We’re pretty immune to horror stories at this point. Nothing really makes us jump anymore. And yet when Whispers in the Flame, by Steve Cotterill, crossed our submission pile, we were well and truly unsettled. This is the kind of story that takes you into the mind of madness, that seduces you instead of trying to frighten you, and in the end that becomes more startling than the traditional gore and scare tactics.
As you read Whispers in the Flame, it’s not hard to understand the pressures on the protagonist. There’s something out there trying to get him to do bad things, and it’s slowly winning. The biggest surprise is that it’s not a malicious ghost, it’s the ancient spirit of the entire city of London. Steve does a fantastic job of turning a city rich with history and mystique into a character of its own. One that intrigues and terrifies in equal measure. It’s psychological horror done right.
Stay tuned as we revisit our favorite stories from 2013, and get ready to cast your vote in the biggest Reader’s Choice poll this side of whatever convenient landmark you are near.