All the latest Shadow Writer news and announcements.
2015 news can be viewed here
2014 news can be viewed here
2013 news can be viewed here
2012 news can be viewed here
2011 news can be viewed here
2010 news can be viewed here
2009 news can be viewed here
2008 news can be viewed here
2007 news can be viewed here
2006 news can be viewed here
2005 news can be viewed here
2004 news can be viewed here
2003 news can be viewed here
We move into October with news of yet another book release for Paul – this time a ‘Best of’ collection called Shadow Casting (above).
This from the official PR: ‘One man’s dangerous addiction leads to a glimpse of another world, while another seeks total mastery over his own bodily functions. As two immortal godlike creatures in charge of balancing all of existence come to a crossroads with their relationship, another person has to face the fact that he only has a short amount of time left to live. And while a sleepy English village hides one terrifying secret, the mystery of a famous horror writer’s success turns out to be the result of another… Including the award-winning “A Chaos Demon is for Life”, “Dead Time” – which was turned into an episode of the NBC/LionsGate primetime series Fear Itself – and “Rag and Bone”, selected for The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, this collection gathers together some of Paul Kane’s best fiction and celebrates his twenty years as a professional writer. With an introduction by the bestselling author of Furnace and The Ancient, Muriel Gray, and stunning cover art from the award-winning Vincent Chong, this is a very special commemorative book that no collector or genre fan will want to be without.’
The publication is being released as both a trade hardback and a limited edition – signed by Paul, Muriel, and Vincent Chong – which also comes complete with a DVD copy of Confidence (below), once the film is completed post-production.
Published by SST, who brought you Blood RED and the Sherlock Holmes tale The Crimson Mystery, you can pre-order this gorgeous book by visiting the publisher page here.
And speaking of Holmes, this fantastic new ad for Servants of Hell has been created by Rebellion featuring quotes from just some of the glowing reviews the book has received. It has been doing the rounds on social media but will receive its first print airing in the Halloween issue of famous horror magazine Fear – who have interviewed Paul for that issue and will be reviewing the book. Paul will featuring alongside genre heavyweights like Graham Masterton, Ray Garton and Angela Slatter (below).
Meanwhile, more people have been reading and sharing photos of the book, and more reviews have cropped up. This first, from Lizzy Walker at Monster Librarian, said: ‘Sherlock Holmes and Cenobites sound like a combination that would be truly awful together, but I have to say Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell blew my assumptions out of the water. With an introduction by Barbie Wilde, I was put at ease… It’s 1895. Moriarty is declared dead, and Holmes miraculously survives the tumble off the cliff in his final adventure. Holmes and Watson are engaged by Laurence and Juliet Cotton, newlyweds with a strained relationship, to investigate the disappearance of Laurence’s brother, Francis. Their investigation leads them to look into a series of unusual missing persons’ cases, in which the missing parties vanish in impossible ways. One man disappears from a locked room, the only traces left behind being the faint scent of vanilla.
This is just the beginning of an investigation that will draw the pair into contact with an organisation whispered about and known only as “The Order of the Gash.” Clues lead the sleuth and the doctor to an underground club that services the most depraved of the upper crust of society, a sinister asylum in France, and the underworld of London. They encounter shady operators, meet old acquaintances in the strangest of circumstances, enter a world of depravity and pain, and make dangerous associates – the Cenobites, from hell. Kane, previously editor of the tribute anthology Hellbound Hearts, clearly has a familiarity with and love of the Hellraiser universe. In this book, in addition to new Cenobites, Kane includes storylines and characters from Barker’s novella The Hellbound Heart… I was pleasantly surprised to also find an authentic Holmes feel and pacing that shows a familiarity with the characters and style of Holmes’ stories. Kane was able to keep with the atmosphere and period sensibilities of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s style while still creating the feel of Clive Barker’s world of Cenobites – and he makes it work. Recommended.’
Photo courtesy Von Headinabook
The next review – giving the book a respectable 8/10 – appeared on Wicked Horror, who commented: ‘Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell has a concept so bizarre you wouldn’t think it could possibly work. What if Holmes, the world’s greatest detective, faced off against Clive Barker’s Cenobites. It’s an unlikely pairing and it probably shouldn’t even exist, but now that I’ve seen the results, I’m very grateful for it. Crossovers, in general, are incredibly tricky. They only work if someone is intimately aware of both worlds. Usually, they lean in one direction more heavily than the other. Paul Kane makes his knowledge of Holmes clear within the first few pages of Watson’s narration and his knowledge of the Hellraiser universe needs no introduction as he has previously written the fantastic Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy and edited the short story collection Hellbound Hearts.
Because of Kane’s expertise with both subjects, the two worlds are perfectly balanced. While Holmes and Watson are the major protagonists, the story is entrenched within the Hellraiser mythology… There are Cenobites that appear in this book that have only previously been depicted in the Hellbound Hearts anthology. Even a Cenobite that was created by Gary Tunnicliffe but cut out of Hellraiser: Deader makes an appearance, that’s how deep the references go. The novel feels somewhere between a prequel to the Hellraiser world as we know it and a Victorian reimagining of the entire mythology. We’re introduced to the Cotton family right off the bat, but the circumstances are very similar to what will happen to that family later on. It’s fun to go through the book and see characters who are clearly precursors to characters we’ll meet later on down the line, and then there are some with connections that turn out to be quite surprising. Of course, I don’t want to spoil exactly who you might see or in what capacity, you’ll have to read the book yourself for that. I can’t imagine you’ll be disappointed with the results.
My favourite thing about the book and the number one reason it works so well is that Kane made a genius move in picking the perfect time for the box to come into Sherlock’s life. This book picks up right after Holmes has returned from his supposed death in “The Final Solution.” He had closure, Moriarty is dead, and now he’s in a state of feeling like he has no more surprises left. He believes he’ll never be challenged again, at least not in the way he was when facing off against his great nemesis. But things are rarely what they seem and there are many surprises in store for both Holmes and the reader as well. If you’re a fan of Holmes and Hellraiser I definitely suggest checking this book out. Even if you’re just a fan of Barker’s mythology, I’d suggest picking this book up because there are a lot of neat moments and references for Hellraiser fans and who knows, it might make you a fan of Holmes at the same time.’
Photo courtesy Kate Walshe
Finally, Horror Amino stated: ‘This book is the dream mashup of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Author Paul Kane is an expert on both subjects, and it shows. He weaves a mesmerising narrative as Dr Watson joins Holmes on a seemingly impossible case. Men are disappearing in locked rooms – with no sign of a hidden exit to be found by the world’s greatest detective. Spotted at the crime scenes is a bum, carrying a curious puzzle box. Holmes races to uncover the truth about the box while Watson struggles to keep his dear friend alive, and in one piece. Watson served as the main narrator and is Holmes’ support throughout the case… I really enjoyed this one. The book was so good, I devoured it and read it in two days. It was that hard for me to put down. I highly recommend it!’
Photo courtesy Rick Eaglestone
The Servants puzzle box has also been making an appearance at events and you can see photos from these below.
Paul’s other new book The Rot (above), has also been making a splash with some great reviews. The first comes from The Grim Reader, who says: ‘Gee, Paul Kane had a lot to do with this latest book release. I only say this because his most recent release was the outstanding Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell which I heaped praise on here. The Rot is completely different and cements Kane as one of the top writers in the genre of dark fiction, in my opinion. First thing to admire about this novella, published by Horrific Tales Publishing, is the artwork from Ben Baldwin – quite superb and really gets the juices pumping for a tale of grim, desperate post-apocalyptic fiction. The story is told in the first person via a series of blog recordings by ex-pilot Adam Keller. A man experimenting with a new body suit called a S.K.I.N. As testing commences things take a sudden and drastic turn for the worst and Keller is forced into a desperate situation.
There is a lot to like about The Rot. Adam Keller is a great character, there are no zombies as such and the idea of the S.K.I.N is original and very interesting. It is a grim and dark book filled with dread and hopelessness and just when you think that there is maybe a glimmer of light at the end of the long tunnel, Kane pulls the rug from underneath your feet, plunging you deeper into a world that is literally falling apart. There are some memorable scenes of gore and Kane manages to pack a lot into this novella without overcrowding it. Aside from Keller, there are only brief appearances by other characters and the ones that do feature aren’t around for very long for a variety of different reasons. The ending to this sad tale is really the icing on the cake and delivers a real punch in the guts after an absorbing and draining read.
Paul Kane is a writer whose latest work I will always seek out. He shows a consistency with both the quality of his storytelling and the originality of his ideas. Another great read and another tick in the box for the impressive Horrific Tales Publishing.’
Read the full review for that here.
The second review was courtesy of Terror Realm, who offered: ‘The Rot is written in the style of a journal. In it, we follow an ex-RAF pilot, Adam, who – because of an experimental suit – finds himself immune to a disease that seems to affect everyone and everything around him. He calls this “The Rot”. It’s bleak in the way The Road is bleak. Everything is Adam’s enemy and it is all he can do to survive…The story is solid… The dialogue is intelligent and the descriptions vivid. I got a sense that Kane wanted the book to ask philosophical questions, especially near the end.... The Rot is a strong speculative horror novella and worth a read.’
The full version of that one is here.
While the third was a 4 star review from Horror Maiden: ‘The Rot is the tale of one man trying to survive the end of life as we know it. Paul Kane has deftly combined elements of The Road and The Crazies to create a desolate world where nothing can be trusted. The Rot is bleak, there is no other way to describe it. This story had me hooked from the start. Told as a series of recorded journal entries made by Adam as he travels across an ever-changing landscape, trying to survive the crazed people and animals. Adam is slightly sarcastic and likeable, I kept hoping that he would make it to a safe place and find other survivors, or even the slightest glimmer of hope for a happy ending. I highly recommend this hopelessly grim 4 star read.’
And you can read the whole of that one here.
But if you want a taster, you can listen to an extract from the forthcoming audio version as read by Chris Barnes at FantasyCon by clicking here... More on that event later on.
Now, for our Guest Writer this month we have a true colossus – bestselling author of numerous books, including the Mickey Haller series (The Lincoln Lawyer was turned into a movie starring Matthew McConaughey and Marisa Tomei) and the Harry Bosch novels (developed into a hugely successful TV series by Amazon starring Titus Welliver, above): none other than Michael Connelly! And you can read an exclusive extract from his brand new Bosch novel, The Wrong Side of Goodbye (below), simply by clicking here.
Back to FantasyCon now, which this year was by the sea – in Scarborough, taking place over two hotels: The Royal and The Grand (above). Paul had a great time at the event, and you can find photos below from the joint Horror Writers Association/Jo Fletcher Books party he co-hosted, including one of him and co-chair of the UK Chapter of the HWA, Marie…
Photo © CC Adams
…dual launches/signings on the Saturday of The Rot and Ten Tall Tales…
...the HWA-sponsored publishing panel Paul chaired, featuring (L-R) agent Ian Drury, Marie, publisher Jo Fletcher and editor Stephen Jones…
Photo © Stephen Jones
…then the banquet and BFS Awards, hosted by Lee Harris with awards presented such luminaries as Joe Hill. Monsters was shortlisted for the collection category, and sadly Paul didn’t win for that – but instead received an award for his involvement with the Red Shirts at conventions over the years.
Photo © Alison Littlewood
Photo © Peter Coleborn
FCon was also the first event where audio copies of Snow on CD were available, for sale from the Stormblade table (above and below)
But that wasn’t the only audio launch of Paul’s work last month, as The PI’s Tale was given the audio treatment as well (below).
You can buy that one by clicking here.
