From the number one best-selling author of The American Boy and The Ashes of London comes a collection of three Gothic novellas - Broken Voices, The Leper House and The Scratch - perfect for fans of The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley.
Broken Voices: Does music have its ghosts? Its victims? Something is stirring in the cathedral that both echoes an ancient tragedy and seems to offer a chance of future happiness. One thing is certain. Broken voices make false promises. And their lies may prove fatal.
The Leper House: Seawick's medieval Leper House is all that remains of the Suffolk town that was washed away to sea. A bereaved man arrives there on a stormy night and meets the mysterious woman who dwells there. In a nearby house, another woman waits for history to repeat itself. And a bell tolls once again beneath the waves.
The Scratch: Clare and Gerald live the perfect life in a remote cottage in the Forest of Dean. Cannop the cat has lived with them since they found him as a kitten deep in the Forest. But perfection is fragile, and some scratches never heal.
Praise for The Ashes of London:
"The Ashes of London presents a breathtakingly ambitious picture of an era.... The multiple narrative strands are drawn together in a brilliantly orchestrated finale." (Financial Times)
"A complex weave of history and mystery and the first of a new series from Andrew Taylor." (The i)
"This is terrific stuff: intelligent, engrossing and, in its evocation of a long-vanished London, wonderfully plausible." (Toby Clements, Daily Telegraph)
"A pacey story.... Taylor masters the detail as well as the broader picture.... A new Shardlake may be rising from the ashes." (The Times)
"Thrilling.... Gripping, fast-moving and credible.... It's a well-constructed political thriller with moments of horror, admirable and enjoyable. Taylor has done his research so thoroughly as to be unobtrusive." (Spectator)
"The description of London in 1666, as the Great Fire is at last dying down, is unforgettable." (Literary Review)
"Finely wrought and solidly researched.... The novel's plot is fiendishly complex." (Sunday Telegraph)
"The Ashes of London is a chilling murder mystery and an equally transporting historical novel. A genuine pleasure from start to finish." (Peter Swanson, author of A Kind Worth Killing)
"This is a book to revel in, a joy and a delight. Definitely one of the must-reads of the year." (Manda Scott, best-selling author of the Boudica Dreaming series)
Praise for Andrew Taylor:
"Taylor's mastery of plot and character show to great effect in a story that has a depth few other historical crime novels can match." (Sunday Times)
Praise for The American Boy:
"A most artful and delightful book, that will both amuse and chill, and it will have you desperate to search out a quiet corner to continue your acquaintance with it." (Daily Telegraph)
Praise for The Silent Boy:
"Effortlessly authentic...gripping...moving and believable. An excellent work." (C. J. Sansom)
I reviewed Andrew Taylor's excellently atmospheric The Ashes of London read by Leighton Pugh on 27/4/16, and so downloaded this his follow-up as soon as I saw it. Taylor has produced 3 'gothic' tales, each one different but all of them subtle and engrossing, leaving the listener with unanswerable questions and nerves well stretched!
Broken Voices read by Leighton Pugh is a sophisticated account of a Christmas holiday before WW1 which two boys at a cathedral school with absent parents have to spend being looked after by a rather frail old teacher who entertains them with eerie stories about the Cathedral. The period detail and dialogue is exactly right. When the boys creep out at night and go searching for some lost music manuscripts, excitement turns to terror and tragedy. Behind what seems a traditional gothic story, themes such as loss, aloneness, memory and music are explored so that it's always more than just a gothic tale.
In the Leper House read by Peter Noble a man is returning from the funeral of his sister with whom he has always quarrelled. In the wilds of Suffolk his car has a puncture, his phone is useless and he wanders the wild wet paths in search of help as the sounds of the sea roar around him. He spends the night in an old house with a curious woman who to his consternation becomes somehow part of him. Next day the house isn't there. Again, it's not just a spooky story - the relationship between brother and sister; past and present mysteries; and the reality of past communities washed into the sea are explored.
In The Scratch read by Anna Bentinck the author creates a convincing first person woman narrator. Clare and Gerald are living happily in the Forest of Dean with their slightly feral cat Cannop when Gerald's nephew Jack comes to stay in an attempt to recover from his stress disorder following his near death experience serving in Afghanistan. On his arm is a scratch that won't heal but merely festers like his damaged psyche; he's terrified of cats and yet tries to find one in the surrounding forest. The festering scratch looms larger both physically and metaphorically as Clare's life disintegrates. This is the most unsettling of the three stories.
The title 'Fireside Gothic' suggests cosy ghostly stories told around the fire. They are like this: traditional and seemingly quite gentle. But lurking underneath each one is a great deal more and that's their strength. The three narrators are excellent story-tellers - thoroughly enjoyable listening!
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
The author has a beautiful realism about his writing, inspiring the imagination. The stories are exactly what short stories should be: moments in life. I’m generally not a fan of short stories, but this collection has turned me, at least to be more opened minded toward them.
Truly fantastic. A different reader for each story helped to bring the characters alive as well. Each of them did a brilliant job.