Category Archives: Reviews

Reviews of Atomic Fez’s books by both ‘professionals’ and readers.

EXCELSIOR! News of a Starred Review

HOORAY!! Huzzah! Plus other exclamations of joy! We’ve got a splendiferous review of joy of Sleepless Knights from Publishers Weekly! With a star! Plus there’s a reproduction of the cover by Jimmy Broxton on the issue’s “Table of Contents” (still trying to track down an image of that page’s layout)!

But before we get there, let’s a provide a bit of information about who that is. Some of you are reading this in the United Kingdom and may not have heard about this US-​​based trade journal. A few years ago I was looking for Quill & Quire, which is the Canadian version of PW. I went into a location of one of Canada’s national bookstores and had the Store Manager tell me he didn’t know what Publishers Weekly was – never mind Q&Q unsurprisingly – explaining that he was “new to books.”

Jesus wept.

Anyway, let’s put it this way the most easily: Publishers Weekly is to the book trade essentially what Variety is to TV and Movies.

Publishers Weekly is described by Wikipedia as “an American weekly trade news magazine targeted at publishers, librarians, booksellers and literary agents. Published continuously since 1872, it has carried the tagline, ‘The International News Magazine of Book Publishing and Bookselling.’ With 51 issues a year, the emphasis today is on book reviews.”

Fairly succinct and a fine job of summing it up.

Just to be fair, let’s go to the source and let Publishers Weekly describe itself.  “Publishers Weekly, familiarly known in the book world as ‘PW’ and ‘the bible of the book business,’ is a weekly news magazine focused on the international book publishing business. It is targeted at publishers, booksellers, librarians, literary agents, authors and the media. It offers feature articles and news on all aspects of the book business, bestsellers lists in a number of categories, and industry statistics, but its best known service is pre-​​publication book reviews, publishing some 8,000 per year.” You can read more about them in their own words right here on their site.

Notice that the magazine pushes the international aspect of the thing. They’ve recently appointed an editor specifically for reviews of Canadian published books, thus acknowledging we have the printed word i the Great White North (even if it might only be about hockey and coffee shops originally owned by former hockey players).

Cover art designed and drawn by the mighty JIMMY BROXTON!
Cover art designed and drawn by the mighty JIMMY BROXTON!

And speaking of reviews of Canadian published books…

logo ©Publishers Weekly, which is the property of PWxyz, LLCA ‘Highly Recommended’ STAR! from “Publishers Weekly!”Action and comedy duel for prominence in this brilliant début novel about the knights of the Round Table. Sir Lucas, King Arthur’s butler, has been Arthur’s faithful servant for hundreds of years. In the modern world, it’s Lucas’s job to make sure that Arthur and his remaining six knights gather on an annual basis to drink from the Grail and continue their Eternal Quest toward “truth, justice and the Arthurian way.” When the exploits of Lancelot and Gawain make the modern news broadcasts, threatening the secrecy of the quest, desperate measures must be taken, but plans to find Merlin end up releasing a host of dragons and undead. Lucas is left, Jeeves-​​like, to clean up the mess, which might do more harm to Arthur’s legend than the fall of Camelot did. Lucas brings a refreshing “downstairs” sensibility to the usual heroic acts, and his fate is both surprising and entirely satisfying. Williams, an experienced playwright and television writer, has created a delightful addition to the Arthurian canon. (Aug.)

Publishers Weekly, 6-​​17-​​2013, Vol. 260 Issue 24

What’s that star thing really mean, anyway? I hear you cry. I am so glad you asked, astute and inquisitive reader! Let’s turn to the people who award that little doo-​​dad, shall we?

Reviews editor Sybil Steinberg, starting in the mid ‘80s,  had a keener, more sophisticated critical eye, and for a wider range of books. She also yearned to give more prominent attention to books she particularly admired, and it was under her aegis that PW began to award stars to books of exceptional merit, and later to create the lengthier and more prominent boxed reviews.

