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In the quiet of the forest, the darkest fears are born. The people of Dunballan, harbour a dark secret. A secret more terrible than the Beast that stalks the dense forests of Dunballan. A secret that holds David McCavendish, last in a long line of Lairds, in its unbreakable grip. It’s down to Sally, David’s lover, to free David from the sinister clutches of the Beast. But, w In the quiet of the forest, the darkest fears are born. The people of Dunballan, harbour a dark secret. A secret more terrible than the Beast that stalks the dense forests of Dunballan. A secret that holds David McCavendish, last in a long line of Lairds, in its unbreakable grip. It’s down to Sally, David’s lover, to free David from the sinister clutches of the Beast. But, with the whole town against her, she must ally herself with an ancient woodland force and trace Dunballan’s secret back to its bitter origins. Those origins lie within the McCavendish family history, and a blasphemous heresy that stretches back to the beginning of time. Some truths are too terrible to face, and the darkest of these lie waiting for Sally, in the Quiet Places. Quiet Places is folk horror at its most cosmic and terrifying. Blending folklore with psychological terror, it contains stories within stories, each one leading to revelations more unsettling than the last. Revelations that will change the way you view your place in the cosmos, and haunt you, relentlessly, long after you have put down this book. Quiet Places is a novella in the Heresy Series story cycle and has been substantially rewritten and revised for this edition. Represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths Interview with the author: What makes Quiet Places so special? Jasper: Readers have told me they like the sense of tradition the story has. It’s steeped not only in ancient folklore, but also the work of classic horror authors like M. R. James and Arthur Machen, as well as the American writers they influenced, such as H. P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith. Yet, the story still manages to be as dark and disturbing as any contemporary horror. It contains stories within stories, and a narrative that slowly unfolds, as revelation follows revelation, each one more shocking than the last. Tell us more your lead character. Jasper: Sally is a city girl transplanted to the Highlands of Scotland. She moved from London to be with her partner David, who has inherited land and property in the rural town of Dunballan. Sally is fiercely independent, but very loyal to David. At first she falls in love with the primal beauty of the forests and the countryside, but after a while she finds small town life to be very claustrophobic. The people of Dunballan are a tight knit bunch and they seem to have some secret hold over David. Not to mention some secret knowledge that leaves Sally feeling isolated and excluded. That’s when Sally’s defiance, and her personal bravery, kick in, and she realises she’s going to have to go to some extraordinary lengths to save the man she loves from the town. Why should readers give this book a try? Jasper: I’m known for being a highly imaginative writer and, like most of my work, Quiet Places contains characters, creatures and concepts you probably won’t have encountered in a horror story before. If you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary, with sights you’ve never seen and fears you’ve yet to experience, then this is the book for you. Is there a recommend order for reading your books? Jasper: No, like all my books, Quiet Places is a stand-alone story. It is part of a story cycle that deals with the Qu’rm Saddic Heresy, an ancient and much persecuted belief system that was old even in the days of Mesopotamia. Not much is known about it these days, as most records of it have been destroyed, the few accounts we do have, speak of it with intense fear and loathing. That’s why it fascinates me. The heresy forms a loose back drop to a lot of my stories and novels. However, like the Cthulhu Mythos, Laird Barron’s Children of the Leech stories and Brian’s Keene’s Labyrinth mythos, the stories can be read in any order but, with every story you read, the depth of the tapestry they’re woven into, becomes clearer and more apparent.


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In the quiet of the forest, the darkest fears are born. The people of Dunballan, harbour a dark secret. A secret more terrible than the Beast that stalks the dense forests of Dunballan. A secret that holds David McCavendish, last in a long line of Lairds, in its unbreakable grip. It’s down to Sally, David’s lover, to free David from the sinister clutches of the Beast. But, w In the quiet of the forest, the darkest fears are born. The people of Dunballan, harbour a dark secret. A secret more terrible than the Beast that stalks the dense forests of Dunballan. A secret that holds David McCavendish, last in a long line of Lairds, in its unbreakable grip. It’s down to Sally, David’s lover, to free David from the sinister clutches of the Beast. But, with the whole town against her, she must ally herself with an ancient woodland force and trace Dunballan’s secret back to its bitter origins. Those origins lie within the McCavendish family history, and a blasphemous heresy that stretches back to the beginning of time. Some truths are too terrible to face, and the darkest of these lie waiting for Sally, in the Quiet Places. Quiet Places is folk horror at its most cosmic and terrifying. Blending folklore with psychological terror, it contains stories within stories, each one leading to revelations more unsettling than the last. Revelations that will change the way you view your place in the cosmos, and haunt you, relentlessly, long after you have put down this book. Quiet Places is a novella in the Heresy Series story cycle and has been substantially rewritten and revised for this edition. Represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths Interview with the author: What makes Quiet Places so special? Jasper: Readers have told me they like the sense of tradition the story has. It’s steeped not only in ancient folklore, but also the work of classic horror authors like M. R. James and Arthur Machen, as well as the American writers they influenced, such as H. P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith. Yet, the story still manages to be as dark and disturbing as any contemporary horror. It contains stories within stories, and a narrative that slowly unfolds, as revelation follows revelation, each one more shocking than the last. Tell us more your lead character. Jasper: Sally is a city girl transplanted to the Highlands of Scotland. She moved from London to be with her partner David, who has inherited land and property in the rural town of Dunballan. Sally is fiercely independent, but very loyal to David. At first she falls in love with the primal beauty of the forests and the countryside, but after a while she finds small town life to be very claustrophobic. The people of Dunballan are a tight knit bunch and they seem to have some secret hold over David. Not to mention some secret knowledge that leaves Sally feeling isolated and excluded. That’s when Sally’s defiance, and her personal bravery, kick in, and she realises she’s going to have to go to some extraordinary lengths to save the man she loves from the town. Why should readers give this book a try? Jasper: I’m known for being a highly imaginative writer and, like most of my work, Quiet Places contains characters, creatures and concepts you probably won’t have encountered in a horror story before. If you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary, with sights you’ve never seen and fears you’ve yet to experience, then this is the book for you. Is there a recommend order for reading your books? Jasper: No, like all my books, Quiet Places is a stand-alone story. It is part of a story cycle that deals with the Qu’rm Saddic Heresy, an ancient and much persecuted belief system that was old even in the days of Mesopotamia. Not much is known about it these days, as most records of it have been destroyed, the few accounts we do have, speak of it with intense fear and loathing. That’s why it fascinates me. The heresy forms a loose back drop to a lot of my stories and novels. However, like the Cthulhu Mythos, Laird Barron’s Children of the Leech stories and Brian’s Keene’s Labyrinth mythos, the stories can be read in any order but, with every story you read, the depth of the tapestry they’re woven into, becomes clearer and more apparent.

