Book Review: The Gulp by Alan Baxter - More2Read

The Gulp by Alan Baxter



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About The Gulp:

Strange things happen in The Gulp. The residents have grown used to it.

The isolated Australian harbour town of Gulpepper is not like other places. Some maps don’t even show it. And only outsiders use the full name. Everyone who lives there calls it The Gulp. The place has a habit of swallowing people.

A truck driver thinks the stories about The Gulp are made up to scare him. Until he gets there.
Teenage siblings try to cover up the death of their mother, but their plans go drastically awry.
A rock band invite four backpackers to a party at their house, where things get dangerously out of hand.
A young man loses a drug shipment and his boss gives him 48 hours to make good on his mistake.
Under the blinking eye of the old lighthouse, a rock fisher makes the strangest catch of his life.

Five novellas. Five descents into darkness. Welcome to The Gulp, where nothing is as it seems.



Praise For The Gulp:

“Welcome to The Gulp, a town of eldritch terrors, disturbing mysteries, and pulpy horror at its absolute best. Vividly created and authentically Aussie, these novellas are delicious fun for fans of the genre. Prepare to revel in them, but beware… they will creep into your dreams.”
– Joanne Anderton, award-winning author of The Bone Chime Song & Other Stories

“The Gulp… kept me turning the pages fast and furious… As with all of Baxter’s work, we get a perfect mix of crime thriller and straight up horror. He is able to mix those two genres seamlessly and create an environment where absolutely nothing seems out of the realm of possibility. Anything can and does happen… You honestly can’t go wrong with The Gulp. It’s a perfect combination of stories that blurs the line between separate stories and a single novel told through many different points of view. Baxter will keep you guessing from the first page until the last and leave you wanting to read more about Gulpepper.”
– Joe Scipione at Horror Bound


Praise For Alan Baxter:

“Alan Baxter is an accomplished storyteller who ably evokes magic and menace.”
– Laird Barron, author of Swift to Chase.

“Baxter delivers the horror goods.”
– Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Cabin at the End of the World

“Alan Baxter is one of the best horror writers in the business.”
– Kealan Patrick Burke, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Turtle Boy, Kin, and Sour Candy

“Alan Baxter’s fiction is dark, disturbing, hard-hitting and heart-breakingly honest. He reflects on worlds known and unknown with compassion, and demonstrates an almost second-sight into human behaviour.”
— Kaaron Warren, Shirley Jackson Award-winner and author of The Grief Hole. 

“Step into the ring with Alan Baxter, I dare you. He writes with the grace, precision, and swift brutality of a prizefighter.”
– Christopher Golden, New York Times bestselling author of ARARAT and THE PANDORA ROOM



You are watching a John Carpenter and David Lynch collaborated TV episode, running at maybe sixty minutes, but you realise you are not but immersed in sixty minutes of one of five stories about the weird town The Gulp a seaside district, and a different kind of Castle Rock. Just a few similitudes I set forth.

Intriguing set of circumstances with what will become of new dwellers and old, watch their step in the gulp I say, a seaside harbour town with an undesirable motley crew of individuals, all brought alive with right details and word choice with all that comes with wrong paths and dangers.

I loved these five pieces of a bigger picture of the Gulp a genre contortionist like Alan Baxter carefully crafted.
There will be violence and profanities involved along with actions that move to the darker realms of human interactions.
Unfamiliar ones await.
Stay home. Don’t visit the Gulp.

“There’s one road in and out of Gulpepper.”

“I don’t wanna talk about it. Gulpepper is just… different, that’s all. And only outsiders use that name. Everyone who lives there calls it The Gulp.”

“The place has a habit of swallowing people.”
“Everyone who sleeps in The Gulp dreams of the fall.”


Out on a Rim

George and Richard on delivery run one in a new position, and training, passing down from old driver George who has had enough visiting The Gulp and want to take retirement. He just needs to show the new kid how to get in and out and stay as little time as he can. Due to unforeseen circumstances they have to separate and George advises Richard strongly not to visit the centre of town. First stop is the Gulpepper Inn from then on one has to follow his lead deeper into conflict.


Mother in Bloom

Second tale with strange goings on with a chronically ill ailing mother with two children, ungrateful and spiteful, money to cash in on and government payments, with the hope to have the home to themselves through forced inheritance off the books, but they need to pay their dues with blood in order for some piece of it all. A larger picture forming by this second tale of The Gulp with terrain revisited, streets and playgrounds with shadows cast over from the past.
Keeps you in the tale with fates of many characters in the vicinity of Zack and Maddy.


The Band Plays On

Backpackers Patrick and Ciara they loved each other, they were hoping to marry, but something was pulling them apart ever since they walked into The Monkton Tavern found themselves entertained by a gig and spend after-hours with the Blind Eye Moon band.



48 To Go

Dace was in a spot of trouble and he needs money fast, he owed Mr Carter, and he is not one to owe, if he ran they would kill his family. His only plan is to try to rob the Nikolovs an old Macedonian couple that are rumoured to have a fortune in cash stashed in their home. As with anything in the Gulp some things just do not pan out as planned. The uncanny, bizarre and eery goings on await, all in the name of some debt to pay.


Rock Fisher

Troy loved rock fishing. “F it all. Fish and forget, that was his mantra.”
This time he fishes an egg and I am keeping away from eggs for now, any caught in the Gulp at least. That should be enough to go on for this tale.





About Alan Baxter:


Alan Baxter is a British-Australian author who writes horror, supernatural thrillers, and dark fantasy, liberally mixed with crime and noir. He rides a motorcycle and loves his dog. He also teaches Kung Fu. He lives among dairy paddocks on the beautiful south coast of NSW, Australia, with his wife, son, dog, two lunatic cats, several tropical fish, and a lizard called Fifi. Read extracts from his novels, a novella, and short stories at his website – – or find him on Twitter @AlanBaxter and Facebook, and feel free to tell him what you think. About anything.

Alan’s novels include the urban horror novel, Devouring Dark (Grey Matter Press), the urban horror noir novel, Hidden City (Gryphonwood Press), the dark supernatural thriller trilogy, Bound, Obsidian and Abduction (The Alex Caine Series, HarperVoyager/Gryphonwood), and the dark supernatural duology, RealmShift and MageSign (The Balance 1 and 2, Gryphonwood Press).

He has also writes novellas including the supernatural noir, Manifest Recall (Grey Matter Press), the cosmic horror noir, The Book Club (PS Publishing), a sci-fi/noir novella, Ghost of the Black, and a gonzo Ozploitation creature feature novella called The Roo.

As well as long fiction, Alan has had more than 80 short fiction publications in magazines and anthologies throughout the world. His work has been translated into French, Spanish, German, and Japanese. His short fiction has appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Daily Science Fiction, Postscripts, and Midnight Echo, among many others, and more than two dozen anthologies, including the Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror on several occasions. Alan’s award-winning first volume of collected short fiction, Crow Shine, was published by Ticonderoga Publications in 2016, and a second volume of collected short fiction, Served Cold, was published by Grey Matter Press in 2019.

Alan also collaborates with US action/adventure bestselling author, David Wood. Together they have co-authored the horror novel, Dark Rite, the action adventure series, the Jake Crowley Adventures, (Sanctum, Blood Codex, Anubis Key, and Revenant), and the Sam Aston Investigations giant monster thrillers, Primordial and Overlord. Alan has also written narrative arcs and dialogue for video games, and a variety of non-fiction, including the writer’s guide to fight scenes, Write the Fight Right.


Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 08 January 2021