Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Reckoning by Alma Katsu #review

Title: The Reckoning, The Taker Trilogy book #2
Author: Alma Katsu
Publisher: Gallery Books, 2013

The Reckoning picks up exactly where book one of the trilogy, The Taker, leaves off, with the immortal Lanore in the company of her mortal lover, Luke. All seems as well as it could be, considering that Lanore has just granted the man she truly loves his eternal rest – as he’d requested – when the unthinkable happens.

Adair, the chief villain and alchemist responsible for Lanore’s present deathless state, has escaped from his prison of two hundred years. In fear of her previous master’s vengeance, Lanore seeks out the other immortals Adair made, in the hope that she might find a more permanent solution to her situation, and perhaps even a cure for the curse of her immortality. The last thing she wants is to fall under Adair’s sway again, for he is the only being who holds the power of life and death over her.

What follows is a tangled, sensuous web of betrayal and obsession, as author Alma Katsu allows tantalising glimpses into the pasts of her tragic creations. None of her characters are wholly good or evil; all of them have some sort of dark past. Some are irredeemably sadistic, and gleefully set about finding new ways to express their cruelty to those they manipulate.

Lanore suffers for her unrequited love, yet she cannot return the affections of the two men who’d do anything for her. Her fear cripples her as she tries to stay ahead of her erstwhile master. Plainly put, Adair is a monster, an individual whose obsession with the one woman who outsmarted him blinds him to all reason. He will stop at nothing to get Lanore back. There is no such thing as true love, according to Katsu. At best, her characters stumble from one joyless predicament to another, forever – such is the curse of their unnaturally long lives – grasping after an idealised love they can never attain.

Throughout this, they damage the ones close to them, sometimes wilfully or, in the case of Lanore, they hurt unintentionally through their selfish actions. The picture Katsu paints is bleak and filled with much violence as her characters thrash about in their self-created mires. Yet at the same time, and in much of the same way that gothic novels such as Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles are so engaging, one cannot help but be drawn into their world, and wonder how characters will torment each other next. Because as soon as readers assume they have an idea of where the story is headed, Katsu pulls the metaphorical rug from under their feet.

Though the title suggests it, there is no closure by the time The Reckoning ends. Katsu introduces further mysteries that suggest some sort of catastrophic outcome in book three; there really are a lot of plot threads that need convenient tying off by the end of book two. But be warned – some characters behave in a most deplorable fashion which might shock sensitive folks. Yet, despite the characters’ actions, I found myself unable to stop reading and look forward to book three with great anticipation. Because, hell, I absolutely have to find out what happens next.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Khepera Redeemed cover reveal

Well, my dearly beloveds, it's time for me to unveil my second-edition release of Khepera Redeemed, book two in the Books of Khepera series. If you're yet to pick up book one, go see Khepera Rising.

And this is what book two is all about...
All Jamie wants is to get his life back on track. After all, no self-respecting occultist needs entanglement with a pack of fanatical Christo-militants. Nor does he want blood on his hands – innocent or not. But the nightmare is far from over. Now a fresh brand of hell is stalking the shadows in dreams, and young women are dying in violent ritual killings.

Can Jamie master his uneasy symbiosis with the sinister Burning One, get to the bottom of a rash of cult activity and stay one step ahead of a nosy reporter? All too soon the hunter becomes the hunted, and trouble with the police will be the least of Jamie’s worries.

Cover illustration is once again by the totally fabulous Daniël Hugo, and layout/design by Donnie Light (whose rates are very reasonable if you're looking for all the behind-the-scenes formatting and design). As for when the release date happens... I'll keep you posted. I'll steadily be uploading and checking files to my assorted vendor sites and will make the big announcement soon. In the meanwhile, look at pretty pictures of Jamie... ;-)

Oh, if you're interested, do check out the Demonologia Biblica anthology which has a short story featuring Jamie.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Horseman by Mike Nicol #review

Title: Horseman
Author: Mike Nicol
Publisher: Knopf, 1995

This reads as a sort of twisted Hero's Journey: a story in two parts that's a sort of post-apocalyptic myth playing out in southern Africa. The first concerns the youth who is wild and unsophisticated. All his father leaves him is a legacy of violence and a gun. He takes up with his twisted mentor, Madach, and they embark on a journey soaked in violence, death and senseless depravity. These are creatures ruled by their base passions.

