Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “December” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.07  ·  Rating details ·  986 ratings  ·  77 reviews
In the twelfth-century ruins of the Abbey, it is said every stone was cemented in blood. On December 8, 1980, that blood will run again...

In the ruins of a haunted medieval abbey, four musicians hope to tap into the site's dark history. The experience almost destroys them. Years later, the original group is forced to return to the abbey, to confront the old evil they
Paperback, 678 pages
Published July 1st 1996 by Berkley (first published 1994)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about December, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about December

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  986 ratings  ·  77 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of December
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I discovered Phil Rickman, relatively recently, and thought the month of December would be the perfect time to listen to this stand alone book; particularly as it is read by Sean Barrett, one of my favourite Audible narrators (he reads the excellent Jackson Lamb/Slough House series, among other titles).

This begins on a December evening in 1980, when cult band, The Philosopher’s Stone, gather at a recording studio, based in the ruins of an Abbey to record an album. All of the member of the band
Mar 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of paranormal mystery/horror
5++ stars
*All Time Favorite Book List*

On December 8 1980 a young band named The Philosopher's Stone gather inside the ruins of a 12th century Abbey, to record their debut album. But after one night, and a horrifying turn of events, the band members agree to never let the music they recorded there see the light of day...and to never see each other again.

13 years later, the story of that recording session has become the stuff of legend. And then those supposedly destroyed Abbey tapes...known as
Nov 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recentlyread
Rickman's books, especially the early ones, are somewhat hard to find here--I have to order used copies through Amazon Marketplace--and I don't know why. They're addictive. In this, I think his third novel, a promising rock band called The Philosopher's Stone tries to record an ambitious album in a ruined medieval abbey in Wales but tragedy and terror interrupt, the band breaks up, and 14 years later the record company rediscovers the tapes and tracks down the original band members to complete ...more

From the author note: The Holy Mountain, Ysgyryd Fawr - the Skirrid - noses out of the lushly mysterious area where Gwent blends with Hertfordshire beyond the friendly market town of Abergavenny, scene of the notorious massacre of December 1175.

Scene setting: December 1980 as Lennon is shot, a band is set to record an album at the Abbey Studios, North Gwent, between midnight and dawn.

PAGE COUNT IS 648 - thanks

wales> north gwent> skirrid
welsh gothic

page 30: "[..] I started playing 'Julia',
Aug 01, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm a huge fan of Rickman's Merrily Watkins series. This is a standalone creation and really rates 3.5 stars from me. The novel lost half a star for me as it did not wrap up as satisfactorily as I would have liked. The first 3/4 of this book was fabulous. Although lengthy, it sets such a creepy and compelling stage that you don't want to put it down. Focusing on a group of musicians with special psychic powers, Rickman effectively draws you in with a fabulous sense of time and place and in depth ...more
Nov 23, 2011 rated it liked it
This is an oldy but goody, one of the first Rickman novels. It had been so long since I’d read it, I had forgotten most of the ending. A great story concerning a “psychic” rock band, the Philosopher’s Stone, commissioned to record an album in an abbey turned recording studio in Wales. The dark power of the Abbey paired with the unusual abilities of each of the individual band members creates a dangerous and deadly cocktail, resulting in an unfinished album and 4 very badly damaged musicians. The ...more
Patrice Hoffman
Apr 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is the second novel I have read by this author. Luckily it was just as good. The beginning started out a little slow for me. I just had to find out what was going on and happening in the Abbey's tower house to the psychic band from the early 80s. This book was a complex and enjoyable read. I recommend to all fans of the horror genre.
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Four musicians met fourteen years ago to record an album in a studio converted from a former abbey. The session ended in tragedy and some very spooky happenings which have adversely affected all four ever since. Now they have been asked to complete the recording.

Various people who were connected with the production of the music have met untimely ends and Prof Levin, sound engineer and alcoholic – has been asked to listen to the tapes of the previous session and to produce the new recording. The
Mar 12, 2012 rated it liked it
A good book with some really solid characters. I appreciated how Rickman was able to write accents believably. He also was great at making me feel the realness of the locales. The story had some spook to it.

