Horror World

Posted in Uncategorized on December 4th, 2012 by Craig

Another excellent review of Charles Black’s latest Black Book.

http://horrorworld.org/hw/2012/11/the-ninth-black-book-of-horror/

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The Ninth Black Book of Horror: Available now!

Posted in Hell, Horror on October 25th, 2012 by Craig

The Ninth Black Book of Horror, edited by Charles Black and published by Mortbury Press, was launched at FantasyCon and contains many of the leading authors in what I may loosely call the horror short revival.

You can purchase direct from Mortbury Press or here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ninth-Black-Book-Horror/dp/0955606187/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1349007026&sr=1-1

Ninth Black Book of Horror

The Anatomy Lesson – John Llewellyn Probert
The Mall – Craig Herbertson
Salvaje – Simon Bestwick
Pet – Gary Fry
Ashes to Ashes – David Williamson
The Apprentice – Anna Taborska
Life Expectancy – Sam Dawson
What’s Behind You? – Paul Finch
Ben’s Best Friend – Gary Power
The Things That Aren’t There – Thana Niveau
Bit on the Side – Tom Johnstone
Indecent Behaviour – Marion Pitman
His Family – Kate Farrell
A Song, A Silence – John Forth
The Man Who Hated Waste – Marc Lyth
Swan Song – David A. Riley

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The Ninth Black Book of Horror

Posted in Hell, Horror on August 16th, 2012 by Craig

The Ninth Black Book of Horror

Charles Black, has intimated that another Black Book of Horror is on its way and will hopefully see the light at FantasyCon in September. Again he has garnered a bevy of talent and my name peeps through the crowd in wonder

The Anatomy Lesson – John Llewellyn Probert
The Mall – Craig Herbertson
Salvaje – Simon Bestwick
Pet – Gary Fry
Ashes to Ashes – David Williamson
The Apprentice – Anna Taborska
Life Expectancy – Sam Dawson
What’s Behind You? – Paul Finch
Ben’s Best Friend – Gary Power
The Things That Aren’t There – Thana Niveau
Bit on the Side – Tom Johnstone
Indecent Behaviour – Marion Pitman
His Family – Kate Farrell
A Song, A Silence – John Forth
The Man Who Hated Waste – Marc Lyth
Swan Song – David A. Riley
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Reflections on 2010

Posted in Hell, Horror on January 3rd, 2011 by Craig

2010 was a busy year for me. I was fortunate to have two shorts published in the Black Books of Horror edited by Charles Black: ‘Spanish Suite’ in ‘The Sixth Black Book of Horror’ and ‘New Teacher’ in ‘The Seventh Black Book of Horror’ and another ‘The Waiting Game’ Edited by John Mains in ‘Back from the Dead’. The first chapter of my novel ‘The Death Tableaux’ began serialization in Filthy Creations magazine edited by Rog Pile.

One of the highlights of the year was indubitably the World Horror Conference where I met for the first time the editors Mr. Black and Mr. Mains – both of whom have done much to revitalize my interest in writing -and many of the authors of the original Pan Horror series and the Black Books. An absolute treat.

A surprising bonus came when my story The Heaven Maker was used to inspire an internet game called Helldivers.

I also managed to complete three other unpublished stories and have neared the end of the sequel to School: The Seventh Silence.

Perhaps best of all I also got into the habit of writing. A massive help has been the presence of fellow authors and fans on Demonik’s now famed Vault of Evil. A Chat dungeon which I would recommend to anyone interested in the genre.

In 2011 I hope to complete the sequel and quite a few more shorts. Who knows what will happen next but I hope we all have a great year.

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‘Soup’ on Vault of Evil

Posted in Hell, reviews on December 31st, 2010 by Craig

Demonik, the grandmaster of the Vault of Evil, just said one of the nicest things any reviewer has said about my work. The story Soup was published in the much acclaimed ‘The Fourth Black Book Of Horror’ edited by Charles Black.

