Georgian Romance Revolt by Lucinda Elliot Out on 17 September

Following on from my last post about servant lead characters, my own dark comedy ‘Georgian Romance Revolt’ is out on 17 September and is available for pre-order here .

Without wanting to write a spoiler, one of the lead characters is incongruous in his role as a servant…

The story follows the adventures Elaine Young, a young woman living in near the future, who goes on a ‘Cyber Escape Break’ into the early Georgian world of her favourite novel by the renowned historical romance writer Charlotte Cray, only to find it alarmingly warped.

For a start, her coachman Johnnie – certainly a minor character in the original novel – is exactly like one of Charlotte Cray’s ‘Golden and Reckless’ hero types.

Then, the anti-hero -the disgraced earl turned highwayman known as Erl Lawless, and wholly a Dark, Mean and Moody Type of male lead – steals Elaie’s escape device in the form of her engagement ring, trapping her in this cyber world adventure.

…Or is this a cyber world?

Erl Lawless keeps on talking about a ‘scribbling dame’ who has somehow gained control of his actions. Meanwhile, the characters begin commenting upon their own roles in the most alarming way.

Tired of being taken for granted by a part time boyfriend, Elaine only wanted to enjoy a trip to Charlotte Cray’s version of early Georgian England. Now, trapped in this unpredictable world, she is desperate to escape back to mundane reality…

More Comedy for Testing Times: An Extract from ‘Ravensdale’ (Now Free on Amazon ): Morpeth the Thief Taker, on the Trail of Reynaud Ravensdale, Calls in to Question the Landlord of the ‘The Huntsman’.

Ravensdale-300x200(1)

“If this ain’t a Bow Street Runner or some other thief taker, then I’m a Dutchwoman,” Kate told Suki, as they watched the short, stocky, dapper man came up to the Inn door. “Good morning, Sir. What will you have?”

They knew he was staying with their rivals in The King’s Justice up the road. The landlord there prided himself on running a respectable house. The tenants of The Huntsman knew he was jealous, because he didn’t have such open-handed customers. The man was even applying for a licence to have his premises made into a gaol, possible future lodgings for some of the regulars at The Huntsman.

The customer glanced about with hard pale grey eyes, fixing them on the baby, who let out a wail.

Kate picked him up. “Serve the gentleman, Suki.”

“A tankard of porter. A fine infant; is he your only one?”

“Seeing as I was only married fifteen months come Saturday, yes, Sir.” The man wetted his moustache. “Has Reynaud Ravensdale been in lately?”

“Ravensdale?” Kate laughed. “You can’t mean that Lord? The gentleman has high notions of our patrons, Suki. Yes, Sir, him and the Prince of Wales, they came in together.”

The man’s eyes hardened still more. “Exercise your wit, Mistress, if you will, but Lord or no, now he’s an outlaw, and lower than the merest farm hand, a wanted murderer with a price on his head for highway robbery. I hear tell he’s been seen hereabouts.”

“By who?” Kate looked outraged. “That old harridan over the way, I’ll be bound. There’s so many sightings of that Ravensdale in different places, he must have a better horse than Turpin’s Black Bess to get about the way he does, is all I can say. What did they say he looked like?”

The man took some swallows of his drink before he pulled out a printed bill. “Here’s the official description, and not so helpful, with him having medium colouring, and no distinguishing features, save it does say, ‘noticeable eyes’ whatever that means. Tall, it says, and spare though strongly made, and he has a fair trick in disguise. When he stayed with you, I think his hair was dyed and unpowdered and it was described as brown.”

“Could be anyone,” Kate gazed at him with her jaw slightly dropped. “Does he have the trick of adding pock marks to his face, makes him look fair ugly? Remember, Suki? There was a man stayed who looked like that, brown hair and so on, said he was going Reading way.”

“Or maybe,” Suki looked struck, “It could’ve been that stout man that would never take off his coat? He could have stuffed in pillows underneath his waistcoat. I remember thinking his thinnish face went ill with his body. I mind he rode a dun coloured horse and went up north.”

The man snorted: “Do you take me for a fool? Have a care, mistress; the magistrates don’t like to renew licences for those who harbour known highway robbers. Where’s the master of the house?”

