Sunday, 29 January 2017

Cornish Folk Tales by Mike O'Connor

Our Cornish drolls are dead, each one;
The fairies from their haunts have gone;
There's scarce a witch in all the land,
The world has grown so learn'd and grand.
Poem by Henry Quick

You might think that it's just the Irish who have a rich history of spinning tales around the fire, but the Cornish  too have their own wealth of celtic tales that have been passed down through the centuries.

By reading Cornish Folk Tales by Mike O'Connor you'll discover the true history of Cornwall, of piskies, giants, trolls mermaids and unruly demons and how they once ruled the land. In these pages you'll learn how places really got their name and why it is that Cornwall has so many saints. You can find out all Lyonesse; the lost city. Learn of the strange ties between King Arthur, his birthplace, the location of his last battle and the lake in which went the sword Excalibar.

The book is written about  an old droll, a story teller, Anthony James who was a real person. Sources say he was born in the late 1700's in Cury and spent his youth in the armed forces, he also played the fiddle and was a prolific story teller. He was blinded during service and after leaving he lived in Stoke Military Hospital in Devonport during the winters months but as soon as the weather grew fair he would travel all over Cornwall telling his tales in exchange for supper and shelter.

In this tale Anthony James travels the land with his young companion Jamie one summer. The writing is utterly charming and Mike O'Connor sure knows how to spin a tale. These fantastic tales have only been preserved through the efforts of people like Robert Hunt and William Bottrell who made it their missions to capture these tale sin print so they could be enjoyed forevermore.

About the Author

Mike O'Connor has been awarded an OBE for his services in Cornish instrumental music, he has also been made a bard of the Gorseth of Cornwall an honour bestowed on people who have contributed  outstandingly to  Cornwall's ancient culture, history and language. He is also a prolific storyteller and regularly performs all over the British Isles.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Pseudotooth by Verity Holloway

In the tale of Pseudotooth we find Aisling Selkirk,a young girl stuck in that strange period of our lives where we all endure the transition from adolescence to adulthood. It's something we've all been through, being deeply unsure of what it is we're supposed to do with our lives and just what is laying in wait around the corner.

But Aisling is what you would call - extremely farsighted - and can see beyond the sphere that everyone sees. As a result she suffers mental trauma which presents itself in the physical manifestations of strange blackouts and seizures which no doctor can explain.

Beverly, her mother soon tires of her daughter's condition being deeply embarrassed that her daughter is a social pariah and hampering her own efforts with fitting in. After a brief stint in a psychiatric ward which has done nothing to sort out her condition, Aisling is sent to deep rural Suffolk to stay in a grand old house with her great aunt Edythe. Aisling's mother mother  hopes that a bit of peace and quiet will soon have Aisling back to normal. It sounds so peaceful and idyllic but it doesn't take long for her formidable Aunt to find her secret journal with her clandestine visions of Feodor...

Events spiral quickly in the house, first there are unwanted visitors and then Aisling stumbles across an ancient Tudor priest hole down in the cellar which sends her world upside down. She meets a dashing young man named Chase who takes her away from everything she knows and hates.

At first the story feels very cramped and claustrophobic giving you an insight into Aisling's unique perspective. As I read the first part I  felt it was taking too long to get going, but with hindsight I see that it was necessary so that we could feel and see what Aisling feels. It is a great adventure story and very unique to anything I have ever read. I hate it when you can easily predict what's going to happen next in a story but there is none of that in Pseudotooth.

This is a tale about outcasts and misfits, each character is an outcast either through choice or destiny. There's not one character in here you could call normal which makes for a captivating tale. Even Beverly the mother goes through strange rituals such as relentless dieting in order to fit in and Aunt Edythe is a woman trapped i within her own strict rules. Pseudotooth reminds me of the saying, "We're mad in our own little ways," and examines the fight and struggles people will put themselves through to feel accepted within society.

I have to admit this is a very strange book, but I really enjoyed it. I would describe this as being speculative fiction that errs on the side of literary fiction. I'm not embarrassed to admit that I usually don't go in for high brow literary fiction. For me it's all about delving into a great story that grips you instantly taking you off on a great adventure, but this book did just that as well as exploring many themes such as loneliness, acceptance, revenge and finding peace. There is a very strong dreamlike style of writing which really adds depth to the tale. I really liked this book and would definitely recommend it to others. This is a brilliant debut and I'd love to see more books from Verity Holloway.

