Figurehead by Carly Holmes

I’d been looking forward to reading Figurehead, Carly Holmes’s first collection of short stories for a while. Although tantalising me from the shelf for far too long I was eager to delve right in!

Figurehead fits perfectly in the ‘strange genre’ if strange was a genre, as in many ways it defies any genre that it would appear to fit with the next tale that redefines the collection as a whole. This, for me, is what set Figurehead apart, it is a collection that keeps the reader on their toes and not knowing what’s around the next corner., and that in itself is what creates the atmosphere of the strange, macabre and twisted intention of the collection.

This was my first foray into Carly Holmes’s writing whose wonderful narrative style draws the reader further into each and every page.  With tales often twisting into the next, then onto somewhere completely different, Figurehead leads the reader from one dark avenue to the next, The highlight for me was They Tell Me, which tells the tale of a woman placed into an asylum for some mysterious ailment, which echoes to a time when women were sent to asylums for a number of reasons, including just to allow their husbands to get rid of their wives, yet we are not aware of when this tale was set and, as with the majority of tales contained within, that allows Figurehead a timeless quality that (I hope) people will enjoy for years to come.

One of the main aspects I really enjoyed about Figurehead is its visual style.  Many of these tales are extremely and simply visualised, this helps make the book a real page-turner, and gives it a ‘televisual’ quality that leaves the reader waiting for the next episode with bated breath.

  • Figurehead by Carly Holmes is published by Parthian Books (£10.00). To order a copy go to
Tom Stanger
Host at Supernatural People podcast, Editor/writer at The Pilgrim Magazine, curator of the Pontyddim archives, tea drinker, hat wearer and autism advocate. PhD researcher on Gothic Literature & religion also does book reviews bad photography and other bits and bobs

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