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Red Phone Box: A Darkly Magical Story Cycle Paperback – 26 Nov 2013

4.7 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ghostwoods Books (26 Nov. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0957627106
  • ISBN-13: 978-0957627109
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,127,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'A genre-bending collection of horror-fantasy short stories set in London, centering on a red phone booth, gateway to the netherworld. Suffering from insomnia due to her recently ended love affair, Amber sets off on a midnight stroll through London, imagining that her entire body is glowing. She returns to her apartment to find a new boyfriend who can't comprehend why she doesn't know him. What initially seems to be a loosely connected assortment of short stories is actually a short story cycle or composite novel. As the anthology progresses, characters and plot lines interweave. The introduction of the Anglesey Deer, an amulet carved out of one of the trees from the Roman massacre of Druids in Anglesey in A.D. 60, creates another unifying story line. American professor Kelly David travels to England at the behest of Horace Vandenbussche, thinking her tenure will be guaranteed once she obtains this priceless artifact. Instead, she witnesses first his shape-shifting and then his murder. Her quest for the amulet may lead to her own demise, as well as that of several other characters. Particularly heartrending are Francesca Burgon's stories ("Phone Boxes Taste Bad" and "When the Phone Rings"), featuring young Margaret and her perhaps mentally ill, perhaps extremely focused mother, who totes around bags of evidence and makes phone calls to share her findings. The compelling Gloria Vandenbussche, despite her despair at being her father's gofer, is transcendent in the stories in which she appears, particularly Tamsyn Kennedy's "A Brief Transaction," which neatly blends urban fantasy with chick lit. Occasionally disjointed due to the abundance of plotlines, characters and settings, the collection comprises 58 short stories by 29 different authors. Nonetheless, the anthology's style works overall, a testament to skillful editing. A few of the story lines remain unresolved, leaving the door open for the promised Book Two. The quintessentially cheerful symbol of England, the red phone box, doesn't hint at the dark materials contained here. This mix of horror, noir and urban fantasy plays with the boundaries of literary genre fiction.' --Kirkus Reviews

'Red Phone Box is a monster made of words by 28 Dr. Frankensteins. It's a book, a story cycle, and a fever dream where time and space, and human and inhuman lives collide in beautiful madness.' --Richard Kadrey, author of the Sandman Slim series

'Dark and surreal, the interconnected stories of Red Phone Box will invade your dreams with their twisted charms and make you wish for more.' --Stephen Blackmoore, author of Dead Things

About the Author

Salomé Jones has an MFA in creative writing from Pacific University, Oregon, and an MA in writing from Roehampton University in London, UK. She loves the mixture of highbrow and lowbrow fiction, and almost quit her MFA program when she was advised that genre-writing was a waste of her talent. 'Genre writing _is_ my talent,' says Jones. She's currently working on her own novel, also a mix of literary and fantasy. She lives in London with her partner and a dire lack of cats, hopefully soon to be remedied.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a great read. What makes it so good is the unique way the story is woven together. Different authors each write a chapter or two, so you get different writing styles and different views on the book's protagonists. And yet the story hangs together brilliantly - it's as if each author has hung his or her chapter on a clothesline representing the thread of the story, but done so in the correct order, making for a compelling read.

The effect is similar to reading a graphic novel where each chapter has been drawn by a different artist. The story remains constant, and yet you get a different view of the characters and the world they inhabit. Brilliant.

The story itself is intoxicating - how a simple and seemingly innocuous red telephone box can touch and affect so many people's lives in some wonderfully fanciful yet sometimes possibly sinister ways.
I have to admit that halfway through the story I would have been happy to be a character in the book who just sat outside said phone box and watched what happened to each person who entered it. Reading it you'll find yourself unsure as to what is going to happen to a given character next should they enter the phone box. Or leave it...

All of the characters are likeable, and I have to admit that there was no one person whom I took a dislike too. Each chapter deals with a different character, some you wind up rooting for more than others, and some get their just deserts in a timely manner. I never got the feeling that any one character did not fit in the story, the characters are well defined and have a depth that give the story a direction and foundation.

If you enjoy fantasy tinged with mild horror, this is a great read. The story isn't too heavy, and flows really well. A lot of care and attention has gone into the concept and writing style of this book, and it shows. This is not some trashy novel, and after reading it you'll be thinking about the story for days. All good.
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By Rowena Hoseason HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 12 Oct. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In this ambitious anthology, there are many Londons. And many possibly realities. And other places. Humans who transform into cats (or vice versa). An Egyptian god with the head of a lion and the passion of a satyr. Blood-sealed mystic circles. All are under threat, from deities ancient and awful and some wonderfully modern, in yer face creations which aim to unseat the established order. These are not separate stories, to be read in isolation or in any old order. Instead they’re an impressive collaboration, a melding of voices and imagination, each writer telling one or more chapters in a sprawling, bewildering contemporary saga of mythical proportion.

This is a substantial book, not a rapid read. Even on holiday, and able to devote big chunks of time to it, I found it hard to keep track of all the threads, to fathom where the myriad narratives and characters were going. Instead I allowed each chapter to present itself afresh: some showcasing a new person who arrives, enacts a morality tale and vanishes altogether – while others return time and again, their plots thickening around them into an increasingly chilling menace.
So definitely bear with the opening third of the book, which introduces myriad characters and sets them on their converging paths. Some of the stories don’t seem necessarily to contribute to the overall arc, but many overlap slightly, each casting a shadow elsewhere in the collection. By the final quarter it’s become an almost conventional quest novel, with the players assembled into distinct teams, and lines of combat drawn.
The ending perhaps doesn’t live up to the story’s early promise – perhaps too many characters in play, too many threads left dangling.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I was fortunate enough to be sent an early draft of this book by the publisher and really enjoyed it. Now I have the paperback and kindle editions I can see where they have added a few little finishing touches that have enhanced the book.

So, what is 'Red Phone Box'?

An interwoven story of people -- normal and not-so normal -- who find their lives twisted by contact with a London red phone box. It's interesting that something so iconically British should serve as the gateway to all sorts of strangeness. Many of the characters find themselves caught up as pawns in the struggle between old gods and hidden powers, while others have stranger fates in store.

The book was written by 28 different authors working together, but it never seems like a bitty anthology. The editors have managed to give it a really solid, unified feel. It's more like a steel drum, all one piece, with different spots resonating to different tones. The characters shine through, from Maz the dodgy magician to fiery rich girl Gloria, and as the plot progresses, they fall into their places on the board -- or get swept off it completely. The end provides a satisfyingly powerful conclusion, bringing lots of different threads together very nicely.

The iconic red phone box, once a common site on almost every street in Britain, is fast disappearing. Red Phone Box weaves the titular box in to the tapestry of modern folklore. I hope to see more tales from this group of writers in print soon.

It's a great book, and I definitely recommend it.
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