Book Review: ‘Reaper’s Folly’ by Nikki Landis

A fascinating exposition of a truly evil mind.

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Nikki Landis Reapers Folly
Not since C.S. Lewis’ brilliant book ‘The Screwtape Letters’ have I read such a fascinating exploration of a truly evil, devilish mind, where even his demon followers are the victims of Darkness.

 

‘Reaper’s Folly’ delivers a powerful and emotionally charged story that brings the reader face to face with evil in its darkest forms. Landis’ writing  and story craft is magnificent, with some profound moments of macabre terror. The greatest horror, however, is the realisation that it may, in fact, be true.

 

Acorn Award I GoldenThis terrific book has been awarded a Gold Acorn for excellence.

 

Find it on Amazon.

Author Interview: Rebecca Lloyd

Book Squirrel chats with Rebecca Lloyd, author of dark fiction and magical realism.

Interview Orange

Book Squirrel chats with Rebecca Lloyd, author of dark fiction and magical realism.
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Welcome, Rebecca! It’s great to have you here.

Thank you, Book Squirrel!

I’m a big fan of the darker side of fiction. What is your favourite thing that you have written?

My novella Woolfy and Scrapo, available from The Fantasist Magazine, and it’s because, even though the characters are just a pair of gloves, their love for each other, as brothers, is very deep, slightly troubled, but happy. This book along with my novel Oothangbart is very different from my usual literary horror material because they celebrate innocence.

What’s your favourite thing that someone else has written?

Right at this moment it would be Lamb by Bonnie Nadzam, although I could have as easily chosen something from Walter de la Mare or Kevin Barry.

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

The best book I’ve read this year is Lamb, a book which some people were very much against. What a brave writer to have written that and so beautifully.

What would you like people to know about being an Indie writer?

Although the distribution of your books might be a whole lot less than if you were an author with one of the gigantic publishers, there can be a great deal of pleasure in writing for a quite small body of readers, and pleasure as well in having a rewarding working relationship with your publisher if it is a company that is careful and respectful of its writers. Very few writers make much money from their books anyway whoever the publisher is, and so there’s a lot to be said for being involved with decent thoughtful independent publishers and those people they employ to do the artwork and editing. A lot of people might not agree with this thought… but it could also well be a blessing not to be tangled up with literary agents, those gate-keepers of the big publishing houses.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A biologist, and then later on someone who studied parasites. First I became an ecologist and then a medical parasitologist which led me to Africa, which led me to writing.

What inspired you to write?

My very moving and humbling experiences of working as a medical parasitologist in a remote hospital in Tanzania. I wrote my first novel as a result of that work but I’m pretty sure no-one would want to publish it…. it being a very uncomfortable read, and equally sure that I wouldn’t want it published. But it was a great writing exercise.

What are you working on writing now?

I’m thinking about starting something new, having just finished a novel, but I haven’t settled on anything for certain yet. I wrote a horror story called What Comes? that was published in my collection Mercy and Other Stories with Tartarus Press, and I was thinking it could be expanded into a novella and that I should have a go at it. [I always get scared that if I stop writing for too long that I won’t be able to do it again.]

Who designs your book covers?

Usually my publishers have had their own book cover designers and although they will run the idea past me to make sure I like it, I haven’t had a lot of involvement with that side of things. But my novella Jack Werrett the Flood Man with Dunhams Manor Press included illustrations inside and a book cover by the artist Dave Felton, and he worked very closely with me always being careful that I liked what he was producing. Then the amazing and very crazy book cover by Steve Novak for my collection The View from Endless Street [WiDo Publishing], was stunning and I loved it immediately, and still do. Oh! And I nearly forgot that I did design the book cover for my novel Oothangbart with Pillar International Publishing in 2014 and I loved doing that.

Name three people you admire, and give reasons.

