, Laura is sure that she won’t be back for a second lesson until she meets nerdy Ben who for some reason won’t give up on her. Even when he meets her bonkers family.
What a fun and refreshing read this was! It’s fairly quick read, it took me about an hour or so which is perfect if you’ve got a long boring journey or wait ahead of you.
At first I found Laura a little stuck up but I found myself warming to her, especially when you meet her sullen teenage daughter and mother who seems intent on marrying her off!
Now I have to be honest it did feel like two separate short stories made into one, the ballroom dancing part, then meeting Laura’s bonkers family and the two aspects of the story could have been combined a little better.
Overall Let’s Dance is a fun short story perfect for a little escape from reality.
Title: A Christmas Day Kerfuffle (Scott Family Short Stories, Book 2)
A blooming romance. A trapped poodle. Can their relationship survive the madness?
After a shaky start, Laura and Ben are now getting along great. So much so that Laura dares to invite him for a Christmas Day brunch with her family. As the good tidings commence, a horrifying discovery is made. Freddie, the family poodle, is trapped. Will the ensuing biblical scale mayhem sound the death knell for Laura and Ben’s budding romance? Or is he just a glutton for punishment?
If you enjoyed Let’s Dance, you’ll love A Christmas Day Kerfuffle, the second Scott Family Short Story, by Amanda Paull. Download it today to discover whether love prevails, and Freddie cooks.
This is the second in the Scott family short story series and can be easily read as a standalone but I would highly recommend reading the first, Let’s Dance.
Laura has invited her parents round for a Christmas brunch with her new boyfriend Ben. Many high jinks ensue after Laura’s dad misplaces the front door key, leaving the poor dog locked in. Will all the mayhem lead to Laura and Ben breaking up?
What a fun festive story this was! It made me very thankful for my own slightly bonkers family!
My only complaint was I would have liked to have been a little longer but that’s just me being picky.
Another super short read if you’re looking for a fun Christmassy caper.
Title: Fenella’s Fabulous Fountain Fondue (Scott Family Short Stories, Book 3)
It’s the day of the party. Laura and Ben are in love. But could a posh marshmallow put the kibosh on their relationship?
They’ve survived Scott Family mayhem twice so far, and now Laura and Ben’s relationship is rock solid. They are having a wonderful time at the Grand Hotel, relaxing in the spa and putting the final touches to Ben’s mother’s 85th birthday party preparations. It’s all going to plan.
Fenella loves her party. The two families get along fabulously. It’s a marvellous do. What could possibly go wrong?
Download the third Scott Family Short Story today to discover whether the Scotts have a cheeky little surprise of their own for long-suffering Ben and Laura.
I’m back for the third instalment of the Scott family short stories which can be read as standalone but again I would recommend if you want a fuller picture of this crazy family, to start at the beginning with Let’s Dance.
It’s Ben’s mother’s 85th birthday and he’s invited Laura and her family along. Laura is nervous, will her parents embarrass her like they always do?
This has to be my favourite of the three stories, not just because of the fabulously tongue twisting title, but I had a bit of a giggle while reading it.
I would however have like to met Fenella properly, which I don’t think we do and see how see interacted with Laura’s family but of course that’s just my opinion.
Fenella’s Fabulous Fondue is a quick fun filled read perfect if you’ve got a few minutes to spare.
About The Author:
Amanda Paull is a writer of humorous romantic fiction. She lives in the North East of England with her husband and works in the public sector. The inspiration for her stories comes from real life, which she tries to show the funnier side of by embellishing to the hilt.
AN ESSENTIAL INTRODUCTION TO THE DS SMITH THRILLER SERIES.
Phobia is a series of five DS Jason Smith cases he worked on before we met him in the first book ‘Smith’. We get insights into what moulded him into the Detective Sergeant we first get a glimpse of in ‘Smith’. Smith quickly realizes that police work isn’t always cut and dry. Justice is not always black and white; there are many shades of grey in between.
So I’ve previously read a book of Stewart Giles published through Joffe Books and enjoyed it, so when Jill Burkinshaw offered the chance to read Stewart’s self published stories I jumped at the chance.
The book contains five stories:
Cause and Effect
This has Smith’s very first case as a PC and shows how he goes from studying law to the police. After a nasty bout of flu he’s drafted up to CID to help on a spat of armed robberies of Post Offices.
The Girl In The River
Now a detective constable, Smith is given his first murder case. A young woman is found dead in the river. Suspicion quickly falls on her dodgy boyfriend. Smith’s superiors think it’s an open and shut case but far from happy he digs further.
A teacher from the local school is found bludgeoned to death in her own home. Bizarrely the murder weapon, an ornamental rock has been wiped clean and placed on her stomach. Yet when a known felons fingerprints are found at the crime scene, the other members of Smith’s team think they’ve found their man but he is so sure.
A man phones the police when his neighbour’s dog won’t stop barking. Smith and his colleague DC Bridge are sent to investigate further. They find a gruesome scene of a young man bludgeoned to death and another in a bathtub, seemingly having taken his own life. Is it a case of murder/suicide or is it just plain murder?
Smith passed his sergeants exams and is now DS and heading up his first case, the suspicious deaths of two students from York University found laid out on the beach of a small town called Saltburn. Due to an incident when he was sixteen Smith is now terrified of the sea, will he be able to get over his fear and investigate?
Having not read any of his Jason Smith books before (even though I do own a couple, they are sadly languishing on my lengthy tbr pile), these short stories are a perfect introduction to the detective if like me you have yet to dive into this series.
It’s not very often that we get to follow a detective from when they joined to police force. Smith is definitely a character! He moved to England from Australia as a teenager, he lives in the lovely city of York, a place I have visited a couple of times, so I have a little soft spot for it. So much tragedy in his past too, from his father’s suicide to his sister that has gone missing and the death of his beloved grandmother. He has this knack of rubbing people up the wrong way but not letting go until he feels justice is served.
Each story is split into short sharp chapters making it a quick and pacey read. I don’t often say this with a collection, I could not pick a favourite, they were all fantastic! Each story was well plotted, action packed and entertaining.
I’m now really looking forward to reading the first full length novel Smith (watch out for my spot on the blog tour next month!).
Stewart Giles – Author Bio:
After reading English & Drama at three different English Universities and graduating from none of them, I set off travelling and finally ended up in South Africa, where I still live. I enjoy the serene life running a boat shop on the banks of the Vaal Dam. I came up with the DS Jason Smith idea after my wife dropped a rather large speaker on my head. Whether it was intentional still remains a mystery. Smith, the first in the series was finished in September 2013 and was closely followed by Boomerang and Ladybird. Occam’s Razor, Harlequin and Phobia (a series of short stories detailing Smith’s early life) were all completed in one hazy 365 days and Selene was done and dusted a few months later.