“This is a respectable house, and I’ll give my mind to anyone who says different,” Kate said angrily, while Suki tossed the bright blue ribbons Flashy Jack had given her in defiance. “The master’s away on business; he ain’t due back till tomorrow at the earliest.” Kate looked squarely into those judgmental eyes, which seemed to know the purpose of that trip.

The baby let out a furious wail.

“Now see what you’ve done! They understand more than you think, and he don’t like you coming in here making out we ain’t fit to run a decent establishment.”

Suki clicked her tongue.

The man actually looked abashed, before draining his porter with a business-like slurp. “I play my part in keeping the world safe from marauding thieves and murderers like His Lordship Reynaud Ravensdale, and if you’ve nought to hide you won’t mind my questions, nor your baby neither.”

They all turned about at a crash. The one time librarian at Wisteria House tottered into the yard to collapse on the bench.

The thief taker nodded to the women. “I may call in again.”

“Do, Sir, and we promise to keep a sharp look out for His Lordship.”

The man paused in the door, saying to Suki, “Look out for his fellow robber John Gilroy too: tall, fair hair, quite the swell and a ladies’ man. He’d have an eye for a pretty wench like you, miss; you and half the girls in London if I hear right.”

He must have been disappointed at her indifferent shrug. Kate snorted: “Be serious, Sir! As if we don’t get young men in here all the time, making up to her, and half of them called Jack or John.”

‘Ravensdale’ is free on Amazon.com  here

and on Amazon.co.uk here

and on Kobo here

Where Worlds Meet Out on Amazon

Where-Worlds-Meet-1877x3000-Amazon-300dpi
Sophie looks alarmed; and with good reason; Emile has just led her into his own world outside time – and he doesn’t seem quite himself…

At last, ‘Where Worlds Meet’ is out on Amazon.com

here

And on Amazon.co.uk on

here

the prequel, ‘That Scoundrel Émile Dubois’ is here free  on Amazon  and on Smashwords here

You can also get ‘Ravensdale’, which also belongs to the same series, free on Smashwords here   and if you care to point out to Amazon that they should price match, they may make that free too:

On this cover, Sophie does look alarmed, in contrast to Émile’s swaggering and savage demeanour, and she has good reason, as he has just introduced her to his own sphere outside time, and doesn’t seem quite himself…

I did love writing this.

Well, I always love most of the writing part, but I particularly enjoyed  drawing back from the dead the half undead Kenrick and Arthur and describing the grotesque absurdities of his monster men. Also, I loved  writing about Émile Dubois and his cousin Reynaud Ravensdale working together as a team, and Reynaud’s Amazonian true love, his ex-comrade-in-arms Isabella,  as a foil to the spiritual Sophie.

When writing ‘Ravensdale’, about the adventures of Reynaud and his meeting with Isabella as a highwayman (that career seems a popular one in that family)  I was tempted to bring in Émile for them to live as outlaws together, but complications to do with Émile’s needing to be over in France at that time made it impossible.

One of the things I really enjoyed about writing this latest, was that one of the main driving points of the plot is a love affair between two characters from the servant class – Kenrick’s man Arthur, and the sultry Éloise, maid to Sophie (and once her rival for Émile’s attentions). In contradistinction to the traditions of so much historical gothic, it was interesting making the actions of a servant have strong consequences for good or evil.

There is a wicked siren in this – would it be  spoof Gothic without – the late Ceridwen Kenrick’s  own cousin (cousin’s abound in this), whose humanity has been compromised by both Ceridwen and Kenrick. She has her secret reasons for joining in Kenrick’s schemes; for Kenrick has still failed to find reunion with his beloved first wife, and as before, will stop at nothing to achieve his aims.

Unfortunately, I had to leave the practical but Tarot consulting Agnes – one of my favourite characters – back at their now home at Dubois Court in Buckinghamshire for this. I didn’t want to overwhelm the reader with competing assertive characters, and for that same reason, I had to give only a walk-on role to Mr Kit in this, and to keep Mrs Kit and Émile and Sophie’s adopted waif  Katarina offstage.

