My Four Halloween Reads: Rickman's Curfew, Clegg's The Hour Before Dark, Cisco's The Divinity Student, and Campbell's Holes for Faces.

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Summary: There was a time when I would have a stack of books and movies to go through for Halloween. While I don't tend to have that energy, anymore, I thought it would be nice to designate four books as my Halloween reads this year: Phil Rickman's Curfew, Douglas Clegg's The Hour Before Dark, Michael Cisco's The Divinity Student, and Ramsey Campbell's Holes for Faces.

BLOT: (20 Oct 2013 - 11:40:47 AM)

My Four Halloween Reads: Rickman's Curfew, Clegg's The Hour Before Dark, Cisco's The Divinity Student, and Campbell's Holes for Faces.

Do you have any particular books you are going to read to celebrate the two-weeks-away-round-about Halloween? It was once my tradition (for certain specific definitions of tradition) to try and get a small stack of movies and stories and videogames and books down my throat everywhere, usually with a list like "13 weeks to Halloween!" posted over on my now dead Livejournal. The past couple of years, my ability to keep up the spirit has dwindled to the levels best suited for a tired old man, but since I am not a tired old man, how about we try and fix this a little? Rather than aim high and miss, though, I'm going to keep it simple: four books over about two weeks (we have only 10-ish days to Halloween, but a fortnight sounds prettier). Two of which came out in the past couple of weeks, technically, though both of them are reprints of older material, and two have been around for a bit. They are Phil Rickman's Curfew [recently re-released on Kindle], Douglas Clegg's The Hour Before Dark, Michael Cisco's The Divinity Student, and Ramsey Campbell's Holes for Faces [new collection though I have read a few of the stories in it].

Click on any of the covers below to see their respective Goodreads pages. I've included the basic blurb [taken from Amazon] text to give you an idea of what I'll be covering. For now, the plan is to read all of these via Kindle editions, though I do have Centipede Press's gorgeous Michael Cisco boxset that I have barely touched [because it's so pretty!] and might have my hard-copy edition of Holes for Faces any day now, though an absence of a ship confirmation suggests it might be on down the road.

Phil Rickman's Curfew

Every night for 400 years, a curfew bell has tolled from the church tower of Crybbe—superstitious ritual or sole defense against an ancient evil?
In Crybbe, only strangers walk at twilight...
For 400 years, the curfew bell has tolled nightly from the church tower of the small country town, Crybbe's only defense against the evil rising unbidden in its haunted streets. Radio reporter Fay Morrison came to Crybbe because she had no choice. Millionaire music tycoon Max Goff came because there was nothing left to conquer, except the power of the spirit. But he knew nothing of the town's legacy of dark magic—and nobody felt like telling him.

Douglas Clegg's The Hour Before Dark

As children, they played the Dark Game.
When Nemo Raglan's father is murdered in one of the most vicious killings of recent years, Nemo must return to the New England island he thought he had escaped for good, Burnley Island...and the shadowy farmhouse called Hawthorn. But this murder was no crime of human ferocity. What butchered Nemo's father may in fact be something far more terrifying...Something Nemo and his younger brother, Bruno, and sister, Brooke, have known since childhood.
here are secrets buried on Burnley Island.
Within the rooms of Hawthorn, beautiful Brooke Raglan has begun to go mad. She sees faces at the windows and wanders the night, trying to find what she believes is a monster.
Bruno Raglan has wiped the memory of a terrible event from his mind. Now he compulsively picks apart Hawthorn and discovers that within its walls lies a forbidden secret.
As he unravels the mysteries of his past and a terrible night of his childhood, Nemo witnesses something unimaginable, and sees the true face of evil while Burnley Island comes to know the unspeakable horror that grows in the darkness.
"Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head."

Michael Cisco's The Divinity Student

[Kind of hard to find a good description of this one, the below suffices, but I'll also direct you to the the review of The Divinity Student over at]

The International Horror Guild Award-winning novel that launched the career of a writer sometimes described as "the American Kafka." Struck by lightning, resurrected, cut open, and stuffed full of arcane documents, the Divinity Student is sent to the desert city of San Veneficio to reconstruct the Lost Catalog of Unknown Words. He learns to pick the brains of corpses and gradually sacrifices his sanity on the altar of a dubious mission of espionage. The divinity student's strange adventures will haunt the reader long after finishing this unique and exciting novel. As Publishers Weekly wrote, "Cisco wields words in sweeping, sensual waves, skillfully evoking multiple layers of image and metaphor. Though his novel is brief, it is a gem of literate dark fantasy, concisely illustrating the power, both light and dark, of words and meaning." Recommended for fans of Clive Barker, Thomas Ligotti, Gemma Files, Kafka, Leonora Carrington and other masters of weird fiction. With an introduction by Hugo and World Fantasy Award winner Ann VanderMeer.

Ramsey Campbell's Holes for Faces

[from the publisher page] Holes for Faces collects many of his best tales from the first decade of this century. An attempt to avoid a haunted house leads into worse danger. The announcements at a railway station deal with stranger things than trains, and is that another railway station in the distance or a different kind of destination? A childhood game becomes a source of terror, and so does a radio quiz show. Even Christmas decorations may not be trusted, and beware of that Advent calendar! A hotel provides amenities you mightn't welcome, and a visit to a tourist attraction attracts an uninvited follower. A train journey may never end, unless it already has, and a visit to a hospital brings back more than memories. A myth about a horror film has unwanted consequences. There are angels you mightn't want to see too clearly, if that's what they are. And you'll have to decide if it's better to stay in the dark or see what's waiting there. You'll find uncanny dread in these pages, and disquiet and terror, but also poignancy and comedy of paranoia. One theme runs through all the stories: youth and age.

And if I get done with those four...

If I get done with those four, and watch a good handful of movies, and so forth, then my final Halloween reads will be to finish The Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood and Kingsley Amis's The Green Man. And if I somehow get all six done on top of everything else on my plate, who knows, but possible some Robert Aickman or some Reggie Oliver, or maybe I'll join a cult. Choices. Choices.



Written by Doug Bolden

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