Unblemished (Halloween 2006)
A novel by Conrad Williams
Introduction by Jeff VanderMeer
Afterword by Conrad Williams
Cover and signature page art by Chris Nurse
SYNOPSIS: From British Fantasy
Award-winner Conrad Williams, whose last book from Earthling was
called "a ferocious adventure" (CEMETERY DANCE) and "a
blistering tale that reminds us of the genre's continued transgressive
power" (THE ALIEN ONLINE), comes THE UNBLEMISHED...
A blood-crazed lover of amputee victims.
A mother determined to protect her only daughter no matter the
A serial killer who believes he is the rightful son and heir to
a horrific, ancient dynasty.
And one dying man who must make a stand against a horde of vengeful
monsters who knew the shadows of London before the city even had
This Halloween, if they catch you, you will beg for death...
THE UNBLEMISHED is an original novel by Conrad Williams and the second book in Earthling's popular Halloween Series.
THE UNBLEMISHED features an Introduction by Jeff VanderMeer and
an Afterword by Conrad Williams, with art by Chris Nurse.
THE UNBLEMISHED was published in the following
|500 numbered hardcovers, bound in cloth with
foil stamping to the spine and front board, and signed by Conrad
Williams on an illustrated limitation sheet
|15 lettered, slipcased hardcovers, book and
slipcase completely hand made using the finest materials, with
silk ribbon page marker, and signed by Conrad Williams, Jeff
VanderMeer, and Chris Nurse on an illustrated limitation sheet
"THE UNBLEMISHED ought to shake up and impress a lot of people, it ought to increase the Conrad Williams Fan Club by tens and yet more tens of thousands of new readers. This is horror literature unabashed and entire, at full imaginative stretch, beautiful and blazing. Williams possesses a fearless heart and an absolutely gorgeous soul."
— Peter Straub
"You should follow certain rules if you’re going to crack open THE UNBLEMISHED: Don’t read it at night. Don’t read it if you scare easily. Don’t read it by yourself. But you should read it, regardless. From the opening pages, Brit novelist Conrad Williams gets under your skin and freaks you out. Protagonist Bo meets a man in a pub, and after a few drinks the guy hands over a curse to Bo that he’s been carrying for ages. Not the best way to make friends, but who believes whiskey-soaked sots can pass along curses, anyhow? A legion of freaky, slithery monsters believe they can, and Bo is now their boy. The streets of London appear deserted, and Bo, whose palm is mysteriously weeping ‘lymph and blood’ enters the House of Flies, a house full of black flies intent on flying down his throat. Bo wakes up the next day thinking it was a dream—until he starts vomiting fly carcasses and there’s a guy outside his window chewing on a dismembered hand. Williams has built a whole mythology, one that makes the book feel like a cobwebbed relic from another time. Dust it off, if you like. Just do it at, say, ten in the morning. In a crowded room. In a military compound.”
— TIME OUT CHICAGO
"British Fantasy Award-winner Williams describes his virtuoso, grotesque nightmare of a book as a 'paean to the novels I grew up on in the 1980s.' It's an unnecessary observation: readers will immediately recognize the influence of Stephen King, Clive Barker, Peter Straub, and Ramsey Campbell. Playing on humanity's deepest fears and taboos, Williams plunges the reader deep into a hellish near-future where creatures banished five centuries ago rise again to lay eggs in the few people they don't consume alive, turning London into a cross between hive and abattoir .... Williams is so good at what he does that he probably shouldn't be allowed to do it anymore, for the sake of everyone's sanity."
— Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"THE UNBLEMISHED is an unpleasant book — in the best possible sense of the word, of course — horror at its most visceral and disturbing. Each chapter brings some fresh new atrocity, each one very real and very close to home. Williams has done a wonderful thing: a novel that steps to the very edge of acceptable levels of gore, but which never quite takes that final step into the realms of turning the reader off. His writing is spare and beautiful. THE UNBLEMISHED is ideal reading for the coming cold winter nights. Buy it now and start in immediately — this is perfect Halloween reading for all horror fans. Highly recommended"
— DARK ISLES
"An apocalyptic nightmare narrated with great vigour, clarity and stylishness. Steel yourself for some hideous sadism — there's awe along the way."
— Ramsey Campbell
"The fact that Williams chose a human being to be the most chilling villain in this novel of powerfully conceived monsters is but one sign of his brilliance as a storyteller. THE UNBLEMISHED combines a carefully orchestrated accumulation of paranoid detail reminiscent of Ramsey Campbell with passages of vividly described (and highly graphic) transformations evocative of early Clive Barker. But what impressed me most was Williams's ability to evince true compassion for the ordinary human beings trapped in these extraordinary circumstances."
Steve Rasnic Tem
"Conrad Williams takes us on a roller-coaster ride through
ancient buried secrets and body-horror invasion into the pulsing
gut of apocalyptic British horror."
Christopher Fowler, award-winning
author of BREATHE and SEVENTY-SEVEN CLOCKS
“Williams’ carefully crafted descriptions of horrific images, along with the ability to suggest they are even worse than words can tell, is reminiscent of Poe and the early stories of Clive Barker. Not for the squeamish, but no fan of literary horror should miss it.”
Lisa Tuttle, The Times
“Williams possesses a poet’s appreciation for language, a talent for painting Boschian nightmares with generous dabs of prose as beautiful as anything by Keats. This prose is at turns stark and hallucinogenic, building surrealistic and sadistic imagery upon the mundane and familiar. The effect of such a conglomeration of sequences is disorienting in all the right ways. At turns witty, shocking, and (yes) actually horrifying, The Unblemished is a triumph of the macabre. This novel is nothing less than truly epic, though still nasty and thoughtful and meaty.”
Daniel Robichaud, Horror Reader
“Williams is an artful writer and his stark narrative is chilling and thrilling, relentless and fearless. As the antagonists rise up, Williams takes the reader on a journey colored crimson, a tireless and unflinching descent into a landscape more usually associated with the back rooms of the abattoir. This is visceral writing, grim sentences coldly depicting scenes of clinical gristliness, and all the while, the pressure builds and builds.”
John Berlyne, SFRevu
“On the surface, The Unblemished seems yet another addition to the varied offerings of apocalyptic horror. Don’t be fooled, however – top-notch writing skills, poetic vision and beautiful prose raise this way above your Hammer House of Horror… an unusual – as well as highly accomplished – terror.”
Nick Ryan, Sunday Express
“Conrad Williams writes dark and powerful prose balancing the poetic and elegant with needle-sharp incision. The Unblemished, winner of the International Horror Guild’s Best Novel award, is cleverly constructed, building relentlessly from intense, intimate terror to something on another scale altogether. ‘Our world is changing,’ says one character two-thirds through the book, and the ruined London in the closing chapters of this stark, gripping novel will stay with you for a long time.”
Keith Brooke, The Guardian