I admire the wonderful perfectly mad Irish writer, Kevin Barry for his magical and breath-taking ability with words and language. I admire that strange, highly intelligent man Doctor Samuel Johnson, [1709 -1776] for his wit and kindness to the people he knew and hung out with, not the least of which was the twisted weird guy Richard Savage, poet and liar. I admire President Obama for all he tried to do for the US, the way he attempted to civilise it, and for his elegance and sophistication in a very ugly job.

What is your pet hate? Have you ever built it into a character or used it in your writing?

I don’t think I’ve got a pet hate; there are a few little behaviours that I really dislike such as when cold callers phone me and call me Mrs Lloyd as if even if you weren’t married to anyone you wouldn’t mind being called Mrs anyway, but to my way of thinking that title makes me less than I am because it implies that I belong to someone, and I resent the idea of that hugely. On that same note, I did once use an entire argument that I had with a man in my short story Fetch which is in my collection Ragman and Other Family Curses published by Egaeus Press. I can tell you that it felt so very cathartic to have created something useful out of that argument. I also modelled the main character on the man himself and since I knew him well, I had his pomposity really accurately drawn in the story. [He never read it, nor ever will].

What’s the best vacation you’ve had?

I think that is yet to come, and every Christmas I go away on holiday to another country, so I’ve got plenty of chances to arrive at the best one in time. But one of the most useful was a holiday in Sicily in a little town called Cefalù which was where the terrible Aleister Crowley tried to set up a religious retreat. I was working on Seven Strange Stories, my second story collection for Tartarus Press and I was in need of one extra story to finish it. It was co-incidental that I happened to be holidaying in that town, but it occurred to me that because I had always been fascinated and horrified by Aleister Crowley, that he could be the subject for the last story. It was pretty hard to write, but very inspiring to stare down at the ruins of the ‘Abbey of Thelema’ and imagine Mr Crowley and his followers doing their thing in there. [I didn’t break into the place, not my style, and there are so many photos of it online that I didn’t feel the need to… besides I didn’t want to give myself the creeps!]

That’s fascinating and spooky at the same time!

I know!

Where can readers buy your books?

My books are all available on Amazon.

That’s great! Everyone knows how to find the ‘Zon.  Thanks for being here today, Rebecca!

Thank you, Book Squirrel. It’s been fun!

Book Review: ‘Crossroads of Draston’ – An Anthology

A varied and entertaining fantasy collection.

‘Crossroads of Draston’ delivers a varied collection of highly original fantastic tales of elves, dwarves, mages, people and beasts, and of the challenges and struggles they face. All of the stories are well-written and engaging.

As with any anthology, some were more to my taste than others. Of all these Dragonband Tales, those that appealed to me most were ‘The Librarian’ and ‘Magic Within’.

In ‘The Librarian’ the reader is introduced to Wiggum, a delightful gnome burdened with insatiable curiosity, who discovers that even seemingly benign actions can have significant consequences. I really wanted this story to be much longer.

Alaya, the central character of ‘Magic Within’, is the kind of heroine I really love – loyal, brave, and dogged, fully committed to freeing those who are enslaved and serving justice to those who deserve it. I would really like to read the next “chapter” in her story, too.

This collection offers everything from high fantasy to more visceral and macabre stories, so there is something for all fantasy lovers here.

Acorn Award II SilverBook Squirrel has awarded ‘Crossroads of Draston’ a Silver Acorn because it’s an entertaining and varied fantasy anthology.

Find it on Amazon.

Book Review: ‘The Celtic Curse: Newgrange’ by D.J. Doyle

A gritty read for lovers of dark fiction.

This is a dark, gritty and fatalistic story of ancient beliefs, rituals and powers that grapple for control of the future of the world as we know it. Doyle builds the story masterfully, complete with twists that take the reader’s breath away and a sense of urgency that grows as the action escalates.

The contrasts between the different characters and their personal ethics are really interesting, and serve as a reminder that human nature is flawed and can, when devoted solely to an ideology or even to oneself, be truly evil without any additional help from the spiritual realm.

