Review: Skayne 6: The Ground Outside

Skayne 6By Jonathan Barnes

Red Raygun, out now

A long-gestating plan finally comes to fruition…

There’s a feeling of pieces slotting into place as this final Skayne tale unfolds: here’s yet another innocent whose life is affected by forces outside his control, manoeuvred to a part of the world where Godfrey Skayne has held sway, and used in his machinations.

The story is set contemporaneously and we’re very much in Hammer territory – you can almost hear the G / C tympani crashing in for the C minor title theme of Hammer House of Horror – as the latest narrator struggles to explain to his elderly father exactly what has been happening to him. We know that the sounds outside his window aren’t what he thinks they are; we can guess that the helpful people in the village to which he moves might be concealing some terrible truths. But Barnes skilfully builds the atmosphere so that you understand precisely why the former continuity announcer (er… interesting choice of profession!) makes the decision that he does.

Although the ending does bring a degree of conclusion to the series, there are plenty of possibilities for further tales – not least in the huge gap between the fourth and fifth stories – as well as an amplification of the backstory revealed here.

Verdict: An appropriately dark final story which ties up some loose ends while leaving enough unsaid. 8/10

Paul Simpson

Click here to order The Ground Outside from Red Raygun

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