Silverweed Road, the collection of short horror stories, is dark, unique, chilling, and very British. Silverweed Road, the road, is made up of around 40 mock-Tudor houses, is J-shaped, has a dead-end that leads to ominous woods, is full of peculiar characters, and strange happenings are a regular occurrence.
Short story horror anthologies aren’t typically my go-to reading fare yet something about Silverweed Road seemed to tick the boxes so it pole-vaulted to the top of my to-be-read list. It features 12 horror stories, each of which follows the occupants of one of the houses on the titular road. One of the stories will take about thirty minutes to read and they are self-contained whilst neatly relating back to elements of previous stories such as the crash site, foxes, the woods, jackdaws going “ack-ack” etc… By the time I was reading the last two stories, the importance of the slight crossing over, the strange happenings being significant to numerous neighbours, and the general creepy and supernatural nature of all the stories led to an exciting, surprisingly deep and fulfilling climax. Crook impressively merged these singular tales into a collection of cohesive stories, as unsettling and bizarre as Silverweed Road itself.
The stories are varied, some feature various horror tropes as homage, they are kooky, sometimes gritty, and they showcase slick humour with their overall weirdness and also with the character interactions. Off the top of my head, I could summarise some of the tales as 1) A Gardener vs. Some Birds, 2) A Darts Player Sells His Soul to a Devil, 3) The Abandoned House and What Leaves it Every Morning, 4) A Valuable Ring and a Haunting Hand, 5) Ashes of a Lost Love, 6) A Tree That Wants to Drink Wine, and 7) The Artist and the Swimming Pool. This would give potential readers an idea of what to expect, without really giving that much away.
Lots of bad things happen to the characters that we follow. So much so that, between stories, we are witness to short intermissions by Former Detective Chief Inspector Jim Heath of Kent Police. The ex-officer tries to make sense of the many disappearances, uncharacteristic murders, and unexplainable catastrophes. These were welcome breaks and they bring us back to how all the strange occurrences on Silverweed Road appeared to the general public. His blog entries were an extra layer to the narrative and it was interesting to see him feature in some of the stories, before his dismissal. Again, this was a neat crossing over.
I had a mostly positive time with Silverweed Road. After about the fifth story, which was about the time I started to understand that the stories were connected and the piecing together mattered, I found myself more engaged. They aren’t reported in chronological order. So, when characters we’re familiar with pop up to argue with a neighbour, even though in their story they either died or were placed in a psychiatric ward, it doesn’t appear jarring, in fact, it seems to fit with the weirdness and the humour of the novel and the road. At about the 9th story, I was feeling a bit fatigued with the read and that’s probably down to the fact that I raced through this novel in a week, and should perhaps have taken my time and savoured each entry. That being said, getting over that minor hump, the last two chapters were two of the best in the collection, wrapping events up nicely. The very strong finish brought my rating up to a 7/10 and I’m interested to see what Crook releases next.
I received a review copy of Silverweed Road in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Simon Crook and Harper Voyager.
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