Society Place

Society Place by Andrew David Barker

“Peel back the veneer of everyday life and you find a haunted world…”

DEMAIN PUBLISHING presents, ‘SOCIETY PLACE’ by Andrew David Barker.

Set during the blazing English summer of 1976, recently widowed Heather Lowes moves into the house she was supposed to live with her husband. But now she is alone. Or at least, she thinks she is.

It is a normal terrace house, on an everyday, run-down working class street in a dying industrial town. A place that seldom sees the extraordinary. However, when Heather meets her new neighbours – the old woman next door, the kid from a few doors down – they all seem concerned that she has moved into the house at the end of Society Place.

They seem to know something.

Heather’s nights in the house are troubled. She senses a presence, particularly on the stairs, and down in the cellar. She dare not go down there. As the sweltering summer rages on, Heather experiences supernatural turmoil that tests her sanity and pushes her understanding of reality to its very limits. She learns that there isn’t just one ghost. There is a Nest of Ghosts that haunt, not just her house, but all the houses on Society Place. She also comes to learn of the Nest’s interest in the baby growing inside her, and of the far-reaching consequences of the events of that summer and how they will still be felt into the first decades of the 21st century.

Welcome to Society Place, a nice place to live.

If you’re dead.

(with a cover by Adrian Baldwin)

The IndieMuse Review

Society Place marks my first time reading author Andrew David Barker, but far from my first time reading a Demain Publishing release. The Demain logo at the top left corner of a book has become a sign of quality for me, and a strong indicator that the content will be something distinctively British, beautifully written, thought-provoking and well worth picking up. Society Place not only delivers on all of these promises, but it may actually be my favorite release to date.

Set in a blistering heatwave in a working-class housing estate in Derby during the 1970s, Society Place tells the story of Heather, a recently widowed expectant mother of twenty-four, who is moving into a new house she bought with her husband before his untimely death, and can no longer afford.

Her financial woes become the least of her concerns however when she begins to hear stories from her neighbors about the evil that resides in her house following occult rituals that took place years before. When she begins to sense unwelcome presences in the house her actions will have repercussions, not just for her, but her unborn baby.

What starts out as a richly told, subtly unsettling ghost story in the book’s first half, grows into something altogether bleaker and more insidious as the story progresses. I loved the setting, which adds a great deal to the overall ambience and the constant references to the heatwave and beautiful weather contrast wonderfully with the confined darkness of the house on Society Place and the evil that resides there. It is a very personal story at first, focused on Heather and her grief as she struggles to make the best of an already bad situation, before finding that her new home is haunted.

Not content to simply tell an insular haunted house tale, however, Barker ups the ante in the second half, expanding the story in a big way into a multi-generational epic where we’re given some insight into how the events of the book impacts character’s lives over the long term, while events still unfold, always careful not to spoil what ultimately happens, but adding a richness and depth to the characters. As a horror story, it’s a rousing success. Society Place is a grim and scary book, but it also excels at so much more, providing engaging characters and coming from an obvious place of love for the era it is portraying.

Society Place is another stellar release from Demain and has firmly put Andrew David Barker on my list of authors to watch. It perfectly captures a very specific moment in time in a very specific place, combining nostalgia with a more serious reflection of the life of working-class people in 70s Britain. Couple that with the fact that it is one of the most chilling and unsettling ghost stories I have ever read, suffused with dread and the anticipation of what we know must be to come, and you’re left with a masterful piece of horror writing and a novel that deserves to be a breakout success for both author and publisher.

RICHARD MARTIN

Richard started reading horror books at a young age, starting with R L Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Point Horror’ series. He traumatised himself at the age of twelve when he read Stephen King’s ‘IT’, and never looked back. He is currently based in the UK, where he lives with his partner, and an inappropriate amount of books.

Curation Results: Society Place

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Curator Notes: "With Society Place, Andrew David Barker has crafted an exceptionally haunting story that will stick with you long after your next read!" —B-Baal

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