James and Adele, with their eight year old Sam, move to Wales for the winter, to do up a dilapidated farmhouse, Ty-Gwyneth. They are still reeling from the death by drowning of their daughter, Ruthie: the time in Wales should be a chance for them to recover, regroup, come together as a family.
But James starts to dig up some rather curious bones, Sam has a screaming fit in which he seems to be speaking to a previous occupant of the house, and Adele’s paintings become odd, disturbing, wrong.
A sheep is found, mutilated. Another. Sheep are found lying on the rocks below the cliff, torn open. The destruction of the beasts has begun…
‘The best debut novel I have read since The Wasp Factory. Wonderful original writing glittering with savage imagery, the pages breathe the tough, dark texture of a real world, of real inescapable fears, blurring the boundaries between nightmare and reality…’ Peter James
‘Maginn sifts the novel’s truth from its mystery like an expert archeologist, meticulously exposing deeper and darker strata that underlie even the most innocent events. Oscillating between the bleak thoughts of his emotionally tortured characters and the stark, moody Welsh landscape, he creates a thick atmosphere of dread that forces the weight of the past inexorably down on the present, yet never impedes the brisk momentum of the tale. This is the rare example of a novel of subtle horror that should appeal to lovers of the fast-paced modern horror thriller.’ Publishers Weekly
‘Sheep is a novel that conveys a real sense of dread. At times I was afraid to read on.’ Ramsey Campbell
‘Yet another undeservedly obscure classic! This novel, the first by a noted English writer, is widely considered (by the five or so people who’ve read it) one of the finest genre debuts of the nineties. I can understand the adulation, as it’s a stunningly written and imagined account of supernatural horror and all-too-natural anxiety. Simon Maginn has fallen silent in recent years (following VIRGINS AND MARTYRS, A SICKNESS OF THE SOUL and METHODS OF CONFINEMENT), but SHEEP remains a stand-out entry in the horror field, and is well worth tracking down… A simple plot description cannot convey the eccentricity, descriptive brilliance and horrific menace this novel exudes… At its heart, however, SHEEP is genuinely dark and unnerving. Maginn has a gift for true-to-life description, lending the proceedings a powerful air of authenticity that makes the later passages, particularly those detailing Adele’s insanity, all the more upsetting. Maginn’s descriptive power also lifts the final pages into an altogether unique realm of poetic sadness and nail-biting terror.’ Fright.com
‘The novel might be the only thing I’ve ever read that actually scared me…’ Simon Strantzas
Virgins and Martyrs
Daniel, a graduate student struggling to finish his dissertation, moves into a house in Hove owned by a polite and inscrutable skinhead. Wendy, the former occupant of the room, has vanished, leaving few traces: some shredded paper, a hank of hair. But gradually Daniel begins to feel Wendy’s presence all around him, to realise that she is showing him things he’d rather not see, guiding him to shelves in the university library where crumbling books about decomposing corpses and sacrificial virgins are kept. And curiously, Daniel finds himself unable to eat, even to buy food. As he becomes thinner and weaker, his mind is dominated by sinister visions of a starving Wendy and of his own hand, wet, dead, and with a neat hole piercing his palm…
‘One of the most magnificently bleak horror novels ever written’ St James Guide.
A Sickness of the Soul
When Robert, an investigative journalist, tunes into a phone-in programme while driving through the Midlands, he immediately realises he is on to something. He goes undercover to infiltrate a bizarre bikers’ cult, The Sons of the New Bethlehem, led by the charismatic Teacher. It is Teacher whom Robert has heard on the radio, giving advice to distraught callers and praying for their salvation. Teacher’s ministry is a fully-fledged crusade, in leathers. Spider, Loverman, Stroker, Biceps and the rest gather in shopping centres and car parks on their Harleys and Hondas to witness their leader healing the afflicted.
But Robert gets closer to the story than he ever intended, and the price he pays is a shockingly high one.
Methods of Confinement
Anna and Luke, young, lively and upwardly mobile, are unable to have children. No medical procedure has been of any use, and the situation is now putting considerable strain on their relationship. Enter Declan, a homeless man, endearing and amenable. Gently he insinuates himself into their lives. Fascinated – even obsessed – by a story that Luke is writing, Revenge of the Crab People, and confused by his feelings towards Anna, Declan’s uncertain sense of self becomes deranged, and his eagerness to please morphs into something altogether odder and far more dangerous…
Nominated for the British Fantasy Society Novel of the Year, 1997.
David is a lonely man. His uneventful life in Hove, though, is rudely interrupted by a dead rat in his toilet. It’s only a baby, but it is enough to start a malevolent and destructive sequence of changes that put David, fatally, into the hands of his sinister new neighbour, a bouncer with a perhaps too-strong sense of order.
When does protection turn into control? When does neighbourliness turn into predation? This short, quiet but powerful urban fable investigates.
‘Creepy as a warehouse full of vermin’ Gary Fry.
‘…grounded convincingly in the real, workaday world…Maginn’s elegant, street smart prose is a joy… subtle and suggestive… and all the more powerful for that.’ Black Static
Published alongside Gary Fry’s novella, The Invisible Architect of Psychopathy.