The Cards: Original Short Story & Artist collaborations.

The Cards: Original Short Story & Artist collaborations.

Another day, another blog post and for today’s post I have another original artist collaboration. If you are unfamiliar with my blog series, I create a piece of original writing inspired y an artist’s style and body of work and they in turn create an image inspired by my story. For this artist collaboration, I have joined forces with the incredibly talented Ben Toms aka Galleon Art. This London based artist has an eye for the macabre and I was immediately drawn to his dark style. Ben has been drawing for as long as he can remember and his style has evolved over time, finally settling into the gloriously gothic style. To check out more of Ben’s work and perhaps purchase a piece of your own, head to his website here: shop.ben-toms.com.

If you are an artist and would be interested in collaborating, let me know and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog!

The Cards

The cards don’t decide your fate, they simply reveal it. I don’t know how many times I have had to repeat those words over the years, or how many people I have had beg me to change their message, as if swapping out one card for another would make a shred of difference. The cards are as the cards are and no amount of begging or threatening or bribery will change what they say. It can of course be hard to deliver bad news, but that’s the deal when you have the sight; you see what you see, good or bad and your job is to pass on that message. Sometimes I find myself weeping right along with them when their sad future is there before them. A man whose cancer treatment won’t stop its spread, a woman who will never have a child, the couple with so much hope in their eyes finding out they have a short road to divorce on their horizon. It pains me, each and every time. But not him, not the bone man.

the cards collabHe comes when the news is worst, when it concerns death and decay. He stands behind them, indifferent, impartial, and the second I spot those hollow eyes, I know I don’t need the deck to work out this poor schmuck’s fate. Death doesn’t take sides. He doesn’t care one way or the other. He doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, fat or thin, a supermodel or ugly as sin, everyone has to go some time. That’s the way of things and after all, what meaning has life without death? But like I said, it doesn’t make telling folks any easier.

Twice I pulled his card this week, a skeleton in a black robe, scythe in hand. It’s funny, but he seems so much more alive than the cards suggest, as if invisible skin clutches to the bones. Sometimes, I swear I can almost make out a face, features, a smile. He’s never had a scythe, but he does have the robes, a black leather belt tightening it around his fleshless waist. He never interacts, never speaks or moves, he merely appears, watches me conclude the read and then he disappears as the customers leave, weeping, howling, screaming why. Why? Because, just because.

But tonight, he meets me alone within my bed chambers. I don’t spot him at first as I busy myself getting ready for bed, but then I feel a chill snake its way up my spine and I smell that scent that always follows him around, dirt, rotting leaves, decay. I spot him then beside my bed, watching as he always does, except now he stares at me, not my client. Now, he watches only me. I freeze, surprised to find myself afraid. I knew this day would come, I knew I too would succumb to the fragility of my body. As I have aged, my hair greying, my life etched clearly on my skin, I thought I had come to accept, perhaps even welcome my own visit. But now, stood here with that hollow, expressionless face staring back, I feel scared. I’m not ready, despite everything I’m not ready.

“Are you here for me?”

He says nothing and I expected nothing else, after all these years despite his many visits to my home, not once have I seen him move or interact with the living. As if sensing my thoughts, my trepidation, the slight quiver in my voice, he raises his hand, his wide black sleeve falling to reveal his card, the Death card. I suppose it’s my card now.

Despite myself, I feel tears rising in my eyes. I think of all my mistakes, all the wrong choices and regrets, all the things left undone, put off until tomorrow. I find myself growing angry that despite my intimacy with death, with the brevity of life, I still failed to accomplish all that I planned. I feel foolish.

I can’t stop myself from weeping, tears coming easier now than ever before. This is it for me, this is the end of the road. I feel a hand on mine, that despite its stark white appearance of bone, feels warm and comforting against mine. I look up to find those eyes, except this time, I feel warmth there, like the kind embrace of an old friend. I suppose, after all this time, we are in a way. Slowly he removes his hood, his skull turning side to side, nodding no. Confusion mixes with my fear, dulling its sting slightly, allowing curiosity to bubble to the surface as he places the card in my hand, a hand that starts to change from flesh to bone. I gasp, dropping it, my flesh returning once more. I squeeze it, rub it as if to be sure it is definitely still there, that I am still there.

