Blog Tour & Book Review: It Will Just Be Us by Jo Kaplan.

Blog Tour & Book Review: It Will Just Be Us by Jo Kaplan.

I am so excited to be a part of the blog tour for It Will Just be Us by Jo Kaplan, a dark, gothic horror book full of ghosts and ghouls. Thank you to Crooked Lane press for inviting me to be a part of the tour and sending me the book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Now before we get into what I think about this bad boy, let’s check out that all important blurb to see what it’s all about: They say there’s a door in Wakefield that never opens… Sam Wakefield’s ancestral home, a decaying mansion built on the edge of a swamp, isn’t a place for children. Its labyrinthine halls, built by her mad ancestors, are filled with echoes of the past: ghosts and memories knotted together as one. In the presence of phantoms, it’s all Sam can do to disentangle past from present in her daily life. But when her pregnant sister Elizabeth moves in after a fight with her husband, something in the house shifts. Already navigating her tumultuous relationship with Elizabeth, Sam is even more unsettled by the appearance of a new ghost: a faceless boy who commits disturbing acts–threatening animals, terrorizing other children, and following Sam into the depths of the house wielding a knife. When it becomes clear the boy is connected to a locked, forgotten room, one which is never entered, Sam realizes this ghost is not like the others. This boy brings doom… As Elizabeth’s due date approaches, Sam must unravel the mysteries of Wakefield before her sister brings new life into a house marked by death. But as the faceless boy grows stronger, Sam will learn that some doors should stay closed–and some secrets are safer locked away forever.

Kaplan’s novel in many ways is a classic style Gothic novel and the influence of like Shirley Jackson is evident throughout. We have a haunted house full of ghosts, a family tragedy plagued by secrets and a history of violence and heartache, a mysterious locked door for a room no one can enter and a malevolent presence that threatens all who inhabit the crumbling expanse of Wakefield. On paper it ticks all the standard boxes for a gothic horror in all the right ways. But what I loved most about this book was the way it used these classic tropes and settings to explore the darkest parts of ourselves for the ghosts that haunt Wakefield are not actual spirits or souls trapped there, but are in fact echos, a simple replaying of past events, good or bad.

Through the death of the protagonists father, we explore mental illness and suicide and the effect of that loss on the remaining family members. The mother of the family finds herself not just haunted with the knowledge of her husband’s death, she does not just picture it in her mind as many haunted by such a tragedy would, she is instead able to relive it over and over again, watching her husband’s death replayed on an infinite time loop, unable to stop him or ask why as a memory is just that and nothing more.

This family are literally watching history repeat itself over and over, the good moments and the bad, from every generation of people who have stepped foot inside the mysterious house they inhabit. And this family history is a particularly black and bloody one to boot. Through these visual images of the past, the reader explores the fact that our pasts and even the pasts of those who came before us, can have a very real impact on our present and in turn our future. The protagonist is an archaeologist. She understands better than anyone the importance of these artefacts, these moments long gone. She attempts to catalogue and record them, for if we cannot understand the past in all of its raw horror, then how can we possibly learn from it? How can we grow from it? How can we avoid the mistakes of those who came before us? During a point in time when our history and the visual representations of that history such as statues and memorials, are becoming more important and meaningful to the current generation, it is very much a book which spoke to me.

Through these same ghosts and the darkness which causes them, the book also explores the concept of fate and destiny. If we are told our future, does that event then occur because it was always meant to be so? Or did it occur simply because we were told it would, drawing us towards that inevitability like a moth to a flame? Would that event have occurred if we had never been given that knowledge in the first place. The ideas of fate and causailty are things which have always fascinated me and I particularly enjoyed the way this book explores them. If history is in fact predetermined then fighting it is useless, we will end how we we end. But if it is not yet set in stone, if the face of our future is blurred and not yet fully formed like the faceless boy who haunts and threatens Sam and her family, is there hope then that this can be changed? It’s a fascinating idea and when combined with the classic horror elements like the haunted house and the ghosts, it only serves to amplify the complexity and the very high and real stakes of attempting to change or bend destiny to our will.

