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The Dearg-Due

The Dearg-Due means “red” in Irish but wasn’t the name of this poor girl during her life. In life, over two thousand years ago, she was a legendary beauty, with blood-red lips and pale blonde hair. Her true name has been lost to the ages, overshadowed instead by the thing she became. Men travelled from far and wide, and even from rival clans across the land, to just to look upon her, but also to try to win her hand in marriage. Despite her outward loveliness, she was Godly and kind, and a blessing to all who knew her.

Fatefully, she fell in love with a local peasant. His name too, has been forgotten, swallowed by the legend. He was a true match for her in all things. He was handsome and kind-hearted but lacked what meant the most to her Father: money.

Without money, there and no no status in the community there would be no security for the family. That love match wouldn’t be allowed to happen.
Instead, the Father gave his child to a vastly older, much crueler man to secure a title and a fortune for their family. While the father revelled in his newly acquired riches, he gave no thought to his daughter. She suffered daily mental and physical abuse at the hands of her new husband.. His particular pleasure was drawing blood from her – watching as the crimson welled from her soft, porcelain skin. When not being abused, she was kept locked away in a tower cell so that only her husband could see her…touch her…bleed her. And she waited, in vain, for the day that her former peasant lover would rescue her. It was a hope that kept her going for many months.

One day, she realized there was no rescue to come, no hope and nothing but the daily cruelty. She would have to saved herself. In the only way possible to her and grimmest of ways, she committed suicide by a slow, painful starvation. It’s buried in a small churchyard, near “Strongbow’s Tree,” in the County of Waterford,m in Southeast Ireland.

In the last days of her life, when the abuse had broken and twisted her kind spirit, she renounced God and vowed terrible vengeance. For the devout, souls of those who commit suicide can never rest and are doomed to walk in torment forever.

Some folklore in Ireland said if you pile stones on the graves of the newly dead it prevents them from rising again. No one piled stones on the wretched girl’s grave.
Her husband married soon after and her father, intoxicated by his new fortune was too immersed in his own greed to be bothered by his daughter’s death and attending to the grave.

She rose from her grave, filled with rage and lusting for vengeance. She went first to her fathers home. She appeared in his bedroom while he slept and killed him. She moved next to her former husband and found him in a bed with a number of women, void of any sadness or regret – clearly without remorse or regret.

She attacked and killed him then proceeded to suck the blood from his body. After drinking the blood of her evil husband, she felt invigorated and alive. This gave her a hunger for more blood that couldn’t be quenched.

The legend of the Dearg-Due or “Red Blood Sucker’ was born. She used her great beauty to lure unsuspecting young men and sank her teeth deep into their necks drinking greedily.
With each new taste for blood, she grew hungrier – feasting on the blood of as many men under the darkness of night as she could with promises of love.

Then she disappeared. What happened to her? Where did she go? Is she still out there?
folklore says the grave of the young woman can be found at a place called the Tree of Strongbow (or Strongbow’s Tree) in Waterford, Ireland.

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The Banshee

A Banshee is a fairy in Irish legend and her scream is believed to be an omen of death. The scream is also called ‘caoine’ which means ‘keening’ and is a warning that there will be an imminent death in the family. As the Irish families blended over time, it is said that each family has its own specific Banshee.

A Banshee is a disembodied spirit and appears in any of the following forms: a) A beautiful woman wearing a shroud b) A pale woman in a white dress with long red hair c) A woman with a long silver dress and silver hair d) A headless woman who is naked from the waist up and carrying a bowl of blood e) An old woman with long white hair wearing a green dress and frightening red eyes f) An old woman with long grey hair dressed all in black with a veil covering her face.

Historians traced the first banshee stories to the 8th century which were based on a tradition of women singing a sorrowful song to lament someone’s death. These women were known as ‘keeners’ and since they accepted alcohol as payment, they were thought sinners and punished as doomed to become Banshees.

According to the mythology of the Banshee, if she is seen, she vanishes into a cloud of mist with a noise like a bird flapping its wings. Banshees never cause death – they only serve to warn of it.

Not all Banshees are cold and impassive creatures. There are some that had such strong ties to their families they continued to watch over them in death. When they manifest themselves, these Banshees appear as beautiful enchanting women that sing a sorrowful, haunting song full of concern and love for their families. This song is heard a few days before the death of a family member and usually only by the one for will die.