He picks the card up once more and offers it to me, this time he nods yes to me, his bony hand reaching out, card extended, asking me to take it from him.

“I don’t understand.”

I stare bewildered, as the leather belt is loosened, the black cloak removed. He stands there naked now, exposed. I can see through every rib, the holes in his pelvis. He seems so small, so weak now without his uniform, a shadow of his former self. Realisation dawns as he gently places the garments in my arms. I am not being shepherded to the world beyond this one, I am being asked to become the shepherd.

“You want me to…?”

I trail off. The words seem impossible, unreal even in the strangeness of this night. He nods again, affirming that I am being ushered into death but into an eternal existence, an offer for a job I never applied for.

“But why? Why me?”

He holds the card again and I suddenly understand. I have acted as shepherd in my own the cards collabway all these years, a guide to those lost and seeking answers. I have already shown people their deaths as I dealt their cards and I have helped them prepare, to come to terms with the inevitable. I suppose, I am more qualified than most in the matters of death.

“What about you?”

A bony finger points towards the blackness of the shadows which now surround us, engulfing what used to be my home, what used to be the land of the living. I hadn’t notice them creeping up, surrounding us, but my fear has left me now. I understand and I feel peace. He points into that black void and I see he is ready to move on like the countless souls who he shepherded to the next life. After an untold amount of time, he has grown tired and yearns for rest and he has chosen me as his successor.

I feel a mixture of emotions. It is quite a burden to take on, to delay my own rest for God knows how long to aid the rest of others, but I already know in my heart that I will accept his offer. I dedicated my life to helping lost souls find direction and understanding, it seems only fitting to dedicate my death to it as well.

I reach my hand out to the bones still clutching the card and I hold it a moment, an unspoken understanding crossing between us. I take the card and slowly as my flesh dissolves, my bones becoming exposed and stark white in the surrounding black, I see the man before me being remade, reborn. As I fade to black and white, he regains colour, flesh, softness and expression. I can see he was a young man, much younger than I, with long jet black hair and hazel eyes, a slight smile upon his brown skin, a smile which conveys more gratitude than words ever could and then, he was gone.

I stare down at what used to be my plump, sagging arms, my bloated legs mapped with the purple lines of varicose veins. There is nothing but bone now, so clean and new. I wonder at how it did not hurt, how all the pain which had inflicted my ageing body had evaporated along with my flesh. There is no more arthritis, no aches or pains, just peace and calm. Even the questions and confusion of mortal life have gone leaving understanding and peace in their wake. I see time, from the souls who have long since passed to the babes yet to be born and I understand my purpose.  I am death now, I am the Grim Reaper and I will be the one to show you the way.

 

Top 5 Cosy Winter Reads.

Top 5 Cosy Winter Reads.

It’s winter again and as the rain and cold rages outside, there is nothing better than getting cosy by an open fire, under a cosy blanket with a hot cocoa and most importantly, a good book! In this video, I count down my top 5 cosy winter reads…the books that epitomise winter for me. What books would be on your list? Check out my channel now and don’t forget to subscribe!

Unboxing December’s Books That Matter Book Box.

Unboxing December’s Books That Matter Book Box.

Christmas is nearing ever closer and magic is officially in the air. I am excited to tear into all the presents Santa brings me this year, and today I even came home to find I had received an early Christmas present in the form of December’s Books That Matter book box…proof that I am in fact, a very good girl! lol This months theme is ‘The Season of the Sisterhood’ and I am really excited to see what is inside. Best part is, I have a present for you guys too because you can get 10% off a box of your own using code MARIE10 now!

First up, this month’s book is TO DIE FOR. She Is Fierce is a poetry collection curated and xmas box 2edited by Ana Sampson containing 150 poems from diverse female writers. The cover is stunning and festive, it’s a hard back and its poetry…everything you need rolled in one gorgeous book.

