And Cannot Come Again: Tales of Childhood, Regret, and Innocence Lost

by Simon Bestwick | :: Jump to Buy Links ::


The Man Who Put the Best in Bestwick (Introduction by Ramsey Campbell)

Beneath the Sun
The Moraine
Comfort Your Dead
The School House
Left Behind
A Small Cold Hand
The Proving Ground
Angels of the Silences
. . . And Dream of Avalon
Winter’s End
They Wait
The Children of Moloch
And Cannot Come Again

Afterword: Notes from the King of the Bastards

Click to enlarge and spotlight cover
Funny, frightening, and moving, the stories in Simon Bestwick’s new collection explore how our childhoods mark us, our regrets haunt us, and how our innocence is sometimes lost—and sometimes taken away.
A young policewoman is drawn into a dreadful bargain. Murdered girls walk the streets of Manchester beside their still-living friends. Tormented children call on an urban legend for help, and the events of a long-ago summer and first love return with lethal consequences for four childhood friends. All this and more besides, in these fifteen short stories and novelettes from the author of The Faceless and The Feast of All Souls.

| Introduction by Ramsey Campbell. |

Trade Paperback ISBN: 9781771484923
Hardcover ISBN: 9781771485227
eBook ISBN: 9781771484930

Praise for Simon Bestwick

“Bestwick is brilliant.”
The Guardian

“One of the most accomplished and eloquent British horror writers is Simon Bestwick, and here is a feast of his work.”
—Ramsey Campbell

“Simon Bestwick goes to places least traveled and brings back diamonds soaked in the blood of the psyche. His stories don’t aspire to sermon; like all good fiction their integrity, their bravery command their own unique survey of the human condition. That places Bestwick in a rarefied group. This collection is a treasure.”
—Usman T. Malik, British Fantasy and Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn

“Simon Bestwick shines a light on the dark places in the human heart.”
—Erica L. Satifka, British Fantasy Award-winning author of Stay Crazy

“Simon Bestwick’s fiction is like a neat incision—seeds are planted—the cut is sewn up. You’re very aware that something dark is still growing under the skin.”
—Colleen Anderson, author of A Body of Work

“Simon Bestwick’s stories are sharp, bleak, odd, full of grief and grace. If you only know him from his novels, this will be a treat (though you very much should read those, too); if you don’t know him at all, then for God’s sake, treat yourself. In a genre full of unsung treasures, his song deserves to be heard.”
—Gemma Files, author of Experimental Film

“Simon Bestwick’s And Cannot Come Again shows once more why he’s one of England’s premiere authors of short fiction. In here you will find stories that haunt you, frighten you, and dare you to understand those parts of yourself you pray remain hidden from the rest of the world. A startling book of loss and revelation.”
—Simon Strantzas, author of Nothing Is Everything

“Simon Bestwick’s stories have for quite a while now tended to be the best thing in any magazine in which they appear. ‘. . . And Dream Of Avalon’ harnesses the potency of cheap music, as Don Henley’s ’80s smash ‘The Boys Of Summer’ soundtracks a deceptively bitter meditation on the dangers of nostalgia . . . robustly representative of the good solid bedrock of our field of weird fiction.”
—Steve Duffy, author of Tragic Life Stories and The Moment of Panic

“His swift, evocative prose, his deep humanity, his visionary insight, above all his sheer gift for telling a gripping story puts Bestwick right in the front rank of horror writers, indeed any kind of fiction writer today. And this volume is Bestwick at his best. If you have yet to read him, I can assure you And Cannot Come Again is a superb introduction to a superb writer.”
—Reggie Oliver, author of The Ballet of Dr. Caligari and Madder Mysteries

“Simon Bestwick is one of the best writers around of dark and genuinely scary short horror fiction. Be afraid. . . .”
—Alison Littlewood, author of A Cold Season and The Crow Garden

“Simon Bestwick’s fictional monsters may be supernatural but they’re not exactly magical. They’re the stuff of grownup nightmares. They fester and grow from ignored trauma, casual degradation, and the cold, sickening awareness that comes after long periods of isolation or neglect. The scars we routinely hide in daylight, out of politeness or a pitiful yearning to fit in, are inevitably revealed in our darkest dreams—and in these stories, which depict the brutality of our worst natural impulses. Each tale poses an urgent question about who we are, what we want to be, and the cost of bridging the gap—both individually and as part of a supposedly civilized world. From the stunning and disturbing first tale, it is established that the author won’t flinch before the most intimate and horrific of human transactions. Part of our shock comes from the knowledge that we, the readers, are not exempt from judgment. However lofty our intentions, we’ve inflicted harm or harm has been inflicted in our name. We are adults, capable of creating monsters. And whether we will transcend the base material from which we and our nightmares are made, is debatable.”
—S.P. Miskowski, author of The Worst is Yet to Come

And Cannot Come Again, Simon Bestwick’s latest collection, confirms again his importance in contemporary horror. Each story’s opening sentence takes you into a world where you walk alone through the different dark corridors of the narrative, and what you see, what you hear, what you smell, makes you feel your way with some fear through the paragraphs until you’re flooded with the bright white light of each devastating final paragraph. This is how you write horror. And this is what Simon Bestwick accomplishes time and again in these tales. But the book should come with a nightlight. You’ll need it after reading about Dermot’s deal with the police, what moves through the grass under the trees, the father and daughter down by the duck pond, the torments of Martin Carr, and all the other horrors in this original, compelling, truly scary 100,000-word collection. Highly recommended.”
—Ralph Robert Moore, author of The Angry Red Planet

“If you need further evidence of why Simon Bestwick is a stalwart of the British horror scene, then look no further than And Cannot Come Again. He gathers the northwest in his fist and charts its darkness, be it the streets of Manchester and Salford, the hillsides of the Lake District or the wooded corners of Cheshire. Simon explores brutality—murder, the myths of masculinity, abuse, the pain of adolescence and loss of innocence—but it’s tempered by emotive writing and Simon’s ability to bring his own social and political sensibilities to the work.”
—Priya Sharma, author of All the Fabulous Beasts

“I love the way Simon Bestwick’s stories start with a soft familiarity, setting us down among the buses and parks, city centres and quiet houses, before coalescing into such sharp depictions of deeply effective horror. The ghosts and monsters he creates are so vivid because they spring from places we know. He’s a master at tying terrors to our shared reality.”
—Aliya Whiteley, author of The Beauty and The Loosening Skin

“Simon Bestwick is a master of unsettling stories about people effectively haunted by themselves. While often uncomfortable or even gruesome, these tales of regret and accumulated pain are always compelling and resolutely human.”
—Tim Major, author of Machineries of Mercy and Snakeskins

“The stories in Simon Bestwick’s extraordinary collection And Cannot Come Again are revelations—uneasy, often bleak and always necessary. Bestwick reaches far and deep to illuminate the deep wounds we all share and might otherwise try to forget—terrifying and enlightening us in almost the same breath.”
—David Nickle, author of Eutopia and Volk

“Simon Bestwick’s And Cannot Come Again is a masterful exercise in turning subtle unease into genuine horror. You can’t quite put your finger on the moment you slid past the point of no return, but if you’re thinking about it it’s already far too late. Unexpected. Painful. Truthful. Unflinching. Awful in a wondrous way. This collection sets Bestwick well on his way to standing beside the likes of M.R. James, Machen, and Poe.”
—Angela Slatter, World Fantasy Award-winning author of The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings

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