Review: Dead Bad Things (Thomas Usher Book 2)

By Gary McMahon

Angry Robot, out now

Thomas Usher cannot resist the call to return to Leeds – but terrors from his past are waiting there for him.

The second Thomas Usher novel picks up six months after the conclusion of Pretty Little Dead Things, and fills in many of the gaps in Usher’s own story. Told in a combination of first and third person –occasionally with the same scene told from the differing perspectives – it’s as bleak and chilling as its predecessor, but with more of a hopeful feel in its twisted rewriting in part of the Peter Pan story.

There’s less Usher first person narrative in this story than you might expect – the story is about him, rather than totally focusing on him – but clues are seeded throughout the novel so that the final revelations make sense to the reader as much as they do to Usher himself. The third person chapters allow McMahon to indulge in more visceral writing: Usher, after all, has seen too much already, whereas the other characters, notably PC Sarah Doherty, are younger and more easily influenced, even if they have had dire lives up to that point.

There’s plenty of scope for further tales in this universe (even if Usher himself were to be killed, that wouldn’t necessarily bring his story to an end), but if McMahon turns his attentions elsewhere, then these two novels together form a terrific, and terrifying, contribution to British horror writing.  8/10

Paul Simpson

Click here to read the first Thomas Usher novel, Pretty Little Dead Things

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