Original Short Story & Artist Collaboration: Ashes to Ashes.

Original Short Story & Artist Collaboration: Ashes to Ashes.

Hello Readers and happy Monday! It is the beginning of Halloween week and to get you into the spooky spirit, I have collaborated with an incredibly talented artist, Giada Rose. Giada Rose is a Kentucky-based illustrator and designer interested in the gossamer threads that stretch between magic, nature, femininity, and art. Her work is infused with a longing for the old ways and a love of the seasons, mythology, historical customs, tarot, and folklore. She particularly enjoys fairytales from around the world, and strives with her paintings to create a portal into stillness and a tinge of nostalgia for a magical place and a bygone time. Working primarily with watercolours, she has illustrated several children’s books and is currently creating an illustrated Victorian-style advice manual of fairytale etiquette. I was inspired by the charming, magical quality of her work and this story was the result. She in turn created this stunning image to bring the witchy tale to life. If you like Giada Rose’s work, you can check out more on her Instagram here, her website here and you can purchase prints from her Etsy shop here. Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to keep up to date with all my latest posts. I have also started my own spooky book tube, which you can find here. Happy Halloween guys!

Ashes to Ashes

T’was a year ago this day when they came for mother. They turned the door to splinters and dragged her out by her arms like she was nought but a doll. ‘WITCH’ they screamed in unison. ‘WITCH.’ They had the wood all cut and neatly stacked and once she was tied atop, they set it alight and turned her to ash. I shed no tears. My mother told me not to. She knew they would come, had hoped it in fact, for death is something we Roberts women do not fear. Her last words were a curse upon their heads, a warning of the death and darkness to come as punishment for their cruel treatment of the women of this town. Innocent women, some were healers who simply remembered the old ways, but many were merely strange or unusual in some way, off from the norm. No crimes had been committed, no one hurt or changed for the worse, they were just the unfortunate ones, unlucky enough to be different. There had been a dozen or so such burnings since I could remember and I was still young, yet, only now had they actually got hold of a witch.

Ashes to Ashes

God’s work, that’s what they called it. But what God would demand such pain and blood shed? None that I prescribe to. My mother taught me the old ways, the ways of mother nature and the balance of the universe. All we give we get back in return, that is the way of it. These God-fearing men with hate in their eyes and rage in their bellies, they were racking up quite a debt and when their time came to pay the piper, it would be a bad, yessir. It would be bad.

I can still hear my mother’s words, as the flames licked her toes, and her face blackened with the soot: “Hear these words men and hear them true, for you have burned your last. The fire next, comes for you.” It was hard to lose her, even though she prepared me so, but I feel her with me in the quiet of the woods and the call of the morning birds. She watches over and waits for my time to join her in the afters.

But today is not my time, no, today is theirs. A year has passed since her spell and the men and women of this township continue to sprout their hatred and bigotry. They have had their chance to seek redemption but none believe themselves wrong, such arrogance. I stood in the court house myself, chains around my hands and ankles, accused of speaking with the Devil, accused of being a witch. My crime? Rejecting a man’s advances. But, this was to come to pass, the prophecy had told so hadn’t it mother?

The town leader, appointed judge, jury and executioner, stares at me with black eyes and asks my plea. I smile then, it unnerves him, I see it. He places the black cloth upon his wig and declares me guilty, my sentence being to burn just like my mother and the other witches before me. I say nothing, I simply smile. No words are required, my mother said enough already.

They march me out and tie me up just like they did her. T’is the same spot and everything, the singed black earth has never recovered since that first burning. Nothing grows here now. They ask for my last words, torches held aloft and I just smile my smile waiting for the flames. They set the torches against the wood, but instead of it catching fire, they do. The flames move up their arms and spread so quickly and burn so brightly I must look away. Those without torches, those who simply came to watch the show, they scream now, running and fleeing like ants in heavy rain. But no one can escape their fates. Their fires burn bright within their chests, light shining out their mouths before it consumes them to. I

close my eyes, the brightness, the smoke, t’is too much for me. I fear it will never end, the screaming, the burning, the heat. But soon, all is quiet.

I open my eyes again, the chains which bound me have broken and I stumble down the wood pile to be met by statues of ash and soot. Dozens of women and men all frozen in their death throes, their bodies turned from flesh to ash. I touch one, t’is Tobius, the black smith, and when I do he falls apart turned only to dust. I feel a wind pick up now, an unnatural wind like nought I have felt before and watch as each statue is blown away, high into a sky, a grey cloud of ash now, coming together, disappearing higher and higher into the sky. I fancy I see my mother a moment amongst that grey wind, along with all the other women I seen burnt. They are smiling. They seem at peace. Within minutes, all have gone and I am left alone in a ghost town.