Men see the youth's potential and seek to twist it to their own ends yet despite everything that happens to him, he retains a wild animalistic streak yearning for freedom.

In the second part of Horseman, the youth is now named Daupus (a name that means death) and he rides a pale horse. Allegory much. And death does follow in his wake. He is as remorseless as he was in the first half of the book. Whereas the malignant horsemen that haunted him in the first half could be seen as initiators, he has now taken up that role. But he doesn't bring enlightenment, and the only change he sows in people's lives are their demise.

Overall, my feelings are mixed. This is not an easy book to read, and readers who are upset by graphic descriptions of rape, child abuse, objectification of women, gratuitous violence, murder and warfare would do best to avoid this one. While I don't agree with the aforementioned, I do believe it's important that we turn these ideas over and try to understand them. And what the author does is examine the nature of the evil inherent in mankind. There is nothing redeeming about this tale. It's going to make you feel that there is no hope for mankind.

Some of the stark imagery will stay with me, particularly the scene where one of the men, delirious from purifying wounds, walks out into the night. No one stops him yet they know the hyenas are waiting to eat him. Another, where the group ruthlessly hunts down a man who was unlucky to be caught out in the open, was chilling.

The language is magical, almost dreamlike, as if you're sitting around a fireside listening to to a storyteller recount his tale. You are reminded constantly of the ruthless cruelty within us that is just below the skin, itching to howl and break loose.

All are guilty in Nicol's telling. Not even men of the cloth can hide behind their so-called holiness. I'm not going to forget this novel in a hurry.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Zenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon #review

Title: Zenn Scarlett
Author: Christian Schoon
Publisher: Strange Chemistry, 2013

This is one of those books that I knew the moment I read the blurb that I was going to love utterly and completely. And it goes down as one of my 2013 YA reads that I whole-heartedly recommend to anyone who’s into the genre.

Zenn is the kind of protagonist whose mouth is often way ahead of her brain, and for a female protagonist, she’s a breath of fresh air. This young madam knows exactly what she wants and isn’t afraid to work very hard to get it—in this case she wants to be an exovet. You have no idea how happy it makes me to have a 17-year-old protagonist who isn’t a vapid, boy-obsessed creature. In fact, when the boys do pitch up on the scene, she’s not afraid to argue with them.

But a bit more about the world-building. Zenn has grown up in a kind of monastic order/clinic dedicated to the care of animals. And this is where Christian Schoon writes with a ring of authenticity. I spent my younger years working part-time in a veterinary clinic, and the author totally captures the atmosphere of such an environment. Animals need to be fed. Their enclosures need to be kept clean. They’re troublesome—only in this case the animals Zenn and her uncle deal with are also quite dangerous if not handled correctly—as Zenn discovers.

And you get to meet some pretty fascinating critters with bizarre appearance or super sizes that would make caring for them a real challenge—a challenge that Zenn is more than up to as she attempts to prepare for her upcoming exams.

Things aren’t all plain-sailing, however. The Martian colony where the Ciscan clinic is situated has suffered for many years due to a rift between Earth and Mars. Technology is outdated or redundant, and its failure often means a life-or-death situation for folks. The cities face massive urbanisation as people from the rural areas are forced to move to safety. Xenophobia is rife—only the humans view alien lifeforms, like the animals treated at the clinic and visiting aliens, with great suspicion. These are hard times.

Zenn is outspoken and often at loggerheads not only with her uncle, but the people around her. But she also has to solve a greater mystery: why her mother, an exovet, vanished while treating a patient, and the reason why her father left Mars to pursue answers. I like the fact that she makes mistakes, and everything is not all plain sailing for her. It makes her triumphs all that much sweeter.