From audio to comics and another review of The Disease, this time a 4.5/5 one from That’s Not Current: ‘Paul Kane is a writer who continues to impress me with his body of work and at this current time I really can’t pinpoint a writer I enjoy more in British genre fiction. His novel Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell is already a contender for the best of 2016 and with new comic book The Disease, it’s evident that this is a writer who excels in any literary medium he attempts. The Disease centres on Gus Harper; works hard by the day, spends the evening with his girlfriend watching the telly, cosied up albeit a little disturbed by the negative news headlines that beleaguer our species. Then one day, after performing the carnal act, his hand is overwhelmed by pain. At first he suspects it might be a hereditary arthritis passed down from his father, but when he begins to vomit rotten residue and grow boils all over his skin, his body begins to deteriorate and the doctors cannot diagnose him.
I read The Disease on a train journey, engrossed and repulsed with every panel. Needless to say, it only heightened my fear of contact with other passengers, never mind the prospect of having to share a toilet with them if nature called. This story got under my skin and served as a reminder that the body is susceptible to a wide array of infections and the very people we have to interact with in our daily lives might be carrying something sinister. Gus’ condition might not be overtly contagious, but his condition will effectively instil many readers with a fear of their own body. As surface body horror fare, it succeeds remarkably; Pawel Kardis’ art would be unbearable to look at if it wasn’t so impressively drawn – so much so that you’ll be worried that every pulsating boil is going to burst through the pages and cover you in mucus. It’s a story that confronts us with the unknown, yet not in a way that’s all that far-fetched, as it all remains grounded in authentic psychological drama. Think Alan Clarke meets David Cronenberg to a degree.
That said, The Disease – for all its potential vomit inducing panels – is imbued with social commentary throughout, with the protagonist’s deteriorating condition serving as a metaphor for the current socio-political climate. With the NHS in disarray, daily news of terror attacks, wars and barbaric atrocities and bad things happening to good people the norm, The Disease is a gross nightmarish reflection of our times. At the core of The Disease is a tragic love story that’s sincerely touching, and – depending on your viewpoint – even sweet. The relationship between Gus and his girlfriend is a good one, so when Gus’ condition causes him to become a shadow of his former self and a prisoner in his own body, the emotional weight it has on its relationship will strike a chord with anybody who’s ever been in love. Not only is The Disease an effective piece of toe curling, stomach churning and nauseating body horror that provides the disgusting goods, it’s an intelligent – albeit grim – allegory of humanity’s declining state, with a little Lovecraftian flavour sprinkled on top. Perhaps the most terrifying notion to arise from The Disease is not one of body mutation; the real terror lies in the thought that humankind is a plague headed for the reset button.’
You can read the full thing here.
Finally, thanks to everyone who entered our Family Man competition last month – and a big congratulations to the first names out of the hat: Tristan Thorne, Andrew Angel and Helen Brannigan. Copies of the book are on the way!
September begins with yet another new release – available to pre-order on Kindle here and here. Above is the gorgeous wraparound artwork for The Rot by Ben Baldwin and here’s the official PR for the novella:
‘Something has happened to the world. People are going mad, the very foundations of society are crumbling... Only Adam Keller, testing a prototype environment suit, apparently remains safe – but for how long? Can anything be done, can any of it be reversed, before everything goes to Rot? The latest post-apocalyptic tale from award-winning and bestselling author Paul Kane (the sell-out Hooded Man, The Disease, The End of the End) presents a nightmarish vision of a possible future, blending social commentary with page-turning action. This is one that fans of The Road and The Walking Dead will really not want to miss!’
Published by Horrific Tales, this grim tale is launching at FantasyCon 2016 in Scarborough at the end of the month (3pm on Saturday 24th to be precise) and also comes with a cracking introduction by New York Times Bestselling author Tim Lebbon…
…who just happens to be our Guest Writer for September with the latest thriller under his T.J. Lebbon pen-name, his next one after last summer’s hugely successful The Hunt (above). The Family Man tells the story of how one reckless act changes everything and you can read an exclusive extract from the novel by clicking here.
And, thanks to those kind people at Avon, we have copies of the book to give away to three lucky people. Just send a mail with the header ‘Family Man Competition’ to firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of September and the winners will be announced next month.
More photos have been cropping up online of Servants at various places, including on the Rebellion Table at the Nine Worlds Con in London (above) and in people’s homes (below).
(Photo Courtesy Tak_a_Tak Brewing co.)
(Photo courtesy Sean)
(Photo courtesy Frank Torcaso)
The first pieces of fan art have also surfaced, including the below painting and illustrations from Mike Herndon and Greg Chapman.
Paul himself has also been busy doing more remarques inside copies of the book, which you can see below.
To order one of these visit the remarques page on the SW here.
More reviews have appeared, too, including a five star one in the brand new magazine Horrorville, from the makers of SFX and Total Film (above). Here’s what Sam Ashurst had to say: ‘The gore’s afoot! The bold title may misdirect you into thinking this is another cheap horror/lit mash-up like Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, but nothing could be further from this brilliant book. Indeed, there’s no need to eliminate the impossible because Paul Kane has achieved the improbable and crafted a tale that’ll satisfy Sherlock Holmes fans, Hellraiser addicts and casual readers alike. As ever with Holmes’ classic tales, the story is told from Watson’s perspective, which allows for some beautiful scene-setting, encompassing Holmes’ adventures past, present and – thanks to some neat nods to films and TV shows – future. In fact, Servants is packed with references, tributes and details from both universes, hidden within a plot that clicks together as perfectly as, well, a puzzle box. Reading Kane’s masterpiece is like discovering an alternate reality in which these worlds have always belonged to each other. Both explore addiction and repression and revolve around fairly intense problem-solving. Holmes is the master of mysteries, so it makes sense he’d be drawn to the ultimate puzzle box. Meanwhile, the Cenobites always had a sense of Victorian morality about them, symbols of sexual restraint unleashed by S&M vibes. This book is intricate, addictive and often feels like it’s twisting itself in your hands. It’s also, at times, bloody scary. Our advice, chuck on your deerstalker, pull out your pipe, and go straight to hell.’
Erik Hofstatter over at the British Fantasy Society was just as enthusiastic, commenting: ‘Over the years, there have been many Holmesian crossovers but none as exciting as the latest offering from Paul Kane. So, is Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell an ingenious pairing or an alluring slogan for a literary catastrophe? A brave venture, no doubt, but also a potential wagon for disappointed fans, all vowing to tear the author’s soul apart for tainting these beloved and iconic figures. Astute judgement and unflinching imagination would be required to unify such complex characters. Kane is certainly a qualified candidate to attempt this ambitious endeavour, having previously penned the critically acclaimed The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy and Hellbound Hearts – even being proclaimed a “Hellraiser expert” by Clive Barker himself! Impressive credentials indeed. But was this leviathan destined to devour its creator? Granted, Kane gambled with an intricate recipe – but triumphed in blending unorthodox ingredients with finesse and expertise to produce one hellishly tasty cocktail! A single sip of his unique concoction will transform you into an addict. Such is the visionary power of Kane’s storytelling.
One of my personal highlights, and a vital segment of the story, is the brief journey into Holmes’s hedonistic side – a rare glimpse into what lies beneath the intellectual facade. The obsession with pushing his body to the limits and exploring the boundaries of existence after surviving the fall at Reichenbach (a logical and befitting direction, I thought). Holmes experiments with various opiates gradually progressing onto more extreme methods of thrill-seeking such as Okipa, allowing one’s body to be pierced and suspended by hooks and chains. Upon his travels, he hears rumours of a sect who would offer riches and delights beyond imagination – fanatics dedicated to the virtues of pain. Staying faithful to Arthur Conan Doyle’s tradition, the first half is narrated from Watson’s benevolent perspective – each chapter planting nebulous seeds, ready to be harvested later. A wonderful prelude to the much darker second half of the book that focuses on Holmes – paving a stygian road full of speculation and intrigue.
The full review can be found here.
Meanwhile Shane Douglas Keene at This is Horror, said: ‘Over the years there have been many short stories and novels that take on the subjects and themes of famous writers’ works. Lovecraft is one, for sure, as is Edgar Allen Poe to some degree. And certainly the most famous stories, characters, and places from the writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Clive Barker have been revisited countless times. So it’s difficult to imagine that there’s anything really new or original that could be brought to the universes created by either author. But what happens if someone writes a book that pays tribute to both in the process of creating a mashup wherein Sherlock Holmes finds himself in Hellraiser territory? The answer is, well, elementary. Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell is what happens.
Paul Kane has shown himself to be an extremely knowledgeable scholar of the Hellraiser universe. Editor of the brilliant Hellbound Hearts anthology and author of The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy his expertise has received accolades from many, including Clive Barker himself and also the iconic Cenobite actress from Hellraiser II, Barbie Wilde, who has laid down some high praise of Kane’s handling of both the Cenobites and Sherlock Holmes in her introduction to Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell. The book pits Sherlock Holmes and his trusty companion Dr Watson against what starts out as their most formidable locked room mystery ever and ends up with them facing enemies that make Moriarty seem about as dangerous as a shoplifter in a candy store.
Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell finds Holmes and Dr Watson solving mysteries once again and, while their personalities are largely intact they are much darker, having been irrevocably changed by the incident at Reichenbach Falls in which Holmes had his final, brutal confrontation with the villainous Moriarty. You’ll be surprised and, if you’re a fan, delighted to discover that Paul Kane is just as comfortable in Conan Doyle’s fictional realm as he is in Barker’s, but it’s really his handling of the Hellraiser elements that make this story work. As the story commences Holmes and Watson investigate a series of missing persons cases with varying but similar circumstances that eventually lead them to rumours of a mysterious cult known as The Order of the Gash, a group that fans of The Hellbound Heart will be familiar with. This is one of the areas of the book that really shines… Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell is chock full of fresh imaginings of the Cenobites…there are enough hellish and terrifying creatures to satisfy even the most demanding fans. As mentioned before, Kane has a body of knowledge of all things Hellraiser that he puts to good use in building a universe that takes what seems like a preposterous concept and makes it a pretty convincing tale for the most part…
The last one-hundred or so pages are a mind-numbing blast of bloody action and spine-chilling terror… Packed with skinless people, creepy asylums, and plenty of brand new and terrifying Cenobites, Paul Kane’s vision of hell, and his brilliant depiction of the members of The Order of the Gash leaves nothing to be desired and Holmes and Hellraiser fans both will find something to love here as will horror audiences in general. Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell is a delightful foray into the dark fantastic and it’s hopeful that Kane will revisit this sort of theme again. If you haven’t read Paul Kane’s work in the past, you’ll find no better place to start than with this groundbreaking and unusual work of fiction.’
And over at Strange Allegiances, they said: ‘Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson take up an investigation of a missing person, who has apparently disappeared from a locked room. This seems to be another intriguing mystery for the pair, but the game is truly afoot because the gates of Hell seem to be opening up to land the two intrepid investigators, literally, in the most diabolical plot. Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell is what is known as a mashup, in other words it is a novel that combines two existing literary texts, that of the Sherlock Holmes canon and Clive Barker’s Hellraiser.
I am a great fan of Sherlock Holmes, which never seems to grow jaded no matter how many times I read the stories. However, I haven’t read any of Clive Barker’s work, so this review had to be done primarily from the perspective of knowing the Sherlock Holmes original stories and being prepared to find fault with this new version. But after reading this novel I really feel I must find Hellraiser and take a good look at it. This, in itself, probably says a great deal about how well Paul Kane has adapted the Holmes’ legend.
The concept of merging two literary works would appear to be the recipe for disaster, but it has been done very successfully by other authors and Kane has certainly reworked the concept of the Holmes and Watson partnership very well. In many ways keeping to a similar tone of the original Holmes stories related largely through the eyes of Watson makes it possible to go to town on the description of the grotesque creatures (necessary for the horror element to work), without making the process feel like exposition. When we do get to see the events through Holmes’ eyes the narrative rings true and provides an interesting perspective through which to see Holmes’ world. The constant shifts in perspective also make it possible to really develop more of the inner thoughts of both Holmes and Watson, as well as their characters in a way that remains respectful to the original.
