And the stories really are great. I have previously compared Brogden to Stephen King and this has never been more evident. His stories share King's trademark for taking a high-concept bonkers idea and grounding it in the everyday so it becomes utterly terrifying. Brogden treats us to malevolent paint blisters, the Christmas spirit incarnate and a toilet-dwelling octopus.
Also, like King, he instils a pitch-black sense of humour into his stories. Brogden's humour is a unique combination of British cynicism and Australian irreverence, whilst retaining the self-mockery of both nations. His stories will make you smile... when you aren't quivering with fear. I have seen Brogden perform at spoken word events and both Junk Male and The Decorative Water Feature of the Nameless Dread go down a storm with the crowd.
Brogden also shares a talent for delivering inspired pieces of flash fiction, which makes this collection ideal for commute-occupying digestion. The Gas Street Octopus and chilling opener The Phantom Limb are just a couple of short pages but will stay with you for years.
Many of the stories feature Brogden's home city of Birmingham, another of his author trademarks, as seen in novels The Narrows and Tourmaline. Readers will learn why the Curzon Street railway station is now disused (it involves zombie cats) and will meet the immortal Smith of Hockley (who finds fellow immortals enjoying a pint in Digbeth). Brummies will also relish references to further landmarks, such as the Rotunda, the Bull Ring and even the Sea Life Centre at Brindley Place.
Brogden is surely one of the only published authors to be specialising in Birmingham urban fantasy. His grudging affection for his city is reminiscent of China Mieville's relationship with London, albeit with a West Midlands spin. It makes for original, refreshing writing, which deserves to be championed by Birmingham avid readers.