Sunday, 30 May 2021

Salvation Spring by T.C.Parker


She doesn’t know where she’s been, these last few years, or how she came by the scars that mark her body. She can barely remember who she is, a lot of the time.

But Sasha knows Salvation Spring, the tiny nowhere town out in the middle of the desert that calls to her in dreams and haunts her waking life.

Getting there is hard. But what she’ll find there - and what the place will ask of her - will be much, much harder.

Because the Spring isn’t what it seems - far from it. And neither, for that matter, is Sasha.

Not by a long way.

This is my third read by T.C.Parker and now I'm a huge fan! Each book is so different yet all have that gripping urgency where you want to read the book cover to cover in one sitting.

In this tale, Salvation Spring, we meet Sasha who has braved great hardship fighting her way through the hot lifeless desert. Her only concern is making it back to the mines. A place she has dreamt of many times, it calls to her and she knows she needs to return to find the answers. 

On horseback she comes riding into a small out of the place town that seems very distrustful of outsiders. She desperately needs to get out of the deadly heat and find shelter but the only hotel is unable to take her in. 

Instead she is forced to stay with Jess, another outsider who lives on the edge of town where she is tolerated by the locals. Sasha finds a friend in Jess and soon she is telling her of her dire need to reach the mines to find the answers she is searching for.

T.C Parker is a master at creating intrigue after only a few chapters I was completely enthralled. This is no ordinary town, no one and nothing is who they seem. I don't want to say too much and ruin it for future readers but the tale takes an unexpected turn which illustrates T.C.Parker's exceptional imagination and writing skills.

Monday, 10 May 2021

Mists and Megaliths by Catherine McCarthy


Welcome to Wales, land of mists and megaliths, where mythical creatures and ancient spirits lurk in the strangest of places.

This collection of 10 supernatural stories offers a flurry of folklore, a gathering of ghosts, and even a cosmic cave creature.

Stories include...

Lure: A fisherman who nets the tail fin of a lure becomes obsessed with finding the rest, but what else lies hidden in the ancient lake?

Carreg Samson: A Neolithic burial chamber stares out to sea, remembering times long since past, but when it loses its heart of stone to a young girl the repercussions are hard to bear.

Coblynau: An old man watches the mountain which was once a slag heap of coal. He listens for the knock of the Coblynau, certain they will come for him... soon, just like they did to warn of the Aberfan disaster.

Author Catherine McCarthy’s second collection invites the reader on a regional journey, evoking a sense of quiet horror from the cosmic to the Gothic.

This collection contains ten tales ranging from cosmic horror to unsettled ghosts, foreboding gothic, dark humour and old myths and legends from Wales. I don't think I've ever come across a Welsh themed horror anthology before, but it works so well! 

Catherine McCarthy is an author I have gotten to know when we both appeared in Diabolica Britannica, a charity anthology of British horror. I absolutely fell in love with her tale Carreg Samson, told from the perspective of a rather unusual character, an old standing stone. It was such a powerful tale that starts off so sweet and sentimental and then gets you in the gut in the last minute. When I saw she had released her own collection, I jumped at the chance to read more of her work.

Catherine's writing is just so transportive, you get the sense you really are in Wales. The atmosphere she builds up is brilliant and in this collection she uses many settings and time periods and all of them felt so real. 

These are really emotional stories, which only a great writer can achieve, you just feel so involved. Her writing is also full of charm and charisma which reminds me of Mary Williams who wrote numerous collections of ghosts stories all based in Cornwall drawing upon the old  myths and legends from our Celtic heritage.

Catherine is so passionate about Wales and it really comes through in her stories, I loved this collection and now really want to go there for a holiday! This collection has left me really excited for July when her debut novella Immortelle will be released from Off Limits Press. 

It's really hard to pick a favourite from these tales I genuinely really enjoyed them all. Carreg Samsom remains one of my faves from reading Diabolica Britannica and is still really powerful whenever I read it. I think this tale perfectly shows Catherine McCarthy ability to really tug at your heart strings and then terrify you!

The Ice House was amazing, a gothic horror tale of revenge. Coblynau a tale about an old man struggling with dementia, looking back on his life as he tries to stay afloat, it was just so haunting. These tales are so effective as on the surface they feel very normal like this to could happen to anyone and then slowly the horror trickles in.

I loved Lure, this tale was much darker than the others and was just so evocative of the Welsh landscape. I really felt like I was on the lake with our young fisherman who hides a terrible secret. 

Retribution was a brilliant cosmic horror tale which had some serious Lovecraft vibes! Ysbrid Y Mor was a sweet yule themed tale. Mara and Cragen for me were the scariest tales, I very much enjoyed them both!