Reviewed by Matthew Johns
This compilation of David A. Riley’s slightly longer tales contains five of his inimitable horror stories. Beginning with a tale of gangsters dabbling with forces they don’t understand in “His Own Mad Demons”, where petty thief Nobby finds that his paymaster isn’t who he appears to be. “Lock-In” sees a group of old soaks locked in a pub that gets transported to another dimension, thanks to the work of a lodger at the pub. “The Fragile Mask on his Face” tells of a serial killer who likes to remove the skin from the faces of his victims, and in a rarity for a Riley story, one of his victims actually lives to tell the tale. “The True Spirit” is set in a town in Northern England, where dark, satanic mills once operated. Finally, in “The Worst of All Possible Places”, a divorcee finds himself housed by the local council in a tower block populated by demonic forces, killers and undead drug addicts.
Riley’s work is classic horror – he doesn’t resort to swearing or unnecessary depictions of torture to attract his readers. His tales are all set in environments that will be very familiar to many Brits – the pub plays a big part in some of his stories. If you’ve not tried Riley’s work before, this is a perfect introduction to his own brand of horror. I can’t recommend it highly enough.