Meanwhile, over at Wikipedia, we learn that Texas novelist Clay Reynolds, in The Texas Institute of Letters Newsletter (February, 2004), gave a behind-​​the-​​scenes glimpse into the policies of PW, saying he’d written 87 reviews for them and only “given three stars in all that time.” That’s a ratio of 1:29. My perusal sees that a bit a on the tough side, with over-​​all use of the star being one in about fifteen or twenty reviews.

This marks the ninth Atomic Fez published title from a total catalogue of  ten which has been reviewed by PW.

This is the third review with a star, so Atomic Fez is running a 1:3 ratio of critical acclaim. Which is fairly awesome!

The previous stars were for 2010’s back-​​to-​​back hits of John Llewellyn Probert’s Wicked Delights, plus the first “Benji Spriteman Mystery”: The Terror and the Tortoiseshell. Both are still available. Click the links. Please.

REVIEWS: Two Books, Much Love

Today’s news covers some reviews from the first half of this month. EXCELSIOR!

Back at the start of the month brought news the mystery The Designated Coconut written by John Travis had been reviewed by Library Journal. Plus, they liked it! Hooray!

Library Journal logo
Travis’s clever second series entry (after The Terror and the Tortoiseshell) is for readers willing to suspend disbelief… the animal characters endear themselves to readers… in this admirable comedic stab at blending speculative fiction with crime.

Library Journal (April 1st, 2013; Vol. 138, Issue 6, p65)

You can also order copies of both that title and the other “Benji Spriteman Mystery”, The Terror and the Tortoiseshell, both in hardcover for one LOW LOW PRICE of just $40 /​ £25!

Then today, the Library Journal review for John Llewellyn Probert’s book The House that Death Built arrived! HUZZAH!

Library Journal logo
The Dark Manor, constructed atop one of England’s ancient stone circles, radiates malevolence and hostility. Wealthy industrialist William Marx built the house in hopes of connecting with the spirit world, though Marx was never seen again after he entered the house. Its current owner, Sir Anthony Calverton, contacts a pair of paranormal investigators, Mr. Massene Henderson and Miss Samantha Jephcott, to furnish him with proof of supernatural activity in the house. The inclusion of four other investigators, including Sir Anthony’s niece, her physicist husband, and a famous TV “psychic,” sets the stage for a classic horror tale with a mystery at its heart. VERDICT: Probert’s début novel presents the first full-​​length adventure for paranormal investigators Henderson and Jephcott, whose previous cases have been chronicled in the collection Against the Darkness. Although the setting is contemporary, the protagonists display an endearing Victorian archness. This is a delightfully scary book.

–Jackie Cassada, Library Journal (April 15th, 2013; Vol. 138, Issue 7, p61)

Hooray! Click those links to order your copies TODAY!

REVIEW: The Terror and the Tortoiseshell

Today’s e-​​mail brought a note from author John Travis that Publishers Weekly had reviewed his mystery The Designated Coconut. Plus, they liked it! Hooray!

pwk_logoBritish author Travis’s quirky second Benji Spriteman whodunit (after 2010’s The Terror and the Tortoiseshell) offers a welcome return to a universe where, two years after an event known as the Terror, humans have been mostly wiped out. Abhoring a vacuum, nature has replaced humanity with animals, who have changed form — many walking upright and talking in human language. The altered creatures have filled the void in the workplace as well, taking over the occupations that used to employ people. Spriteman, a cat who has assumed the last name and business of his late human owner, is a 1950s-​​style hard-​​bitten PI. His latest exploit has an unlikely catalyst: “two female crime writers from overseas were coming to do a book tour.” Meanwhile, the magazine Dismemberment Monthly begins receiving threatening letters. Murder follows. Travis shows a deft hand for detail, as shown by the police using a flock of pigeons to mark the outline of a dead body with their droppings. (May)


This Week's Fish Wrap (№28)

This evening’s Shebeen Club event in Vancouver with Stephen Quinn causes me to think about a book read some time ago Flat Earth News, by Nick Davies. The things that become this week’s fish-​​wrap may have been last week’s news, but they seem to acquire the the first mentioned state far more quickly these days, and one has to wonder why that is.

