Posted on Leave a comment

Tesato’s Code

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

Publisher’s Description

A reluctant corporate assassin who is losing her edge, discovers fellow assassins are dying after killing high-value targets. When she botches a hit, her employers assign her such a target—a top scientist.

Love and loss cloud her judgment, and only following her code will help her survive.

Futuristic thriller from Karen Bayly.


I recently read the novelette Tesato’s Code by Australian speculative fiction author Karen Bayly.

The plot follows the protagonist Lily, an assassin for the massive conglomerate corporation that runs everything from medical sciences, domestic servants and the more secretive arm of the businesses of assassination. This futuristic world includes genetic manipulation, implant enhancements and keeps a tight rein on dissent or rebellions.

But assassins are being taken out by their own kind as the cooperation clamps down on rising rebellions within the ranks of its own and in the Free-Willers society. Lily comes face-to-face with secrets from her past and an astonishing future is revealed.


Tesato’s Code had some fabulous world-building and it would have been fantastic if it were longer to better explore the history and intricacies of the world. Bayly writes a fine science fiction that is solidly written with individualised characters despite the conglomerate corporation’s attempt to make all its citizens subservient.


A recommended read for fans of dystopian science-fiction, thrillers, LGBTQIA and dark fiction. A great read!

Posted on Leave a comment

Nona the Ninth

Publisher’s Description

Her city is under siege.

The zombies are coming back.

And all Nona wants is a birthday party.

In many ways, Nona is like other people. She lives with her family, has a job at her local school, and loves walks on the beach and meeting new dogs. But Nona’s not like other people. Six months ago she woke up in a stranger’s body, and she’s afraid she might have to give it back.

The whole city is falling to pieces. A monstrous blue sphere hangs on the horizon, ready to tear the planet apart. Blood of Eden forces have surrounded the last Cohort facility and wait for the Emperor Undying to come calling. Their leaders want Nona to be the weapon that will save them from the Nine Houses. Nona would prefer to live an ordinary life with the people she loves, with Pyrrha and Camilla and Palamedes, but she also knows that nothing lasts forever.

And each night, Nona dreams of a woman with a skull-painted face…


I recently read Nona the Ninth (Locked Tomb, #3) by New Zealand author Tamsyn Muir.

Nona the Ninth follows from Harowhark the Ninth which saw both Harrow and Gideon end in dire circumstances. We now follow Nona in a child’s body but without any memory of flicker of Harrowhark inside except for her dreams with John (God). Fled to a desecrated planet on the brink of civil war, Nona is cared for by the remaining cavillers of the Nine Houses.

But as things become more complicated on the planet and necromancers made public, Nona and her ‘family‘ fight their way to a shuttle in aim of opening the Tomb and restoring Harrowhawk’s memories to Nona’s body. But opening the Tomb that must never be opened has great risks of waking its sleeping occupant and guardian.

Final Thoughts

Nona the Ninth was cleverly written, believable characters and the chaotic world. While maintaining some of the esoteric style throughout the other books, I enjoyed this almost as much as the first book.


Highly recommend for lovers of science fiction particularly space operas. The continuation of the Locked Tomb series is a must for anyone who enjoyed the flamboyant style of Gideon the Ninth. A must read!

Posted on Leave a comment

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.

Posted on Leave a comment


Publisher’s Description

On the rosy sands of a distant Earth colony, Sabella lives a quiet life in her isolated home—carefully hiding her vampirism from society.

Sabella may not be undead, but she is painfully allergic to sunlight, possesses supernatural strength and speed, and feeds on fresh blood. In her youth, Sabella seduced a number of men, killing them all for fear of discovery. But with age comes control, and Sabella has sworn off of drinking human blood.

After four years of staying clean, Sabella receives an invitation to her Aunt Cassi’s funeral—along with several thousand credits to ensure she attends the reading of the will. But when Sabella arrives at the funeral, she discovers that the funds were a ruse. Before her death, Cassi—a devout Christian Revivalist—discovered the truth about Sabella and tasked her manservant, John Trim, to hunt Sabella down. Trim hires private investigator Sand Vincent to get close to Sabella and suss out the truth.

