Wednesday 6 May 2015

REVIEW: Marty Young - 809 Jacob Street

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Black Beacon Books
Publication Date: October 2013
Pages: 189


This review of 809 Jacob Street by Marty Young is the result of a copy being sent to Confessions of a Reviewer in return for an honest review. This is said review.

Marty Young anyone? I had never heard of him but I’m sure some of you out there have, given his resume? No? Well I urge you to make it one of this year’s goals to read his stuff. You can’t go wrong with 809 Jacob Street as a starter!

Byron James is fourteen. He has moved to Parkton, Oregon from Australia. He has no friends apart from the two class outcasts who seem to have an unhealthy interest in monsters, the macabre and Parkton’s dark, secret past. They more or less force Byron into going with them to number 809 to prove whether monsters do or do not exist.

Joey Blue is a drifter. He loves the blues. He has found himself stuck in the rut that is Parkton as well. He is also being enticed to go to 809. It’s his old friend Gremlin that’s dragging him there. He has no idea why but he is slowly starting to believe in ghosts. You see Gremlin is dead.

What is so fascinating about the address? What really happened there in the past? Will Byron and Joey’s paths cross? Do the ghosts or monsters truly exist? Only 809 Jacob Street has the answers.

Finished this story just a little while ago. My skin is still crawling. This is an exercise in how to write something that will have you reading with blinkers on until the very end, with nothing disturbing you.

Marty Young has a beautiful writing style. This would fall under so many different categories and be impossible to put in just one. I would call it horror. With huge doses of supernatural. Almost gothic in its style but set in modern day. Possibly a coming of age story but a horrific one at that. See what I mean?

Byron and his two friends, Iain and Hamish are typical teenagers. Iain is probably best described as a bit “disturbed” and the ring leader in all that transpires. Byron is just trying to fit in but everyone else ignores him. People then try to steer him away from Iain and Hamish but he must see the visit to Jacob Street through to the end before he can ditch them and concentrate on the charms of June.

They are perfectly written. Byron, in a different country, out of his comfort zone. Iain obviously with an agenda that he needs the others for. Hamish the gentle, quiet giant that follows rather than leads. They complement each other so well even though they are so clearly the mismatch of the year.

Joey Blue is a man with a past. He has ignored it for years and struggles with it every single day. His songs and his whiskey are the only things that keep him going. He knows he is dealing with something evil and tries to ignore it but eventually gives in when he knows he can’t run from it.

As for what happens in the story itself? Not telling. Can’t tell you. You need to read for yourself. I will tell you it is one of the creepiest things I have read this year. It is written in such a way that you feel every gust of wind, smell every drop of damp fog, hear every creak and groan and see every evil face watching you.

The general feeling in the story is a supernatural one. Now a lot of people class supernatural as a lot less scary than horror. Not in this case. The descriptive writing is so atmospheric that you will permanently be squirming in your seat and reaching for that jumper to keep the chills out. The general feeling almost reminds me of the movie “The Fog” as the fog slowly rolls over the town stopping everything in its tracks. It’s the type of atmosphere that I am not literate enough to put into words. Trust me, just read it and you will see what I mean.

To summarise: a supernaturally horrifying tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat, glancing behind you to make sure there is no one sneaking up on you. Written with very few characters, this is a story that proves you don’t need to have big elaborate scenes set with a cast of extras all over the place to get your atmosphere across to the reader. Writing that is so effective you will feel, smell, hear and see everything that is happening. Brilliant stuff.

Marty Young – in Australia he’s well known by the looks of things. If he keeps writing like this that name is going to spread all over the world.

General rating:

★★★★ Close to perfect but just lacked that little something.

Horror rating:

★★★★ This was verrrry creepy.

You can buy 809 Jacob Street here:

Book Synopsis:


Parkton is a dangerous town, full of dark secrets, and 14-year old Byron James finds himself stranded there. To make matters worse, his two new friends - his only friends - turn out to be class rejects with an unhealthy interest in monsters. They want to discover the truth to the infamous monster house at number 809 Jacob Street, and Byron is soon caught up in their game.

Joey Blue is an old bluesman who fell into his songs and couldn't find his way out again. Now he's one of the Gutterbreed, a slinking shifting shadow haunting the town's too-numerous alleys. When an old dead friend comes begging for help, Joey's world is torn apart. He is forced to stare down the man he has become in order to rescue the man he once was - and there is only one place he can do that.

The house on Jacob Street calls to them all, but what will they find when they open its door?

Marty Young is a Bram Stoker-nominated and Australian Shadows Award-winning writer and editor, and sometimes ghost hunter. He was the founding President of the Australian Horror Writers Association from 2005-2010, and one of the creative minds behind the internationally acclaimed Midnight Echo magazine, for which he also served as Executive Editor until mid-2013.

Marty's first novel, 809 Jacob Street, was published in 2013 by Black Beacon Books, and won the Australian Shadows Award for Best Horror Novel. His novel was also given an Honorable Mention in Shelf Unbound's Page Turner competition.

His short horror fiction has been nominated for both the Australian Shadows and Ditmar awards, reprinted in Australian Dark Fantasy and Horror ('the best of 2008'), and repeatedly included in year's best recommended reading lists. Marty's essays on horror literature have been published in journals and university textbooks in Australia and India, and he was also co-editor of the award winning Macabre; A Journey through Australia's Darkest Fears, a landmark anthology showcasing the best Australian horror stories from 1836 to the present.

When not writing, he spends his time in the deep dark jungles of Papua New Guinea as a palynologist, whatever the heck that is.

You can see more of Marty at his website.

Marty’s author page can be found here.

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