While Mr. Quinn is not a newspaper man, he is – first and foremost – a journalist. The book by Mr. Davies is about journalism, and the dearth of it in the papers found principally in London, but not exclusively so. Being a regular writer for The Guardian, his expertise lies in the output of Fleet Street rather than elsewhere, and thus he devotes much of his book to the state of British journalism in its newspapers as well as the BBC News web-​​site. It’s a fascinating read and highly recommended for people who think.

First, however, let’s have one thing clear from the outset: this is not about how some minority group or secret committee is controlling the world and /​ or the media. While there may be decisions made about things by groups we know nothing about (that’s why they’re ‘secret groups’ after all), it’s all too easy to shuffle off one’s responsibility for not doing anything to change things by blaming an anonymous ‘powerful individuals’. Here’s an H.L. Menken quote included in the book (p. 395) which goes some way to explain how this sort of thinking can be rubbish:

…the central belief of every moron is that he is the victim of a mysterious conspiracy against his rights and true deserts … [He] ascribes all his failures to get on in the world, all of his congenital incapacity damfoolishness, to the machinations of werewolves assembled in Wall Street or some other such den of infamy.

This book is specifically about how there are few, if any, people in control of the media. While many reporters and editors find all too frequently that they aren’t able to do the fact-​​checking they wish to — and are frustrated at the situation’s stasis — they aren’t the cause of it through lack of initiative; they simply haven’t the time. According to the staggeringly persuasive argument of author Nick Davies, the newspapers of the UK are essentially now all owned by people who have little interest in publishing newspapers containing journalism. What these individuals are principally concerned with is simply ‘selling copies of the paper each and every day, and the more the better.’ This quantity over quality approach is why they are termed “the Grocers” by Mr. Davies.

Cover art of “Flat Earth News” by Nick Davies
Cover art of “Flat Earth News” by Nick Davies

Certainly, any business must be operated with an eye to profit v. loss. However, there is so much an avoidance of idealism towards the media’s content, that the readers are being under-​​served to the point of unconscionable delivery of falsity on the part of the various persons responsible for the media outlets’ content.

While the book focuses much of its time upon the newspapers of London – including entire chapters each devoted to the Sunday Times, the Observer, and both the Daily and Sunday Mail newspapers – the problems and trends can all be recognized as being world-​​wide in scope. The newspapers of North America are, thankfully, prevented from out-​​right lying about individuals in print, owing to a reversal of the onus of proof in legal arguments here, when compared to the UK. That said, the habit of reporting quickly and loudly, then correcting slowly and quietly, is one which no legal or regulatory procedure can effectively prevent.

The other worrisome trend is the one first identified in the book: things being simply repeated from the texts of Media Releases without any effort to confirm that there is any validity within them, or even if they contain amplified – or ‘sexed up’, to use the UK Government’s term about the Iraqi WMD reports – versions of the truth which is then responsible for a snowball effect of panic about the subject in question; which then is fed-​​back into (EG: Iranian Elections get dropped to cover Michael Jackson’s death) or someone is able to stop the thing by explaining that it’s simply not true in the slightest and we can all relax now (EG: the nullification of the principle of habeas corpus in the USA is only applied to the cases of those naughty terrorists).

The fact that this book doesn’t cover is the recent development of newspapers closing due to financial decisions by their owners, despite any budget restraints they may have imposed prior to the shut-​​down. It would be fascinating to know what Mr. Davies’ views of the ‘new media platform’ might do to return journalists to the forefront of the delivery of facts. He suggests late in the book that an over-​​haul of newspapers is required, with the probable method of delivery being some sort of display screen.

Read this book, not to begin seeing some Secret Star-​​Chamber Cabal controlling the World’s fate, but in order to see that there is an ordinary group of men frantically pulling levers behind the curtain so as to continue making the Great Oz of the Media just as impressive and seemingly required as ever before.

Flat Earth News: An Award-​​Winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media by Nick Davies; PP 420 (including index), ISBN: 9780099512684; 2nd Edition published in 2009 by Vintage, an imprint of Random House, London, SW1V

Modern Mechanix (December 1932); Baloon-wheeled bikes are the FUTURE!

