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Sarah Pinborough

Sarah Pinborough Sarah Silverwood (1972- )
Sarah Pinborough
lives and writes horror, supernatural thrillers, and YA fantasy novels (YA under the name Sarah Silverwood). She lives in Buckinghamshire, England. She has had a lot of jobs — some of which were mind-numbingly dull and some of which definitely weren’t — but has decided that writing books is by far the best of them. Here’s Sarah Pinborough’s website.

Tower Hill: Feels like a formula

Tower Hill by Sarah Pinborough

Religion is ripe soil for horror writers. If you squint a bit when you read the Bible, it’s a vast catalog of horror itself: Adam and Eve’s eviction from paradise, the invention of death, Cain’s killing of Abel, the torture of Job — and we haven’t even gotten past Genesis! But the Bible is the source of salvation as well, as God provides his people with manna in the wilderness, preserves the human race despite a flood that covers all the earth, and rescues Moses from the bulrushes. With so much rich material to work with, it’s no wonder that writers plant their plots in these vineyards.

Sarah Pinborough uses the Tree of Knowledge and the snake who tempted Eve to eat therefrom as the foundation for Tower Hill. Her choice of evils is unique, but the way it plays out is classic.

Tower Hill is a small town on the coast of Maine a good ... Read More

The Language of Dying: Slowly creeping horror hiding within the mundane

The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough

A novella that packs the emotional punch of a full-length novel, Sarah Pinborough’s The Language of Dying (2009) stealthily moves from an innocuous beginning to a stunning conclusion in the spare space of less than 150 pages. This work was nominated for a 2009 Shirley Jackson award and won a British Fantasy Award for Best Novella in 2010, and it’s obvious why: Pinborough writes beautifully and honestly about the complicated process of saying good-bye to a loved one, which would have been compelling material on its own, but the underlying current of potential madness and the repeated visits of a menacing force of nature slowly shift the mundane into the surreal.

As a woman prepares for her ailing father’s inevitable death, she ruminates on certain events leading up t... Read More

A Matter of Blood: Leave the lights on

A Matter of Blood by Sarah Pinborough

Sarah Pinborough makes it clear from the first page of her prologue in A Matter of Blood that we’ll be seeing plenty of blood — and worse. The novel opens on the scene of a corpse squirming with maggots. An unnamed man stands in the doorway and declares that “This has to stop,” but the noise of the flies only grows louder. It seems, though, that the man is talking to someone — not to the corpse, not to himself, not even to the flies, though maybe he is speaking to someone through the flies. And maybe, we think, we’re on to something with that last thought, because as the speaker continues, the flies gather together and form into a shape that is nearly human.

It’s the last glimpse of the supernatural we get for a long time, though. Instead,... Read More

The Shadow of the Soul: A complicated, suspenseful tale

The Shadow of the Soul by Sarah Pinborough

Warning: This review contains spoilers for the first book in the FORGOTTEN GODS trilogy, A Matter of Blood (reviewed here).

As The Shadow of the Soul by Sarah Pinborough opens, Cass Jones has been through six months of interviews, arrests, statements and the backlash from his discovery of rampant corruption among his fellow police officers (as set forth in the first book of the FORGOTTEN GODS trilogy, A Matter of Blood), and it isn’t even close to over. It’s hard for him to care about anyone thinks about him, though, because all he has to do is remember the sight of his dead partner’s body at the bottom of the stairs of the Paddington Green station to fe... Read More

The Chosen Seed: Keeps readers compulsively turning pages

The Chosen Seed by Sarah Pinborough

Note: This review contains spoilers for the first two books in the FORGOTTEN GODS trilogy. The review of the first of the books in the trilogy, A Matter of Blood, is here; the review of the second, The Shadow of the Soul, is here.

The first two books of Sarah Pinborough’s FORGOT... Read More

Mayhem: A dark, elegantly written murder mystery

Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough

Two things drew me to Sarah Pinborough’s Mayhem. First, the cover — exceptionally elegant and very fitting for this 19th century tale. Second, Jack the Ripper. If for some reason you are unaware of who he was, Jack was a serial killer in late 19th century London who targeted female prostitutes and murdered them in brutal ways. He killed at least five women, likely more, but get this — he was never caught. This anonymity led to widespread terror throughout the area for years to come. Mayhem is not the story of Jack, though, but one of a new killer, dubbed by some as The Thames Killer and as The Torso Killer by others. Though there are similarities between Jack’s killings and those of the newcomer, primarily that they both target women, the protagonist, Dr. Thomas Bond, knows that there is indeed a second killer in the London slums who keeps his victims’ heads as ... Read More

Behind Her Eyes: Twisty thriller with cross-genre appeal

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Louise is an insecure single mom who, one night, meets and kisses a dashing stranger. She’s mortified the next morning to find that the stranger, David, is now her boss. Her married boss. Then she (literally) bumps into David’s wife, Adele, and the two of them hit it off.

Despite her best friend’s warnings that all of this is a bad idea, Louise falls in deeper: into a full-blown affair with David, and into a close friendship with Adele. In particular, Louise and Adele bond over their shared experience with night terrors.

