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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable collection of underground horror
Anyone who's ever spent any length of time travelling on London's underground system knows what a nightmare it can be, the congestion, the chaos, the stifling heat in summer; the delays, and of course the dark foreboding tunnels that snake into the hidden heart of the metropolis. In The End of the Line, Editor Jonathan Oliver has put together a collection of contemporary...
Published on 13 Nov 2010 by Bāki

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mind the gap
It had been a long time since I read a collection of horror stories by a whole bunch of different authors. I used to love this type of anthology as a teenager and have a real interest London's Underground, and so I thought I might enjoy this book. I have to say that while many of the stories were good, I wasn't as impressed as I'd hoped I would be.

I was...
Published on 29 Jan 2011 by zerot


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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable collection of underground horror, 13 Nov 2010
By 
Bāki (London - UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The End of the Line (Paperback)
Anyone who's ever spent any length of time travelling on London's underground system knows what a nightmare it can be, the congestion, the chaos, the stifling heat in summer; the delays, and of course the dark foreboding tunnels that snake into the hidden heart of the metropolis. In The End of the Line, Editor Jonathan Oliver has put together a collection of contemporary horror tales set in or around the underground, and not just London's famous Tube, but other underground rail systems and places of the deep.

The first story in the collection is by Paul Meloy, a writer whose work I've not encountered before. His story Bullroarer is an interesting choice to open the collection with. Unfortunately, although I enjoyed his writing style, the story didn't really work for me. It is essentially a tale of revenge for childhood bullying with a mythological twist. To me it came across as a little juvenile. I also felt that it could have happened anywhere. The fact that part of it takes place on a London Underground train seemed entirely incidental. I would have liked an opening in which the theme of the underground felt essential to the story, and apart from the possible mythical metaphor of descent to the underworld, this didn't really have that for me.

Next up, is The Girl in the Glass by John Llewellyn Probert. I found this addressed the theme much more fundamentally, with the haunting story of a girl who falls under a train desperate to get her life back - literally. A creepy tale and one I enjoyed. This is followed by the stand out story of the collection for me, The Lure by Nicholas Royle. This takes place in Paris, and uses the world famous Metro for part of its setting. I'll not say too much for fear of spoiling it, but suffice is to say this is a rich tale which is evocative and subtly disturbing. I Loved it!

As I progressed through the collection, I felt that some of the stories really explored the theme in interesting ways while others were becoming almost a little repetitive, especially as the collection went on. There are a number of stories which didn't quite live up to the potential of their premise. This includes the one by Ramsey Campbell, which as the work of an author I admire, I have to say left me disappointed. The Rounds, a very topical play on paranoia and prejudice, just fell completely flat for me. A tale that ended with a fizzle rather than a bang. Conversely, In the Colosseum by Stephen Volk had impact. It explores the idea of surveillance culture being used for the ultimate in voyeuristic pleasure. It has a driving cynicism behind its social commentary and is quite disturbing actually, but at the same time perhaps just a little too obvious. Then there are a few stories such as Siding 13 by James Lovegrove which I found to be reasonably good, but not really memorable alongside the others.

Still, there are plenty of other very good stories here. Funny Things by Pat Cadigan is one that stands out. I'd never heard of her before, but I will definitely be looking up her work after reading this clever tale of multiple timelines. Adam Nevill's contribution is On all Underground Lines. It's a simple tale, but one which effectively evokes the feeling of claustrophobia and paranoia that can occur deep within the chaotic bowels of The London Underground. I really enjoyed Fallen Boys by Mark Morris which uses an old Cornish Tin Mine for its setting. Atmospheric and creepy, this is an old school chiller that is one of best in the collection. Exit Sounds by Conrad Williams has a dilapidated old cinema with a secret underground passage linked to the Tube. It's stylish, pacey, and expertly captures the sense of haunting history that can exist in a place, although again, the underground theme did seem almost incidental.

Diving Deep by Gary McMahon and Crazy Train by Natasha Roads also deserve a mention as both are a bit different. Gary McMahon's take on the theme in particular is one of the most original in the anthology - it's good too. The final story by Christopher Fowler, Down is a poignant tale that makes for a much better closing to the collection than its opening. It explores the ghosts of some major events that have happened in the history of London's Tube up to the recent past. It once again shows Fowler as a writer in tune with the spirit of this great city.

I love anthologies for the fact that they provide a great opportunity to discover new writers, and to see a different side to those whose work I already enjoy. This collection has a great premise and it's really interesting to see how the authors have interpreted it. It doesn't always work, and some of the contributors seemed to have struggled to totally engage the theme. It also suffers from feeling a little repetitive in places. That said, I enjoyed it on the whole, and there are enough good stories here to make it a worthwhile addition to any horror fans collection. The end of the line? I suspect this is just the beginning for an exciting new collection of themed horror anthologies from publisher Solaris.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly Good, 29 Nov 2010
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End of The Line is a collection of short horror stories set underground.

