The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Baker's Dozen

Some Will Not Sleep: Adam Nevill's Favourite Horror Short Stories
Sean Kitching , October 30th, 2016 07:40

To mark the Halloween release of his own first collection of short stories, Some Will Not Sleep: Selected Horrors, horror novelist and genre aficionado, Adam Nevill, selects a Baker’s Dozen of his favourite short stories from contemporary writers in the field of modern horror. As with Nevill’s 2015 filmic Baker’s Dozen, fans of the genre are going to find an abundance of suggestions to work through on this list. (Written by Adam Nevill, as relayed to Sean Kitching)


D.P. Watt — ‘Shallabalah’
A story that takes for its subject the secret language and culture of the now near extinct Punch and Judy shows and showmen, most often associated with entertaining children at the British seaside. Through a series of documents and interviews, the narrator slowly unravels an esoteric order of puppetry that is both enchanting and ghastly, with suggestions of another dimension accessed through dream and talismanic words, in which childhood friends take on a weird and sinister life within ours: "in a note in the margin of a page torn from a book, with a picture of an old ghost puppet from the 1840s, Dad had written, "It looks just like the sad thing that used to watch me from the orchard when I was a child". Then, from another source: "It's not a he, it's a she. And she doesn't need eyes, she sees with her skin - like God, or like Baggy."

The story creates in imaginative investigation into the grotesque and fascinating folklore of the British Isles, which is so broad and enigmatic, I wonder why so few writers explore it, rather than continuing with an overreliance on the Hollywoodish horror that seems aimed at teenagers.

Recommendation: Almost Insentient, Almost Divine (Undertow)