The Legacy of Old Gran Parks signed to HellBound Books!

I’m delighted to announce I have just signed my comedy horror novel, The Legacy of old Gran Parks, to HellBound Books! Scheduled for release in April 2018.

This is a story that has its genesis in a Facebook conversation I had with a friend and former neighbour in early 2017. This friend helped me with the research and gave me oodles of encouragement.  The result is a story that told itself. Thank you, Cassarndra!

I’ll be revealing the story behind the story later. For now, I simply wanted to share how thrilled I am that before long this cracking tale will be available for all to enjoy.

My eternal gratitude to my friend, Cassarndra Skarratt, and to James Longmore and all the team at HellBound Books for their continued faith in my work, and dedication to publishing and promoting great horror fiction.

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Review: Biddy Trott by Donna Maria McCarthy

Continuing my journey into the realm of horror fiction, I am thrilled to share my review of Biddy Trott, a fine novella composed by talented author, Donna Maria McCarthy.

“‘If Biddy knows no rest, then none shall…’ A tragedy born of malice and evil, a tortured body and soul. The townsfolk of Royal Rumney have a conscience, a secret that tears away at their sanity. Any soul shall be offered up in place of the damned; ‘And ever the church bells tell a lie, is Biddy who comes and another will die. Set in eighteenth century England in the small market town of Royal Rumny, Biddy Trott is a Gothic Horror novella with tragedy at its core.

A young girl, falsely blamed for a fire which destroyed the town and killed many, is hunted down, tortured and killed gruesomely, with no conscience. Lord Abner Alexander, a member of the elite and privileged, travels to the town in search of some peace and respite from his very bawdy and raucous lifestyle. The town seems pleasant enough and the people welcoming, although unyielding where their dark and harrowing past is concerned. Amongst some, shame, amongst others a distorted pride. Abner’s first indication that something evil lurks here is on his first night, where the Abbey bells toll two, and he finds himself witness to a terrifying slaying… not knowing whether it a dream or not, he remains, and becomes bewitched by a passion to record any horrors he feels he witnesses.”

The setting of Biddy Trott pre-dates the era of the penny dreadful by about a century, and the astute reader might be forgiven for anticipating an f in the stead of an s in the text. From the perspective of today, the seventeen hundreds are as Gothic a setting that ever was, a time of transition when the first glimmerings of the industrial revolution were being felt, yet most of Britain languished in traditions of yore. Perhaps in essence, Biddy Trott even pre-dates the works of Ann Radcliffe and is more in keeping with Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, published in 1764. For from the very first sentence the reader is invited into a narrative spun out of the sentiments of mid-eighteenth century England.

Donna Maria McCarthy writes in an old-school style commensurate with the times; the result is a novella that demands of the reader their concentration. Those willing to make the effort will not be disappointed, for the tale is a good one, gripping from first to last. Many will be forgiven for beginning the work again, to pick up on the nuances. The narrator inhabits Royal Rumny and compels the reader to do the same and with such intensity, it is as though the author, in conjuring the narrative voice, has cast a spell, for the story itself is a haunting.

Biddy Trott is filled with grotesque characters, maimed and crippled, haunted and possessed, and downright evil. Even during the day, there is no sense of light. The action is gruesome, bawdy at times, and sharply witty. A compelling read, fast-paced despite the language, and filled with twists and turns; the reader rendered as confused as the protagonist, compelled to discover the horrible truth that curses Royal Rumny.

The young girl at the root of the darkness, Biddy Trott, is much more than a mere character in this novella, she embodies a theme, she is the vessel for a concept, one born of the author’s incredible insight and rich imagination. To say more would be to spoil the story.

Biddy Trott will appeal to fans of Gothic literature, for those who want to read their horror stories more than once, and for collectors of rare finds. I, for one, am looking forward with keen interest for more from this author.

Buy your copy here.

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Review: The Pleasure Hunt by Jacob Floyd

I’m delighted to share my review of Jacob Floyd’s The Pleasure Hunt, a work of paranormal horror.

“After meeting the mysterious Dark Dance on the casual encounters website, The Pleasure Hunters Club, Sexy Cupid finds himself enchanted by an enigmatic seductress – Dark Dance.

After experiencing bizarre, nightmarish visions during their first physical liaison, Cupid awakes on a bench somewhere in Louisville, unable to get the mystifying creature off his mind. As he begins to search both online and through the seedy streets of the city for her, he uncovers harrowing truths about the object of his obsession, truths which fill him with both indomitable dread and inexplicable love for her.

By the time Cupid begins to understand the terror he faces, the shackles on his soul are already too tight as the ancient monster has her talons dug well into his flesh. Every time he is swept away to her world of Theia – the Moon Realm – she extracts and devours yet another piece of his very essence, and despite the merciless torment of his encounters with his obsession – and the warnings of, a menacing stranger – he presses on to find her, dragging himself deeper into her darkened realm.

Cupid soon finds that he may have but one opportunity to escape the demonic Dark Dance, but the bewitchment she has cast upon his heart may deter him from making a stand; with his soul about to slip down the gullet of the beast, Cupid has to make a decision before he is forever wrapped in the wicked thaumaturge’s wings of eternal damnation.”