30 review for Quiet Places: A Novella of Cosmic Folk Horror

  1. 5 out of 5

    Maxine (Booklover Catlady)

    Well! This was unexpected. Like having lemonade when you've been tasting Coke all year. Delve into this gem with no preconceived ideas and simply enjoy! This is my first, but absolutely not my last taste of Jasper Bark's writings. I really like his style. This novella kicked off with a real punch and I was enthralled as to what was really going on...it was nothing I predicted! The novella blends a few genres very well and gives you the taste for more as you read along. Folklore, legends, beasts fr Well! This was unexpected. Like having lemonade when you've been tasting Coke all year. Delve into this gem with no preconceived ideas and simply enjoy! This is my first, but absolutely not my last taste of Jasper Bark's writings. I really like his style. This novella kicked off with a real punch and I was enthralled as to what was really going on...it was nothing I predicted! The novella blends a few genres very well and gives you the taste for more as you read along. Folklore, legends, beasts from other dimensions, occult practices, secret societies and soul destroying acts. It's all here, bundled up into a very interesting and entertaining plot. I particularly liked the twist with the ending, it was well hidden and caught me by surprise. There is nothing not to enjoy here! Sometimes a great story is just what the doctor ordered to escape from the humdrum of life, as medicine I recommend this book. 4.5 stars from me bumped up to 5 stars happily. A well written, unusual, quirky novella that I thoroughly enjoyed. I read this in one sitting! I read a copy of this book from the publisher. All review opinions are my own and totally unbiased.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Reading Reindeer 2021 On Proxima Centauri

    Review: QUIET PLACES by Jasper Bark I read an earlier version of this fascinating story in.the lovely 2016 anthology GREEN AND PLEASANT LAND VOL. 1, edited by Steve J. Shaw, which collected rural British horror. This version, according to the author's own account, is greatly revised plus expanded. Those who've read Jasper Bark' s THE FINAL CUT; BED OF CRIMSON ROSES; STUCK ON YOU; and others know that he is a master indeed when it comes to laying out the gore. But you also know, as with THE FINAL Review: QUIET PLACES by Jasper Bark I read an earlier version of this fascinating story in.the lovely 2016 anthology GREEN AND PLEASANT LAND VOL. 1, edited by Steve J. Shaw, which collected rural British horror. This version, according to the author's own account, is greatly revised plus expanded. Those who've read Jasper Bark' s THE FINAL CUT; BED OF CRIMSON ROSES; STUCK ON YOU; and others know that he is a master indeed when it comes to laying out the gore. But you also know, as with THE FINAL CUT, he is equally accomplished playing in the fields of metaphysics. Here in QUIET PLACES, he strums chords somewhat reminiscent of those in THE FINAL CUT, but here he presents a totally British setting. Indeed, I cannot imagine such a tale occurring anywhere but in isolated, insular, rural, small-village Britain, a land where millennia of history drape the region, and heavy upon the head of scions lies history's burden, and the obligation of duty to one's lessers. My especial thanks to Mr. Bark for including my humble name in his acknowledgements--indeed an honour.