Alongside this stunner, we have a tonne of bookish goodies including two Christmas cards by This Girl Is Mighty, perfect for the festive season, a stunning sew on patch by designed by Ana Jaks which longs to be on a denim jacket, an absolutely adorable wooden keyring from Bookishly which is already on my keys, a beautiful book mark featuring empowering quotes and last but definitely not least, a delicious Raw Halo milk chocolate, goji berry and vanilla artisan chocolate bar which I will enjoy whilst perusing this book.

xmas box 3This box is literally jam packed with stunning goodies and as always i am insanely impressed with this book subscription box. Not only does the company have a fantastic ethos, promoting female authors, artists and business women but it is the best value of any book box I have ever come across at only £16 (which reduces to only £14 if you get a subscription package of 3 months or more….Can anyone say bargain? Plus, you can get 10% off any subscription package or one off box using code MARIE10.

Don’t say I didn’t get you anything this year! Merry Christmas!! Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog!

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!!

Book Review Video: I Will Make You Pay by Teresa Driscoll.

Book Review Video: I Will Make You Pay by Teresa Driscoll.

For my latest booktube video, I am reviewing Psychological crime thriller ‘I Will Make You Pay’ by Teresa Driscoll. This book is about a journalist who finds herself the target of a violent and sadistic stalker. Head to my video to check it out and don’t forget to subscribe to my channel!

If you fancy buying a copy of the book, you can grab it here: https://amzn.to/34LDYr1

Are You Serious? Lighthearted book review of ’52 Things to do in your lunch break’ by L.Archer.

Are You Serious? Lighthearted book review of ’52 Things to do in your lunch break’ by L.Archer.

A little background to this video…I found this book in a thrift shop and picked it up because of the title. After reading a little of the introduction I knew I had to buy it and do a little, funny review on it because, well if I wrote this book it would be one page long and would recommend taking a break and eating your lunch on your lunch break…but maybe that’s just me? This is just a light hearted, funny review because the book made me titter. Let me know what you think…maybe you guys are super productive on your lunch breaks and I’m just lazy? Lol

Enjoy and don’t forget to subscribe to my booktube!

Ultimate Gift Guide for Horror Lovers: What to get your spooky loved ones for Christmas.

Ultimate Gift Guide for Horror Lovers: What to get your spooky loved ones for Christmas.

Hello readers! I have already given you the Christmas gift guide for book lovers, but what about the spooky souls like me? The people who watch and read all things creepy and who have Halloween decorations around their home as regular decor all year round? Well, if you or your loved ones are obsessed with all things horror like myself then look no further for the ultimate Christmas gift guide. Whilst anyone can buy their loved ones a copy of the latest Stephen King novel, or a DVD of that horror film they talked about incessantly, this list details some badass, unique and truly special gifts for horror lovers out there that’s guaranteed to put a big, creepy smile on their faces…you’re welcome.
Book Box

I love books, I love reading and I love Horror and luckily there are some awesome book

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boxes available which tick all of those boxes and then some. Plus, with any kind of subscription based gift, you have the added bonus of it being the gift that keeps on giving for months after Christmas is long gone, the decorations have been stuffed inside boxes for another year and the sherry and prosecco high has worn off…Perfect!

First up, we have the UK based Abominable Book box. This box contains three reads, one of which will be that months featured book, the second will be a randomly chosen pre-loved horror book and the third one will vary from month to month. Along with these spooktacular reads, you will also receive yummy artisanal snacks to enjoy

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your horror reads with. Perfectly packaged and great value for money, this box is a great gift idea for any horror book fans.