This Week's Fish Wrap (№18)

What with the news of the past week including Japan, Libya’s revolutionary war, Wisconsin’s negation of Public Servants’ ability to negotiate contracts, and the UK Public Libraries having to almost literally jump up and down just in order to remind people they need to exist… Well, let’s just say it’s a bit tough to work up enough enthusiasm to bring to the world a list of a few of the things that concern the simple creation of ‘books’ for the purpose of ‘entertainment’.

“Modern Mechanix” (December 1932); Balloon-wheeled bikes are the FUTURE!
“Modern Mechanix” (December 1932); Balloon-​​wheeled bikes are the FUTURE!‘

Oddly, after last week’s screeching about the HarperCollins badly-​​considered decision to limit lending of e-​​books by libraries to only 26 times before requiring the purchase of a new license, this week was nearly free of that topic, although there’s a few notes about that below, including the possibility of HC bringing that policy to other nations. Additionally: Borders has re-​​appeared in the news, Kobo’s got more money in the kitty to make-​​up for the loss of the Australian REDgroup financing, and… [heavy sigh] the omnipotent iPad2.

BUT FIRST: a little self-​​promotion. Ponthe Oldenguine has received a delightful review by She Lever Slept! To read that in full, CLICK HERE.


HarperCollins v. the Libraries II: Read Harder

The long-​​lasting effect of this issue seems to be an ever-​​growing number of people shaking their heads in disbelief, muttering things akin to “what, if anything, were HarperCollins thinking?” Everyone I’ve discussed this with cannot understand how this could be considered a ‘logical decision’ in any way of thinking, other than simple avarice. No doubt the public reaction was anticipated by the management of the publisher, but this degree of it might have caught them by surprise.

  • The Bookseller, “HC UK not ruling out e-​​lending limit” | CLICK HERE
  • Publishers Weekly, Op/​Ed: “We’re for You, Not Against You: a Librarian’s Take on e-​​Book Lending” | CLICK HERE
  • Author Christopher Fowler’s blog, “Apparently Words Wear Out” | CLICK HERE (two succinct paragraphs of clear thinking)


Borders' and Other Retailers' Re-Organizations Begin to Get Organized

Things are starting to get calmer around a few sets of offices now that matters are moving through the stages of ‘denial’ on to ‘negotiation’. Borders USA isn’t the only one dealing with problems, what with retailers and distributors around the world dealing with the ‘new reality’; a reality that has yet to be either defined or explained in any meaningful way.

Borders had a telephone conference call with its creditors on Friday afternoon, and no word about that has yet reached these ears, but the chief concerns have to be “how much can be paid immediately, when would the next payment be available, and what about unsold stock shipped in the last year?”

  • Publishers Weekly, “Borders Meets with Publishers Over Terms; Conference Call Set” | CLICK HERE
  • Quill & Quire, “Borders Australia Updates Creditors and Unpaid Staff” | CLICK HERE
  • Kobo Books’ official blog, “Kobo Closes Series C Investment Round” | CLICK HERE
  • Quill & Quire, “Kobo celebrates e-​​book week with a round of financing” | CLICK HERE
  • Publishers Weekly, “Former Fenn Clients Find New Distribution in Canada” | CLICK HERE


Authors: Learn How Your Words Perform by Performing Yourself

While the task of a writer is a lonely and necessarily singular task, the surest sign of a story working is holding the attention of others. It’s impossible to monitor the thoughts of people reading – at least, as far as science currently permits – but a quietly restless audience at a reading certainly signals a less-​​than-​​stellar narrative passage. I know of one author who hands her material off to her romantic partner to read it aloud without any preparation; if he stumbles anywhere, she knows to smooth that section out; if his voice flattens-​​out through a section, she needs to shorten or re-​​vamp that portion. Not everyone has such a talented performer available, however.

Those of you who prefer to keep yourself to yourself would be well-​​served to at least read your own words aloud, if for no reason than for proofing. When reading aloud, typically the brain processes what’s in front of the eyes, so a typographical error will show up more freely than when passing across it silently.

If you have an opportunity to participate in a public reading, however, this is an excellent opportunity to try out something on a fresh set of ears, and to discover what needs to be re-​​worked and how. Robert McCrum explains below.