I pack my bags, taking only what I need and I walk away. This place is too full of bloodshed and heartache to ever be made home again. As I go, I carve a warning into a tree: CROATOAN. It means ‘cursed land’ and will serve as caution to those who may decide to settle here once more.

Huge Halloween Giveaway!

Huge Halloween Giveaway!

Halloween is my favourite time of year.  I love the decorations, the candy, the scary movies, the dark gothic costumes…of course I do those things all year around but now I can REALLY go all out.  In the spirit of Halloween and to spread a little Halloween thrills, I am running a massive international Halloween Giveaway on my Instagram in conjunction with The Alternative Beauty Collective. halloween prize 1Head to my Instagram page @bookishmarie to find out how to enter to win the following ghoulish goodies:

  • Hollographic Ouija Board Makeup pouch
  • Skull tea light holders
  • Skull shot glasses (set of Four)
  • Witch and Wizard mug set
  • Halloween socks
  • Wooden Ouija Planchette
  • Two ‘IT’ enamel pin badges (one saying ‘We All Float Down Here’ and one saying ‘The Losers club.’)
  • ‘The Shining’ Overlook hotel key ring

What are you waiting for?  Head to my Instagram now to enter!!

 

Book Review: ‘This & Nothing More’ a collection of Edgar Allan Poe’s work by Ethereal Vision Publishing & Illustrator Matt Hughes.

Book Review: ‘This & Nothing More’ a collection of Edgar Allan Poe’s work by Ethereal Vision Publishing & Illustrator Matt Hughes.

edgar1Hello Readers! For tonights blog post, I am reviewing This and Nothing More, an Edgar Allan Poe collection by Ethereal Visions Publishing.  Now, every horror fan, classics fan and Gothic gal out there has read some Edgar Allan Poe (if you haven’t then do so immediately, because you won’t regret it) so I won’t be reviewing his writing because everyone knows he was a massive talent and I don’t have anything bad to say about his writing (and I never will).  Instead, I am reviewing this edition of his collected works.  I discovered Ethereal Visions Publishing on Instagram and became immediately drawn to their Gothic edginess, the drama of their editions and the stunning Art Deco style of Matt Hughes’ illustrations, so when they offered to gift me their Edgar Allen Poe collection, I was over the moon.  So what is the book like?

This is one of those occasions when a book arrives which you anticipated would be beautiful but then when you actually get it in your hands, it exceeds all expectations.  Frankly, this edition is a work of art and is officially the most stunning book I own.  Let’s begin with the cover.  I am a sucker for Gothic drama and this book is dripping it with.  The beautiful cover illustration featuring that classic skull and raven combination and gorgeous gold embossed writing to match the shining gold page edges (which are so reflective, you can practically do your makeup in them).

Open that cover and it just keeps getting better and better.  Matt Hughes is a real talent edgar2and has created the most stunning and ethereal illustrations I have ever seen.  Every single image perfectly captures not only its accompanying piece of writing but also the atmospheric, haunting nature of Poe’s writing as a whole.  Every single drawing from the loving dedication to his wife on page one, right through to each section title page, is so perfectly drawn and inked.  I adore the muted colour palette of washed out pastels alongside the plain black images which look so lovingly sketched.  I am officially a massive Matt Hughes fan and must see more of his incredible work immediately.  I recommend you follow him and Ethereal Visions publishing on Instagram to see his work in progress and see every drawing coming to life.

The book is divided into three sections: Poems, stories and essays, ensuring the reader gets a wide variety and range of Poe’s work.  The selection itself is wonderful and includes some of my absolute favourites such as The Tell-Tale Heart, The Premature Burial, The Raven and Lenore.  I have never actually read any of Poe’s essays before so it was wonderful to read these, of particular note being A Few Words on Secret Writing.  I feel like this book is the perfect introduction to anyone new to the dark world of Edgar Allan Poe or a wonderful edition to an already overflowing Poe collection, a warm welcome home for his current fans.

edgar3This book is honestly just stunning- I literally have nothing negative to say about it.  If I could frame it and hang it on my wall, I would.  The same team is currently working on an ethereal edition of Frankenstein and I am sooooooo excited to see it.  Whether you are a fan of Edgar Allan Poe and gothic literature, or you are a newcomer to the author and genre this is a must own book.  I am just going to leave you with the immortal words of Edgar Allan Poe: All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream, and this book is positively dreamy! (Sorry, not sorry).

Check out the cover on their edition of Frankenstein and tell me you aren’t gasping?  You edgar4can check out more images of the book or preorder your own copy here.  I know I definitely NEED a copy!