There are angry and vengeful Banshees that during their lives had reasons to hate their families. They manifest as distorted and frightening apparitions filled with hatred. The howls emitted by these Banshees are enough to chill you to the bone and rather than warning a family member of their imminent death, these Banshees are delighting in vengeance via the death of someone they loathed.

In other Irish mythology stories, the Banshee is the ghost of a young girl who suffered a brutal death and her spirit remains to warn of an imminent a violent death to her family members. This Banshee appears as an old woman with rotten teeth and long fingernails wearing rags with blood red eyes. Looking directly into her hate-filled eyes brings about immediate death. Her mouth is always open as the piercing scream torments the living.

According to other tales, some Banshees derive pleasure from taking a life and actively find their victims and wail constantly until the person commits suicide or goes insane. There are even Banshees that tear people to shreds. This violent, bloody banshee features most commonly in modern horror films.

It is important to remember the role of the Banshee isn’t to bring or reliever death but warn a family member so they have time to prepare for the inevitable.

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Mirror Folklore

In folklore, a mirror is a doorway or portal through which spirits, including ghosts and demons can gain access to the physical world where demonic infestations and hauntings occur.

In prehistory, any shiny surface was regarded as a spirit doorway and used to summon spirits into the world. They also are used for seeing visions of the future.

Much of the folklore about mirrors is negative. They are viewed by some as “soul stealers” with the power to suck souls out from bodies. In the Greek myth of Narcissus, he sees his own reflection in water and falls in love with it, staring hopelessly until he dies.

In some Christian beliefs, the Devil and Demons can enter through mirrors to attack people.

There are also numerous beliefs about mirrors and the dead. In many folklores, when a person dies, all the mirrors in a house should be turned over because if the soul sees itself in a mirror, it will not rest or can become a vampire. Corpses seeing themselves in mirrors will also draw bad luck upon the household. In some cultural beliefs, where corpses are laid out in homes, people still believe that souls linger about the body until burial.

Another folk belief is if a person sees his or her own reflection in a room where someone has died, it is an omen of their own death. Mirrors also should be covered in sick rooms in the belief that when the soul is weakened it is more vulnerable to possession during illness.

In other folklore, mirrors are believed to reflect the soul and must be guarded lest the soul be lost. These fears carry over into superstitious customs, such as covering the mirrors in a house after death to prevent the souls of the living from being carried off by the ghost of the newly departed through a mirror.

In some Russian folklore, mirrors are considered the invention of the Devil because they have the power to draw souls from bodies. Similarly, mirrors and in some places of the world all shiny surfaces, must be covered in a house after a death to prevent the soul of the living from being carried off by the ghost of the newly dead. Mirrors are covered in case one sees the corpse looking over one’s shoulder.

In an old Persian spell, ghosts may be seen in a mirror by standing in front of it and combing the hair without thinking, speaking or moving.

In then folklore of the American Ozark, the appearance of a distant friend in a mirror means he or she will soon die.

The famous folklore that breaking a mirror means seven years of bad luck but also heralds a death in the family or household. For example, if a child breaks a mirror, one of the children in the house will die within the year.

If a home is plagued with unpleasant spirit activity, the mirror in the bedrooms should never be placed at the foot or head of a bed. To do is is considered a negative influence for a person to be able to see himself or herself from any angle in a mirror while in bed. Mirrors should also never reflect into each other as this creates an unstable psychic space. A folk remedy says a mirror should be placed so that it faces outward toward a door or window. The reasoning being when the unquiet spirit looks in a window or attempts to cross a door threshold, it will see its own reflection and be scared away. Mirrors can also be closed as portals by rubbing the edges of them or washing the surfaces in holy water.

Mirrors are also tools used in Divination and Magic. In divination, mirrors train the inner eye to perceive the unseen. Throughout history, mirror gazing has been used for prophecy, aid with healing, find lost objects and people and even to identify or find thieves and criminals.

