Friday 3 June 2016

REVIEW: Jack Rollins - Tread Gently Amidst The Barrows

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Dark Chapter Press
Publication Date: 14th March 2016
Pages: 31


A copy of Tread Gently Amidst the Barrows, was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author Jack Rollins in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by Dark Chapter Press.

So, Jack Rollins. I make no secret of knowing the man himself, as both a writer, and the main man behind the fantastic Dark Chapter Press. Let this disclaimer be an acknowledgment of that fact and also that because of this and the fact he got me very drunk at Emcon this year, this does not gain any favours from me when it comes to reviewing his books. He has been quite vocal in the fact that he is waiting for the time I review one of his books and think it is rubbish.

Sorry Jack. You’re going to have to wait another while.

Oliver Stroud is working in Sweden. He is the man tasked with looking after the daily running of lumber magnate Dick Jameson’s business interests there.

Jesper is a night watchman. On one of his patrols of the site, he disappears. No one can say for sure what has happened to him but the locals are talking about Trolls. Stroud thinks this is nonsense but he must investigate to ensure the safety of his men.

This is a short story. You will probably read it in an hour depending on your reading speed. If you haven’t read anything of Jack Rollins before, then this could be the one for you to give you a sense of his writing style. This one, as with The Séance and The Cabinet of Dr Blessing, is set in Victorian times.

Our main characters are limited with it being a short story. Stroud seems to be a very strong character. He seems to be very in control of what he is doing but he is hiding something. Certain flashbacks to his life in England point to some sort of catastrophe that he is trying to escape. Jameson is a typical rich man of the times. Seems to be only interested in the money and his hip flask. Soderlind and Beskow are two of the Swedish workers who help on the hunt for the unknown assailant. They seem to be very fearful of the local legends.

The plot is very simple. A man has gone missing and the locals believe there is a beast involved. A search party goes to look for him. Now, in itself, that sounds very simplistic. Normally the party would get armed to the teeth with automatic weapons and have full body armour on. This, being set in Victorian times, all they have at their disposal is two pistols, a couple of lanterns and a hip flask.

The way Mr Rollins has written this tale gives you a true feeling of the sheer desperateness of the situation and the total terror and fear that each man is feeling as they get closer to the truth of the kidnapping.

As always I am not going to give you any spoilers or hints as to what actually happens in the story but suffice to say you will feel the fear. As always with Jack Rollins stories set in Victorian times, you get an amazing feel for the era. His descriptive writing of the sights and the sounds and the smells and the clothes and the language is all perfect in transporting you to a bygone time where all the home comforts you cherish so much are completely stripped away and you genuinely feel the bleakness that this type of story deserves.

I have mentioned before that I have discovered a new found love of horror and dark fiction set in this time period and I have also mentioned before that there are very few current authors who can pull off writing a story that seems authentic enough to think that they lived in that time themselves. Jack Rollins does it again.

To summarise: a short Victorian tale that is not what you would expect. Full of fear and an exceptional atmospheric feeling of the times, this is a perfect way to introduce yourself to the writings of Jack Rollins. Just go buy it.

General rating:

★★★★★ wonderful.

Horror rating:

★★★★★ wonderful.

If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer, then please consider using the links below to buy Tread Gently Amidst the Barrows or any other books from Jack. This not only supports me but also lets me know how many people actually like to buy books after reading my reviews.


Book Synopsis:

Tread Gently Amidst the Barrows sees Jack Rollins return to the Victorian era for a chilling, thrilling tale as the progress of mankind and technology trespass into the world of the mythical in Sweden.

A series of night-time disappearances among the workforce of railway engineer Oliver Stroud threaten to bring the construction of a new railway bridge to a standstill as local superstitions give rise to unrest and desertion. Stroud is left with no choice but to investigate an ancient burial site to bring closure to the matter once and for all but there is no peace to be found among the barrows of Old Uppsala, for neither the dead, nor the creatures of myth who live among them.

To read my other reviews of Jack’s work, see here:

Jack was born and raised among the twisting cobbled streets and lanes, ruined forts and rolling moors of a medieval market town in Northumberland, England. He claims to have been adopted by Leeds in West Yorkshire, and he spends as much time as possible immersed in the shadowy heart of that city. Fascinated by all things Victorian Jack often writes within that era and his period gothic horror works include The Séance and The Cabinet of Dr Blessing.

And for more about Jack, visit his site or find him on social media:

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