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3.5 out of 5 stars
The Voices
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I loved Tallis' The Sleep Room, and this is another scary story that straddles traditional supernatural horror and a more modern psychological probing. It takes elements from a hundred gothic stories - the old house with a history, a family under threat, sinister goings on centred on a child - and overlays them with some light social commentary, and subtle questions drawn from Lacanian theory.

I enjoyed the evocation of 1970s Hampstead: the ex-model who is reading Betty Friedan and Spare Rib, a fondue dinner party, discussions about modern music. At heart, though, is a scary story of menacing ghostly voices that appear on blank tapes.

This is a short, intense read, best gulped down in one or two sessions to keep the atmospheric feel. It's not quite as taut, in places, as The Sleep Room but remains a deliciously creepy story.

(This review is from an ARC courtesy of the publisher)
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy via netgalley.

In the scorching summer of 1976 – the hottest since records began – Christopher Norton, his wife Laura and their young daughter Faye settle into their new home in north London. The faded glory of the Victorian house is the perfect place for Norton, a composer of film soundtracks, to build a recording studio of his own. But soon in the long, oppressively hot nights, Laura begins to hear something through the crackle of the baby monitor. First, a knocking sound. Then come the voices.

Creepy. CREEPY. Why do I do this to myself? Sigh. Well obviously because being scared is something we love is it not? And in order to give me a fright within a book I’m reading the main thing I need is atmosphere and this novel had that in spades.

When Christopher and Laura move into their new Hampstead home, at first all appears perfect as they work to make it their own. However things take a sinister turn when Laura starts to hear ghostly voices through the baby monitor and Christopher finds his recordings have more on them than should be there…

This is a bit of a slow burner, with the tension building in a relatively peaceful manner – but all the while leaving you slightly off kilter. Spirit voices is not a new subject by any means, but it is a compelling one and done very well here with a genuinely disturbing story. As Christopher becomes more enthralled with the phenomenon and builds a whole project around it, Laura sinks further into a state of fear and anxiety, sensing a very real evil within her new home. The different ways the characters react to events around them is one of the great things about this.

As things take a sinister turn you will end up looking over your shoulder – towards the end of this I could barely put it down. I can’t help but think what a great movie this would make – especially if they could find a composer to turn the music on the page into something very real and terrifying. With an ending that got to me, all in all I would recommend this to fans of ghost stories that are truly eerie.

Happy Reading Folks!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
I’m grateful to the publisher for sending me an advance copy of Tallis’s new ghost story, set during the notoriously long, hot summer of 1976 – when roads melted, reservoirs dried up and it was impossible to sleep at night under one’s nylon sheets. Against this background – and amid rumbles of economic failure and national crisis – a small, apparently gilded group of trendy artists suffer their own, more private crisis.

There is Laura Norton, ex-model and trophy wife to the older Christopher. He was an avant-garde musician who found fortune (if not acclaim) writing music for films. Christopher seems to be getting tired of Laura; she is wondering is there’s more to life than being Christopher’s wife and baby Faye’s mother, and beginning to discover feminism.

There’s Simon and Amanda. Simon, who kept the faith and is now a “serious” modernist composer, a power at Radio 3. Amanda, who retains 60s-ish, hippy leanings. The group face a changing world which they don’t much comprehend: we see Christopher’s agent commend him for not getting involved with that obvious trainwreck of a film, Star Wars and – amusingly, after a scene in which Simon heaps praise on prog rock as a coming movement, there is an uncomprehending encounter with an early punk.

All this is helpful in setting a scene of unease and showing how fragile are the lives – lives of some comfort and ease – which the main characters share. So that at first, the threat that begins to develop – whether in voices heard over the baby monitor by Laura, sounds recorded on tape by Christopher in his studio or the distress of Faye – is unfocussed, out of shot, so to speak. Some of the elements may be conventional – the house which has stood empty for years, the strange collection of junk in the attic, the cryptic figure of a stage magician who seems to be important – but Tallis uses them skilfully. By keeping them mostly in the background and making the centre of the story a very 70s one of infidelity, depression, sexism (that patronising doctor!) he’s able to produce real frights and shocks when the supernatural erupts, as it inevitably does.

He also cleverly leaves just enough unexplained – we know what has happened, but not quite how or why, and a few mysteries remain. What exactly does Sue know, and how? What is the reason for Loxley’s sudden interest in Maybury? Does somebody, somewhere understand more than poor Laura and Christopher?