In their own right all the stories are solid and I feel would be above-average if included individually in generic horror anthologies. However, lined back-to-back as each one is with eighteen other stories on the same theme, they lose their individuality a bit, and some of the themes become increasingly repetitive. A common theme is the tube as an interdimensional gateway where the story's protagonist alights from the train and things "aren't quite right". Even individual concepts such as baggage checks between dimensions and the smell of roses crop up more than once. Clearly the stories have mostly been inspired by the strangeness and inhumanity of commuters once they're fixed on their destinations while crammed together, yet wholly indifferent to each other.

Given the theme of 'underground' to work with, most authors have chosen the London Underground or another tube system, whereas Mark Morris' "Fallen Boys" stood out for being set in a mine railway, which was quite refreshing. Incidentally, its front cover is remarkably similar to the DVD cover of the horror film Creep, also set on the London Underground.

The editor introduces each author both before the story and then also at the end, giving each one a short biography; this makes the pre-story introductions somewhat redundant, and they're also delivered in a somewhat annoying style "Al Ewing is mental" "Natasha Rhodes is pretty (expletive) metal" etc, more akin to a band's intro for a Student Union rock night than a piece of literature.

"End Of the Line" had appealed to me because both Christopher Fowler and Adam Neville were contributing, though it was actually Al Ewing's "The Roses That Bloom Underground" and John Llewellyn Probert's "The Girl In The Glass" that stood out for me as the best stories among the collection.

3.5 stars, if I could give that score :-)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Please move down inside..., 12 Dec 2010
By 
D. Harris (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The End of the Line (Paperback)
I was very taken with the idea of this collection - a loose bag of stories inspired by "underground", mostly, though not all, "the Underground" (ie the London one) - a brilliant idea: the Underground seems to inspire fascination (at least in some) and is the subject of a wide literature. There's a deep (pardon the pun) fit with horror - all those people pressed together, the dark, the speed, the tangled routes, the history. So it's a promising idea.

As you would expect, with nineteen different stories, some come closer that others to capturing this essence. And some don't try at all, but deal with different "undergrounds" - a putative line in Manchester, the Paris Metro, a Cornish mine railway, the Liverpool underground. The positive way to put this is that everyone will like some stories more than others, and I don't think it would be very helpful to go through and rate each one, because my views are unlikely to match yours. I will just say that as individual stories I think these range from three to five stars, and that my favourite was the very last story, "Down" by Christopher Fowler, because it did seem to me to catch the essence-of-Tubiness, and was rather off the beaten track of something-nasty-in-the tunnels.

My only criticisms would be that in some of the stories - not all, and not, oddly, those actually set off the London Underground - the Underground connection seems a bit forced. I found myself thinking a few times that the story would have worked as well if the McGuffin had been a bus or a plane: or, frankly, without the transport connection at all. And perhaps there is slight overuse of what I would described as the "Sliding Doors" trope: a misstep on the Underground sends the protagonist astray into the "wrong" world. The problem is that it's a great idea in the first story you read that uses it, but it's so obvious after that. That is a problem for the collection as a whole, not with any individual writer - the stories that deploy this idea are fine stories, it's not their fault if you have just read one that does the same thing.

I wouldn't want to overdo that criticism. I think this collection is excellent, with few exceptions it's very well written and I'd encourage you to buy the book, have fun with it, dip in and out and see what you like. It's a nice feature that each story has a short introduction, as well as Jonathan Oliver's overview at the start, so to some extent you can steer to what you're most likely to enjoy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mind the gap, 29 Jan 2011
This review is from: The End of the Line (Paperback)
It had been a long time since I read a collection of horror stories by a whole bunch of different authors. I used to love this type of anthology as a teenager and have a real interest London's Underground, and so I thought I might enjoy this book. I have to say that while many of the stories were good, I wasn't as impressed as I'd hoped I would be.

I was expected more of the tales to have a twist but quite a few seem to resort to the old abrupt, mysterious end (Nicholas Royle's "The Lure" and James Lovegrove's "Siding 13"). There were also a few that seemed to really shoehorn the "underground" bit into a story that would otherwise not have needed this additional element (Conrad Williams' "Exit Sounds" and Gary McMahon's "Diving Deep"). And perhaps inspired by the Circle Line there seem to be a few people stuck in infinite loops, repeating their actions over and over again. That's not to say that the stories are bad. The writing itself is of a high quality throughout and Jonathan Oliver's editing has produced an anthology that collectively works really well.