As we go into that Pagan ceremony of New Year I might make this my final statement of the year.


‘Craig Herbertson – Soup: Quite possibly the most beautifully written example of cannibal torture porn I’ve ever read! ‘ Demonik

Links for vault of Evil are on the main page.

Good luck out tonight there and don’t look behind you.

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The Seventh Black Book of Horror: Charles Black

Posted in Hell, Horror, reviews on October 16th, 2010 by Craig

Following with pygmy feet in the giant footsteps of D.F. Lewis here is a real time review of ‘The Seventh Black Book of Horror’.

I had no idea that Thana Niveau was a writer having briefly met her not far from Brighton Pier in the company of the renowned master of horror John Llewellyn Probert. My naivety in this respect has now sunk beneath the memories of waves on Brighton’s shore. Memories which are now lent a certain grim chill by ‘The Pier’, a tale which seems to have been written by a consummate veteran of horror. Easy to see why Charles picked this one as an opener. A series of disturbing memorial plaques leads the protagonists and the reader along the burnt out remains of the old pier. Fascinating concept, skillfully told with a grim ending that opens the hotel doors of the black book with all the panache of an elegant vampyric host.

MINOS OR RHADAMANTHUS by Reggie Oliver – echoes of ghosts, ancient language, bleak public schools with their green pleasant lands and incensed cloisters overshadowed by sadistic masters and woe begone pupils; injustice and deadly revenge. This story, with a faint bow to M.R. James but it’s own unique voice, contains everything I like about the Horror genre.

Paul Mudie

Paul Mudie


My first introduction to Joel Lane was to find one of his characters unwittingly standing on an eye. Difficult to forget that image. I doubt I’ll be eating chips out of newspapers after this MORNING’S ECHO, a tale of teen gangland wickedness. This short piece by Joel Lane is not instantly powerful but like a bats radar, leaves interesting repercussions in the psyche.

I believe John Llewellyn Probert is Consultant Urological Surgeon in his spare time. My general experience of surgeons is a confrontation with a competent and dignified man who often makes light of the terrible thing that is about to happen to your body with a humorous anecdote or two and a genial manner. This is my vast problem with John Llewellyn Probert’s horror: I vastly enjoy the anecdotes, the quirky humour and the stylish approach but when he stops being funny I get ridiculously scared. IT BEGINS AT HOME offers us some surgery but perhaps not with the precision we might expect and, because of our expectations, we suffer a lot more. It’s a tale with an unexpected twist that leaves the poor reader with a very genuine but grim aftertaste. Don’t visit this without emotional anesthetic.

In FLITCHING’S REVENGE by Gary Power a close knit English village has it’s own informal method of extracting justice but the price of judicial error is somewhat high. There are different forms of justice of course, social and judicial come to mind, but Gary Power finds an interesting twist in a tale where spiritual justice bows out.

David Williamson is a Pan Horror author par excellence having stories in Number 28 and 30 respectively. Like me he must get somewhat tired of hearing how awful the last Pan Books were as they descended into gratuitous violence and cheap laughs. The problem with this viewpoint, which may well be valid, is that I suspect that few people who endorse it have ever read the final volumes. In REST IN PIECES I hope Williamson answers the critics: it’s a well conceived tale, suitably macabre, jocular and containing all the Pan elements that made the series a winner. At times the male/female relationships are like something from a Blackpool postcard but isn’t that what you want deep down? The horror is horrific and the bad guy gets his comeuppance in a rather neat finale.

In WALK TO THE SEA by Rog Pile a lady is attracted by something down on the beach. Is it a memory of something awful, is it a ghost, is she a memory or is she a phantom treading a hypnotic and well worn path? In common with many of Rog Pile’s stories there is an amorphous, insubstantial quality, an atmosphere tinged with pathos and regret. As always he offers a well crafted tale, which like waves on a lonely beach, leave a vague hush in the mind. Enjoyed the walk.

