Friday, 8 February 2019

White Walls And Straitjackets by David Owain Hughes

White Walls And Straitjackets by David Owain Hughes
Self published in April 2015. Republished by Hellbound Books in January 2015.

W for my 2019 Alphabet Soup Challenge, one of my WorldReads From Wales, and one of my 2019 Mount TBR Challenge reads

How I got this book:
Downloaded a copy from the publisher's newsletter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Meet Crystal and Harry - sweethearts and lovers who work in the lower fringes of the entertainment business. After brutally murdering three critics for poor reviews of their show, Crystal and Harry decide it best to skip town and head for the coast. Once there, they know that everything will turn out just fine - it will be their chance to start afresh. A new beginning. But, before they make their way to the seaside, Crystal insists that they visit her sister at Castell Hirwaun, a renowned psychiatric facility for the dangerously insane - because, after all, it is because of Crystal that her sibling sits rotting in the place.

At the beginning of their adventure, Harry discovers a book in the van’s glove compartment - Whitewalls and Straitjackets - written by an unknown author who exhibits the most intimate knowledge of the deadly duo, along with the other nut jobs who lurk about the Rhonda Valleys in that most picturesque part of South Wales. As lives and stories collide head-on, Crystal and Harry soon realize that escaping the Valleys won’t be quite as easy as they’s first assumed - especially so with another vicious serial killer hot on their heels….

As a rare reader of horror, I downloaded White Walls And Straitjackets months ago because of its Welsh authorship, then was too much of a scaredy cat to actually read the book so it subsequently got buried in my Kindle. Now fortunately exhumed, I surprised myself by thoroughly enjoying the read. It's a dark short story collection with the tales cleverly connected by way of our journeying heros. I had thought there might be too much gore for me to stomach. Blood does indeed get liberally splattered and there are a number of wonderfully inventive deaths, however Hughes doesn't go into disturbingly graphic detail so I felt more as though I was reading stories akin to The League Of Gentlemen (one of my favourite TV shows). Hughes' characters are on the unbelievable side of believable, but this is perfectly suited to the situations in which they find themselves. I could quite expect to discover such people under garish newspaper headlines, but sincerely wish never to encounter them on my street. The Welsh setting makes for an unusual backdrop and I appreciated the inclusion of Welsh place names and colloquial speech to accentuate this. The book is let down by disappointingly frequent proofreading errors which jar Hughes' efforts to construct a chilling atmosphere, however overall this is a deliciously dark and chilling read.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by David Owain Hughes / Horror fiction / Books from Wales


  1. I love that cover! It just screams horror!

  2. I would definitely not want to come across those heroes either! It's weird because although I cannot watch horror, I have no qualms or fears when it comes to reading it. I am glad you were able to enjoy it and not be too afraid in the end after all!