  3. 5 out of 5

    S.J. Budd

    "In the quiet of the forest, the darkest fears are born." Sally thought she'd found her happily ever after when she finally moves with her boyfriend, David McCavendish,back to his ancestral home of Dunballan, a remote town in the Scottish Highlands. She struggles to adapt to country life after spending many years in London. Once more she is the outsider, everyone is guarding a secret, even David, the family curse of the McCavendish clan. The curse soon takes hold of David and Sally must work with "In the quiet of the forest, the darkest fears are born." Sally thought she'd found her happily ever after when she finally moves with her boyfriend, David McCavendish,back to his ancestral home of Dunballan, a remote town in the Scottish Highlands. She struggles to adapt to country life after spending many years in London. Once more she is the outsider, everyone is guarding a secret, even David, the family curse of the McCavendish clan. The curse soon takes hold of David and Sally must work with ancient primitive magic to save the man she loves. This is yet another great book from Crystal Lake Publishing who are building up quite a reputation as publishers of great horror fiction. I've read many of their titles fiction and non-fiction and they're all brilliant. What really stood out for me straight away was how original the book was, for a novella it really packs a punch. There's some pretty deep questions raised in here which will leave you unsettled long after you have finished reading this book. What lies beyond our world? Is there a part of us that is immortal? Where do we go when we die? There's many different sub-genres of horror in Quiet Places such as folklore horror, cosmic horror, apocalypse horror, Lovec raftian horror and they all mix perfectly to produce something very original. There's also an element of a detective story where Sally rummages around in the ancient library of the McCavendish family seeking out old journals of the occult. If like me, you love ancient folklore, H.P Lovecraft and being scared then you'll love Quiet Places! The story itself is told in a really imaginative way where we are presented with a horrendous situation and are then taken back further and further through time to figure out what happened. I found Sally really relatable, an outsider who's never felt accepted anywhere or by anyone apart from David. He is her true home which is why she will stop at nothing to save him by lifting the family curse. When a strange beast starts lurking around their remote cottage Sally knows she has to step up and fight back for the sake of David. She must discover the family curse that David for some unknown reason is so desperate to keep from her. He's been distant and she hopes that by helping to free him it will bring them closer together. I really love the imagination that has gone into this book, it is a really unconventional book. I don't want to give away the plot but it doesn't end in the way I thought it would and the outcome is truly macabre. I loved it!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This novella was received free from Crystal Lake Publishing in return for an honest review. Yet again, Crystal Lake Publishing has not failed to deliver. This is my first reading of a Jasper Bark book, and I must admit that being of a squeamish nature I had avoided his work having heard rumours of a certain tendency towards gore. I prefer my horror dark, atmospheric, sinister—possibly a touch more subtle than what I expected from this author. I was therefore pleasantly surprised that Quiet Places This novella was received free from Crystal Lake Publishing in return for an honest review. Yet again, Crystal Lake Publishing has not failed to deliver. This is my first reading of a Jasper Bark book, and I must admit that being of a squeamish nature I had avoided his work having heard rumours of a certain tendency towards gore. I prefer my horror dark, atmospheric, sinister—possibly a touch more subtle than what I expected from this author. I was therefore pleasantly surprised that Quiet Places ticked all the right boxes for me. A story very much in the folk horror tradition, it tells of a young woman, Sally, lured to a remote part of Scotland by her husband to share his sudden inheritance. There, she finds herself not only isolated from the rest of the country but also from her husband as his behaviour and secrecy mark a growing distance between them. Eventually she discovers he, and subsequently she, have been summoned back to Scotland to mitigate the effects of an age-old curse hanging over his family and the people of the town of Dunballan, a curse which turns people into mindless and helpless beings. Sally’s researches into the curse encourage her to try and put an end to it, to free her husband from his suffering; unfortunately, her well-meaning attempts have disastrous consequences. From the disembodied voice of Hettie of the Hedgerows, the appearance of the supernatural Beast of Dunballan, and the almost Lovecraftian city and otherworldly plane of existence, this book has it all. I read it in a day, always a good sign.

  5. 5 out of 5

    David

    Dear horror writers, just because Lovecraft wrote about mad monks, mystical texts, and ancient gods, doesn’t mean you also need to do so, certainly not at length when what you’re writing isn’t very long to begin with, also, it’s a good idea to learn when it’s appropriate, and not appropriate, to use commas, and probably they shouldn’t be used to create very lengthy run-on sentences, or in place of semi-colons, or periods.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Greg at 2 Book Lovers Reviews

    The key to Quiet Places is the beginning. I love these stories where the author kicks me in the face with a what-the-hell-is-going-on-here start. They can then take their sweet old time revealing what causes this freakish scenario that has shocked me to the core. Jasper Bark did exactly that. I think we can all relate to Sally’s motivation: blow off the city and the rat race, run to the hills and live in the lap of luxury with her partner and his sizable inheritance. If it sounds too good to be t The key to Quiet Places is the beginning. I love these stories where the author kicks me in the face with a what-the-hell-is-going-on-here start. They can then take their sweet old time revealing what causes this freakish scenario that has shocked me to the core. Jasper Bark did exactly that. I think we can all relate to Sally’s motivation: blow off the city and the rat race, run to the hills and live in the lap of luxury with her partner and his sizable inheritance. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I was captivated by the little world created by Jasper Bark as he slowly revealed the sinister elements of Dunballan. By moving back and forth through the timeline, Bark masterfully kept my attention. When everything else was revealed, I was on the edge of my seat. Anyone who knows me, knows that I like a big book. The bigger, the better. At one hundred and twenty-three pages, Quiet Places was not quite big enough. It was an intriguing story, but I only wished it had been longer. I felt that Bark cut himself short in many places; that there were stories within stories just waiting to be discovered and told in details that I am certain Bark could envision. I suppose if my only complaint is that I think that the author could have given me a considerably larger world with more people to explore it with, that’s not really a bad thing.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nev Murray

    "I will also give you a word of advice. Be careful when you pick this one up. I thought I would read the start of it before bed, just to get a feel for it. I didn’t get to sleep until I had finished the entire thing. It is that engrossing." See here for the full review: Quiet Places "I will also give you a word of advice. Be careful when you pick this one up. I thought I would read the start of it before bed, just to get a feel for it. I didn’t get to sleep until I had finished the entire thing. It is that engrossing." See here for the full review: Quiet Places

  8. 5 out of 5

    George Billions

    I was kind of surprised when I finished this and found out it’s by the same author as The Final Cut. They felt different. The Final Cut was more explosive, in-your-face type horror, while Quiet Places was, well, quieter. One thing for sure is that Jasper Bark is a hell of a storyteller. Reading his work, you can tell he’s drawing from a range of influences. It comes through as a cohesive, unique voice, rather than “let’s mash this with this and see what happens.” It’s a quick read, with a strong I was kind of surprised when I finished this and found out it’s by the same author as The Final Cut. They felt different. The Final Cut was more explosive, in-your-face type horror, while Quiet Places was, well, quieter. One thing for sure is that Jasper Bark is a hell of a storyteller. Reading his work, you can tell he’s drawing from a range of influences. It comes through as a cohesive, unique voice, rather than “let’s mash this with this and see what happens.” It’s a quick read, with a strong opening hook to get you invested within the first couple pages. Quiet Places has a mix of folk horror and cosmic horror in a modern setting. At one point the protagonist reads a journal that could have been straight out of a Lovecraft story. There’s also dysfunctional relationship drama; weird stuff keeps happening, but non-communicative David refuses to talk to Sally about WTF is going. It could almost be a morality tale on the value of open communication in a relationship, but that calling it that wouldn’t be doing it justice at all. This is a damn fine novella about horrors beyond our control that should not be messed with.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Darrell Grizzle