I suppose I am fairly typical in being very fond of my own characters, even such specimens as Kenrick.

What made me reflect on this was reading an excellent Indie novella, ‘The Carrot Man’ by Theo A Gerken which is unusual in having as its theme a sordid, petty struggle between two wholly inadmirable characters that has no serious consequences for anyone.

That is, of course, just about the opposite for the blurb for most books.

Perhaps that was what the author had in mind.  Certainly,  it works brilliantly: here  is the link to my review:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2219824577

The author thought I was a bit too hard on the protagonist, and I could have been more charitable about him  (I expect he was fond of him in the same way that I am fond of Kenrick).

Anyway, it makes a great read. Like all of the darkest comedy, it’s somehow cathartic.

It can be very hard to carry out that excellent bit of advice by James N Frey and to ‘follow through’ and deliver that bloody end, that unhappy ending, when it comes to writing an unhappy fate of a character to whom you have become attached (in a good way,  I mean, not as in ‘Alex Sager’s Demon’).

And that brings me to another book I relished recently, Mari Biella’s ‘Pietra and Other Horrors’.  This series of dark tales, like ‘Lord of the Flies’ is an exploration of the uneasy coexistence of the savage and amoral and the civilized, both in the external environment, and in the human heart and psyche.

Besides her elegance of style and vivid writing, I have always admired the way that this author never draws back from wreaking havoc to the lives of her characters when the plot requires it.  This is never easy to do.

The author brings a new approach to a series of classical themes of terror, the vampire, the zombie, the werewolf, the sea folk, and the traditional and malevolent spectre.

Here’s my review:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2219833247

Reverting to Arthur Conan Doyle, whom I mentioned in my last post, he seemingly could do it quite happily. He admitted to being utterly callous about the supposed death of Sherlock Holmes in  1893 in that fight to the death with Professor Moriarty by the Reichenbach Falls. Still, perhaps he resented his character for taking up so much of his time and attention.  He had to be offered – for those times – great sums of money to back his creation and write more Holmes’ stories.

He was equally callous about poor Watson’s wife, the Mary Morstan whom he meets in ‘The Sign of the Four’. As he wished to have Watson share the rooms at Baker Street with Holmes again, Mary Morstan had to be killed off with a pen stroke.

It must have been convenient for him to be so oblivious to his characters happiness. While I do not, like Dickens or George Eliot, shed tears over my characters’ fates if they are sad, they do give me a pang.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackwood by Jo Danilo: A Darkly Humorous Fairy Tale for All Ages

51cODtPtwTL

I found this a real page turner; it may be officially YA, for twelve or over – but it is not a book with an appeal restricted to a particular age group, It is laugh-out-loud funny, intriguing and sad in turns.

At the climatic scene, where the protagonist Silas is briefly given his own particular hearts’ desire – only to have it snatched away – I found that there were tears in my eyes. That is a compliment indeed to the writer, as these days, after reading so many novels, I am hardened towards characters’ feelings – unless they are really well portrayed.

It begins with the feel of a quirky, tongue-in-cheek fairy story, but it is far more than that; the rising tensions in the merciless battle between the humans and the ethereal population at Blackwood leads to a climatic section of powerful transcendence ( a word that readers who are truly YA may have to look up in the dictionary, but a useful one to know for literary criticism).

In fifteenth century England, the family of the fisherman ridiculously called Crumb are delighted when a baby sister is finally born to their son Silas. But the genius baby has been conceived through magic, and is finally revealed as a changeling.

The family have a few happy months together before they realise this. During this time Silas – an unusually sensitive boy – makes up and sings a wistful cradle song to his sister which has much relevance to what happens later:

‘‘Tis just the beginning of you and of me,
As we wander by the stream.
You on one side, I on the other,
Just water in between.

I’ll sing to you as time goes by,
As winter melts to spring.
As flowers bloom, and die again,
So to life we’ll cling.

I’ll sing to you as the river floods,
And we’re poured into the sea.
And then I’ll hold you in my arms
Together, finally.’

In carrying out the ritual recommended by the priest to exchange a changeling, both parents and the baby are drowned. Silas is left alone. He is devastated, but after a months’ disappearance, during which time he is seemingly mysteriously healed, he returns to the village and his old life of fishing.

