London Gothic, Nicholas Royle

The protagonists of London Gothic are walkers, art lovers, film buffs and train nerds. They are loners, in the main, fascinated by urban spaces and routes between places. Through their eyes, we see the people who haunt the cafes, galleries and pubs of various parts of London, and we often go back to their houses, where we see their odd collections of things, or attempts at black magic. Sometimes they kill people, and sometimes we suspect they killed someone, but we’re not quite sure.

Some of these stories are published here for the first time, and others are older, with a couple reminding me strongly of his 2000 novel, Director’s Cut, which has London’s cinemas and underground stations at its heart. He can write straight prose like a dream, but he also plays with form, like in The Old Bakery, where a disgruntled editor makes increasingly bitter notes on a press release for an artisan bakery, and Artefact, with its six different points-of-view on a man’s innocent attempt to get his VHS tapes transferred to a digital format. If you like unsettling, dryly funny writing, then you can’t go wrong with this collection. It makes me miss London, even with its haunted houses and serial killers, especially now that the virus means I can’t go there.

As a final note, I want to point out that Nicholas Royle edited my novel, The Complex, and he recently published my short story, Signal, with Nightjar Press. The world of blurb, book bloggers and reviews can seem a little murky, and while I would be cynical about an author enthusing about his editor’s work, this post was written sincerely.