On Risingshadow.net, Seregil of Rhiminee has just reviewed Thorns of a Black Rose by David Craig, which he describes as “a fully satisfying tale of thievery, assassinations, survival and vengeance”.
Seregil found Thorns of a Black Rose to be “a compelling and immersive novel that instantly caught my interest” telling an “entertaining story that will keep readers turning pages”. He praises David’s “fluent prose and well written dialogues” and “splendid and surprisingly vivid” characterisation, as well as the “rich and immersive” worldbuilding. He adds, “The author’s vision of the world is immensely vibrant, because the world is influenced by ancient Egypt, Morocco, Turkey and Middle Eastern countries. It feels as if he has taken many well known elements that are related to these countries, their myths and their cultures and has poured magic and action all over the blend to create something original and thrilling.”
Seregil enjoyed reading about the city of Mask and the bloodthirsty Cult of Hrek which he describes as “a fascinating part of the story arc, because it brings plenty of darkness to it”. But he says he was “wholly mesmerised” by David’s way of writing about The Black Rose, “an important and captivating part of the story”. The magic system is intriguing, and the politics of the magic users adds depth to the story.
Seregil awards a full five stars because it’s “wonderful entertainment from start to finish” and hopes that there will be more stories set in this world. He concludes by saying that “Thorns of a Black Rose is a slice of fantasy excellence in a single volume” which he can highly recommend “because the unfolding story is a rich and rewarding reading experience”.
You can read Seregil’s full review on Risingshadow here.
On her blog, Jill-Elizabeth has written a review of Million Eyes: Extra Time by C.R. Berry. The book is a freely downloadable collection of twelve time-twisting short stories that manage to demonstrate how almost every conspiracy theory you’ve ever heard of has been perpetrated by a specific group of time travellers. Of course, this is an introduction to the world of Million Eyes, to whet readers’ appetites in advance of the publication of the first in the Million Eyes series in January. Jill-Elizabeth writes that it is the most excellent world-introduction she’s seen in a long time.
Featuring a dozen time-twisting short stories set in the Million Eyes universe, which Eamonn describes as “very like our own universe but with time travel and conspiracy theories added for fun”. And then he adds “All of the conspiracy theories are true! It was the time travellers what did it.”
Some of the stories have been previously published elsewhere. Having read, and praised, one of the stories when it first appeared, encouraged Eamonn to review this book. He avoids giving away any of the plots but says “if you can think of a conspiracy theory, chances are that C.R. Berry has it here”, adding that he “covers all the bases of urban legend”. He compliments Berry’s “very readable style” and the clever plots, and says it is an enjoyable read. He concludes by noting that the book is available for free download from the Elsewhen Press website, adding “Obviously, that’s a cunning ploy to get you to buy ‘Million Eyes’ the novel when it comes out but I think the ploy might work.”
You can read Eamonn’s full review on SFCrowsnest here.
Opening with “Wow, what a ride!”, Sandra clearly enjoyed the book – “It was for me like a drug” she writes – and was very taken with the whole alternative world where many of the best known urban legends and conspiracy theories are all linked to time travellers changing time to suit their own puporse. Of course we won’t know what that purpose is until Million Eyes is published – “I know I will certainly want to dive more into that world” says Sandra – but in the meantime these free short stories certainly set the scene. Describing it as “all very interesting and compelling at the same time” Sandra says she wasn’t able to put the book down and when she finally did she remembered “the conspiracies I had heard over the years and how they were so well knitted into the narrative of this book”. She said that while reading it “we forget that it is fantasy and it becomes so real”.
Her final verdict: “A true gem to read for all lovers of conspiracies that I highly recommend to all.”
You can read Sandra’s full review on the Storgy website here.
He starts by describing the book as reading “like an RPG of the Desert”. I’m guessing that’s Role-Playing Game not Rocket-Propelled Grenade 😉
He acknowledges the world’s influences from Morocco, Ancient Egypt and the Maghreb, adding that he loves “the hint of the Assassin Creed Influence”, and goes on to say that the “setting is vivid, and the description takes you back to a world where dusty deserts and camels embark on a vast sweeping epic journey. There’s bandits, assassins, empires, merchant guilds, all jostling for power”.
He writes that the characters are “finely developed” and then provides a little background to the main protagonists. He adds, “This novel has so much magic I’m flabbergasted that it is this well done”. He also liked the cover, adding in no uncertain terms “THE COVER IS THE STORY!” (his capitals), as well as the writing: “The prose is well written. The writing is on point. The dialogue is great”. His only real criticism is that it could benefit from a map – maybe in the next book (I’ll suggest it to David.)
In conclusion he gives it 5/5.
You can (should) read the full review on the Al-Alhambra site here.