Finally, José Armando Leitão supplied a second review from the Clive Barker Podcast site, giving the book 9/10 and declaring: ‘Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell uses two very well established literary characters, and mixes their worlds together in an extremely fun and refreshing mashup, using both literary universes to the story’s great advantage. The references to each are plentiful, but they grow organically out of the story, in a well-paced, rewarding fashion. It’s a 289-page story that reads quickly, but at the same time challenges you to admire its style and form, written as it is by a certain Doctor Watson in the late 1890s.
In this story, Holmes has recently survived a terrible ordeal that has left him feeling aimless. After spending some time in mysterious seclusion he returns in spectacular fashion to his 221B Baker Street office, to the familiarity of Mrs Hudson and his colleague John Watson. This new Holmes seems haunted by some unknown malaise, that we will quickly understand is a training of sorts for his most fantastic case yet. This Holmes is the Holmes of “The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot”; he doesn’t shy away from death or danger. He’s almost superhuman in his wit, sharp intellect and focused awareness, that makes him the best detective around. However, Watson is back as well, and he’s our narrator, as would be expected. If you’re a reader of Conan Doyle’s Holmes novels, you will definitely feel at home with the way Paul Kane reproduces Watson’s voice; it’s damn near perfect in tone and form. Of course, it’s very convenient that Conan Doyle had Watson be the narrator as it allows Holmes to keep his internal voice a mystery and make his intellectual prowess even more impressive when he blurts out details that he later explains were hiding in plain sight.
Make no mistake though: Watson is second only to Holmes in his skills. In fact, in this story he often takes a front row seat to the action and keeps the story moving forward while Holmes is left to his own process. Watson is likable and warm, strong and resourceful. The dynamic between the two colleagues is very fraternal. Holmes’ personality would probably be considered nowadays to be stiff and high-functioning, but his respect and almost fraternal love for Watson (and vice-versa) does shine through in brief, personal remarks.
When a certain gentleman named Cotton appears, you can’t help but crack a giant smile and dig in, hoping for a trip that doesn’t disappoint. After an initial string of disappearances, seemingly unrelated, the story picks up speed very quickly. You will find plenty of characters that you’ve seen before in a different form, make their appearance here, weaved into the Victorian era, and made all the more interesting for it. The story will take us on a steam boat from London to Calais and Paris; the detective duo will come across strange disappearances from within locked rooms, with dried blood between the floorboards and the scent of vanilla, and a certain artefact will emerge with terrible consequences.
There’s a craft in melding two universes like this, and in my opinion, Paul Kane has achieved it almost flawlessly. Reading The Servants of Hell is like stepping through the looking-glass and coming out the other side in an alternate universe, where the Hellraiser characters all jumped back a century. Most had their names slightly changed to reflect that alternate nature, but for anyone with an average knowledge of the Hellraiser movies, they’ll quickly recognize them anyway. As this is a spoiler-free review, I’ll refrain from adding more details, but this adventure will leave you wanting more; more of these characters, more of this Holmes.
And speaking of the podcast, Paul returned as a guest again last month chatting specifically about Servants – you can hear what he had to say by clicking here.
Paul was also interviewed and provided a guest blog for SFF World here and here. And the novel was the subject of the Book People’s blog reading club – The Nightmare Factory – last month, which you can visit by clicking here.
Remember, you can still keep up to date with all reviews, interviews and announcements on the Servants Facebook page here.
Photo: Liverpool One
The official launch of Servants also took place last month at Waterstones Liverpool One, where Paul and Barbie Wilde – Female Cenobite from Hellbound, author of Voices of the Damned and the introduction to Servants – read from their work, answered questions and signed copies of their books. Photos of this fun evening are below.
Photo © Jennifer O’Regan
Photo © Jennifer O’Regan
Photo © Jennifer O’Regan
Photo © Jennifer O’Regan
Photo © Jennifer O’Regan
Photo © Jennifer O’Regan
Photo © Jennifer O’Regan
Photo © Kevin Stout
Photo © Kevin Stout
But Paul’s travels didn’t end there in August. He joined his fellow ‘esteemed guests’, plus Guest of Honour Adam Nevill and MC John Connolly (above in the booklet) at the Dublin Ghost Story Festival between the 18th and 21st.
You’ll find some photos below, including the reception which was held at Gallery X – as part of Brian Coldrick’s ‘Behind You’ exhibition – a tour of St Michan’s and its mummies, the Grand Lodge of Ireland building where the main Festival was held, including a James Joyce whiskey reception on the Friday and a performance from Robert Lloyd-Parry as M.R. James…
Paul’s panel on kicked off the proceedings on the Saturday (below), introduced by John, talking about ghosts with Marie, Lynda Rucker (who moderated) Angela Slatter and Adam – all in front of a packed audience.
Photo: Sarah Pinborough
Photo: Brian Showers
Guest interviews followed, including Sarah Pinborough chatting to Adam and David Mitchell reading from his new novel Slade House then talking to John (below).
The raffle was on Saturday night, where Paul’s appropriately-named collection GHOSTS was one of the prizes – which was followed swiftly by the well-received Horror Writers Association wine reception (below).
There was just time to have one final look around the dealers’ room on the Sunday – who were stocking copies of his books, including Servants – before co-organiser Brian Showers of Swan River Press wrapped up proceedings (below). An excellent convention, and Paul is already looking forward to the next one.
Less than a week later, Paul was also at the Angela Slatter Jo Fletcher/HWA event at Forbidden Planet in London. You can photos of this above and below, including books of his own – in the Sherlock Holmes section – that Paul had time to sign while in the store.
And below are photos from the gathering afterwards at the Crown and Anchor, including a group shot.
Photo © Angela Slatter
Photo © Jo Fletcher Books
Last month the trade paperback edition of Blood RED was released – with preview copies available at the Servants Liverpool event – and to celebrate SST are offering a very special ‘two-fer’ with The Crimson Mystery, which contains a sneak peek at the prologue for Deep RED (both above). If you buy both books, you save over £6! You can take the publisher up on their generous offer by clicking here.
At the same time, proofs for The Crimson Mystery limited signed paperback arrived at Paul’s house (above), plus signing sheets and remarques by Stephen King artist Glenn Chadbourne for the sold out hardback edition of the book (below). We’re sure you’ll agree, they look stunning!
Finally, returning to FantasyCon again which is at the end of the month, in addition to The Rot, Paul will also be signing copies of the NewCon Press anthology Ten Tall Tales (above) at its launch. His supernatural crime novelette ‘The Power of…’ kicks off the book, which also contains stories by the likes of Michael Marshall Smith, Sarah Pinborough, Simon Clark and James Barclay. The page to pre-order this from the site is here.
In addition, Paul will be co-hosting a Jo Fletcher Books/HWA party on the Friday night, as co-chair of the UK arm of the society, and moderating a panel on the Saturday night called ‘Every Day I Write the Book’, with Marie, Stephen Jones, Jo Fletcher and Ian Drury.
All this, and the announcement of the British Fantasy Awards – with Paul’s collection from last year, Monsters (above), on the shortlist in the collection category.
To book your ticket, if you haven’t already, just click here.
We start this month with a couple of new releases. The first is a very special book, The Crimson Mystery (above) coming out from SST Publications who released last year’s Blood RED. It features fantastic cover art from the legendary Roger Kastel, who painted the iconic posters for films like Jaws and The Empire Strikes Back (below), while the lettered hardback – which sold out in 24 hours – contains a unique remarque from Stephen King artist Glenn Chadbourne.
This from the official PR: ‘Join the World’s Greatest Detective, Sherlock Holmes, and his faithful companion Dr John Watson on one of their lost adventures – an investigation that might just see them up against their greatest foe yet! Determined to clear a man who is accused of a vicious murder, the pair are drawn into a mystery that not even they can fathom. And as they begin to see visions from their past, both Holmes and Watson start to question their very sanity. Can they piece everything together before more killings occur? From the imagination of bestselling and award-winning author Paul Kane (The Greatest Mystery, The Case of the Lost Soul, Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell) comes a very special crossover event – bringing together the Holmes and RED mythologies (from RED and Blood RED) to create something quite unique. With a brand new introduction and including a preview of the third novel in the RED trilogy, Deep RED, this is one book you really can’t afford to miss.’
There are only 200 signed limited copies of the hand-numbered paperback edition, so if you’re looking for something to fill the void after reading Servants of Hell you know what to do. The link to pre-order is here.
The second release is the print edition of Paul’s Hooded Man novella, Flaming Arrow – which came out last year as an e-book – now included in the mass market book The End of the End (above) alongside stories by Simon Guerrier and Cavan Scott. Out on 11th August, you can pre-order this one here.
Photo courtesy of Kieran Fisher
Turning back to Servants for a moment, which came out last month, people have been posting photos on Paul’s Facebook and Twitter accounts when they’ve spotted the book out in the wild, like the picture above – a staff pick from a Powell’s store in the US!
There have also been more glowing reviews for the title, beginning with this from the mighty Tor.com: ‘The great detective applies his inimitable intellect to a murder mystery like none other in Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell, a surprisingly credible commingling of Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic characters and the soul-shredding subjects of The Scarlet Gospels. That’s right, readers: Clive Barker’s Cenobites are back – and they may actually have met their match. Holmes himself has seen better days, I dare say. In the wake of the great hiatus, during which period he disappeared to mess with his nemesis, he’s alive and relatively well, but without the dastardly Moriarty to match wits with, he’s grown a bit bored. And as Dr Watson warns: “When Holmes grew bored, it was usually only a matter of time before he took up his old habit of drug use […] however his penchant for his seven-percent solution of cocaine, administered via a needle he kept locked away in a polished Morocco box, was the least of my concerns after he returned, it transpired.”
The black dog of Holmes’ habit is troubling, to be sure, but still more worrisome to Watson is the fact that his closest acquaintance’s “malaise was gaining momentum.” Said detective is dismissing fascinating cases with no explanation and plying his elementary trade in plague-ridden areas. “If these were in fact efforts to feel something, to feel alive,” Watson worries, “then they might well kill the man instead.” It’s a relief, then, that “this dangerous road he was heading down: this terrible testing of himself” seems to cease when a couple come knocking on the door of 221B Baker Street. Laurence Cotton’s brother Francis has gone missing, is the thing, and the police aren’t taking his disappearance seriously – despite the screams the housekeeper heard emerge from the loft he was last seen locking. At the scene of the could-be crime, our chums uncover a void in the decades-old dust that suggests the involvement of a small box, and soon scent “an odd smell of vanilla” masking an undercurrent of what must be blood. From just this, Holmes is convinced that Francis has fallen victim to some dark deed indeed, but the mechanics of his murder are mysterious – as is the motive of the killer or killers – and that comes to fascinate a fellow famed for his ability to explain anything. So it is that Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell starts with “a seemingly ordinary case of a missing person,” but this is just the beginning of “something that would open up a puzzle which would find Holmes stretched to his capacity; that would uncover a conspiracy only whispered about, and inconceivable to anyone of a right mind.”
Of course, Holmes isn’t in his right mind at the time of this tale, so when at last he learns of the Lament Configuration – the elaborate contraption that summons the Cenobites in the Hellraiserbooks and movies – he isn’t simply going to leave it be, is he? Instead, he sends Watson off to France – ostensibly to investigate the box’s origins but really to have him out of harm’s way – and sets about opening a doorway into hell itself. Holmes wasn’t a particularly religious soul, and up until now he had been no great belief in the supernatural – but he trusted logic and the evidence of his own eyes. As he’d once said, “once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”
What happens, though, if the truth turns out to be the impossible? Why, the second half of Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell happens, wherein we bear witness to an escalating battle between a pair of diametrically opposed forces – namely Doyle’s resolutely rational characters and the darkly fantastical proponents of pain Clive Barker breech-birthed in The Books of Blood. The authenticity of Kane’s take on Hell itself, and its inhabitants, is a scant surprise considering his years of attendant experience, as, among other things, co-editor of Hellbound Hearts – from which anthology he borrows several of the more striking Cenobites who have their wicked way with Holmes and his here – and author of The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy, a scholarly study of the themes and ideas explored in said series.