I’m a huge fan of the classic Zombie film. I like my zombies shuffling and slow and I like it when there are lots of them and only one of you. Zombie stories on the other hand can often fail to deliver. In ROMERO’S CHILDREN by David A. Riley the Zombies are slightly faster than I like on film but they are indubitably very scary. This story shines out among a star cast. It’s simple: Zombies everywhere on the hunt. Scattered humanity fighting back but Jack is a loner carving out an existence in the deserted town. There is a whiff of John Wyndham – Post apocalyptic, a solid identification with the central character, a good advance on the zombie concept and a really awful ending that’s already made a few people cry. The only fault I could find? It’s not a novel.

The problem with being a fantastic author I suspect is that everyone anticipates your brilliance. If anyone else wrote the THE GREEN BATH I would commend it as a very good story, well paced, economically written with a finely balanced erotically charged plot. However, it offers a complex but somehow fragmented concept with a somewhat idiosyncratic ending as though Paul Finch deliberately retreated from cliche – which of course he did but in the process I found myself searching for the overt horror. Still classy though.

TELLING, a thoroughly enjoyable short from Steve Rasnic Tem. An artist needs a certain atmosphere to paint and she needs to get it from a certain house. Perhaps the atmosphere was looking for her.

SWELL HEAD by Stephen Volk went to the top of the shelf and got the teddy bear. Very like Stephen King at his best. I felt as though I was halfway through a later Pan edition and this was the American contribution and a fine contribution too with echoes of the Elephant Man. What happens if your brother’s head starts to get bigger? Volk will tell you and make you very sad as he does.

WALKING THE DYKE by Alex Langley is a nasty piece of work. Unlike many, I am never too comfortable with in-genre stories. It always feels a little incestuous. However, this was well told with enough offense against political correctness to amuse me.

Anna Taborska is a gentle careful writer whose work always looks rounded and immaculately professional but sometimes gives the feeling that Horror is not her natural genre. Nevertheless THE CREAKING is a well crafted tale about the villages and a good ‘witch’. The poor witch should perhaps have teamed up with the wicked witch of Oz. Handing out potions and being helpful is generally the passport to doom in any small village and when you hear a suspicious creaking better not hang around.

I had to warn my mum not to read BERNARD BOUGHT THE FARM by James Stanger, which the editor seems to have inserted to create maximum controversy: ‘Page upon page of unflinching cruelty, bestiality, sodomy and eye-watering torture … Proper horror gone completely nuts.‘ to quote demonik from the renowned Vault of Evil proboard. I should imagine opinions will be wildly different on this gruesome offering. For me, almost because it was written in a conventional manner with an accomplished and soundly crafted style, the impact of its atrocities was all the more distasteful.

TED’S COLLECTION by Claude Lalumière is simply a superb story of isolation, fetish and eccentricity taken to terrible extremes. There were moments during the reading of it where I whimpered ‘no, don’t got there’ in a scared squeak. Terrifying.

‘What seems, at first, like a slight story, is redeemed by its powerful Roald Dahl-like twist’, Mark Samuel’s comment on NEW TEACHER by yours truly. The new teacher’s having difficulty with his class while his indifferent colleagues reflect on old times.

THE IN-BETWEENERS by Tony Richards asks the question ‘Who are these amorphous teenagers hanging around the street corners?’ But do you really, really want to know? It’s a splendid finish to the best Black Book I have read.

Polished off with my favourite Black Book cover by Paul Mudie I must make a final remark on the hidden author, Charles Black. I believe this to be the best Black Book not because the stories were better than others – far from the case. I think this was a kind of coming of age celebration for Charles Black where he really achieved a perfect balance as an editor. I found it hard to put the anthology down and more or less read it from cover to cover with interest, excitement, sorrow, distaste, laughs and most of all pure horror.