I found myself engrossed from the first page and the book remained engaging throughout. The characters are real, believable, relatable and most importantly as flawed and broken as the house they share. The story is interesting and gripping and it’s full of moments and quotes which cause the reader to pause and ponder on topics beyond the scope of the book itself. My only criticisms would be on the last few chapters of the book when Sam makes some truly questionable decisions. Yes, the reader is aware of why she may make such choices, but it felt very much like those moments watching the female victim of a slasher film run up the stairs instead of out the front door. “No,” we hear ourselves cry, “Not that way!” But alas, we are watching these images play out as they will, unable to interfere or effect them just as Sam and her family have watched the echos of the house they live in so many times over their lives. Whilst this did irk me somewhat, it wasn’t a big enough issue to dampen or reduce my enthusiasm and love for the book as a whole and if anything it merely added to the earlier discussed debates about fate and causality.

I could go on and on about the elements of this book which I loved, these aforementioned topics being at the forefront alongside the style and setting of the book itself, but I would rather let the reader discover these things on their own. I wholeheartedly recommend it to any fans of classic horror and I am keen to read more from the author. Overall it’s a 4.5 out of 5 for me and an excellent read all around. Thank you again to Crooked Press for giving me the opportunity to read this fantastic book and to Jo Kaplan for writing it.

Interview with Indie Horror Publisher Eerie River Publishing.

Interview with Indie Horror Publisher Eerie River Publishing.

Hello readers, I hope you are keeping well in these strange times. For today’s blog post, I had the pleasure of chatting with the minds behind Eerie River Publishing house, an independent publishing house dedicated to bringing readers the best in horror and dark fantasy. Based out of Ontario, Canada, they offer a range of services such as editing and formatting, as well as publishing works and creating awesome anthologies. It was the latter that introduced me to this gem of a company. When the owner Michelle reached out to offer me a copy of their anthology “It Calls From the Forest”, a collection of works dedicated to the horrors which lurk in the woods, I jumped at the chance and immediately fell in love with the book. So much so, I have actually submitted a piece for the next anthology in the collection, this time centring around terrors from the sky with the third and final instalment focusing on the sea (I may also be writing one for that too, I am determined to end up in one of these anthologies!). As well as providing me with a copy of the book, Michelle also agreed to be interviewed, so get comfy and happy reading.

1) For those out there unfamiliar with Eerie River, what is it? 

Eerie River Publishing is a brand new, independent publishing house located in Southern Ontario, Canada. 

We are devoted to offering indie authors, regardless of experience level, the opportunity to publish their words in a paying market. We are still in our infancy, so our pay scale is not at that professional level yet, but as we continue to grow so will our payments. 

2) Tell us about the main members of the team? 

The team is rather small, but we are committed to a level of excellence in professionalism and openness. 

I, Michelle River, am the owner and project manager for Eerie River Publishing. I am a full-time mom by day, and an entrepreneur by night. For those that see our website, Twitter or Facebook I am the person behind the screen on my phone, the one answering questions and posting GIFs between playtimes and snacks. I also do the book formatting, promotional graphics and videos, all that fun stuff. 

I also have the monumentous pleasure of reading and responding to every single short story that is sent in for consideration 

Next in line is the wonderful Alanna Roberston-Webb. An indie author in her own right, I was lucky enough to secure and contract her to edit all of the anthologies for our “It Calls From” series, as well as our dark fantasy novellette call out. She has worked on a few anthologies for other indie publishing houses as well, and is one of the few people that I know of who is always there to help a fellow writer out: Be it to offer to beta read, talk plot, or grapple with word choice, Alanna will have your back. She also has the pleasure of going through the second round submissions and helping select the final stories for the books, as well as assisting with providing author feedback. 

I am also very lucky to have a sister that loves to read! Elizabeth has volunteered countless hours reading through stories that have made it through to second rounds, or for our monthly contest submissions. She provides valuable feedback, and will also be reading through the dark fantasy novel submissions coming through. Thankfully dark fantasy is her ultimate drug, so she is very excited about this new task. 

These lovely ladies aside, the most important members of our team are those that probably don’t even realize they are on it. We are honoured to have a group of wonderful authors and friends that have rallied behind Eerie River since day one, and they continuously help us by promoting, submitting their stories, cheering us on and offering insight where they can. They are very much appreciated! I know that without their continued support, their wonderful stories and their voices, Eerie River wouldn’t exist. I am forever blown away by the wonderful group that surrounds us, and I don’t know how we got so lucky to find them. 