My thoughts:

The Pleasure Hunt is an intense and horrifying journey through a dark underworld, one propelled by the protagonist, Cupid’s lust. Floyd takes the reader inside the mind of a man dominated by sexual compulsion and insatiable desire, his reasoning, his motives, his justifications all serving to account for his extreme longing. He’s signed up to an online dating club, and fortune seems to be on his side when he meets Dark Dance, a woman who satisfies him in a fashion no woman has managed before. The problem for Cupid is this woman is a demon.

The narrative quickly slips in and out of a paranormal reality inhabited by his consort along with other female predators. Are the otherwordly visitations of Dark Dance real, a series of bizarre hallucinations, or nightmares? Not even Cupid can figure it out at first.

What is clear is Floyd has taken the male dominatrix fantasy and turned it into a morality tale, one in which the entire male gender is doomed to receive its comeuppance through gruesome torture. But The Pleasure Hunt is not simply a novel of gratuitous sex and torture. On one level it is a meditation on the nature of the astral plane and what sorts of human emotions grant access to it. Namely selfish desire, lust and obsession.

Floyd executes his tale with intent and finesse, exploring in considerable depth the basest of archetypes, taking the reader into an alternate reality in which the dark side of that most primal pair of opposites, male and female, is depicted in stark and blood-curdling detail, and where good, if Cupid can be considered in any way good, is pitted against evil.

The Pleasure Hunt is strong on setting, carrying a rich flavour of dark urban fantasy with its typical grit and sleaze. The back blocks, the side alleys and run-down streets, and the cheap diners and derelict buildings of Louisville are portrayed in all of their inglorious detail.

Floyd has an impressive ability to sustain a voice, one wracked by fear and desire; the result a well-written, passionate and vivid novel that never misses a beat. The sentiment in The Pleasure Hunt is raw and real, the narrative soaring on the wings of Floyd’s formidable imagination. I recommend this book to all lovers of paranormal horror.

BUY your copy here

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The Good Life: 27 Nov 2017

I’m delighted to share Ann Creber’s reflections on The Cabin Sessions!

Ann Creber Collections

Hello Good Lifers,

We ran out of time yesterday to remind you of so many interesting events that are happening between now and Christmas (sooooo close!) but I will list as many as I can at the end of this waffle. ……………………………

For weeks – longer! – Isobel Blackthorn has been teasing us with promises of her new book CABIN SESSIONS and I finally received my awaited copy Saturday afternoon! This did not allow very much time to read it before we had our interview on Monday’s program, but I dived in to absorb as much as possible.

It is NOT an easy read, Isobel has written a dense novel in which every word has been carefully selected and given full value.. so it should be respected and read that way!  Isobel has chosen a theme with which she became familiar during her years with the late local musician, Alex…

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The Cabin Sessions book launch wrap up!

The launch of The Cabin Sessions proved to be a night beyond my wildest expectations!  The Alex Legg Memorial Foundation gave over the last Leggacy Sessions of the year, and I played host to a fine collection of musicians taking on the parts of various characters in my book.

Barbara Jeffrey and Jose Garcia as Rebekah and David Fisher.
Phil Lester and Neesy Smith as Joshua Thorne and Hannah Fisher
Dave Wolfe as Ed Smedley
Max Less and Annie Dixon as Philip Stone and Cynthia Morgan
Fred Hess (left) as Nathan Sandhurst and Brian Baker (right) as Juan Diaz, along with Stewart Kohinga and Lloyd Spiegel
Andy Cowan as Adam Banks

With thanks to Suzanne Diprose for her role as Delilah Makepeace, and for handing round the Christmas cake! And to Dave Diprose for his role as Alf Plum.

The night was made special by warm words of legendary Australian Bluesman ‘King of the Keys’ Andy Cowan in his official launch speech.

I came close to selling out of stock, which was a good thing as I was using a shopping trolley to cart the remaining books home with me by train!

A special thank you to all who came to my launch. Friends came from as far as Ballarat, St Andrews, and beyond the Black Spur to share the night with me. I’m still feeling the love. And my thanks to those who are messaging me with warm praise as they open their copy and discover for themselves why Andy Cowan phoned me the day before the launch and told me he absolutely loved The Cabin Sessions. 

My gratitude to the ALMF for their generous spirit, to all the musicians who performed, and to James Longmore at HellBound Books for making it all possible.

If you want to find out what the fuss is all about, visit any good online bookseller or grab a copy here.

Or use the contact page on this website for an author signed copy.

Click the link to read why the Alex Legg Memorial Foundation supported the launch and how instrumental, the late Alex Legg was in the creation of my book. https://isobelblackthorn.com/2017/10/14/the-cabin-sessions-and-alex-legg-a-novel-in-memory-of-a-remarkable-musician/

 

Review: Demons, Devils and Denizens of Hell: Vol 2

I’m thrilled to share my review of Demons, Devils and Denizens of Hell: Vol 2, and anthology of horror stories compiled by P. Mattern, edited by Ztina Marie and published by HellBound Books.

http://www.hellboundbookspublishing.com/demonsdevilsdenizens2.html

“Another anthology of otherworldy delights, tales of horror, dread and hellish inhabitants, – all lovingly compiled by award-winning author P. Mattern.

