THE DARK MASTERS TRILOGY

(PS Publishing, October 2018)

 

Order your copy here 

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Whitstable - 1971

Peter Cushing, grief-stricken over the loss of his wife and soul-mate, is walking along the sea shore near his home when a little boy approaches him. Taking him to be the famous vampire hunter Dr Van Helsing from the Hammer movies, the child asks for his expert help...

"A beautiful piece of work... heartfelt, respectful, elegant, brave" Dread Central

More on Whitstable (including more reviews) here

Leytonstone - 1906 

The young Alfred Hitchcock is taken by his father to visit the local police station. There he suddenly finds himself, inexplicably, locked up for a crime he didn't commit - the catalyst for a series of events that will scar, and create, the world's leading Master of Terror...

"Volk possesses a questing mind and an expansive heart and paints dark and light sides of the human equation like few others" Mick Garris

More on Leytonstone (including more reviews) here

Netherwood - 1947

Best-selling black magic novelist Dennis Wheatley finds himself summoned mysteriously to the aid of Aleister Crowley - mystic, reprobate, The Great Beast 666, and dubbed by the press 'The Wickedest Man in the World' - to help combat a force of genuine evil...

 

"Beautifully written. Perfectly nuanced. I loved it"  Neil Spring, best-selling author of The Ghost Hunters and The Watchers

"With Netherwood, Stephen Volk gives us the night-side of nature, a journey into the mesmeric and demonic. As a reader I was overjoyed to feel a palatable unease that this tale of dark supernatural agency stirred within me. An instant classic of the genre"  Johnny Mains, series editor, Best British Horror 

"Netherwood is the best thing I've read this year. Wry, clever, creepy and quietly heartbreaking. It's a killer. Each of these novellas is pure gold"  Gary McMahon 

"I loved it. The perfect finale to the Dark Masters Trilogy. Packed with word magic, full of illuminating darkness"  A. K. Benedict, author of The Beauty of Murder and Jonathan Dark or The Evidence of Ghosts 

"The Wickedest Man in the World meets the Dan Brown of his day... but Volk finds the men behind the cliches... and they're not what you might expect"  Phil Rickman, Phil the Shelf, BBC Radio Wales

"A very fitting grand finale to the book... Volk is truly one of the modern masters of weird fiction... The Dark Masters Trilogy is densely packed with all manner of biographical goodies that will repay many a revisit, but I think it's the often profoundly touching journeys we take into the private lives of these characters that will have you coming back time and time again. And hence this is a book that deserves a permanent place on the bookshelves of any lover of the weird and the wonderful"  Jim Moon, Hypnogoria

Read the full review on Hypnogoria here 

"Volk's prose is beautifully crafted, evoking days gone by, and capturing the spirits of his three dark masters exquisitely"  Matthew Johns, British Fantasy Society book review

Read the full review on the BFS website 

"Netherwood is the capstone to an evocative and beautifully written trilogy - highly recommended. 10/10"  Paul Simpson, Scifibulletin

Read the full review at Scifibulletin 

"Should be at the top of every horror fan's to-read list... The quieter start of Whitstable means that there feels like a gradual increase in disturbing content throughout the book... Leytonstone, in its re-creation and further probing of a real-life event in Hitchcock's past does well to ground it in the themes of voyeurism and angst towards women so well-recognised by genre fans. Netherwood allows for passages dedicated to horrific dream sequences, while also grounding these fears and experiences in the fall out of the Second World War. Overall, the book is a treat for genre fans. Confidently but sensitively written, it is both an appreciation and exploration of the figures within it and the power of the horror genre itself"  Caitlyn Downs, Scaredsheepless.com  

Read the full review at Scaredsheepless.com 

"Any aspiring author (and a few established ones) should use this trilogy as a masterclass in character development... It's sublime stuff... Humanity - or, more precisely, human nature - has been the underlying theme of all three books... A strange clam perhaps, given the black magic and Satanism which is so much a feature of Netherwood, but my feelings on finishing this final part of the trilogy were ones of optimism, not leaat because of the stirring meditation on the nature of art - and artists (another theme of the whole trilogy) - on which it ends. Each book is a masterpiece. Combined, they produce a kind of synergy, creating an outstanding reading experience. Perhaps their greatest achievement is to provide convincing portrayals of their protagonists despite being fictional accounts, all done through the skill and craftsmanship of the writing. Now that's real magic!"  Anthony Watson, Dark Musings

Read the full review by Anthony Watson on Dark Musings 

"An absolute masterpiece. The strength of the series has been an incredibly evocative sense of time and place - (in Netherwood) Volk outdoes himself, bringing to life 1947 England with an incredible eye for detail and atmosphere... Similarly, Wheatley is brought to life in a loving yet unsentimental portrait that rings with psychological authenticity... Like the finest works of the genre, the narrative walks a fine line between the supernatural and the psychological. Volk's footwork in navigating this tightrope is the smooth, assured step of a master, leading us every step with hearts in mouths. This novel is simply a tour de force, and the crowning achievement of a quite remarkable trilogy of tales. With it, I think Volk has given us a collection that, like the men he writes about, will stand the test of time, and bring joy (and discomfort) for generations to come. Unconditionally recommended"  Kit Power, Ginger Nuts of Horror

Read the full review by Kit Power on Ginger Nuts of Horror 

"It's a resonant overarching title. The real characters embedded in these tales of psychological suspense, useasy horror and occult powerplay were all masters of the dark arts. But the darkness is also the existential void, the crisis of the soul with which Volk confronts them... (His) investment in the lives and the work stamps them with the hallmark of authenticity"  Jez Winship, Sparks in Electric Jelly

Read the full review by Jez Winship on Sparks in Electric Jelly 

"Stephen Volk has a penchant for weaving real-life figures into fictions and creating psychodramas between surprising protagonists. In Whitstable we find a frail Peter Cushing forced to become the unlikely champion he played in his films. In Leytonstone a disturbing incident in Alfred Hitchcock's formative years helps us to understand why he became the master of suspense. The concluding part of the trilogy, Netherwood, is its crowning glory; a sinister cat-and-mouse confrontation that becomes a battle of sould between a strutting, arrogant Aleister Crolwey and the unlikeliest of opponents, the writer of lurid supernatural pulps, Dennis Wheatley. It's a knockout conclusion to a unique, deeply English trilogy"  Christopher Fowler  

"I cannot speak highly enough of the work of author Stephen Volk. And he seems to be able to channel these icons of darkness from the inside out. This is an astounding book of fictional stories rooted in real lives. Beautiful work!"  Mick Garris, director/producer, Bag of Bones, Nightmare Cinema 

"The Dark Masters Trilogy is a triumph... Stephen Volk has written three fictional tales that are so believable as to be future urban legends, such is the power of his writing, the great attention to detail, and his knowledge of the history of horror and the occult. You simply can't imagine these stories having the same impact in anyone else's hands"  Darren Charles, Folk Horror Revival

Read the full review by Darren Charles at Folk Horror Revival 

      

 

   


"Coven Ready: From Instragram to TV: Why are Witches so Popular?"  Occult dramas are a feature of the new season's TV. Is this a response to the uncertainty of contemporary politics? (Neil Armstrong, The Guardian, 15 Sept 2018)  

Read the exclusive interview about Netherwood by Kit Power on Ginger Nuts of Horror