THE BOOK CLUB
A supernatural horror novella by Alan Baxter
Finalist for the 2017 Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novella.
Honorable Mention, Best Horror of the Year, Vol. 10, ed. Ellen Datlow.
Jason Wilkes’s life takes a turn for the worse when his wife fails to come home from her book club. Jason calls Kate’s ‘book buddy’, Dave, who assures him she left hours ago. Contacting the police, Jason finds them equal parts sympathetic and suspicious. He tells them almost everything, except that he’s been hearing Kate’s voice, calling as if from far away. He certainly doesn’t mention that he’s seeing shadows that reach for him. With the police getting nowhere fast, Jason takes matters into his own hands, even as nightmare images and Kate’s distant cries continue to haunt his waking moments and his dreams, and the strange, grasping shadows persist. Jason begins to unravel the mystery, but he’s at odds with the police, he’s being lied to by Kate’s book club friends, and his chances of finding Kate slip ever further away. It seems that everything is going to go as wrong as it possibly can.
PS Publishing, May 2017
Cover Art: Ben Baldwin
PRAISE FOR THE BOOK CLUB
“The Book Club proves that there’s still new terrain to explore in even such an old trope as Lovecraftian horror. Baxter does an excellent job of bringing it into contemporary times, and better still, throws in a few twists and surprises that are based on the characters rather than the supernatural elements they encounter.” – The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
“It is a must-read cosmic thriller, if such a thing exists?! Alan Baxter continues not to be tied down to any particular genre and in The Book Club he has delivered what I am sure will be one of my favourite novellas of 2017. It is available in stunning hardback [and ebook] from PS Publishing and the excellent artwork from Ben Baldwin means this is a must buy!” – The Grim Reader
“The Book Club is one of the best novellas that I’ve read in all of my years as a reader. I can’t remember the last time I was so enthralled by a story, or so emotionally wrecked by the plot twists and conclusion to the story… To put it simply, this book is nightmare fuel (in a good way). Baxter continues to grow and impress as a storyteller, and I can’t wait to see what he releases next. The Book Club is a must read for fans of cosmic horror, horror, and mystery stories. 5 out of 5 stars.” – Smash Dragons
“… a tense nail-biter, fast-paced and suspenseful, laden with eerie mysteries and sinister secrets. I read it at a single sitting, zipping breathlessly along. It’s a fascinating example of the what-would-YOU-do, how-far-would-YOU-go scenario, to find out what happened to or maybe even have a chance to save someone you loved.” – The Horror Fiction Review
“A tight novella that may make you want to be sure of being in the light by its end.” – Sci Fi Bulletin
“What begins as a straightforward missing persons case soon unravels into a much larger – and darker – mystery in this stunning story of cosmic horror. Baxter shows he isn’t afraid to play with reader’s expectations, toying with a police procedural before setting off on a genre-bending story that twists and turns until its horrific but satisfying ending. It’s an enjoyable and well executed novella that’s short enough to digest in a single sitting but with plenty of meat on its bones to keep you gnawing over it for a long time afterwards.” – Leader Newspapers
“The Book Club is a taut tale, told skillfully and well. It is compressed, manipulative (in the finest senses), constantly surprising. Each new revelation incorporates an unanticipated twist, culminating in a devastating discovery that has been implicit in the story almost from the beginning. It plays with Lovecraftian conventions—with a wry reference to non-Euclidian space, for example, and occult languages whose words taste like vomit—but never settles for the easy, tentacular trick. It is monitory even as it urges its characters and its readers into the unknown. Its title and opening lines are innocuous, consciously generic; its climax is terrifying and its conclusion a paean to the light.
Highly recommended. – Hellnotes