 

Drop me a comment below and don’t forget to follow my blog to keep up the date with my latest book reviews, articles and pieces of original writing.  For now, happy reading folks!!

Alternative Beauty Collective Haul! Unboxing my witchy goodies!

Alternative Beauty Collective Haul! Unboxing my witchy goodies!

Happy Monday readers!  Apologies for being absent for a while, but I haven’t been feeling very well of late.  However, no amount of coughing and sneezing could keep me away from all of you lovely people for long.  Plus, I am super excited to be collaborating with the amazing Alternative Beauty Collective, a company dedicated to bringing you edgy and alternative beauty, jewellery and homeware.  Anyone who follows me on Instagram will know my style is a little gothic, a little witchy and a lot dark, something that’s not exactly on offer in all the usual high street stores.  As such, I am constantly on the look out for companies and shops for me to find those little edgy treasures I love, so I was very happy when I discovered ABC and positively ecstatic when they offered to gift me a little care package to give me the opportunity to try out some of their products.  So for this weeks blog post, I thought I would unbox my gorgeous alternative haul and introduce you to this badass company.

Altbeauty1The first thing I spotted when I opened the box was this fabulous Phrenology fragrance diffuser.  Again, anyone who follows my Instagram will notice I have a bit of an obsession with skulls and I’m building up quite the collection (culminating in an awkward encounter with my postman when I had to sign for a box with a sticker on the side reading “FRAGILE: Human Skull Replica”) so I was very happy to find this little beauty.  It smells gorgeous and I love that after it’s all used up, I can keep the skull bottle for photos.  I even love the box so I think I will cut it up and frame it- which incidentally is perfectly in line with ABC’s environmental ethos, more on that after the unboxing!

Next up, there was the perfect selection of witchy goodies.  I love that these items are altbeauty2practical and beautiful (and incidentally will make perfect photo props).  The little black candles on the right are opium scented and smell divine.  I think my personal favourite is that glass right in the centre there.  Next time I have a glass of wine I can show my inner witch! lol I have also been accused on multiple occasions of having a bit of a resting witch face.  The item to the right of the glass is white sage and it smells gorgeous.  Burning sage is often used for purifying your home or other surroundings and it’s something I’ve always wanted to try (I will maybe post a little video of the results!)

altbeauty3Last, but not least, there was this absolutely adorable glass skull bottle and these gorgeous earrings.  I have already expressed my undying love for skulls so this will be a welcome addition to my home and would look super cute with a coloured bubble bath inside in the bathroom.  I am also a lover of statement earrings and these beauties are the perfect bohemian statement.  I love the colour of those pink stones in the centre and I am immediately picturing them with a top knot and a flowing black dress.  I’m very excited to wear these bad boys because I am in love with them.  ABC does a lot of amazing alternative products but I think the earrings are my absolute favourite!

I also wanted to make a note about the packaging- I know, I know, I am always banging altbeauty4on about my appreciation of pretty packaging, but this time, I am mentioning it for different reasons.  The Alternative Beauty Collective prides itself on it’s environmentally friendly ethos and all of their packaging is recycled.  Not only that, but they encourage the customer to recycle too.  If you reuse your ABC packaging and post it on Instagram using #abcsave, they will give you £2.00 store credit!  Awesome right?  I already have an idea for how I am going to reuse mine, so keep an eye out for it on my Instagram along with images of all of these gorgeous goodies in the coming weeks.

Thank you so much to the Alternative Beauty Collective for sending me these gorgeous items- I am in love!  What do you think readers?  Let me know in the comments about your house style (are you alternative like myself?) and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to stay up to date with all the latest unboxing, articles, book reviews and pieces of original writing.

 

 

Halloween Book Review: Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge.

Halloween Book Review: Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge.

Happy almost Halloween guys and ghouls! For this blog post, I am reviewing Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge, a book I had never heard of before until it was suggested for a group read along by my fellow Stranger Dream reps.  The chat is usually filled with discussions of all things creepy and scary as we are all avid horror fans, so naturally when we chose a group read for Halloween, it was going to be a horror book…and this one is genuinely the ultimate Halloween read.  Here is the synopsis:

dark harvest picHalloween, 1963. They call him the October Boy, or Ol’ Hacksaw Face, or Sawtooth Jack. Whatever the name, everybody in this small Midwestern town knows who he is. How he rises from the cornfields every Halloween, a butcher knife in his hand, and makes his way toward town, where gangs of teenage boys eagerly await their chance to confront the legendary nightmare. Both the hunter and the hunted, the October Boy is the prize in an annual rite of life and death.

