David Watkins, one of the UK’s strongest and most imaginative horror fiction writers, has a new book out to make sure you sleep uncomfortably. This is St. Neith.
St. Neith was released on the 7th of July via Demain Publishing with cover art from the exceptionally gifted, Adrian Baldwin.
We at GBHBL are big fans of David’s work, finding him to be a truly remarkable writer, able to convey vivid imagery through his writings. Check out our reviews of his excellent works, The Devil’s Inn, The Original’s Return and The Original’s Retribution by following the links. You can also check out the review of a collection of short stories that include a David Watkins piece titled The Original, at this link for Leaders of the Pack (A Werewolf Anthology). Finally, check out the review of his most recent, pre St. Neith story, The Exeter Incident too.
David Watkins lives in Devon in the UK with his wife, two sons, dog, cat and two turtles. He is unsure of his place in the pecking order: probably somewhere between the cat and the turtles.
Something has arrived in the woods … and it’s hungry.
So very, very hungry….
St. Neith focuses in on 3 young people in the small village of St. Neith. Daniel, a newer arrival to the area is a bit of a loner, lacking friends and social circles save for local farmer’s son, Shane. Daniel is quiet, anxious and reserved. Shane is very much the opposite. Within the very first page, we get a sense of their relationship and the story gets started as Shane texts David regarding a huge bang that sounds like an explosion.
It’s late though, so they plan to meet up, head to the woods in the morning and see what they can see. Or more Shane plans and Daniel just goes with it. Come the morning, the early rising farmer’s son is bouncing around Daniel’s room while Daniel drags himself out of bed. They head off back to Shane’s house first as Shane has been told he can only go off for the day if he brings his cousin, Erin, along with him. So back to Shane’s they go to collect her.
Erin isn’t everyone’s favourite person to be around. She is really quiet, troubled and not a lot of fun but these guys are young, 15 or so, and if they want to go, they go as a trio or not at all. The unlikely explorers head off into the woods, adventuring and looking for the source of the noise from the night before. And they are an unlikely bunch. What should be or could be 3 friends bouncing off on a Stand By Me style adventure is a reluctant party led by an overly exuberant Shane, a “doesn’t really want to be there” Daniel and 50 feet back, an Erin who would rather be anywhere else with anyone else, it seems.
It takes very little time though for the innocent adventure to take a more terrifying turn. Small signs signal danger. A dead deer with a hollowed out stomach, an area of flattened land that looks like something crashed there, the lack of insect and bird noise and then there are webs – so many webs. And these webs are bigger, stronger and stickier then anything that already scares the life out of many mortals in the real world. Yep, we have spiders. Big fucking spiders!
This is Arachnophobia on steroids as the car sized, vicious creatures attack their new food source, us. Or specifically in this case, Daniel, Shane and Erin. And this short wild ride turns into a full on action horror with our trio desperately sprinting through the woods, trying to get back to the village of St. Neith for safety and to warn others while these huge beasts drop from the trees, spitting poison with their many hungry eyes locked on their next meal. The speed and ferocity of the creatures and their devastation of the woods offers little hope of respite. Can they escape, and if they do, is their any safety to be found back in St. Neith?
St. Neith is a short story that makes maximum use of every word to deliver a short, sharp shock. A story you will comfortably finish in a short sitting, not just because it is a short story, but also because it flows fast and aggressively offering you a similar situation to the characters in that there is no real time to stop for a bit. For it’s length, David Watkins manages to get in a huge amount of story and character development. The relationship between Daniel and Shane is believable and recognisable. Erin/Eric’s story sits well with the story of many even if just gently touched on. These things are important. Even a short story, designed for aggressive impact has to have characters you can identify and relate to or, well, who cares if they make it!
Character work aside, the book is fast paced, action packed and full of gross gore. Some of the descriptives used offer you a full visual in your mind and it’s pretty horrific. Add in that the big bad in this is giant fucking spiders and you are tapping into many peoples worse fears. I’m not particularly afraid of spiders, but I still dislike them and have no desire to hang out with them, but when you grow their size, describe them and their little beady eyes and barbed legs so vividly and turn them into vicious attackers, well, yep, I’m scared of spiders now too.
Do you want to also be afraid of spiders and more than a little grossed out, well, grab your copy of St. Neith from Amazon, here.
David Watkins Links
St. Neith by David Watkins
Book Title: St. Neith
Book Author: David Watkins
The Final Score - 9/10