Southern Horror Yahoo Group

2006 Winner

Will Elliott - The Pilo Family Circus

Guest Judge Robert Hood's comments:

"The 2006 Australian Shadows shortlist represents a strong and diverse cross-section of the genre. Together with an extraordinarily powerful list of "honorary mentions", it characterises the Australian horror scene as gloriously frightening and inventively dark, displaying a craftsmanship of which its authors can be rightly proud.

Choosing a final winner was always going to be a close call. Stephen Dedman's powerful tale of emotional cathasis, Lee Battersby's chilling depiction of child abuse and spectral vengeance, Deborah Biancotti's dark-fantastical exploration of mortality and the consequences of foreknowledge, and Carol Ryles' evocative exploration of the genre-defining Frankenstein story would all be worthy winners.

But, for myself, I couldn't go past the stunningly memorable first novel
"The Pilo Family Circus" by Will Elliott. This gothic comic-horror extravaganza, with its cast of carnival bizarros and manically violent killer clowns, grabbed my imagination by its tenderest parts from the first chapter and didn't let go right to the final page. The novel is dark, involving, inventive, funny, grim and entertaining - giving coulrophobes a host of bloody and sinister reasons to run screaming for the exit.

Elliott has created a wonderfully vivid Lovecraftian landscape of horror in which to place his killer clowns, surrounding them with an assortment of dangerous and sometimes frighteningly ridiculous weirdos. His characters are exaggerations but they are effectively differentiated one from the other, their depiction subtle at times as well as brazenly explosive at others - and always inventive. His prose is stark but evocative; he easily draws us into Jamie/JJ's terrible fate and proceeds to take us on a journey to apocalypse and beyond, interweaving intrigue and comic invention with skill and gruesome good-humour.

I am happy to declare "The Pilo Family Circus" by Will Elliott the winner of the 2006 Australian Shadows Award."


2007 Award Statue