I thoroughly enjoyed Greaveburn, it’s a fantasy novel but with a real difference
from the run of the mill stuff out there.
Martin Belcher – Amazon Review
Very Gormenghast & Neverwhere – right up my street!
J.D. Hughes, Author
Elsewhere I have likened it to Ghormenghast, but not in a derivative sense. It
has that perfectly-built world that all good fantasy books should have, a
self-contained universe which makes sense, and where all threads are combined
into a rich tapestry of story. It’s a book written by someone who can tell
stories, a born story-teller
Richard Pierce – Author of Dead Men
…a kick in the shin plates to more stereotypical fare…Each new scene is vivid and tangible, if sometimes repugnant and fell, allowing the city itself to become a character; a desperate, wounded beast…
…In the reading, I never felt more than a few beats away from some version of a Dickens’s work, at least in spirit, in terms of depicting co-existing lives in radically different tiers of society. Hallam keeps his class warfare tightly rined in to the gilded halls and the oozing sewers of Greaveburn, all the better to keep the pressure escalating upward from the lowest level of the sewers on up…
Professor Upsidasium of Steampunk Chronicle. Read full review HERE
This intriguing gothic tale starts with the reader wanting to get deeper into the plot. It reminded me of Gormenghast with a plot of murder and revenge….SPOILERS…Definitely worth reading but be warned that once you start reading you won’t want to put the book down.
Technomancer, Amazon Review
NOT BEFORE BED
Intense, provocative, unique
Hallam’s collection of short tales is delightfully chilling. I do not agree with the title though. These are exactly the stories to read just before bed (teens to adults only.) In fact, I can picture a group of campers sitting around the fire, while one reads the stories out loud. Or even better, a group of girls at a slumber party, sitting together as the host reads the stories and then watches as every little sound makes someone in the group jump.
It is obvious that Hallam has a knack for stringing just the right words together to build suspense before throwing in a twist or quirk that allows for even more impact at the climax. I am delighted to add this book to my collection.
Kelly Knapp, TX. (See the Reader’s Gallery for more of her.)
At times bitingly funny and then distressingly chilling, this collection of (very) short unrelated stories range from the odd sci-fi overtones to straight up old school horror. I, for one, would love to see a full-length novel where Hallam demonstrates his deftness at being able to slowly deeper the reader’s tension and expectations to a full crescendo.
Berry, of Goodreads
I loved this collection of short stories. Great Vacation Reading.
Elizabeth Guizetti, of Goodreads
I first encountered Craig Hallam’s writing in Murky Depths, an enjoyable blend of art and fiction that is produced in the United Kingdom. I was intrigued by his writing–there’s a very confident approach to voice and pacing in the work–so I was happy to dive into Not Before Bed. I’ve been reading these stories in sips and swallows over the last few busy weeks, and I’m happy to say they’ve provided many moments of entertainment.
The collection runs from the atmospheric to the darkly visceral, with some nice injections of humor in the prose along the way (there is a Robocop reference I couldn’t help but snort at). The influences and subjects were diverse: some supernatural, others of the creature-feature variety; some Lovecraftian, others of the undead category.
What really made the collection go for me is the afore-mentioned voice/pacing combination. Hallam uses fragments really well–I like the fluidity of the prose as he underscores action with simple, succinct phrases. I also liked the dialogue. It wasn’t tag-heavy and it felt very authentic. I like the use of italics for emphasis, and the descriptions. Consider this snippet from “Laughter on the Landing”:
Then a sound from inside my own apartment. If it hadn’t been for the silence, I would
never have heard it.
I leant to see around my feet which were up on the coffee table.
A drip. A splotch of dark crimson on the oak surface. For a second, I watched it as if
waiting for something to happen. It did. Another droplet fell in the same spot.
Drawn upward, my eyes widened.
On the ceiling, a line of the same fluid had trickled before dripping. It was leaking
through the floorboards in Jenny’s apartment…
The tension in most of these stories is an excellent slow build, and they deliver the goods in the third act.
There were a few minor typos and some of the font types and sizes were inconsistent (I read the Smashwords edition–which I believe was an advance copy), but there was nothing that detracted from what is an otherwise strong collection. “Laughter on the Landing” and “Sarah and the Monster” were two of my favorites; they also best communicate the notion espoused in the collection’s title.