Markedly more startling is the conviction Kane brings to his depiction of the great detective and friends. Though the sections of the story necessarily narrated from Sherlock’s perspective are less impressive…Watson’s account is otherwise wonderful, with all the “colour and life” of the original writer’s romanticised renditions. Kane even takes pains to stitch his story into that patchwork of narrative, such that it is as cleverly couched in canon as Anthony Horowitz’s excellent official additions. That’s not going to be enough to bring the die-hard Doyle devotees around to this inherently infernal affair, but then, Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell was never meant for them. Less demanding fans are, however, apt to have a blast…it really is just what the doctor ordered: a whole bunch of bloody fun!’
You can read the full review here.
Photo courtesy of José Armando Leitão
Starburst had this to say next: ‘Sherlock Holmes is one of those characters that writers simply can’t resist reinventing. As nice as it is to see different writers’ takes on the quintessential detective, it seems the shelves of your local independent bookshop are rammed full with clever reinventions of the well-loved hero. Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell stands out from the crowd by being one of the more interesting remixes of Conan Doyle’s classic. It pits both Watson and Holmes against other iconic figures; namely Clive Barker’s Cenobites, better known to some as the demons from The Hellraiser movies. It’s a surprisingly powerful mix, but it makes a lot of sense. Holmes’ greatest power is his insatiable curiosity, and the infamous puzzle box is designed to lure all sorts of hungers into Hell.
The story begins with the great detective attempting to solve a most mysterious disappearance of a chap called Francis Cotton. A locked room, a vanished person and the only clues are a small amount of blood, the feint smell of vanilla and a box-shaped space on the floor. Sherlock’s Victorian world provides a perfect sort of backdrop for the world of Hellraiser. The unspoken sense that scandal is just around the corner suits Barker’s monsters perfectly; Kane manages to create both a credible Holmes mystery, and yet at the same time captures the horror of Hellraiser perfectly. This shouldn’t be a huge surprise; Kane is one of the leading authorities on all things Hellraiser, and a very well regarded horror novelist. The book is littered with many recognisable references to both worlds, and it’s a delight to be able to join the dots between the two. The author’s enthusiasm does become a little obvious at points as it dives deeply into the Hellraiser mythos, but this simply adds to both the horror and joy of the work. Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell is a fun and rapid read. If you like horror, and enjoy the Hellraiser films, this will likely make you lick your lips in anticipation. It’s a horror B-movie of a book, filled with leather, chains and angst. Beautifully bloody fun, with just enough mystery to be delicious.’
And the full thing can be found here.
Photo courtesy of Charles Prepolec
SQ Magazine gave the novel 10/10 and stated: ‘Crossover stories are an arduous task to pull off. On paper, the idea of hybridizing two or more established properties is an enticing notion, but when it comes to finding that successful blend of the characteristics that define their respective worlds, often it’s the case that they don’t quite live up to expectations. Paul Kane’s Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell amalgamates the universes of Arthur Conan Doyle and Clive Barker respectively, pitting the brilliant detective and his trusty sidekick Watson against their deadliest foes yet – The Cenobites. The book opens with an introduction from Hellraiser icon Barbie Wilde, herself a wonderful author whose work I suggest you seek out immediately. Here she recounts her childhood memories of reading her father’s Sherlock Holmes books until they literally fell apart. Her attachment to the Hellraiser universe is seminal and well-documented, but her love of Holmes is authentic and lifelong. Therefore, her blessing of Kane’s tale ought to dispel any worries the reader might have in regards to this experiment not succeeding. That being said, anything involving Kane and Hellraisercomes with an air of expectation given that Clive Barker himself has commended his expertise on the subject matter. You just need to read his The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy book to get a glimpse into his encyclopaedic knowledge of the franchise. Couple that with his unique imagination and scope for storytelling and you know it’s going to be a winner.
The story centres on Holmes’ and Watson’s investigation into a series of disappearances in London. All of the missing persons have vanished into thin air, and the only evidence left behind is the stench of vanilla and reports of a mysterious blue light in the darkness. Following the death of Moriarty, Holmes has been craving a stimulating challenge, and to entertain himself he’s been partaking in drug use and extreme forms of meditation. This could be just what he needs. However, this case might just present him with a challenge that’s out of his control. I’ll leave it at that, because spoiling this mystery would be doing you an unforgivable disservice. Just know that it’s a resounding success that will surprise you at every turn, even when it incorporates elements you’ll undoubtedly be familiar with.
When you think about it, this crossover is not such an outlandish idea. The Hellraiser franchise has thrived on mystery since its inception and uncovering seemingly impossible mysteries is the very lifeblood of Sherlock Holmes tales. Furthermore, the character of Holmes is a pursuer of knowledge with a number of self-destructive tendencies which provide him with temporary pleasure. Haven’t the Cenobites made a career out of giving those who summon them more knowledge and “pleasure” than they can handle? Throw in seedy gentleman’s clubs, the occult and an array of complimentary nuggets to each universe and the parallels are evident. Thankfully, for fans of each franchise, Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell integrates both worlds seamlessly. Not only does it work as a Holmes detective mystery and as a haunting Hellraiserstory; it stands out as a unique body of work in its own right and a damn impressive one at that. The homages are there in abundance; dutifully respected, yet weaved – and mutated – to great effect. Without going into spoilers, you’ll be grinning from ear-to-ear when you find out what’s become of some of Holmes’ old enemies – that’s if you aren’t shivering to your very core as the story plunges into the heart of darkness. Like the work of Barker and the greats who have tackled Holmes’ most compelling adventures, Kane has created a highly addictive tale that’s intelligent, layered and brimming with splendid imagination.
Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell is a masterwork. If you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmesor Hellraiser, you owe it to yourself to check it out and see how wonderfully these worlds converge and bleed into each other to share DNA. Diehards will appreciate the Easter eggs throughout, yet it works as a standalone story that won’t deter newcomers to either franchise. Furthermore, Kane adds his own unique touches that expand on established mythology to great effect with aplomb. This is one you’ll want to read time and time again, and it’ll take something triumphant to top it in 2016.’
While The Eloquent Page said: ‘I’m a big fan of the Hellraiser franchise. I’ve seen the films, read the original novella and purchased the comic books… Now that we’ve conclusively established my appreciation of said movie monsters, let’s talk a little about their latest incarnation. The idea of bringing together arguably the most iconic detective of all time and some of horror’s most feared denizens feels like a match made in Heaven, or should that be Hell? Paul Kane’s latest novel does precisely that. It features the forces of darkness squaring off against the forces of good. Prepare yourself, we have such sights to show you. Things start off traditionally enough. We find Holmes at a low ebb. After finally defeating his arch-nemesis Moriarty, he is somewhat bereft. He needs a distraction, something that will occupy his vast intellect. A series of missing persons cases suggest something slightly more sinister than your typical locked door mystery. Who exactly are the mysterious Order of The Gash, and what is their involvement in these disappearances? What follows is a journey that transcends a normal crime and takes Holmes and Watson to the very doors of Hell.
Personally, I’ve always considered Sherlock Holmes to be quite an aloof character. I mean no disrespect; I just think he exists on a different mental plane than us mere mortals. There is certainly evidence to suggest that this is still the case in this instance, he appears dismissive of many at first glance. That said, Paul Kane has added additional layers to this iteration of the character. The various incarnations of Sherlock Holmes I’ve come across in the past, whether in literature or on the screen, all have one thing in common – a cast iron certainty in their abilities as an investigator. There is a vulnerability to Holmes that I don’t think that I’ve ever seen before. Pushed to his limits he reveals himself to be as flawed as the rest of us. I like seeing a new side to a character, especially one that I thought I knew inside out.
John Watson remains the moral compass of the duo. Holmes is entirely focused on knowledge, on understanding the how and why of a situation. Watson, meanwhile, ponders the ramifications of events. I suppose in his own way he keeps Holmes grounded. That is why the partnership works so well. Kane has done a great job of capturing the dynamic between the two. Some chapters are written from Watson’s perspective while others from Holmes, and this gives you a real insight into their innermost thoughts. There are a whole host of Cenobites who pop up. I’d be hard pushed to tell you which one was my absolute favourite. The eagle-eyed readers amongst you will certainly spot some nice nods to the expanded Clive Barker-verse. I’ve been a fan of both Paul Kane and Clive Barker for such a long time. This novel feels like all my Christmases have come at once. The story ends in a suitably epic confrontation. I’ll avoid spoilers, suffice to say that the payoff is exactly what I was hoping for. The battle for Hell is brutal, bloody and more than a little bit messy. I can almost guarantee that it won’t play out the way you are expecting. Paul Kane has successfully created an original story based on the Hellraiser pantheon that not only pays homage to the source material, but is also something uniquely its own. When a crossover is done well, as in this case, it really can be the best thing in the world. I love when an author takes key elements from seemingly disparate mythologies and fashions them into something new and exciting. That is exactly what Paul Kane has done here. I’m sure Clive Barker will love it and I’d like to think Arthur Conan Doyle would give his seal of approval too. Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell is published by Solaris and is available now. Highly recommended. It is unquestionably the best genre mashup I’ve read in ages.’
This was Cinema Bluster’s take: ‘Author Paul Kane is certainly no slouch when it comes to the world of Hellraiser and the Cenobites that reside within the series. Having written a rather lengthy book, aptly-titled The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy, to put it mildly, Kane is a bit of a historian on the subject. When I saw the announcement for his most recent novel, Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell, I knew this genre and character mashup would certainly be in good hands. Not only has Kane delivered on the Hellraiser end of things with Servants of Hell, he has given us a fantastic entry in the Sherlock Holmes series as well. In late 1895, Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson return to solving crimes even though the incident at Reichenbach Falls has left the duo forever changed. Investigating several disappearances that seem to be interconnected, Holmes and Watson will cross paths with The Order of The Gash and come face to face with the ultimate puzzle in the world, one that will take them to the pits of Hell.
The greatest achievement of this novel comes from the vast knowledge and understanding of Hellraiser and its mythos that Kane puts on display. Where most stories of this type would be filled with passing nods to events and other crowd-pleasing nonsense, Kane instead shows us how everything comes together and incorporates the historical references of the Hellraiser film series and expands upon it in ways that make you come away from this novel with a deeper love for the franchise. It isn’t good enough for Kane to just make a passing quip about a character or event found elsewhere in the franchise, he needs to show you how it relates to this story, and also how it differs. Although this is almost an alternative reality to everything we have come to know about the series, it also fits perfectly next to not only the films but also the recently released Scarlet Gospels. Kane’s look into hell is the perfect dessert to those that enjoyed Clive Barker’s final statement on Hell’s High Priest.
Not to ride too high on the achievements of the Hellraiser mythos alone, Kane also accomplishes one of the best non-Doyle Sherlock Holmes novels I have ever read. The dynamic between Watson and Holmes is absolutely perfect and is incorporated into the events of a Hellraiser narrative without coming off as cheesy or forced. Having taken place after the fateful event at Reichenbach Falls, Kane uses this moment of mortality to uncover a darker side of Holmes and show us a man that seeks challenge when his biggest puzzle has been solved. The swing in personality for Holmes and the detachment of Watson are perfect within the realm of Hellraiser. There are far too many references to list in this review and keeping track becomes a challenge as even the slightest event or bit of dialogue carries a great amount of depth to those that are familiar with the various tales and films within the franchise. While the story is an absolute delight to the most hardcore of Hellraiser fans, passing readers will still find a tremendous story within the pages that will inspire them to dig deeper into the mythos and I cannot think of a higher utterance of praise for a novel such as this. Essential reading for Hellraiser diehards; a must-read for genre fans alike.’
The review can be read here.