I've got a few gripes. This was a slow-starter, with tons of exposition. Unfortunately, this made the story really drag for me. I felt that 100 pages could have been discarded without any negative effect. I was also annoyed with the main characters. They were so neurotic, whiny and pathetic
Dec 20, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't say I really enjoyed this book but its possible this was down to my copy being a HUGE, heavy beast of a volume. I therefore couldn't take it on the train, fit it in my handback, hold it for very long etc etc (I know, this all seems irrelevant but is it?) which meant I spent 4 weeks reading only a few pages at night. It also had enormous print and put me completely out of my normal reading kilter. I wanted to enjoy it and it was recommended by someone who's opinion I regard but I was ...more
Intense is a word that comes to mind when describing this book. Also, a bit confusing in places. I started out on audiobook and switched to paperbook because I was having trouble following it. There are numerous and frequent switching of POV. I'm glad that I didn't give up entirely.
Dec 11, 2018 rated it liked it
A bit complicated and a bit dated but still an enjoyable read from Mr Rickman.
Aug 08, 2013 rated it liked it
This is sort of a hard review to write. The biggest problem I had with this book is also one of its strengths in several places. The problem? December takes a really long time to get where it's going.

This is a fairly massive tome. It's not the longest book I've ever read, but it's a little longer than your typical books from that era. Many books that were in the horror genre during the 90s tended to be about 300-400 pages in length, whereas this is almost 700. That might not seem like a big
Dec 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
December centres on a group of musicians with psychic abilities, who were brought together by an unscrupulous record company to make a very special album. Their recording studio was at a haunted abbey in Wales, and the band had a terrifying experience there one night in 1980, which resulted in a death and the break-up of the group. Fourteen years later the old tapes of that recording are unearthed and the members of the group find themselves forced to revisit the experience that has haunted them ...more
Aug 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
'December' was my first taste of Phil Rickman. The book was hidden in my local library, back in my home town, way back in my past, amongst the shadows on a shelf beneath a dead light bulb. I visited this place three maybe four times a week for fourteen years. The light bulb was never replaced. I picked books up from other parts of the library, but the books I picked up from this area, where always face down and of a dark nature. I suppose someone may have used up his/her ticket allocation and ...more
Jun 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle, horror
The first Rickman I read, Candlenight, was exceeding well-written, full of interesting and believable characters, and introduced me to a fascinating regional culture -- but it really wasn't creepy or eerie at all. December has all the virtues of Candlenight, combined with a genuinely spooky storyline about a recording studio in an unholy abbey near the Welsh border. Rickman really nails rock culture in addition to giving us another well-realized small town -- I wonder whether he's been in a band ...more
Aug 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery
I came to read December after recently getting hooked on the Merrily Watkins series. To me it felt like a (long) book of two halves: the first half could have done with a really good edit for both length and pace, but the second half (particularly the band's return to the fated abbey studio) fired along with dramatic tension.

The premise is a clever one: a rock band made up of psychics put into an old abbey to see what they come up with, and it isn't pretty. As usual, Rickman walks the fine line
Jane Alexander
Feb 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
I read this absolutely years ago and thought it was a total pile of tosh. Then read pretty well all of Rickman's other books and, the other day, thought I'd revisit it. And, guess what? I thoroughly enjoyed it. Yes, the POV shifts are dizzying but I had forgotten how much stronger Rickman is when he sticks to the supernatural, rather than in the later Merrily Watkins books where pretty much everything is explained away as crime.
There's a rather lovely redemptive quality about this book too. Yes,
Remittance Girl
Dec 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
I listened to the audiobook version of this, and I would highly recommend that if you can, you do for two reasons: the audiobook version contains a lot of contextual music that brings the importance of the music to its rightful place in the story and because the regional accents add a greater dimension to the narrative's voices.

