Andrew Cull has pulled together his recent short stories and the novella, Knock and You Will See Me into one collection called Bones. Cull is a writer I’m only just becoming familiar with. The novella, Knock and You Will See Me was a hit for this reader. I enjoy character driven horror stories and that was certainly the case with this tale. It’s safe to say I was eager to indulge in Andrew’s other shorter works.
Bones begins in suitably chilling fashion with the excellent Did You Forget About Me? I started this tale late one night and quickly became entranced by Cull’s atmospheric horror tale. Similarly with Knock and You Will See Me, this is another tale rich in character. What could be more unsettling than a visit to an old farmhouse belonging to a recently deceased relative? Did You Forget About Me? sets the tone for the rest of the book. It is a rich, haunting tale featuring a dark and horrific finale.
The second story, Hope and Walker, is set in Australia’s Northern Territory. This gently unsettling tale perfectly captures the hot and humid conditions but it’s the excellent protagonist, Em, who carries this tale towards its twisty conclusion. As with all of the tales in this collection, Cull’s prose is delightfully clear. His stories do have a literary sway, but without some of the wordiness that plagues literary fiction sometimes. Hope and Walker is much more subtle than the opening tale but certainly not any less enjoyable.
With The Trade, Cull gives us a monster that will haunt you for years to come. A sinister collection of mangled offerings plague a young families house. Who or what is leaving them and why? The Trade is a story that goes straight for the jugular, wasting little time in filling your imagination with gruesome images. At the heart of this story lies a broken family; a mother and father constantly arguing whilst a young boy watches on helplessly. The pace is much quicker and the ending is both terrifying and heartbreaking. This is, without a doubt, my favourite story in the collection.
The Novella, Knock and You Will See Me is one I’ve read and reviewed previously. It is another very good story, similar in tone to Cull’s other works included here. Upon a second glance, I did feel it lacked a little of the punch of the others, but still, it is a very worthy addition to Bones.
There is a short flash story included at the end and it goes to show that Cull is more than comfortable writing stories of any length. The Ragedy Man brings to mind Stephen King’s Children of the Corn. The twist in the tale left me with a huge smile on my face and upon turning the final page I was left more than satisfied.
Andrew Cull has truly arrived. Bones shows a confidence and maturity rarely seen with a debut collection of stories. Within this book lie stories of great depth, featuring excellent characters and varied settings. The stories begin quietly but slowly increase the noise levels, resulting in powerful, unpredictable endings. I have no reservations in recommending this book and I’ll be picking up everything Cull publishes going forward.
4/5 flickering lights from the Grim Reader.
Pick up a copy from here.