Pete McCormick knows that killing the October Boy is his one chance to escape a dead-end future in this one-horse town. He’s willing to risk everything, including his life, to be a winner for once. But before the night is over, Pete will look into the saw-toothed face of horror–and discover the terrifying true secret of the October Boy . . .

The book is set in a backwards little hick town in the middle of nowhere, run by a very shady bunch of corrupt and evil adults, where every Halloween they hold their own version of the hunger games.  All the young boys are starved for five days and then let loose on Halloween night with weapons, to hunt down and kill the October Boy, essentially a living pumpkin, as a twisted right of passage.  The only way to escape the town is to kill him and be crowned the victor, or so the boys think.

This is one Hell of a ride…with an incredibly fast pace and constant action, it’s a real page turner.  It’s also not a particularly long read so because I literally couldn’t put it down, I had it read in a day!  Partridge perfect describes action sequences and it means they book plays like a really great horror film inside your head.  On that note, if there happens to be any movie producers or Netflix executives out there reading my tiny blog, then please PLEASE turn this into a movie or show…it would be perfect!  It would be epic!

Despite the book not being long, Partridge manages to create a very real world filled with believable, three dimensional characters.  I can picture that town perfectly, with its dusty back roads and a church at its centre, meaningless building to a town full of people who abandoned God long ago, or perhaps a town which God abandoned.  There is the main character, Pete McCormick, an intelligent boy with a rebellious streak, determined to break free of it and there is the local law man, Ricks, a corrupt, cruel and violent man who rules the town with an iron fist and kills easily and gleefully to maintain the status quo.  Even the October Boy himself is portrayed to perfection, but I don’t want to spoil anything for you so I’ll just say this…sometimes the real horrors aren’t the monsters and ghouls, but human beings.

The entire storyline is incredibly original and it isn’t like anything I’ve ever read before.  Partridge is a truly talented writer creating an immersive and enjoyable experience for the reader from start to finish.  Overall, I cannot recommend it enough and I’m giving it five star!! That’s right- full marks!  Grab a copy now…you won’t regret it.

The Walking Dead: The Official Cookbook and Survival Guide review.

wd2

Happy almost Halloween readers!  I love this time of year…pumpkin carving, trick or treating and all things horror!!  And in the spirit of that, tonights blog post is a review of ‘The Walking Dead: the Official Cookbook and Survival Guide.’  That’s right…the people over at AMC and cooking writer extraordinaire Lauren Wilson, have collaborated to bring you the ultimate guide on how to survive a plague of Walkers, along with some recipes to prepare for your fellow survivors!  This book has it all, a how to guide on hunting, fishing and gathering, what essentials you need to keep handy in the event of a zombie apocalypse (or any apocalypse for that matter) and of course recipes inspired by the show and its characters.  But how do those recipes taste?  After all, if it’s the end of the modern world, you need to find home comforts when you can, right?  I decided to try one out for myself and give my official verdict.

wd3

To me, Halloween is synonymous with apple pie.  Every year since I can remember, my mum would make an apple pie, and place coins inside for us to find.  So, when I found the recipe for ‘Maggie’s formless apple pies’ I knew I needed to try them.  The recipe is inspired by season 7, episode ‘Hearts still beating’ when a pregnant Maggie was presented an apple pie by the people of Hilltop as a thank you.  To make it even more apocalypse friendly, this recipe is for ‘forkless’ apple pies, so you can eat them without a fork, say while running from a pack of hungry Walkers.

wd4I am not the most skilled baker in the world; that being said, I found the step by step instructions easy to follow.  In line with the theme of the book, the list of ingredients for this recipe doesn’t involve anything exotic or rare, just things you probably already have knocking about in your cupboards.  I also appreciated that the recipe was done in an almost ‘real time’ way, i.e. as opposed to simply telling you what you needed to mix and how long to cook it for, it told you when to begin each stage, and in what order, to help save on time.

wd5

Once cooked, I taste tested them myself, along with my hubby and our little girl, and it was yummy noises all round…a unanimous ten out of ten and a resounding success (even if I do say so myself).  I don’t normally add any spices to my apple pie (that may shock some people, but I am following my Grandmother’s recipe) but I loved the taste of these, and think the addition of the various spices really added to the moreishness of the flavours.  Overall, I can’t fault it!  It was an easy to read, easy to complete recipe with clear instructions and most importantly, it tasted delicious!  Having a flick through it, there are definitely a bunch more recipes I want to try, and having read the survival guide chapters, I am now tempted to start hoarding bottled water and create my own bug out bag…because you never know, right?  Especially the way the world is going these days!

