William Hatchett

Flame of the Woods: Terror in the suburbs

It begins with a rapture. A musical hall artiste’s mundane and innocent act becomes a dazzling display of light in an ordinary suburban theatre. Then a charming stranger arrives in Forest Hill. He claims to be an actor, but he brings with him an icy aura that speaks of a troubling mystery. The troupe of actors who share Bohemian longings in this quiet suburb pretend that the newcomer is normal and that supernatural forces are not visiting their boarding house – even when the clairvoyant girl who lives there, Celeste, is visited by the spirits of strangers and speaks in their voices.

But they are wrong. They are entering peculiar times, in which there is a rent in the veil between the living and dead. The stranger has brought something with him from the trees that encircle them – an ancient, elemental force for which they have no name. It is when they throw him out that events take a darker turn. Now their nemesis is living in the shadows and they must go about their lives in dread. But the wood has an even deeper secret to share.


The thing had two legs. It walked on cloven hooves – half man and half goat. It had been summoned by the same vast force that pulled the waters across the face of the earth. Its name was Cernunnos. In the creature’s right fist was a spear. It blinked in the bright light, then stepped forwards, awkwardly, like a fawn taking its first steps.

Without ceremony, it impaled the old lady on the points of its spear. For a few moments, her body writhed, almost comically, as she screamed, drops of her blood scattering like rain. The creature slammed the old lady into the trunk of the great oak from which the hill took its name.

There was a loud crack, as her body snapped. It prised the spear from her body and the old lady slid down the tree. She lay at its foot, like a bundle of rags, death staring from her hollow eyes


The trees are still talking to us. Flame of the Woods, by local journalist, musician and author, Will Hatchett, is a chilling thriller, which is part ghost story and part melodrama. It takes a quiet Edwardian suburb and turns into a place in which the magical becomes melded with everyday reality. You will look over your shoulder, if you live there today, knowing that you share your suburb with the spirits of Celts, Romans and earlier Neolithic hunter gatherers, who once traversed the ridges of England…but, above all, with the charcoal makers, coppicers and lime burners who made their homes in the Great North Wood. Christianity attempted to dull their magic. Happily, it did not quite succeed. Rarely has a novel captured the essence of a place so well. It has invested what could be seen as an ordinary part of London with a potent magic – perfect for an age in which interests in wicca and Paganism are reviving. The trees are still talking to us, if we are able to listen to them. Flame of the Woods evokes a time of magic and mystery that we can still touch, like the boundary oaks that encircle our parishes. It is thoroughly recommended. Some know Will as a poet and ukulele player. Others as an editor. This shows a different side to him.

Amazon UK

The Texas Vampire

Chris, an unsuccessful drummer, signs up to be the first player of a realistic new video game, Get The Bad Guys, from global company CloudCorp. The lure – he gets to stay in a luxury hotel for free. The game is fun. So is his life in the hotel, playing in the hotel’s house rock band, The Lone Stars.

Soon, he meets CloudCorp’s founder, charismatic Texan billionaire, Strobe Kitson. Is Kitson an evil soul stealer, or does he want to save the world? The story takes us into a puzzle – what is virtual and what is real? It leads us to a hollowed-out mountain in Nevada, in which CloudCorp’s true purpose becomes clear.

The Texas Vampire is post-truth science fiction. A cyber punk romp, which plays with the trope of the thriller, from Bram Stoker to Ian Fleming. It updates William Gibson, for an age in which deep fake video and predictive AI are playing with our minds.

Amazon UK