    Jasper Bark breathes new life into several classic horror tropes in this suspenseful novella: the quiet Scottish village full of dreadful secrets; the mysterious presence lurking in the forest; a family curse handed down over generations; the forbidden manuscripts full of dark incantations. Quiet Places is a masterful blend of folklore-based horror and Lovecraftian cosmic horror. At times charming and at other times creepy and horrific, Quiet Places is highly recommended for fans of well-written Jasper Bark breathes new life into several classic horror tropes in this suspenseful novella: the quiet Scottish village full of dreadful secrets; the mysterious presence lurking in the forest; a family curse handed down over generations; the forbidden manuscripts full of dark incantations. Quiet Places is a masterful blend of folklore-based horror and Lovecraftian cosmic horror. At times charming and at other times creepy and horrific, Quiet Places is highly recommended for fans of well-written literary horror.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tylor James

    "Quiet Places" is truly fascinating. The arcane, cosmic mythology featured in this book draws the reader in like an ethereal rope around one's soul --- and who is on the other end of this tenuous tie? Drawing us in with a steadfast, page-turning pace, pulling ever so gently until suddenly, we are gobsmacked by the awe-inspiring cosmic doom which forms the dilemma of this tale? Why, it's Jasper Bark! Of course. I should have known. Influenced by the horror genre's literary forefathers (Lovecraft, "Quiet Places" is truly fascinating. The arcane, cosmic mythology featured in this book draws the reader in like an ethereal rope around one's soul --- and who is on the other end of this tenuous tie? Drawing us in with a steadfast, page-turning pace, pulling ever so gently until suddenly, we are gobsmacked by the awe-inspiring cosmic doom which forms the dilemma of this tale? Why, it's Jasper Bark! Of course. I should have known. Influenced by the horror genre's literary forefathers (Lovecraft, Arthur Machen, Clark Ashton Smith, M.R. James, Algernon Blackwood, Charlotte Gilman Perkins, etc.), Bark does what any self-respecting creative person does --- he deviates from his previous work to deliver something utterly unique and new. Instead of the gore-soaked mayhem featured in, say, "Stuck on You & Other Prime Cuts", Jasper Bark writes this doom-laden, palpably mysterious horror story, uniting folk horror with an intriguing, cosmic mythos. It really is quite well done, and it is surprising how a reader can come away thinking they've gone down a deep, dark rabbit hole --- merely from reading a work of short fiction! Within its 164 pages, "Quiet Places" takes us on a deep (and high, to the point of hallucinogenic), dark journey. Something I love about reading well-crafted fiction: I always come away learning a new tip on how to write effectively. It's like a young mechanic relatively new to the field of auto-repair, watching a seasoned mechanic perform the most trying of tasks. He watches what tools are used, how and where they are used, etc. Jasper Bark really has crafted a fine-tuned machine with this unsettling novella, and it has my utmost recommendations.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Yvonne Davies

    We first come across Sally caring for the folk of Dunballan, who are in a comatosed state. Following the past events, you get to find out what happened in the little town. David is the last of the McCavendish line, suffers from an ancient curse. Stalked by a beast and suffering dark depressive incidents. With only a creepy voice in the hedgerow to help Sally, can she break the curse and get her David back. Whilst Sally is researching the beast, you get to learn more about David’s heritage and the We first come across Sally caring for the folk of Dunballan, who are in a comatosed state. Following the past events, you get to find out what happened in the little town. David is the last of the McCavendish line, suffers from an ancient curse. Stalked by a beast and suffering dark depressive incidents. With only a creepy voice in the hedgerow to help Sally, can she break the curse and get her David back. Whilst Sally is researching the beast, you get to learn more about David’s heritage and the aftermath of his ancestor’s dabbling with ancient folklore. Told through Matthew’s journals, the scenes with Matthew meeting had a mystical feel to it and you have a sense that something will go wrong. Usually when I read any of Jasper Bark’s books, I am reading it with a grimace on my face, but this book was so different. This played more with my mind. The repetitive voice sounded sinister and for me Hettie was more horrific than the beast as it certainly knew how to play Sally. Whilst reading the scenes in the forest I had goosebumps and you could sense that it was leading up to a final showdown. The suspense carried throughout the story, but even I could not predict the outcome. You could feel the desperation in Sally and the need to help David and his dark moods. I read a shortened version in the Green and Pleasant land anthology, and this new revised version had more depth. It felt more intense and as it is a novella a quick read. Another great story from Jasper Bark

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Rickard

    A tale of a woman called Sally who moves to Dunballan to be with her partner David. They don't have the easiest of relationships. A place with no wifi or good phone signal and a secret concerning David the last in a long line of Lairds. It is up to Sally to save David but no one will talk to her and the beast is stalking David. A wonderful blend of psychological and folk horror. I got this ARC in exchange for an honest review A tale of a woman called Sally who moves to Dunballan to be with her partner David. They don't have the easiest of relationships. A place with no wifi or good phone signal and a secret concerning David the last in a long line of Lairds. It is up to Sally to save David but no one will talk to her and the beast is stalking David. A wonderful blend of psychological and folk horror. I got this ARC in exchange for an honest review

