by Stephen Volk
(PS Publishing, October 


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Watch Kit Power's VIDEO INTERVIEW (25") with Stephen Volk about The Dark Masters Trilogy  

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,  

Read the full review at 

"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 

"Volk touches on dark and difficult themes - and he does it with carefulness, realism and respect. He stresses the importance of heroes and monsters and that often people are scarier and more dangerous than any supernatural villain ... The Dark Masters Trilogy is a unique book and a fantastic read, and definitely a must-read for any horror fan"  Magdalena Selata, Diabolique Magazine

Read the full review at Diabolique Magazine

"I beg you to purchase this gorgeous trilogy and be devoured by the words of a true master ... The dialogue is seamless, the plots have an addictive pace that urges you to turn pages quicker than your fingers can manage. This is a writer that is absolutely at the top of his craft"  Black Sunday Magazine 

Read the full review at Black Sunday Magazine

"For aficionados of the macabre, this is industrial-strength catnip - a truly beguiling trilogy of novellas by a writer who has long been a master of the genre"  Barry Forshaw, DVD Choices

Read the full review by Barry Forshaw at DVD Choices 

"Do we have a better writer of dark fiction in our midst than Stephen Volk? I don't think so. Netherwood rounds off this trilogy in one volume, and not only does it brilliantly complete the series, but it is utterly convincing as a stand-alone. Erudite, without ever feeling laboured, I'm in awe at the way Volk marshals so much materialm and Crowley's character fairly crackles off the page in all his complex decrepitude. Superbly gripping"  Cliff McNish, author of Breathe: A Ghost Story 

"This is a beautiful book. Touching, haunting, disturbing, and all with a clear love for the genre and its dark masters. For all it's darkness, an absolute joy to read"  Ray Cluley, author of Probably Monsters

"This master storyteller of plots that grip and dialogue that crackles stitches together with invisible threads fact and fiction in a thoroughly engaging read"  Nancy Kilpatrick, Hellnotes

Read the review by Nancy Kilpatrick on Hellnotes 

"Stephen Volk is worthy of the title 'Dark Master' himself, having crafted three beautiful yet often terrifying tales riffing on reality, imagining those towering figures of British fear and unease Peter Cushing, Alfred Hitchcock, and Dennis Wheatley in episodes that combine their careers ... with fictional situations leaving each man floundering out of depth and learning a lesson or two about themselves and the world around them. Superbly-drawn characterisations marry the essence of these great talents with the author's own individual take on their inner selves. For fans 'in the know,' there are nods and references scattered throughout, but these collected novellas are far more substantial than that might suggest, and come highly recommended even if you have only the faintest awareness of the Hammer star, Hitch, and the king of paperback occultism. Indeed, they are a wonderful place to begin your learning and appreciation of the trio. Visit 'Whitstable', 'Leytonstone', and above all 'Netherwood' (where you'll find a few unexpected surprises and a guest appearance by a fourth major figure on the British scare scene) - three of the best days out you'll ever experience"  Darryl Buxton, editor, Shrieking Sixties: British Horror Films 1960-1969 and Dead of Alive: British Horror Films 1980-1989

"Whitstable brought tears to my eyes, Leytonstone aroused giddy admiration, and Netherwood's conclusion stirred conflicting feelings of heartache, a sickness of the spirit, and a fresh appreciation for the transcendent quality of artistic expression"  Daniel R Robichaud, ConsideringStories

"A Clash of Wills" Read the review on ConsideringStories 

"In Whitstable we enter into the grieving soul of the gentlemanly Cushing. It's a tale of emotional dilemma and is so poignantly written that one is almost in tears when reading it... Leytonstone again shows how versatile a writer Volk is. His work cannot be classified or pigeon-holed into a particular genre, his depiction of time and place and the complexities of human character place him in a field of his own.. So to Notherwood, the third instalment of this wondrous trlogy. What happens at the story's climax is a chilling, magical, revolting, incredible, esoteric, humorous and salutary piece of writing that left me breathless. Volk's characterization of the mismatched pair is like the interplay of a dark comedy duo and then, at the turn of a page, it's like watching the deadly ballet of a snake and a mongoose. I cannopt recommend this collection highly enough. A trilogy of genre-defying and captivating tales created by a master of his art"  Tim Dry 

Read Tim Dry's review in full: 

"Thoughtful, intelligent and insightful, I read Netherwood in a state of awe and (in the best possible sense) envy, utterly blown away by the vivid characterisation of the two very real, and very different, men at the centre of the story, and by the delicate and precise evocation of period in which it takes place. An incredible and enthralling piece of work"  Mark Morris, author of The Immaculate, Albion Fay and The Obsidian Heart Trilogy, editor of New Fears and New Fears 2 




"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)

Aleister Crowley's funeral - Brighton, December 1947 

Read the exclusive interview with Stephen Volk about the writing of Netherwood by Kit Power on Ginger Nuts of Horror