So here we have it. The eagerly anticipated follow up to Stuart Keane’s first collection; he brings us Whispers Volume 2.
Once again, we see the artist Mark Kelly providing the artwork for the truly mesmerising cover. Once again, we have a collection of short stories, varying in length and content. Some are completely original stories, never seen before, and others are Stuart’s submissions to previous writing collections.
I started this book with bated breath. Let me first explain why; for me, the first collection, Whispers Volume 1 was a collection that I loved from start to finish. Every story was unique, different and terrifying in its own way. I’m well aware of Keane’s writing ability, for me, it was a case of whether this volume would stand up to the quality of the first, and possibly even surpass it?
Yes, it can. This collection is at least as good, in some cases better. Stories like Urban Legend, Hodmedod, and The Tale Of Sandie Barker show that he can put his unique, contemporary stamp on any traditional horror story. Stories like Animocalypse and Falling Apart, showcase his broad imagination and diverse skill of poprtraying any situation to be a believable scenario. Casualty of War and Bedroom Secrets are not traditional horror, but they are testament to Keane’s grasp of that crossover between real life and horror. He makes it explode in your face in the form of terrifying, yet realistic fiction. My hat’s off again. This man continues to astound me with the quality of every release. My rating 5/5
We open the collection with a foreword from none other than Mark Parker, giving some good insights into the work that he has done with Keane previously, and a couple of good points on publishing platforms and indie publishers
The Tale Of Sandie Barker.
Two friends Alex and Mike are out driving when they stumble upon Widow’s Peak. A remote location, where a young woman was said to be have been raped and killed when she broke down in her car. On the anniversary of her death she is said to return, with a violent death to anyone that sees her. A tragic ghost story, with a nice twist, and a brilliant way to open the collection.
Three people, a stripper called Angela, a bum called Bob and a fat pig called Edward, find themselves in a precarious situation by an unknown captor. Their imprisoner talks of the Legend of Regurgitation, or LegReg. It caters for three types of people. Expect blood, gluttony, vomit and other bodily fluids, Bourbon and a bucket. A sick and twisted little number. Also, one of my favourites in the collection.
The town of Barrington is under siege. The stench of death is pungent on the streets. It is truly hell on earth. Buildings are on fire, cars and trucks are being overturned, the army are fighting a losing battle, but with who? Follow a small group of survivors, attempting to fight back against an enemy, where they are vastly outnumbered. Expect a few parts that will truly get beneath your skin, and a nice twist.
Richard and Lisa are an unhappily married couple. She often daydreams, thinking back to her once perfect wedding day, and dream husband. Now, her only enjoyment in life is her pet Labrador – Twinkie. Money and an unhealthy addiction to junk food leads to Richard treating Lisa as a prisoner in her own home. A real shocker of an ending in the ultimate tale of manipulation and control. This is one that will definitely stay with you.
Abbi has a run in with a tramp, where a chance exchange of fluids leads to her contracting a rare type of disease. The doctors class it as a mutated strain of leprosy, and give her only three weeks to live. She is told that she will start to lose body parts, however she will feel no pain. She asks if she can see her remaining time out with her long term partner – Sarah. Expect a shocker of a story, filled with gore and yucky moments. The finish will leave you with your mouth agape.
Casualty Of War.
John Dixon was a Vietnam War veteran. Enlisted to service in 1967. Twenty years on, he is still re living the horrors of Operation Firefox - a mission that went disastrously wrong, leading to the massacre of his platoon and friend Rollins. A real testament to the horrors that war can inflict on people, and the after effects. Once more, a dark shocker with a nasty ending.
The Swan Song
Meet Lobes, Geist, Zhang and Hunter. A four piece Metal band called Bethesda. We catch up with them just as they are finishing a gig at Brixton Academy. They are jumping on their tour bus, where they will be having a post gig party with a couple of groupies; Reign and Melanie. The band are on their way to Reading, to headline at the Reading Show, their last ever gig – their Swan Song. Sex, blood gore, shocks, laughs and a surprise cameo by a certain man named Kyle. Great fun from start to finish, and my pick from the stories.
Friends, Nicolas and Paul wake up after their friend James’ bachelor party, a night filled with booze, drugs and strippers in London. Strangely enough, they wake up with their hands and wrists bound and pillow cases over their heads. A great, creepy story of betrayal and revenge.
So there is my review. My recommendation - go and download it.