If you are a fan of the show, then you simply need to own this.  It is the ultimate piece of wd6fan merchandise, and would make a fantastic Christmas present or stocking filler.  It is chock full of recipes, both sweet and savoury, like ‘Dixon’s deer stew,’ ‘Foraged berry cobbler’ and ‘Carl’s biscuits’ and even includes a moonshine and cocktail chapter at the back (because in the event of the dead rising up and trying to eat our flesh, I am pretty sure we would all need a drink).

Halloween is Coming: How to become your favourite Literary characters for Halloween.

As Old Hallows Eve nears, the pressure to create an awesome Halloween look begins to build!  Now, I don’t know about you guys, but I really resent spending a fortune on some cheaply made costume I will only wear once!  So in that spirit, I have corroborated with my amazingly talented friend Rachel Henry, to produce some badass Halloween makeup looks, and since I am a total book nerd, and this is a writing and reading blog, each look will be based on some of my favourite literary characters.  Now I know what you’re thinking…”I don’t have a professional make up artist friend to do my makeup!  I can’t do that!”  But Rachel being the genius she is, has used widely available and more importantly cheap items to create the looks, and we will be providing you with a step by step guide, pictures and all, so you can definitely do this at home.

white witch completeLast time, we went full on horror, and recreated the distinct and terrifying look of Pennywise the clown.  This time, we thought we would do something a little prettier, but just as nasty (because Halloween is all about the villains right?), and have re-created The Snow Queen of Hans Christian Anderson fame, or if you prefer, The White Witch from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.  Either way, she is one cold bitch!

The Snow Queen/The White Witch
First of all, we decided that she should look like an incredibly pale and cold blooded woman, not pure white like a clown or ghost, so Rachel used a foundation much paler than my own skin tone and simply covered my entire face, including my eyebrows.  Because they are quite dark, she also used a little white face paint to pale them down even further.  She then sealed the make up with a pale white powder, but you could use a little talc.

Next, she worked on the eyes, using a few different shades of blue to create the tone and white witch 2look we wanted.  Instead of painting one thick layer of blue, try building up lots of thin layers of different colours, using the darker blues on the outside of the eyes and the paler blues on the inside corners.  It’s basically like a smoky eye effect, except with blue tones.  She also used blue eyeliner along the lash line.  Finally, she used a mascara brush dipped in the same white face paint as before, and put it on my upper and lower lashes to improvise white mascara.

Rachel then used white eye shadow to highlight my cheek bones, brow bones, cupid’s bow and the centre of my nose.  Next she used blue eyeshadow, the same as used on my eyes, to low light under my cheekbones and along my hair line.  Think contouring, but with blue instead of skin tones!

white witch 3Next the fun bit…glitter!! Rachel used Helen E Glitter glue to stick the glitter to my face, highlighting above and below my eyes.  If you don’t want to spend the money, you could use water soluble PVA glue (which dries clear) or even a clear mascara or lip gloss- something sticky and clear basically!

For the lips, Rachel used a blue lipstick, and added a little black at the corners and a bit of the lipstick mixed with the white face paint in the middle of my lips, to create an ombre look.  If you don’t want to buy a blue lippy for the sake of one night, you could use the same blue eyeshadows as before and seal with a clear lip gloss.  This would also providewhite-witch-4.jpg
the sticky surface you need to stick on some more of that glitter…because you can never have too much glitter right?  Never!!

I had some stick on pearls for crafting and letter writing, so we added a few of these around the eyes to add texture.  You could go mad if you like, sticking jewels or sequins, whatever you have lying about the house…the sky is the limit!  Eye lash glue or water soluble PVA are both cheap and easy ways to stick little bits like this to your face.  Stick it on and see what it looks like…it’s no big deal to remove them and move them around again.  Have fun with it and let your imagination run wild.

white witch eyes
Finally, I used standard dry shampoo to add a grey/white tint to my hair as well as a bit of volume and texture.  Again, you could go nuts here…white hair spray paints are available for very little money, or talcum powder is also great.

In lieu of a crown, I used a necklace I own, and pinned it into place like a head piece and then topped it off with a jewelled head band.  I then grabbed every shiny silver necklace I owned and layered it up with a blue dress.  This is my improvised costume…the point is to use bits you already own or things you can borrow from others so go as subtle or as big as you want!  Experiment…you could use a fur blanket to create a cape or even buy a cheap wedding dress from a charity/thrift store!  Use your imagination and bring the Queen to life your way!

white witch complete 2

white witch and rach

 

 

If you are as impressed with Rachel’s work as much as me, then head to her Instagram for more inspiration, both for Halloween as well as day to day looks! And don’t forget to give her a follow!!