Still (and if you’re like me), you’ll want to give these tales a look just before bed. Read them when the lights are down, when the sounds of the house settling add that wonderful little kick that makes good dark fiction so fun to read.
Daniel Powell, Author of Strange New World
OMG – From the first word I was hooked. Quite a semblance of “tales from the darksidesque” stories to definitely not read before bedtime. Each story stands on its own. Very well written and delivered. I feel I should be paying for this collection. I would definitely read more from this author. Great job.
Shaeeza Haniff, Goodreads
I absolutely love this book. Craig has a unique way of telling stories that leaves the reader hooked from the beginning. I haven’t read that much of spec fiction, but enjoyed immensely every tale that was included in this collection.
Some of the stories don’t have dialogue, but in all honesty, they don’t really need it. He’s able to weave a tale in such a way that you find yourself so immersed, so focused that you lose track of what you’re doing. At least, I did. I found myself imagining every scene of each story as I read it and in some cases, wanted to read more of these short stories.
This book is a definite must-read. Truly recommend it.
Lizzette E. Manning, Goodreads
I loved the twisted little stories of Mr. Hallam’s imaginings. Whether the tale is deliciously creepy or falls into the realm of the downright weird, each one will leave you turning page after page into the wee hours of the morning. And above all else, Not Before Bed is FREE! What more could a reader ask for?
D.H.Nevins, Author, Goodreads
I read the opening segment IN BED! Thanks for that sleepless night!
“I don’t usually read speculative fiction but I’m glad that I downloaded Not Before Bed, which is a collection of short stories from the twisted mind of Craig Hallam!
This is the second e-book that I downloaded when I bought my Kindle and there are plenty of great stories to entertain you on a cold, dark night. I enjoyed reading each and every one of them, though my favourites are Laughter on the Landing, Sarah and the Monster, Lovecraft and Albert. I like it when you can read a collection of short stories and have so many good ones to try to pick the best from.
Once I had started each story I had to read to the end. One of the longest stories in the collection is – Albert. I thought it was an excellent narrative tale that draws you into his world. Craig’s writing brings each story to life and I have to give this book the 5★ rating.
Well done, Craig. I look forward to reading new stories and, hopefully, your debut novel.”
“A superb collection of fourteen chilling tales that you really shouldn’t read before bed (unless you’re like me and you really can’t help yourself). Hallam has a knack for building the tension and fear slowly with Laughter on the Landing, Sarah and the Monster and Albert while giving the reader a short sharp shock with March of the Broken, The Fly Man and the title tale Not Before Bed (which by the way may be the shortest but it packs the biggest punch). Hallam also takes the more traditional horror genres and gives them his own unique twist with the original viewpoints of Daisy Chained, Hunting Grounds and Sleeping with the Dead. Each story is very well written and the style changes to suit the story being told with reflections of Poe and Stoker in some and Lovecraft in others. Hallam uses his words carefully weaving the story and atmosphere together to pull the reader in and keep them there until the very last moment. I can’t quite bring myself to pick a favourite from these stories but the one that sent the biggest shivers down my spine was the title tale Not Before Bed, which takes your own night fears and gives them a voice, and it’s not one you really want to hear.”
Very fun book to read when the lights go out!!!
Kimberley, from Goodreads
A collection of thrilling and chilling stories, this book was a lot of fun to read. The way that Mr. Hallam builds suspense makes the stories really come to life.
There are many different kinds of stories in this collection: paranormal, quirky, some even have humor in them. But they all have a unique voice and viewpoint that adds originality to the bunch. I loved the mixture of Lovecraft-style horror with the stronger, gag-worthy images. It shows a good handle on many kinds of horror stories.
Something that I found very interesting was the stories that had no dialogue. That is not an easy thing to accomplish, and yet they are the ones that stayed with me the longest. It’s pretty difficult to make a scary story with just mood and atmosphere, but the author handled it well.
This is a wonderful collection that will please most readers of horror stories, mainly because the variety in the writing. There is something here for everyone, and even if you don’t enjoy one of the stories, give the other ones a try, they are worth it.
Valentina of Carabosse’s Library