  • Guardian, Books “Road-​​Test Your Writing by Reading Aloud” | CLICK HERE


“This Week’s Fish Wrap” is an on-​​going series of posts summing up the news of the previous seven days in the publishing industry, and appears here each Monday. It’s also quite possible that the posts merely serve as a dumping ground of links so that Atomic Fez Proprietor Ian Alexander Martin can find articles later to include in his occasional rants about how ‘EVERYONE ELSE IS ENTIRELY WRONG’ about various things.

Atomic Fez Earns Two 'Best of 2010' Picks from Black Static

Well bless my stars and garters! Atomic Fez is just the bees’ knees, it seems! According to Peter Tennant at Black Static, certainly.

Not just one, but two of the books published last year made up two entries of the 13 in Mr. Tennant’s “Best of 2010″ list over on his blog in THIS POST HERE. James Cooper’s A Beautiful Red was cited for its excellent writing, as was Andrew Hook’s Ponthe Oldenguine.

Click through and read the full text, but here’s some selected text from last week’s post, as well as a little something from Mr. Tennant’s original reviews for the two books.

Cover art by David Gentry (click to enlarge or close)
Cover art by David Gentry (click to enlarge or close)

Cooper writes with a scalpel like economy of style, a surreal eye and a vision uniquely out of kilter with the world we know, but still connected enough to reveal to us truths we’d rather not confront.

Peter Tennant;Pete’s Picks”, January 14th 2011

“There’s Something Wrong With Pappy”… chronicles the dissolution of a family after the death of the mother, with sympathetic magic… and all sorts of micro/​​macro shifts of perspective… but also eerie and strangely compelling… Even better is “Eight Small Men”… with events past and present informing each other, and excellent characterisation throughout… a moving and powerful story, and testament to what Cooper can accomplish when he stretches himself.
… As so often with Cooper [in “My Secret Children”] there’s the suggestion of something else going on in the background… it’s the ideal note on which to end this collection by one of the most promising writers to emerge from the small press pack in recent years.

Peter Tennant; Black Static, Issue №16 (April/​​May, 2010)

Cover art by Steve Upham (click to enlarge or close)
Cover art by Steve Upham (click to enlarge or close)

…A delirious smörgåsbord… in a barbed satire that would have brought a smile to the faces of… Swift and… Pope.

Peter Tennant;Pete’s Picks”, January 14th 2011

Despite its brevity this is a book fizzing with ideas. While so much of it, at least superficially, seems preposterous, beneath the surface serious commentary is being made about the banality of modern entertainment and life itself…

[Andrew] Hook doesn’t set a foot wrong with the writing, his voice charming the reader so that we accept the audacity of his invention, the way in which it continually fools not only us but also itself. It is his best book yet, and I loved it.

Peter Tennant; Black Static, Issue №20 (Dec. 2010 – Jan. 2011), p.52

Atomic Fez was the only publisher to be mentioned twice, as far as I can tell, which prompted this comment from the highly respected reviewer:

…two out of five releases [released in 2010], so it appears I think [Atomic Fez] are doing something right…

The titles of the two books in the second paragraph above will lead you to their product pages, where you can purchase your very own copies of both. You’ll be glad you did, too; don’t just take Atomic Fez’s word for it!

Clearing the Desk of 2010's Odds & Sods, Part I

Well, that seemed to go pretty well, didn’t it? 2010, I mean. Not bad, really? Yeah…

So, just before we nail the lid down on the year, let’s clear a few things away that you need – yes, need – to know about. Things, in essence, that will make you shout HOORAY! Or, ought to, anyway.

Both The Terror and the Tortoiseshell and Ponthe Oldenguine got skookum reviews recently! Below I’ve reproduced some of the better bits, but frankly, there’s few “bad” bits in their of them. You’re urged to seek-​​out the relevant periodicals and read the entire texts of the reviews yourself.

Cover art by Steve Upham (click to enlarge or close)

We shake our heads in bemusement at the thought of a live TV show in which a DJ is dressed in a cardboard fox costume, with the song “Living in a Box” on continual play and the DJ shouting ‘Fox’ every time the word ‘box’ is used. Then we put the book aside, turn on the TV and watch some D-​​Lister eat bugs on “I’m a Celeb…” or a former Minister prancing round a ballroom dressed as Big Bird in “Strictly…”, with hopefully some awareness of the irony.