On her blog The Book Dragon, book reviewer Nikki has reviewed Resurrection Men by David Craig. With 4.5 stars out of 5 (because “it is good”) she has given a very definite thumbs-up to David’s book. She writes, “In this seemingly normal story about a couple of body snatchers from Glasgow, Scotland in the late 19th century, David Craig takes us on a terrifying and unexpected journey fraught with creatures from a nightmare”.
Nikki begins the review with her impressions after just having read the first chapter. She was intrigued and wanted to know what happens next. So that was a good start!
After reading the rest of the book she wrote her full review. She admits, “This is my first real historical fantasy novels that I have actually finished. I tend to become bored with historical fantasy–especially urban–preferring instead the medieval sword-fighting kind.” But she tells us that, after chapter 3 or so, she got so engrossed in the book that she read about 40% in one sitting and only stopped when she “happened to glance at the clock!” We all know that feeling, and any author is truly gratified that their writing can have that effect on their readers. Nikki adds, “It doesn’t matter whether your’re a historical fantasy reader or a fan of vampires, even if you’re not, it’s still a great book!” She loved the elements of sarcasm in the dialogue, especially between the two eponymous Resurrection Men, it was, she wrote, “the perfect balance between mystery/suspense/horror and comedy. Rather than making the story swing to the absurd, the comedy instead strengthened the other elements and added just a bit of relief for the reader to catch their breath before diving in again.”
Nikki’s description of the ending needs to be read (you can read her whole review here), so I won’t spoil it for you except to say that she finishes her review by writing that the ending was “the perfect way to wrap up the novel.”
Anarya is an investigator. Yisyena is her business partner and lover. A new contract embroils them in state secrets and the personal vendettas of a murdered champion, a cabal, a puppet king, and a false god looking for one who has defied him.
DARTFORD, KENT – 28 August 2019 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the publication of Quaestor the latest epic fantasy from author David M Allan. His new novel explores cultural differences and the effects they can have on individuals, while at the same time intertwining the protagonists’ stories in an adventure that ultimately encompasses love, justice, revenge, freedom and magic.
Magical skills have been a time-honoured component of many fantasy stories, from traditional fairy-tales to modern classics, with the ability to use them often being the result of training, heredity, or theft. In Quaestor, David M Allan envisions a world where two separate nations both have a small proportion of their population who are endowed with magical abilities, but with very different views on the source and purpose of those talents. In Carrhen, magical ability is seen as a gift from the gods, to be used for the benefit of all; while in Sitrelk it is considered to be an inherited talent to be surrendered to their living god in a self-sacrifice.
It is not just magic that is viewed differently in the two countries. Sitrelker women may not own property or a business, and indeed can’t run anything apart from their own household; while in Carrhen as many women as men run their own business and are responsible for their own livelihood and wellbeing. In Sitrelk, same sex relationships must be conducted in secret to avoid bringing shame on a family; but in Carrhen any consensual relationship is accepted without question or even a second glance.
However, even in Carrhen, authority and its concomitant power has a tendency to corrupt, with unscrupulous rulers finding ways to force those with magical talents to do their bidding and advance their ambition.
Peter Buck, Editorial Director at Elsewhen Press says, “In Quaestor, David M Allan achieves the goal of the very best speculative fiction, namely telling a compelling story that keeps you turning the page to find out what happens next while at the same time shining a light on issues of our own world and times. We may not have magical talents, but we do have unscrupulous leaders who use others’ skills to further their own aims at the expense of the general population and even the state itself, who defy justice, who promote inequity, bigotry and hatred, and even see themselves as unimpeachable gods.”
Quaestor will be available to buy on all popular eBook platforms from 30th August 2019 and is already available to pre-order. The paperback edition will be available on 21st October 2019.
About David M Allan
David M Allan got hooked on reading at a young age by borrowing to the max – 3 books, twice a week – from the public library. He was caught up and transported to fabulous other worlds by the likes of Wells, Verne and Burroughs (and later by Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, Heinlein, Le Guin, Wyndham…). Alas, the journeys were temporary and he had to return to Earth.
His love affair with science fiction and fantasy had him thinking vaguely about writing but he didn’t follow through until after retirement and his relocation, with wife and cat, to a houseboat on the Thames. It was reading one book which he didn’t think was very good that led him to say “I could do better than that” and then setting out to prove it. David has since had a number of short stories published in online magazines, and his debut novel The Empty Throne published by Elsewhen Press. Quaestor is his second novel.
When you’re searching, you don’t always find what you expect
In Carrhen some people have a magic power – they may be telekinetic, clairvoyant, stealthy, or able to manipulate the elements. Anarya is a Sponger, she can absorb and use anyone else’s magic without them even being aware, but she has to keep it a secret as it provokes jealousy and hostility especially among those with no magic powers at all.
