Conrad Williams is a prolific horror and fantasy author that I bet you haven't heard of. The newly minted Virgin books is going to change that, though (hopefully). In 2007, Williams won the International Horror Guild award for his latest novel, The Unblemished (other noms included King's Lisey's Story, Keith Donoghue's Stolen Child, Brian Evenson's Open Curtain, and Will Elliot's The Pilo Family Circus).
Unblemished was originally published in 2006 by Earthling Publications, a small, independent horror and dark fantasy publisher here in the states. This year, the new Virgin Books imprint released the trade paperback as one of their first releases stateside.
Since I'm keeping you guys up-to-date on my day-to-day reading this week, I will again have to defer to PW for a description:
"Starred Review. British Fantasy Award–winner Williams describes his virtuoso, grotesque nightmare of a book as a "paean to the novels I grew up on in the 1980s." It's an unnecessary observation: readers will immediately recognize the influence of Stephen King, Clive Barker, Peter Straub and Ramsey Campbell. Playing on humanity's deepest fears and taboos, Williams plunges the reader deep into a hellish near-future where creatures banished five centuries ago rise again to lay eggs in the few people they don't consume alive, turning London into a cross between hive and abattoir. Caught up in the grisly madness are photographer Bo Mulvey, who goes looking for excitement and gets more than he bargained for; Sarah Hickman and her beautiful, disturbed daughter, Claire, on the run from a hit man with an amputation fetish; and Gyorsi Salavaria, a cannibalistic child killer determined to become the mate of the invaders' new queen. Williams (Use Once, Then Destroy) is so good at what he does that he probably shouldn't be allowed to do it anymore, for the sake of everyone's sanity."
Given that PW gave it the coveted "starred review" and the fact that it's won an award for best horror through the international guild, it should be tops on the list of all horror fans. I can handle a lot of the gruesome and grotesque and am hoping that Williams satisfies without going over the top for me. We shall see! So far, so good, though. I began reading briefly this morning and am itching to get back to it asap!
If all goes well, I should finish a significant chunk this evening, if not the whole thing, and be on to the next book by tomorrow. Williams will be something of a test for me as far as Virgin Books goes. I did read Fickle by Patrick Manus, one of their mystery titles, but this will be their first horror title that I read. I would like for them to be a go-to on my list of must-reads for new releases in the genre. I've also purchased another of their titles for later reading and will keep you guys posted!
To follow-up from yesterday, though, Ghost Road Blues was utterly fantastic! I can't wait to get to the next two in the trilogy. You can catch my "official" review this weekend at bookbitch.com.