Sunday, 11 September 2016

Book Review - The Haunted Halls - Glenn Rolfe

Despite sharing appearances alongside Glenn Rolfe in a couple of anthologies, this is the first time that I have indulged in a full length piece of his work. I have previously read a few of his short stories, and I always found his work enjoyable and consistent.

The Haunted Halls is no different. In fact, It is a phenomenal piece of work. I believe the book was originally released a few years ago, and has just had an overhaul and been re-released through Matt Shaw Publications. I'll admit, I picked this book up twice and left it alone as I felt I needed to give it the time for my fullest attention - I'm glad that I did. 

The tale is based around two hotel clerks at the Bruton Inn. A place with a dark secret and an even bleaker history. Built in 1977, the original owner was found murdered within its inaugural year. As the story begins to unfold, several characters are introduced as the horror truly begins to rear its head. As always, it's best to let a good story speak for itself, so I'm not going to give anything away on the plot.

Some may argue that there are parts of this book that are horror clich├ęs. The hotel with supernatural occurrences, the unwanted passenger in the seat of a car, the group of twenty-somethings awaiting their inevitable slaughter. In a way, they may be correct, however, it's the way that this book is written that really makes you forget all about that. Split between two time frames - back in the good old 80s and current day, the non-linear sequencing, really is a thing of beauty as the story unfolds and the mayhem really begins. 

I like a good old creepy story as much as the next and this book has it, in abundance. It also has something that I really didn't expect. In parts, the scenes are utterly brutal. I mean really, they will get  the adrenaline spiking around your system like madness. There are parts of this book that really reminded me of the writing style of the late, great Richard Laymon. Both in characterisation and delivery. Just when you think the tale is going one way, it totally shifts direction and heads in another.

Once I actually managed to find time to dedicate to the book, I finished it in no time at all. It felt like I had read a novella, I was amazed when I checked and the book was nearly 250 pages long. You find yourself totally immersed in this world that Rolfe has created.

So what can you expect from this one? Take your pick. Malevolent creatures, possession, anger, lust, desire, erratic behaviour, things that go bump in the night, bodies floating in the pool, degradation and death by Les Paul Gibson. 

In summary, I loved it. A great build up of tension, superbly crafted characters and more blood and goods as you could possibly ask for.

Can't give this one any less than 5/5

I will be reading more from Mr Rolfe.