Collection - His Own Mad Demons: Dark Tales from David A. Riley

Published by Parallel Universe Publications 2015
Published by Hazardous Press 2012


Originally published by Hazardous Press, this collection, with a new cover, has now been reprinted by Parallel Universe Publications.

His Own Mad Demons includes:

The Worst of All Possible Places
Lock In
Their Own Mad Demons
The Fragile Mask on his Face
The True Spirit

These were previously published in Houses on the Borderland edited by David A. Sutton for the BFS, The Black Book of Horror and the Fifth Black Book of Horror edited by Charles Black, Dark Discoveries #15 edited by James Beach, and Back from the Dead edited by Johnny Mains.

The 170-page paperback can be ordered via and  In the US it's $9.99 (with free shipping available) and £5.61 in the UK (again with free shipping available).

You can also buy it Direct from us  or from us on Abebooks, in which case you'll get a signed copy. 


British Fantasy Society

Reviewed by Matthew Johns
This compilation of David A. Riley’s slightly longer tales contains five of his inimitable horror stories.  Beginning with a tale of gangsters dabbling with forces they don’t understand in “His Own Mad Demons”, where petty thief Nobby finds that his paymaster isn’t who he appears to be.  “Lock-In” sees a group of old soaks locked in a pub that gets transported to another dimension, thanks to the work of a lodger at the pub.  “The Fragile Mask on his Face” tells of a serial killer who likes to remove the skin from the faces of his victims, and in a rarity for a Riley story, one of his victims actually lives to tell the tale.  “The True Spirit” is set in a town in Northern England, where dark, satanic mills once operated.  Finally, in “The Worst of All Possible Places”, a divorcee finds himself housed by the local council in a tower block populated by demonic forces, killers and undead drug addicts.
Riley’s work is classic horror – he doesn’t resort to swearing or unnecessary depictions of torture to attract his readers.  His tales are all set in environments that will be very familiar to many Brits – the pub plays a big part in some of his stories.   If you’ve not tried Riley’s work before, this is a perfect introduction to his own brand of horror.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.


"Review by Kat Yares
For many, His Own Mad Demons, may be a bit different than the horror you are used to reading.  David A. Riley has a writing style very similar to early Peter Straub and very British to boot.  That said, the five novelettes in this collection are wonderfully eerie, spooky and unsettling.  Which to me, makes for a great read.
That’s not to say there isn’t quite a bit of extreme guts and gore in these stories – there is – more than enough to make my nose crinkle up and my stomach turn more than once.  It’s all just well balanced, and that is hard to find in shorter works like these novelettes. More "

Ginger Nuts of Horror 
David A Riley, is one of those authors, whose name I was familiar with, but one whose work I wasn't really familiar with. So when David announced the release of this collection of five short stories / novella's I thought this is as good a time as any to sample his work. Was it worth it? You'll have to read on to find out.
Kicking of this collection is Their Own Mad Demons, in which career small time crooks Nobby and Stinko (a pair of brilliant names, I love it when criminals get proper criminal names) are hired to help out at a dodgy deal at a junkyard. When this goes the way of all things and torture and murder are added to the mix, Nobby finds himself haunted by a very peculiar spirit. Haunted to the point of desperation Nobbly must return to the scene of the crime and try to exorcise the stench of his past.

This is great start to the collection, with a perfect mix of gangsters and ghosts, David A. Riley has created a wonderful gritty tale full of great characters and an excellent twist on vengeful spirit. This story gets right up your nose in the best possible way.

To most blokes being trapped in a pub is probably a great thing, free beer and as many bags of peanuts you could eat is my idea of heaven. However after reading Lock -In, I now no longer wish this to be this case. This is a very claustrophobic tale thats takes a well used theme of lurkers in the dark and shapes it into an original and truly tense story.

The Fragile Mask On His Face, is perhaps the most shocking and horrific tale in this anthology. This is definitely not a tale for those of you with a weak stomach. This story returns to the town of Edgebottom, and in particular The pub of the previous story, and features another fabulous Black magician, this time one with a penchant for skinning faces, glorious stuff.

The True Spirit, after a terrible massacre that left ambulance driver Harold Briscombe so traumatised that he suffered a breakdown and never returned to work. Now years later the only pleasure that Harold has in his life is his allotment and his cat loving wife Alice. When two of her cats go missing the the prime suspect of their angry neighbour. But soon he is found dead at the bottom of his stairs apparently the victim of a silly fall. To make things worse Harold's allotment gets vandalised. However when a mysterious and charismatic stranger arrives and promises to out things right. Harold suspects there is more to this young man than meets the eyes, so he decides to follow him one night, is this just what was intended to happen all along?

