MY NAME IS MARY SUTHERLAND
"The first thing to admire is the voice: convincingly innocent, slightly bewildered, and decidedly offbeat, Mary’s tale-telling is both starkly honest and patently unreliable. Her habit of having us feel sorry for her plight – and yes, quite enough pitiable episodes occur for us to realise how dire her daily life has become – is frequently undermined by later admissions of some unspeakable act, usually involving animals. Indeed, it’s this simultaneous assault on readers’ impressions – engaging both our sympathy and revulsion – that offers the whole book such a compelling grip."
"In short, My Name is Mary Sutherland is a marvellously compelling read – I consumed it in just a day, during two lengthy sittings – and Farrell should be congratulated for her attention to detail, her masterful modulation of voice, and convincing development of mounting psychopathy. This is a truly excellent book."
"Told with verve, confidence and a wonderful eye for both detail and prose, Kate has written something truly worthy here, a narrative which flips back and forth between her short life up to the point of incarceration, and the efforts of the psychiatric hospital to get her to open up about herself; we are also given enigmatic hints as to why Mary is in this place. Though it isn't a comedy, I did find myself laughing out loud a couple of times; often at inappropriate moments. In many ways, the tone and humour reminded me of Roald Dahl at his most black. I was also put in mind of such books as The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks, and Slights by Kaaron Warren. Though not derivative at all, it does share similar DNA with those excellent works. Ultimately though, it's its own beast, and is a very readable one at that."
Paul M. Feeny, Ginger Nuts of Horror
“Farrell’s Mary is an incredibly detailed person, with the occasional moment of pitch black humour, with one of the most shocking and horrific endings you will discover – told through the eyes of Mary, whose only thoughts are of kindness.”
“Quite simply, if you love horror fiction where the tale is revealed very slowly and gradually with each turn of the page, then this should definitely be on your reading list.”
Christopher Teague, British Fantasy Society
"On offer is psychological horror in the tradition of The Yellow Wallpaper with a narrator who is not so much unreliable as tunnel-visioned and warped. The narrative is set within the framing device of a film unit visiting a secure institution, but the main bulk of the story is told by Mary herself. Modern jargon would no doubt categorise her as being on the autistic spectrum, but, as we begin to see things from her point of view, we realise that such labels are dehumanising and unhelpful. Mary Sutherland is an individual with a particular voice and a particular problem, sometimes sympathetic, sometimes repellent. She is both naive and perceptive; she has a fascination with words and with food. Mary may be alien to us in many ways but she is an entirely credible creation, so that the reader in the end is compelled to see the world through her eyes. As we become familiar with her landscape, vivid but restricted, the horror which emerges lies not so much in her but in the lack of love and understanding which surrounds her, in the first place from her father and stepmother, but also from the authorities who have taken over following a tragedy, the nature of which is not revealed until the end.
When it comes the denouement is both shocking and inevitable, but it is also laced with a subtle element of ambiguity. Is it true about the rat? Farrell handles this story of parental neglect and its psychopathic consequences with enormous skill and a very sure sense of pace. Perhaps its greatest strength is in the voice that Farrell finds for Mary Sutherland herself. An actress for many years, Farrell has brought to her writing the theatrical skill of finding a way to inhabit and bring to life a strange and troubling personality. It is never overdone: it is alarmingly convincing.”
Reggie Oliver, Wormwood 24, Tartarus Press
AND NOBODY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER
"Unflinching" is the word. If your tastes warp toward the tragic, the horrible, the morbid and twisted you would do well to investigate And Nobody Lived Happily Ever After at the earliest opportunity - but beware. These deadly sweeties are highly addictive and before you know it, you've swallowed down the lot. Reggie Oliver's anecdotal introduction is a peach, and those of us with a fondness for Pop culture references are spoiled rotten with name-checks for, among others, Boney M, The Bee Gees, the Bob Monkhouse Bumper Joke Book, Matalan, Tesco carrier bags, Camden Market, Tom and Barbara in The Good Life, Coldplay and a Man Utd mug "from the great days when Roy Keane played for them.”
