research

Legend of the Pussy Willow


“The Legend of the Pussy Willow”

In an old Polish legend, many springs ago, a mother cat was crying at the bank of the river where her kittens were drowning.

The willow at the river’s edge longed to help her, so they swept their long graceful branches into the waters to rescue the tiny kittens who had fallen into the river while chasing butterflies.

Each of the kittens gripped tightly to the willow branches and were safely brought back to shore.

According to the legend, each springtime since, willow branches sprout tiny fur-like buds at their tips where the tiny kittens once clung.

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Dark Nature

*** I received an ARC/Review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review ***

Publisher’s Description

Generation after generation, humans have ripped apart the world, leaving garbage and desolation in our wake.Burning, destroying, and stealing from the earth. We see it happening day by day and do nothing about it. Our air is toxic with pollution along with our waters and the earth cries as it watches the destruction.

Until now.

From the depths of the darkest minds of horror comes mother nature’s final retribution. It’s time for Gaia to fight back, and karma really is a b*tch. Dark Nature is an anthology of thirteen dark tales of nature.


Review

My latest read was a horror anthology Dark Nature by Macabre Ladies Publishing.
Particular favourites of mine included “In the Wych Elm” by Emma Kathryn, a nice portrait of past and present uniting in a darkly woven tale of folklore and magic. “She Weeps Vermilion (O, Harbinger)” by Hayden Waller is an ocean themed tale of the destruction wrought by humanity and the vengeance that rises as a colossus from the depths. Lastly, “Pt. Reyes” by BF Vega was another good blend of environmental disrespect, cause and effect, with surreal folklore of the natural world creating new horrors for the mind.

Final Thoughts

Dark Nature is a unique horror anthology exploring scenarios when natural forces seek revenge on humanity for abuse and desecration of the environment. Although some stories were slow to build action or create tension, there were particular favourites of mine that underscored vengeance sought by the darkest of nature.

Conclusion

Recommended read for readers seeking an unusual anthology of different voices on the darkest natures of humanity and our environment. Well worth reading!

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Certain Dark Things

Publisher’s Description

Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires. Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is just trying to survive its heavily policed streets when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life. Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, is smart, beautiful, and dangerous. Domingo is mesmerized.

Atl needs to quickly escape the city, far from the rival narco-vampire clan relentlessly pursuing her. Her plan doesn’t include Domingo, but little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his undeniable charm. As the trail of corpses stretches behind her, local cops and crime bosses both start closing in.

Vampires, humans, cops, and criminals collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive? Or will the city devour them all?


Review

I recently read the much anticipated release of Certain Dark Things by Mexican-born Canadian author Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

Certain Dark Things is an alternate history where the existence of vampires has become well-known and governments taken measures to control, destroy or contain the threat they pose. Mexico is run by drug cartels and violent gangs, the warring vampire clans at the apex but only Mexico City is a vampire free zone. Or so the police force, much of the population and government think. When Atl escapes the destruction of her own vampire clan, an ancient Aztec vampire race who were warrior priestesses and flees south to Mexico City, she brings another clan of vampires on her trail wanting vengeance in the form of her death. Unable to survive any other way in a city where she is prey instead of the predator, Atl recruits Domingo, a roughened street kid about her own age, honest and dependable to be her ‘Renfield’. But soon Atl and Domingo rely more heavily on each other than a vampire and servant should. Only together can they hope to survive Mexico City, the violent street gangs, the police force and the vampires seeking Atl.

Final Thoughts

Certain Dark Things is an alternate history set in Mexico City, a fresh take on vampire lore, with substantial world-building and exploration of global vampire lore. The plot maintained a quick pace, a thrilling atmosphere of Mexican crime and vampire lore. Unfortunately, the ending felt flat, a little sudden and under-developed. Despite this, Certain Dark Things was a great read.

Conclusion

A highly anticipated novel promising crime elements, horror and vampires. Certain Dark Things was a refreshing exploration little known vampire lore. A great read for anyone who enjoys vampire stories, horror and dark fiction. A recommended read!

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Dreaming of Djinn

Publisher’s Description:

To open Dreaming Of Djinn is to open a jewel encrusted box full of exquisite and mouthwatering delicacies.

This sensuous and truly mouthwatering collection melding the modern and the ancient with the strangeness of speculative fiction, is a treasure trove of originality and exotic magic. It will ravish your senses as it transports you to a world of flying carpets, powerful ifrits, exotic foods and above all, dancing as deadly as it is beautiful.


My Review:

My recent reads included the anthology Dreaming of Djinn edited by Liz Grzyb is inspired by the Arabian Nights mythology, tales and folklore.
Particular favourites include ‘On a Crooked Leg Lightly’ by Alan Baxter, a tale of princess would-be assassins willing to escape societal control at any cost. ‘The Quiet Realm of the Dark Queen’ by Jenny Blackford is a beautiful weaving of Mesopotamian myth and legend with a feminist edge. Lastly, ‘Silver, Sharp as Silk’ by Dan Rabarts tells of the desert Ifriit and the unexpected reasons behind destroying travelling caravans.

Final Thoughts:

Dreaming of Djiin is a wonderful anthology of diverse tales, lavishly told and well-researched.

Conclusion:

A must-read for lovers of Arabian Nights, vivid tales and enchanting retellings of classics. Highly recommended!