The novel gets off on a bit of a slow start, but I was so fascinated by the day-to-day workings of the clinic/school and I could see the story building up its textures to something bigger, that this didn’t present a problem to me. I really just enjoyed the ride, which was kind of like Gerald Durrell meets a Star Wars bestiary with a bit of SF James Herriot thrown in for good measure. The pace picks up near the end to quite a nail-biting finish, and Schoon is clearly setting this up for a series, so be prepared for unfinished story arcs. And I’m hoping that Schoon hurries up and writes the next in the series.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Dark Continents round-up with David Youngquist

We're almost [gasp] in the middle of 2013 already, which means it's time for a round-up with one of my favourite bookish people—none other than Dark Continents (DCP) publisher David Youngquist... So, what have been some of DCP's releases worth checking out this year... and what's still lined up that's worth looking out for? 

Boy, we've already had a number of releases. Two good ones in the horror lineup of DCP are Resurrection Child by Lee Pletzers which is a return to the Cthulhu mythos set in our modern era, and Ghostly Summons. The e-book is out now, and will be followed in the next few weeks in stores for the print book. A nice little paranormal detective story to get you thinking.

We're also branching out this year into other genres than straight horror. In the non-fiction realm, we have what some people have called the Paranormal Researcher's Bible. Fractured Spirits, by Sylvia Shults has gotten people's attention around the world. She was given unprecidented access to the Peoria State Hospital for research. It's a great read for those folks who enjoy a good ghost hunt. We also stepped into the paranormal romance field with Double Double Love and Trouble. Sylvia has always been a romance writer, and here she combines her two loves. I've been really impressed with how fast this book has caught people's attention. As for what we have coming up, well, there's a number of projects coming in the Darkness and Dismay branch of our little house. Everything from a YA book, to a sea anthology. I look forward to what our new head of that division can do for us (considering I'm writing on her blog) And for something of a scoop, in the next couple weeks, we'll release our first book that has been written in partnership with Silent Studios, Ldt of England. Dave Jeffery's book Contamination will be filmed starting in early 2014.

Are there any cons folks can expect to see a DCP presence at this year? And now for the evil question... Stuff always happens at cons... Have you got any amusing DCP-related anecdotes? 

Cons...cons are always interesting. They're fun. They're exciting, and they're draining all at the same time. We've shuffled things around a bit this year, and I'm sad to say that DCP won't officially be at any cons here in the US. I might make a couple privately with Sylvia Shults and Andy Taylor, but not as a company itself. I will announce here, however, that myself and DCP will be at World Fantasy Con and The Bram Stoker International Film Festival, both in England this October. At WFC, we'll be launching the second installment of Phobophobias with Dean Drinkel, and from the generous invitation of the Stoker Film Fest Comittee I will be there to help lauch Dave Jeffery's book, Necropolis Rising II.

Stuff at cons...hmmmm...Fandom Fest in Louisville, KY last year was a blast. On Saturday, after a long day on the con floor, we decided to hit a couple room parties we were invited to. It was myself, my wife Fay, Sylvia Shuts, and Andy Taylor. I decided to be the designated driver (or in this case walker. The dual hotels the con was at were more than a little confusing. One of us better be able to find our way around) One of the room parties we ended up at, found us drinking with David Della Rocco from the Boondock Saints.

David's a great guy, and we had a good time drinking with him, but the heatwave melting Louisville last year was not conducive to room parties. So as everyone started to trickle out, we found ourselves downstairs in the plaza. This was at about two in the morning, and most of the town was winding down. There was however, a nice, inviting fountian going full blast. Apparently it was something you could walk into, as there were a few locals cooling off in it. The non-sober of the group quickly got in to play with the sprays of water. I myself, sat down to enjoy a nice cigar. A gentleman in a spotless white suit wandered over in my direction. Great, I thought, I'm about to get hit on. Nope. He needed a light for his own cigar. Turns out he was a producer for a Hollywood studio, there for the festival over the weekend. We sat and smoked and talked films and books for a better than an hour. We exchanged business cards, and the sun was coming up before we left the plaza. Two hours until con time, so we found our room and snatched some sleep before we had to get back on the floor.