The power of mirrors—or any reflective surface—to reveal what is hidden has been used since ancient times. Gazing upon any shining surface is one of the oldest forms of Scrying (a method of divination practiced by the early Egyptians, Arabs, the Magi of Persia, Greeks, and Romans). Magic mirrors are mentioned by numerous ancient authors, among them Apuleius, Saint Augustine, Pausanias, and Spartianus. According to Pausanias, divination for healing was best done with a mirror attached to a string . The string was dangled into water and the diviner ascertained whether or not a sick person would heal.

In ancient Greece, the witches of Thessaly reputedly wrote their oracles in human blood upon mirrors. Pythagoras was said to have a magic mirror that he held up to the Moon to see the future in it. Romans skilled in mirror reading were called specularii.

In the late Middle Ages, Catherine de Medicis reputedly had a magic mirror that enabled her to see the future for herself and for France. Pére Cotton, the confessor to King Henri IV of France, had a magic mirror that revealed to him any plots against the king.

In Christian folklore, mirrors enable demons to make themselves known. St. Patrick declared that Christians who said they could see Demons in mirrors would be expelled from the church until they repented.

In Vodoun, a magical mirror is called a minore. A minore is made of highly polished metal and is consecrated for the purpose of seeing visions in divination. Only a priest or priestess may use a minore.

For Magic, both flat mirrors and concave mirrors are used in magic. Other shiny and reflective surfaces work as well like crystal balls, good size crystals and bowls of water or ink. Franz Bardon taught precise instructions for making magical mirrors that would be “loaded” or empowered with the help of the elements, the Akasha, light and fluid condensers. The result of such a charged magic mirror should be stored wrapped in silk to protect its energies from contamination.

Mirrors are also used in Scrying which is accomplished by the astral and mental powers developed by the magician and not specifically the mirror. The mirror serves only as an aid for focusing such powers.

Visualising a person in a magical mirror enables contact. The scryer can then go to the astral plane to communicate with the dead. The living can be contacted through a mirror as well with the scryer visualizes the person intensely until they seem drawn out of the mirror.

The magic mirror can be used as a tool for investigating the past, present, and future. A mirror helps the magician transcend time to see events which is one of the most difficult aspects of mirror work.

The medieval magician Albertus Magnus recorded a formula for making a magic mirror: Buy a looking glass and inscribe upon it “S. Solam S. Tattler S. Echogordner Gematur.” Next, bury it at a Crossroads during an uneven hour and on the third day, go to the spot at the same hour and dig it up—but do not be the first person to gaze into the mirror. In fact, said magnus, it is best to let a dog or a cat take the first look.

The Aztecs used a mirror like surfaces to keep witches away. A bowl of water with a knife in it was placed in the entrances of homes. A witch looking into it would see her soul pierced by the knife and flee.

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The Dullahan is a headless rider on a black horse carrying carries his own head under one arm. Usually, the Dullahan is male, but there are some female versions.

The mouth of the head has a rictus grin and the eyes move constantly. The Dullahan also has the power to see across the countryside even during the darkest nights. The flesh of the head is said to have the color and consistency of moldy cheese.

A spine is used as a whip and the Dullahan only stops riding when a person is due to die. The Dullahan calls out the doomed person’s name and at this point they immediately perish.

There is no way to bar access against the Dullahan with all locks and gates opening at the approach. Apparently, any who observe their work are doused in blood – marking them among the next to die. Occasionally, the spine whip is used to lash out their eyes. A piece of folklore says the Dullahan are frightened away by gold- no matter how small a brooch or pin.

After sunset on certain festivals and feast days, the Dullahan rides his magnificent black stallion across the country side. And wherever he stops, a mortal dies.

Unlike the Banshee, which is known to warn of an imminent death in certain families, the Dullahan does not come to warn. He is a harbinger of death and there is no defence against him – except perhaps, an object made of gold.

A story from Galway says that a man was walking his way home when he heard the sound of horse’s hooves pounding along the road behind him. He turned around to look and to see the Dullahan bearing down on him. He began to run but nothing can outrun the harbinger of death. The man remembered he might be able to outsmart the uncanny being. He dropped a gold coin in the middle of the road. High above him there was a loud road, and when he turned to look back at the road, the Dullahan was gone.

