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Friday, February 2, 2018

Run to Ground by Jasper Bark - Book Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Run to Ground

Jim makes the most gruesome discovery of his life. He's working as a groundskeeper in a graveyard. Jim is hiding there after running away from his pregnant girlfriend. The murders Jim stumbles upon have been committed by entities that are inhabiting the soil of the graveyard. To save himself Jim has to find a way to escape these murderous entities. There's only one place he thinks he will be safe, but when he arrives it's only just the beginning of the nightmare he landed himself in after plenty of bad decisions.

How the Dark Bleeds

Stephanie spends her time with a mysterious patient at the hospital. This woman tells her about monstrous entities in the basement that are made entirely of blood. The patient can't escape her fate after coming into contact with these beings. Stephanie is continuously fighting against the demons of her past and the blood is calling to her. Will she be able to resist its lure?

Run to Ground is dark, vicious and chaotic. Jim is quite a character. He runs away from his responsibilities, he has no control over his urges and he ends up in bad situations because of his impulses. An evil entity has wrecked the graveyard and Jim is running for his life, but he can't run away from something he's an essential part of, which is what I admired the most about this story. It's repulsive, disturbing and gross, which is exactly what a good gripping horror story should be like.

How the Dark Bleeds is a story about blood in the most ominous sense of the word. The blood in this story has an identity filled with creepy darkness and it sings to those who are susceptible to its call. The result is dreadful behavior, killings, nauseating decisions and regret. The inevitability of a situation that can't be reversed has been impressively described, which is what I found the most striking about this story. The fatality is what made it so terribly eerie for me.

Jasper Bark writes about dire gruesome situations that don't have a way out, the road ahead is a path that leads to something worse. His stories are well written, vividly narrated and carefully explored. They're like dark stains imprinting on the soul that will never go away again. They're so terrible I wanted to stop reading, but so amazing that I couldn't. Jasper Bark knows how to shock, scare and traumatize. His stories are true gems, of the black charcoal kind.


If you love well written disturbing horror you don't want to miss Run to Ground.

About Jasper Bark

Jasper Bark is infectious - and there’s no known cure. If you’re reading this then you’re already at risk of contamination. The symptoms will begin to manifest any moment now. There’s nothing you can do about it. There’s no itching or unfortunate rashes, but you’ll become obsessed with his books, from the award winning collections 'Dead Air' and 'Stuck on You and Other Prime Cuts', to cult novels like 'The Final Cut' and acclaimed graphic novels such as 'Bloodfellas' and 'Beyond Lovecraft'.

Soon you’ll want to tweet, post and blog about his work until thousands of others fall under its viral spell. We’re afraid there’s no way to avoid this, these words contain a power you are hopeless to resist. You’re already in their thrall and have been since you began reading this bio. Even now you find yourself itching to read the whole of his work. Don’t fight it, embrace the urge and wear your obsession with pride!

Jasper Bark finds writing author biographies and talking about himself in the third person faintly embarrassing. Telling you that he’s an award winning author of four cult novels including the highly acclaimed ‘Way of the Barefoot Zombie’, just sounds like boasting. Then he has to mention that he’s written 12 children’s books and hundreds of comics and graphic novels and he wants to just curl up. He cringes when he has to reveal that his work has been translated into nine different languages and is used in schools throughout the UK to help improve literacy, or that he was awarded the This Is Horror Award for his last anthology ‘Dead Air’. Maybe he’s too British, or maybe he just needs a good enema, but he’s glad this bio is now over.


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Guest post by Jasper Bark

Sometimes, “No” is the kindest word you’ll ever hear. I write novels and graphic novels for a living, and even though I’ve been doing this for over a decade, it’s still a word I hear from agents and editors, but it’s not a word I’ve come to fear, or hate, or get despondent about anymore. I’ve come to understand its a word that can open up a lot of opportunity. I didn’t hear the word when I was writing Run To Ground, the novella reviewed above, but I did hear it a lot as I was writing A Bad Girl’s Guide to Making a Killing. The story that launches my new webcomic: Fear Fix this month.

The story was originally commissioned by the management of Kaotika, a thrash metal band for which famous comic artist Simon Bisley used to drum. The band had just done a cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid’ and they wanted to release it with a seven page promotional comic drawn by Simon.

The idea was to use the lyrics of the song as the comic’s narrative captions and completely reinvent the song’s story. We wanted a tale that would showcase Simon’s art and keep wrong footing the reader as it veered off in unexpected directions.

