events, Long Fiction, Writing

Bluebells Book Launch

Conflux 16- Speculative Fiction Conventions from October 1 -3 will be hosting my book launch for Bluebells. After several hospital admission interruptions, I’m looking forward to properly launching my debut novella from Black Hare Press.

Tickets for Conflux 16 are essential. Book here.

Bluebells has its belated official launch on October 2nd at 12:30 pm AEST.

reads, Recent Reads

Drowned Country

Publisher’s Description

Even the Wild Man of Greenhollow can’t ignore a summons from his mother, when that mother is the indomitable Adela Silver, practical folklorist. Henry Silver does not relish what he’ll find in the grimy seaside town of Rothport, where once the ancient wood extended before it was drowned beneath the sea—a missing girl, a monster on the loose, or, worst of all, Tobias Finch, who loves him.


Review

I recently read Drowned Country (Greenhollow Duology, #2) by UK author Emily Tesh.

Drowned Country follows almost directly from events of Silver in the Wood, when eccentric protagonist Henry Silver is now the avatar of Grennhollow Wood and Tobias Finch now a mortal man assisting Silver’s mother Adela in her monster hunting business. Sadly, the romance between Silver and Tobias has soured and the pair are now estranged.

Silver answers a summons from his mother to aid him and Tobias in the retrieval of Maud Lindthurst from an ancient vampire. Things are quickly discovered to not be as they seem. Maud is not a common wealthy young woman and both Silver and Tobias are soon pulled into an entanglement with the beings of Fairy.

Final Thoughts

Drowned Country was a satisfying conclusion to the Greenhollow Duology in a story that was not a classic fairytale ending but one which provided closure for all the characters.

Conclusion

A highly recommended read for those seeking folkloric fantasy and queer fiction. A great conclusion to the events from Silver in the Wood and a satisfying folkloric novella series.

Long Fiction, Writing

Bluebells Release!!

My debut horror novella Bluebells was published on July 9th 2022 by Black Hare Press.


1917, Australia.

In the aftermath of an alternate ending to the First World War, mass frontline casualties and a mysterious pandemic have decimated governments and the environment across much of Europe and the world, Australia included.

Anna Baylon lives with her parents, scraping a meagre living in the drought-ridden, abandoned, and mostly isolated town of Berrima near Sydney, waiting for news of her older brother, Peter, who enlisted years before.

The arrival of a handsome, mysterious stranger, Nicolas de Laon, her brother’s lover, turns her world upside down.

Anna’s strength is tested when she follows Nicolas—a vampire—from the safety of her home, determined to learn Peter’s fate.

But Nicolas’s darkness isn’t confined to his vampiric hereditary. And when Anna learns the darker truth, can she forgive him?

A steamy dystopian thriller from Leanbh Pearson.

More details on how you can purchase ebook, paperback and hardcover copies of Bluebells here.

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The Old Dragon’s Head

Publisher’s Description

Constructed of stone and packed earth, the Great Wall of 10,000 li protects China’s northern borders from the threat of Mongol incursion. The wall is also home to a supernatural beast: the Old Dragon. The Old Dragon’s Head is the most easterly point of the wall, where it finally meets the sea.

In every era, a Dragon Master is born. Endowed with the powers of Heaven, only he can summon the Old Dragon so long as he possess the dragon pearl.

It’s the year 1400, and neither the Old Dragon, the dragon pearl, nor the Dragon Master, has been seen for twenty years. Bolin, a young man working on the Old Dragon’s Head, suffers visions of ghosts. Folk believe he has yin-yang eyes and other paranormal gifts.When Bolin’s fief lord, the Prince of Yan, rebels against his nephew, the Jianwen Emperor, a bitter war of succession ensues in which the Mongols hold the balance of power. While the victor might win the battle on earth, China’s Dragon Throne can only be earned with a Mandate from Heaven – and the support of the Old Dragon.

Bolin embarks on a journey of self-discovery, mirroring Old China’s endeavour to come of age. When Bolin accepts his destiny as the Dragon Master, Heaven sends a third coming of age – for humanity itself. But are any of them ready for what is rising in the east?


*** I received an ARC in exchange for a voluntary review ***

Review

I recently read The Old Dragon’s Head by UK author Justin Newland.

The Old Dragon’s Head follows protagonist Bolin, a worker on mending the Old Dragon’s Head, a part of the Great Wall associated with the head of Old Dragon who embodies the wall. But Bolin has an ability to see ghosts and prophecies, including the loss of his fiefdom’s Prince of Yan in battle.