3) What motivated you to start Eerie River? 

That is weirdly a tricky question. I guess there was a catalyst of things that happened that really pushed me to make the decision but these are the two main reasons. 

The first one happened last year in August. I wanted to put together a series of “alien” stories that coincided with the Area 51 Raid. I got in touch with fellow NoSleep and indie authors and over the next month we ended up making it a book and putting it on Amazon. I really enjoyed the process and weirdly enough the stress of it all. I had a 1.5 year old at the time, so I don’t know what I was thinking. 

However, probably the main reason was quality. As an indie author myself, and after being in a few anthologies, I realized that I wanted to offer authors a more professional platform for submission. I wanted to put something out in the world that authors could be proud enough of to show off to their friends and family, or even places like local libraries and bookstores. I knew that I had the technical skills to format books, and I believed that if we did it right we could put out quality writing that showcased the brilliant works of indie authors. And, if I do say so myself, I think we’ve done it! 

4) What is it about horror that draws you to that particular genre? 

There are so many aspects of horror that make me go back again and again. 

I really enjoy being scared. Not “I am going to actually die scared”, but I love the rush, that euphoric sense of relief after a terrifying scene. It’s addictive. 

I have no doubt that it stems from my childhood. With the exception of my dad, who hates horror, my whole family is obsessed with horror and the supernatural world. We love to be scared. We would sit in our dark basement, TV on max volume, and watch horror movie after horror movie. Someone would always try to scare someone else right before a jump scene, which never failed to make my mom scream and swear. It was great. 

5) Out of editing, writing, publishing and creating anthologies, which process is harder and why? 

Right now I find writing harder than it should be, but that is just because I have no time. I get an idea, but with everything else going on, in the world, and in my publishing life, I just can’t devote time to sit down and write. 

However, the most time consuming and difficult part of publishing is not getting the book together, that is easy when you have so many great stories to choose from, but telling people 

that you have a book. Marketing is hard. There were over one million books published on Amazon alone last year, meaning that the market is flooded with new voices. This is wonderful, but how do you get your voice heard among such a flood of books? To do that you need a social media presence. You need people to talk about you, you need to keep ads running, promotions going on and so much more. That by far is the most difficult part, especially in the economic climate we are in right now. 

6) Where do you come up with the anthology theme ideas? 

This last set was really me just getting excited about anthologies, and bouncing ideas off of people like Alanna. I had a few ideas I was working through, but I knew I wanted them to be connected some how. I am not sure how I got “It Calls From”, but I am glad I did. It is perfect for the first collection. 

7) What horror books and authors (apart from your own) would you recommend for those wanting to look into horror? 

That is a hard one because there are so many great horror books out there. If someone is just delving into the genre I would probably suggest an oldie, but a goodie: It’s the collection of short story horror by Clive Barker called “Books of Blood”. They are just long enough to peak your interest, but because they are short stories you can pick it up and put it down whenever you feel the urge. 

8) If people want to submit to yourselves, how do they do so and what are you looking for? 

Depending on the call out we are typically looking for horror or dark fantasy. 

You can view all of our open and upcoming anthology open calls on our website at https://www.eerieriverpublishing.com/open-submission 

We have also just opened up a window for authors looking to query their novel or novella series in the dark fantasy genre. This window is open from June 15 – July 31, so if you have something ready to go that fits what we are looking for then feel free to follow the link and send it in. https://www.eerieriverpublishing.com/publishing 

But that isn’t all! We also have a monthly contest for members of our Facebook Author group, which runs from the 1 – 15 of the month and the theme changes every single month. Details are found on the same submission page, under ‘Monthly Themed contest’. You can join the facebook group here https://www.facebook.com/groups/2420571304929806/ 

We want original stories with characters who are relatable and interesting. If the open call is themed, which it normally is, we are looking for stories that adhere to that specific theme but your interpretation and voice. For horror we want to be scared. We want horror that grips, 

shocks, and terrifies you. For dark fantasy we want all of those wonderful fantasy elements that we love, but with a darker underlying theme. 

We know that every indie author may not have the budget for editors, but please have someone beta read and review your work before you submit. We are not looking for professionally edited pieces, but we are looking for polished manuscripts. Give us the best you can, because the competition is fierce. 