I was pretty pumped about writing for a comics legend like Simon, but fate was about to throw me the first “No”. Kaotika broke up before the single could be released and Simon never drew my script. To be honest, I’m not sure he even saw it. (If you’d like to hear the single go here).

The management still wanted to do something with my script though, and it went through several incarnations, including a Flash animation and a showcase for a character called: Blitz the Manic Mandrill (don’t ask). Eventually that ever present “No” sent all these projects to the ‘ideas graveyard’ and the rights came back to me.

At the beginning of 2010, I met Terry Martin, publisher of Murky Depths at tcomic convention in Inverness. Terry invited me to submit something to Murky Depths Magazine. I was busy writing a massive online graphic novel for Channel 4 at the time and didn’t think I had the time. Before I said “No” I remembered the ‘Paranoid’ script and offered him that. Terry said “Yes” but every artist we asked said “No” to the task of filling Simon’s titanic shoes.

After about six months of fruitless searching, my good friend Emily Hare mentioned she’d always wanted to try her hand at sequential art. I asked her if she was daunted by drawing a script meant for Simon and she said “No”. She transformed the story from a seven page story into a 10 page epic.

Before we could all ride happily into the sunset however, there was a little issue of copyright to address. Because the comic was no longer promoting a single, we didn’t have the rights to the lyrics. When we contacted the copyright holders about using the lyrics, they threatened to hunt us down and dismember us with a sharpened picture disc (well, they said “No” to be more accurate).

So we were left with 10 pages of jaw dropping art and no story to hang it on. My first thought was to run the strip with just the dialogue. However, Terry said “No, write a whole new story”.

So I did. It was a bit like creating comics using what’s known as ‘the Marvel method’, named after a method of creating comics pioneered by Stan Lee when Marvel Comics first began. The Marvel Method involves the artist drawing all the pages from a synopsis written by the writer. When the pages are all drawn the writer then adds the dialogue and captions. Only this time I wasn’t only adding dialogue and captions, I was adding a totally new story.

A vastly improved story, as it turns out, and one that does Emily’s art much more justice. Unfortunately on the eve of the story’s publication, in Murky Depth 19, the sales figures said “No”, and Terry was forced to pull the plug on the magazine just as our story was about to see print. There was a lot of talk of it appearing in a Best of Murky Depths collection, but sadly that never came to pass.

A couple of years later, I began chatting with Michael Wilson, the evil genius behind the This Is Horror empire, about expanding This Is Horror’s reach into the world of comics and graphic novels. The plans for this expansion went through several incarnations, but Michael was insistent about one thing throughout, ‘The Bad Girl’s Guide ...’ would be right at the forefront of them. Sadly, though we got as far as putting together a downloadable mobi of the planned comic, events conspired against us and it never happened. Once again the universe said ‘No’ and the comic failed to materialise.

Along the way I had amassed a lot of material that we’d planned to run in the TIH comic, some of it I am really proud of and it hasn’t seen the light of day yet. So I have decided to bite the bullet and launch the webcomic myself using my own website and calling it Fear Fix. So finally, the world will have the opportunity to read A Bad Girl’s Guide to Making a Killing in the one place where it should probably have been all along.

Every “No” I heard during the making of this comic might have hurt, but it also made the story sharper and stronger and no writer can ask for anything more than that.

Like I said, sometimes “No” is the kindest word you’ll ever hear.

Click here to read A Bad Girl’s Guide to Making a Killing and don’t forget to sign up to my mailing list so you can get a free Ebook as well as your monthly Fear Fix.


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One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a hardcover copy of Parassassin. Two runner ups will get a digital copy of this graphic novel.

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The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.


  1. Run to Ground sounds like a well written disturbing horror.

    1. That's very kind of you to say, thanks so much.

  2. I suspect the style of art in ParAssassin is somewhat manga-style.

    1. How very perceptive of you John, Alfa is an Indonesian artist whose style blends both Manga and more European influences. I think the pages he produced for Parassassin are stunning.

  3. This sounds like a fantastic escape from life - would love to get my teeth into it!!

    1. Thank you Ruth, I do hope I can tempt you to do just that.

  4. This sounds like a fascinating book and quite horrific. :-)

  5. Replies
    1. Thank you Leila. I was lucky to work with some truly gifted artists.

  6. I love the artwork.Thanks for sharing it, it sounds awesome!

    1. Thanks for commenting Judy, the artists really are talented, aren't they.

  7. Thank you for this wonderful chance!

    1. And thank you for leaving such a lovely comment Tashia.

  8. Love that the blood sings - very creepy.

  9. I've never thought of no as being something positive but having read this guest post I can actually see that sometimes that is true. :-)