  13. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    Bark’s foray into cosmic folk horror comes with all the elements a reader craves. Secret societies, esoteric rites of passage, family curses, a town where all is not as it seems, and mind-bending realms and creatures that defy logic. The writing is sublime, the reader mesmerised as much by the narrative as the incredible, terrifying events as the story slips effortlessly by via a series of unforeseen twists and turns. The ending is beautifully and heartbreakingly rendered. Both evocative and hor Bark’s foray into cosmic folk horror comes with all the elements a reader craves. Secret societies, esoteric rites of passage, family curses, a town where all is not as it seems, and mind-bending realms and creatures that defy logic. The writing is sublime, the reader mesmerised as much by the narrative as the incredible, terrifying events as the story slips effortlessly by via a series of unforeseen twists and turns. The ending is beautifully and heartbreakingly rendered. Both evocative and horrifying, QUIET PLACES is told with consummate ease, making this one of my favourite Jasper Bark books. Highly recommended.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Darren Dilnott

    Jasper Bark really is an exceptionally talented writer. Quiet Places is a strange, and eerie cosmic horror tale. Mysterious, and ancient incantations, bizarre, and other worldly entities give this folk horror story wonderful substance.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Theresa Derwin

    Jasper Bark is a master of the weird, creepy, freaky and downright nutso aspect of horror, but in this novella he offers us something different although it still smacks of his quirky style. A must read for fans of Bark

  16. 5 out of 5

    Raven Dane

    The.weird and wonderful world of Jasper Bark This is one of those novellas that you want to read all in one binge, regardless of how late in the night or wee small hours of morning it takes to finish it. I was caught in its grip by the opening prologue, absolutely fascinated by the terrible dilemma of the main character and how she ended up in that horrific situation. There was no way I was going to stop reading until I found out! I was not disappointed by the ending, the journey through the book The.weird and wonderful world of Jasper Bark This is one of those novellas that you want to read all in one binge, regardless of how late in the night or wee small hours of morning it takes to finish it. I was caught in its grip by the opening prologue, absolutely fascinated by the terrible dilemma of the main character and how she ended up in that horrific situation. There was no way I was going to stop reading until I found out! I was not disappointed by the ending, the journey through the book was so worthwhile

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    Make sure you read Jasper Bark’s acknowledgements after the conclusion of this incredibly dark novella cleverly constructed around an ancient family curse. The author explains how “Quiet Places” began life as a 7000 word short story before realising his story was far from complete and so expanded it into this much longer version. The Kindle is the perfect medium for horror novellas so Jasper Bark has ample opportunity to craft a very well written and enjoyable story that flirts with a few differ Make sure you read Jasper Bark’s acknowledgements after the conclusion of this incredibly dark novella cleverly constructed around an ancient family curse. The author explains how “Quiet Places” began life as a 7000 word short story before realising his story was far from complete and so expanded it into this much longer version. The Kindle is the perfect medium for horror novellas so Jasper Bark has ample opportunity to craft a very well written and enjoyable story that flirts with a few different areas of the horror genre. Set in a remote village in the Scottish Highlands, Sally and her fiancé David are the newest arrivals after relocating there to start a new life in Dunballen. David grew up in the village and is the last surviving member of the village’s first family, and although his clan have sold the majority of their land, he is still seen as the Laird of the Manor. He is a big cheese in a small town, but Sally is treated with both curiosity and suspicion. So her new start doesn’t quite go as planned and she finds the villagers difficult to gage and struggles to make friends with the exception of the local librarian. Coupled by the fact that David is very withdrawn, isolates and locks himself away for long periods, Sally begins to question her reasoning for settling in a village which has virtually no contact with the outside world. There is the internet and no newspapers except the local rag. But why? The novella opens with a terrific prologue with Sally caring for many villagers who can no longer able to look after themselves, even the most basic functions, and seem void of human characteristics. It is implied she is the cause for whatever catastrophe has befell the village. But what happened? Quickly, the story flips to eight days earlier and the circumstances which led to the events of the prologue are revealed very slowly and this is the main crux of this very readable novella. After living in the village for a while Sally spots a huge black cat, which David refuses to admit he sees also. As time goes on the cat gets bolder and seems to be stalking David, or seeking something from him. Things begin to go from bad to worse, especially when she naively begins to listen to a whispering voice in the hedge, meet Hettie of the Hedgerow (I even went to Google to see if Hettie was a ‘real’ supernatural being!) Bark throws a lot of angles into the story including ancient family curses, Scottish folklore, supernatural beings, Alastair Crowley type cults and heretical writings, and trips beyond the land of the living into cosmic horror. All of which combined amount to a fine yarn which has more than enough to keep you entertained over an evening. However, one major criticism of the novella was the multiple jumps into different time sequences which were at times frustrating. Some of these time jumps were only a few pages and did became a little confusing. This killed some of the momentum and although they were used as a literary tool in explaining the origins of the curse and the complex history of the village, there were just too many of them for a piece of writing of this length. I did also wonder how the plot would play out if it was told in a more linear time sequence? The story has more strands than you would expect in a novella, hanging together really well until the shocking conclusion goes full circle back to the prologue. It’s certainly not a product the Scottish Tourist Board will be recommending, however, although very dark in content it has little in the way of violence compared to some of the author’s colourful and varied output of short stories, novellas and longer work. “Quiet Places” is well worth having a look at and a solid introduction to Bark should you never have tried his wide-ranging work in the world of weird fiction.