This is a brilliant story that captures a that unsettling and terrifying feeling of many great horror stories of the 1970's. This is the sort of story that would have been a highlight in such films as From Beyond the Grave.

The Worst Of All Possible Places is the final tale is the final tale in this excellent collection.
Bill Whitley only has two options left to hom, become homeless or take up residence in the dumping ground for all of Edgebottom's undesirables, Daisyfield House. The house itself has been witness to many tragedies, built on the site of a church that was the scene of a mass killing, this a place where the dead don't stay dead, and where real horror stalks its corridors.

This is a fitting end to a remarkable collection. Robert Rankin has his Brighton, Terry Pratchett has his Discworld, and so David A. Riley has his Edgebottom, and I for one know which of these worlds I would like to take a return trip to. In an era where so many authors are trying to find a unique twist on the horror the story, at the expense of a well written story, it is a refreshing to come across an author who understands how to write a scary, gripping and down right entertaining story. His Own Mad Demons is what I like to call good old fashioned horror, and this is a shining example of that.

I can't wait for the release of David's latest collection later on this year.
Mario Guslandi on the British Fantasy Society website.

"David A Riley is a  renowned horror author who’s been around for quite a while and has contributed numerous stories in various magazines and anthologies. Apparently (and incredibly)  he’s having his first collection published only now, courtesy of Hazardous Press. I must say it was high time that somebody would take care of this unbelievable oversight, because Riley is a good writer, endowed with  a solid storytelling proficiency and  an expert craftsman of the horror genre..."

C. G. Herbertson:

"We waited a long time to see these stories in a fine edition. David A. Riley is a master of the macabre with a distinguished career. The stories are tough, uncompromising and hard hitting with a sparse Northern English bent.
"If you like modern horror with a polished feel this is for you. My favourite is undoubtedly 'Lock In' which first appeared in the renowned Black Books of Horror edited by Charles Black. It's an uneasy tale with a P.K Dick feel made all the more surreal by its apparently mundane setting - a very English pub. The True Spirit appeared in Back from the Dead, edited by Johnny Main a tribute to Pan Horror. Not a poor story in the bunch.
"Highly recommended"

M. Crossman:

"For anyone with a love for spooky stories this is a great buy...

"A deliciously dark read and perfect for those long winter nights although it may cost you a few extra pounds on your electric bill as some of you might have to sleep with the lights on after reading.
Highly recommended."

It's Only Me "JK":

"More than decent collection of tightly written, well worked, hard hitting stories packed with enough horror and psychological tension to put you on the edge of your seat...
"Each story has it's own theme of contemporary horror featuring a cast of solidly worked, believable characters thrown, without mercy, into horrible situations. Hard hitting, violent, scary tales of modern horror packed with sharp dialogue and cleanly written. Among some of the best I've read."

Shaun Jeffrey:

"There's a reason why David Riley has had stories published in a number of top, professional anthologies: because he's a good writer. He writes solid, atmospheric prose that's filled with believable characters. This collection of five stories has a central theme of devil worship, but the stories go much deeper. They are reminiscent of the kind of stories people tell on dark nights while huddled around campfires, but their effect lasts long after the flames have died down, leaving a chill down your spine that the fire failed to warm."

The Vault of Evil:

"The Lancashire Witches are gone but their malign influence on Grudge End, Edgebottom is as potent as ever it was .....

Their Own Mad Demons: Petty criminals Nobby and Stinko are hired to carry out a risky transaction with the imposing Reggie Gorton and his marginally less psychotic family at a remote moorland junkyard. Nobby is given a gun by his boss for security - fat lot of good that will do him when it all goes tits up, but it's better than nothing. Inevitably, Reggie's preferred business procedure is to relieve the go-betweens of their delivery, frog-march them to a cabin at rifle-point and torment them some before murdering them. Nobby shoots Gorton's cousin and makes a break for it but Stinko, older and out of condition, is not so lucky. The Gortons drag him screaming to an isolated farmhouse, and what they do him ...

Nobby walks miles to reach an on-off girlfriend's place where he can stop a while. Once he's stolen her car, he'll drive the length of the country and put this terrible experience behind him. But the ghost of Stinko - or rather, the ghost of Stinko's stink - catches Nobby up, vows to haunt him to the grave unless his murder is avenged. It was, after all, a hideous and protracted one.

Reluctantly, Nobby heads out to the farm. It won't be easy. Far from mere run of the mill multiple murderers, the Gortons have another weapon in their armoury. They are powerful Satanists .....

The True Spirit: Grudge End in Edgebottom is infamous for a horrific machete massacre in 1983. Paul Maguire, twenty-two, butchered his parents and three younger siblings before taking his own life as the culmination of a Black Magic ritual. This last came as little surprise as the history of Grudge End is steeped in Witchcraft & Satanism and it remains a hotbed of clandestine Devil worship, animal torture and sporadic outbreaks of violence to the present day.