And in their 5/5 review The Tattooed Book Geek sang its praises, saying: ‘This book has a stunning looking cover, featuring a great artistic design that really stands out…saying look at me! And so, you know, look at this book you most definitely should! It’s a quality read! On the back of the book above the actual synopsis there’s a sentence: “The World’s Greatest Detective Meets Horror’s Most Notorious Villains!” Now that should garner your attention and whet your interest, if only to question what’s going on and what sort of strange mash-up have I stumbled across???
Now, I’m a huge Holmes fan, I’ve devoured the entire Conan Doyle collection and loved it, also enjoying Anthony Horowitz’s two recent Holmes books and the very recent Warlock Holmes parody by G.S Denning – it had me smiling and smirking throughout at its irreverent comedic retelling. While technically I’d also say I’m a Hellraiser fan – I’ve seen the films and read a couple of the books, I’m not a die-hard fan who knows everything about the series, but even I was able to spot some of the Easter eggs left by Kane as an homage to the original Hellraiser mythology created by Clive Barker and I’m sure for experts in the series there’s plenty more for you to find. When combining two very different but much-loved works there’s a chance when you join them together that if not done correctly or with respect to the original works then you could alienate the fans of both. It was only after I finished the book, whilst reading the acknowledgements in the back by Paul Kane that I found out he is a Hellraiser expert with Clive Barker – the Hellraiser creator himself – describing Kane as “the resident Hellraiser expert”. Now, that gives Kane pedigree with the Hellraiser mythology and part of the book but how would he do with the Sherlock Holmes aspect of the book too? Well, suffice to say he nailed it!
As I mentioned previously, I’m a Holmes fan and two of the biggest things I look for with a new Sherlock book are, firstly, has the author managed to achieve a similar sort of tone and style to Conan Doyle’s classics? And secondly, the relationship between Holmes and Watson, I’m sure there’ll be people who disagree with me and that’s fine – we all have own views but for me, the friendship and deep bond between Holmes and Watson has always been the core of the Sherlock Holmes canon; no matter what the mystery attempting to be solved, it’s the duo of Holmes and Watson that the tale revolves around. Kane manages to perfectly convey the friendship between the two whilst paying respect to the original works and giving it his own unique version. Though, there’ll be some people out there who haven’t heard of Clive Barker, Hellraiser, the “Order of the Gash” and the Cenobites – due to them appearing in the more niche horror media market – I’d guess near enough everyone with even a passing interest in literature and due also to the countless films and TV shows throughout the years ranging from Basil Rathbone in the 1940s onwards and through to Benedict Cumberbatch in the present day, will have heard of Sherlock Holmes.
For fans of either Sherlock Holmes or Hellraiser there’s a great deal within this book for you all to enjoy. And for other would-be readers out there, you don’t need any previous knowledge of either original works to enjoy the book, IT’S THAT DAMN GOOD!... The Lament Configuration has always been a rather ingenious puzzle box since its creation. Add into the mix, strange and unconnected disappearances, people vanishing from locked rooms without a trace, a lingering smell of Vanilla, mysterious footsteps that abruptly halt and murmurings of a clandestine new power looking to take control and you have all the makings of a perfect Sherlock Holmes mystery. And, the Hellraiser mythology blends perfectly with late Victorian London making a perfect time and setting for the book.
Taking place in 1895 following Holmes’ return to Baker Street and London, and after the incident at the Reichenbach Falls, it’s the ideal time for the story to take place, giving Kane ample opportunity to delve into the mystery surrounding the whereabouts of Holmes during the years of “the great hiatus” as it’s commonly known by fans of the series. In the Conan Doyle stories when Holmes did return to Watson and sleuthing, he wasn’t the same man as he had been before, with slight changes to both his character and personality. Kane uses the Hellraiser mythos to great effect, explaining away these changes to Holmes as we learn that after the Reichenbach Falls, Holmes, during his missing years was preparing himself both mentally and physically for something sinister to come. The mix of Sherlock Holmes and Hellraiser feels completely organic with each aspect complimenting the other to perfection, whilst still feeling like a Holmes story at heart with Watson narrating from the future this darkest of chapters from their adventures together. Taking in the darkest recesses of Victorian London, a Mental Institute in France and Hell itself, this tale tests the boundaries of the friendship between the pair to the core, literally taking them to Hell and back. And, when we’re finally introduced to the Cenobites, taking the tale from the more normal to the surreal it really feels natural to the story’s progression; without going into detail, what a vividly described and visualised grotesque bunch they are.
The book itself is well written with a descriptive and fast-paced style by Kane that really pulls you in, packing a hell – see what I did there! – of a lot into its 300 page length, building from a mysterious, more sedate beginning up to the climactic conclusion. I have to admit that while the cover “sold” the book to me as something I wanted to read I was in fact slightly concerned when I started the actual book as I couldn’t help but think that on the surface what a strange amalgamation the two worlds would make; delving deeper however and as the story progressed they fitted together surprisingly well and what, in the hands of a lesser talented author could have been a disappointing mash-up ruining two beloved classic franchises, alienating the fans of both in the process, in the hands of Kane turns into a respectful tale embodying elements of the original works that deftly incorporates aspects from both into a delightfully glorious and stunning read making Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell one of the surprise books of the year! By Jove! It’s highly recommended.’
The full review of that one is here.
While Beavis the Book Head thought: ‘First of all, what a great bloody cover this is! I have been thinking about cobbling together a short list of my top 5 books so far in 2016. I’m glad now that I waited until I finished this superb read from Paul Kane. I have never read any of the Sherlock Holmes books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle but now I really want to. A mash-up of Holmes and Clive Barker’s Hellraiser could’ve been a bit of a disaster but Kane does a fantastic job of blending the two worlds together in a book that is excellent from the very first page. As a big fan of the Hellraiser franchise, I was excited to take another trip back into Hell. The real treat with this book turned out to be the two lead characters in Holmes and Watson. Holmes is portrayed brilliantly as the thorough detective, proficient with his observations, sometimes abrupt but always engaging. His often stern tone with Watson and other characters took a bit of warming to but there is no denying that Holmes is a fascinating and deeply complex man. The book is written as a recollection of events by Holmes’ trusty sidekick Watson – a very different but equally engaging and likeable chap, handy with his fists and certainly not lacking in courage. The story follows our two protagonists as they investigate a series of disappearances that will eventually lead them into battle against a horde of Cenobites deep within the bowels of Hell itself. Whilst the first half of the book is very much a detective story, it is the second half where things really begin to ramp up. Kane puts his characters through a series of incredible scenes, bursting with graphic imagery, monsters and dripping with blood…
Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell is an absolute triumph…The characters were superb, lifelike and totally engaging. The chemistry between the two was fantastic and the descriptions of Hell were immense. The pacing is excellent with Kane building up the tension to an epic confrontation. I can only hope that this book might lead to others exploring the mashing up of two different worlds. It truly is wonderful to read. One of my favourite books of 2016, for sure. Epic storytelling from a great horror writer.’
And The Crabby Reviewer commented: ‘Was anyone really asking for a Sherlock Holmes/Hellraiser mashup...? Not that I’m aware of. I certainly wasn’t. So shame on all of us for not demanding this sooner, and hats off to author Paul Kane for delivering this delightfully grotesque meeting of genre heavyweights. Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell finds a weathered and world-weary Holmes taking on a routine missing persons case that turns out to be so much more: seemingly unconnected citizens are vanishing from inside locked rooms...the victims are usually heard screaming horribly, but there is never any sign of foul play, or trace of bloodshed on the scene. Witnesses report seeing strange lights emanating from the rooms, and a dishevelled vagrant has been seen nearby shortly after each event.
The investigations all eventually converge, and set Holmes and Watson on the trail of a mysterious sect known as “The Order of The Gash”, who seem to be responsible for the dispersal of a series of strange boxes that are connected to the crimes. As Watson sets off for Paris to discover the source of the boxes, Holmes prepares to confront the engineer of the mystery, and finds himself tested to the limits of his endurance, both mentally and physically... I think it would have been mind-boggling to discover this book’s mysteries without any prior knowledge, but seeing as how the front cover exclaims “Set in Clive Barker’s Hellraising World” it’s probably safe to assume that you’ve figured out that “The Order of The Gash” is, in fact, another name for The Cenobites, made famous in Clive Barker’s legendary novella The Hellbound Heart, the film Hellraiser and its umpteen sequels. I’m sure Holmes purists will turn up their snoots at a book like this, which is a real shame, because Paul Kane takes great pains to remain faithful to both Barker and Doyle’s separate mythologies, up to and including stories set in their respective timelines that were written by other authors.
Next were two more 5/5 and 5 star reviews, the first from KMcLeer Reviews who added: ‘When I first saw this book I was interested to see where it was going to go, and I thought it was going to be hard to place Sherlock in the Cenobite world, but I’m so glad I was wrong. Mr Kane was able to capture a wonderful blend of the two worlds. It was such a fun read I could really picture it as a movie. Holmes was on point and I enjoyed this version of the Cenobites and the battle…Overall I would recommend it to fans of Sherlock Holmes and horror fans.’
While the second, from Mark Cain of United Nations of Horror, appeared on Goodreads and said that the book was: ‘An excellent read that combines the universes of Sherlock Holmes and Hellraiser. Paul Kane starts the book in a style that is a fine homage to the writing of Conan Doyle in Holmes’ short stories, before expanding out the universe. There’s something about Hellraiser and Victorian gothic that works well, and this works superbly. If you are like me, and are familiar with both Holmes and Hellraiser, you will become aware of many little Easter eggs Paul Kane leaves throughout the story, referring to incidents and characters from both arenas, but if you don’t know them too well, you’ll still get a ripping good yarn where Holmes goes on his most extreme adventure yet.’
Finally, you can listen to the Low Budget Review Show’s opinion on YouTube by clicking the link below:
Speaking of United Nations of Horror, Paul was also a guest on their podcast recently, kicking off a series of interviews and guest appearances to promote the novel. You can listen to what he had to say by following the links here and here.
You can find more online interviews with Paul at the Sherlock Street Blog here, SQ Magazine here and Scream Magazine here, with a mammoth 7 page interview for Morpheus Tales in their review supplement here.
And at the following you’ll find Paul’s Guest Blogs for Tor.com here, for Sci-Fi Bulletin here, for Beauty in Ruins here, for Civilian Reader here, for The Mighty Thor JRS here, The Book Plank here and for Mass Movement Magazine here.
You can also keep up to date with all reviews, interviews and announcements on the Servants Facebook page here.
In addition to all this, a puzzle box has been created by Derek Neal to celebrate the release of Servants (above and below), which you can order from ConfigurationBoxes.com.
And Paul has been busy doing remarques inside the books for clients, like the ones below.
Here at the SW site, we’re delighted to welcome back as our Guest Writer for August, the World Fantasy Award-winning author of such books as Black-Winged Angels and The Girl With No Hands (above), Angela Slatter. We’re fortunate enough to have an exclusive extract from her new novel for Jo Fletcher Books, Vigil (below) which you can read by clicking here.
Paul was out and about quite a bit last month, the first stop being Creative England’s Northern Lights event at the Lowry – right in the heart of Manchester’s Media City (above and below).
There to give advice on film and TV writing were the likes of Adult Life Skills writer/director Rachel Tunnard (below, right)…
…writer of Last Tango in Halifax and Happy Valley (above), Sally Wainwright, and founder of RED production company Nicola Shindler (below middle and right). The event even had its own cupcakes! (below)
Next up, as a NewCon author Paul helped the press celebrate ten great years down in London, which included cake and a speech by NewCon’s head honcho Ian Whates (all below).
Then, of course, Paul was a guest at Edge-Lit in Derby, where he was on the ‘Continuing Popularity of the Supernatural’ panel with the likes of Johnny Mains, Ali Shaw, Maria Lewis, V.H. Leslie and Paul Cornell, and enjoyed the annual raffle high jinks – this time by Conrad Williams and Sarah Pinborough (see photos below)
And while Edge-Lit was the first event to have copies of Servants of Hell on hand, which people bought and got Paul to sign, his first official signing was a week later at Waterstones in Bolton (above). You can see the photos from this one below…
His next Servants event is on August 4th and also at a Waterstones, this time Liverpool One – which has hosted events like the Hellbound Hearts evening and the PS Showcase, both involving Paul. It will be a night of readings, chat and signing, with very special guest Female Cenobite, Barbie Wilde – who introduced Servants and will be there to promote her collection from SST, Voices of the Damned (below).
