Book Reviews

Sweetheart, Sweetheart by Bernard Taylor

by Bernard Taylor
Published by Valancourt Books Genres: Fiction, Ghost, Gothic, Horror, Mystery, Supernatural, Suspense, Thriller
Format: eBook
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David Warwick, an Englishman living in New York, has a sudden premonition that his twin brother, Colin, is in danger. He returns to England and learns the shocking truth: both Colin and his young bride Helen have died ghastly deaths - deaths that no one in the village wants to talk about.

Now David has inherited his brother's home, Gerrard's Hill Cottage, a lovely house with a lush garden that seems to promise peace and comfort to all who dwell there. But as David tries to unearth the facts of what really happened to his brother and his wife, he has no idea of the horror and evil that surround him or the terrible fate that may be in store ...

A chilling story that builds slowly and inexorably towards its shocking climax, Bernard Taylor's Sweetheart, Sweetheart (1977) has been recognized as one of the finest horror novels ever written. This edition features a new introduction by Michael Rowe.

I loved this book so freaking much! So. Freaking. Much!

Sweetheart, Sweetheart was originally published back in the late 70’s. It was brought back by Leisure Books in the 90’s and has now been brought back again by Valancourt Books. (Perhaps you’ve heard me talk about them in the past?) This edition has a new, kickass cover and an even more kickass introduction from the lovely Michael Rowe. (A fantastic author of the macabre in his own right.)

The intro was more of a love letter to the story and to the author. It’s not spoiler-y so you can read it before reading the story, if you like.
Here’s a brief excerpt of the intro:

“So, instead of writing a cool, detached introduction, I feel like a child holding out a Christmas gift, bursting to tell you what’s inside so you can be as excited to receive it as I am to give it, impatient for you to open it. This particular present however, is wrapped in rose petals, not paper, and the ribbon is made of sharp wire and broken glass, not grosgrain, so please be careful not to cut yourself while unwrapping it.”

After finishing the book, I could not possibly agree more.

So, on to the story! Dave has a bad feeling about his twin brother who still lives back home in the U.K. Enough so that he leaves his fiancee in America to make the trek to check on his family. All is not well with them and David’s quick trip turns into an extended stay. That’s all I can say about the plot.

This story is beautifully, I say beautifully written. Mr. Taylor’s abilitiy to create a creepy atmosphere is nearly unmatched. (Though Mr. Rowe does it wonderfully in his book Wild Fell.) For instance this brief little clip:

“There I sat in the living-room, the scotch bottle at my side, I felt only that accustomed welcome and comfort surrounding me. The coldness, the chill, was inside me.”

This book quietly builds the atmosphere and horror of discovering that all is NOT what it seems to be. It nearly drips with suspense as the final chapters are doled out and just when you think you can’t take it anymore, POW! It punches you in the face and then it stomps on you some more once you go down. The reader is left sitting there alone, stunned, saddened and delighted all at once. This is one you can’t miss.

In the end, this is a ghost story. Charles L. Grant named it his favorite ghost story of all time, and Mr. Grant knew quiet horror better than almost anyone. If you’re looking for a lot of gore and a lightening fast pace, look elsewhere. However, if you’re looking for a classic, slow building, atmospheric, beautifully written ghost story you, my friend, have just found it.

My highest recommendation!

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This is it!*

About Bernard Taylor

Bernard Taylor was born in Swindon, Wiltshire, and now lives in London. Following active service in Egypt in the Royal Air Force, he studied Fine Arts in Swindon, then at Chelsea School of Art and Birmingham University. On graduation he worked as a teacher, painter and book illustrator before going as a teacher to the United States. While there, he took up acting and writing and continued with both after his return to England. He has published ten novels under his own name, including The Godsend (1976), which was adapted for a major film, and Sweetheart, Sweetheart (1977), which Charles L. Grant has hailed as one of the finest ghost stories ever written. He has also written novels under the pseudonym Jess Foley, as well as several works of nonfiction. He has won awards for his true crime writing and also for his work as a playwright. It was during his year as resident playwright at the Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch that he wrote The Godsend. There Must Be Evil, his latest true crime study, is to be published in England in September. (less)

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