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Conflux 16 2022 Convention

A very late post on the October 2022 Conflux 16 Speculative Fiction Convention held in Canberra. Aside from being an invited panelist for 4 seperate panels, I ran my first Dealers Table for the four days and officially launched Bluebells.

I was also an invited panellist on 4 panels – each exciting to engage with an audience and discuss the theme in question with other likeminded writers.

“Queering Fiction” was a wonderful discussion about how authors create characters with a LGBTQI identity – or how authors like Sam Hawke create an entire world where sexuality is fluid and accepted.

“Re-imagining Horror in a Pandemic” was a great lineup of panelists discussing how the pandemic affected them as writers but also how the wider public changed perceptions and fear became a driver of society. For horror writers, fear is the driver of a story. Many ideas were exchanged on whether horror writing would become more or less popular and certainly Fantasy seemed to be the main genre read during pandemic lockdowns.

“Including Disability in Fiction” was such an important panel that like the queer community, characters with disabilities are often absent, stereotyped or in the background of a storyline. This panel explored what writers living with disabilities experience and want to see more of in fiction and from their own writing.

“Climate Change: Past and Future” was a fascinating panel exploring the emergence and importance of climate fiction in publishing scene. Discussions ranged from the emergence of man-induced climate change to the reality of how climate change is affecting everyday existence and how that has seen the explosion of dystopian fiction. An important comment by Cat Sparks was that perhaps we should be focusing in our writing of turning the current climate crisis around and sending a message of hope in doing so.

The last event was a live 5 minute reading session with Kaaron Warren. I read an excerpt from Bluebells when Peter first meets Nicolas de Laon on the frontlines in Belgium.

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Publisher’s Description

In a small New England town, in the early 60s, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister, Charles Jacobs. Soon they forge a deep bond, based on their fascination with simple experiments in electricity.

Decades later, Jamie is living a nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll. Now an addict, he sees Jacobs again – a showman on stage, creating dazzling ‘portraits in lightning’ – and their meeting has profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings.


I was recommended to read the horror and dark fiction novel Revival by Stephen King. What an amazing book.

Revival follows protagonist Jamie from a young boy when he meets the new pastor one chance afternoon and becomes fascinated by the man who sees God’s work on equal with the science behind electricity. But disaster strikes several times and eventually Pastor Charles Jacobs leaves being a town pastor. Instead re-emerges as a carnival healing attraction – taking donations with some healings true ones , others fakes.

Jamie becomes a highly sought musician but succumbs to drugs and his life takes a dive. Until he crosses paths with Jacobs again who heals his addiction . But Jamie soon learns there are side effects to some of the healings – sometimes disastrous ones. He begins to uncover the network of healings and their side effects.

When he finally confronts Jacobs now in his 70s and suffering the effects of many strokes – he’s drawn again by the charisma of the man and agrees to aid in one last healing which reveals the true aim and horror that Charles Jacob’s had devoted his life to.

Final Thoughts

Revival took me on an unexpected journey with twists and turns I didn’t see coming. The characters drive the story and King’s slow revealing of the horror behind the curtain. A masterful piece of storytelling that leaves you guessing until the very end and terrified when the truth is finally revealed.


A wonderful psychological horror. A slow development that readers will enjoy the development of the characters and the unravelling of the true mystery and horror at the heart of this novel. One of King’s best! Highly recommend read!

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Damnation Games

*** I received an ARC in return for an honest review ***

Publisher’s Description

Alan Baxter, editor of Damnation Games, believes horror is the genre of honesty.

‘With horror, there’s no shying away from brutal reality to supply a happy ending. Even when the evil is overcome, it seldom happens without cost. Survivors are rarely unscathed. Horror looks into the darkness and doesn’t turn away. It confronts it.’

This is also true of crime fiction. The rising dread at the heart of a good mystery has the same affect. That oh shit no feeling in a story that’s a real as the day’s news can have you on the edge of your seat precisely because it could happen – next door. Or in the next room.

Put the two together – crime fiction and horror – and all sorts of nasty business come out of the woodwork. Sometimes literally.

Alan invited a horde of criminally good writers of horror and the supernatural and has produced an anthology of tales set in a variety of locations and eras. The stories herein include urban monsters, Victorian mathematicians, contemporary lawyers, near future police, and outback ghosts.


