“quiet houses, places where the din of the world recedes and allows other things can be heard. “

There is a hidden agenda to paranormal researcher Richard Nakata’s investigations into these houses. A commission that witnesses cattle lowing in the cowsheds of STACK’S FARM long after they’ve been slaughtered, and a reckoning in the showhouse of 24 GLASSHOUSE, as he and his colleagues pay the price for creating their own ghost…
Simon Kurt Unsworth reinvents the classic English ghost story with a portmanteau collection that takes the haunted house genre and makes it scream…quietly.
Because the most terrifying screams are the silent ones.

I’ve been a fan of Simon’s writing for a number of years now, ever sine reading his short story Button.  I’t got to the point that if I see his name in a table of contents in an anthology, his is one of if not the first story I’ll turn to.  

 So you can imagine my joy at getting my hands on an ARC  of Quiet Houses his début publication with Dark Continents Publishing.   

Quiet Houses is a collection of haunted house short stories all interlinked by the ghost hunter Richard Nakata, who may or may not have a hidden agenda intro investigating these stories.  In these day of band wagon jumping it is a refreshing breath of fresh air to see an author going back to the roots of horror, to produce a classic and classy collection of wonderfully written short stories that invoke warm memories of a bygone age of classic horror.  

Simon relies more on a truly amazing ability to produce a moving, thought provoking and well written story, than the shock tactics used by  many of today’s horror writers.   The opening story The Elms Morecambe is a master-class in understated quiet horror.  The sadness of the story will envelope you as the reader and  linger with you long after you have finished it.  This is truly a moving tale, that highlights an author at the top of his game. 

The Merry House, Scale Hall, concerns the case of a missing child.  Something evil has broken through the barriers between worlds, something that promises your hearts desire, but will take so much more from you in return.  Of all the stories presented here, I found this one the most disturbing.  There is just something heart wrenchingly terrifying about something human or otherwise coming after your children. 

Beyond St Patrick’s Chapel, is more of a chase story, where Simon wracks on the tension and the thrill of the chase from the word go.  

The Ocean Grand, North West Coast, an hotel is being renovated but there are things in the pictures that have other ideas.  This is one of the longer tales of the collection, and as a result Simon manges to slowly build the tension, and overall spookiness.  I particularly enjoyed the use and sources of where the ghost came from, and the subtle nods to Lovecraft.  A highly satisfying read.

The Temple of Relief and Ease, sees  Richard Nakata take centre stage.  This tale of a haunted toilet, will literally chill you to the bone.  

24 Glasshouse, Glasshouse Estate, is the penultimate tale here.  In this tale we are given a brilliant insight into Nakata  history, and his  involvement in an experiment to create a ghost.  As is wont to happen in tales of this sort things go horrible wrong.  What happens to the house once the ghost has been created is a brilliant twist, and the ending is both shocking and moving.  

Stack’s Farm, is where we find out exactly why Nakata has been investigating these Quiet Houses.  The fact that Simon can create a story based on the ghosts of dead cattle, which doesn’t come across as being just plain silly, goes to show just how talented a a writer Simon is.  The finale of the story is just, well, your going to have to read it to find out.  This is an excellent closing story to one hell of a collection.  

With this collection , Simon Kurt Unsworth, has breathed new life, and put new flesh onto a sadly neglected side of horror fiction.  The classic haunted house genre has lain  dormant for a long time, surpassed my the latest trendy monster.   If there is one thing about short stories and short story collections I find disappointing,  is that in many cases I feel short changed by them.  Sometimes I’m left with a “is that it” feeling.  Quiet House couldn’t be further from this.  Every one of the stories  reads like a much longer tale, and by that I don’t mean they drag.  Simon has managed to make each story feel larger and more expansive than just a short story.   While this is essentially a short story collection, the linking passages between each story and the stores where Nakata takes centre stage  lends  the book a more coherent feeling.  Reading this collection really made me think of those classic Amicus films of the Seventies 

Folks when this book is released you have to get yourself a copy, Simon Kurt Unsworth is an author with a huge talent for writing engaging, intelligent and terrifying tales. He is an author who is at the forefront of modern British horror.  He is an  author who really deserves to be known to a much wider audience.  Buy the book and spread the word. 





  1. I hope that this collection would make more people aware of the author's immense talent, and would encourage them to purchase his first collection ("Lost Places") from Ash Tree Press. That had some wonderfully horrific stories which should be appreciated by many-many more readers.

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