Sunday, 6 November 2011
Quiet Houses is a collection of stories by Simon Kurt Unsworth from Dark Continents that prove just how terrifying the ghost story can be. It's a portmanteau collection with all the stories featuring the exploits of parapsychologist Richard Nakata, a clever framing device that works very well, there being an overarching story that links the individual tales.
Nakata's investigations take him to a variety of locations and it's these that make up the various short stories in the book. I have to say there isn't a weak link amongst them, all the stories are excellent and - most importantly - scary as hell.
One of the stories Scale Hall I'd read already in the Where The Heart Is anthology but all the other stories are original to this collection. I loved them all but perhaps my favourite is The Temple of Relief and Ease which features a location that's scary enough even before the story itself unfolds.
These are classic ghost stories (which work just as well as stand alone pieces) and this is one of the best collections I've ever read. Perhaps I'm a bit jaded having read so much horror fiction that I'm rarely scared or horrified by what I'm reading. That wasn't the case here - these are genuinely scary stories.
In his afterword, Simon says he likes Nakata and that he'll be back. That's great news - I can't wait to read more.
Quiet Houses is a brilliant book and I thoroughly recommend it.