You mentioned that general submissions open soon. What would *you* love to see personally? Also, any particular bugbears you'd like to avoid in submissions? 

I'd definately love to see another great paranormal romance. That said, it has to be well written. We get tons of submissions, and it really takes something to stand out. Some are borderline. Last year, we turned down a couple that were good, but just needed a little something. A little seasoning. A little more umph. I'd love to see the new great fantasy novel too. Something that grabs you by the throat and won't let you go. Something that takes you to such a new world, you don't want to come back.

What I don't want to see, is simply any more zombie books. It's not that there's not some good z-poc books out there, but between my Snareville series, and Dave J's Necropolis Rising series, and now Contamination, we have all we can handle. Plus, and I find this a little annoying, for some reason, aspiring writers think they can write a z-poc novel as their intro into horror writing.

You've got unlimited budget, which of your stories would you have developed into a screenplay and filmed, and who would you cast in the lead roles? 

Well, Contamination will start filming early next year, so I'll keep everyone apprised of progress on it. Some of us have actually sat down and discussed this. With award-winning screenplay writer Dean Drinkel within the company, and now Dave Jeffery, a DCP film studio would seem to be the next logical step. I've talked with Dean about doing a series of short films based on the stories in Phobophobias. He's actually got a number of scripts written up already, including my entry, but we're a bit away from that.

Dream wise, no limits? I'd love to see Peter Jackson develope Inkarna. I know he could do an amazing job on the book. And it's something we've not seen before. They're always complaining there's no original ideas out there for film? Well here's one! Or just take a look at all of the DCP library for that matter. There are 22 books to choose from for developement. Cast wise, I'm never good at something like that. I never would have picked Hugh Jackman for Wolverine, but he is now the only one I can see in that role now.

I've been bullying you with your own writing. Tell us a little more about your epic fantasy novel. What planted the seeds for that novel? What's been the most difficult... and the most rewarding aspects of writing it? 

Hahaha! That you have. Black Jack. I think Black Jack came about as my habit of devouring every piece of fantasy, sci-fi, and mythic legend I could lay my hands on between the age of 12 and oh say, now. I read everything from Tolkien to Piers Anthony, to Celtic mythology and legends when I was a young man. Black Jack is the result of that. It's not a traditional fantasy by any means. I merge magic with technology. Swords with rifles. A vampire nation led by Al Capone, and werewolf tribes led by Adolph Hitler. It's not your standard epic fantasy. I built Gwennolin from the ground up with influences from my past.

The catalyst for the book, was waking up in a bar in Union Station with no real idea how I got there. Apparently, after putting the newspaper to bed that morning about 1am, I went out for a drink. I was going through a divorce at the time, and after leaving a local tavern, I apparently bought a ticket to Chicago and rode the train up there. One hundred miles. Drunk. When I woke up, I was lucky enough to have enough money to buy a ticket home. It was at that point, I decided I better quit drinking. Never touched another drop for two years.

Not long after, the thought crossed my mind as to what it would be like to wake up in a truly aliBlack Jack grew.

en land, and the idea for

Some of the most difficult aspects of the book, was not stealing other ideas that were already out there. That's tough in the fantasy world. Another problem I had, was telling simply Jack's story. I ended up cutting 38k words just to find the course Jack was taking. A third problem I had was keeping Gwennolin straight in my head. I actually took a movie poster, laid it out on the table and with some drafting tools, drew a map of Gwennolin with all the mountians and rivers and kingdoms on the back.

The most rewarding, I think were creating some really great charactors. Mare especially. She was someone built completely from the ground up. I had total freedom to create with her, and I loved writing her. Jack is another. He's probably my fullest, most complete person I've written to date.

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Bloody Good Idea... #horror

In anticipation of the upcoming release of the next South African HorrorFest Bloody Parchment anthology, published in association with the uber-cool eKhaya, I'm going to give away three ecopies of last year's Bloody Parchment: Hidden Things, Lost Things and Other Stories to three lucky entrants. All you need to do is answer a simple question based on the blurb of this year's anthology.

