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Manchester, the present. Michael divides his time between the job centre and the pub. A chance meeting with Lee, an introduction to her ‘Uncle’ Ian, and a heavy night on the lash lead to a job working the door at a Northern Quarter massage parlour.
After witnessing the violent death of one of the ‘punts’, Michael experiences blood-drenched flashbacks and feels himself being sucked into a twilight world that he doesn’t understand but that is irresistibly attractive. When he eventually finds out what goes on in the room below 7th Heaven, Michael’s life will never be the same again.
Think Bret Easton Ellis. On a writing break in the north of England. And all he packed was Fight Club and some early Stephen King novels. Stephen McGeagh’s powerful debut will stay with you for a long time.
‘A raw slice of urban menace as immediate as a dangerous night out on the town. In the vivid language of the streets it invokes the paranoid spirit of the city. It's as harsh and clear as neon, and it rings alarmingly true. Be warned – this is not comfortable fiction. Perhaps there's no escape.’ —Ramsey Campbell
‘The message, if there is one, seems to be that only those at the top and bottom of society’s food chain can abandon conventional morality, those who have nothing to gain by adhering to social mores or lose through abandoning them, though here, for Michael and the others, ultimately that doesn’t turn out to be the case. Not so much a horror story as misery memoir etched on human flesh and with blood red trim, this is a powerful first appearance from a young writer who will bear watching.’ —Peter Tennant, Black Static Magazine
‘Books like this make me happy. It's short and brutal, dark and violent, seedy and miserable, and populated by truly unlikeable characters. Terse prose, minimal description, a simple, uncluttered plot. Modern noir, blood-and-neon-drenched; angry, loveless, raging against everything. Books like this make me happy.’ —Gary McMahon
‘Like many great novels Habit cannot be easily placed into a neat genre box. It’s horror, it’s crime, it’s a portrait of urban decay and seedy subcultures, it’s black comedy and its unrelenting grim. It’s not often that a publisher’s blurb will reflect the tone so accurately – after all bigging up your own release is part of the publishing game – but Salt Publishing have got it spot on when they describe Habit as “Bret Easton Ellis. On a writing break in the north of England. And all he packed was Fight Club and some early Stephen King novels.”’ —Michael Wilson, This is Horror
‘This is probably as cheerful as you get in the Manchester of Stephen McGeagh’s debut novel Habit. The girl doesn’t even get on the bus this time. You’re listening to Michael, the narrator, who’s on his way to the dole office. It’s raining, of course. The fit girl on the bus might not have turned up, but Michael meets Lee instead, a girl who ‘looks about twelve but she’s raging, kicking out everywhere.’ In the sliding, impermanent way of the city, Lee stops at Michael’s place for a few nights. They go out, them and Dig and Mand. They get wrecked. It rains. Then Lee takes Michael along to 7th Heaven, and it all starts to go a bit weird…’ —Sarah Jasmon, Book Chick
‘Habit is dark, bleak and uncompromising. There aren't many (or any...) likeable characters in it and many horrible things happen within its pages. I loved it.’ —Dark Musings
‘I expected not to like this and intended to read it in a sort of detached intellectual way. I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it is dark. And no, it isn’t a comfortable read. There is plenty of foul language. We encounter some quite nasty scenarios. Yet it is engaging and gripping. This is set in present day Manchester with a huge fantasy / horror theme. Yet it is not gratuitous horror. This city certainly has its creepy moments and we could easily imagine that what lurks behind the doors of its many night clubs is actually what Stephen McGeagh suggests.’ —Gill’s Recommended Reads