Literature

Carrie Rickard, leaving an abusive relationship back in London, tries to escape her own past by throwing herself into her restoration project: Fairwood House, known to locals of Pagham-on-Sea as The Crows. Unable to resist as it whispers to her, Carrie’s obsession only grows when she discovers it was the site of a gruesome unsolved murder.

As Carrie digs deeper into the mystery surrounding the bloodless child stuffed up the kitchen chimney in the 1950s, she awakens dark and dangerous forces that threaten her own life.

Cue an introduction to her eldritch neighbour, Ricky Porter, a foul-mouthed modern-day Merlin in a hoody and a tracksuit, who claims he can see the future. But Ricky, as obsessed with The Crows as Carrie is, has an agenda and several secrets of his own, not least of which are what’s really under his hood, and what he’s got in the cellar…

…Is his offer of help sincere? Or is he the reason she’s doomed?

THE CROWS is a Gothic Paranormal novel for fans of haunted houses, eldritch monsters, and things that go bump in the night. Content Warning for psychological abuse, body horror, gore, strong language, and scenes of an unsettling nature.

What do you think? Sounds good? That was my first thought when I sat down to read The Crows. It was about 21:30 and I figured I’d read for an hour before heading to bed. FOUR HOURS LATER(!) I glanced at the clock. Never mind the content warnings in the blurb, it should warn you of the amount of time you inadvertently give to this book. I genuinely couldn’t put it down.

The story is gripping, immersive and written in a style that is easy to read and understand. Rosens writes as though she had lived through the tale herself. The convincing characters, descriptions of Pagham-on-Sea and the house itself all suggest she was writing from personal experience! Carrie is a down to earth, relatable character who, despite being thrown everything but the kitchen sink, manages to take it all in her stride.

However, it’s not just Carrie that is a well thought out protagonist. Each character is given their own individual personality and traits which either makes them loved or loathed. Their unique personalities and mannerisms often leads to hilarious outcomes/events (just thinking back now is making me smile)

The only downside I could find was the sheer number of characters mentioned. I occasionally found myself having to skim back a few pages to remind myself who certain characters were and how they were connected. However, that may have just been me reading too quick – a testament to how gripping the story really is. If you want an engrossing, unpredictable page-turner, The Crows is the book for you.

So, in conclusion; there’s humour, gore, compelling storyline, well written characters, with twists and turns along the way. What more could you want?

If you would like to check out the book yourself, you can find it here

And if you would like to find out more about C.M. Rosens, you can access her site here

Definitely an author to keep an eye on as she’s likely to keep going from strength to strength.

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The Horror Writer
The Horror Writer

The Horror Writer: A Study of Craft and Identity in the Horror Genre. Coined as “The most definitive guide into the trials and tribulations of being a horror writer since Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’…” Wow, that’s one hell of a claim; one which I was eager to verify.

Compiled and edited by Joe Mynhardt, The Horror Writer was released by Hellbound Books and contains a myriad of essays, interviews and valuable insights by some of the best in the business. Ranging from Bram Stoker Award© winners, bestselling authors, a President of the Horror Writers’ Association and many other distinguished writers, this book can aid anyone wanting to improve their craft. The full list of contributors include;

  • Ramsey Campbell
  • John Palisano
  • Chad Lutzke
  • Lisa Morton
  • Kenneth W. Cain
  • Kevin J. Kennedy
  • Monique Snyman
  • Scott Nicholson
  • Lucy A. Snyder
  • Richard Thomas
  • Gene O’Neill
  • Jess Landry
  • Luke Walker
  • Stephanie M. Wytovich
  • Marie O’Regan
  • Armand Rosamilia
  • Kevin Lucia
  • Ben Eads
  • Kelli Owen
  • Jasper Bark
  • Bret McCormick

I’m sure you recognise a number of big names on that list, all of which bring their own valuable insights/advice to help aid a writer of all levels. The Horror Writer covers a wide variety of topics such as how to connect with your market and carve out a sustainable niche in the independent horror genre, as well as how to tackle the writer’s ever-lurking nemesis of productivity.