I do want to point out our hard passes. We do not want to read or publish rape, detaileld sexual abuse of children or adults, sexual torture, or bestiality of any kind. I understand that these all have a place in horror, but it is not here with us. Kill the cat, kill the dog, murder a whole town and make us watch it. We do not shy away from gore, but those are my hard no’s, especially for our story collections. 

9) Do you have any advice for horror writers out there? Asking for myself as much as anyone else! 

For horror specifically, I think the best stories are ones that are based on the writers fears. So write what scares you. Scared of ghosts or people hiding in your closet? Write it. Let us feel your terror while we delve within the pages of your nightmares. 

The indie author world is an amazing group to be a part of. There are so many people out there ready to cheer you on and lift you up, who will jump in with both feet and give as much as they take. I suggest reading other people’s stories and offer feedback when asked. Don’t be shy to get feedback from other authors on where to improve your own writing as well. Get involved, and make friends! These people are your allies, and while you may not be able to buy everyone books (because, honestly, who can afford that?), you can still share people’s successes and grow with them. 

Don’t stop writing, and don’t get discouraged by rejections – learn from them. If you get personalized feedback read it, then see if you agree. Make the changes that you are comfortable with, then submit it elsewhere. 

As always, happy writing and stay safe out there.

Self Isolation & Quarantine Book List: A List of Cheap & Free Kindle books.

Self Isolation & Quarantine Book List: A List of Cheap & Free Kindle books.

Hello Readers! The world is a pretty scary right now. The World Health Organisation has declared the Covid-19 outbreak a global pandemic and as the infection spreads, countries are grinding to a stand still I’m an effort to slow it down and protect those most vulnerable and more and more people everywhere are being forced into quarantine or self isolation to protect themselves and their loved ones. The news is full of nothing else and I know my anxiety is growing daily. With everything that’s going on, I felt so helpless to do anything to alleviate the fear or anxiety even in the smallest way. I’m not a Doctor, or a health care worker, I’m just a blogger…what could I possibly do? Not a lot to be honest, but what I can do is give all of those stuck in quarantine and self isolation some reading material.

Reading is the perfect temporary distraction. It offers escapism at a time when we feel most trapped and it’s a way to maintain some form of normalcy in a crazy situation. I am also conscious that budgets now more than ever will be stretched and that these times will not just be trying psychologically, emotionally and physically but also economically, particularly for those who are self employed. With that in mind I have done two things to try to help in even the tiniest way, the only way I know how.

First of all, I have made my novel Broken Mirrors FREE on Kindle from Wednesday the 18th to Sunday the 21st of March. You can download a copy here: https://amzn.to/35K0H6W

I have also scoured the horror section of the Kindle store, searching for horror books that sound badass and are available for either free or less than £3 (the price of a coffee). I then created a video on my YouTube channel with these books, alongside my own, telling you all about them so you can get a massive reading list in a quick, cheap and easy way. The links for all of the books mentioned is in the video description. I hope you enjoy it and wherever you are, whatever is happening in your life, stay safe!!

https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCj6gAjgPxaZ5AGUlj4ALwzw

Interview with the Minds behind The Dark Corner Zine.

Interview with the Minds behind The Dark Corner Zine.

As a lover of all things weird and creepy, I am always excited to find new publications catering for my particular proclivities, so when I discovered Dark Corner Zine I was immediately intrigued. This US based magazine specialises in art and short fiction from the horror and science fiction genres and, well anything weird. With three issues so far and a fourth on the way (more on that later) this zine is still in its infancy but is filled with so much potential. Each edition is an original collection of strange tales and odd art designed to promote the artists and writers, as well as the genre at large. What’s not to like?

When I first found them, I saw they were accepting submissions for Issue 4 so i thought, why the hell not? And through my hat into the ring. When my short story The Monster on the Moor, my take on traditional gothic horror with a twist, was accepted for the issue, I was elated!! As a writer, there is no better feeling than having the validation of your work being accepted for publication and the knowledge that you will be able to reach a new audience.

Cover design by Yogi Howse

So now, this magazine is not only me new obsession but it’s also something I now hold in a special place in my heart and I knew I had to help get the word of this awesome publication out there for all my fellow horror lovers and weirdos to discover. I immediately asked the wonderful people behind the zine if they would allow me to interview them and lucky for us, they said yes!