When Anarya sees Yisyena, a Sitrelker refugee, being assaulted by three drunken men, she helps her to escape. Anarya is trying to establish herself as an investigator, a quaestor, in the city of Carregis. Yisyena is a clairvoyant, a skill that would be a useful asset for a quaestor, so Anarya offers her a place to stay and suggests they become business partners. Before long they are also lovers.
But business is still hard to find, so when an opportunity arises to work for Count Graumedel who rules over the city, they can’t afford to turn it down, even though the outcome may not be to their liking. Soon they are embroiled in state secrets and the personal vendettas of a murdered champion, a cabal, a puppet king, and a false god looking for one who has defied him.
Fiction / Fantasy / Action & Adventure; Fiction / Fantasy / Epic Print edition: ISBN 978-1-911409-47-2, 304pp, Demy; RRP £9.99 / €11.99 / US$17.99 (21 Oct 2019) Electronic edition: ISBN 978-1-911409-57-1, EPUB / Kindle; RRP £2.99 / €3.49 / US$3.99 (30 Aug 2019)
About the cover
The cover artwork for Quaestor was produced by Alison Buck, illustrating their auras as Anarya borrows Yisyena’s clairvoyant skill.
When reading, as she was growing up, Steve Harrison’s daughter complained about the lack of good adventure stories for girls. Having an author for a dad meant that a remedy was only a matter of time.
DARTFORD, KENT – 31 July 2019 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the publication of Blurred Vision by Australian speculative fiction author, Steve Harrison.
The heroine of Steve’s latest book is Polly Hart, a schoolgirl who enjoys a normal life, in a normal school, with her friends somewhere in southern England. Her dad is a mathematician and her mum is an astrophysicist with the North Atlantic Space Research Centre and both are working long hours investigating a series of mysterious attacks on satellites which are baffling the space agencies. Polly decides to pursue her own research into the incidents and hacks the maintenance camera feed from the satellite that her model predicts will be the next target. What she sees is a shock: a blurry alien spacecraft vandalising the satellite. Even more of a shock is an alien from that spacecraft tapping on her bedroom window that evening. After that, her life will never be normal again…
Steve Harrison was inspired to tell the story of Polly Hart and her friends after his daughter complained that “boys always seem to have the best adventures”. He says that his intention was to write “a modern, sci-fi take on the no-nonsense Famous Five and Secret Seven adventure novels I enjoyed as a child. It was a lot of fun to write.”
Peter Buck, Editorial Director at Elsewhen Press says, “Steve is a consummate story-teller, spinning adventures that grab you from the outset and propel you through thrilling action towards an unknown conclusion. Blurred Vision is a very entertaining story, with the sort of adventure that we all grew up devouring, but with modern protagonists in a very 21st century setting. What young sci-fi fan doesn’t dream of being the one to make first contact? Although the heroine is a teenager, this is very definitely a story that will be enjoyed by sci-fi fans of all ages, regardless of gender.”
For many years the science fiction fan community has been very diverse, but it is only recently that many authors have started to realise that not all of their readers are male. Every reader, especially a younger reader, should be able to recognise themselves in the heroes and heroines of the stories they read. Elsewhen Press is proud to have published science fiction and fantasy stories from a wide range of authors with an equally diverse range of protagonists.
Blurred Vision will be available to buy on all popular eBook platforms from 16th August 2019 and is already available to pre-order. The paperback edition will be available on 18th November 2019.
Notes for Editors
About Steve Harrison
Steve Harrison was born in Yorkshire, England, grew up in Lancashire, migrated to New Zealand and eventually settled in Sydney, Australia, where he lives with his wife.
As he juggled careers in shipping, insurance, online gardening and the postal service, Steve wrote short stories, sports articles and a long running newspaper humour column called HARRISCOPE: a mix of ancient wisdom and modern nonsense.
His first novel TimeStorm, published by Elsewhen Press, was Highly Commended in the Fellowship of Australian Writers (FAW) National Literary Awards, Jim Hamilton Award in the fantasy/science fiction category, for an unpublished novel of sustained quality and distinction by an Australian author.
About the book
Title: Blurred Vision
“Take it easy,” said Kylie, still with a hint of amusement. “You’re perfectly safe. Think of me as a tourist.”
Polly squinted back at her. She couldn’t help herself. “Are you invading earth?”
“Are you kidding? Do you know how much that would cost?”
“Then what are you doing here?”
“We found you after you activated the camera on the satellite and were impressed by the other stuff you did to hide your tracks. Easy for us, but we all thought it was very cool. For an Earth human, anyway.”
“You don’t talk like an alien.”
“How many do you know?” asked Kylie.
Polly couldn’t argue with that. “Good point.”