Big thumbs up

The Seventh Black Book of Horror:
THE PIER – Thana Niveau

MINOS OR RHADAMANTHUS – Reggie Oliver

MORNING’S ECHO – Joel Lane

IT BEGINS AT HOME – John Llewellyn Probert

FLITCHING’S REVENGE – Gary Power

REST IN PIECES – David Williamson

WALK TO THE SEA – Rog Pile

ROMERO’S CHILDREN – David A. Riley

THE GREEN BATH – Paul Finch

TELLING – Steve Rasnic Tem

SWELL HEAD – Stephen Volk

WALKING THE DYKE – Alex Langley

THE CREAKING – Anna Taborska

BERNARD BOUGHT THE FARM – James Stanger

TED’S COLLECTION – Claude Lalumière

NEW TEACHER – Craig Herbertson

THE IN-BETWEENERS – Tony Richards

Available from the usual online sources and click on the link below

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The Seventh Black Book of Horror: Editor Charles Black

Posted in Hell, Horror on September 8th, 2010 by Craig

Charles Black, consummate dungeon master of Hell’s naughty minions, has announced the contents of The Seventh Black Book of Horror. What an honour to be there amongst some of the foremost Horror writers. And look at this for a cover by Paul Mudie


Details forthcoming about where to get a hold of this piece of publishing History forthcoming but I would think starting with Mortbury Press would be a good idea. Link is on the blogroll

THE PIER
Thana Niveau

MINOS OR RHADAMANTHUS
Reggie Oliver

MORNING’S ECHO
Joel Lane

IT BEGINS AT HOME
John Llewellyn Probert

FLITCHING’S REVENGE
Gary Power

REST IN PIECES
David Williamson

WALK TO THE SEA
Rog Pile

ROMERO’S CHILDREN
David A. Riley

THE GREEN BATH
Paul Finch

TELLING
Steve Rasnic Tem

SWELL HEAD
Stephen Volk

WALKING THE DYKE
Alex Langley

THE CREAKING
Anna Taborska

BERNARD BOUGHT THE FARM
James Stanger

TED’S COLLECTION
Claude Lalumière

NEW TEACHER
Craig Herbertson

THE IN-BETWEENERS
Tony Richards

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The Black Book of Horror

Posted in Hell, reviews on August 16th, 2010 by Craig

The Black Book of Horror contains eighteen excursions on the night train to Hell. Its driver, Charles Black, has garnered a dreadful bunch of passengers. Dreadful, only in the sense that if you listen to their tales you are going to do a lot of dreading. These authors are the ones you don’t take home to mother unless she’s a practising witch.

Black Book of Horror

Black Book of Horror

There is not a single poor story in the anthology: only delightful highlights, insights, originality, humour and exceptionally good writing; and by ‘good’ I mean not stuffy literacy – the metaphors, analogies, plot twists, characterization, writing skills are all there but they are, throughout the volume, subordinate to the main thing: the story.

We open with CROWS by Frank Nicholas. Ronson is off to to Corbiewood Lodge where he hopes to make a tidy profit on the old house. ‘Aunt Jess hadn’t really been an inconvenience’ but Ronson unfortunately is. An eerie short tale masterfully told.

Mark Samuels introduces us to Mr. Dunn whose boss wants him to help with REGINA vs. ZOSKIA, a long standing case. Perhaps the poor man should have realised that when the mentally insane decide they want to be redefined as normal the consequences can be very sinister. A top class story by a veteran of horror.

‘Some argue that attraction is an evolutionary imperative’. In THE OLDER MAN Gary Fry explores young Jack’s sexual interests to a gruesome conclusion. There are some beautiful lines in this superb story.

POWER by Steve Goodwin opens with ‘The first time I saw Marek he was pissing in an unmarked grave.’ A young Englishman encounters swastikas and skinhead Satanism some place in Europe better avoided.

