A NIGHT WITH NO STARS
'An alarming story of surprises and shocks.' Gerald Kaufman.
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting and evocative
I have read 'A Night with no Stars' four times which is almost unheard of for me. Every so often something makes me recall parts of it and then I read it again. I have also gone out of my way to visit Rhayader which is where the action takes place. Finally I have read through the whole of Sally Spedding's canon
5.0 out of 5 stars Murder and mystery lurk in a beautiful background.
I did something I rarely do with a book when I read "A Night With No Stars" - I read it twice. The first time was at great speed as the many twists and turns in the plot kept me turning the pages until late into the night, anxious to find out what happened next, while the second time was at a more leisurely pace to enjoy the power of Sally Spedding's writing.
Set mostly against the hauntingly beautiful countryside of mid-Wales, the story takes place in an atmosphere of ever-growing menace and mystery as the repercussions of a murder committed fourteen years earlier come down to the present, tightening their hold on the innocent as well as the guilty. The weather and the landscape play their parts as horror piles convincingly on horror until the story reaches its unexpected, but entirely satisfactory, climax.
'A Night With No Stars' is Sally Spedding's thrid novel. Both "Wringland" and "Cloven" were powerful, gripping stories, but "A Night With No Stars" is even better, What more can I say, except that I'm looking forward to the next one!
Ms. Hazel M. Martell
BEHOLD A PALE HORSE
Sally Spedding’s novel opens with the birth of Girard Corbichon in thirteenth century Normandy. The First Crusade is drawing to a close, but militant Christians still preach against Jewish and Muslim believers as well as those whose lifestyles are deemed to defile Old Testament laws. Girard is born with albinism, and this is enough to convince his superstitious father that the boy represents the curse of a vengeful God; wife and son are abandoned and forced to move nearly three hundred kilometres north to seek comfort with relatives in Froissy.
A few years later, in Pembrokeshire, another boy, Mordiern Guyon, is delivered to parents who delight in their newborn child. Mordiern’s proud father, a devoted crusader soon to travel to Constantinople, dedicates his son to follow in his footsteps and become a knight when he has reached manhood. The vow will bring Mordiern and Girard together as brothers of the Order of the Temple, a relationship that will inspire Mordien to compose exquisite songs but that will also have harrowing consequences for the men and their families.
In a parallel narrative set in London just over 700 years later, The Early Music Balladeers are practicing a melancholic song attributed to Mordiern. The beauty and pathos of the work allows senior chorister, Catherine Ash, some merciful respite from a violent and abusive marriage. Clement, her narcissistic husband, works as an estate agent in London’s now trendy Docklands. When Catherine arrives home, he informs her that he is to run the firm’s office in the south of France. The couple relocate and find themselves living in a ramshackle apartment, rented from the unpleasant Madame Rosa Tavernier. Clement’s work at his new office, Maisons du Soleil, is all-consuming, and leaves Catherine isolated, disoriented and vulnerable, with only uncanny dream-visions of Mordiern and his wistful ballads for company. When she meets Madame Tavernier’s elderly brother Leon she is intrigued by the eccentric old gardener. The mysterious Taverniers, however, are guarding grim secrets from the past, and the dysfunctional English couple find themselves unwittingly drawn into deep and murky waters under the warm French sun.
Sally Spedding’s carefully constructed novel successfully straddles time and space. The mood becomes increasingly chilling as the two narratives relentlessly swirl together and create a turbulent gothic vortex into which the protagonists are irresistibly pulled. The book explores the fragility of love and humanity as medieval Europe’s apocalyptic mindset gallops into the twentieth century with brutal and destructive consequences. Having previously read Spedding’s The Yellowhammer’s Cradle I expected Behold A Pale Horse to be a thought-provoking journey into the macabre. I was not disappointed and this book will appeal to readers who, like me, enjoy haunting thrillers in dystopian settings.
No one does evil like Sally Spedding. What she has succeeded in doing in Behold a Pale Horse is combining stories of fanatical cruelty divided by centuries from the time of the bloody suppression of the Templars to the tragedies of the 20th, and making them both equally shocking. But she also combines intensely chilling horror with the most lyrical language. In fact, there’s one part that calls to mind Andrew Marvel poetry. “My vegetable love should grow / Vaster than empires, and more slow.” France, both of the early 14th and the late 20th centuries, is brilliantly drawn, but the jaw-dropping climax is much closer to home.
Another jaw-dropping page turner of dark doings from Sally Spedding.
With labyrinthine twists and turns in its plotting, the story journeys from present day London to France, with the ill-matched and unhappy couple, Catherine and Clement Ash, paralleled with back stories of the Knights Templars and WWII, and the extreme beliefs and paranoias that led to genocidal prejudices and persecutions. Not surprisingly Behold A Pale Horse has a cast of severely doubtful and unpleasant characters who live up to their promise of inherent evil… and the most deserved death in a novel.
Sally’s writing is at its best the in descriptions of the settings, especially the evocation of a quintessential coastal French village with its air of neglect and somnolent passage of time which will be familiar to anyone who has spent time travelling in France.