But Sand is only human—and Sabella anything but. As Sand becomes enthralled by Sabella’s charm, Sabella must combat her own instincts to keep him alive—and society’s suspicions away.


I read the gothic space opera Sabella by UK author Tanith Lee as part of a gothic literature course.

Sabella lives an isolated life in a house just before the true wilderness of canyons, deer and wolves take control. It is literally the end of the road. Sabella is a vampire and her isolated life is self-chosen because of her inability not to kill her lovers..

The death of her aunt and the formal request of her presence at the reading of the will is requested and orchestrated by her aunt who hated her. Reluctantly, Sabella attends only to receive a paltry sum of money and a curse. Aside from the cursed cabinet which Sabells leaves behind, she is followed by Sand – a man she met on the space ship who is fascinated and intoxicated by her.

Sabella engages in a sexual relationship with Sand but can’t control her feeding. As true as any curse, she kills Sand and within days his brother Jaice appears looking for him. Jaice is bold, brutal and unrelenting. When Sabella escapes him and the darker urges of her hunger and feeding become insatiable, she loses control. It is Jace who rescues her from herself.

Jace also reveals the stranger secret that bind them from investigations of an underground tomb for the original inhabitants of Neo Mars. It is that secret which Sabella and Jaice share their vampiric natures.

Final Thoughts

Sabella was a truly thought-provoking read which beyond the science-fiction and horror, dealt with the core of human natures and the sexual deviancy that is so commonplace in the gothic literature. It is skilfully written, unique and blazing characters.


Sabella was a great read. A blend of science fiction, horror and fantasy into a gothic masterpiece. A perfect read for lovers of the gothic, bizarre, a well-written story and a new take on the vampire tale.

Posted on Leave a comment

Engines of Empathy

Publisher’s Description

Charlotte Pudding, computer psychologist and recent orphan, is not precisely thrilled with her lot in life (and not just because of the ‘orphan’ bit).

Nevertheless, having her routine disrupted by a shadowy corporation, a man who claims to be a retired god, and the secrets of her own family history isn’t a walk in the park, either.

Charlotte’s quest for answers will lead her on a perilous journey into a religion based on quantum physics, a hunt for unexpectedly rare plant oil, and a fight to the shame against a black-belt in sarcasm.

In a world that runs on peace and harmony, Charlotte is about to discover just how far some people are prepared to go to maintain tranquillity


I recently read the science-fiction novel Engines of Empathy (Drakeforth Series, #1) by New-Zealand born author Paul Mannering.

The protagonist of this quirky science fiction thriller is Londonite Charlotte Pudding. Quickly introduced to a world where everything runs of the empathic energy of people, from cars, fridges, toasters and elevators- a situation arises when empathetic energy stored in giant batteries begins to fail.

Charlotte, a sensible but sometimes quick with a quip, is harassed to find her heirloom family desk may hold one of the greatest mysteries and scandals of empathetic energy. Forced in to an acquaintance and partnership with Vole Drakeforth – a man of dubious means and doubtful character- Charlotte is quickly embroiled in secrets, lies, coverups and scandals which have lasted generations and their exposure threaten the very future of empathic energy.

Final Thoughts

Engines of Empathy was a well-planned, easily inducted world-building for a science fiction that didn’t bog down in detail but introduced it along with the characters and their lives. It was one of the best science fiction world-building I’ve had the pleasure to read for some time. The quirky characters and ridiculous scenarios added to the sense of a Discworld novel. But there is also real depth to Engines of Empathy which made it stand out.


A great recommended read for lovers of comedic science-fiction, innovate world-building, mystery, suspense and rollicking good fun. A must read!

Posted on Leave a comment

Whispers in the Dark

Publisher’s Description

Two decades into an eternal sentence in the impenetrable Void for daring to rebel against the might of the Empire, and Agent Ivory is ready to give up on life entirely, even if the unseen Warden of the prison won’t ever let him die.

