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Against the Darkness



Now available from Screaming Dreams


Not Your Run-Of-The-Mill Mysteries…..


A gymnasium that can suck the life from you

A grand piano with a deadly secret

Zombie Vikings buried on a Somerset beach

A wedding reception where the guests get eaten - by the bride

A cathedral harbouring an unspeakable evil to be unleashed live on ‘Songs of Praise’

A haunted comprehensive school with a history of appalling violence


Not Your Run-Of-The-Mill Investigators….


Mr Massene Henderson lives in a huge mansion in the Welsh mountains, has a wardrobe filled with far too many velvet smoking jackets, and thinks nothing of despatching the denizens of hell he encounters with incantations, spells, or if necessary a very big gun.


Miss Samantha Jephcott wears a lot of black, works in middle management, doesn’t know she’s psychic, doesn’t believe in the paranormal, and doesn’t have any idea that she’s about to have the most exciting year of her life.


Not Your Run-Of-The-Mill Short Story Collection…


John Llewellyn Probert’s ‘Against the Darkness’ brings together the first eleven cases of this unlikely couple. Join them as their adventures take them from North Wales to New York, Ross-on-Wye to Reykjavik, Portishead to Paris, and on a very brief trip at over a hundred miles an hour through Weston super-Mare. The volume also contains an introduction by the author and extensive notes on the writing of the tales themselves. All this and instructions on how to play the theme from a famous Italian horror film on the piano. What more could you want?





Introduction: New Readers Start Here

Bother in the Belfry

A Fear of Fitness

Bloodsucking in Berkshire

Moonlight Sonatas

             Horror in the Heavens            

The States of the Art

The Rhyme of the Ancient Submariners

Within the Walls

Under Wraps

Happily Ever After

An Element of Emotion




Reviews and Comments


It’s not often you come across a book that’s so much fun. Especially considering I nearly didn’t get past the Introduction.You see, Probert wrote the introduction, and stated that he wanted to create a British version of the X-Files: a very worrying statement. The X-Files was one of those shows I feel I grew up with (although I was well grown up by the time it started), one fondly remembered, and there are already far too many pale imitations, and despite the author also stating that he didn’t want to produce another pale imitation, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and think that’s what all the pale imitators say.
Fortunately I was very wrong, and what Probert has produced in this collection is a series of stories that nod respectfully at The X-Files, but very much tread their own path. And it is very British, which isn’t to say our US cousins won’t love it - they probably will because it is so British - but it makes Against The Darkness different enough that it is a very far cry from a pale imitation. Henderson is a paranormal investigator, called in to solve a variety of problems; a haunted school, a Cathedral being used to create evil energy for some nefarious purpose, a gym sucking the life from its users, a curse on a young woman, a painting that kidnaps people, and vampires. Henderson is ably assisted by Samantha Jephcott, a reluctant psychic and former manager of the gym that sucks the life from people.
The stories are varied, but all contain the same element of fun and many are slightly tongue-in-cheek, which works wonderfully well. The darkest tale, Probert apologises for it at the end of the book, is my favourite. There are several tales with a dark edge, but all of them feel like an adventure. You know what’s about to come, there will be some sort of weird adventure, and yet when it comes Probert almost inevitably manages to surprise you.
The characters of Sam and Henderson grow throughout the book, and the stories work well individually, but also add to each other. In the beginning I was wondering why not just produce a novel, and hopefully that is still to come, but this collection provides a good range of adventures at varying lengths and keeps you coming back for more.
My favourite story is “Happily Ever After”, a great wedding tale that will shock and astound. The story is beautifully set-up and has a denouement that will leave you open-jawed. It’s also a story I will make my girlfriend read if she ever mentions wedding again! Again, a great story, but it only barely beats the final and longest story of the collection. “An Element of Emotion” is a very dark tale for this book, but one that manages to entertain, make you smile, and leave you desperate for more.
Without a doubt Screamingdreams has become my favourite small-press publisher in the UK since the end of Elastic Books. In this Probert collection they have brought together some terrific stories, which I cannot emphasise enough how fun they are: like the old pulp stories, and those adventures of Sherlock Holmes and H. G. Wells, and the seeds of the “Weird” genre by Burroughs and Lovecraft. Ok, so it’s not perfect, many of the themes will be familiar, but that seems to add to its charm. It’s a nice, warm and cozy book. Fantastic, rather than horrific. One you can imagine curling up with on the sofa and reading in front of a log-fire. This is a book that draws you in without you even realising it.
Against The Darkness is no mere X-Files imitator. I can’t remember when I had so much fun reading a book. Adventure into the weird does not get much better than this.

© COPYRIGHT October 2010

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