There is no doubt Phil Rickman is currently my favorite horror/thriller author, a title he shares with Peter Straub. I like his language and his style of storytelling, his settings and his characters, his ability in mixing tradition and modernity. His The Man in the Moss is one of my favorite horrors (and I will have to re-read it one of these nights) and I normally keep a few Rickman books in one of my emergency boxes, and when the moon is high and the nights are cold, I happily go looking for one of his chillers.
And so for the quiet hours of this weekend during which I will be writing but also reading, I dug out Night after night, Phil Rickman’s 2015 stand-alone novels. While I like the Merrily Watkins supernatural thrillers, I tend to prefer the one-shot books – I can go from cover to cover and not worry about continuity, references or the simple fact that, damn, I need to read another of these!
Night after night is an exploration of the classic “bad place” that is a staple of horror fiction – a building so imbued with evil that it reflects on the lives of those that dare enter it.
In this case, we deal with a Cotswolds farm that is somehow connected with the last days of Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s last wife, and with the later death of a famous actress and model.
But now, Knapp Hall is being used as the set for a new reality show, one that mixes celebrities and the supernatural.
The producers are in for a lot more than they expected.
I’m currently a few chapters in and already the story is showing the edge of the darkness to come, while using a very agile, elegant structure.
I tend to focus on the plot, but one of the reasons why I like to go back to Rickman’s books is to observe the technique. This is certainly popular literature, but it is superior quality popular literature.
It’s well worth learning from.