reads, Recent Reads

Cursed: An Anthology

Publisher’s Description:

“It’s a prick of blood, the bite of an apple, the evil eye, a wedding ring or a pair of red shoes. Curses come in all shapes and sizes, and they can happen to anyone, not just those of us with unpopular stepparents…

Here you’ll find unique twists on curses, from fairy tale classics to brand-new hexes of the modern world – expect new monsters and mythologies as well as twists on well-loved fables. Stories to shock and stories of warning, stories of monsters and stories of magic.”


My Review:

I recently read Cursed: An Anthology collection of dark fantasy tales inspired by fairytales featuring authors Christina Henry, Jen Williams, Neil Gaiman, Angela Slatter, and Catriona Ward, among others.

Three original contemporary dark fantasy stories were real stand-outs. The story “The Troll Bridge” by Neil Gaiman was a new take on body-snatchers, the fairytale variants of a troll challenging three brothers, but here, three versions of the same man throughout his life. “New Wine” by Angela Slatter was an original dark tale with aspects from Bluebeard and stepmother fairytale themes and even a darker take on Cinderella. “At That Age” by Catriona Ward is a dark fiction exploration of Changeling folklore, with some aspects from the Hansel and Gretel fairytale.

Two original dark fantasy stories set mythic realms were of real note. Christina Henry’s “As Red as Blood, As White as Snow” was blend of the Snow White, Rose Red and Bluebeard fairytales which was dark and lavishly written. “Listen” by Jen Williams was a fantastic exploration of the Red Shoes fairytale and folklore of the Scandinavian Necker and the Forest wild gods.

Final Thoughts

Cursed: An Anthology is a unique collection exactly as promised: a weaving of old and new to create original tales inspired by curse folklore. The combination of Dark fantasy and contemporary fantasy tales was a great balance and also highlighted the way fairytale themes are incorporated into many aspects of speculative fiction.

Conclusion

Cursed: An Anthology is wonderful collection that spans Dark fantasy and contemporary fantasy with original tales inspired by cursed folklore and fairytales. Recommended read for those who love Dark fantasy and how original stories continue to find inspiration from these classic fairytales. A lavish, and dark read!

Short Fiction, stories

Reimagining Arabian Nights

One of my recent short stories, a work-in-progress, was a reimagining of a tale recounted in the classic rendition, The Arabian Nights translated by Sir Richard Burton. The volume, also known as One Thousand and One Nights follows the sultana Scheherazade who cunningly begins a tale each night, never finishing it until the next, to prevent jealous and murderous husband from killing her, and ensuring her survival.

In developing an original tale inspired by The Arabian Nights story “The Story of Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Peri Banu”, I also incorporated inspiration from the fourteenth century Iberian Moorish kingdom, the Nasrid caliphate in Granada, Andalusia. In Persian folklore, the peri were diminutive brilliantly coloured winged-beings, a race that were seperate and as powerful as Jinn and Ifriit, and hunted by both. These rare fairy-like beings are the focus of my reimagined and original tale.

Short Fiction, Writing

Reimagining Red Riding Hood


Recently I have been exploring the concepts behind the Red Riding Hood fairytale. There are two main versions I have used as inspiration for writing a new short story. The version by Charles Perrault called “Little Red Riding Hood” and the version by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm called “Little Red Cap”. Both examine a young girl who is travelling through the woods and meets a charming stranger who tries to lead her astray. Both versions also share a dark undertone, the stranger portrayed as menacing despite his charming words.

When writing my short story, I wanted to delve into the concept of the forest as a dangerous place, sinister and treacherous for those uninitiated. In my recent reimagining of the red riding hood tale, I’ve included the concept of an unwary youth and the historical setting of pre-Napoleonic France. I’ve included some more modern interpretations like the werewolf folklore of the French “loup-garou” and explored sensitives around homosexuality, the sheltered son of a Marquis seduced by an eloquent nobleman. Here, the passage between innocence and experience of the adult world is represented by the transference of the werewolf curse. This was a complex story to write, delving some darker elements, both historical and modern sensitivities of seduction, society and acceptance of LGBTQI individuals throughout history and still today.

events, Short Fiction, Writing

Over the Rainbow Anthology Release

I am pleased to announce Over the Rainbow: An LGBTQ+ Fairytale Charity Anthology published by Black Ink Fiction was released on 1 June, 2021.

Over the Rainbow anthology is in support of The Trevor Project, a collection of fairytale retellings with a LGBTQI+ protagonist, featuring my story “The Queen of Crows”, a retelling of a French Gascony fairytale. You can read more about my research for the story here.

More details on how to purchase an ebook, or paperback copies of Over the Rainbow can be found here.

reads, Recent Reads

All the Murmuring Bones


Publisher’s Description

“Long ago Miren O’Malley’s family prospered due to a deal struck with the mer: safety for their ships in return for a child of each generation. But for many years the family have been unable to keep their side of the bargain and have fallen into decline. Miren’s grandmother is determined to restore their glory, even at the price of Miren’s freedom.

A spellbinding tale of dark family secrets, magic and witches, and creatures of myth and the sea; of strong women and the men who seek to control them.”


Review

I recently read All the Murmuring Bones by Australian author A.G. Slatter (Angela Slatter), a gothic folklore novel set in the historical fantasy world, akin to Ireland.

The protagonist is Miren O’Malley, raised by her grandmother Aoife O’Malley after being orphaned by her mother, Isolde O’Malley. Miren has lived her entire life at Hobb’s Hallow, the ancestral house of the O’Malleys, a prominent family, who have a traditionally ruled the oceans as brigands and later merchants, the uncanny wealth gained by the O’Malleys tied to legends of a bargain struck with the Mer, one that has lasted generations but required a female O’Malley to bear the name and offer one child to the sea every generation. However, with the waning of ‘pure blood’ O’Malleys, Miren is now the last bearing the O’Malley name.