[Andrew] Hook doesn’t set a foot wrong with the writing, his voice charming the reader so that we accept the audacity of his invention, the way in which it continually fools not only us but also itself. It is his best book yet, and I loved it.

Peter Tennant, Black Static; Issue №20 (Dec. 2010 – Jan. 2011), p.52

Despite the horror, there is a fair amount of humour running through the book. Sometimes it is of the deadpan variety, other times it is more straightforward. One example early on comes when Benji sees different species getting together and having kids. A Frog and a Pig become a couple and have offspring that are referred to as ‘Friggs’. He also hears of a Frog and Duck getting together and having offspring: but they’re not called by the name that you’re thinking of.

One of the aspects of this new world is that, as far as the animals are concerned, the rules that the humans lived under no longer count. They make up their own rules as they go along and then follow them.

The story is part horror, part detective, with a nice line in humour. There are twists and turns as you would expect and more than a few surprises along the way. It’s one of the best books I have read this year and I hope that there are many more of these Benji Spriteman mysteries to come.

Martin Willoughby, Hub Magazine; Issue №133 (Dec 14th, 2010), p.8

Cover art by Steve Upham (click to enlarge or close)

In addition to the above, we’ve also had a good number of people e-​​mail the authors and say how much they’ve enjoyed reading the books. While not to diminish the official reviews, this sort of feed-​​back is the one most cherished by the writers, and gives them the reminder that they’re not writing in a vacuum.

Tomorrow, more about the past year, with a quick run-​​through the major business highlights, plus more than a quick glance at 2011.

Let’s have another ‘hooray’, shall we? It was so much fun earlier, after all…

Cover of the mighty “Black Static” (Issue #17 )

Four Books Well-Loved

Now then, what’s all this fuss and bother about, eh? People seem to be showing their love for all sorts of books put out by Atomic Fez, and it’s getting a mite embarrassing, wot?

Here’s two about John Travis’s novel, The Terror and the Tortoiseshell.

CLICK HERE to get more details[John] Travis is an accomplished writer and… The Terror and the Tortoiseshell is an effective opening to a promising new series.

Colin Harvey, “Sci-​​Fi/​Fantasy Fiction, Suite 101″, June 6th 2010

John Travis has penned a novel that’s sort of “Animal Farm”, partly classic noir, and definitely acid trippy weird – but all in a good, fun, highly readable and entertaining way…

Very dark, but also funny in the sickest of ways. Here’s to hoping the world gets to enjoy much more of Benji – maybe if Atomic Fez offers a dimebag of catnip?

Dave Simms; Horror World, Book Reviews (June 2010)

We’d just like to mention that the term “dime bag” is one which leaves a feeling of naïve confusion here at Atomic Fez. No, really, we haven’t a clue what Mr. Simms is talking about. The guffaw which was uttered when we read that line was someone else. They’re not here now because… they ran away before they could be caught. Yes.

To read the entire text of each of the reviews above, click the date at the end of the credit. In the case of the 2nd one, click and then scroll about half-​​way down on that link. Once you’ve read the reviews, pop back here and click the cover image to go to the book’s page here on the Atomic Fez web-​​site and order a copy. Remember that they’re mailed domestically from both within North America AND within the UK!

Shifting to the ‘paperback’ titles, let’s hear what the American Library Association’s Booklist had to say about James Cooper’s collection The Beautiful Red.

CLICK HERE to get more detailsAt the heart of every tale in Cooper’s latest collection of meticulously crafted horror is a disquieting, iconic figure or image. …

While independent publisher Atomic Fez may not yet be positioned to introduce Cooper to a wider audience, the quality of his output so far easily matches that of the best-​​known talents in contemporary horror.

Carl Hays; Booklist April 1st 2010

And now… here’s one from Colin Harvey on the Suite 101 site: you can easily read the full text after you select here, as it’s quite a long link, actually.