Roger B. Pile, a consummate tale teller, gives us another beauty with CORDS where a young couple make the mistake of following an unusual sign.  THE SOUND OF MUZAK –by Sean Parker is a Ballardian tale of an alien seeking habitation. It’s surreal, absurd and chilling. D. F. Lewis, strange genius of the genre, confuses us all in his inimitable prose with SHAPED LIKE A SNAKE. From its first line: ‘I needed Time to be a movable feast…’ to its last, Lewis’ Doctor of Philosophy encounters the apparently ordinary with a growing doubt echoed only by the troubled reader.  ONLY IN YOUR DREAMS by David A. Sutton introduces the poor nightmare of the child – the Jelly Man. The parents won’t believe the children but perhaps that’s just as well.

An ex police officer sees an animal at his window in THE WOLF AT JESSIE’S DOOR. Paul Finch has given us one of the longer stories in the anthology but the idea fits the length like a hand in a glove. In SIZE MATTERS John L. Probert makes horror out of a man who would like penis enlargement on the NHS. This is John at his best; wicked humour balanced with wicked evil. ‘Perhaps if his skin had been unsullied by the ravages of gangrene and two surgical procedures, there would not have been a problem’

SPARE RIB: A ROMANCE by John Kenneth Dunham is not the romance normally advertised in ‘Wedding’ but rather the takeaway sort. It concentrates on the visceral with a sickening attention to detail and may well make you stick to home cooking.

FAMILY FISHING by Gary McMahon is a repulsive tale with shocking undertones which advances the horror genre imaginatively while at the same time retaining the basics of horror as entertainment. It’s fishing, its family fishing but its maybe not the fish you want.

SUBTLE INVASION by David Conyers borrows much from John Wyndham and the other apocalyptic writers. The invader comes looking a bit like a little cacti but it is going to grow. A second slice of D. F. Lewis is always a welcome treat and he gives us A PIE WITH THICK GRAVY .

LOCK-IN in by David A. Riley is a scary tale where the mix of the blunt Northerner and the Twilight Zone centres round the local bar. Unfortunately for the locals, there’s no way out unless oblivion or madness appeals. LAST CHRISTMAS (I GAVE YOU MY LIFE) by Franklin Marsh demonstrates his ease with dialogue and affords a warning to those who decide not to stay home for Christmas dinner. Daniel McGachey’s SHALT THOU KNOW MY NAME? is almost Lovecraftian in its scope. Add a little M.R.James mix a bit of Blackwood and make sure you’ve salted the perimeter fence outside the house.

TO SUMMON A FLESH EATING DEMON is a grand and spectacular finish by our editor, Charles Black, as Professor Mellman and Professor Greydin argue the authenticity of an occult text. It’s going to lead to a pentacle and a lot of black candles but the story has twists and turns and a very unexpected ending.

All in all, this anthology is a breath of fresh air to a genre that sometimes seems to have forgotten its roots. Often compared to the Pan Horror stories, it is far from a pastiche. Some of the stories – I might cite THE SOUND OF MUZAK by Sean Parker and FAMILY FISHING by Gary McMahon  but there are other candidates  in the anthology – demonstrate a Hegelian upward step in the spiral of the horror genre. Others hark backward to a golden age and do it no discredit. Some like Lewis exist in a parallel world where horror is married to the mundane and the children of their union may well be beyond your understanding. All of the stories however, without being pretentious or over-erudite, are readable and enjoyable and what more can you want at the midnight hour?

The Black Book of Horror is edited by Charles Black and illustrated by Paul Mudie.

For availability and more details :

http://www.freewebs.com/mortburypress/

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The Seventh Black Book of Horror

Posted in Hell, reviews on August 10th, 2010 by Craig

Just reading the proofs for my story which will be included in The Seventh Black Book of Horror, edited by Charles Black. Not sure exactly when the new Black Book of Horror will be released but this is a tremendously exciting prospect given the high quality and positive critiques of the last volumes. More to follow.