There are also a few gems: Christopher Fowler's "Down" which finishes off the collections is genuinely haunting and moving, while Stephen's Volk's "In the Colosseum" captures the corrupting and voyeuristic nature of CCTV brilliantly. Ramsey Campbell - who used to be a regular contributor to those horror collections of my youth also come sup with a cracking story (even if it does fall into one of the traps mentioned above).

The way that I digested the book probably wasn't ideal. I think it would be better to read the stories with a break in between rather than cramming them in one after another on my daily commute.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag but worth the effort, 29 Mar 2013
This review is from: The End of the Line (Paperback)
A great collection of short stories based around the underground. There is a focus on the London underground but there are others featured including the legendary underground in Manchester. Some of the stories are more to my taste than others but I have enjoyed them all.

I always find I discover a new author or two when I read collections of short stories and this is no exception. I asked for it for Christopher Fowler but now have three others that I am going start reading.
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3.0 out of 5 stars From somewhere ahead of them came a scraping, a shuffling, as if something was emerging from a burrow..., 8 Jan 2013
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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These are new horror stories all set underground, encompassing several locations, such as Berlin, Prague and London. I already had an inkling that they would prove not to be my `thing', since I rarely read horror, but some stories surprised me with their power and subtlety. I found most of them a bit disappointing, expecting as I did a degree of playful, adventurous, writing. Only one of them truly horrified me, made me feel sick and disgusted me - and that one had an outrageous premise. But what is horror? I read most genres with some kind of understanding of what I am going to get, with this collection I wasn't sure.

Most stories here don't have anything much resembling fright or terror. The best ones rely on a certain style of ambiguity for their effect. Nicholas Royle's story 'The Lure' concerns an English teacher in Paris, who keeps seeing a blind man and his dog on the Paris Metro and about whom he makes a series of chilling discoveries. Quite slight in itself, it has a profoundly disturbing atmosphere, especially as one realises that the young protagonist has been the subject of a horrendous act of voyeurism.

Pat Cadigan's story 'Funny Things' is a tale of subterranean parallel lives. Perhaps underground is the only place where you could find yourself the victim of an arcane crime like husband theft. The woman this happens to manages, however, to have the last laugh.

My favourite story 'Fallen Boys' by Mark Morris, concerns a class of children on a visit to a Cornish railway mine. Among them is Matthew, unpopular, unlikeable and very vulnerable. The other kids tease him horribly, and he has no defence. However, the visit to the mine and the story told by their guide, finds that some measure of unearthly revenge has been made available.

Christopher Fowler's excellent story 'Down' has all the skill and uneasy anticipation for which he is renowned and also brings the underground up to date, somewhat perversely, with a father searching for the child he lost many years ago.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Spine chilling underground horror, 23 Jun 2012
By 
Martin Belcher (Hampshire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The End of the Line (Paperback)
A spine chilling collection of 19 short stories based in and around The London Underground, New York Subway, Paris Metro and some other lesser known metro systems. There are some horrific and memorable stories here, some will make you think twice about using an underground train in the future! Some of my favourites from the collection are the "The Girl in the glass" by John L. Probert, a story of horrific visions in the window of a London tube train. "Fallen Boys" by Mark Morris, a good old fashioned ghost story based in an abandoned tin mine in Cornwall where a school trip on the mines working railway goes horribly wrong. The hugely entertaining and slightly worrying "Sons of the City" by Simon Bestwick, a story of failed attempt to build an underground railway in the English city of Manchester with an unexpected twist! I loved this book, there are some really good short stories here by some of the best new and upcoming horror writers around.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars At best average, 11 July 2011
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There are probably 2 decent stories in the entire book, some aren't even related to underground lines (I'm thinking specifically of the mine shaft story), all in all, given the choice again I don't think I'd bother, I'm struggling to remember any of the stories that was how much of an impact they made. However, if you like writing in the style of Shirley Jackson (personally I don't) then there's plenty here.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reliance on one line too often, 12 Dec 2010
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The End of the Line (Paperback)
A title of short stories all based on the underground tube stations of one city or another written by a wealth of top Solaris talent Yet within this book there is a number of problems, first of all a lot of the stories rely on one line to make any sense so if you miss it, you'll find that you're left feeling confused. Add to that one or two stories that felt like they should have been part of something longer to give them a fuller appearance alongside some stores that really felt that they shouldn't have made it into the title leaves this as a so/so title.

Whilst the odd one was very enjoyable the vast majority felt like a lot of the detail was missing that would have made them more of an acceptable tale and whilst they are bite sized which makes it an ideal travel companion it did feel that a lot of them were a bit rushed without having had the time to have the rough edges filled out. A great shame as the premise had a dark chill all of its own, especially for anyone who has ever ridden the underground late at night.
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The End of the Line
The End of the Line by Joel Lane (Paperback - 1 Nov 2010)
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