Urban Gothic
Lacuna and Other Trips

Editor: David J Howe
Telos Publishing
RRP £9.99
ISBN 1-903889-00-6
Available now

Behind the facades of London's shiny dockside developments, its designer boutiques and coffee bars lie long-forgotten dark corners and darker secrets. It's a city where anything can happen and being young and pretty won't always save you...

Scary stuff, if the blurb on the back cover is to be believed. Lacuna and Other Trips is a collection of six short stories written by Simon Clark, Christopher Fowler, Graham Masterton, Debbie Bennet Paul Finch and Steve Lockley & Paul Lewis.

Not a novel to read alone - seriously! These stories are pretty freaky and the fact that I regularly walk around London in the evenings did not help matters.

The book kicks off with The Look by Christopher Fowler and is a chilling view into the world of the fashion guru and super model. Anyone who has ever wanted to be a catwalk model is advised to skip this story. How far would you go for fame and fortune or to attain that body beautiful look? This is a wonderfully dark story which hits just the right note!

When two junkies break into a deserted mental hospital they soon realise that it is not totally empty after all. Lacuna by Debbie Bennet is the only female contribution to this collection of short stories and, while not the best story of the bunch it is by far the most believable story.

Graham Masterton's The Scrawler starts with bizarre messages appearing all over London that are scratched deep into a number of areas including sides of buses and lavatory walls. These messages only seem to be noticed by the person that they are intended for, but even he can not believe what they are telling him to do. This story starts well, but builds to a rather silly climax. The homosexual slant to the story was pointless and added very little to what would have been a chilling ending. Instead of feeling sorry for the main character it seems as though he gets what is coming to him,

By far the greatest contribution is Paul Finch's Boys Club. While a little slow to get going, with a confusing two layered narrative the pay off is worth the wait. If you suspend disbelief (there is just no way that the ending could have been set up as we are led to believe as there are too many uncertain variables) then the twist at the end is almost tear jerkingly sad. Not only that, but Finch knows how to make the reader wince with pain and disbelief as the truly horrible events of the conclusion feel. I was left with that traffic accident feel - you don't want to look, but can't help yourself. Truly wonderful!

Goblin City Lights by Simon Clark sees a number of bizarre death videos appear on a number of websites linked to a gothic rock group (which split up several years earlier) it transpires that the lead singer is taping these strange goings on and sending them to webmasters. The strange link between these videos is that they all seem to have been shot in London graveyards.

While this story is a little silly it has its moments and is extremely entertaining - although the ending is a little disappointing.

Telling the Tale by Steve Lockley and Paul Lewis starts with a journalist with writer's block who is unable to come up with a sexy story to lead his paper. When a mysterious card appears on his desk bearing the inscription 'The story must be told' with a phone number, it looks like the answer to his prayers are answered

This story seriously concerned me because, believe it or not the scary rhyme sung be the protagonists girlfriend awakened something in my past - I'm sure I've heard it before, but can't remember where. The plot unfolds well and has a satisfying ending.

Lacuna and Other Trips is a worthy edition to any horror fans book case. While some of the stories are patchy in places they are, on the whole represent a damn fine read - bloody scary stuff!

The publishers have also produced 100 special limited edition hardback copies for £30 as well as 300 numbered limited edition paperback copies which are signed by the authors. These are available direct from the publishers website at

Amber Leigh

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