In the direct aftermath of the slaughter, among the first to arrive at the house in Randall Street was ambulance driver Harold Briscombe, and the carnage he witnessed so upset him that he suffered a breakdown and never returned to work. Now long retired and in ill-health, Harold's one pleasure is the allotment he tends with his wife, Alice, a woman devoted to feeding the neighbourhoods community of stray kittens. This brings her into conflict with her next door neighbour and fellow pensioner, Edwin Gaskin, a whisky-sodden former resident of Grudge End who despises everything equally, though he's prepared to temporarily elevate cats above all other forms of life and threatens to kill any of them stupid enough to venture onto his premises. When two of Alice's favourite kittys are murdered (including Blakey, "so named because his face always reminded her of the lanky inspector in On The Buses") and a third disappears, Gaskin is the obvious suspect, but then his corpse is discovered, the cantankerous old git having apparently fallen downstairs in a drunken stupor. The police find Black Magic paraphernalia and a dead cat among his effects.

Meanwhile, the Biscombe's patch on the allotment is among several vandalised by, its thought, the yobs from the decrepit council estate which overlooks it. An amiable twenty-something who introduces himself to them as Peter Hopkirk helps to put right the damage and soon becomes a fixture of their lives - he even offers to move in as 'protection' from whoever is behind all this recent unpleasantness (the police now realise that Gaskin was murdered). Alice, at first suspicious of their new friend, soon falls under his spell but the normally laid back Harold isn't so sure. Having caught the young man out in a lie regarding his supposed family and place of residence, Harold follows Hopkirk to the house in Randall Street, just as the young man intended him to ...

Lock-In: The Potters Wheel, Edgebottom, on the outskirts of Manchester. Sam Sowerby, the landlord, has recently let a room to 'Albert Durer' who, unknown to Sam, is a Black Magician adept in conjuring forth Cthulthoid monstrosities. Durer's latest ritual sees the pub plunged into a void surrounded on all sides by an impenetrable blackness. Regular Tom Atkins takes a step outside to investigate, has the face torn from him for his trouble. Next to try his luck. the teacher, Harold Sillitoe: he bleeds to death after his arm is picked clean as if by acid. Now Sam and his four elderly friends - affectionately known as 'The Grudgers' after the area they hail from - are left with a desperate choice: either stay here and die of starvation or find some way of getting through the black shroud ....

The Worst Of All Possible Places: (David Sutton (ed.), Houses on the Borderland, BFS 2008). Went into a down about some stuff over Christmas, was just crawling back up when i made the mistake of reading this suspenseful, beautifully paced novella. It's excellent, of course: David Sutton is not one to fill his anthologies with rubbish any more than Mr. Riley is a man to write it - but, if you're feeling depressed ....

As a desperate alternative to homelessness and against the advice of a diligent housing officer, Bill Whitley takes temporary accommodation in due-for-demolition Daisyfield House on the outskirts of Edgebottom. Bill was recently fired from his teaching post at St. Cuthberts after lashing out at the class bully, and a suspended sentence means he's unlikely to find similar employment this side of the grave. True to it's reputation, Daisyfield House is a foretaste of Hell, "a dumping ground for junkies and psychos and local down and outs", whose notoriety was cemented when a twelve-strong cult led by a fellow named Chambers committed mass suicide. Forgotten to history is that the block was built on the site of a church where, in 1612, a minister and his followers took similar steps to avoid a witch trial. It soon transpires that the maniacal drug-fiend next door is the block's least appalling proposition. The dead of Edgebottom don't stay that way for long, and they're ever eager to add to their number. Bill learns too late he'd have been better off taking his chances on the street

All finished now. If Lurkers At The Abyss, the forthcoming bumper selection from Shadow publications, is likely to go down as the must-have David Riley collection, then His Own Mad Demons is a tasty warm-up act. 'The Grudgers' are back - albeit as peripheral figures - in The Fragile Mask On His Face, again partially set in The Potters Wheel. Helen Taylor and her friend Joyce frequently drop by the pub after their weekly accountancy course at Night School, and it's here that Joyce, recently split from her boyfriend, Tony, is needlessly rude to awkward loner, Mat Denton, whom she's nicknamed "Goggle-eyes" on account of his passing resemblance to a young, Goatee-bearded Peter Lorre. No surprise that Mat is yet another of Edgebottom's black sorcerers, specialist subjects, face-skinning, demon-raising. When Joyce disappears, a worried Helen and Tony learn they've recently shared a nightmare centred around a decrepit farmhouse on the moors ...."