What exactly is Dark Corner Zine?

The Dark Corner Zine is an independently published magazine located in the Southeast United States, though our audience is spread around the world! We publish exclusively independent artists and writers that create works in the genres of Horror, Science Fiction, and Weird Fiction! Simply put, we exist because there is an incredible community of talented writers and artists in these genres that we believe should have their works published and shared with those that love works in these various genres! The zine’s name is sort of an homage to the Twilight Zone and a reference to a local region called the “Dark Corner”. It’s a mountainous region known for, besides moonshiners, old folklore and legends of the supernatural kind. 

What inspired you to create it?

Cover design by Justin Valliere

Honestly it was out of frustration because many of the publishing firms, especially local ones in our area were only interested in publishing historical fiction or material of a nonfiction variety. There was an opportunity for us to put our own creative talents to use on a project that could be an outlet for those skills while gathering and publishing other talent! As writers and creators, ourselves, we understand the importance of having avenues and outlets to present our creative works in!

Who are some of your favourite horror authors which inspired your love of horror?

Oh! That’s such a difficult question to answer.  The first “horror” book I ever read was a collection of old folktales and urban legends called Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark by Alvin Schwartz! Sort of a common work amongst horror aficionados but a required one I’d say. In terms of horror authors that have impacted me as both a creator and writer, I’d have to say William Hjortsberg, Jon Padgett, Fred Chappell, and Thomas Ligotti. Hjortsberg wrote one of the best occult themed detective novels titled Falling Angel. It was made into a 1987 film entitled Angel Heart, but the book has a charm to it along with an ending that is terrifying! Jon Padgett is a rather interesting writer out of New Orleans that writes some of the most foreboding and surreal tales I’ve ever read. Many of his works lean more towards weird fiction, but a few works such as Origami Dreams and The Secret of Ventriloquism linger like a bad dream long after you finish reading them! Fred Chappell’s 1968 release Dagon is a Lovecraft infused Southern Gothic novel that is quite haunting. I can’t go into much detail without ruining it, but I highly recommend it. Ligotti is sort a contemporary master of horror that many of your readers are probably aware of. Any of his collections is worth reading!

If you were creating a reading list for someone new to the genre, what books would you include to whet their appetite (apart from Dark Corner Zine of course)?

Image by Sarah Ann Sweeney

I sort of answered this in the previous question (got ahead of myself), but certainly other books I haven’t mentioned already include Let’s Go Play at the Adams by Mendal Johnson, A Nest of Nightmares by Lisa Tuttle, Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (Id argue with anyone that this is as much of a horror novel as it is a “western”), Cipher by Kathe Koja, The Fisherman by John Langan, and finally The Town That Forgot How to Breathe by Kenneth J. Harvey

What are some of your highlights from the Dark Corner issues so far?

Image by Mitch Rogers

Ah! That’s such a tough question. I think each of our team members have their personal favorites. For example, my favorites from issue 2 is between Come See the Twin Bridges Train by A.P. Sessler and The Drift by Cody James. Issue 3 is between The Mirror by Bastian Faulk, and Who You Gonna Call by Jack Darvis. I think every issue has something for everyone though! 

How can people submit to you guys?

We typically do submission periods 3 times a day. Period timeframes vary, but typically its 60-90 days. We’ll launch our next submission period May, 2020! We can be reached by email at thedarkcornerzine@gmail.com

Thanks for checking us out and we hope you enjoy our publication! You can grab your copy of issue four here.

My Horror TBR: The Books Topping my Reading List in the Spring.

My Horror TBR: The Books Topping my Reading List in the Spring.

Hello my fellow book nerds and a very Happy Valentine’s day to you all! I’m not really much of a romantic to be honest, so Valentine’s Day doesn’t make me want to read any soppy, heartfelt chick lit filled with grand romantic gestures and kissing. Instead, my dark soul craves all the horror! Instead of a heart shaped pink card covered in glitter, I want a bloodied human heart torn straight from the chest of my enemies…too much? Well you get the idea! Check out my latest booktube video where I give my upcoming TBR (that’s to be read to all the newbies out there) featuring all the books I’m excited to dive into this Spring. It includes the February and March read for my #gothichorrorreadalong where each month I read a piece of classic gothic horror starting with Dracula by Bram Stoker this month. Won’t you join me? I’ll include a link to my video explaining it below too, along with the list of books for the year.

