Welcome to my blog for the penultimate stop in the #HelptheWitch Blog Tour.
Inspired by our native landscapes, saturated by the shadows beneath trees and behind doors, listening to the run of water and half-heard voices, Tom Cox s first collection of short stories is a series of evocative and unsettling trips into worlds previously visited by the likes of M. R. James and E. F. Benson.
Railway tunnels, the lanes and hills of the Peak District, family homes, old stones, shreds fluttering on barbed wire, night drawing in, something that might be an animal shifting on the other side of a hedge: Tom has drawn on his life-long love of weird fiction, folklore and nature s unregarded corners to write a collection of stories that will delight fans old and new, and leave them very uneasy about turning the reading lamp off.
About the Author
Tom Cox has written ten books, including The Good, The Bad And The Furry, which was a Sunday Times top ten bestseller and 21st Century Yokel, (a brilliant book), which was longlisted for the Wainwright Nature Writing prize earlier this year. He still hasn’t got around to getting any A-levels or a degree, neither has he discounted it. When writing, he can be discovered reading, mooching about in a secondhand record shop or bookshop, wild swimming or walking somewhere out in the elements in the South West. Cox has also DJ’d on a radio station called Soundart and once was a journalist. The amazing art in his books is created by his mum, Jo and if you were ever to meet his dad, you’d find he was very LOUD.
October is the time of year for ghost stories and come the end of the month when the clocks go back then it feels like the right time to read them. This very latest book from Tom Cox is his first venture into fiction and there are ten short stories from him in here that venture from ghost stories to a modern take on stories that we have heard time and time again.
Beginning with Help the Witch, a tale of a guy who has just moved into an old house in early December and is shortly snowed in. Not is all that it seems though, even though he has just split from his girlfriend, Chloe, he starts to hear voices around the house, voices that answer him back. Listings is an unusual take on a story, it is told through the small ads that you see in the local paper, and tell of a modern executive home with a cave underneath.
For a surreal take on the world, then you might like his nine tiny stories about houses, or the ghostly sighting on a speed awareness course, where a guy meets his uncle who he hasn’t seen in ages. Or there is the Pool, a place where teenagers swim in the summer and when they have all left is revealed as the home of something ancient that emerges from the depths as winter breaks. There are more like this, stories that exist in the gloaming moments of the day and on the liminal fringes of our culture.
Just Good Friends was probably my favourite of all of the short stories in this book, it manages to be both normal and very unnerving at the same time. Folk horror can be properly scary, probably because it is deeply rooted in our own psyche, but most of the stories in here I didn’t find that frightening. Rather the stories were eerie and often unnerving and even had proper goose-bumps moments too. Cox is a quality writer, prepared to explore different things in different ways and seeking unconventional ways around subjects. I loved his 21st Century Yokel and this is great stuff too. The cover of this is quite distinctive too, the figure that is tree-like is quite chilling and the gold foil makes it a striking book.
This tour was arranged by Anne Cater of #RandomThings. Do go and have a look at all the other blogs on the tour for their take on the book.
Tom Cox lives here on the web