This triangle is a freight train barreling toward trouble, and Louise soon learns that the stakes might be deadlier, as questions and mysteries lurk beneath the surface of Adele and David’s lives: Who, if anyone, killed Adele’s parents? Who, if anyone, killed Adele’s teenage friend? Is David abusive? And most importantly, what’s being plotted in the ... Read More

Magazine Monday: Nightmare, Issue 3

The third issue of Nightmare is more accomplished than one would expect from a magazine so new. The choice of stories is excellent, and the debut story is especially disturbing.

That debut is “Chop Shop” by J.B. Park, and if it is any indication, Park is going to have a brilliant career as a horror writer. The viewpoint character is a woman who has a horrifying sexual fetish: she is turned on by a man cutting away her flesh, her limbs, her organs slowly but surely. She is able to experience this because a virtual reality program makes it so, allowing her to feel pain that is dulled by drugs but still real, real enough to cause her a “joy” that is “absolutely delicious.” But it’s not really the pain that gives her a high; “it’s the horror, at the mangling, the crippling, which she seeks.” Quickly — much too quickly — the experience palls, for her ... Read More

The Monster’s Corner: Stories Through Inhuman Eyes

The Monster's Corner: Stories Through Inhuman Eyes edited by Christopher Golden

FORMAT/INFO: The Monster’s Corner is 400 pages long and consists of 19 short stories. Also included is an Introduction by the editor Christopher Golden, and biographies of all of the anthology’s contributors. September 27, 2011 marks the North American Trade Paperback publication of The Monster’s Corner via St. Martin’s Griffin. The UK version will be published on the same day via Piatkus Books.

ANALYSIS: The New Dead was one of my favorite books of 2010, so when it was announced that Christopher Golden was putting together another horror-themed anthology, I couldn’t wait. Like The New Dead, Read More

More books by Sarah Pinborough

Breeding Ground — (2006-2009) Publisher: Life was good for Matt and Chloe. They were in love and looking forward to their new baby. But what Chloe gave birth to isn’t a baby. It isn’t even human. It’s an entirely new species that uses humans only for food — and as hosts for their young. As Matt soon learns, though, he is not alone in his terror. Women all over town have begun to give birth to these hideous creatures, spidery nightmares that live to kill — and feed. As the infestation spreads and the countryside is reduced to a series of web-shrouded ghost towns, will the survivors find a way to fight back? Or is it only a matter of time before all of mankind is reduced to a… Breeding Ground.

Sarah Pinborough Breeding Ground, Feeding GroundSarah Pinborough Breeding Ground, Feeding Ground

Fairytale Re-tellings — (2013) These have original pen and ink illustrations by Les Edwards.

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Other novels:

horror book reviews Sarah Pinborough The Hidden, The Reckoning, The TakenThe Hidden — (2004) Publisher: Rachel Wright wakes up in the hospital one morning with no memory of who she is. It takes a while, but once she gets over the shock she decides amnesia isn’t all bad. Rachel grasps this opportunity for a fresh start. What does she care if everyone she used to know thinks she’d changed a bit too much? Life is good for the “new” Rachel… But now her life is starting to fray at the edges. She’s been having hideous nightmares and seeing strange things in mirrors. She’s becoming more and more certain that something bad is coming. Something wants to break into this world, to play games of blood and death with the living. And it’s coming for Rachel.

horror book reviews Sarah Pinborough The Hidden, The Reckoning, The TakenThe Reckoning — (2005) Publisher: Fifteen-year-old Chloe Saunders and her friends Tori, Simon, and Derek are genetically altered supernaturals on the run from the evil corporation that created them. Hiding out with a family friend, they are trying to make sense of their predicament and discover what sinister plans the Edison Group has in store for them. As a powerful necromancer who can raise the dead in her sleep, Chloe struggles to control her abilities and figure out how to best use them to keep everyone safe. To further complicate matters (as if running for your life were not enough), Chloe wrestles with her feelings for Simon, a good-natured sorcerer, and Derek, a misunderstood werewolf. This nail-biting climax to the series continues to captivate readers with its edge-of-one’s-seat pacing. Armstrong’s story is full of action, romance, deception, and intrigue as well as complex characters and serious teenage issues.

horror book reviews Sarah Pinborough The Hidden, The Reckoning, The TakenThe Taken — (2007) Publisher: Pinborough delivers genuine chills in this effective tale of ghostly revenge. Thirty years ago, in the rural town of Watterrow, England, a beautiful, curly-haired 10-year-old named Melanie Parr suffered a fatal accident. Having used her angelic looks to hide a cruel, sociopathic personality, the girl delighted in tormenting her playmates, whose mothers decided to do something about it. Unfortunately for them, that “something” proved deadly. Even more unfortunate, Melanie’s come back for revenge, three decades later, thanks to “The Catcher Man,” a benign entity that holds children in a state between life and death. Pinborough populates Watterrow with well-defined, sympathetic characters whose reactions, in the face of the unbelievable, ring remarkably true; the struggle of her reluctant heroine, Alex, is thoughtfully balanced between otherworldly horror and the ravages of terminal cancer. Wisely, Pinborough (Breeding Ground) opts to build suspense subtly, rather than bludgeon readers with horrific imagery or buckets of gore, giving this nicely executed, surprisingly moving ghost story an old-fashioned feel in the best possible sense.