As he grows up – seemingly light hearted again – he becomes friends with a local gypsy youth, Otto. He falls for a village girl, the spirited tomboy Mab, who unfortunately for him, only cares for him as a friend.

She is in love with the handsome Otto, who fascinates most of the women in the village: in fact, Christina notices about him:

‘The way he walked and the way he held his head showed how confident and sure of himself he was. He had a very authoritative air. A girl would feel safe from the world in his arms.’

The villagers have no doubt that evil magic from the fairy population caused this tragedy and many others. They have long been petitioning the local lord of the manor to do something about it – without success.

These fairies are anything but sweet. They are warlike, vengeful, and if delicately made, often human sized. They regard humans as their natural enemies.

The Lord of Blackwood believes that the peasants exist to give him taxes, not to be protected from nonsense about fairies exacting tolls to venture onto their land.

Some of the petitions are serious, but some are absurd. The absurd ones made up some of my favourite parts of the novel:.

‘Mrs Wainwright went to the Black Wood to gather mushrooms last week, but forgot to pay the toll. She awoke in her bed the next morning with no recollection of what happened after entering the woods, and without a sense of smell. She believes she was abducted by the faeries who subjected her to experimentation. (The Lord of Blackwood was informed of this petition, and concluded that Mrs Wainwright’s lapse of memory is most likely due to harvesting and consuming the wrong type of mushroom).’

Christina knows of Silas’ tragedy, and the fear under which the villagers live. When her alarming stepmother is killed in a hunting accident, she learns that her taskmistress – who brought her up to be stoic and hardly – was preparing her for an hereditary task, that of fighting the fairies, which she has long been doing herself.

CONTAINS SPOILERS

At Christina’s first attempt to confront them, her eyelids are magically removed by one of the enemy. This horror, which might have destroyed her, inspires her to become a wholly dedicated warrior. She wants vengeance, for herself, for Silas, and for the others. Christina mourns all night; she knows that disfigured as she is, she will almost certainly never marry and have children now. She must become the dauntless warrior that her stepmother wanted her to be.

She enlists the help of a Captain of the Guards, a redoubtable warrior who recommends a gruelling routine:

‘VI of the Clock: Upon waking, immerse completely in a cold bath to waken the mind and body. Breakfast: Porridge, 3 eggs and fresh bread. VIII of the Clock: Dress in full armour and run three times around the castle walls, stopping as little as possible. Followed by sword practise in the yard with one of the soldiers. Followed by an ascent of the Keep (still in full armour). If all this is completed before lunch you may take a rest…’

This seeming mercilessness is based on concern for her welfare: he knows that she must be in unbelievably strong and tough minded to wage her personal crusade against the ethereal enemy. He is in fact a lovable man (my personal favourite in the book). She comes to realise: – ‘She loved him without question, and had for a long time. She had hidden it well even from herself.’

But then tragedy strikes…

Meanwhile, Mab and Otto have discovered that they are in love. She has visited the Sacred Tree, which grants wishes, to ask for Otto to be hers. Unluckily, she forgets to pay the toll to the fairies. Accordingly, he has been kidnapped by another gypsy group by way of retribution from the faeries.

She and Silas go in search of him. Mab is brave; Silas has something to learn about courage, and they make a comic duo as they go through many, often alarming, and often laughable, adventures.

But at last, all the main characters meet in Blackwood, to enact a decisive conclusion to the war between the humans and the ethereal enemies.

It is difficult to do justice in a review to this book, as it is wholly original. Likeable characters, unexpected twists to the plot, exciting confrontations, happy and sad scenes and dark humour combine to make a truly unique tale.

To round off, here are some of my favourite quotes:

‘The trees went from being welcoming towers of greenery to being haggard, frosty sentries with a sudden wind howling through their branches.’

‘As always, he pictured his family. His mother was knitting at the fireside, his father was smoking fish in the backroom with his cheerful whistle clearly audible, little Salome was sleeping soundly in her crib by the small window. Silas shook his head. With a puff, it all vanished.’