Through all the stories run images of impending death, damaged children, broken families and corruption, forming the thematic threads articulating the book’s skeleton…

These stories as a whole form a gestalt of a book…

Certainly, while it is less than a novel, “The Beautiful Red” is more than the sum of its individual stories, and forms an impressive collection which will only add to a reputation that continues to grow.

Colin Harvey, “Sci-​​Fi/​Fantasy Fiction, Suite 101″, May 31st 2010

Continuing on with Mr. Harvey, here’s his review about Rhys Hughes’s book Twisthorn Bellow which we’ve not got around to shouting at you about until now.

CLICK HERE to get more details…Rhys Hughes is a hard act to match; “Twisthorn Bellow” is Hughes at his most madly inventive.

Colin Harvey, “Sci-​​Fi/​Fantasy Fiction, Suite 101April 26th 2010

And now here’s a review about this very same novel by Mr. Hughes, this time by the incredible Peter Tennant:

Hughes has claimed the book is his tribute to Philip José Farmer… but he is a writer who wears his influences lightly and the spirits of other literary worthies gleefully flit in and out of the text… each contributing something to the tasty brew that ultimately is all Hughes’ own.

… Rhys Hughes is more fun than one of those barrels of monkeys people talk about, and you’re probably going to have a good time with his book.

Peter Tennant; Black Static, Issue #16 (April/​May 2010)

We had honestly thought that we already had the reviews for John Llewellyn Probert’s filth fifth collection in hand, but here’s one that was stumbled across nearly by accident, again by the highly experienced Carl Hays in the pages of the ALA’s Booklist:

CLICK HERE to get more detailsWhen he’s not penning gruesomely amusing horror tales, Probert writes essays online reviewing some of his favorite slasher flicks, both obscure and famous. In his fifth story collection, his cinematic appetite often manifests in stray movie references and crisp, screenplay-​​ready narration laced with vivid imagery. The opening story, “At Midnight I Will Steal Your Soul,” for instance, shares its title with a little-​​known 1964 Brazilian movie and follows a fearful woman’s visit to a psychiatric hospital, where an evil presence waits to claim her soul and body. “Ophelia” recounts the fate of a young woman kidnapped expressly to become a model corpse for a group of unprincipled artists bent on reproducing great paintings. In “Your Help Needed Urgently!,” a deceitful businessman is forced to watch video clips of torture scenes to avoid being exposed. More than once Probert goes absurdly over the top with his story arcs, but his penchant for wily humor and odd narrative twists just as often yields a genre gem.

–Carl Hays, Booklist

Sadly, the exact issue this appeared in has not yet been located. Anyone with some further information about that should contact Atomic Fez by leaning out the window & shouting really loudly.

Just when you thought we were done with that book (and because earlier we didn’t talk enough about how incredible Black Static is), here’s another review of Wicked Delights: this one from the periodical continually enjoyed in Atomic Fez’s laboratories: Black Static!

It’s an immensely entertaining read…

[“Two for Dinner”] is so deliriously tongue in cheek and full of witty invention, written with such panache and obvious delight that I found it impossible to read without a smirk of satisfaction taking up residence on my chops. This is the story that best represents the promised Wicked Delights.

A fine collection from a writer who… is a skilled storyteller, one who works at his craft, and is always going to provide fair measure of thrills and chills in a horror mode for the discerning reader.

Peter Tennant; Black Static, Issue #17 (June/​July 2010)

If you’d like the full text of the Wicked Delights review – plus a bit of an intelligence leak about a new Atomic Fez title from the talented JLP, plus this is the first issue of two with the winners of the recent “Campaign for Real Fear” competition, so you probably want a copy for that reason alone – then here’s what they suggest you do:

Cover of the mighty “Black Static” (Issue #17)How to Buy:

You can buy Black Static in good bookshops, newsagents and specialist stores, both here in the UK and several other countries including the USA. If your local shop doesn’t stock the magazine please ask them to order it in for you. You can also order Black Static via mail order distributors such as Fantastic Literature and BBR, or download an e-​​version from Fictionwise (head here). By far the best option though, for you and for us, is to take out a subscription to the magazine direct: please just click on this link where you can buy our stuff with a credit/​debit card or PayPal. Thanks!

