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Book Review: The Dark Masters Trilogy by Stephen Volk

Stephen Volk. Now there is a name that makes me sit up and listen.

I reviewed his novella, Whitstable a little while ago and was so enveloped in its beautiful story I remember carrying the feeling I had around with me for quite some time. Fast forward a few years and I welcome The Dark Masters Trilogy onto my reading pile. I was not disappointed.

The trilogy consists of three novellas, all with central characters that the seasoned horror fan will know very well. We have the wonderful Peter Pushing in Whitstable, Alfred Hitchcock in Leytonstone and a duo that I think would have been a joy to watch if they had met; the novelist Dennis Wheatley and the notorious occultist Aleister Crowley. Yes -what a cast of characters I hear you cry, and I quite agree. I won’t reveal too much as I beg you to purchase this gorgeous trilogy and be devoured by the words of a true horror master.

The first in this wonderful trio is Whitstable featuring Peter Cushing who is grief-stricken over the loss of his wife, he is mistaken for his Hammer persona Van Helsing by a young boy and is asked to undertake a spot of vampire hunting.

Leytonstone features the cinematic legend, Alfred Hitchcock. The story explores rather wonderfully the very foundations of Hitchcock’s interest in crime and punishment; pursuing it to the point that exposes what truly fuels a heart of darkness.

And finally there is Netherwood.  This is a story that you wish was a true account, two high profile personalities; Aleister Crowley and Dennis Wheatley come together to undertake a final magical working to combat evil.

Each story is beautifully written and deeply respectful to the figures we know and love in the history of magic and horror.  Stephen Volk has quite a gift and the trilogy is consistently brilliant. The dialogue is seamless, the plots have an addictive pace that urges you turn pages quicker than your fingers can manage. This is a writer that is absolutely at the top of his craft.

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