When Polly Hart agrees to swap places with a girl from another planet, she has no idea that this makes her a fugitive in the fabulous universe revealed by her new friend, and now she must outwit the school bully, a weird teacher and an interstellar hit squad to survive. So annoying!
Young Adult Fiction / Science Fiction / Alien Contact;
Young Adult Fiction / Science Fiction / Humorous
Print edition: ISBN 978-1-911409-46-5, 240pp, Demy; RRP £10 / €12 / US$18 (18 Nov 2019)
Electronic edition: ISBN 978-1-911409-56-4, EPUB / Kindle; RRP £2.99 / €3.49 / US$3.99 (16 Aug 2019)
About the cover
The cover artwork of Polly and Kylie taking a selfie in space above Earth, uses an iconic photograph of the Earth courtesy of the NASA Earth Observatory, and a photograph of Polly & Kylie by Dean Drobot / shutterstock.com.
Set in a hot desert land of diverse peoples, this is a world away from the Scottish author’s previous book (set in Victorian Glasgow) but has the same masterful storytelling.
DARTFORD, KENT – 03 July 2019 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the publication of Thorns of a Black Rose by Scottish speculative fiction author, David Craig. Following on the success of his debut novel, Resurrection Men, a sequel to which is planned for next year, comes David’s new epic fantasy set in a hot desert land of diverse peoples who are dealing with demons, mages, natural disasters … and the Black Rose assassins.
Although set in an imaginary land, the scenery and peoples were inspired by Egypt, Morocco and the Sahara. Mask is a living, breathing city, from the prosperous Merchant Quarter whose residents struggle for wealth and power, to the Poor Quarter whose residents struggle just to survive. It is a coming-of-age tale for the young thief, Tamira, as well as a tale of vengeance and discovery. There is also a moral ambiguity in the story, with both the protagonists and antagonists learning that, whatever their intentions or justification, actions have consequences.
David says, “This novel, and those to follow, were born of a desire to write stories set in a large, varied world, from vast, hot deserts to claustrophobic, humid rainforests, to snow-capped mountains and dark, frozen forests. A volatile, living world viewed through the eyes of a band of diverse, intrepid, morally ambiguous adventurers getting caught up in all sorts of trouble. My ambition is tell a series of sword & sorcery-esque adventures that stand alone in their own right while contributing towards a larger over-arching story.”
Peter Buck, Editorial Director at Elsewhen Press, says, “David has an uncanny skill to quickly transport you, as a reader, to the scene of his story. It may be a real place that is already familiar, such as Victorian Glasgow in Resurrection Men; or an invented city like Mask in the hot desert of Thorns of a Black Rose, where you can almost smell the aromas and exotic scents filling the air in the souk, or feel the heat radiating from the baked mud-brick walls. But, more than that, David introduces you to characters that you will soon truly care about, following them on their adventure: excited, worried, thrilled, shocked. David’s books are ideal examples of what speculative fiction does best, transporting readers to another world; a perfect way to escape, albeit temporarily, from the banality or absurdity of the real world – which is especially welcome at the moment!”
Thorns of a Black Rose will be available to buy on all popular eBook platforms from 26th July 2019 and is already available to pre-order. The paperback edition will be available on 21st October 2019.
Notes for Editors
About David Craig
Aside from three months living on an oil tanker sailing back and forth between America and Africa, and two years living in a pub, David Craig grew up on the west coast of Scotland. He studied Software Engineering at university, but lost interest in the subject after (and admittedly prior to) graduation. He currently works as a resourcing administrator for a public service contact centre, and lives near Glasgow with his wife, daughter and two rabbits.
Being a published writer had been a life-long dream, and one he was delighted to finally realise with his debut novel, Resurrection Men, the first in the Sooty Feathers series, published by Elsewhen Press in 2018. Before the next book in the Sooty Feathers series though, Elsewhen Press are publishing his latest fantasy epic Thorns of a Black Rose.
About the book
Title: Thorns of a Black Rose
On a quest for vengeance, Shukara arrives in the city of Mask having already endured two years of hardship and loss. Her pouch is stolen by Tamira, a young street-smart thief, who throws away some of the rarer reagents that Shukara needs for her magick. Tracking down the thief, and being unfamiliar with Mask, Shukara shows mercy to Tamira in exchange for her help in replacing what has been lost. Together they brave the intrigues of Mask, and soon discover that they have a mutual enemy in the Black Rose, an almost legendary band of merciless assassins. But this is just the start of their journeys…
Fiction / Fantasy / Epic; Fiction / Fantasy / Action & Adventure
Print edition: ISBN 978-1-911409-45-8, 256pp, Demy; RRP £9.99 / €11.99 / US$17.99 (21 Oct 2019)