THE YELLOWHAMMER’S CRADLE
Sally Spedding is supreme mistress of chillingly creepy tales, and this one is as chilling and creepy as the best. It’s helped by the period, mid nineteenth century, where the modern era is overlapping a more superstitious past, and the setting, the shores of a chilly Scottish loch. This is the land where you wouldn’t be at all surprised to come upon three weird sisters, brewing up eye of newt and toe of frog.
Pretty young Catriona McPhee escapes her father and his poverty stricken cottage to work as servant at grim, granite Ardnasaig house. It’s a house that has lost its mistress, who has mysteriously vanished, but two other female servants are already in residence: Janet Lennox and her mother the cook. Both Janet and Catriona have an eye on James Baird, the young master of the house, and both have secrets they want to keep well hidden. No one is innocent. No one is safe. It’s war. To the death. A truly shivery read. I got to the end (3 in the morning) and went straight back to the beginning again.
Couldn’t put this down, especially as it wasn't clear who really were the good, the bad and the ugly until well into the story. The cast of devious and immoral characters, kept me guessing. The meanness and grind of their lives feels very real. The landscapes, the houses and hovels, the cold, ice and damp all very tangible.....and of course the cliff hangers, which kept me reading through the night.
CUT TO THE BONE
Chilling. Seriously chilling. Fully three-D landscapes, full of menace in themselves, peopled with desperate characters. It makes me wonder if the nightmare of raising a murderer is every bit as bad as the nightmare of having a child murdered. A very compelling read, hard to put down.
Thorne Moore. (Author of 'A Time for Silence' and 'Motherlove.' (Honno))
HOW TO WRITE A CHILLER THRILLER
Top class how-to book
What a fantastic how-to book. I couldn't put it down. Pure joy from start to finish. Highly topical and such an easy read. Thanks to this author for sharing her secrets with us, we are so lucky. Highly recommended.
An Amazon Reviewer.
Spedding is concise.... She is clear. And encouraging
How to Write a Chiller Thriller sounds like something like a Stephen King or Hitchcock or Poe how-to guide for writers. However, it is much more contemporary and more example based than a standard concocted formula for authors of this genre. I have not read fictional work of Sally Spedding but reading through this book which I would much rather call an enjoyable guidebook, her candid fails and successes do more than hook.
Zahra Ammar | 5 out of 5 stars
You cannot go wrong buying this book.
How to Write a Chiller Thriller by Sally Spedding was received from NetGalley. Who doesn't want to write the ultimate novel? Some have given it a shot and some still only dream. To write the novel this book gives a person some pointers ( didn't figure that out from the title)? Each chapter has writing exercises to help aspiring or established writers along as well many have as examples of the chapters theme; the author tends to act as if publishers like "new blood" and experimentation, as a writer I disagree, it seems publishers choose the same writers over and over with rarely any experimentation, thus self publishing, be it good or bad, has exploded and traditional publishing houses are grasping for continued relevance, that being said it had nothing really to do with this book review. If you or someone you know aspires to be a fiction writer, you cannot go wrong buying this book and learning some of the craft.
Jeffrey Wells | NetGalley - Goodreads | 4 stars
Good practical handbook for aspiring authors of thrillers, in the broadest sense of the definition, but with a bias for horror (both supernatural and not). Lots of good advice and solid examples.
Davide Mana | NetGalley | Recommended
'This is a thriller that will not surrender its hold on my mind...'
Mallory Heart Reviews. bit.ly/UFNLpP
This is a horror story and a mystery. If you like well-written creepy thrillers, this is one to remember.
Geoff Jones. Eurocrime.
...what Helen and Jason find is the most complex, incredible yet realistic Gordian knot I've read in a very long time, if ever.
Mallory Anne-Marie Forbes. Goodreads.
Cold Remains is a chilling story...and as with all good mysteries, no one is what they seem. There are many surprising twists which keep the reader turning the pages, although at times I was almost too scared to continue reading.
Lizzie Hayes. Mystery People.
A stunning book with vivid characters and a gripping story.
I was not remotely prepared for what Malediction had in store for me. From the very first scene we have a very powerful and very graphic story about sexual escapades and corruption in the Catholic Church, yet we also get a compelling read through and through. How does she do it?
Spedding has created a scenario, not unlikely to happen, and a few amazing characters that won’t let you forget them. A well plotted and edgy piece of art.
What results may be shocking and agonizing to some, it is dark, like Sally Spedding’s other work, and pulls no punches. It’s liberating to read someone so outspoken, artistic in her writing and so absolutely engaging.
Not recommended for the faint-hearted but highly recommended for everyone else.
Christoph Fischer. Prolific, best-selling author, and Literary events organiser. 21/11/16
Malediction is a horrifying parable of poisoned faith. No-one does the darker shade of noir like Sally Spedding.
Andrew Taylor. The Spectator.
...A haunting, chilling demonstration of the festering power of evil from a master-writer. Read it at your peril!