One of my recent reads was the anthology Damnation Games edited by Australian/UK author Alan Baxter. It didn’t disappoint.

In honour to Clive Barker’s The Damnation Game and other words, the anthology combines the mysterious, horrifying, splatterpunk, crime and supernatural.

Favourites which I found absolute stand-out hits for the uniqueness, skilful writing, unusual concepts of crime while maintaining an atmosphere that was haunting and unique.

In no particular order: “Ghost Gun” by John F D Taff, “Spool” by Dan Rabarts, “Zoo” Gemma Amor, “The Hungry Bones” by Lee Murray, “Dangerous Specimens” by Robert Hood, “Kookaburra Cruel” by Aaron Dries and “The Infinity Effect” by Joanne Anderton.

Final Thoughts

Alan Baxter has drawn together a fine work that has each piece masterfully written and unique. There is something for every reader from gritty supernatural crime, scientific malevolence, horrific gangsters and strange crime. Drawn from authors with unique and seperate backgrounds and writing styles, Damnation Games is remembered well after finishing it and fits beautifully as a tribute to Clive Barker.


Highly recommended. A dive into supernatural worlds and haunting tales. This anthology is gritty, mysterious, horrifying and leaves you wanting for more.

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The Bloody Chamber

Publisher’s Description

From familiar fairy tales and legends – Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, Puss in Boots, Beauty and the Beast, vampires and werewolves – Angela Carter has created an absorbing collection of dark, sensual, fantastic stories.


I read the classic The Bloody Chamber and Other Tales by UK author Angela Carter as part of a gothic literature course.

Carter retells many classic fairytales that the world knows from childhood or from wider readying. She tears away the layers of subtle coverings that have always made these tales feel slightly comforting but not quite innocent. The thrilling and horrific feminist retelling of Bluebead in “The Bloody Chamber”, the sometimes scary, mournful and honest retelling of Beauty and the Beast in “The Courtship of Mr Lyon” and the unique, sexually subversive retelling “Puss-in-boots” were just some of the unique tales transformed and transported in time and place but the true honesty of the darkness within the real fairytales is retained.

Final Thoughts

This gothic retelling of classic fairytales from Bluebeard, Beauty and the Beast, Puss in Boots and others was revolutionary for a feminist twist to some stories but also a brutal, horrific and sexually subversive culture to many of the tales. It is the classic fairytales reimagined in an adult world of their original settings with the veneer of sweetness torn away. Brilliant and terrifying. I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend it.


This is a classic for readers of fairytales – both retellings and reimagining. Carter tells these tales in a new and unique way which is horrific, honest and amazing. Highly recommend read.

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The Haunting of Hill House

Publisher’s Description

Four seekers have arrived at the rambling old pile known as Hill House- Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of psychic phenomena; Theodora, his lovely assistant; Luke, the future inheritor of the estate; and Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman with a dark past. As they begin to cope with horrifying occurrences beyond their control or understanding, they cannot possibly know what lies ahead. For Hill House is gathering its powers – and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.


I read this classic psychological thriller The Haunting of Hill House by US author Shirley Jackson as part of a gothic literature course. It’s always been on my to-read list and this was the perfect opportunity to give it a thorough read.

Hill House has a long and strange history of accidents, unexplained deaths and tragedy. There is something disturbing about the lands on which Hill House is built – the uneasy hills the cup the house, wild meadows and forests, overgrown walled gardens. It all adds to the atmosphere of a haunted place.

Final thoughts

The Haunting of Hill House left me thinking about it for weeks to come. The atmosphere of the house itself made it a character – and Jackson was phenomenal to create a twisted, grotesque monstrosity of a house and a haunted character. The writing was something I couldn’t put down but didn’t want to end. Brilliant.


A brilliant read. Perfect for those who enjoy gothic horror at it’s best, a slow-burn psychological thriller and a mystery of a haunted house. And what a haunted house- twisted and insane, a character in itself. Highly recommended!

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Year Four Release

Year Four

Year Four, an anthology of dark drabbles was published on January 6th by Black Hare Press. Three of my dark folklore drabbles are featured and a flash fiction piece.

If you’re interested in purchasing an ebook or paperback copy of Year Four, more details are available here