Make no mistake, this isn’t a book that you’re going to read from beginning to end in one sitting (I mean, you could if you were inclined), rather it will serve better as a writing companion. The helpful contents section at the beginning of the book allows you to jump to whichever topic you want clarification of, or would like to explore in more depth. Writing good horror stories with powerful, effectives scenes, realistic flowing dialogue and reliable characters without resorting to cliched jump scares/gimmicks – it’s all there! The book even covers the delicate subject of handling rejection with good grace, and how to use those inevitable “not quite right for us” letters as an opportunity to hone your craft.

I know you’re probably sold at this point and have already jumped to the link at the end of this article to go buy a copy, but wait… There’s more!

There are also a number of perceptive interviews to provide an intimate peek into the psyche of the horror author and the challenges they work through. The authors interviewed include:

  • Steve Rasnic Tem
  • Stephen Graham Jones
  • David Owain Hughes
  • Tim Waggoner
  • Mort Castle

And, as if that – and so much more – was not enough, the book also contains Ramsey Campbell’s beautifully insightful analysis of the tales of HP Lovecraft. What more could you want?

Make no mistake, regardless of your writing ability – whether you’ve never written a book but always considered it, or if you’ve penned over 20 novels – The Horror Writer can be a useful aid for everyone.

Go check it out here:

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Mongrel: Son of a Bitch

Review by : Daniel Kraevyn

Mongrel: Son of a Bitch

Issue #2 cover

Created By: Edward Dunphy and Michael Kudelka
Story By: Edward Dunphy (here is his website: www.labbratz.com)
Art: Andrew Mitchell Kudelka (and his website: www.amkudelka.com)

To Donate to the Kickstarter: click here

Werewolf stories are very hit or miss, mostly belonging in the latter category. In all honesty, most of them suck, which is an unfortunate thing, as one would think that the mythos would be rife with stories that would write themselves. I guess one of the traps that practically every werewolf story falls into is that they all struggle to capture the feelings of the original Wolf Man film. Many movies, books, and comics have tried to craft a good werewolf story, and most have failed, although there have been some exceptions (notably, the first Howling film, and the Werewolf television series). Perhaps trying to capture this ubiquitous “feeling” is the very thing that leads most lycanthrope stories to vapid response.
Enter Mongrel: Son of Bitch, an indy comic by Edward Dunphy and Andrew Mitchell Kudelka. According the preface, Mongrel was originally written in the early 90’s but due to complications (read: long story of company troubles) the other two issues never saw the light of day. Now, it has been revised, colorised, and with the help of kickstarter, the first two issues are out, and the third is currently seeking funding.
This is a 1990’s era detective story, and I must say, one of the better lycanthrope tales to be released. The mood is evocative of a noir tale, the gruff monologue of a protagonist, interspersed with alternative narratives; yet the comic is injected with a modern, gritty, visceral feel. As with comics, pacing can be tedious, but this story overcomes any issues quickly. Of note: the gore. The violence is spectacular, and witholds nothing, and Kudelka shows his artistic prowess by how he is able to pose his characters, along with a very artistic and original of showing the blood splatter outside of the panels. While “nothing” is happening (no action), the characters pose normally; then the action sequences shine as Kudelka displays the sequences with precision and dramatic flare. I must also note that the werewolves themselves are awesome. I will say that perhaps the greatest challenge to werewolf movies has been to have truly scary, realistic werewolves, and Mongrel does just as the movie Dog Soldiers and the T.V. series Werewolf did for the Lycanthropes, they are fantastic.
Mongrel is a three-issue digital comic, with two issues out, and the third in it’s funding stage on Kickstarter. I recommend this read, and even to support these guys. Indy comics need all the help they can get, because there are some gems out there. I will include links below should you wish to get involved. At least read them, and enjoy a good werewolf story. As I prefaced this review, good werewolf stories are tough to come by, so be sure to experience the good ones.

To Donate to the Kickstarterclick here
Mongrel Website
Mongrel on Facebook
Mongrel on Twitter

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