Next, we have the US based Night Worms. This fabulous book subscription service prides itself on truly appreciating and promoting horror. The lovely ladies who created the service are avid horror lovers and that is clear from each and every box they have put together so far. Every package contains badass horror reads, magazines, bookish merch and Nightworms exclusives to create the perfect horror experience. I love this company and even had the privilege of interviewing its creators, which you can read here. I am always blown away by these packages and very jealous of the peeps living state side who get their hands on one!
Clothing

Us horror fans love to wear our creepy hearts on our sleeves and there are so many

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awesome shops selling badass horror merchandise out there. Shops like Tee Public, a veritable buffet of horror tees for fans of every genre out there, alongside everything from stickers to mugs and notebooks, trust me when I say there is something for everyone and to suit every budget. Best of all, every purchase from the company supports an independent artist. This shirt design for example, is called ‘World of Horrors’ is by artist Mushabon who by the way has some

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really rad designs available on the site.

A shop which I personally regularly drool over is the fabulous Pretty Cult. Every item on sale makes my gothic heart go pity pat, whether it is their ‘join the cult’ items of their gorgeous tarot card tanks, every item has a witchy vibe I adore. They even have a badass collaboration with the gorgeous ladies behind Little Ghouls at the moment, a dream team I might add. Check them out immediately and make your gothy heart sing. Go on…join the cult!

emp

Lastly, EMP UK offers a huge selection of fandom based clothing and goodies, including items for the horror fans amongst us. With everything from American Horror Story to Friday the 13th, this site has your horror clothing covered in every shape, size and style. They also have everything from horror Funko Pops, jewellery, accessories to mugs, patches and wallets, so there is something here to suit every fandom and every budget too.

There is literally something out there for everyone so no excuses guys and gals, I want to see you wearing your love of horror out there for all to see!
Enamel Pin Badges

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A more subtle way to display your love of horror is in the form of an enamel pin badge. Whether you wear them on a jacket or bag or have them on pin boards on your wall displayed as tiny, quirky works of art, everyone really appreciates a nice enamel pin and there are some incredible shops and designers out there to choose from, like the fabulous Lively Ghosts. This fabulous shop offers some truly wonderful and unique horror designs covering everything from Stephen King to Tim Burton. I have been drooling over their designs on Instagram for so long and one day I will own one…One day I WILL own one!!

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Next up is the wonderful Two Ghouls Press. I own a couple of their fabulous patches and pin badges already but this is the kind of shop where enough is never enough, I must collect them all. Of particular note are their fabulous Ghoulish Gals pin collection, all of which would look amazing as a standalone piece or collected together. Their designs are truly unique and capture all that is fun about the horror genre.
Art

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Let’s face it, everyone uses their walls to display and show off their personality, hobbies and style. Whether it’s a battered band poster, a portrait of your dog dressed in Victorian clothing (That’s not weird right?) or your kids scribbles, art is important. This fact is no different for horror lovers. We love creating a creepy little space which looks like Dracula’s interior designer decorated it, full of pictures with eyes that follow you around the room and taxidermy. You can get some gorgeous horror posters and pieces inspired by horror

cat art

books and classics, but I wanted to concentrate on the artists which capture all of the wonderful, spooky vibes in their own unique and individual ways. Artists like Caitlin McCarthy who creates hauntingly beautiful images, or the fabulously talented artist Cat Mallard who creates enchanting, folksy images which are perfect for those who, like me, may be dark and gothic but are also a sweet soul at heart, like this adorable bat image.

mary syring

Another fabulous artist is the incredible Mary Syring who epitomises Halloween, spooky vibes in every image. I particularly love her fantastic ouija board shaped like a ghostly bunny complete with a goat shaped planchette. I mean look at it, it is every horror lovers dream! All of these artists bring the spooky with their

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gorgeous art and would look wonderful donning any wall. Finally I am obsessed with the wonderful Bwanadevil art who creates the most incredible colourful, retro horror art with old school vibes. I am utterly in love with their coffin framed pieces in particular and I have several saved in my own Etsy list as you read this post. Check out this incredible Vamperina picture for case and point.
Homeware

redrum

As well as art, there are other ways to adorn your house with horror goodies. Mugs for example are one of my favourite gifts to give and receive and what better than a horror themed mug? Some of the previous shops mentioned above have mugs available, like Tee Public and EMP UK, but if you prefer something hand crafted and made with love, try Pottery by Danielle and her badass Stephen King themed mugs. (This pic was taken by @jobis on Instagram).

loser club

I recently discovered the fabulous 12 Months of October who creates stunning hand made wooden signs. They have Halloween and Christmas signs as well as signs perfect for any horror lovers home all year round. This fabulous Losers Club sign would look fantastic on a book shelf or

13th

dresser for example.