The Vault of Evil
"A lovely piece of writing, reminiscent of Alan Bennett. There's a twist, and that's my only quibble - whether anyone in the future will get it in a 'So that's where the yellow went' kind of way. But if you do get the reference, it's a great Oh No! moment after enjoying what amounts to an elderly ladies' rather charming life story."
"Live from a doctor's waiting room in Manchester, the narrative of sweet old Edna Gould, who's moved home to Hyde now her Len's gone, close to her daughter, although Carole and Edward are that busy, what with him being a bank manager, she hardly gets to see them, which is a shame, as Jamie's her only grandson after all, but mustn't grumble, and I wonder who leaves these magazines, and do you suppose the receptionist ever reads them?, it's a different world these days. FM has this spot on, right down to the Alan Bennett comparison, and I absolutely loved it. Kate has a collection, And Nobody Lived Happily Ever After imminent from Parallel Universe, and, from what I've read of her work in Black Book Of Horror and Terror Tales there's no chance of the title being sued under the trade descriptions act."
The Vault of Evil
"Good children who've read their Eleventh Black Book Of Horror will already be acquainted with Sister Bernadette, creepy nun extraordinaire. Poor Geraldine of the asthma attacks would prefer that she and the sightless old horror had never have crossed paths."
"A creepy nun instant classic! Girls board school at the Convent of Stella Maris, nineteen sixties. Each break time, Louise, Barbara, Jennifer, Karen and chubby little Geraldine who has to use an inhaler, shun healthy outdoor pursuits to skive in the Drying Room, there to drink pop and swap nun-themed horror stories. Funnily enough, the building is a reputed haunt of Sister Bernadette, whose blind ghost is said to wander its corridors screeching out the Ave Maria. As if!"
The Vault of Evil
THE SANDS ARE MAGIC
"Thoroughly, wonderfully miserable."
“Many beautifully conveyed pastel shades come together in the promise of their minds as the sufficiently ‘back-storied’ couple and the two children leave the grimy city for a deserved break at the coast…”
“Standouts are… Dad Dancing by Kate Farrell, a quietly convincing account of the revenge taken by the sons of a millionaire father.”
Eric Brown, The Guardian
“…another bunch of short stories that knocked the ball out of the park IMO… Dad Dancing by Kate Farrell. Awesome work by all concerned.”
“The title is a perfect distillation of the story that follows. This one is just so well planned out to the brutal and morbidly funny end… it is so well executed that it really stands out in the crowd.”
“Kate Farrell’s Helping Mummy is probably the most chilling story in this anthology, as the story unfolds you just know this is not going to end well. Your stomach will be doing cartwheels by the time you finish it.”
“Another story featuring a baby… and his three year old sister who wants to be grown up and helpful to her tired mummy. The characterisation of both children here is brilliant. The outcome shocking. I can say no more than it is a very well written story, worth of being in any horror book from the Pans onwards…”
“Kate Farrell’s Helping Mummy is a genuinely unsettling tale in which a young daughter attempts to help her mother by looking after her baby brother. This one will leave you cringing when you realise there is no happy ending.”
“This will get you thinking as a seemingly happy couple appear to be covering up a darker side and the twist made me go back and read again as I thought I’d misread it. A cracking tale.”
“I liked this a lot, a well written first person narrative which provides a fascinating character study.”
“Humour and horror make excellent bedfellows in Kate Farrell’s Mea Culpa which opens with a witty description of an apparently perfect couple before showing us its descent into escalating domestic violence.”
HIS ANGER WAS KINDLED
“David Densham has a job to do; he has to inform Reverend Luke Prideaux that his under-performing Church is no longer valid and that the Parish Council has plans to redevelop the site. What follows is a bizarre fight for life in one of the stranger stories in this anthology. It begins in a staid even mundane fashion before hitting us with rage and inventiveness in a truly original story. ”
Joe X Young, Ginger Nuts of Horror