And don’t forget that after that Paul will be at the Dublin Ghost Story Festival (see last month’s news for details), where copies of Servants will also be available.
After its successful launch at HorrorCon UK last month, The Disease is now on general sale and you can find it on the Hellbound Media site to buy here.
And the comic received its first review last month, as well, from Sci-Fi Bulletin. Paul Simpson gave it 9/10 and said: ‘Paul Kane’s sharp short horror tale has come to Kickstarter-funded life in this polished and stylish rendition with a script by Kane himself and beautifully painted art from Pawel Kardis. Beautiful may be an odd choice of adjective, given that the first page includes a close up of boils, and the interior of a toilet after someone has been shitting blood, but it’s the correct one – as Kane does with the script, Kardis juxtaposes the beauty of the real world with the disfigurement of the disease, allowing the pages to become darker as the story does.
Kane’s writing doesn’t take prisoners and Kardis depicts the full horror of the situation, from the clinical dryness of a hospital (with correctly coloured caps for the different blood tests) to the closing pages where a full moon looks down on scenes of desolation. It’s an unsettling tale, and one that may well haunt you. A very vivid rendition of a horrific tale.’
You can find the full review here.
Last but not least this month, Stormblade have released these photos of the audio version of Paul’s novelette Snow, read by Carrie Buchanan – and pretty damned gorgeous they look too, we’re sure you’ll agree.
July is, of course, the launch month for Paul’s latest mass market novel, Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell from Solaris (above). The book comes with an introduction from none other than the Female Cenobite herself, Barbie Wilde, and has already been generating quite a lot of buzz – with Kirkus naming it ‘one of the books you’ll want to read in July’ here.
The first review in June came from Dread Central, who gave the title five stars and said: ‘The prologue takes us right into the thick of the box-opening action. We’re sitting in that circle, surrounded by filth, obsessing over the box and how it could be opened, when… ahhhh, but that would be a spoiler, wouldn’t it? This 90,000-worder (approximately) opens with the words of Dr Watson, who is chronicling (apparently for his own purposes) how he met Holmes and touching on some of their adventures together… I suspect Paul Kane will have spent considerable time ensuring his references are as accurate as possible. As a Holmes fan himself, he is doubtless hoping to please the armchair sleuths who are likely to pick this up and accept it for what it is, a believable Sherlock Holmes tale…
A perfectly plausible storyline follows, as Watson goes on to discuss how, after his feigned death, Holmes went travelling, and how, since Moriarty’s demise, Holmes was lacking a challenge. It’s not a great leap of intuition to put the two things together and wonder how Holmes might have sought some excitement (and danger) to keep him away from his self-destructive habits of choice. I really enjoyed the tie-ins to the Cotton family and the address on Lodovico street, which Hellraiser fans will recognise… While the first names of the major characters echo closely the characters in Hellraiser, they are clearly some predecessors from a previous era, lending a kind of alternate universefeel to a fairly familiar tale. This is a skill that Kane has mastered through various retellings of faerie tales such as his treatment in modernising Red Riding Hood in RED and Blood RED…
The parallels with the established Hellraiser mythos continue, and of course are augmented by the addition of Holmes and familiar characters from other well-known sources… But I won’t spoil it here. Suffice to say, whether you’re a fan of the first two movies, or Clive Barker’s The Hellbound Heart novella, or Paul Kane’s Hellbound Hearts anthology of short stories, or the Sherlock Holmes adventures, you’re in for a treat and I doubt if any but the most die-hard purist fan will have any qualms over Kane’s treatment of these subjects that he knows and loves so well…’
You can read the full review here.
Next up came the Books of Blood site, who said: ‘Paul Kane is no stranger to the Hellraiser universe. He’s the author of the truly outstanding The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy as well as the editor of the short story anthology, Hellbound Hearts, which expanded Clive Barker’s mythos still further. This is a man who clearly respects Clive Barker’s most brilliant creation. So there could be no safer hands for a tale that brings together two legends, Sherlock Holmes and the Cenobites. As a huge Hellraiser fan myself, I have to admit I’ve been giddy about the prospect of reading this since I first heard about it…When we meet Sherlock he’s a lost soul. His nemesis, Moriarty, is dead and there are no challenges left for him. So instead he has been experimenting with drugs and is close to destroying himself. Then a very special case comes along. Francis Cotton has been reported missing, having disappeared from inside a locked room, and that piques Holmes’ interest. Then the game’s afoot!
If the last name Cotton sounds familiar, it should. We have Francis, who disappeared (Frank), his brother Laurence (Larry), Kirsten, his daughter (Kirsty), and second wife and stepmother to Kirsten, Juliet (Julia). Further parallels with names from the film series continue as further disappearances cross Holmes’ path… The in-references to the initial Hellraiser trilogy of films come thick and fast. As the names kept cropping up it was nice to place them. There was one surprise appearance outside of the film characters that really put a smile on my face…
The dynamic between Holmes and Watson, our narrator for the majority of the book, is wonderful. Holmes’ curiosity and excitable nature is evocatively brought to life. As ever, Watson is accused of being his nanny by an irritable and insufferable Holmes for worrying about his reckless behaviour. Paul Kane, through Watson’s narration, slots the story nicely into the established Sherlock Holmes canon with many references to other established cases that took place before and in between the disappearances in the story.
The setting and time period are perfect, a dark and dingy London, industrialization, thick fog, and men seeking understanding and enlightenment in both science and magic. While it feels primarily like a Sherlock Holmes story, a mystery in the typical vein, full of twists, paths do eventually cross. The arrival of the Order of the Gash introduces us to a plethora of new, inventive, and vile Cenobites. This includes a rather Victorian steampunk selection. This was one of my favourite parts of the book… It’s worth a mention that the prologue to the story is absolutely incredible. After reading that you’ll cheer and be hooked. To call this a mashup doesn’t do it justice as that suggests a parody, which this is not. It’s the greatest puzzle solver against the puzzle box. I was completely riveted throughout and couldn’t put it down.’
You can read that one here.
Then the Clive Barker Podcast gave the book 9/10, saying: ‘Crossover stories have always been tricky to pull off. Most of them tend to pick a side and never really find a solid middle ground to do justice to both universes. I also find that some fans come away feeling alienated because they feel the characters they’ve come to love over the years aren’t given the respect they deserve. I know I have… I’m happy to report though that both the Hellraiser and Sherlock Holmes universes are given the same amount of respect in Paul Kane’s new novel Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell.
I’m not going to go into the details of the story for this review, but simply touch on the aspects that I really enjoyed the most about it. I will say that story reminded me of a couple Sherlock Holmes stories like The Valley of Fear, The Final Problem, The Sign of the Four, and of course Clive Barker’s The Hellbound Heart. Saying anything more would really spoil the surprise. First off, Paul has perfectly captured the essence of Sherlock Holmes and how these stories work. The atmosphere was dead on and at times it felt like I was reading another story written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. As for the Hellraiser elements I knew he would deliver on this end of the narrative. The man has lived and breathed this world for years so that part was going to be a given.
The best part of Servants of Hell is Holmes and Watson, especially Watson. For me this story was more about him coming to grips with his past and how his belief system is tested through the narrative. You even begin to question whether Watson will remain sane or not by the end. Holmes is a much darker character here too than I’ve ever seen him before. Paul uses ideas from previous stories about how Holmes has built up tolerances to drugs and poisons to help him withstand anything so he can control his body and mind in any given situation. Well, almost anything if you understand my meaning. In Servants of Hell Holmes faces his most dangerous opponents yet!
If you were disappointed by the lack of new Cenobite creations in The Scarlet Gospels (I wasn’t one of them) fear not because Paul has literally created a small army of new ones here. I think NECA toys could start up their Hellraiser toy line again if they wanted to with all the original creations that he‘s come up with. The last one-hundred pages is a pure adrenaline rush of action and gore that will surely keep the reader on the edge of their seat. The lavish action sequences that are described reminded me of paintings from the mind of Hieronymus Bosch. There’s so much visual imagery it can be overwhelming at times…
Well, he’s done it again! Author Paul Kane has delivered another exciting and horror filled tale with Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell. If you want mystery and suspense in the similar style of the classic Sherlock Holmes stories you’ve got it here! If you want skinned bodies, weird insane asylums, and bizarre Cenobite characters, Paul has you more than covered there, too. Clive Barker described The Scarlet Gospels as a kick to the gut then I would go a step further and describe Servants of Hell as a solid ass kicking!’
The full review is here.
‘A whopping 10/10 next from Sci-Fi Bulletin, who said: ‘The thing with crossover novels like this is that they can be a tricky beast to get right. You can often end up with one strand being a lot stronger than the other, to the detriment of the story. Thankfully that is not the case here. What is clear from the off here is that Mr Kane knows his stuff. To start with you have a Sherlock Holmes story that could have come from the pen of Conan Doyle himself. Kane captures the essence of place, story and character perfectly. This is not a reinvention of Holmes, this is Holmes. And then…
And then we have the Order of the Gash, the Cenobites. What was already a great story takes a step up. Paul Kane is acknowledged (by Clive Barker himself, no less) to be one of the most knowledgeable people when it comes down to the Hellraiser universe – and it shows here. When the Cenobites and their servants on Earth appear the story gets gruesome, horrific – and feels very ‘Hellraisery’. Holmes, Watson and the varying Cenobites (no two the same) all feel as they belong on the same page, in the same story and that, for me, is quite an achievement. Also, the Cenobites (and the pseudo Cenobites – sorry, no spoilers) are not generic creatures. Each one feels like an individual and this is, yet again, where Paul Kane shines. They have names and are described in such visceral detail but still feel believable. Does it help to have prior knowledge of the Hellraiser series? Possibly, but I would not say it is essential.
So, at this point I should point out what didn’t work for me with the story – but I can honestly say I would be hard pushed to do that. Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell is a gem of a book that fits well into both Holmes and Hellraiser canon.’
Again, for the full review click here.
A review from The Book Voucher followed, who said: ‘Newsflash: I am a complete sucker for all things Sherlock Holmes. I love the original Sherlock Holmes stories by A.C. Doyle and I can’t get enough of the myriad of mysteries inspired by them such as Whitechapel: The Final Stand of Sherlock by Bernard Schaffer, Sherlock Holmes and the Mummy’s Curse by Stephanie Osborn, June Thomson’s Secret Sherlock Holmes series, The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by William Seil. Love them! Another thing I am a goner for? Horror. Horror in all its forms and variations. So, “set in Clive Barker’s Hellraising World” and the mention of a “sinister asylum in France” (American Horror Story: Asylum was my favourite one… minus the aliens) definitely struck a cord. I am starry-eyed, and so on board!
Paul Kane manages to capture the voice of Arthur Conan Doyle, perfectly mimicking the language and mannerisms of Sherlock Holmes and the narrative style attributed to Watson, while keeping it original and innovative, merging the iconic detective with the Cenobites (references to the Hellraiser universe throughout), and giving it a supernatural twist that, to me, seems only appropriate since, more than a logic procedure of detection based on observation, the process of Sherlock Holmes mystery solvings has always had a feel of magic.’
Meanwhile Beauty in Ruins added: ‘There is so just much potential in the concept. Handle it right, and you’ve got yourself a horror/mystery that is destined to become a genre staple. Fumble it at any point, however, and you have two separate camps of fandom ready to critique, condemn, and drag you to…well, Hell. Fortunately, Paul Kane knows his stuff, and what we have here is no mere imaginative lark. Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell is a very carefully constructed story that considers the legacies of both Doyle and Barker, and which not only finds a point at which the two can meet, but one in which that intersection actually adds something to each respective story.
