Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Punishment by Hope by Erik Hofstatter


Nim is a master swimmer floating on waves of wet hope. His penance is to swim and carry, but his heart is held onboard a grieving ship in the aquamarine prison of her eyes.

She is his sentence and he is hers. Will a mysterious humanoid jellyfish reunite the star-crossed lovers?

This book contains graphic sex and violence, and is not suitable for readers under the age of 18.


“Punishment by Hope is a wildly poetic and surreal odyssey through sexual obsession, murder and retribution, set in a bioluminescent Dantesque world of fiery and aquatic horrors.”—Barbie Wilde, Author (The Venus Complex, Voices of the Damned) and Actress (Hellbound: Hellraiser II)

“A dreamlike seascape of desperate wishes, and a nightmarish vision of love’s life and death, this is a powerful, haunting tale.”—Tim Lebbon, Author of Eden

“Punishment by Hope is a vivid and erotic fantasy mystery. Hofstatter weaves a memorable spell.”—James Bennett, Author of Chasing Embers

“Punishment by Hope ebbs and flows in its oceanic imagery, giving you a taste of something you might want before churning in gore or the grotesque and then withdrawing back into its own uncanny depths like some kind of foamy blood tide. And like the vast ocean, the tale it spins is at once visceral, lustrous and literally unfathomable.”—Michael Arnzen, 4 x Bram Stoker Award-winning Horror Author

“Punishment by Hope is an erotic, splattery fever dream of a story. It gets to the core of what makes the very best horror. Underlying both is the sense that the universe isn’t orderly or benign, but rather chaotic and malicious.”—Tim Waggoner, Bram Stoker Award-winning Author of Winter Box

“A dreamlike seascape of desperate wishes, and a nightmarish vision of love’s life and death.”—Tim Lebbon

This is unlike anything I have read before, the first surreal genre story I have read. At first I wasn't sure what to make of it but the imagery is so rich it carried me along. This feels more like a poem than prose. 

Set in a mythical world full of magic we have a dark love story between two lovers who aren't always what they seem.  Nim is a master swimmer and hopelessly in love with Esiteri who is trapped on a ship far out in the ocean. Nim is tormented with her captivity but there is no way to free her without hurting her, but he still lives on hope that one day they will be together again.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Daughters of Darkness by Theresa Derwin, Ruschelle Dillon, Stephanie Ellis and Alyson Faye


A quartet of established female horror writers from both sides of the Atlantic have joined supernatural forces to bring you - Daughters of Darkness - a publication from the women-run indie press Black Angel.

These stories will take you across the centuries, from Whitechapel to New Orleans, from dark humour to Gothic, weaving the weird with the macabre.

Within these pages, meet the myriad monsters these female writers have conjured, letting them loose to roam and cast long shadows.

Beware - this is only the beginning...

Daughters of Darkness was one of those anthologies that I read all too quickly as I couldn't wait to see what the next tale would be about. In these pages we have four female writers all hugely talented but all able to stand out with their tales of darkness.I had so much reaidng this and really hope there will be a Daughters of Darkness 2!!!!!

Theresa Derwin starts off the anthology with her offering of 5 dark tales and poetry - Freaks and Geeks, Whitechapel Transfer, Tummy Bug, Isolation, Something Fishy This Way Comes and And the Giant Said to Jack...

I absolutely loved all these tales and was very excited to discover a new horror author to follow! I loved how the two tales of Whitechapel Transfer and Something Fishy this way Comes intertwined with each other. Whitechapel Transfer is a brand new take on the sinister legend of Jack the Ripper which I loved. Isolation deals with the sudden realisation that things aren't right in your life but you feel powerless when it comes to change. 

My absolute favourite tale from this bunch had to be Tummy Bug which was just so creepy! I don't want to say too much about it and ruin the shocks!

Next up is Ruschelle Dillon, in here you'll find six of her tales; Catatonic, Is That Your Dead Wife or Are You Pleased to See Me? Tim and the Tempest, The Dollhouse, Hair of the Dog ,and Seasons of the Sun. I found these so much fun, all full of horror but laced with dark humour. I really enjoyed Tim and the Tempest where our protagonist makes the trip of a lifetime. Catatonic really gave me the chills too!

Stephanie Ellis offer up two tales; Painted Ladies and Beyond Hope. Beyond Hope really blew me away, Stephanie Ellie is a genius when it comes to folk horror and this tale really hit the mark! Loved it. Painted Ladies was just so dark!

Last but not least is Alyson Faye with her tales; It's In The Walls, Mr Dandy, The Raven's at Bellows Crypt and The Blasted Tree, as well as two poems, A Forest in France 1917 and Under the Corset. It's really hard to pick a favourite out of these as they are so varied in style and setting yet all amazing. The Blasted Tree is such  haunting tale about a family trying to survive against a run of very bad luck. 

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

The Maker's Box by David Barclay


Emily has been obsessed with the occult since her mum died, collecting every pagan curio and oddity she can find. Then on the night of her 16th birthday, her father gives her a piece of real magic; a beating human heart inside a wooden box. If the gift weren't strange enough, his instructions are even stranger; You'll need to feed it to keep it alive. 

The box needs her blood, and in exchange, shows her wondrous and rousing things. Desires she never knew existed. But as Emily's father lapses into addiction, as she grows weak with blood loss she realizes all too late the box has desires of its own. 

The Maker's Box is a contemporary dark fairy tale of magic, obsession and madness.

The Maker's Box by David Barclay is a very dark tale about a dark heart. It is the second novella to be released by Aphotic Realm the home of dark and sinister fiction. I really enjoyed reading Nightcrawler by P.A.Sheppard and knew I was in for something really dark!

On her 16th birthday Emily is given by her father a box. Inside is a heart still beating. Her father trusts her to look after it and tell no one. This is a heart that belongs to someone really special. All she needs to is give it a little blood every now and then.

Soon Emily and the heart form a strange connection. It speaks to her and understands her desires like no one else. The heart must be fed from Emily's own blood and soon inhabits her dreams. 

It doesn't take long for her friends to become concerned about Emily, especially Noah once she tells him of her strange dream about a magic man named Lock. He becomes even more fearful for his friend when he discovers at the library that this man is real.

I really liked this tale, it was unusual and probably one of the darkest tales I have ever read. Emily, the main character is so sweet and innocent and watching her feeding and caring for the heart like most girls her age would care for a cute bunny was just so sinister! You really want someone to step her and save her from the heart and from her father who clearly has secrets he's hiding from his only daughter. 

Emil's family has a very dark history which has been kept hidden from her, can she figure it out before it is too late?