Our second journey into the darkest recesses of Satan’s pit has superlative tales of nefarious delight by: Andrew MacKay, Ryan Woods, PC3, Richard Raven, Dante Crossroad, Josh Schlossberg, Brianna M. Fenty, Paul Lubaczewski, Marcus Mattern, R.L. Chambers, Gerri R Grayson, John T. M. Herres, James Nichols, Feind Gottes, P. Mattern & Lynne Ligocki Gauthier, R.L.Chambers, Richard Alan Long, Jaap Boekestein, James H, Longmore, Savannah Morgan, DJ Shaw, Bill Evans, Sergio “ente per ente” Palumbo, Jay Michael Wright II, and the incomparable Stephanie Kelley.”

As a reader of short stories I’m hard to please. I’m looking for substance and depth. I want to know the author has thought long and hard about character, setting and life in general. I’m not interested so much in being shocked or horrified. I’m interested in how the author is pulling it off. I want to be impressed. Also, I want wit. I guess that makes me hard to please. Especially regarding an anthology, a book readers will delve into when the fancy takes them, sampling rather than reading from end to end.

I opened Demons, Devils and Denizens of Hell: Vol 2 not knowing what I was to be treated to, save each story was destined to be either revolting, terrifying or both. What I discovered was a delight. Demons, Devils and Denizens of Hell: Vol 2 brims with cracking reads; the hallmark of the volume, strong writing. From the thoroughly revolting, edge-of-seat horror-crime story ‘Duplicate Counterpart’ by John T.M. Herres, to the mysterious and compelling, and ultimately shocking ‘There Shall Be No Night’ by Josh Schlossberg, and beyond, there is much to savour between the covers of this anthology.

Each story is distinct. James H. Longmore’s ‘My Possession: An Introspective’, a presentation of the state of mind of a sales executive turned writer wrestling with his inner demon called Dave, provides incisive wit and dark hilarity. As does ‘Beauty is the Beast’ by Gerri R. Gray, her protagonist, Vanity de Milo, a macabre twist on the children’s fairy tale the story alludes to.

Quoting from ‘The Huntress’ by Savannah Morgan, gives a taste of the sort of writing to be found in the anthology:

“Guts and entrails fell out like gruesome chunky soft-serve ice cream from a dispenser on the fritz.”

No matter the genre, sentences like that make a reader like me tingle.

Feind Gottes foreshadows his dark tale, ‘Black Lodge’, with some powerful imagery:

“A simple black lodge in a forgotten wood where ghosts feared to haunt but memories were free to crush a man’s soul.”

Like the other stories in this anthology, Gotte’s tale grips to the very last sentence.

The authors of these dark tales have stretched their imaginations, brought to bear their wit and drawn on their many and varied insights into the human condition. Not only that, they’ve applied themselves to the task of writing, and writing well. The result is a must read.

Buy your copy here.

Check out more from HellBound Books here

Review: Kentucky’s Haunted Mansions by Jacob and Jenny Floyd

When I purchased my copy of Kentucky’s Haunted Mansions I didn’t know what to expect. I knew it was a book grounded in history and fact and that was about it.

Kentucky’s Haunted Mansions, from paranormal authors Jacob and Jenny Floyd, will take you into the homes of the dignitaries and luminaries that made Kentucky industrious through business, bureaucracy, and bloodshed. Beyond the rich, sweeping history that these men wrote, there lies the spiritual energy their lives left behind. Some of these mansions are alleged to be haunted, and many ghostly reports have come out of them. Read about phantoms such as the angry young girl at Griffin Gate to the vanishing cat of the Loudon House. Explore the accounts of the Ageing Lady on the stairs at Elmwood and the Creature of the Cross Breeze at Wickland Estate Discover several of the most elegant and haunted homes across the commonwealth. But rest assured, foolish mortals, there are no hitchhiking ghosts here–that we know of!”

Jacob and Jenny Floyd have put together a marvellous collection of haunted-house portraits, each with its own unique story. Together they provide a revealing and detailed, if potted, account of Kentucky’s history, from the state’s pre-foundation years, through its succession from Virginia in 1792, to the present day. The reader is taken on a journey from the hard facts of each mansion, its construction and its various owners and their deeds, through to accounts of paranormal happenings and ghostly sightings. The result is both informative and thoroughly entertaining.

The authors are careful not to sensationalise and the narrative comes with a healthy dose of skepticism, leaving it for readers to decide for themselves what to believe. Having experienced the paranormal on numerous occasions I am probably one of the believers, yet this is a book that will appeal just as much to doubters interested in the stories of hauntings and how they have come about.

This book is a must read for all who’d like a taste of the history of Kentucky as much as its supernatural inhabitants. As for those after a ghostly tale or two, look no further! This is the sort of book that should be on the shelf of every paranormal writer’s bookcase.

Grab your copy here.

Find out more about the authors here

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