TIH 012: The Best British Fantasy 2013 and House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill Book Reviews

The Best British Fantasy 2013, edited by Steve Haynes

In this podcast we review The Best British Fantasy 2013 and House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill, discuss the state of horror reviews and talk about what on earth we’re going to watch now that Breaking Bad has come to a close. Joining us is special guest Livius Nedin from the Booked Podcast.


[00:00] Introduction

[01:45] Agenda (or lack thereof)

[02:10] Breaking Bad

[03:15] TV discussion (Orphan Black)

[07:45] American Horror Story

[13:35] Different shows (Top of the Lake and Banshee)

[19:05] Six Feet Under and Dexter

[22:24] Do shows get better over time?

[31:20] Best British Fantasy review

[33:00] Our favourite stories

[37:40] How were the stories selected?

[40:00] The worst of British Fantasy

[44:00] Is British writing in decline? Discussion of genre criticism

[47:30] Lavie Tidhar

[50:20] The line between friendship and quality

[52:38] Livius’ experiences of criticising genre fiction

[58:00] Discussion on editing/friends within the genre/how were the “best of” clarified?

[01:13:20] Our favourite new writers

[01:15:55] House of Small Shadows review

[01:18:00] Adam Nevill within the genre

[01:20:20] Synopsis

[01:25:40] Editing Adam Nevill’s work

[01:27:40] The Sleep Room representing the horror genre

[01:29:17] Dream sequences

[01:30:00] Amazon review hilarity

[01:34:00] Disparity in types of review

[01:37:30] Are reviews fair?

[01:39:00] Genre reviews – are they appropriate?

[01:42:00] Reaction of others within the genre to bad reviews

[01:43:38] Conflicts of interest

[01:49:00] What are we all reading?

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HALF PRICE OFFER! Visit the Booked Podcast Store and use the discount code ‘HORROR’ to pick up the Booked Anthology for just $3.99 instead of the RRP of $7.99.

Booked Podcast AnthologyResources

Booked podcast
Book Review: House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill
Buy House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill (UK)
Buy House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill (US)
Adam Nevill Interview, Part I
Adam Nevill Interview, Part II
Adam Nevill Interview Part III
Buy The Best British Fantasy 2013 (UK)
Buy The Best British Fantasy 2013 (US)

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  1. Ray Cluley

    You might want to check out Tyler Keevil’s ‘Hibakusha’ from Interzone 226 as well, if you liked ‘Fearful Symmetry’, I remember liking that one as well. That said, I’ve rather liked Tidhar too, though John raised some good points about that opening to Osama (which I haven’t read).

    I think the points you make about friendships and criticism are interesting, though I haven’t belonged to the ‘group’ long enough to know if it’s valid. I’ve certainly seen good things said about work I thought poor, but then I simply assume different strokes for different folks – one author, for example, recieves a lot of praise and I just don’t understand it but then others really like their work so good for them, it’s just me it doesn’t reach. Another gets praise for a recent work I think over-rated, but again I seem to be in a minority.

    I’m not a reviewer, so I don’t feel a need to name and shame, and I’d never volunteer a poor opinion, but I am careful to only praise when I genuinely enjoyed a piece – I reccommend rather than review, I suppose. If the story’s good I can forgive slips in the writing (if the story’s not good, I don’t give a shit about the writing at all no matter how good it might be, which is why some ‘Literature’ with a capital L bothers me). Luckily I haven’t yet been asked for an opinion by a friend regarding a piece I didn’t like, but most of the people I know would respond well, I think, to criticism. Actually, come to think of it, I have looked at one writer’s work a few times and criticised – I hope constructively – and they’re still talking to me! Likewise, I’ve collobarated and negative feedback has always been received well by both parties. If there really IS a lack of honesty in the genre, I think it could change without too many feelings getting hurt, to be honest. It’s important, though, to note the difference between subjective taste and an objective criticism of technique.

    For me, as long as a bad review comes with a reason as to why the reviewer felt that way, I’m ok with it. It’s when there’s an evaluative comment without any supporting evidence that it irks me. And any writer friend is free to not like my work. I wouldn’t understand a need to tell the world rather than just me, though – unless they’re a reviewer. Likewise, I’d rather not get insincere praise.

    Anyway, that’s my tuppence worth. And I was able to use the word irks, which is a bonus. Next time, vex…

  2. John Costello

    Hi Ray,

    Appreciate your comments, thanks for taking the time. I’ll check out anything of Tyler Keevil’s for sure.

    Today I learned from Ross Warren that Lavie Tidhar’s story The Last Osama is written, like his novel Osama, from the point of view of a protagonist who is a bad cult pulp action novelist. This of course explains the full-of-holes writing style and marks it out as pastiche. I must apologise to Lavie for not knowing this, and issue a disclaimer in the next podcast. That said, it blows my mind that the editor neglected to mention such an important fact up front. It does the writer a real disservice and as Ross says it’s another black mark against the anthology. I would imagine I won’t be the only reader unfamiliar with the novel to be scratching my head in disbelief all the way through the story.


  3. Ray Cluley

    Yeah, The Last Osama was one of my Interzone Readers’ Poll recomendations in 2011. The pulpiness worked for me in the short story, not sure about the novel. He wrote an interesting Carver-esque with ‘What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Z…’, for Black Static, if I remember rightly. Or maybe he was just playing with the title? I’ll have to remind myself wit ha reread.

  4. Joseph D'Lacey

    Speaking as someone who’s had both good and bad reviews from This Is Horror, I can only applaud you for having the courage to tell the truth as you see it and back it up with rational thought.

    No matter what you say, however, it remains an opinion and nothing more. Anyone who finds opinions upsetting would do well to remember what little importance and relevance they have in the greater scheme of things.

    Negative reviews may feel like personal attacks to authors – I’ve felt ‘bruised’ by them, which writer hasn’t? – but it goes with the territory and I think we all just learn to live with them in the end.

    Personally speaking, I don’t ever want a poor review from This Is Horror but if I get (another) one, I won’t feel any less inclined to visit the site or listen to the podcast. I’d rather listen to real worthless opinions than fake worthless ones any day.

    (Full disclosure: This Is Horror is one of my publishers. I hope they won’t drop me for having my own worthless opinion.)

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