‘The Celtic Curse: Newgrange’ is a highly original and often macabre tale crafted from strands of legend, religion, ancient culture, sex, superstition, loyalty and friendship.

It does contain adult content and violence, so is suitable for an adult audience. If you like your fiction dark and your endings darker, this book is for you.

Acorn Award I Golden

Book Squirrel has awarded this book a shiny Gold Acorn.

Find it on Amazon.

Book Review: ‘A Steampunk Christmas Carol’ by Angelique S Anderson

This new take on the classic tale is both enjoyable and intriguing.

Angelique Anderson A Steampunk Christmas Carol

This new take on the classic tale is both enjoyable and intriguing.

The steampunk elements added a different element, and the design of the spiritual world which Anderson has created and is really interesting. This spiritual layer of ‘administration’ is superimposed seamlessly over the Victorian society of which Dickens also wrote in ‘A Christmas Carol’, upon which this story idea is based.

The characters of Wylie and Adrian are likeable, and serve as an effective foil to Langdon, whose selfish and greedy ways come under scrutiny as the story progresses.

This novella works quite well as a stand-alone story, but is also interesting enough to make the reader want to read the rest of Anderson’s Dracosinum Tales series.

‘A Steampunk Christmas Carol’ is suitable reading for YA and older readers.
Silver Acorns
This book is a really good read and, as such, is awarded a Silver Acorn.

‘A Steampunk Christmas Carol is available on Amazon.

Dec 15 ~ Featured Book: ‘The Queen’s Viper’ by Lesley Donaldson.

Book Squirrel’s Advent Event featured book for December 15 is ‘The Queen’s Viper’ by Lesley Donaldson. 
Readers will love anti-heroine Viper in this grimdark blend of historical and contemporary fantasy in a fairy tale like no other.

Book Squirrel’s Advent Event featured book for December 15 is ‘The Queen’s Viper’ by Lesley Donaldson.

Lesley Donaldson The Queens Viper

Time heals all wounds. Except hers.
Will immortal Viper overcome the power surging within herself even as Queens of Britain try to control her?

To enhance the life-magic of the people she feeds upon, Viper ensures Tudor Princess Elizabeth becomes Queen of England. The villainous immortal also seeks a Crown Jewel that stirs up her repressed memories. Her quest to find her past throws her into the path of malevolent Annys. Annys entraps Viper for centuries. In modern London, Viper inexplicably escapes. She enlists her Foundling, Mouse, to overcome immortal magic and human power as she seeks revenge upon her nemesis and the descendants of the humans who helped Annys, starting with Queen Elizabeth II.

Readers will love anti-heroine Viper in this grimdark blend of historical and contemporary fantasy in a fairy tale like no other.

‘The Queen’s Viper’ is available at Amazon.

Dec 14 ~ Featured Book: ‘’Three, Two, One’ by Victoria Perkins.

Book Squirrel’s Advent Event featured book for December 13 is ‘’Three, Two, One’ by Victoria Perkins.

Book Squirrel’s Advent Event featured book for December 14 is ‘’Three, Two, One’ by Victoria Perkins.

This looks like a gripping ghost story with some horror in it.  The author does state that it includes descriptions of violence that may be disturbing to some readers, so it might not be everyone’s idea of holiday reading, but if you’re looking for a break from Hallmark movies and Christmas romances, this might be just the thing.

Victoria Perkins Three Two One

 

Cassidy Chapman knows she isn’t dead. Unfortunately, no one else does. After the mysterious death of her younger sister, Cassidy’s own identity is called into question. As she digs deeper into the accident that claimed the life of her sister, Cassidy discovers a far darker secret than she’d ever thought possible. Helped by the only person who believes her, new WU student Pacey Townson, Cassidy must find a way to solve Jessica’s murder and clear her own name–before it’s too late.

 

‘Three, Two, One’ is available at Amazon.