Happy Viewing, happy reading, Happy Valentine’s Day!!

You can buy all the books I mentioned in the links below:

Dracula by Bram Stoker
https://amzn.to/2uA3Ppb
Miscreations by various
https://amzn.to/2Hk7FoO
The Boatman’s Daughter by Andy Davidson
https://amzn.to/2OTtOyu
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
https://amzn.to/31RZf1o
The Hunger by Alma Katsu
https://amzn.to/31Z5voo
The Deep by Alma Katsu
https://amzn.to/2vu1r39

My special edition Frankenstein came from Ethereal Visions Publishing
https://www.evpub.info/

For information on my #gothichorrorreadalong, check out the video below or to keep up to date with all the current information including the dates of our movie adaptation watchalongs starting with Bram Stoker’s Dracula on February 28th, follow my Instagram @bookishmarie. Everyone reading a long is using the hashtag so it’s a great way to link in with other gothic horror fans and book nerds!

You can buy all the books on the list at the links below:

February: Dracula by Bram Stoker
https://amzn.to/2S0ZzGB
March: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
https://amzn.to/2O4a1w3
April: We have always lived in the castle by Shirley Jackson
https://amzn.to/2GB9GNk
May: A tell tale heart & other stories by Edgar Allan Poe
https://amzn.to/316dI9N
June:  The portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
https://amzn.to/2ScKbaz
July: The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
https://amzn.to/2O7ZFeH
August: Rebecca by Daphne De Maurier
https://amzn.to/37CWiUt
September: The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
https://amzn.to/2GzuwfP
October: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
https://amzn.to/2GBaf9U
November: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
https://amzn.to/37DuLT7
December: Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fenu
https://amzn.to/3aRVLjJ

Top 10 Horror Books to Read in the Dead of Winter.

Top 10 Horror Books to Read in the Dead of Winter.

In my latest YouTube video, I count down ten of the best spooky books to read in the dead of winter. Books that will make you shiver just as much as the cold! If you like the sound of any of the books mentioned in the video, you can grab copies below!! Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel.

The Shining by Stephen King
https://amzn.to/36PlbvE
Dead of Winter by Kealan Patrick Burke
https://amzn.to/35Et72w
Misery by Stephen King
https://amzn.to/35AlZnD
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
https://amzn.to/2S8ggl5
Bone White by Ronald Malfi
https://amzn.to/35Af3Ht
Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
https://amzn.to/2Z1w2zK
The Hunger by Alma Katsu
https://amzn.to/2M9yleQ
The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
https://amzn.to/2Q2vKEV
Stranded by Bracken MacLeod
https://amzn.to/36MKa2p
The Terror by Dan Simmons
https://amzn.to/2S7PLwe

Christmas Horror Book Tag: A Booktuber tag video for those with spooky souls!

Christmas Horror Book Tag: A Booktuber tag video for those with spooky souls!

For my latest YouTube video I created my very own booktuber tag, a series of questions as a challenge for other booktubers! But mine is, of course, a little different. I love Christmas and all the fun, family friendly festivities that come with it but I have a dark, horror loving soul that still needs a little creepiness even at the festive season so my book tag is a horror Christmas book tag! I would love if you guys could check it out and don’t forget to subscribe to my channel!

Merry Christmas especially to all the other spooky souls out there!!

Unboxing: The Victorian Horror Box from Wick Wish Candles.

Unboxing: The Victorian Horror Box from Wick Wish Candles.