I am an avid lover of nicknacks and ornaments and what’s better than a nicknack is a creepy, horror themed nicknack. That’s where Spook Show Babe comes in. She hand crafts the most amazing little creatures and monsters as ornaments, decoratons and jewellery. Check out this adorable little Jason Vorhees – how sweet is he?

coffin

I am a huge fan of The Alternative Beauty collective and I already own multiple items from their store. From Ouija board trinket dishes to coffin shaped shelves, skull shot glasses to witchy candles, there is something here to bring a little spookiness to any and every room. I already own the coffin shaped shelf where I store my vintage, battered Stephen Kings and my Beetlejuice funkos but I have a friend who uses hers to store her beauty products and makeup brushes so this is a particularly versatile item perfect for any horror lovers home.
Special Edition Books

As a book worm and avid reader, I will always advocate for buying more books and the

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creepier and scarier the better as far as I’m concerned. What’s better than a book? A beautiful edition of a book, stunning inside and out. First up, I have to mention the gorgeous Barnes and Noble leatherbound editions. My particular favourite, is this beautiful ‘Penny Dreadful’ book, a collection of traditional victorian and gothic horror stories and it is one I own personally, because seriously LOOK AT IT! Who wouldn’t want that bad boy sitting on their book shelf or coffee table?

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Next up, the fantastic Etheral Visions Publishing are dedicating themselves to bringing truly unique and stunning editions of classic horror. Featuring stunning, art deco style illustrations by the ridiculously talented Matt Hughes, every single page is a work of art worthy of being framed. I already own their gorgeous Edgar Allen Poe collection and I look forward to grabbing a copy of their beautiful edition of Frankenstein.

lovecraft

Finally, check out this stunning collection of H.P.Lovecraft stories from W.W.Norton and Company Ltd. The cover alone is worthy of sitting on any coffee table and is a real conversation starter. Inside is twenty-five more Lovecraft stories are re-presented as well as a number of never-before-seen revisions and collaborations with other authors.

Another way to wiggle your way into the heart of a horror book fan is to discover an author or book they have never heard of before and one which they will not be able to put down. I get a lot of my horror book recommendations from the horror bloggers and bookstagrammers I love, like the fabulous Mother Horror aka Sadie Hartmann, co owner of Night Worms book subscription box and reviewer for Scream Horror Magazine, and the amazing Ladies of Horror Fiction who are all about promoting the female authors of the genre, a group who are often underrepresented in the industry. Check them out now!
Magazines

scream mag

There are a multitude of horror magazines out there that contain everything horror lovers adore in one neat package. As with the book subscription boxes, a magazine subscription is a gift that keeps on giving and one which will bring a smile to your spooktacular loved one for months to come. My personal favourite is the badass Scream Magazine. This magazine literally covers every aspect of horror, from books to movies and interviews and informative articles, this is the horror lover’s BIBLE!!

If you fancy something a little more independent and limited edition, check out

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Edinburgh based Blood Bath Zine. This magazine contains original short stories, poems and pieces of art all in line with that issue’s theme. They are three issues in (‘Bodies’, ‘Demons’ and ‘Hauntings’) and so far they are knocking it out of the park, receiving positive criticism and love far and wide. I am a huge fan and I am determined to one day be featured in this bad boy!!
Bookmarks

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Look, I’m a bookworm ok? I love reading and writing horror and I love horror books, plain and simple so of course, I love horror bookmarks. The name that immediately comes to mind when I think of horror bookmarks is the fabulous A Stranger Dream. I have several of her fabulous horror doll bookmarks and I cannot express enough how much I love her fabulous work, with each bookmark being not just a practical item to mark your page but are also all completely frame worthy!