Pseudotooth by Verity Holloway is currently scheduled for release in March 2017 from Unsung Stories you can find out more here at

About Verity Holloway

Verity Holloway was born in Gibraltar 1986 and grew up following her Navy family around the world. She graduated from Cambridge's Anglia Ruskin University with a First Class BA IN Literature and Creative Writing and went on to earn a Distinction Masters in Literature.

Her short stories and poems have been widely published with her story, 'Creating Imelda' being nominated for the Pushcart Prize. In 2012 she published her first chapbook, Contraindications. Her novella, Beauty Secrets of the Martyrs, was released in 2015. Her first non-fiction book, The Mighty Healer: Thomas Holloway's Patent Medicine Empire (Pen and Sword), a biography of her Victorian cousin who made his fortune with questionable remedies, was published in 2016.

To find out more head over to her website

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Danse Macabre by Laura M Hughes

I came across this novelette completely by chance after the author kindly giving it away for a limited period on twitter. A free book? How could I resist?

I'm so glad I saw that tweet as this little story was simply exquisite, a real treat to read from beginning to end.It is deeply atmospheric despite having an unknown setting and as the title says, it is truly macabre. I have to admit it took me a while to figure out what was going on but I didn't mind being led down the rabbit hole as I was too busy enjoying the ride.

The tale centres around a young child who's innocence is in start contrast with Him, and that's all I can say. I don't really want to delve too deeply in the plot and risk spoilers for those who haven't read the story. It is a really well crafted and thought out story which offers something really different. Each word earns it place in this tale and I love all the really clever clues scattered around. Once I had finished reading this, I began to read it again. Even once finished I couldn't put it down. It was on the second read that I saw how clever it was!

This is the perfect reading for those dull periods when you find yourself in between books. I really hope that we'll see more great works from Laura.M.Hughes in the not too distant future.

About the Author 

(Bio taken from author's website -

Laura M. Hughes dwells beneath the grey, pigeon-filled skies of northern England where she reads and writes for Fantasy-Faction and When she isn’t absorbed in playing Dragon Age or working on her first novel, you’re most likely to find her trying to convince unsuspecting bystanders to read The Malazan Book of the Fallen.
Hughes encourages like-minded folk to seek her out on Twitter @halfstrungharp and to check out her horror/fantasy novelette, Danse Macabre, on Amazon.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Three Dead Men by Calvin Demmer

In this latest instalment of Calvin Demmer's Dark Celebrations series, a young woman, Maiko Hayashi is left puzzled by the sudden disappearance of her beloved uncle, a highly respected professor who's dedicated his life to collecting strange and wonderful artefacts.

Despite it being Christmas Eve she is feeling alone and rather lost. She feels like she has no place in the world. Despite going off to college she is lonely finding it hard to make even friends, finding a boyfriend seems impossibly hard. Often she comes round to visit her uncle as a means to escape from her parents resentment and bitter disappointment in her. She wonders if she had been born a boy they might have felt differently towards her.

However when she arrives at her uncle's house on the very edge of town, all is dark and there is no sign of him. On closer inspection Maiko finds his car parked in the garage and inside someone has recently been bring lavender incense. She decides to go looking for him in his secret shed down at the bottom of the garden.

Unfortunately Maiko finds not just her uncle in terrible danger, but her too. Can Maiko, a mere girl, in her parents eyes rise to the challenge of saving herself and her uncle?

Despite the horror and gore this is a sweet uplifting story about female empowerment and how we all have the power to take control of our lives. If you love this tale and eager for more, this is the seventh short story to be released by him and the great news is that they're all available on Amazon for mere pennies! Brilliant for when your wallet needs a break after Christmas. He's previously published Hungry GhostsLabor Day Hunt,  Thanks Sinning, Trick or Death and Happy Dark Year.

About Calvin Demmer

Calvin Demmer is a crime, mystery and speculative fiction author. When not working, he is intrigued by that which goes bump int he night and the sciences of our universe. His work has appeared in a variety of publications including Under The Bed, Deadman's Tome, Siren's Call, Sanitarium Magazine, Morpheus Tales, Devolution Z and many, many more.

You can find out more about Calvin Demmer at

Twitter @CalvinDemmer