The Hotwells Horror and Other Stories: in memory of David J Rodger, edited by Peter Sutton

David J Rodger was a local writer who I never got to know.  I do, however, know many of the people involved with the production of this book.

Rodger was a writer of cosmic horror so it was a given that I’d be buying this book.  It collects three of Rodger’s unpublished short stories and a number of stories by local writers, only a few of which are set in Bristol.

I really enjoyed this collection.  The stories are varied and the quality is excellent.  It’s hard to pick out stories for special mention.  The title story (one of Rodger’s) opens the collection.  It involves discovery of a portal to – er – somewhere – associated with the Clifton Rocks Railway and a conspiracy to keep it secret.  The Clifton Rocks Railway and the Colonnade are odd at the best of times and this sort of story brings out the “that explains a lot” response. “Psilocybin” by Dave Sharrock and HIAB_X by David J Roger are contemporary takes on Lovecraft’s “dreaming” tales.  “The Lost Brother” (Simon Brake) is an unsettling post-apolyptic story. “Out of Context” by Cris Halliday is a disturbing number about being erased from photographs and therefore from existence, giving whole new meaning to the expression “pics or it didn’t happen”.

There are two stories that stand out for me personally: “A Piece of the Puzzle” (Cheryl Morgan) is a delightful meta story in which HP Lovecraft appears as a character; and “Hillraiser” by Ken Shinn.  An idiot summons a demon, and that demon is Benny Hill.  It’s hilarious.

If you are at all interested in creepy and unsettling stories, this is the collection for you.  I highly recommend it.  As well as being a great read, all the proceeds are going to the charity Mind.

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