Hailing from England, Paul Finch is a bestselling author, script writer and editor. Having worked as both a cop and journalist in the past, he now spends his days as a full-time author with a list of crime, thriller, science fiction and horror publications too long for me to list here. He’s been nominated for multiple high profile awards including British Fantasy (winning Best Collection for After Shocks in 2002 and Best Novella for Kid in 2007), Bram Stoker, and International Horror Guild Awards (winning Best Mid-length Fiction for The Old North Road in 2006).
I originally found him through the his excellent Terror Tales anthologies. Often he’d include a story of his own in them which swiftly revealed the reason he’s garnered such acclaim as an author. Below I take a look at ten of his stories. All of them are excellent, but my favorites would likely be “Devils of Lakeland”, “Hell In the Cathedral”, “The Old Traditions Are the Best”, and “Wicken Fen”.
The Stories (Listed by publication date order):
1. “Devils of Lakeland” (1998) – A man travels to the scenic Highview Hotel where he and his brother spent a memorable holiday with their father as children. Recently his brother made a return trip there, which ended with his seemingly having committed suicide by driving his car off a nearby cliff. Wanting to find answers, the surviving brother goes to investigate, recalling that holiday from so long ago and finding himself searching for a rare anthology of local horror stories his brother had been obsessed with finding titled The Devils of Lakeland. He comes to learn his brother had been seen with a mysterious, beautiful woman wearing a white uniform shortly before his death. This is a fantastically engrossing tale with a surprising and dark reveal at its end.
2. “Hell In the Cathedral” (2000) – This is an intense tale about a couple who take a day trip out at sea along with another couple, only to find themselves in a life-or-death struggle against an immensely powerful sea creature in its native environment.
3. “Private Nightmare” (2006) – Three students are given a five minute head start to race through the woods in attempts to evade a group of their classmates who are giving chase. When one of them injures himself deep in the forest, he is left alone there until help can be retrieved. This turns out to be a harrowing experience.
4. “The Old Traditions Are the Best” (2008) – Accompanied by his parole chaperones, a young thief attends a festival in a city in Cornwall called Obby Oss. A large man wearing a garishly painted horse suit moves through the crowd representing the ancient mascot of the town’s brutal protector. The thief decides to ditch his companions and finds someplace to rob while everyone is away from their homes for the festival. This proves to be a terrible mistake.
5. “Bog Man” (2009) – Two students stay late in a museum to study the unearthed Bog Body of a man they believe was ritually sacrificed centuries ago. They soon come to understand a terrifying truth about this ancient, preserved specimen.
6. “The Doom” (2010) – Reverend Bilks gains high status after a medieval wall painting depicting a terrifying vision of Hell is uncovered during renovations of his parish. While thinking of a way to capitalize off the fame of this ancient artwork (called a Doom), a disturbing visitor arrives to view it and talk with the reverend.
7. “King Death” (2011) – After a terrible plague has wiped out nearly everyone in England, a mercenary named Roderick, who seems immune to the disease, takes what he wants from the dead and puts together an intimidating suit of black armor to pass himself off as death itself to garner even more plunder. This ruse proves highly successful until eventually things don’t go as planned.
8. “Wicken Fen” (2012) – This novelette follows two middle-aged friends named Gerry and Trevor who are traveling the fens by boat while their wives are busy back home. Noticing two beautiful young women at a bar where they dock, Gerry becomes consumed by lust for them. Trevor’s attempts to remind him he’s married proves to no effect. The girls end up leaving before he has a chance to approach them. Once back on the fens, Gerry’s heavy drinking while piloting the boat puts them off course. With Trevor’s phone dead and Gerry having not brought one, they are cut off from the outside world. Surprisingly, they see the two girls sunbathing on the coastline which causes Gerry to ignore their precarious situation.
9. “Midnight Service” (2012) – When the bus he’s ridding on is forced to stop in a remote British town due to a bad winter storm on Christmas Eve, a man disembarks in search of someplace lively to spend the evening. The town is eerily quiet, but he eventually comes across a lit up old church. As he isn’t properly dressed for the weather, he goes seeking shelter. The aged priest there offers him a free room for the night if he’d be willing to play the part of something called The Derby Ram in a play they are about to put on for a local group of orphans. He reluctantly agrees, a decision he soon comes to regret. You can read this story for free at Paul’s website ( https://paulfinch-writer.blogspot.com/2013/12/midnight-service-festive-spook-story_13.html ).
10. “The Upper Tier” (2019) – A wealthy husband and wife, who spend their spare time investigating haunted houses, secure the rights to explore Haigh Hall. The moldering old place has a reputation for being haunted by particularly vicious ghosts, the worst of which are said to reside beyond the locked door at the top of the mansion. The husband brings along a younger, handsome investigative partner who has eyes for his wife.
Paul’s Website: http://paulfinch-writer.blogspot.com
US Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/entity/author/B0034PPAH6?_encoding=UTF8&node=283155&offset=0&pageSize=12&searchAlias=stripbooks&sort=author-sidecar-rank&page=1&langFilter=default#formatSelectorHeader
UK Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/kindle-dbs/entity/author/B0034PPAH6?_encoding=UTF8&node=266239&offset=0&pageSize=12&searchAlias=stripbooks&sort=author-sidecar-rank&page=1&langFilter=default#formatSelectorHeader