Take it from this year-​​long subscriber, this is well worth the cost. Interzone is also perfect for those who enjoy Science Fiction or ‘Alternative Reality’.

And there you are. Go and have a lie-​​down now, you probably need it after all that excitement.

…right after you buy all these books, though. Priorities, eh?

Wicked Delights Gets Both “PW Review” & Praise from Horror Master

Gracious! Will this praise for authors never cease? One would actually have to admit that the writers are as good in others’ eyes as they are in our own! Behold, another review from the pages of Publishers Weekly of a book being published by Atomic Fez, this one being Wicked Delights by John Llewellyn Probert!

A STAR! from “Publishers Weekly”!CLICK HERE to get more details and order copiesWicked Delights John Llewellyn Probert. Atomic Fez (, $39.99 (352p) ISBN 9780981159720

Prolific horror writer Probert (“The Faculty of Terror”) offers up 18 gruesome, unsettling, and often unnervingly funny tales in his wide-​​ranging fifth short story collection. In “At Midnight, I Will Steal Your Soul,” a terrifying choir rehearsal in a haunted asylum leads an anxiety-​​plagued woman to a profound realization. “Two for Dinner” is a heart-​​pounding tribute to revenge horror films with a gleefully disturbing punch line. “The Mirror of Tears” is a haunting family drama about childhood terror and the sometimes damaging power of love. Vividly creepy images — the pages of a cookbook sucking on a child like leeches, an entire company being reduced to a sculpture of body parts as part of a corporate takeover — are all the more compelling when rendered in Probert’s breezy style. An illuminating and frequently hilarious afterword ends the collection on a gentle note. (Apr.)

To read the original, head to this spot in those intar-​​webs: A bit of a long one, granted, but that’s why it’s a live link.

The Wicked Author (Click to  enlarge / close)This follows some charmingly selected words about Mr. Probert’s book from Britain’s long-​​respected Master of Horror Ramsey Campbell:

The delightfully wicked Mr Probert wields his prose like a scalpel. His imagination is impressively warped and gruesome, and yet his tales have an unrepentantly English reticence. There’s dark humour here, and unexpected poignancy — indeed, the book is as full of surprises as the man himself. Horror is lucky to have him.
Ramsey Campbell (author of “Just Behind You” and “Creatures of the Pool”)

Goodness me. So much love for just one book. It makes you want to buy one for yourself, doesn’t it? Here’s a good link for you, then.

John Travis's Debut Novel 'Star Worthy', says Publishers Weekly!!

Well, this is a good day… and not just for the laboratories of Atomic Fez, either!

Not only has John Travis’s début novel The Terror and the Tortoiseshell been reviewed by the august industry periodical Publishers Weekly, the book has even rated a star, something which only ¼ of the eight ‘mystery’ titles reviewed this week received. Hurrah, John!

Publishers Weekly logoA STAR! from “Publishers Weekly”!The Terror and the Tortoiseshell by John Travis, Atomic Fez Publishing (, $34.99 (304p), ISBN 9780981159737

CLICK HERE to get more details and order copies“Animal Farm” meets “The Big Sleep” in this quirky but compelling hard-​​boiled mystery, the first in a new series, from British author Travis (“Mostly Monochrome Stories”). A mysterious event has reversed the roles of animals and humans in England. In an instant, pets have grown in height, gained the ability to speak, and started assuming the jobs of their former masters. People have become the animals’ pets or playthings in a savage outburst of revenge. Some animals oppose the violence, in particular, a cat who adopts the name and profession of his owner, becoming “Benji Spriteman, Detective”. Travis packs a lot in, including a twisty whodunit plot, humorous sequences to leaven the grimness, and a cult persuaded that Arthur Machen’s 1917 novella, “The Terror”, is a true account of an animal revolt in Britain. Despite superficial resemblances to Tim Davys’s “Amberville” (2009), a crime novel featuring walking and talking stuffed animals, this is a far superior work with a more fully realized imaginary world. (Mar.)

Who could ask for better than that? How delightful!

Order your copy today. You know you want to…