This year's Bloody Parchment: The Root Cellar and Other Stories brings a fresh crop of horror and dark literature from the most recent South African HorrorFest Bloody Parchment short story competition. From dreary subterranean chambers and angelic visitations to the many-legged horrors of alien invaders and a meeting with the Devil himself, this collection of tales offers readers the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the likes of Toby Bennett (winner), and runners-up Anna Reith and Chris Limb. Finalists include Diane Awerbuck, Simon Dewar, Zane Marc Gentis, Stephen Hewitt, Benjamin Knox, Lee Mather, Glen Mehn, S.A. Partridge, and Icy Sedgwick.

So, now, for the big question, what is the title story of this year's anthology? (If you're sharp, you'll figure it out. If not, I suggest you ask Toby Bennett.) If you're a bright spark, you've got until midnight on May 24 to leave your answer, your name and an email address as a comment on this page.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Joe Vampire by Steven Luna #review

Title: Joe Vampire
Author: Steven Luna

I took a shine to Joe from the moment I dipped into Joe Vampire, and although the novel is slow-moving, I nonetheless enjoyed Joe’s particular brand of humour, which is unintentional on the character’s part and very nicely expressed on author Steven Luna’s. Certainly the premise of a neurotic Jewish vampire coming to terms with his own “change of life” is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise saturated market.

Joe’s spent most of his life sort of chugging along without really engaging with anyone. He’s had two failed relationships and plays synth bass in what sounds like a truly dismal electro band with his best friend Hube. On top of things, just as it looks like girl number three, Chloe, is going to be “it” so far as relationships go, he gets turned into a vampire.

Joe Vampire is structured as a series of blog posts, and we get to share in Joe’s assorted misadventures, from his humorous coping mechanisms when it comes to overcoming the blood lust (with coconut water of all things) to his meetings with other vampires and his initial attempts at dating once his fangs have grown in. And, though you’d expect a story like this to remain low-key, Luna gives it a lovely little twist near the end in a way I did not quite expect.

Characters are all undeniably quirky, and I’ll wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone who’s exhausted by fangless glitterboys or manly fanged beasts with unstoppable appetites for blood and… other things. Luna unashamedly pokes sticks at the genre, much to my amusement and delivers an overall solid read.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Benjamin Knox and Bloody Parchment

Benjamin Knox is a repeat offender, and that's why we love him so much. He has a story in the 2012 Bloody Parchment anthology, and this year he's done it again, appearing in The Root Cellar and Other Stories. So, Ben, tell us a little about yourself.

(Ah my favourite subject)

Let’s see: I don’t sleep well and drink too much coffee (these two things are not related and you will be disintegrated if you suggest otherwise). I couldn’t stop telling stories if I tried. Studied art and film (separately). Used to do stand-up The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, as well as Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace are pure genius. I even do my own comic strips, when I have the time.
comedy. Like horror and sci-fi movies before they had CGI in them. I think that

I like to write horror with my own dream-like and sinister twist to it, but I also write pulpy fiction to balance out all the seriousness. Short fun stories were I can just let my imagination and silliness run riot. It helps me to take a step back and not take things too seriously. If I’m stuck with a particular tale--banging my head against the keyboard--then I often take a break from it for a day or two to write something deliciously silly. Then when I turn my attention back to the serious story again, I get a fresh perspective and I’m amazed I got stuck in the first place.

Tell us a little about the background of your story which appears in the 2012 anthology.

We follow our narrator as they waste away from some unknown degeneration in their remote and isolated home, trapped in their own mind reality unravels around them. There is a sense that someone or something is approaching, but is it real or is it some waking nightmare spawned by a delirious mind?

Are there any interesting anecdotes relating to its creation?

I got sick and my girlfriend and I were joking about “man-flu” and how it always seems like the world is ending when a man is ill. That got me thinking about more serious degenerative illnesses.
Stylistically I wanted to capture that eerie feeling you get in some dreams or nightmares when you know, just know, that something sinister lurks nearby. The sort of dream were nothing overtly scary happens yet you’re transfixed with utter dread.