Into the Macabre gave the title 5/5, saying: ‘I have a confession. Before reading this book, I had no clue who Paul Kane was. Apparently, to the people in the know, he is the leading guru on Clive Barker’s Hellraiser films and mythos (outside of Barker, of course). So you’ll have to excuse me for being late to the party. What I do know is that I love Clive Barker’s Hellraiser films and I enjoy the Sherlock Holmes stories. So when I stumbled across the title of this book, I was instantly intrigued. What seems upon first glance as a farce, started sounding pretty damn full of possibilities the more I thought about it. After jumping headfirst into Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell, I am pleased to announce that the possibilities were right on the money and Kane delivered one hell of a fun read.
Sherlock Holmes is moping around since he defeated his archenemy, Moriarty. Cases don’t seem to be that intriguing or challenging and Holmes is apparently a ball of irritability if his mind isn’t challenged. Dr Watson is worried about his dear friend, especially since he’s had a tangle with opium demon from time to time. Then a missing person case comes in. Apparently, a Francis Cotton went inside his attic room, locked the door, and never came out. Disappeared. Holmes and Watson take the case and are stumped. Other missing person cases come trickling in with the same descriptions. Holmes is convinced that they are tied together. But how? When investigating one of the other disappearances, the duo discover a secret society that focuses on the forbidden pleasures of the flesh and a pillar that contained a small box. Sound familiar?
Kane’s tale weaves in and out of tie-ins with previous Sherlock Holmes stories and the Hellraiser films. And it works. Very well, I might add. The story is told Arthur Conan Doyle-style through a re-telling by Dr Watson. We also get a nice perspective from it rotating back and forth from Watson to Holmes’ POV and back again. Who would’ve thought that the marriage of Sherlock Holmes and Clive Barker would work so well? You know what? Don’t question a good thing and Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell is a good thing.’
Finally, this from the Mind of Tatlock site: ‘I consider myself a pretty big Hellraiser fan. I own all the movies and I own several books, comics, action figures and a few Lament Configuration replicas. I absolutely love Hellraiser, plain and simple. Hellraiser hasn’t been doing too bad lately. We have a comic series from BOOM! Studios, Gary J. Tunnicliffe is currently working on a new Hellraiser movie, Hellraiser: Judgment and Hellraiser creator Clive Barker finally finished his destruction of Pinhead in The Scarlet Gospels… On what would normally be a completely unrelated note, Sherlock Holmes has also never been more popular than it is today, with a couple TV shows and a movie series. It seems Holmes is a detective that won’t quit. You wouldn’t think to say it’s only inevitable that the two franchises would meet, but after reading Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell, I feel like it was always meant to be. Author Paul Kane has crafted a Hellraiser story that I’ve been longing for since I turned the last page on the short story collection Hellbound Hearts, which Paul Kane also happened to edit.
Paul Kane is the go-to guy for Hellraiser, after having released the aforementioned Hellbound Hearts and the fantastic The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy, which details all the movies, not just the popular ones. Who better to place the Hellraiser mythologies in Sherlock Holmes’ world. And not only does he masterfully mix the two, he also brings together the Hellraiser films, the comics, the Hellbound Hearts short stories and, in what can only be described as a miracle, he is able to connect The Scarlet Gospels world to the Hellraiser world we love.
Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell begins with Dr Watson writing in his secret journal about a case which defied logic. Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson came upon a case of mysterious disappearances, starting with the disappearance of Francis Cotton (the first of many nods to characters and events throughout the entire catalogue of Hellraiser). Holmes and Watson slowly start unravelling the mystery behind everything, which always points to a mysterious puzzle box known as the Lament Configuration. The adventure has the duo investigating plenty of interesting places, such as a seedy S&M club, the Malahide Institute in France and a certain place that will seem very familiar to Hellbound: Hellraiser IIfans. Everything that is happening is leading up to an epic showdown between Holmes and the Order of the Gash, also known as the Cenobites!
There is way more to the story than that little summary above, but there is no way in hell (sorry for the pun) that I will ruin this fantastic tale for anyone. As I’ve already mentioned, I know Hellraiser, so colour me surprised when Paul Kane managed to expand the universe even more than I thought was possible. While I was reading the book, I kept thinking about the old Epic Comics run of Hellraiser stories that showed us a Hell that was more than just a twisted path of hallways and pillars. I’m thinking Paul Kane was a big fan of that comic series, as he expands the home of the Cenobites in a similar way.
Okay, I’ve been gushing over the ties to Hellraiser, but what about Sherlock fans. Are they going to be able to jump into this story? The answer to that is a resounding yes! You don’t need to be a Hellraiser fanatic to enjoy a good adventure. Paul Kane throws in numerous nods and references to Holmes’ past cases, managing to tie in the infamous Reichenbach Falls and many of the other cases that came after Holmes’ apparent “death”. Did you ever feel like Holmes was a completely different man after he came back to life? Well, fret not, as that is all explained…
Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell is going to please both Hellraiser and Sherlock fans alike. I’m sure there will be a few people out there that are not going to be impressed with the fantastical and horrific horror story that is told here. However, as long as you know what you are getting into, you’re going to love it. Paul Kane, please give us more Hellraiser. You’re really damn good at it!’
The novel launches on 12th and there will be copies at Edge-Lit in Derby on 16th where Paul is a guest (see last month for details). Keep checking back for more on signings and events throughout the summer, and for up-to-date information you can follow Paul on Twitter @PaulKaneShadow
And, sticking with the Holmes theme for a moment, our Guest Writer on the site this month is Paul Cornell (also known for comics such as Wolverine and Soldier Zero, and TV such as Dr Who and Elementary) with the latest in his ‘Shadow Police’ series of novels – which began with the excellent London Falling (above). The new novel is called, appropriately, Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? (below) and you can read an extract from it here.
News now about Paul’s collection from last year, Monsters (above), which has been shortlisted for a British Fantasy Award. You can read an article about the nominations and find the full list of them at the bottom of the piece on The Guardian site, here.
And the winners will be announced at FantasyCon in Scarborough in September.
Paul is delighted to be added to the line-up as a guest at The Dublin Ghost Story Festival, Friday 19th – Sunday 21st August, run by Swan River Press with sponsorship from the HWA UK. The Guest of Honour is Adam Nevill (No One Gets Out Alive, Lost Girl), with John Connolly (Nocturnes, Night Music) as MC and other guests including David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas, The Bone Clocks), Sarah Pinborough (The Death House, 13 Minutes), Alexandra Benedict (The Beauty of Murder, Jonathan Dark and the Evidence of Ghosts) and Angela Slatter (Of Sorrow and Such, Vigil) in attendance.
To read more about the event, just click here.
Photos now from an event last month, the Joe Hill Fireman reading, Q&A and signing, with added Kazoochestra. A great time was had by all, as you can probably tell!
Paul also met up with Mark Adams of Hellbound Media last month to sign and draw in copies of The Disease (above), hot off the press – which was captured below.
And below are some of the internals by the superbly talented Pawel Kardis.
The comic is due to be launched at HorrorCon, 2016. For more details about that, click here.
Copies of The End of the End, which gathers together Afterblight novellas from Cavan Scott, Simon Guerrier and Paul – including the Hooded Man adventure Flaming Arrow – have arrived at the Rebellion offices (above). The mass market book is due out on 9th August and you can pre-order here.
And staying with Hood a moment, Paul’s review of the audio drama The Knights of the Apocalypse – the long-awaited return of Robin of Sherwood – is on the Sci-Fi Bulletin site here.
Finally, Paul’s The P.I.’s Tale has now been reprinted in the charity anthology The Refuge Collection (above and below). You can find out more at the site here and you can still buy the story, illustrated by Edward Miller, separately here.
The first piece of news this month is that Mark A. Miller – best known for his comics work on Next Testament (above), Hellraiser and Steam Man (below) – is introducing The Disease (see previous news section for details), to be published by Hellbound Media with artwork by Pawel Kardis.
The Kickstarter campaign for this was a massive success, and you can read more about it by clicking here.
Paul will be at the Joe Hill event in Derby at the Quad on 11th June. Joe will be there to celebrate the launch of his new novel The Fireman (above), as part of the Derby Literary Festival.
You can find out more about the evening event and book your ticket by clicking here.
Here at the Shadow Writer site we’re over the moon to welcome international best-selling, award-winning writer Jeffrey Deaver. Author of books such as A Maiden’s Grave, Edge and The October List, he is probably best known for his thrillers featuring Lincoln Rhyme – played by Denzel Washington in the film version of The Bone Collector, alongside Angela Jolie (above). We’re lucky enough to have an extract from the latest Rhyme novel, The Steel Kiss (below, and out now in hardback), which you can dive into by clicking here.
To kick off May, above and below are photos from the first ever HWA UK Horror Meet held in Derby at the Ye Olde Dolphin Inne – including Marie introducing the event and guest A.K. Benedict doing a reading from her latest novel Jonathan Dark or The Evidence of Ghosts.
And the HWA are also sponsoring this year’s Edge-Lit in Derby, at the Quad on 16th July, which will feature Paul as one of the Guest Speakers alongside Paul Cornell (Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? Elementary), Sarah Pinborough (The Death House, 13 Minutes) and Jason Arnopp (The Last Days of Jack Sparks, Stormhouse).
To read the full list of guests and to book your tickets click here.
Sticking with events for a moment, Paul had a great time at Sci-Fi London last month – and you can find photos from this above and below, including Paul with festival director Louis Savy, Louis introducing one of the short film sections and postcards for Blood RED on display.
And you can find out more about the Flash Fiction judges for the festival – including Paul – by clicking here.
We’re honoured here at the Shadow Writer site to welcome award-winning and number one bestselling author Val McDermid as Guest Writer for the month of May. Author of such novels as The Vanishing Point and The Skeleton Road, she is probably most famous for her series of books featuring psychological profiler Tony Hill (played by Robson Green in the TV adaptation Wire in the Blood, above). To read an extract from the latest novel to feature him, Splinter the Silence (below) – out now in paperback – just click here.
We begin this month with an event, the first HWA Horror Meet in fact on 9th April in Derby at the reputedly haunted Ye Olde Dolphin Inne from 2pm to 7pm. Our guest is none other than A.K. Benedict (above), author of The Beauty of Murder and Jonathan Dark or The Evidence of Ghosts and February’s Guest Writer on the site (read an extract from the latter novel here).
All members of HWA UK are welcome, plus this event will also be open to non-members who are interested in meeting fellow horror fans and writers and learning more about what the Horror Writers Association can do for its members.
For more details and to register your interest, visit the Facebook page for this event here.
Speaking of events, Paul is one of the judges for Sci-Fi London’s Flash Fiction competition this month, alongside Robert Grant, Gareth L Powell and Charles Christian. Now in it’s 16th year, this huge festival is on for 10 days between 27th April and 6th May and its guests include Benedict Cumberbatch (star of Sherlock, Dr Strange), John Landis (director of American Werewolf in London) and William Hurt (Oscar-winning star of Humans and Captain American: Civil War), all below.
To find out more about the festival, visit the website here.
You can listen to audio versions of Paul’s stories ‘Life-o-Matic’ and ‘Words to the Wise’ – which will feature in his forthcoming collection Disexistence – in recent editions of Tales to Terrify (above).
The Shadow Writer site is over the moon to welcome our Guest Writer for the month of April, the superb Mark Billingham. Award-winning author of bestselling books such as Sleepyhead, Good as Dead, In the Dark (above) and Rush of Blood, Mark’s most famous creation – London detective Tom Thorne – was brought to life by David Morrissey in two miniseries back in 2010. We’re fortunate enough to have an exclusive extract from his latest Thorne mystery, the number one Sunday Times bestseller Time of Death – which is coming to BBC TV later this year – so to read this simply click here.