‘Now he was angrier than he had ever been (which was not difficult). He roared at the faeries and charged. It did not matter if he lost his life, for he had lost everything.’

 You can buy this book  on Amazon.com here
and
from Amazon.co.uk here

Conspiratorial Conversation Between That Scoundrel Émile Dubois and His Right Hand Man Georges

8d4ccd6b3c77b8917e8c371f4354c2d6-1

I would like to apologise for this post appearing late. It was fine on the preview, and now I find that there was nothing there for three days! IT does NOT like me.

Émile Dubois: [lounging in his rich dressing robe] Georges, I have news of the most tiresome. And by-the- by, mon ami, we are not alone. We are surveyed – even as we speak, so be discreet.

Georges: [clenching his fists] Merde! Do you mean, them Bow Street Runners has finally guessed who Monsieur Gilles and his Gentlemen of the Road really was and is spying on us? The sneaking –!

Émile Dubois:  No, I do not think we need fear the forces of justice closing in upon us.

Georges: Never say that mad vampire inventor is back yet again! [Expresses himself even more coarsely.]

Émile Dubois:   I have yet to hear that happy news.  No, by news of the most tiresome, I mean that our biographer has delayed in recounting our further adventures, in favour of some story about some fellow in 1821.  No, when I say we are surveyed, we are followed in the form of what is known as a ‘web log post’. That is why we’re speaking English, with some French expressions thrown in.  That being so, limit your maledictions.

Georges: Merde! What’s maledictions?

Émile Dubois:  The low manner in which you and I normally converse, when we are alone, mon vieil ami.

Georges [bristling]  What does this fellow have, that we don’t?

And 1821? Le diable, by then we may well have gone to our final account. [uneasily] I hope Madame Sophie still prays for us every day?

Émile Dubois:  She prays for us every day, and twice on Sundays. It don’t seem to be doing a whole lot of good, though we try, après tout, and we ain’t ridden out to rob anybody since we met les femmes.  I am advised that highway robbery is out of fashion by 1821. You know how difficult it was become for us, with those toll gates and patrols.

Georges:  [reminiscently]  Monsieur Gilles, you said we must leave Southern England until the hue and cry had settled after that latest brush with the patrols, and we went to visit your cousin Lord Rhuddlan high on that mountain most isolated in the North of the Wales, I did not expect such adventure, or that we would meet such wilful women, eh? Vampires and time snags, and mad inventors.

Émile Dubois:  Vraiment, Georges.  Neither did I expect to meet in my aunt’s companion one Sophie de Courcy, the lost Anglaise I had encountered when I was living in Paris under the guise of Monsieur Gilles, robber chief.  Least of all did I expect her to have no memory of our meeting, because it was yet to happen for her through a journey back in time.

Georges:  And then, you were piqued, shall we say, at her attitude, and that sent you straight into the arms of that vampire siren, who changed you.  I know when to be discreet; I will not speak of the assignation in which she changed you/ You returned from that encounter most feverish, and (resentfully) spewed upon the most magnificent pair of boots I ever owned. I cut such a dash in them boots that respectable matrons approached me in the road.

Émile:  Tais toi, Georges! You have complained at my treatment those boots ever since. I weary of hearing about them.

Georges:  And then, my Agnes having decided against me, I sought diversion elsewhere also, so that it ended by that local girl biting me. Such sport as we had in our bloodlust!  I remember most vivid jumping out at Agnes from a cupboard, while you would chase your Sophie about the room. Au bon vieux temps, or as they would say in English, ‘the good old days’.

220px-Renoir23Émile: That is one way of putting it, Georges.  

Georges: It were a fine adventure [struts over to the mirror, and regards himself complacently as he rearranges his neckcloth]. I  don’t think our biographer emphasized  how fine looking a man I am. And then, there is the title of that romance: ‘That Scoundrel Émile Dubois’.

Émile Dubois:  Are you outraged on behalf of two such morally upright characters as myself and yourself, Georges? It seems an accurate character depiction to me. You recollect those are the very words Lord Dale said, when he recognised me by my eyes when we held up his fine carriage. Perhaps our biographer laid little emphasis on your handsome looks for fear it might pain me.