I combined this spooky dream like quality with an aspect of the Body Horror theme I was working on at the time. Wither is one of three stories I wrote in quick succession, unconnected but with a similar feel, though it is in my opinion the best of the three.

What do you like about horror as a genre?

(I could write reams about this)

Horror can take itself seriously but it can also take the piss out of itself. I find the fact that I can write a seriously ultra-creepy story one day and then go and do something completely out-there and pulpy (like a good ol’ fashioned B-movie) the next day, and have them still sit side-by-side in the same genre very liberating.

What scares you?

The news.

Seriously, I read a lot of quite grisly horror and shrug it off because it’s fantasy, made-up, cathartic. But some of the things you find on the news or stumble across during research are just terrifying.
I actually had to stop myself during a research session once because some of the things real people do...*shudders*...

Where can people find you online?

At my website:

But I also have a tumblr blog where I share my work and repost things that relate to the work I do or inspire me.

I’m also on facebook. Benjamin Knox, author

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A moment with Jenny Robson

I'm happy to welcome Jenny Robson, one of last year's Bloody Parchment anthology authors to my blog today.

Welcome, Jenny, tell us a little about yourself.

I'm a music teacher living in Maun, Botswana. I mainly write young adult novels and short stories for magazines.

Tell us a little about the background of your story. 

I'm fascinated by the fact that some people seem to skip blithely through life while others seem to face so much pain and trauma.

Are there any interesting anecdotes relating to its creation?

I once heard a young man say "Why do bad things always happen to me?" It really got to me.

What do you like about horror as a genre?

What's not to like??

What scares you?

Only the real world and the terrible things people can do, believing their actions are right and just.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs #review

Title: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Author: Harriet Jacobs

This was a freebie I downloaded off Amazon out of idle curiosity and also as part of my research for my own writing. While I certainly don’t condone the institution of slavery, I nonetheless find the social dynamics attached to it fascinating. In this title, Harriet Jacobs tells her own tale of hardship and escape, and her remarkable resilience – though to be quite honest I do wonder why she hid in the garret for so many years and why she didn’t make a break for the north sooner.

All things considered, real life doesn’t always make for exciting reading without the embellishments provided with story craft, and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl can and does drag, and the ending is a bit anticlimactic. It is, however, still an important account that needs to be told, as a document and honest record of the past. As always, we are faced with hypocrisy and cruelty from many people balanced out by the open-hearted generosity of spirit of others.

When Jacobs talks of slavery poisoning people and acting as a corrupting force on society, she makes an important point. Also to keep in mind is that so many slaves were so downtrodden that they couldn’t conceive of any other life – so perpetuating the problem. What was joyous to see was Jacobs’s growing realisation of her own worth that she no longer felt her “owners” had any right to her as goods to be bought and sold.

At present it is difficult to conceptualise times when people were considered mere chattel, and this book serves as a stark reminder of how we have arrived at our present society. Don’t expect any literary fireworks with this work. That it is not. This is not an easy, comfortable read, but it’s most certainly thought-provoking, and, from a historical perspective, I am pleased that this voice has been preserved. This is a story we need to remember lest we slip into the sort of backward thinking that reduces people to the status of property. Or we judge them based on their race.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Five Minutes with Stacey Larner #bloodyparchment

It's headed to that time of the year where we begin to get ready for the release of the next Bloody Parchment anthology. So, if you're looking for something dark and sometimes twisted to add to your reading pile, do give our existing anthologies a shot. Volume #1 is available as a free download off Goodreads, while Bloody Parchment: Hidden Things, Lost Things is available from such vendors as Amazon and Kobo. Limited edition print copies are available from the Book Lounge

In the meanwhile, I've been holding some of the author interviews on ice and have one of the 2011 finalists featuring here today. A big welcome to Stacey Larner, who wrote a rather disconcerting tale called Duck Creek Road. Welcome, Stacey! Tell us a little about yourself.

