Thursday, 17 November 2016

Book review - Whispers Volume 3 - Stuart Keane

So, can you believe we are here already? Whispers Volume 3. In a fairly short space of time, Keane has shown quite a prolific pace of releases with both his longer works and with this - his third collection of short stories. Anyone familiar with Keane's works will recognise the usual backdrop of the setting, Lake Whisper. For an extra little bit of trivia knowledge I will let you know that this setting is actually based upon a location from Stuart's home county of Kent.

Once more we see a chillingly delightful cover form the cover artist, Mark Kelly, in addition to an introduction by Keane himself and a nice foreword from his colleague at Dark Chapter Press, Jack Rollins.

What do we have in store? I'll try not to give too much away.

Lake Whisper
Thomas and Richard visit Lake Whisper and splendour in its beautiful scenery and heritage. Their third friend, Harold is missing. When they stumble upon a creepy old house, there's no harm in investigating surely? A dark, creepy opening to the collection with a surprisingly brutal twist.

Careful What You Wish For
Gerald is not a nice man, but he has poetry that he wants to share with the world. He already has twenty one kills already under his belt and is looking to make his next as he decides to take a private dance with a stripper named Cyndi. Three wishes - £1000, choose wisely.

Rose Above
It's the end of the world. Civilisation is no longer as we know it, London is a total death zone. a lone soldier goes in search of answers armed with her personal stash of chocolate. Not what I would class as a traditional horror story but I actually found this to be one of the most enjoyable stories in this collection.

Bon Appetit
A tasty little morsel - see what I did there? A short, sharp tale told in first person perspective about a man with some interesting tastes in food. Why waste years cooking food when the real delicacies are right in front of you. Some extreme content and a great twist. Another bit of trivia is Keane's influence for this story as a nod to his past life as a chef.

On The First Day Of Christmas
A short story about a young boy named Ben who is eagerly awaiting the arrival of Christmas. Snow is falling, the scene is set. Don't you know that its bad luck to see Santa on Christmas eve. I happen to know that the character was actually based on Keane himself on Christmas eve as a child.

Rae Mercer is a Lawyer working her last case. When a man is murdered in his home the list of suspects could be as long as his list of charges. Another interesting story seeing Keane move away from the more traditional roots of horror.

Another story told from first person perspective about a broken man with his own agenda. From a collection of stories about Easter where anything goes, and in this one, everything goes! Think Silence of the Lambs meets the Easter Bunny.

Apartment 3B
Introducing Connor, a real sleaze bag who seems to be having real difficulties whilst trying to navigate his own apartment. A real mind bender of a story that nods heavily towards the influences of Tales From The Crypt and my pick of the bunch.

That's them all. In summary the collection is another testament to Keane's story telling ability whether its a full novel or a 5000 word short story. I've said it before and I'll repeat the statement, Keane has a brilliantly astute mind for all things horrific. I don't think he could physically write a poor story. Each and every one of these immediately manages to throw you into a situation that you weren't prepared for and spit you out the other end thinking, what the hell just happened? Those little twists and feints are the key to making these stories work and Keane once again, excels.

Writing a short story can be difficult in itself as the writer has to balance the correct amount of detail along with character development in such a short time, something that Keane does with ease. He has a real knack of creating sleazy, detestable characters that really get under your skin. Combine these with regular moments of true horror, dark humour and proper WTF moments and you are about at the mark.

Another fantastic collection.

My rating 5/5