  18. 5 out of 5

    BookNerdsBrainDump

    Short Take: Readers: “You can’t fit this much cool story & history into a hundred pages.” -- Jasper Bark: “Hold my beer.” *Note - I was sent a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.* Sometimes, I start reading a book and say to myself “Oh great, here we go again…” I’ve waxed eloquent (read: whined and complained) many times here about how overplayed most horror tropes are. And so I must confess, that when I read the prologue of Jasper Bark’s “Quiet Places”, I groaned inwardly a b Short Take: Readers: “You can’t fit this much cool story & history into a hundred pages.” -- Jasper Bark: “Hold my beer.” *Note - I was sent a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.* Sometimes, I start reading a book and say to myself “Oh great, here we go again…” I’ve waxed eloquent (read: whined and complained) many times here about how overplayed most horror tropes are. And so I must confess, that when I read the prologue of Jasper Bark’s “Quiet Places”, I groaned inwardly a bit. Zombies, I thought. Here we go again with freakin zombies. I fully expected a rehash of the 1984 movie classic “Night of the Comet”, only probably without a delightful Valley Girl dress-up montage featuring Cyndi Lauper singing in the background (which, let’s face it, just isn’t done enough anymore). I stuck with it though, because I’m a little OCD about finishing books, and WHOA. I don’t think it’s too spoiler-y to say that Quiet Places is most emphatically NOT about zombies. Or any other beastie that I can remember encountering before. Quiet Places is the story of Sally McCavendish, and her partner David, who move to the tiny town of Dunballan in the Scottish Highlands after David inherits a beautiful estate and property. There’s more to David’s family legacy than Sally ever could have imagined, however, including a horrific beast, a talking spirit in the hedgerow, and an inter-generational curse, and Sally will have to go up against powerful forces she doesn’t fully understand to keep David’s soul (and their life together) intact. The story unfolds through Sally’s eyes. As an outsider to the town, the family, and the complicated, conjoined history of both, she is always slightly off-center, never sure who she can trust, or what anyone’s intentions are. Mr. Bark does a fantastic job of giving the reader the same sense of being inside a kaleidoscope, with the ground constantly shifting underfoot. He deftly skips among multiple timelines, with chapters jumping back and forth between a few days, months, decades or centuries. There are delightful contrasts all around - the banality of a Tupperware box, for example, containing a bodily-fluid-soaked lure for a supernatural entity. Quiet Places is surprisingly coherent for all that, and don’t let its short length fool you - there is a LOT of story here, and all of it is fascinating, especially the history and philosophical ideas. There’s just one small flaw that I noticed a few times throughout the book, and I’m honestly not sure if it is a deliberate style choice or an unconscious tic of the author’s, but I found it grating. Occasionally, when writing an otherwise fine descriptive passage, Mr. Bark dips into the second person. An example: “It ruffled the grass, rattled the hedges, and lifted Sally’s hair and skirt, but she couldn’t feel it on her skin, nor could she smell any of the scents that a wind such as this usually carried. It was almost entirely bodiless, you could see and experience its effects, but you couldn’t feel them.” Something about the sudden appearance of “you” makes the writing feel less like a journey in the hands of a highly competent author (which it genuinely is, otherwise) and more like an essay written at lunchtime by a high school student who hopes the teacher won’t deduct points for the food stains on his paper. It’s a jolt out of the narrator’s head, a sudden shift in voice that interrupts the flow and the mood. At the end of the day though, a great story is a great story, and it takes a lot more than a few grammatical quirks to keep me from craving more. The Nerd’s Rating: Four Happy Neurons (and a thick juicy steak, hold the secret ingredients!)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dave-Brendon Burgh

    A new tale from Jasper Bark is always something I look forward to reading. The man has a style which is easy to read and flows like a delightful river, which seems almost at odds with the kinds of places Jasper takes the reader to with his stories… For example, the title-story of Stuck on You and Other Prime Cuts is one of those stories that makes you cringe and wince and clear the sick from your throat, but it also hooks nacreous claws into your mind and stays with you. And all of Jasper’s tales A new tale from Jasper Bark is always something I look forward to reading. The man has a style which is easy to read and flows like a delightful river, which seems almost at odds with the kinds of places Jasper takes the reader to with his stories… For example, the title-story of Stuck on You and Other Prime Cuts is one of those stories that makes you cringe and wince and clear the sick from your throat, but it also hooks nacreous claws into your mind and stays with you. And all of Jasper’s tales work on myriad levels, too – memories of scenes will pop into your mind months after reading a tale, and yet those memories will understand the scene better, or perhaps even differently. It’s one of the ways a great storyteller stands apart. And Jasper has done it again with Quiet Places. The cover (by the supremely talented Ben Baldwin), coupled with the title, says so many things, and is a perfect snapshot-image of the tale – that scene also takes place in the novella, and when you read it I’m pretty sure that you might flip back to the cover; if you can stop reading long enough to do so, I have to add. Because by the time you get that specific scene, you’ll already be deep into the tale – you’ll have met sad, determined, slightly off-kilter Sally, her husband David, some of the inhabitants of the small town they live in, and Hettie and the Beast. Jasper’s spell will have been tightly woven, and you’ll be aching to know how Sally got into the situation she’s in at the beginning of the novel. What Jasper has done with this tale is create something that has many aspects but which also works supremely well as a whole – you’ve got Sally’s psychological self, coupled with her determination; you’ve got David’s seeming lack of concern and spine; you’ve got a small town, with the accompanying mentality, and it’s people; you’ve got a major secret which everyone is keeping; you’ve got strange happenings in the forest and hedgerows; you’ve got cosmic horror. It all works. It all meshes. Masterfully. But the heart of the tale -which boils down to what we experience, decide, act upon and then rue- is where this tale really shines. Monsters aren’t actually monsters because of what they do or what they look like – they’re monsters because they reveal themselves to be almost akin to those aspects of ourselves we choose to disregard or ignore or hide. And Jasper understands that sometimes the monster isn’t the monster, and that the victim can also be the knowing instigator. Quiet Places is tight, lyrical, spans centuries is novel ways, and shows us parts of ourselves which might, given the perfect nudge at the right time, change from that which gives us strength to that which makes us want to run in fear and terror. And it’s also a tale which shows it’s characters (and the reader) that what you think you know is almost always wrong, or at least misunderstood. It’s an excellent tale, on many levels, not the least of which is that it shows how versatile and empathic a writer Jasper is. Highly recommended!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Chad

