Charlie Williams, Stairway to Hell, Rik Suntan, Serpent's Tail, Crime Fiction, Horror, Novelist, UK

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Something very strange has been happening in Warchester, and local pub singer Rik Suntan is about to have his doors of perception blown wide open. It seems that during the 1970s, Jimmy Page's experiments with the occult wandered into the art of soulshifting - namely, swapping the souls of celebrity rivals with those of newly born babies in the Warchester maternity ward. Obviously this news is a tad hard to swallow, and Rik's got other problems on his plate - his regular slot doing Cliff Richard covers at the local nightclub is axed, and his girlfriend's dumped him for a ginger bloke. But not nearly as jaw-dropping as finding out he's the reincarnation of David Bowie...

What people said

What Charlie Williams said

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STAIRWAY TO HELL at (paperback or Kindle)

STAIRWAY TO HELL at (paperback or Kindle)

What they said about STAIRWAY TO HELL

"Brilliant first-person portrayal of Rik Suntan... his egotistical, self-regarding quest for fame, driven by Bowie's soul but hampered by a cleft lip and little talent, is at once pathetic, tragic and wonderfully entertaining."
- Eric Brown, The Guardian

"Williams's fourth novel is a funny, absurd, and deeply nerdy channeling of his inner record store clerk... The prose keeps its tongue firmly in its cheek throughout this spaced-out oddity, mixing a bit of Douglas Adams-style wit with a hipster's tight-pants irony"
- Publishers Weekly

"A rare read, which is both disturbing and hilarious. Definitely worth having on your bookshelf."
- Indie Purcell, Morning Star

"A novel as barmy as this one is hard not to love, especially when Rik and a grizzled band of the halt and the lame attempt to take back the music from the greedy swill-masters behind The X Factor (what they do to Simon Cowell is worth the price of the book). Inspired lunacy for music fans."
- Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist

"This deserves attention for its sheer originality and author Williams's complete disregard for a conventional plot."
- Sunday Business Post

"Charlie Williams brings to life a strange tale that shows how a local misfit, with a narcissistic personality disorder to make up for his inferiority complex, is sucked up in either a conspiracy of immense implications, or the collective mental break down of a group of social oddballs. Either way, that's for you to find out. Progressing through the book Williams cleverly builds the story and interconnects the story lines, successfully and repeatedly spinning the story so that things are just not quite what they seem. Stairway to Hell is an exciting and very funny read. I kept picking up the book whenever I'd have a few minutes to spare to find out what strange twist might be up ahead."
- Marcel Scholten, Bookmunch

"Full of entertaining nonsense... Williams weaves a tight plot of over-the-top comic mayhem, his pacing and ear for dialogue pitch perfect."
- Big Issue

"Stairway To Hell plunges us into a mad, alternative rock ‘n' roll universe, where ordinary people are possessed by the souls of past rock stars, and bizarre rituals involving urine become commonplace. The rock'n'roll in-jokes come faster than Zep riffs, and the cringe factor is cranked up all the way to the final showdown at the X-Factor auditions."
- Kevin Courtney, The Irish Times

"The book draws you in completely, Rik's narrative is warm and funny, you can't help laughing with him as well as at him. A difficult trick for Williams to pull off... Williams should sit beside Tony Parsons and Nick Hornby, he's not really as insightful as either of them, but he's funnier than both. In Rik Suntan he has created a legend in his own lunchtime, a character so realistic, so pathetic, so empathetic, and in the end so heroic, that you can't help but laugh at him and see a bit of yourself in him at the same time, as sad as it is to admit that. Stairway To Hell is the perfect book for the man in your life who has everything, and everyone has one of those. Unique, funny, and in its own small way, brilliant."
- Stanley Riks, Morpheus Tales

"Williams' prose is punchy, filthy and funny, littered with musical references and sideswipes at the state of the music industry today. The plot takes on a variety of twists and turns with some truly laugh out loud moments. While, the premise may sound bizarre, and it is, Williams creates a world and it's character where by the end of the novel, bodyswapping and exploding record shops seem to be the norm. For those looking for a witty, entertaining and original read, this is a must."
- Robert Chilver, Adventures with Words

"Difficult to dislike. A vivid turn of phrase ("chewing air" after puking up), witty touches (the pretense of teen idol Zak Bremner summed up in album titles Zakology and Bremnology) and fag machine philosophy (if you have an All Day Breakfast at breakfast time does it just become Breakfast?) sugar the pill of the ludicrous, scatological plot. Told in gently deluded, Tequila Sunrise-sipping first person by Rik Suntan, at its best it reminded me of Ian Hunter's Diary of a Rock'n'Roll Star, except grounded in a fictionalised Worcestershire."
- Andrew Collins, The Word

"In the end, this is not so much horror fiction as a subversive text in which tropes of the genre are added on to a comic novel dealing with aspects of modern life, such as the lust for fame, reality TV and the superficiality of the media, all of which get the piss taken out of them (sorry, but I couldn't resist that). Bottom line, Stairway to Hell is a barrel of fun, probably best read to a soundtrack of The Song Remains the Same and Ch-Ch-Changes."
- Peter Tennant, Black Static

"This is a measured quirkiness, which does not have to try too hard to go down the road of the odd. Too much bizarreness can be a turn-off, for me, but here I found a lovely balance of controlled insanity, and a strong level of inventiveness. I did guess a few things way before the ending, but had a great ride getting there. Certainly if you remember 70s rock, and the characters mentioned in this book - it's a joyous path to take finding out who everyone is - this is highly recommended."
- John Lloyd,

"Charlie Williams is the funniest writer working in Britain right now and he deserves to be read by everyone with a pair of eyes. He ain't your usual scatological humorist, either – look a little deeper, you'll see a writer dealing with stuff way beyond the next gag. Apart from the usual X Factor digs, Williams has a far deeper go at the concept of talent, whether it be something you're born with, have engineered for you or struggle to originate on your own terms. But then I'm possibly the only reader of his that sees thematic similarities between Ballard's Kingdom Come and Williams' King of the Road."
- Ray Banks, author of the Beast of Burden and No More Heroes

"You definitely won't read another book like this for a while. If ever. Check it out."
- Bill Crider, author of the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series

"British authors seem more adept at comic writing than their American counterparts. From Kingsley Amis’ Lucky Jim to Martin Amis’ Money, from A Good Man in Africa by William Boyd to last year’s Me Cheeta by James Lever, not to mention Jeeves and Wooster, the British sensibility is somehow able to combine hilariously pitch-perfect voice with serious, sometimes even somber, material. Stairway to Hell is far from somber, but it is another fine example of the craft of comic novel-writing. Enjoy it—just watch out for your soul."
- David Maine, PopMatters

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