This is a book that was hard to put down, great entertainment, with a great sense of reality.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 1 June 2014
It has some eerie moments. The characters are not very likeable. Normally this is a negative for a book but in this case I think it helps with the tense atmosphere. Ending seemed a bit rushed. I would have liked it if more info was given about the previous occupier of the house. Would read more crom this author
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I’ve read several of F R Tallis’ books. I did not really enjoy The Forbidden, but thought The Sleep Room was fantastic. This book, The Voices was absolutely brilliant.

In 1976 Chris Norton, his wife Laura and their baby Faye move into a house that they brought when Laura was pregnant; the old house had been derelict and renovations delayed their moving in until after Faye was born. Chris’ work as a modern composer of film and conceptual music meant that he worked mostly at home, and Laura was content being mother and housewife. But then things start to change; the atmosphere of the house is impacting their lives; or is it?

Reminiscent of Jonathan Aycliff at his best, this book took ordinary people living ordinary lives in ordinary Britain in 1976 and turned their lives into utter horror; things that could not be talked about because the words just don’t exist to explain what they felt was happening to them. Real goosebump material. Utterly brilliant, I loved this book, and couldn’t put it down once I’d started it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 6 July 2014
If I could have given this book a zero star, or maybe even possibly a minus star then i would. I've never read anything by tallis before, but saw this book in the supermarket and it sounded really good, i just wish maybe id looked at a couple of reviews before hand. I got about 100 pages in and realised that not a great deal was going on, nothing much of anything was happening but i decided to persevere and it got to the point where i just felt i had to finish it despite it boring me. There seemed to be no actual point to the book though, its like tallis even got bored of writing it and just thought "how can i finish this as fast as possible", there was absolutely no conclusion other than that which you had to make yourself but even then there were no clues to lead you to make your own conclusion, the ending was absolutely atrocious and i felt like id just come to the end of a chapter and they'd forgotten to print the rest of the book. I honestly can not express how much of a disappointment and waste of time this book was, i feel robbed and certainly will not bother with anything else tallis as written. AVOID AT ALL COSTS!!!!!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 16 May 2014
I love reading horror so was really looking forward to reading The Voices by FR Tallis. The story is set back in 1976 and is about a pregnant couple, Christopher and Laura, who buy a new house in preparation for the birth of their child. However, the house has been empty for some time and needs some renovation work done before they can move in. This is when you get the sense that all may not be as it seems. When clearing out the attic Christopher uncovers some items......Once the couple move in with their baby daughter ghostly going on's begin.

Christopher composes soundtracks for films and tv and in his studio he begins to hear voices which a recorded on his equipment. Laura also begins to hear voices and noises coming from the baby monitor.

As the book progresses we see their relationship become more strained and we also meet their friends Simon and Amanda who also have an effect on the characters and their relationships.

I don't want to give away too much about the story line as it is the unknown and unpredicted twists and turns that make it the excellent book that it is. I didn't always predict what was going to happen which was brilliant.

The book is well written and I enjoyed the style of writing used by FR Tallis. I felt it flowed easily and he appears to have mastered the talent of telling a story where you warm to the characters but equally able to tell a story that creeps me out. I do a lot of my reading before sleep and a couple of nights I definitely felt unnerved when switching off the light.

As I mentioned earlier in the review, the story is unpredictable and I enjoyed that. I thought I had it sussed and it was quite exciting when I didn't. I raced through the book wanting to know what happens next and I liked the ending as I could imagine a sequel.

The book reminded me of why I enjoy horror stories and I will certainly be moving another up my reading list. I usually read horror that is more gory and a blood fest rather than a ghost story so this was refreshing. It reminded me of The Woman in Black and I could certainly see this made into a film. I would certainly recommend this book and read more by this author.

Thank you to Pan Macmillan who provided a copy of this book via Netgalley in return for an honest review.
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on 29 May 2014
I started to read this book and just couldn't put it down. I took it everywhere with me. Loved the build-up with the paranormal things going on, and the gradual breakdown of their relaionship also their relationship with their friends. I thought there was an underlying thing going on between Laura and Sue the gardener unspoken of course, but just a hint. Also liked how it ended.
Altogether a really great page turner!!!
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on 1 February 2015
The first F R Tallis book I have read. It started promisingly but got bogged down by too many unresolved plotlines. The sex scenes seemed somewhat unnecessary and distracted the reader from the main thrust of the story. I found the ending the best part of the book but none of the main characters were particularly nice. Would probably make a good film because of the sex scenes, which always seem to attract audiences.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 May 2014
I couldn't put this book down! I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading other books by this author.
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