Georges: Bien sûr, we did right to rob Monsigneur of his gains most ill gotten. He was a scoundrel himself, who stole from the poor to give to the rich. No, it ain’t that I mean. But why wasn’t it called, ‘That Scoundrel Émile Dubois And Handsome Georges Durrrand His Friend of the Most Gallant Renown ?’

Émile: Alors, you rascal, do you desire that more was recounted of your part in that adventure?

Georges:  No. I am a modest man, and I do not desire to seem boastful.

Review of ‘Birdwoman; The Memoirs of A Lovesick Siren’ by Anne Carlisle

Armitage Siren.JPG

This is an outstandingly original story, which draws the reader in at once into the fascinating world of the siren. It’s exciting, well paced, funny, sad, outrageous and startlingly believable all at once. The writing is vivid, evocative, bawdy, witty and sometimes poetic.

I took at once to the heroine, Destiny, who is born, along with a twin brother of considerably less power – though with an equally strong will – to a mother who comes from a long heritage of sirens.

While Destiny is a siren, her brother is a demon. She loves him, though she knows too well that while she is motivated by a genuine desire for good – along with a fairly healthy ego, that is, and a strong sex drive, that is – Dustin is motivated by a will to destroy.

This evil in Dustin is made worse by the fact that he feels unloved –his mother is disappointed in him, for as a boy he shows no particular talents and an unappealing streak of malevolence – while she is justly proud of her daughter. Not only that, but the siren family has a secret enemy in a disinherited part demon who covertly strives to undermine them through his influence on the boy; and the bitter, rebellious Dustin, an under- achieving male in a dynasty of clever strong females, makes for an apt pupil.

Destined, as her name indicates, to be one of the strongest of the sirens of her family, the heroine is as strong and independent as befits a girl growing up in the early twentieth-first century; she is also both kind and family oriented. She is quite simply great hearted.

This is a heroine who, besides her occult powers, is lovely, an outstanding scholar, aided by her eidetic memory, a gifted musician, witty, sensual, cultured and morally aware – but never for one second does she come across as a ‘Mary Sue’. She faces all the feelings of angst, and loneliness and is as tormented by the family conflict by which she is surrounded as any human girl. Her older relatives scold her and take her for granted.

Worse, Destiny seems unable to find true love. She can have any man she likes – that is one of the powers of the siren – but there is a caveat: ‘as long as she likes him dead’.

Destiny dreads this generational curse; she knows that even her devout Grandmother, rebel against her sirenhood –has caused deaths; love, sex and reproduction for the siren must not be mixed: reproduction itself is hazardous, for a male siren is never strong and admirable.

When Destiny does find true love – after many hilarious sexual adventures – this problem becomes truly urgent for her.

Meanwhile, the story moves through the battle between the twins over the fate of the family’s property empire – is it to be used for good or evil? The tensions mount as the story moves to its inexorable climax of violence and sorrow.

Here are a few of my favourite quotes: –

‘ “Death has no impact on character. I’m still insanely jealous, although I’m no longer vain…”Well, at least the afterlife produced some degree of self-awareness.”’

‘Both evil and its antidote reside in the human heart. The best part is, the antidote can be presented as a gift’

‘I wish there was a book I could refer him to, with a title like ‘Emotional Intellgience for Paranormals’.

‘Grammie used to punish Mama with the silent treatment, and once an entire year had gone by without their speaking to each other…’

There are many more excellent quotes. I recommend this book to all fantasy lovers who want a strong heroine and love a laugh. I’m looking forward to the sequel.

https://www.amazon.com/Birdwoman-Memoirs-Lovesick-Siren-Diaries-ebook/dp/B01DB1CH2I/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1463078879&sr=1-1&keywords=birdwoman

An Original, Witty and Spine Chilling Fantasy: Review of ‘Reqium for a Forgotten Path’ by Robert Wingfield

These last couple of weeks I’ve been enjoying reading an excellent fantasy with a strong, independent minded heroine. This is ‘Requim for a Forgotten Path’ by Robert Wingfield.

This is a funny, spine chilling, evocative continuation of the adventures of Ankerita, the eponymous heroine of the first in this series.

