The Concrete Grove by Gary McMahon. Book review

The Concrete Grove by Gary McMahon. Solaris (July 2011) ‘7.99

Reviewed by Colin Leslie

The Concrete Grove is an inner city housing estate in the North East of England. Dominated by drugs, crime, gangs and violence this is the place where teenager Hailey and her mother Lana find themselves following her father’s death and subsequent debt issues. Thrown in among the violence, it’s not long before they are drawn into the dark underbelly of the place.

At the same time Tom is struggling to come to terms with his wife Helen’s illness which has left her confined to bed. Lana and Tom find salvation in each others company but it’s Hailey who begins to see that the Concrete Grove and it’s dominating skyscraper, the Needle, might just be hiding even bigger secrets.

As usual with Gary McMahon, the whole book has an extremely dark tone. His marvellously realised characters (apparently all of whom are based on real life figures) are fascinating, tragic and often dangerous and the darkness of the location is the perfect match for them. At the heart of the book though is a deeper level of parallel worlds and supernatural creatures. With more than a passing nod to the likes of Arthur Machen, McMahon offers us tantalising glimpses of a much deeper mythology. It’s this undercurrent which sets this book apart from McMahon’s other works to date and in my opinion places it above these. This book is an outstanding mix of urban horror and dark fantasy, hints of King’s The Dark Tower series, hints of Holdstock’s Mythago Wood, but above all the realisation of McMahon’s talents as the outstanding British horror writer of our times.

The Concrete Grove by Gary McMahon. Solaris (July 2011) ‘7.99

Reviewed by Colin Leslie

The Concrete Grove is an inner city housing estate in the North East of England. Dominated by drugs, crime, gangs and violence this is the place where teenager Hailey and her mother Lana find themselves following her father’s death and subsequent debt issues. Thrown in among the violence, it’s not long before they are drawn into the dark underbelly of the place.

At the same time Tom is struggling to come to terms with his wife Helen’s illness which has left her confined to bed. Lana and Tom find salvation in each others company but it’s Hailey who begins to see that the Concrete Grove and it’s dominating skyscraper, the Needle, might just be hiding even bigger secrets.

As usual with Gary McMahon, the whole book has an extremely dark tone. His marvellously realised characters (apparently all of whom are based on real life figures) are fascinating, tragic and often dangerous and the darkness of the location is the perfect match for them. At the heart of the book though is a deeper level of parallel worlds and supernatural creatures. With more than a passing nod to the likes of Arthur Machen, McMahon offers us tantalising glimpses of a much deeper mythology. It’s this undercurrent which sets this book apart from McMahon’s other works to date and in my opinion places it above these. This book is an outstanding mix of urban horror and dark fantasy, hints of King’s The Dark Tower series, hints of Holdstock’s Mythago Wood, but above all the realisation of McMahon’s talents as the outstanding British horror writer of our times.