New posters from the short film Paul scripted, Confidence, which finished shooting last month, have been released – and you’ll find some of these above and below.
A comic book adaptation of Paul’s classic story ‘The Disease’, included most recently in the collection Monsters, is in the works (above). Scripted by Paul, with artwork from Pawel Kardis, this is to be published by Hellbound Media as part of their Shock Value line (below).
Last month Paul reviewed the new Blu-Ray releases of horror classics Re-Animator and the Basket Case Trilogy (above) for Sci-Fi Bulletin. You can read what he thought of these by clicking here and here.
We start March’s news with a couple more great reviews for Paul’s novelette Snow, out now in print and e-book from Stormblade Productions. The first was written by Jim Mcleod of Ginger Nuts of Horror, who said: ‘No matter what our age, we all love fairy tales. There is something primal about their nature, they hint at a world beyond the pale, a world that despite the logical way of our adult brain works still has the power to haunt and chill us on a cold winter’s night…Snow from Paul Kane is a modern reworking of the classic fairy tale Snow White, a clever, well written adult version of the much loved classic story.
You can read the full review here.
The second was from Rob Ridenour over at the Clive Barker Podcast (above), who gave the book 10/10 and said: ‘As a small boy I can vividly remember my loving grandmother putting me and my two older brothers to bed to such gruesome Brothers Grimm stories as Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, and Snow White. Looking back, I believe if she’d known how disturbing they truly were I doubt she’d have read them to us. But I’m glad she did because this was another part of my youth where I first fell in love with the fantastic.
Which brings me to the latest incarnation of the Snow White tale by writer Paul Kane simply titled Snow…What I loved most about this retelling were the characters. Angela is a sympathetic heroine who you find yourself rooting for right from the start. Without giving anything away I’d say don’t expect a prince charming to come in and save her at the last minute because Angela doesn’t need one. She’s a strong character by herself, but she does have some new “friends” that do lend her a helping hand.
I also enjoyed the wicked stepmother Ruth. I felt bad for Ruth and Uncle Robert. Paul gives them both a background that the reader can relate to as well. I found myself understanding why they would turn into such monsters. You should always love the villains as much as you love the heroes and that’s one of the reasons why I found Ruth so interesting. Paul also creates wonderful visual imagery through the use of such colours as red and white. They play an important part in the story just as much as the characters. He uses them to provide some very interesting symbolism throughout the story.
Another aspect that I enjoyed were the little nods to the original story Paul would throw in from time to time. Like when Robert brought Angela’s bloody coat as proof that she was dead. And how Ruth would constantly keep Angela out of the public “eye”… Fun stuff! Paul Kane has another winner on his hands with Snow. This is the third book of his I’ve read and every one of them has been a complete joy. He’s a writer that has the wonderful ability to put his own spin on previous stories and make them fresh and new. He’s definitely on my top ten favourite author’s list. I’m so stoked for Sherlock Holmes and Servants of Hell!’
And you can buy the book here.
Our very special Guest Writer for this month is bestselling and British Fantasy Award-winning writer Frances Hardinge. Author of such books as Cuckoo Song (above) Fly by Night, Twilight Robbery and Gullstruck Island, we have an extract from her latest novel, Costa’s Book of the Year 2015 The Lie Tree (below). To read this, simply click here.
Exclusive on set photos now from the short film Paul scripted, Confidence, starring Hellraiser and Nightbreed actor Simon Bamford (above and below). Filming took place over the end of February/beginning of March, so expect more news on this soon.
Paul’s non-fiction appeared in a couple of publications last month. Firstly, his review of the movie Pay the Ghost – based on the story by author Tim Lebbon, and starring Nicolas Cage – is in the latest British Fantasy Society Journal (above).
While his article on Monsters can be found in the British Science Fiction Association’s journal Focus (below).
Above is the brand new flyer designed by Marie to promote the UK chapter of the Horror Writers Association. As you may recall from previous news sections, Marie and Paul have taken over as the chairs of this arm of the organisation, so keep checking the site here and its Twitter page by here for all the news about upcoming events.
A special news extra for February. Launched on Paul’s birthday, The Dead Trilogy (above) is an e-book that brings together all of Paul’s ‘Dead’ stories, beginning with ‘Dead Time’ which was adapted for NBC/LionsGate’s Fear Itself starring From Dusk Till Dawn’s Briana Evigan (below – see the page for this here.
The book also features exclusive cover and internal artwork from The Walking Dead’s Charlie Adlard, and a percentage of the profits will be split between Macmillan Cancer Support and The Alzheimer’s Society.
Published by NewCon Press, you can buy this publication by clicking here.
Paul’s 2013 YA novel – as P.B. Kane, published by Rocket Ride Books – The Rainbow Man has now been turned into an unabridged audio-book, which runs to almost 4 hours. You can buy this one here and here.
We begin February with news of not one, but two releases from last month. The first is the novelette Snow, which is out now in print and e-book from Stormblade Productions, with an audio version to follow in a few weeks. This from the official PR:
‘In the frozen wilderness, Angela is running: away from the man who’s trying to kill her; away from a lonely upbringing; and away from terrible family secrets… When she discovers something else hidden from prying eyes – horrors unthinkable, inconceivable. Monstrous things that might just save her life. Join bestselling and award-winning author Paul Kane (Sleeper(s), Blood RED) as he once again puts a dark modern spin on another well-known fairy tale in Snow.’
The book had an online launch on the 28th January, where lots of prizes were given away including signed books, audio CDs and the special star prize (above), a one- off original remarque by Paul in the front of his quite rare Lazarus Condition. If you missed the event, you can still go and have a look at it here.
Snow has also received its first review, so here’s what The Fluffy Red Fox Horror Blog had to say: ‘Paul Kane is an excellent master of vivid description; he uses words beautifully to evoke the mental image of a scene. With his fast moving narrative, I was soon embedded in the story. Angela’s family background and history are swiftly and succinctly dealt with, giving you just enough information to get a brief snapshot of her life and understand the dynamics, grinning at all the comparisons and links to the original fairy-tale. The overall premise IS the story is Snow White. All the elements from the “original” are there but Paul Kane has brought them into the modern world with a bang!
‘I loved Angela’s inner dialogue as it really pulled the story along and gave odd flashes of tongue in cheek humour. Kane was very clever in adding all the elements that were so central to the fairy tale and slotting them in so I barely noticed them until they slapped me upside the head and made me grin like an idiot. There is just a splash of gruesome and horror as in all good fairy tales. Overall, I really loved the way Kane writes and will definitely be seeking out other titles by him to enjoy.’
Meanwhile, as reported last month, Paul’s story for charity The P.I.’s Tale – complete with Edward Miller cover (above) – also came out, as a standalone and as part of the second volume of Refuge stories edited by Steve Dillon (below).
The P.I.’s Tale was also reviewed by Lee Murray on Goodreads, who commented: ‘The UK’s Paul Kane shows his award-winning style with the story of a P.I.’s search for a missing boy, a search which takes him on a detour to Refuge where the authorities are less than helpful. But P.I. Mickey owes it to the parents of the kid, so he perseveres with his investigations, only to uncover a twist from his own past…Volume 2 of The Refuge Collection doesn’t disappoint: it’s compelling and creepy, crammed with gritty unforgettable stories from some of horror’s best.’
Here at the Shadow Writer site, we’re thrilled to welcome A.K. Benedict as this month’s Guest Writer. Author of that wonderful novel The Beauty of Murder, her latest is Jonathan Dark or the Evidence of Ghosts and we’re very lucky to have an exclusive extract for you, which you can read by clicking here.
Word about the short film based on Paul’s original script, Confidence, continues to spread, with The Clive Barker Podcast piece here, Shock Till You Drop’s here, The Horror Society’s here, Arrow in the Head’s here, Movie’s With Butter’s here, as part of Schlock’s Film News here, Project Dead’s here, and featured on the mighty IMDB’s news page here.
As reported last month, Luke Greensmith is producing, award-winning Mike Clarke (A Hand to Play, Paper & Plastic) is directing and Simon Bamford (Hellraiser I & II, Nightbreed) is starring in this, due to start filming in February.
Paul has just reviewed the low budget supernatural movie, The House on Pine Street (above) for Sci-Fi Bulletin. To read his thoughts, just click here.
Last month Paul was interviewed for Simon Bestwick’s ‘Lowdown’ over on his site, where he talked about his latest releases – including Blood RED (above) – as well as future projects. And you can read this by clicking here.
Finally, it’s Paul’s birthday month and we feel the above message says it all really. So I’m sure you’ll join us in wishing him Many Happy Returns!
Happy New Year all our visitors. We kick off 2016 with some pretty exciting news – that Paul & Marie have taken over as co-chairs of the UK Chapter of the Horror Writers Association! Formed in 1985 by Joe Lansdale, Karen Lansdale, and Robert McCammon, to promote awareness of horror literature, the HWA’s first president was none other than Dean Koontz, and in 1987 it inaugurated the Bram Stoker Awards®, the highest recognition for writing in the horror genre. You can find out more about the organisation at its homepage here.
There’ll be more announcements in the months ahead about events and promotions over on these shores, but in the meantime you can check out the HWA UK site and join by clicking here and visit its Twitter page by clicking here.
The next piece of big news is film-related. Confidence will be a short movie based on an original script from Paul, with Luke Greensmith as producer, award-winning Mike Clarke (A Hand to Play, Paper & Plastic) as director and starring Simon Bamford (Hellraiser I & II, Nightbreed – below).
In the latest issue of Black Static (above), #50, and as part of a massive eight page article about the publisher Alchemy Press, Peter Tennant has given Monsters a glowing review. Here’s just a little of what he had to say: ‘Paul Kane’s Monsters has the distinction of a cover by no lesser talent than Clive Barker. After an introduction by Nicholas Vince extolling the virtues and abiding appeal of monsters, we get “The Ugly”, a pithy little poem that further examines our attitude to such creatures, showing how over time they are transformed from something monstrous into sideshow freaks… Gus, the protagonist of “The Disease”, is afflicted by an illness that seems beyond the scope of science, but he is the first of many, the prelude to a quantum shift in mankind’s existence. Harrowing in its detailed description of the onset of the illness and its symptoms, the story subtly intrudes a subtext about the human condition and the true nature of the disease inflicting the world…
You can read the full thing in the magazine, which you can subscribe to at the TTA website here.
And, speaking of ‘Guilty Pleasures’ you can now hear an audio version of that very story in the latest Tales to Terrify, which you can listen to by clicking here.
We’re delighted to welcome our first Guest Writer of the year now, author of The Dead (above), The Dark, The Damned and Doom Rider (below), David Gatward – as seen recently on the special features of the Scarlet Box Set from Arrow talking about the influence of Clive Barker’s fiction. We’re very lucky to have an exclusive early peek at David’s next book, School is Hell, which you can dive into immediately by clicking here.
Paul is happy to report that he is now involved in The Refuge Collection, a charity project created by Steve Dillon to help refugees in this time of crisis. Paul has contributed a story called The P.I.’s Tale with cover artwork from the legendary Edward Miller (Les Edwards) which you can see below.
More on this as and when, but you can check out the rest of the tales in the collection by buying them here and supporting a good cause.
Paul gave his first interview of the year to Book Punks, where he talked not only about his own post-apocalyptic work, but how he’d survive in a Walking Dead-style zombie world. You can read that by clicking here.
Finally, you might also notice in the above interview mention of a brand new post-apocalyptic novella by Paul. That’s right, later on this year get ready for The Rot to set in! – as Horrific Tales bring this one out in time for FantasyCon. More details, including the blurb, to follow soon.
2015 news can be viewed here
2014 news can be viewed here
2013 news can be viewed here
2012 news can be viewed here
2011 news can be viewed here
2010 news can be viewed here
2009 news can be viewed here
2008 news can be viewed here
2007 news can be viewed here
2006 news can be viewed here
2005 news can be viewed here
2004 news can be viewed here
2003 news can be viewed here
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