I really like this heroine. She is brave, determined, resourceful, loyal, generous, and – decidedly bossy. After all, she’s been around for five hundred years, has been a murderer (of her abusive husband) cursed, drugged, buried alive,become the thief of someone else’s body, then befriended, enslaved, idolised, exploited, and relentlessly hunted down by the sinister Fantasia and her company of thugs . People who have been about for a few decades must seem novices at life to her.

If this young woman ended up as a beaten wife in the early sixteenth century, as we know she did from volume one, then there would have been no hope for the rest of us…

The tale is fast moving and runs smoothly, through every sort of adventure, mundane and arcarne. The writing is full of vivid word pictures but – and this isn’t the contradiction it might appear to be – I was particularly drawn in by the concise, matter-of- fact style. I think, like me, many people will find themselves fully believing in these wild, Gothic adventures through different dimensions and time. Through this combination of humour and readable but sophisticated approach, I really was drawn in and carried along by the tale.

Besides this, I was kept grinning broadly and sometimes laughing out loud by the humour. This is a compliment from me, because often I can read a whole comedy book, and only smile.

The plot took a lot of unexpected twists and turns, and this was an unusual treat for me, because I do find a lot of conventional fiction rather predictable, especially in the way it depicts relationships,and those between men and women in particular. Here, you really don’t know what is going to happen.

Finally, some quotes:

””Farewell, my beautiful darling,” he said sadly, and placed a kiss on her cold lips. “If only..”
The eyes flicked open as he lingered. “If only what, thou odiferous shardborne piglet?”Her cold hand lashed out, and hit him firmly across the
cheek.’

“It’s a parking ticket. You have to like pay a fine.”
“Ah,” said Ankarita,”A pox upon that…”

”The journey became an ordeal. The old man gave off a dim glow which led them down a labyrinth of passages. Jo tried to continue marking,
the walls as they continued to keep up, but the old man was moving too swiftly. They went up sloping passages and down spiral stairways and along twisting tunnels. There were many branches that showed up n the glow of the old man’s ghost light, too many even to try to remember a route. There would be no going back…’

A great read and recommended for all who like a strong, independent heroine and an original, spine chilling and witty fantasy.

Available from Amazon Com –

here

and from amazon.co.uk on

here

 

Extract from my ebook THAT SCOUNDREL ÉMILE DUBOIS

Image

Not snowy, and not on the Famau Mountain, but Walpole’s house was very gothic…

 

Below, here’s an extract from my book.

They stopped talking as the snow smothered roofs of Plas Cyfeillgar came into view. Smoke rose from a couple of chimneys at the back of the house.

The snow muffled beat of their horses’ hooves seemed loud in the silence. They tethered and blanketed their mounts outside the gates. Émile brought out his watch.

“We are early. I want you to take no chances, Georges. It is different for me, but as I take it you want to stay human, make sure you have the – the poisonous stuff to hand. I wonder I have not smelt it upon you.”

Georges sneered. Émile stared at him. “What have you been about, mon ami, you look ill?”

Georges sniggered. “Your face has ever looked ill to me, Gilles Long Legs.”

“There is something to be said for turning into a monster, besides inhuman strength and seeing in the dark, namely the disappearance of my ridiculous freckles.”

They walked through the bitter gusts of whirling snowflakes by way of a shrubbery to the courtyard at the side of the house. They felt eyes on them as they tried an unpretentious side door. It was not locked, and opened easily. They gazed suspiciously about the flagged, bright passageway.

Émile made to go in, and then froze on the threshold. He shook his head, avoiding Georges’ eyes.

Georges spoke softly. “ Is it so bad a fate, mon ami, to lose the threat of the worm and the grave?”

The weedy boy from the pub came down the passage, his eyes darting nervously about. “Come in, Sir.” He beckoned, hand shaking.

“Thank you, boy. Now get you gone.” The boy rushed past them out of the house.

Georges followed Émile into a passageway scarcely warmer than outside.

The water from the snowflakes melting on their heads ran down their faces as they moved up the corridor, coming out into the main hallway.  Émile pointed with his drawn knife to a passage leading off opposite.  As they moved towards it, the shadowy figure of a man in naval uniform lunged at them, cutlass drawn. They jumped to confront it but it vanished, leaving them staring about, wide eyed.