Victoriana1Well, it’s official, you can call off the search and stop the debates because this box is officially the best subscription box I have ever received, EVER.  I may be slightly biased, because I am featured inside this one, well one of my original short stories is anyway, but  facts are facts and this box is basically perfection.  Every item is stunning, everything is packed and presented perfectly and when the spoiler card is essentially frame worthy, you know you’re on to a winner.  If you are a fan of horror, or all things Gothic or Victorian, then this box of wonders brought to you by The Wick Wish Candle Company is basically everything you’ve ever dreamed of.  So, since we have slid quietly into the autumn and as the nights grow darker and the air a little cooler, let’s sit back and peek inside this world of Gothic wonders but beware, as with all things worth having, it is not for the faint of heart…

Victoriana3So what is in this beautiful box?  First up, it being a candle box and all, there are of course the three featured candles.  Keeping in theme with all things Gothic, we have a candle named after the queen of Gothic literature herself, Mary Shelley.  Smelling of cinnamon, blood orange and teakwood, it basically smells like autumn in a candle.  Next up, the bad boy we all fell for in our early teens, it’s the delicious Lestat Di Lioncourt.  He smells of oak moss, incense and graveyard dirt, an earthy scent which entices the recipient to an early grave.  Last, but not least, we have a more recent edition to the Victorian genre with the fabulous Crimson Peak.  This one smells of tea leaves, firethorn berries and bergamot and quite honestly brings be back to the film.

Victoriana2Along with these stunning candles, there is also a Victor Frankenstein dark roast coffee by Mocking Byrd Coffee Company, which smells almost as delicious as the candles which accompany it.  It’s only fitting that Mary Shelley has her dark and twisted Doctor to keep her company.  To stir this delicious concoction, we have a black stainless steel Little Rose teaspoon, because coffee this good cannot be touched by any old ordinary spoon.  There is also two Annabel Lee inspired bath melts by The Witch’s Bath.  These smell positively delightful and I am looking forward to having a gothic style bath, candles lit, bath melts melting along with my stress and worries.

But the gothic goodies don’t stop there.  There are three original and exclusive tarot cards designed by incredible artists.  We have Death by Sheila Goicea, the curator of the wonderful Foals, Fiction and Filigree, The Devil by Allie Surges of Princess Gloom and finally The Lovers by Jackie Powers of Powers of Jac.  Every single one of these pieces is beyond stunning and will 100% be getting framed and hung on my office wall.  There is also a reproduction of All is Vanity by the artist Charles Allan Gilbert in 1892, a picture than genuinely hangs at this moment in my Victorian style bathroom.

Finally, the part I am most excited about…a penny dreadful containing an original and exclusive short story by yours truly entitled The Grave Digger, about, well you’ve guessed it, a Grave Digger in Victorian London.  The responses to the story have been really positive so far and I want to thank everyone for their kind words and support.

This entire box is presented perfectly.  Contained inside a matte black box with a simple sticker denoting its contents, each candle is individually wrapped in black tissue paper and individual stickers saying things like, ‘Ghosts are real’, ‘Gentleman Death’ and, ‘Beware; for I am fearless.’  The spoiler card is designed to look like a mourning card, encased in a translucent envelope and will also be displayed somewhere in my office in due course.  Even the shredded paper placed inside to protect each item is black!  But best of all for me is the wonderful presentation of my story.  It looks so authentic, so truly Victorian, even containing original Victorian product adverts on the back and I want to thank Rachel from the bottom of my heart for creating something so lovely to show off my story…you my friend, are an artist.

If you want to buy any of the incredible items from Wick Wish yourself, you can use my discount code BOOKISH10 to save 10% now.

Book Review: The Fearing Book 2, Water & Wind by John.F.D.Taff.

Book Review: The Fearing Book 2, Water & Wind by John.F.D.Taff.

You know those rare books you find utterly impossible to put down? The ones you simply must digest in one sitting regardless of what chores need done or appointments you must keep? Well, this is one of those books. Short, fast paced & gripping this book draws you in and insists you don’t put it down again until you’re done.

fearing2Book two in The Fearing series picks up right where we left off, following our bus of terrified tourists, our love struck teens & of course the creepy Adam who seems to be the only one happy about what is happening with the world.  This book also introduces two new characters in the form of the good Reverend Mark, who brings a little theological perspective to the apocalypse and the mysterious Monday, a young girl who has lost her memory after a head injury but appears to know a lot more than she is letting on.

