Kevin Demant of The Vault of Evil has started an enthusiastic review of David Ludford's collection A Place of Skulls and Other Tales.
loss of Gary Fry's consistently rewarding Gray Friar Press earlier this
year was a terrible blow, but by God are PUP doing more than their bit
to fill the void! Since this time last year the Riley's have launched
collections from Kate Farrell, Ezeiyoke Chukwunonso, Adrian Cole, Andrew
Darlington, Steve Lockley & Paul Lewis, Richard Stains, Johnny
Mains. Most, if not all, have been raved over elsewhere on this
supremely popular forum by our resident non-critic (no names, no
pack-drill, it was me, etc.), but, happily, several have attracted
favourable proper reviews in places like Fear magazine too. And now this, the debut from David Ludford, is off to a most promising start.
A Place Of Skulls:
Can a nightmare be inherited across several generations? The people of a
certain Eastern European country have long memories where the despised
Prince Berezovsky is concerned. The mad monarch, whose role model was
evidently Vlad Tepes, will neither be forgotten or forgiven for his
excessive cruelty, which is very bad news for his descendant, Janis. The
young man suffers the persecution of an ancient witch who may not
believe that the sins of the father's father's father's father should be
laid upon the children but she'll perform a duty by her people
regardless. Welcome, Janis, to the place of skulls!
opener, liked it well enough, but little did it prepare me for this
next, the very wonderful story of Mr. Skinnybones
Ain't No Grave Can Hold My Body Down:
Skinnybones, the last of an ancient race, is weary of his solitude and
wonders if he dare risk abducting a woman-human to provide him with
children. To do so would require his leaving Donnithorpe woods and
entering the town which has not been safe for his kind since the Dark
Ages. Decisions, decisions .... the ghoul murders, robs and gnaws on a
stranger while he thinks it over.
On taking the plunge, Skinnybones' first port of call is The Fox Inn
where he inadvertently chats up Sally Robertson,
barmaid-cum-prostitute, and makes an enemy of George Jones, who has
recently taken to stalking her. When the pub shuts, a humiliated Jones
jumps Skinnybones in the dark, battering him with a baseball bat until
certain the cowled freak with the weird teeth won't be getting in
anyone's way from now on. Jones disposes of the corpse in his tip of a
back garden. The makeshift grave attracts crows, scores of crows, making
a racket fit to raise the dead ....
Meanwhile Sally and her formidable big sister Kate decide it's time to put George in his place once and for all ....
As the name suggests, a Humeleon is a half human, half chameleon, the
result of covert biological experiments at Larksoken laboratories thirty
years ago. When a whistle-blower leaked the story to the press, it
brought down a government. But what happened to the children spawned in
Old timers Chester and Tyler are patrons of Marlon's
Cafe. The highlight of their day is when the very lovely young Janine
Garvey stops by for a coffee and chat before continuing on her morning
jog. Today on removing her track-suit top she briefly exposed something
Tyler wishes he'd not seen. A patch of tell-tale reptilian skin on her
arm. Unfortunately, Marlon, nosey parker that he is, also caught a
glimpse. He's read all about these humeleon scum in the Daily Sentinel
who only print the truth and are never further than a phone-call away.
Ace reporter Dan Challis agrees that this is too good an opportunity for
his quality rag to miss.