“The Captain himself, as the boy said.” Émile muttered.

Georges swore under his breath. They went towards the door which Kenrick had indicated was his study. It too was invitingly unlocked. Émile flung it open and stood with his back to it, scanning the room for the enemy, while Georges sprang in.

The room seemed deserted. All was icy and orderly.  There were book lined walls, locked chests, bureaux, and a great mahogany desk.  The blind was half open, swaying in the draught from the wind howling in the bleak shrubbery outside.

A leather book was open on the desk, and on it laid a sealed envelope weighted with a small magnifying glass. A great mirror was propped against the desk, so as to show the ceiling, and two candles stood ready.  Between them was a letter, addressed to, ‘Monsieur Dubois or Gilles’.

Shutting the door, they went over to the desk. Émile sliced through the letter’s seal with his blade.

 

 ‘Monsieur,

I expect an Unceremonious Call from a Ruffian such as yourself. I make no complaints of your Conduct; for sure you are in no position to make any. However, I think it probable you will set out to destroy me, and would be reluctant to do the same by you in Self-Defence when much could be gained through our Collaboration. Cast aside Human Prejudices must become irrelevant to you; credulous peasants place their faith in weeds and religious artefacts; you are not so deficient. You are fated to become as I and My Little Wife.

I refer you to the contents of this book.  While I hazard you were not compos mentis when she made sport with it, yet I think the Procedure will be Familiar to you. Light the candles, use the glass, and wait upon events.

I shall be away a while, Conferring with a Fellow Inventor, but expect the man to prove a charlatan, though possessed of some insights.  On my return, we must speak again.

Mistress Kenrick calls, thus I sign off. She will be the Belle of every assembly, as she was of the Lewis’ delightful Twelfth Night Ball which we both so enjoyed.

I remain Monsieur, Yours Faithfully,

Goronwy Kenrick.’

Georges gave up trying to read the note over Émile’s shoulder. “What does he mean by it? Seems plain he needs teaching manners more than I thought.”

Émile was staring down at the book’s thick, cloth like pages, upon which were the blurred outlines of half visible pictures. “He recommends me to try this.  Shall I do so here and now, Georges? I wouldn’t do anything that might endanger Sophie and the others at home.”

Georges frowned. “If that book has to do with this time travelling, it may be a trap to suck you away for good.”

“True enough and all the better for ma pauvre Sophie. I need to light the candles. I note the fire has been laid.” He took up the flints by the grate and set to work.

The fire was soon burning brightly. Émile’s soaked greatcoat steamed as he came over with a taper and lit the candles on the desk. “Stand you over by the window, mon ami, and do not interfere as you have ere this.”

Georges lounged over to stand by the long windows against which the wind hurled gusts of snow. Despite that, it seemed safer and warmer outside, though inside the fire crackled and sparked.

The door sung open. They rushed over to it, but heard only a sighing of the wind somewhere higher up in the building.

Émile shut the door and lit the candles with a taper.  He moved the glass over the barely visible outlines of the pictures. “Keep away, Georges.” The room seemed to darken in contrast to the swirling light illuminating the ceiling. The shapes were playing over the ceiling, moving down.

The Château des Oliviers appeared. Lord Ynyr sat rolling marbles in the sunny courtyard. Émile opposite distracted him with jokes, Bernard squatting between. The bright Provencal sun played over them.

The picture changed. Émile and Georges heard sounds of crackling even before the swirling forms coalesced, showing the night of the fire. Through the smoke they made out the blurred forms of Georges leading Charlotte, hunched with coughing, along the corridor. Bernard stumbled ahead. Émile appeared, dragging along the stout nurse and carrying Marguerite, while the ancient tapestries caught and fell in lashing flames.

The vision disappeared. The ceiling was blank, the room lit only by the candles burning on the desk and the fitful light from outside. Georges and Émile were holding each other, wild eyed and panting.

For a minute, neither of them spoke. Then Georges muttered, “The bastard!”

Émile said softly, “Remind me to kill him for that, Georges.”