    Quiet Places is a stunning work of cosmic horror, a sub-genre I don't often check out. But as I have argued many a time, if the writer is right, the story will be good. If you connect with the words, the story sings, regardless of the shape. Bark masterfully spins a tale of a small town that has seemingly come under the power of some kind of curse, leaving behind but one person, the protagonist of the story. Unveiling her story as well as what happened to the people of the town make for some gre Quiet Places is a stunning work of cosmic horror, a sub-genre I don't often check out. But as I have argued many a time, if the writer is right, the story will be good. If you connect with the words, the story sings, regardless of the shape. Bark masterfully spins a tale of a small town that has seemingly come under the power of some kind of curse, leaving behind but one person, the protagonist of the story. Unveiling her story as well as what happened to the people of the town make for some great atmosphere of dread and mystery throughout. The structure of the story is totally bonkers and in my opinion, in the hands of many authors would fail completely. Bark employs flashbacks within flashbacks within flashbacks, to the point that at times it feels like he is telling the story backwards. It's the kind of narrative device that works better for film, such as titles like Memento, but without the ability to provide visual cues, it's much harder to pull it off effectively in a book. Despite the challenges, Bark has managed to weave together a story that unfolds in a logical fashion and is paced just right to keep my interest. I loved the suspense of the story as well as the history and mythology of the town. Bark manages to provide a lot of information without making it feel heavy handed, on the back of some beautiful and frightening imagery. I liked the themes I saw of obligation and sacrifice, in turning the whole of yourself over in exchange for someone or something you care about more than yourself. This is a short book but I have the sense that I could have read it several more times before it started to feel repetitive. Every time I read Jasper Bark he shows me something a little different, something I think is indicative of a master storyteller. Do yourself a favor. Check this one out.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michael J.

    Quiet Places, a novella that fits within Jasper Bark’s ongoing Heresy Series story cycle, is an absorbing fictional account of a dysfunctional marriage. It also happens to be an extremely engrossing tale of dread. Bark successfully blends folk horror with dark romanticism, cosmic horror, the Gothic tradition, ghost stories, and psychological horror in a story that feels both familiar and fresh. It’s quite an achievement. The events of the story take place in Dunballan, a quiet Scottish town so Quiet Places, a novella that fits within Jasper Bark’s ongoing Heresy Series story cycle, is an absorbing fictional account of a dysfunctional marriage. It also happens to be an extremely engrossing tale of dread. Bark successfully blends folk horror with dark romanticism, cosmic horror, the Gothic tradition, ghost stories, and psychological horror in a story that feels both familiar and fresh. It’s quite an achievement. The events of the story take place in Dunballan, a quiet Scottish town so remote that there is no cell phone service or Internet. Sally, the main character, is in love with David and agrees to move with him to Dunballan when he inherits the family estate. What he fails to tell her about is the McCavendish ancient family history and their moral responsibility to the town folk. Sally soon learns of the beast in the woods that lurks on the edges of the estate and has a connection to David. Slowly, she unravels the mystery and learns the terrible secrets of both family and town. When David becomes ill from an unknown malady that renders him catatonic, she learns of his ancestor's connections to secret societies, occult sciences, and his subsequent mental breakdown. She takes advice from an eerie but friendly ethereal voice and sets out on a course of action intended to free David from the grip of the Beast and Dunballan. Readers do not need to be familiar with Bark’s Heresy Series in order to appreciate Quiet Places. This novella was my first introduction to Bark’s writing, and I’ll be exploring further based on this excellent read. Disclosure: I was given an advance digital copy of this novella in exchange for a fair and honest review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Paula

    Jasper Bark’s Quiet Places continues on with the Qu’rm Saddic Heresy series. Like the previous books in the series (Run to Ground, The Final Cut) it is a stand-alone story but once again delves a bit deeper into the mythos. I found this story to be so completely different than the others in the series, more akin to the grimmer fairy tales of yore. The story begins at the ending… we find Sally tending to the needs of the residents of Dunballen, a small town in a remote part of Scotland. From her Jasper Bark’s Quiet Places continues on with the Qu’rm Saddic Heresy series. Like the previous books in the series (Run to Ground, The Final Cut) it is a stand-alone story but once again delves a bit deeper into the mythos. I found this story to be so completely different than the others in the series, more akin to the grimmer fairy tales of yore. The story begins at the ending… we find Sally tending to the needs of the residents of Dunballen, a small town in a remote part of Scotland. From here we read on to find out what exactly led up to these terribly unfortunate events. Sally, a city girl has a long-standing relationship with David McCavendish. When he is called back home to Dunballen to take his place in his ancestral home, David asks Sally to join him. Once settled in her new home, Sally begins to notice a change in him. The town seems to have a grip on David and the townsfolk act secretive around her. As Sally begins to dig into Dunballen’s past, a terrifying revelation is uncovered… The curse of the McCavendish family. There is a delicate balance to be upheld between man and beast. Sally must find a way to tip the scales to claim David for herself, yet what seems to be the cure becomes a deal with the direst of consequences. This is a multi-layered tale that winds through Sally’s life weaving together an outstanding story mixing religious undertones with mythological beliefs. Truly, a fascinating read!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Swords & Spectres