To restore the balance of power in China, the Emperor’s Dragon Throne can only be earned with the aid of the true Old Dragon, Laolong. Eventually Bolin accepts the reality and responsibility of his supernatural gifts and becomes Dragon Master to help protect China’s Empire from the coming war.

Final Thoughts

The Old Dragon’s Head explores a fascinating era of Chinese history and the use of historical fantasy elements works well – the supernatural invading reality and threatening to drive Bolin into madness. Unfortunately, the writing style lacked immediacy and engagement, characters feeling two-dimensional. The world-building and historical knowledge was exceptionally well detailed though.

Conclusion

A recommended read for those who enjoy historical fiction, historical fantasy, alternate history and strong paranormal elements. A detailed historical read.

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The Eternal Machine

Publisher’s Description

A woman with the strength to rebel. A shapeshifter who wears the souls of the dead. Together, they face a lethal enemy… Em helped create it. Now she must craft its defeat. In a city owned by industrialists, Em sells her magic to make ends meet. The extraction procedure is brutal and potentially deadly.

Desperate for change,she joins an underground resistance movement to weaponise her magic and stop the abuse of workers. Meanwhile, a mysterious voice wakes Ruk from a decades long slumber and compels him to become human. He wants to break free but is torn between his shapeshifter instincts and the needs of the soul that sustains him.

On streets haunted by outcasts and predatory automatons, a new danger emerges – an ever-growing corruption of magic and science. Em and Ruk must put aside their differences and pursue it – each for their own reasons. Their discovery will forever change their lives… Or end them.


*** I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review ***

Review

I read The Eternal Machine by Australian author Carol Ryles, a debut novel combining steampunk, gaslamp fantasy and alternate history.

The Eternal Machine follows the protagonist Emma as she ekes out an existence in the lower classes of society, selling her magic alongside many others for the money to support themselves. Their magic is used to as energy for the powerhouses that support the industrialisation movement in this steampunk version of Victorian society. But as Emma begins to realise the extent of her true magical strength when left undrained by the powerhouses, she rivals the mages who run the powerhouses and society. Together with her partner Lucien, she begins to investigate the Groundists, a movement of radicalised lower classes determined to topple the powerhouses and the mages who rule them.

But Emma’s magic awakens an ancient shape-shifter, Ruk, who begins searching for her. The shape-shifters are few but powerful beings and Ruk kills Lucien, assuming his form and identity. But as Emma and Ruk enter the Groundist movement, Emma begins to learn more about her past as demons awaken and like the shape-shifters, are drawn to her power. In a company of other powerful Groundists, Ruk and his fellow shape-shifters, Emma and others battle the mages and the demons until the truth of Emma’s birth right is known and her entire world changes forever.

Final Thoughts

The Eternal Machine is a fascinating alternate history exploring the industrialisation era and social class suppression. I particularly enjoyed the combination of steampunk and gaslamp fantasy, the use of magic and technology in an alternative history setting was very well done. Perhaps the only downside to the book was it felt unnecessarily long, and some character development was rushed when introducing motivations which the extra length of the book could have focused on better. Overall, the world-building was supreme and the concept unique and refreshing.

Conclusion

A new steampunk read from a debut author in the genre. Highly sophisticated world-building with combination of alternate history, steampunk and gaslamp fantasy makes this suitable for audiences of all three genres. A well-recommended read!

reads, Recent Reads

The Once and Future Witches

Publisher’s Description:

In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

But when the three Eastwood sisters join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote – and perhaps not even to live – the sisters must delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.

There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.


Review:

The Once and Future Witches by US author Alix E. Harrow was an absolute delight. Following three sisters who meet unplanned after years apart in New Salem, drawn by an inexplicable magic, and caught in a half-spun spell to summon the Lost Tower of Avalon, dislodged in time and space, waiting for the next three witches with enough need to summon it back.

The oldest sister, Bella, is a librarian working at the New Salem College library. An unmarried woman who quickly finds herself drawn to the exotic and welcoming Ms Cleo, a black female reporter with more than a little hint of magic about herself. The middle sister Agnes, is beautiful and strong enduring a menial job as a mill-girl just to keep her independence. A strong woman whose beauty would allow the pick of any men, if Agnes would allow herself to be loved. But Agnes must choose to be supported by others, especially when she is with child and finds the stronger love in a man who isn’t the child’s father. While the youngest sister, Juniper, is a wild and fierce young woman intent on taking the male dominated society down so women (and witches) might assume their rightful place as leaders and advisers.

In the meeting of these three estranged sisters, bonds are rekindled and a other women across New Salem join their cause to have more than what is handed to them, to make certain their daughters have better lives than they did. But a dark spectre hangs over New Salem, an ancient malevolence that is determined to see the last of the witches crushed once and for all beneath a boot-heel.