Short Fiction, stories, Writing

Näcken Folklore

The näcken is a water being from found in Scandinavian folklore. The näcken is a variant in Sweden of the Norwegian fossegrim, a river sprite that drowns children and unwary travellers in the brook. The näcken can also be bargained with and a mortal learn to play the fiddle with similar enchantment. Once taught, the mortal fiddler will play so beautifully that the trees are said to weep. But like any bargain with otherworldly beings, there is usually a high cost for the skill earned at the näcken’s tutelage.

I was inspired by the folklore of the näcken and similar river sprites when writing a new microfiction focusing on the aftermath of a bargain made between the näcken and a musician. The fiddler now plays with the enchantment the näcken’s skill provided, but those who listenen to him play must dance to their deaths.

research, Short Fiction, stories

Dark Christmas Lore


Christmas is a time for celebration and family gatherings, right? Strictly speaking, yes. But there are darker lores beneath the celebration many of us enjoy each year. The folklore surrounding the Krampus and even Saint Nicholas and the Butcher are grisly territory.

When I travelled to Iceland in 2019 for research, I found a very different set of folklores related to Christmas and the span of Yuletide. The folklore of thirteen Yule trolls who terrorise and disrupt Icelandic life for thirteen days is eclipsed by the arrival of their mother, the cannibalistic troll-witch Gryla who steals away children to cook into stew for her large family in their mountain cave.

Fascinated by this dark and fable-like warning of the dangers around Yuletide in Iceland, I was inspired to write a short story featuring Gryla and the Yule trolls, focusing on the darker natures the Yule trolls reportedly once possessed before modern sanctification of their images.

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Starve Acre

Publisher’s Description

The worst thing possible has happened. Richard and Juliette Willoughby’s son, Ewan, has died suddenly at the age of five. Starve Acre, their house by the moors, was to be full of life, but is now a haunted place.

Juliette, convinced Ewan still lives there in some form, seeks the help of the Beacons, a seemingly benevolent group of occultists. Richard, to try and keep the boy out of his mind, has turned his attention to the field opposite the house, where he patiently digs the barren dirt in search of a legendary oak tree.

Starve Acre is a devastating new novel by the author of the prize-winning bestseller The Loney. It is a novel about the way in which grief splits the world in two and how, in searching for hope, we can so easily unearth horror.


Review

I read horror folklore novella Starve Acre by UK author Andrew Michael Hurley after many recommendations. It did not disappoint!

Starve Acre follows protagonist Richard and his wife Juliette six months after the unexpected death of their son, Ewan. The couple are struggling to mend their marriage and Juliette is convinced Ewan’s ghost still haunts the house. When Juliette invites a group of occultists into the house to help with Ewan’s ghost, she is remarkably healed for a while, her thoughts of Ewan almost vanished as though he never existed in their lives.

Juliette’s husband Richard, has become fascinated with a legendary oak tree that once grew in the now fallow field of Starve Acre, a plot of land where nothing grows and where the oak tree -where once men were hanged for crimes – no evidence remains. But Richard finds the roots of the oak tree and a skeleton of a hare. Bringing the skeleton of the hare inside the house, Richard begins a dark reworking of magic and horror that is reborn from the fallow earth of Starve Acre.

Final Thoughts

Starve Acre is a only a novella but written in a skilful literary style more commonly found in novel-length volumes. Weaving together complex characters and events, important details are revealed like breadcrumbs leading the reader to the final truth of the mystery of Starve Acre. It is a glorious dark fiction tale, strong in gothic folklore and utterly chilling.

Conclusion

A highly recommended read. Starve Acre is a must-read for fans of dark fiction, those who enjoy gothic folklore, a literary contemporary fantasy and readers who enjoy a chilling mystery. Thrilling!

Short Fiction, stories

Stories of Survival Release

Pleased to announce that Stories of Survival published by Deadset Press was released on 21 August, 2021. This speculative fiction charity anthology is in honour of Australian speculative fiction writer and mentor to many, the late Aiki Flinthart, with all proceeds going to the Melanoma Foundation to help with the fight against cancer.

This anthology includes many wonderful stories from Australian and New Zealand speculative fiction authors. Featuring my own Fae-inspired short story “Three Tasks for the Sidhe”, you can read more about the research behind the story here.


More details on how to purchase ebook or paperback copies of Stories of Survival can be found here.

research, Short Fiction, Writing

Inuit legend of the Qallupilluk

I am always fascinated by First Nations legends and lore. One of my current research projects has focused on the Inuit legends of the Qallupilluk, monstrous female beings who lurk in the frozen waterways and beneath the ice sheets, snatching unwary children beneath the icy water.

My latest short story examines this legend from the perspective of an outsider, someone who is not of the Inuit, and to whom the legends are foreign, placing her and her child at risk.

events, Short Fiction, stories

Summer Terrors Release

It’s summer in the northern hemisphere and today, US publisher Black Ink Fiction released their next holiday microfiction anthology Summer Terrors.

Summer Terrors features my two dark tales of macabre Australian summer with the grisly “Summer at the Beach” and, inspiration from Namorroddos, terrifying winged vampire beings from Australian Aboriginal lore in “Summer Moon, Leather Wings.”

You can find more details on how to purchase Summer Terrors as an ebook or paperback copy here.