This book  begins to explore what is actually happening and why, positing two potential theories.  Is this the collective fears of the world merely being expelled from their ‘vessel’ once it became full to capacity as Charles posited?  Or perhaps this is the rapture as hypothesised by Reverend Mark and Monday?  The rapture makes sense as it would explain the distinct lack of corpses laying around, but then why were these people left behind?  They seem like a pretty decent bunch of people, hardly worthy of limbo, but even if they secretly have pasts or reasons to prevent them entering heaven outright, then what about the children?  The baby carried by the butterfly lady or the young member of the Reverend’s flock?  Surely those young souls would be sent to heaven being innocent and unsoiled by the world as of yet?  I am personally drawn to the collective fear theory.  I love the idea of the most concentrated fears being first, the ones held simultaneously by millions such as nuclear war or natural disasters, before the fears becoming more select and specific to the few survivors remaining.  This would definitely fit with what is happening in both books so far.  Could Adam be the ‘vessel’ in question?  He begins book one overwhelmed with fears and anxieties, but as they have become released and acted out on others he has described feeling ‘lighter’ and less afraid.  It was also explain his eery ability to know what everyone fears and how they will manifest.  But if he is the vessel, Pandora’s box unleashing woes on to the world, then who is Monday?

And that brings me to the best part of this series, the fact that it gets you thinking, it gets you theorising, driving yourself crazy trying to figure out what is happening and who will survive.  These books have everything you need in a good horror, believable and most importantly likeable characters with whom the reader sympathises, fast paced and well written action and an enemy that is a threat to all of us, including the readers: Fear itself.  I read both book one and two in one sitting each and I cannot wait to read the third and final instalment in the series…can I have my copy now please?

*Grey Matter press and the author provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.  Thank you to both!

Book Review: The Fearing Book One, Fire & Rain by John.F.D.Taff.

Book Review: The Fearing Book One, Fire & Rain by John.F.D.Taff.

Hello readers, I hope your weekend was as good as mine!  For this week’s blog post we will be reviewing The Fearing, Book one: Fire and Rain by John.F.D.Taff which was very Kindly sent to me by Grey Matter press for a fair and honest review.  Before we get down to it, let’s read that handy blurb to see exactly what it’s about:

fearing cover

Humanity faces a series of catastrophes spawned by a worldwide event that unleashes all of mankind’s greatest fears.
In the American high desert, vacationers returning from a road trip are thrust into a heart-stopping flight from death as they try to avoid a cataclysmic end. In rural Missouri, the lives of a group of high school students are destroyed after their small town is devastated and they’re forced to confront the end of everything they’ve ever known.
And on the eastern seaboard, there’s someone else. An enigmatic man who thrives on despair and embraces all fear. A man with his own dark and sinister goals. Someone who wants to ensure humanity goes out with the biggest bang possible.

At only 98 pages, this is a quick and absorbing read.  As a result, the reader is immediately thrown into the deep end.  The action sequences are still nicely spaced to allow an ever growing momentum towards and answer that the reader never receives in this first book in the series.  What I was seriously impressed with, was Taff’s ability to make a character fully formed and three dimensional in only a few pages and interactions.  He has an uncanny ability of revealing his character’s true natures and in this case, their darkest fears, without it feeling rushed or forced.  I found myself instantly drawn to and simultaneously creeped out by Adam and his dark, supernatural abilities.  I was routing for the teenage survivors Sarah and Kyle’s budding romance and I love the motley crew of elderly survivors aboard the tourist bus, particularly their badass driver Rich.  Despite these characters being of all ages, genders and backgrounds and despite being scattered around the USA, their fates and fears are inextricably linked by the strange, earth shattering phenomena sweeping the country and I for one am DESPERATE to find out exactly what is going on and who of all of these characters, will survive (Please Rich, Sarah and Kyle).

As you can probably already tell, I loved this book.  It is a truly original and exciting read fearing fire and rainwhich leaves you wanting more.  My only complaint would be the fact that the book has been split up into four separate small parts.  I liked the story so much, I want to read it in its entirety and I am a little irritated I have to wait.  Still, that’s a pretty good negative to have thrown at a book and it demonstrates just how well the plot and characters got their hooks in me as a reader and  I have a feeling the other parts will be worth the wait.  I’m giving it 4.5 stars out of 5 ND I am only marking it down slightly because they are making me wait. Book Two: Water and Wind will be released August 20th and is available for pre-order now.

Thanks to Grey Matter Press and John himself for sending me this copy, I genuinely enjoyed every bit of it.  What about you readers, have you read this or any of Taff’s other works?  What did you think?  Leave me a comment below and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to keep up to date with all my latest articles, books reviews and pieces of original writing.