But when a mysterious voice in the darkness visits him in his isolation, the prisoner is determined to see the sun on his face once again, even if the outside world is not what it once was…


I recently read Whispers in the Dark by Australian author K.B. Elijah, a novella blending science-fiction and dark fiction.

The protagonist, Agent Ivory, has been imprisoned in an inescapable cell, his body held in stasis where he cannot die nor have hope of escape nor rescue. From these bleak beginnings, it is the promise of hope that proves the greatest torment to Agent Ivory. Despite the improbable, Agent Ivory escapes the prison known as the Void, aided by the whispering voice only he seems to hear. Guided on his escape, Ivory cannot shake his paranoid thoughts of pursuit, of hope dashed should he fail to escape and seek revenge for his imprisonment. It is this dark offering which the Void failed to crush, the promise of hope that will prove to be Agent Ivory’s greatest weapon or failure.

Final Thoughts

Whispers in the Dark was an intriguing psychological story combining elements of science fiction and dark fiction, exploring the strongest emotion in the darkness, is always hope.


A great novella from a new voice in Australasian speculative fiction. Recommended for those who enjoy a psychological read, literary tale where dark fiction blends into science fiction.

Posted on Leave a comment

Tick Tock Anthology Release

I am thrilled to announce the release on December 15th, 2020 of Time Travel anthology Tick Tock (Five Hundred Fiction, #1) published by Black Hare Press.

Tick Tock features 500 word flash fiction including my story “Second Chances” a desperate escape from World War II ravaged Europe into the Neolithic through a standing stone circle. You can read about writing “Second Chances” here.

Interested in purchasing an ebook or paperback of Tick Tock? More details here.

Posted on Leave a comment

Harrow the Ninth

From the Blurb:

“She answered the Emperor’s call.

She arrived with her arts, her wits, and her only friend.

In victory, her world has turned to ash.

After rocking the cosmos with her deathly debut, Tamsyn Muir continues the story of the penumbral Ninth House in Harrow the Ninth, a mind-twisting puzzle box of mystery, murder, magic, and mayhem. Nothing is as it seems in the halls of the Emperor, and the fate of the galaxy rests on one woman’s shoulders. Harrowhark Nonagesimus, last necromancer of the Ninth House, has been drafted by her Emperor to fight an unwinnable war. Side-by-side with a detested rival, Harrow must perfect her skills and become an angel of undeath — but her health is failing, her sword makes her nauseous, and even her mind is threatening to betray her. Sealed in the gothic gloom of the Emperor’s Mithraeum with three unfriendly teachers, hunted by the mad ghost of a murdered planet, Harrow must confront two unwelcome questions: is somebody trying to kill her? And if they succeeded, would the universe be better off?”


I admit to possessing a strong bias when I started reading Harrow the Ninth by New Zealand author Tamsyn Muir. I adored Gideon the Ninth, the first instalment in The Locked Tomb Trilogy and after such an extraordinary and unique beginning, I expected great things from Harrow the Ninth. I was not disappointed and the second instalment in The Locked Tomb Trilogy was surprising, complex and at times- perplexing. The highly-charged atmosphere of Gideon the Ninth could not be recreated and to avoid a pale replica, Harrow the Ninth makes its own impact.

Harrow the Ninth continues from events that concluded Gideon the Ninth. There are substantial time lapses, jumps both forward and backward as Harrowhark, the protagonist of this novel, battles the truth of her own madness and tries to master the powers of a lyctor before the Emperor Undying is hunted down by the vengeful ghosts of organisms, entire planets murdered during the first Resurrection. The reality for Harrowhark is that unreality is bleeding through into her daily existence and her teachers are either intent on her demise or indifferent about her survival. Harrowhark needs all of her wits and strength to survive the coming battle and as madness descends, she needs Gideon more than ever.

My Thoughts?

Harrow the Ninth is not a recreation of the concepts or style familiar in Gideon the Ninth. If looking for more of the same, it’s not found here. Instead, Harrow the Ninth is distinctly its own and refreshing for it.


Highly recommended. Brilliant characters, complexity and world-building continuing The Locked Tomb Trilogy. A great read!