An Unholy Way to Die

“An Unholy Way to Die” is a horror novel by Gavin Newman and Guy N. Smith, published in 1999. Known for his prolific output in the horror genre, Smith delivers another tale filled with suspense, supernatural elements, and his characteristic gritty style.

Plot Summary

The country of the bard is a perilous place at the turn of the 17th century. Ned, a beggar, is found dead in the stocks, a knife embedded in his back. The region is experiencing a resurgence of witchcraft, with the church being robbed and desecrated. In response, the infamous witchfinder, known for his brutal torture and relentless pursuit of innocent peasants, is summoned to root out the supposed evil.

As the witchfinder’s purge begins, the number of scapegoats rises alarmingly. However, the Lord Lieutenant suspects that the true evil lies within his own administration, believing that corruption is the real cause of the murders plaguing his domain. He turns to Guy Kent, an undercover investigator whose life is constantly at risk from those he hunts, to uncover the truth.

Kent is tasked with solving the mystery of who killed Old Ned, the deaf-mute, and uncovering the real motive behind the murder. Was it the work of Satanic worshippers? Roaming bands of gypsies? Or perhaps the moonmen accused of robbing the church, who were subsequently hanged? As Kent delves deeper, he must navigate a web of deceit and danger, seeking answers and justice in a land rife with fear and suspicion.

With threats closing in from all sides, Kent must survive the perils of his mission to expose the true culprits. His quest to unravel the mysteries behind the murders, the desecration, and the resurgence of witchcraft will test his wits and courage to the utmost. This gripping tale of intrigue, corruption, and dark forces will keep readers on the edge of their seats, eager to see if Kent can bring the culprits to justice before it’s too late.

Themes and Style

  • Supernatural Horror: The novel heavily features supernatural elements, with the pagan cult and its rituals forming the crux of the horror.
  • Isolation and Paranoia: The setting of a remote village contributes to the atmosphere of isolation and distrust, heightening the tension.
  • Investigation and Discovery: The protagonist’s role as a journalist leads the narrative through a process of investigation and uncovering hidden secrets, typical of Smith’s storytelling.


“An Unholy Way to Die” received varied reactions from readers. Fans of Smith’s work appreciated the novel for its fast-paced narrative and chilling atmosphere. However, some critics found it to be formulaic, noting that it follows familiar tropes seen in Smith’s other works. Despite this, the book maintains a place in Smith’s extensive catalog of horror fiction, appealing to readers who enjoy supernatural and occult-themed horror.

Author Background

Guy N. Smith (1939-2020) was a British author known for his prolific output in the horror genre. He wrote over 100 novels, often featuring elements of the supernatural, the macabre, and nature turning against humanity. Smith’s works, including popular series like the “Crabs” series, have garnered a dedicated following among horror enthusiasts.


While “An Unholy Way to Die” may not be as widely known as some of Smith’s other novels, it showcases his talent for crafting eerie and suspenseful stories. The novel contributes to his legacy as a master of pulp horror, continuing to attract readers who appreciate his distinctive style and storytelling.

Overall, “An Unholy Way to Die” is a compelling example of Guy N. Smith’s work, blending supernatural horror with an investigative narrative to create a gripping and unsettling tale.