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Filthy Creations 6#

Posted in Hell, reviews on July 14th, 2010 by Craig


As if the editor Rog Pile had nothing else to do but astound, this edition of Filthy Creations 6# begins the serialisation of two novels. Sendings by David A Riley and The Death Tableau by, yours truly, Craig Herbertson: Both ‘Pan Books of Horror’ authors. Both novels set up in the grim north. Both their first appearance in print. Both about to be serialized in full. There’s ominous signs in both tales already. Let’s see how they develop.

The issue is packed with poisoned goodies.

The Devil At Your Heels by Robert Mammone deals with that unconscious horror – the hit and run accident. Who is the victim here, the driver who was hit or the driver who ran? Mammome is a sharp writer with a strong style and a sound balance between the beauty of metaphor and the progression of story. He creates some lovely lines: ‘The engine’s dull throb matched his heart’s jerking rhythm,’ and he’s a writer who can draw you in and leaves you hurt:  ‘A terrible truth flowered in Arthur’s mind. With sharp edged petal’s, this realisation scoured all other thoughts away and sent him staggering onto the road’

Mammone is one to watch.

In Easy Money by Penni McLaren Walker we move from a car to a house that has its own particular attitude to its incumbents. Penni is a well known song writer and I was gratified to see her talents in the field of horror. They are apparent. Penni writes more like a lady who has hundreds of stories under her belt rather than a couple. All the signs of a writer with a voice. More to come I hope.

D F Lewis has two short tales Rage and The Fat Shrike in here. Both betray the unmistakable marks of genius. Rage deals with the solution to a macabre jigsaw puzzle and the The Fat Shrike simply abounds with unforgettable lines some beginning in mildly prosaic observation before ending in a word feast carnival ‘Maternity in the old days, was a combination of mutual back-slapping and career gossiping: starting as soon as the womb could warm sufficient spaghetti connections into autonomous life and continuing until it was cold enough to keep plasma as well as pasta indefinitely.’ I ask myself who else could have written that?

We move to the face in Bad Manners by Colin Leslie. It’s a well told, enjoyable tale with a sinister theme that Ray Bradbury would have enjoyed writing and no doubt, reading.

There’s a Riot Going On by Franklin Marsh is short, sweet and wonderful. A touch of pathos a touch of humor as the old colonel goes down.

Grey by Charles Black takes residence at the beach but not for a suntan. It’s a dark almost Panesque tale of revenge with a woman at the heart of it but unfortunately, ‘her beauty had been long since vanquished.’ Good to see that the notorious editor of the Black Book of Horror has picked up the quill again.

Crocodile Tears by James Stanger, is a tale of an old demolition worker and a doctor who suffers his apparent hypochondria. But is it all in the old man’s mind or did something crawl up from the blitz-damaged London buildings? I think it might have but it’s not what you expect.

A Solace of Winter Rain by Stephen Bacon leaves us in the comfort of the Club’s leather chairs but we’re not comfortable for very long as Dr Trevelyan explores Mr Farnsworth’s ‘paralysing nightmare.’ I’m a sucker for a smoking room tale and this delivers the disquieting goods.

Night Tide by Rog Pile has a pilot survive his plane crash only to endure greater horrors from the past.  It’s a story which balances realism with a shadow world of memory, containing believable characterization which makes you instantly empathetic and horror which battles with pathos. Rog Pile has also managed five interior illustrations and a cover. The illustrations are a high point of this edition of Filthy Creations. Rog Pile has slowly developed as a fine illustrator with an improving technique and that elusive – and often undiscovered in lesser artists – eye for perspective. His illustration of Easy Money in the two corbies in is a beauty.

Filthy Creations 6# is an incredible £2.25 including postage. For the small press it’s a plush looking little thing and, more importantly, it’s full of enjoyable stuff. Purchase it together with issue 4# of The Thinking Man’s Crumpet, edited by Coral King for just £3.50

. This issue is dedicated to D F Lewis

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