Moonyeen Blakey. Amazon Books.
'Malediction is an intense, intelligent, visceral thriller from the the get-go... If you thought Dan Brown was the last word in clerical depravity, think again.'
Peter Guttridge (Read the full review on Amazon)
The Chilling Thrillers of Sally Spedding....Sally Spedding does not write cozies. Some people have called her novels “creepy chillers.” They are not for the faint-hearted. They frighten me. But that, I think, is what they are supposed to do, and they do it with style, with top-notch plotting and narrative skill, with brilliant, gradual build-up of suspense that keeps you turning the pages even when something deep inside you whispers, this is dangerous stuff, you will not be able to banish it from your mind.
Click here to read the full review
dark, and nail-bitingly suspenseful, this story is fiendishly
clever and packed full of unexpected twists and turns.'
Booklist on Come and Be Killed
pace from the very first page...'
'A striking book that crime fans would wish to read...' (Prey Silence)
'Prey Silence is a dark, disturbing
and compelling tale that will haunt any dreams of a quiet retreat
in rural France.'
Clare Littleford (Fiction reviewer
for the Yorkshire Post)
'.... And whilst in
France (as so many of us are nowadays), Sally Spedding has written
chiller of what can happen to ex-pats who fall foul of their new
neighbours. 'Prey Silence' (Allison & Busby £18.99) is
the perfect gift for all those tiresome people who boast about
the French idyll they're about to live.'
Carla McKay (fiction reviewer for the Daily Mail)
unquestionably got what it takes’
'Sally Spedding is a
font of creepy stories, the kind of tales which wheedle their
way back into your mind,
maybe days and weeks later…’
'A subtle chiller
which slowly ramps up the tension’ (Wringland)
'Sally Spedding...has been credited
with being a latter day Du Maurier...'
'A fine, evocative and
haunting first novel…a
contemporary ghost story to keep your heart pumping’ (Wringland)
'You may not have heard
of Sally Spedding - but you will, you will. Wringland is a tale
of chilling menace
atmosphere set in haunted fen country. We've been in this territory
before, but seldom to such good effect; Spedding knows that before
delivering the set-pieces it's essential to carefully build suspense
through both unsettling incident and sense of locale - at both,
she's unquestionably got what it takes. The heroine's job as a
for a property firm takes her to the sinister Black Fen and a
series of increasingly disturbing incidents. This is a ghost story
with real assurance.’ (Wringland)
'Sally Spedding is the mistress
of her craft...'
Welsh Books Council
'Prey Silence is a fantastic book.'
This vibrant collection of short stories will draw you into a dark, pulsating world that is easy to pretend does not exist: her writing is so distinctly unique it will truly chill you to the bone.
Sally Spedding sets her scenes to perfection: the beautifully crafted descriptions of the countryside, creatures and human relationships in each tale, increase the dread that seeps through you as you read. From the harsh Welsh valleys to idyllic rural France; you will be left in no doubt of the authors’ astute and precise knowledge of the environment she is transporting us to. Each short story unravels its own dark tragedy. Every piece is thoroughly un-predictable and yet captivating, with an inevitable sense of something sinister and evil lurking and building throughout. Whether through the eyes of innocent, heart sore Beate Muller, a victim, or in the mind of cold, twisted Madame Laval, the unforeseeable twists and turns of each haunting episode will leave your mouth dry and your heart beating faster. This collection of crime stories is by no means about simple, straightforward murders. It delves into the more subtle world of dark spirituality and the real potential for cruelty within the human species. An exposure of vendettas, revenge, bitterness building over years and the pure evil that some can inflict on others for their own satisfaction. Sometimes drawn into compassionate empathy, sometimes loathing the cruelty of the culprit, but always horrified; we are taken on a true roller coaster of emotions. Although in conclusion to each tale Sally Spedding does indeed reveal the disturbing finale, it is somewhat elusive. She urges the power of suggestion magnificently, leaving your mind to fully engage and enter into the story in order to fill in the unwritten specifics and more graphic details……..A task that is disturbingly easy to fulfill. By the end of the collection, we are left in touch with our darker side, unnerved by the dark capacity of any one human soul, doubting our own goodness and innocence and even the trust we have in our loved ones. Sally Spedding has created an eloquent, vivid masterpiece that will ensure the dark secrets spun out like a web of death, fully entrap and engage you; so coming back to haunt you long after you have finished the book.
From ‘Blackthorn Days’:
‘The broken piece was mine now, but its sharp edge had torn my wrist and my young ripe blood fell on to Mrs Furniss’s sleeve, her neck, her face as we stood locked together on the twelfth, oak step and fear became a smell. Hers.’ p. 95
Review of ‘Strangers Waiting’ by Sally Meseg for Dreamcatcher
If short stories about East End cannibalism, council estate dawn raids, petty murder or smack-happy voyeurs busting a paedophile ring aren’t currently on your ‘to-read’ list, then prepare to take a literary smack in the chops like never before.
Sabotage review of Radgepacket Volume six Tales of the Inner Cities.
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