Final Thoughts:

The Once and Future Witches was a wonderfully well-written novel with strong, detailed characters and a thrilling alternate history of 1893 and the post-Salem witch burnings. Beautifully paced storytelling with exquisite detail, this was such an strong book.

Conclusion:

Highly recommended read for those who enjoy historical fantasy, alternate history, magical realism and more than a dash of folklore. A must-read!

Long Fiction, Writing

A Dystopian History

One of my works-in-progress has been a dystopian novella. While many dystopian stories and novels explore the future, I was interested in combining a dark fiction genre with alternate history, to ask what if our present never happened?

In developing my own tale, I was inspired by those classic dystopian tropes we are already familiar, with and have been imagined, classic novels like 1984 by George Orwell and The Stand by Stephen King which were my first introduction to dystopian literature and dark fiction. In considering modern history, I focused on scenarios that most-closely mirrored those classic dystopian futures which are already familiar to most readerships.

The events of the First World War were a turning point in modern history, where wars were fought on a global scale for the first time, the speed of development from the Industrial Revolution had a profound impact on the natural landscape and the capacity for mechanised warfare, casualties were high, chemical warfare was employed, and the occurrence of the 1918 Flu pandemic also incorrectly called the “Spanish Flu”.

The horrors of the First World War were catastrophic for those who survived and as a historical legacy. In modern history, it is often considered a turning point. After the First World War, the course of humanity was forever altered, a reality that affects our present, and likely, our future.

Short Fiction, stories, Writing

Scorpio Anthology Release


I am excited to announce the release of Scorpio (The Zodiac Series, #11) from Deadset Press that launched on 28th March, 2021. I had the great pleasure of co-editing this zodiac- themed anthology featuring short stories inspired by the Scorpio zodiac including my Gaslamp fantasy story “Serket’s Curse”. You can read more about my research into Egyptology and the creation of an alternate Victorian era Dublin here.

If you are interested in purchasing an ebook or paperback copy of Scorpio (The Zodiac Series, #11) you can find more details here.

Recent Reads

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

From the Blurb:

“ The year is 1806. centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation’s past. But scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains: the reclusive Mr Norrell, whose displays of magic send a thrill through the country. Proceeding to London, he raises a beautiful woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of another magician: the brilliant novice Jonathan Strange. Young, handsome and daring, Strange is the very antithesis of Norrell. So begins a dangerous battle between these two great men which overwhelms that between England and France. And their own obsessions and secret dabblings with the dark arts are going to cause more trouble than they can imagine.”

My Review:

I recently read Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by UK author Susanna Clarke. Despite my initial hesitation at the daunting and considerable detail and length of the novel, I found like those before me, these misgivings paled in comparison to the wonder of the book itself.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell follows two main protagonists in the early 1800s in their efforts to reinstate English magic. Both are talented magicians and while Mr Norrell asserts himself as England’s magician and hoards all books ever published of magic, he soon takes on an enterprising student in the gentleman Jonathan Strange. While Norrell is fearful of new things and sudden changes, Strange is his opposite. The two magicians serve the English parliament through their combined efforts to defend England and defeat Napoleon Bonaparte. However, Norrell can never shake his fear that Strange will better him and deliberate actions to undermine their trust and future partnership are laid down from the first. But the darkest secret of Norrell’s early magic that causes the greatest danger. In very early attempts to gain favour in London society, Norrell performed magic beyond his own talents by seeking the aid of a Faerie which he bound to himself as a servant. Norrell keeps this secret from Strange and much of English society even after the two magicians quarrel and the friendship is broken.

The following years of bitter rivalry between Strange and Norrell see the exploitation of both magicians’ greatest weaknesses. Norrell has his fear and paranoia played against himself and Strange has his arrogance and rashness turned against himself. Throughout it all, the beings of Faerie manoeuvre and plot to overthrow both magicians and so retain hold on the dominion of a Faerie kingdom. The final battle between Norrell and Strange becomes a partnership to save innocent mortals stolen into Faerie including Jonathan Strange’s wife.

Final Thoughts:

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is a delightful and often dark tale, and a skilful alternate history of the Georgian era. The prose feels realistic as though truly compiled from Georgian authors. Despite the seemingly slower pace of the book’s action, the tone does not feel overburdened by it. High praise for the philosophical accounts, a detailed history and characters, and the introspection of morality led to a lingering sense of satisfaction, of closure, for the ending of the stand-alone novel.

My Conclusion?

Highly recommended for fans of alternate history, Gaslamp fantasies and gothic fantasies. Despite the daunting size of the book, it is a beautiful story, masterfully written and compelling. Well worth the read!