Tuesday 12 April 2016

The Winter Hunt reviewed on The Vault of Evil

Kevin Demant, who runs the splendid Vault of Evil website, is currently writing a detailed review of Steve Lockley and Paul Lewis's The Winter Hunt:

Steve Lockley & Paul Lewis - The Winter Hunt & Other Stories (Parallel Universe, 2016)

Joe Young

Paul Finch - Introduction: Calm Waters Run Very, Very Deep

The Winter Hunt
Gabriel Restrained
Family Ties
The Woman On The Stairs
Never Go Back
Last Day
The Worst Part
City Of Woes
Death Knock
De Profundis
Puca Muc
Shadows Of Paint

Steve Lockley and Paul Lewis, a two-man, Swansea-based writing-team (though they have written individually as well, and excellently too) are contemporary authors in the best sense of the phrase. They are also hugely respectful of and clearly motivated by some of the great work done in the past. So often their stories, at first glance, may be ‘kitchen sink’ in tone. By that, I mean they could be set on a drear council estate, or in a bus station cafĂ©, or a second-hand shoe shop, or a seaside boarding house on a dull day in the off-season. But never be fooled by any of that, because these calm waters run very, very deep indeed. - From Paul Finch's introduction.

The Winter Hunt: (L. H Maynard, M. P. N. Sims & David Howe [eds.], F20, BFS, 2000). A freak snow blizzard hits Swansea. Meanwhile Angharad, a thirty year old shoe-shop assistant, is bemoaning her sorry lot. Ten years ago she sacrificed any hope of a decent future away from this hell-hole sink estate out of duty to an alcoholic Dad and hopelessly dependent kid brother, Gareth. Then there's her irresponsible boyfriend, Mark, who spends too much time hanging around with local ne'er do well, 'Monkey' Jackson, whose hobbies include stealing cars to torch in Penllergaer Woods. Jackson's antics have even made the local news. To crown it all, Gareth and Mark now come crying to her claiming their ne'er do well mate has been brutally murdered by an implacable huntsman and attendant spectral pack of hounds. With luck like Angharad's dare she not believe them?

Ideal entry point to the downbeat, Welsh Tales of Terror-meetsKitchen Sink Gothic world of Messrs. L & L. The winter huntsman is as relentless as the cowled, scythe-swinging horror in Stephen Laws' The Crawl

Gabriel Restrained: (L. H Maynard & M. P. N. Sims, [eds.], Darkness Rising Two: Night's Soft Pains, Cosmos, 2001). The Monkey's Paw gone to Hell. Duncan and Annie Matthias, God-fearing chapel goers of sixty years standing, face the most agonizing crisis of conscience. God in His infinite mercy has cured Annie of her cancer, but did he have to send an Angel to earth to do so? What to do with beautiful 'Gabriel' now he has performed this miracle? Annie insists they keep him imprisoned in the spare bedroom as insurance against the return of the disease. Duncan reluctantly agrees. But what about little Peter Daniels, the nine year old tumour boy, and his poor family? Shouldn't they, too, share in God's bounty? Gabriel duly heals the sick child, but someone close to Peter's family can't help but go running to the local press ....

Family Ties: (Charles Black [ed.] The Third Black Book of Horror, Mortbury Press, 2008). The zombie apocalypse reaches the tiny hamlet of Mumbles off Swansea Bay. While Peter is out foraging for food and medical supplies, Helen, heavily pregnant, frets inside the cottage. He really should be back by now! Her thoughts turn to the rifle. They've discussed it often enough, but would she be capable of shooting Peter's brains out if anything went wrong?

Helen drags herself down to the beach. Peter's boat has washed up ashore, the provisions abandoned in the water, but no sign of her husband. A shambling figure approaches across the sand....

The Woman On The Stairs: Janet, a stressed-out single mum, sees recently dead people - not for very long, and invariably in the company of a silent old lady, leading them up the stairwell and on to the roof of the Baron Court estate. They seem bewildered. Predictably, teenage daughter Catherine is unsympathetic to her mounting concern. Is Janet seeing ghosts or has her alcoholism reached the point where she's suffering from the DTs? Perhaps the tedium of working the supermarket checkout has finally driven her insane. And what are the paramedics doing in her front room?

To be continued

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