I have 3 children, the youngest is 6 months. I started writing after becoming a single parent in 2010, because I needed some way to purge my anger and grief. I had two short stories published last year (2011) and, apart from Duck Creek Road, one so far this year (2012) with three more due out later in the year. I live in Australia, in a place that's mostly warm and sunny, and spend the rest of my (sparse) free time knitting, sewing, reading and talking on social media.

Tell us a little about the background of your story. 

Well this kind of ties into the next question! There is an anecdote that goes with the setting and the predicament Holly and Rohan find themselves in. But the story is more about Holly's personal demons. It's about how abuse warps a person, makes it hard for them to break out of old patterns of thinking. It's not autobiographical, by the way! Originally I wanted her to have a chance at a happy ending, to defeat her demons, but it didn't quite work. I took on board some feedback and the rest is history.

Are there any interesting anecdotes relating to its creation? 

Duck Creek Road is a real road, and my partner and I got caught in the same way. I remember at the time we joked that I should write a story about it. We didn't have GPS though, just an old school refidex (Holly is like me in that respect). I have photos if you want proof!

What do you like about horror as a genre? I'm fairly new to horror. When I was about 11 my parents' friends put Cujo and Nightmare on Elm Street 3 on for me and they terrified me so thoroughly I avoided most horror as a rule. My partner is a big horror fan so we've been slowly watching a few classics. I love to write horror because it helps me explore darknes
s. The darkness in me and what I see in the world. Writing horror has made me braver when it comes to reading it too. I love that it makes me think, makes me uncomfortable, helps me to understand the monster. I'm not scared of ghosts but I'm terrified by the atrocities humans inflict on each other.

What scares you?

Acts of cruelty, normalised atrocities. I find serial killers more scary than demons. I'm also scared by the idea of losing the people I love. The two stories that have horrified me the most (so far) are Wives by the late Paul Haines and The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. It's no coincidence that they are both set in a dystopian future where people are desensitised to the horror of their cultural norms.

Where can people find you online?

I'm on twitter @StaceySarasvati and I have a blog at I do have a demanding baby so I can be sporadic in my posting, but I do post!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Antjie Somers #Afrikaans #glipsie

“Pasop! Antjie Somers sal jou vang!” het my ma se mense altyd gesê.

Maar toe was ek nog ’n klein klimeid met stokkerige bene en blou knipoë, wat na al die grootemense gestaar het as hulle so laat in die nag bangmaakstories gepraat het.

Nou is die fluweel donkerte my mantel en ek loop in die skadus waar die naguil roep. Vrees het geen houvas op my nie. My oë weerkaats met smaraggroen skynsel in die helder maanlig en my tande is vlymskerp noudat jou bloed in my are vloei.

Ek is glad nie meer bang vir Antjie Somers nie.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Torment by Lauren Kate #review

Title: Torment
Author: Lauren Kate

This is the second of the Fallen novels, which falls into the category of books with the “skinny chick in a prom gown” paranormal romance category. Yes, it is a pretty cover, but what you see on the front has little to do with the actual story.

We pick up the tale as Lucinda Price, Luce, is sent, to a private school for “gifted” children in California. Her boyfriend, the fallen angel Daniel, reckons this is the best way to keep her safe. We quickly establish that there’s a bunch of cursed angels known as Outcasts after Luce, and Daniel and his arch-nemesis Cam, have struck an uneasy truce to fight off the bad guys.

To give author Lauren Kate some credit, the pacing improved marginally compared to book one, but Luce, as a character, still comes across horribly self-absorbed. Perhaps one of the flaws of this story is that I simply don’t see Luce as a strong protagonist. Her achievements are pale in the face of her over-reliance on her friends to do things for her, and a lot of her behaviour is incredibly passive.
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Only at the end of the novel does she act and, even then, I don’t feel there is sufficient motivation for her to behave as she does. In fact, this last act feels tacked on, and an almost forced cliff-hanger to generate excitement for the third novel in the series.

As it stands, Torment is a fair read, and at no time did I feel like hurling the book across the room, but I must wonder how much of the series’ popularity is due to all the hype surrounding it thanks to the pretty cover art and savvy marketing.