    I received a copy of 'Quiet Places' for free in exchange for an honest review. Quiet Places was a strange one for me. Not strange in the fact that I didn't enjoy it, as I really did. It was strange because I loved pretty much everything about it ... everything except the main character. I frequently found myself tiring of her. She was so bitter and her bitterness seeped through the pages and into me. I understand she isn't having the best time, but her thinking the town is selfish is kind of hypoc I received a copy of 'Quiet Places' for free in exchange for an honest review. Quiet Places was a strange one for me. Not strange in the fact that I didn't enjoy it, as I really did. It was strange because I loved pretty much everything about it ... everything except the main character. I frequently found myself tiring of her. She was so bitter and her bitterness seeped through the pages and into me. I understand she isn't having the best time, but her thinking the town is selfish is kind of hypocritical. As she is being selfish in wanting the same thing they want. It had a great plot, the author did some clever flashbacks (and in some cases it was like Inception, with flashbacks within flashbacks). These parts in particular felt as though they added a new dimension to 'Quiet Places'. One thing I really like is the use of the local legend and how well Jasper Bark links it back through both the town, and the McCavendish's family history. There is also so much going on in 'Quiet Places' on a supernatural/mythical level that just adds so much enjoyment to the piece. The parts where the author takes us back through the McCavendish family history are enthralling, as are any of the ritualistic things mentioned throughout. All in all it's an enjoyable read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    James Peartree

    Although I've never read any of this talented man's books before now, I think it's probably fair to say that Jasper Bark has purposely flexed the depth of his vivid imagination, to deliver a novella which had me both satisfyingly unnerved and genuinely fascinated in equal measure. This ingenious meld of horror subgenres with its intensely surreal edge has culminated to produce a truly compelling read. I loved the story with its unpredictable plot and the way the characters were realistically dev Although I've never read any of this talented man's books before now, I think it's probably fair to say that Jasper Bark has purposely flexed the depth of his vivid imagination, to deliver a novella which had me both satisfyingly unnerved and genuinely fascinated in equal measure. This ingenious meld of horror subgenres with its intensely surreal edge has culminated to produce a truly compelling read. I loved the story with its unpredictable plot and the way the characters were realistically developed. So realistic in fact, that I wanted to grab one or two of them by the shoulders and shake them vigorously. Picked this book up yesterday morning - put it down again last night, and am still considering its many qualities now. What a great way to start the new year. Haven't had a nightmare yet, but I'm eagerly anticipating one. I could never choose just one word alone to describe this book but in two words - Bloody Marvelous!!! Thank you, Mr Bark, your fantastically gripping storytelling was a real treat!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tere Fredericks

    Definitely Different Having read quite a bit of horror, science fiction, and the like, half way through I realized this book is both with a great deal of fantasy thrown in. Not at all to turn a reader who has never read it or who has and couldn't or wouldn't understand the darkness of it, it evokes in me the same feelings in me as Jane Eyre. You know something unpleasant is coming, hurry up already, but take your time as this is (sssh, don't tell) very good and I am enjoying it immensely. (Sorry Definitely Different Having read quite a bit of horror, science fiction, and the like, half way through I realized this book is both with a great deal of fantasy thrown in. Not at all to turn a reader who has never read it or who has and couldn't or wouldn't understand the darkness of it, it evokes in me the same feelings in me as Jane Eyre. You know something unpleasant is coming, hurry up already, but take your time as this is (sssh, don't tell) very good and I am enjoying it immensely. (Sorry for the long sentence.) But it is truly unlike anything I have ever read. The feeling of anticipation is high. You know something is going to happen, but will it resolve (you get a pretty good idea of the something in the beginning)? What, exactly, caused it? The deliciousness of the unknown in this book make it very worthwhile read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Justin Zimmerman

    A disquieting story that will stay with you long after it's over. I couldn't help but think of "The Willows" by Algernon Blackwood while reading Bark's latest. As in Blackwood's tale, the forest becomes a character in the story and a beautiful source of the creeping dread that makes this work so effective. The writing has a literary quality to it that sucks you in and makes the big moments hit hard and leads to an ending that you won't soon forget. A disquieting story that will stay with you long after it's over. I couldn't help but think of "The Willows" by Algernon Blackwood while reading Bark's latest. As in Blackwood's tale, the forest becomes a character in the story and a beautiful source of the creeping dread that makes this work so effective. The writing has a literary quality to it that sucks you in and makes the big moments hit hard and leads to an ending that you won't soon forget.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Monique Snyman

    Jasper Bark knows how to tell creepy, memorable tales that'll scare readers into submission. Quiet Places revolves around a small town, a woman who's tired of living in this town with her distracted husband, and a curse that's totally out of this world. Definitely get your hands on it if you're in the mood for folk horror! Jasper Bark knows how to tell creepy, memorable tales that'll scare readers into submission. Quiet Places revolves around a small town, a woman who's tired of living in this town with her distracted husband, and a curse that's totally out of this world. Definitely get your hands on it if you're in the mood for folk horror!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Debbi Smith

    Excellent, creepy,scary,dont-read-in-the-middle-of-the-night type of book! I received this book from the publisher and chose to review it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Bonges

    This was my first Jasper Bark read, will not be my last. I enjoyed this book. It is a perfect blend of folklore and horror that will leave you stunned at the end.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    A fantastic novella of cosmic and folk horror... I look forward to reading more by author Jasper Bark in the, hopefully, not too distant future.

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