After the death of her husband, Aoife O’Malley makes plans to marry Miren to her cousin, and strengthen the O’Malley bloodline and, through Aidan Fitzpatrick’s wealth and ambition, restore the once-prosperous O’Malleys.

But Miren O’Malley is independent and ha no desire to marry Aidan Fitzpatrick, a cruel man determined to restore the tradition of one O’Malley child given in sacrifice to the Mer. Miren learns her mother Isolde never died as she was told by her grandmother, and to avoid marrying Aidan and to find her mother at last, Miren embarks on a journey to the mysterious estate of Blackwater, where the last of the letters from her mother mentioned she was living.

Final Thoughts

All the Murmuring Bones is a wonderful gothic folklore story, weaving the legends of the dark and foreboding water sprites, beings like the the Mer, kelpies and rusalky maidens, which are not the kind beings from Disney movies, but cruel and calculating beings. Beneath the layers of folklore and story, there is a stronger theme of independence, knowing oneself and the power of love, in the context of a historical fantasy world, where love based on need, the supply of stability, sustenance and livelihood versus the power of love based on want, the desire to be with someone irrespective of need. Against the backdrop of the O’Malley tradition and sacrifices to the Mer to retain prosperity, the need to fulfil a bargain, there are many threads to All the Murmuring Bones that make it a complex tapestry of a novel.

Conclusion

All the Murmuring Bones is a great read for fans of gothic folklore, legends of mermaids, kelpies or or water beings, fans of Angela Slatter’s Sourdough tales and those who enjoy a heartfelt historical fantasy. Highly recommended, an absolute must-read!

events, Short Fiction, Writing

Candy Capers Release

I am pleased to announce the release on May 20th, 2021 of children’s and young adult fantasy anthology Candy Capers from Raven and Drake Publishing. This fantastic confectionery themed anthology is in aid of The Brain Tumour Charity and for readers aged 6 and up.

I am thrilled my children’s flash fiction ‘Grace’s Kingdom’ is included in this anthology.

You can find more details on Candy Capers and how to purchase ebook and paperback copies here.

Short Fiction, Writing

Forthcoming: LGBTQ+ Fairytale Anthology

I am pleased to announce my short story “The Queen of Crows”, a retelling of a French Fairytale will feature in Over the Rainbow to be published by Black Ink Fiction in aid the of The Trevor Project.

You can read more about my research behind my short story “The Queen of Crows” here.

More details to follow on preorders and release dates for ebook and paperback copies.

Short Fiction, Writing

A World of Imagination

I recently wrote my first flash fiction piece for children and young adult readers. This was a challenge for me with my usual writing themes exploring the darker side of fiction and best suited to adult readers.

In writing my flash fiction piece, I drew on some of the most influential children’s fiction to develop my own story, one that had deep roots in my personal experiences and one I hoped would resonate with children experiencing bullying and coping with being different. In telling this story, I wanted to channel the reality of these extremely difficult daily experiences and also to show how being different is a hidden strength.

Some of my inspiration for my own story was was Alice in Wonderland, The Secret Garden, The Chronicles of Narnia. These classic children’s fiction all feature protagonists exploring magical worlds hidden to all but them while escaping a harsher reality that exists beyond the borders of the their fantasy world.

Short Fiction, Writing

A LGBTQI Fairytale Retelling

One of the stories I have been working on recently was retelling a fairytale with an LGBTQI focus. There have been several recent explorations transposing gender roles in fairytales, but I wanted to draw attention to the inclusivity of love and also retell a fairytale that could highlight struggles for LGBTQI community both past and present.

I recently came across a gorgeous fairytale retelling in French Fairy Tales by Sophie Masson and illustrated by Lorena Carrington titled ‘The King of Crows’. This fairytale was new to me and I loved it’s complex themes, the parts of other tales wound into it in such a unique way. It was a vibrant fairytale with elements that were part-quest, part-curse and transformation.

In my own retelling, the sorcerer curses a queen for her refusal to submit to him and refusal to marry him and is transformed into a crow along with the subjects of her kingdom. Under the strict rules of the curse, the crow queen must find her true love but cannot be seen in her human form at night. The queen finds her true love, a young musician playing in the forest one day, a woman like herself who has no desire to marry a man and be a wife or mother. This unlikely union becomes true love and they marry under the Queen’s decree, but the consort cannot keep her curiosity at bay and seeing the Crow Queen by moonlight. The Sorcerer comes victorious to claim the Crow Queen, taking her far away to be isolated forever. Desperate to save her Queen, the consort consults a fae being who tells her how to find her Queen, beyond the moon and sun, to a land untouched by light and gives her a pair of iron shoes to wear. She will know her queen is near when the iron shoes break, and know she has found her queen when the blue grasses sing. The Consort begins her quest and long trek until the prophesied words become true and she rescues her queen, no longer a crow, the lovers are reunited.

events, Short Fiction, Writing

New Tales of Old Anthology Release


I am pleased to announce the release of New Tales of Old, Volume 1 from Raven & Drake Publishing on 30th April, 2021. This anthology of short stories is inspired by fairytales and legends, reimagining with a twist. Two of my short stories are featured, “A Trail of Corpselights” inspired by Hansel and Gretel fairy tale, (you can read more here ) and “The Dark Harpist” a dark fantasy reimagining of the Pied Piper fairy tale, (more details here).

If you are interested in purchasing an ebook or paperback copy of New Tales of Old, Volume 1, more details can be found here.