I really enjoyed December. I'm not going to spend time synopsizing the novel, because others have done that. But it is a complex, nuanced, well written novel with
Julie Adams
Jan 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Long one of my favorite books by Rickman who is awesome at weaving music, ghosts, blood, Celtic legend, great characters and mystery into a cracking good read. The fab psychic four assemble at a haunted Welsh abbey to record an album on the night that John Lennon is murdered - and their lives are never the same. They come back together 14 years later to record again. Even better, Rickman and some talented musician friends have now completed the songs and put out an album, Abbey Tapes: The ...more
Mar 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012, kindle-read
I like Phil Rickman but I did struggle to get through this one. It is pretty long and drawn out. I'm not sure i would have persevered if it wasn't for the fact that I knew some of the characters from Rickman's later series of Merrily Watkins books, although this was an earlier stand alone novel.

The plot involves the reformation of a music group 14 years after a tragedy which happened during the recording of an album. They are all reluctant to return to the studio but think it may be cathartic to
May 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I loved December. The characters are well-drawn, which is rare in horror. It is genuinely creepy, with actual evil, and yet has a mostly happy ending. Phil Rickman should be as successful as Stephen King, or Dan Brown.
Chris Shaw
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was SO not enjoying this read that it took me 3 years to get through it. I nearly lost my record of finishing every book I start because I dreaded the thought of having to spend hours immersed in a story I really didn't like. Had to give it two stars because I'm saving my one star review in case I ever find a book that's so awful it can't be read to completion.
Andrew Lennon
Jun 28, 2013 rated it did not like it
Some of the reviews I read for this book said that it was a slow starter, but if you bare with it then it gets really good.
Well I gave it till page 320 and its still really boring! I'm giving up
Mar 18, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: quit-reading
Read 100 Pages and everyone was a chore. Gave Up.
Oct 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
the book that made me fall in love with Rickman
Leanne Hunt
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
A brilliant novel of spiritual intrigue, suspense and horror, depending on your point of view. On the surface, this is a novel about professional musicians who were brought together years ago to work on an album because they all possessed highly sensitive personalities and psychic abilities. On a deeper level, it is about people who wrestle with the dark parts of their nature. There is an ancient abbey which represents the place of their vulnerability. The events that take place there when the ...more
Jim Bowen
Jun 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jo Hurst
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! What a book! I am already a fan of Phil Rickman’s books and have had this a while and was eager to read once the right month arrived. It’s everything you expect from Phil Rickman. Creepy, complex and utterly absorbing. I was delighted that a few “old Friends” from other books were prominent here also, although it’s a stand alone. The book starts on 8 dec 1980 when a band prone to psychic occurrences appear to channel the death of John Lennon during the recording of an album in an old Abbey. ...more
Diane Dickson
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this one. Okay I read it a bit out of sequence but it didn't matter. There were so many things in it that hit home with me. I was a teenager in the Liverpool of the Beatles and still want it to be untrue about John Lennon being shot.

There are a fair number of broken, battered, bruised and plain old dead bodies scattered through this one and plenty of magic of both colours. Fascinating look at the world of rock and roll, though maybe right out on the wild edges. It's got the lot but in the
« previous 1 3 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: December page count 2 14 Jan 02, 2019 04:53PM  
E-book 1 1 Mar 11, 2017 02:22PM  
E-book 1 1 Mar 11, 2017 02:22PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Cold Calling
  • Mean Spirit
  • The Burning House
  • Magda (Father of Lies #3)
  • Rise To Me (Psychic Surveys, #2)
  • Tanners Dell (Father of Lies #2)
  • Black House (The Talisman, #2)
  • Helltown (World's Scariest Places #3)
  • Vaporetto 13
  • If You Could See Me Now
  • The Other
  • The Retribution (Tony Hill & Carol Jordan, #7)
  • The Death Collectors (Carson Ryder, #2)
  • Ghost of a Gamble (A Ghost of Granny Apples Mystery, #4)
  • Seeking Spirits: The Lost Cases of The Atlantic Paranormal Society
  • The Reincarnation of Peter Proud
  • The Haunting of Highdown Hall (Psychic Surveys, #1)
  • Don't Look Back
See similar books…
aka Will Kingdom, Thom Madley.

Phil Rickman, born in Lancashire, has won awards for his TV and radio journalism. After five acclaimed novels, he introduced the fascinating Merrily Watkins series with The Wine of Angels. He is married and lives on the Welsh Border.
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »