Available from today on all the usual platforms
On the British Fantasy Society website, Elloise Hopkins has reviewed Thorns of a Black Rose by David Craig. After an outline of the plot, Elloise introduces the two main characters, Tamira and Shukara, characters that are “easily likeable to the reader”. She adds that David Craig presents “well-rounded, believable heroines alongside worldbuilding richly woven with influences from North Africa and ancient history”. She compliments the pace of the story and says that at the end there is a satisfying completion while “tantalisingly” leaving scope for further adventures – which she says would be very welcome. In conclusion she says that Thorns of a Black Rose is a “modern young adult story with its roots very firmly in traditional fantasy”.
You can read the full review on the BFS website here.
On her blog, Jill-Elizabeth has reviewed Working Weekend by Penelope Hill, which she describes as “an original spin on common supernatural themes, offered with a generous dose of humor and a peek behind the curtain at authors, writing, fandom, and the magic that is themed conventions”. She adds that it’s “snarky and funny and just the right amount of dark”. She says that it built a “nice tension” that kept her turning pages, and the characters were a good blend of personalities that “intermingled tropes and originality in a way I thought perfect”. She says that the ending left her cautiously optimistic that we might get to join Marcus in further adventures (take note Penelope!).
You can read the full review on Jill-Elizabeth’s blog here (it’s on Goodreads too).
On her blog Jill-Eliabeth has reviewed Lord of the Hunt by David Craig, the second book in the Sooty Feathers series. As she loved the first book, Resurrection Men (read about her review of that here), it is perhaps unsurprising that she also enjoyed this latest book. In her review she apologises for not having too much specific to say about the story as she doesn’t want to undermine the plot twists or introduce any spoilers.
She says that David Craig is a dab hand at “setting up expectations, only to knock them down like nine-pins” but without “ever generating an eye roll or sense of irritation”. She likes the fact that he doesn’t throw in red herrings to drive tension up artificially, his “misdirections and layered revelations are much more delicate and well-crafted than that and each one feels like an organic and utterly necessary part of the whole.”
Her conclusion is that Lord of the Hunt is entirely enjoyable and definitely worth reading (and if you haven’t already read Resurrection Men, which she describes as also excellent, she says “I definitely recommend reading these in order”). You can read the full review on her blog here (it’s also on Goodreads).
A horror convention – complete with a ‘real’ vampire wandering the halls, for atmosphere – invites folklore specialist, Marcus, as Guest of Honour. Looking forward to a chilled weekend, he instead finds himself battling to save his friends and fans.
DARTFORD, KENT – 06 March 2020 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the publication of Working Weekend, the first fantasy novel from Penelope Hill. What at first appears to be a behind-the-scenes look at the running of a fan convention, from the perspective of the Guest of Honour, soon becomes a supernatural thriller.
Penelope Hill has been enjoying conventions since the 1970s when she first attended a Star Trek convention. She has made many friends at conventions, encountered many authors, and met her late husband Robin at an early Terracon. She says that her mother took her to her first convention, and dealt with her fannish tendencies by teaching her ancient Greek at an early age, and drawing dragons whenever asked. “She was an inspiring woman, an artist, a writer and a wonderful needlewoman. She gave me much to live up to, and I think she’d be pleased to finally see my name in print.”
Peter Buck, Editorial Director at Elsewhen Press says, “Anyone who has been to a genre convention, whether it’s science fiction, alt history, fantasy, horror or something else, knows that there is plenty going on invisibly to make it an enjoyable experience for all the attendees. The committee, particularly for a smaller convention, is always on the lookout for the perfect venue and a special attraction to encourage more fans. So the offer of a gothic mansion-turned-hotel, especially one that has been used as a location in classic horror films, would be too good to pass up. When the owner of the hotel offers to play the role of a real vampire for the weekend to ‘add authenticity’, it is a dream come true. Of course, what starts out as a dream can often turn into a nightmare. That is the setting for this entertaining tale from Penelope Hill, at the fictional horror convention, CoffinCon VII. Good versus evil, ancient powers in conflict; all the while trying to make sure that the rest of the attendees are safe and none-the-wiser as to what is really happening. If you’ve ever been to a fan convention you will recognise many of the characters – the ever-cheerful volunteer gophers, the committee looking forward to finally getting some sleep when it’s all over, the chair-person who’s regretting volunteering and trying to keep everything looking smooth and on plan – but hopefully not an actual vampire!”
Working Weekend is available from today on all popular eBook platforms. The paperback edition will be available from 13th April, having been launched, of course, at a convention (Eastercon)!
Notes for Editors
About Penelope Hill
Penelope Hill has wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember, and her fascination with both futuristic and fantastic worlds has fuelled that ambition ever since. She is an avid reader, a long time role-player and games-master, and loves world-building: designing exotic places, writing mythic histories, and crafting cultures. She’s been a costumer and is busy developing her skills as a textile artist, so when she’s not writing, she can usually be found stitching, knitting, knotting, or exercising other creative skills.
During her working life, she spent many years supporting services in local government, and eventually found herself contributing to the development of both local and national policy, particularly around privacy and confidentiality. The research for her PhD helped influence some of that work, but has also brought new perspectives to both her writing and her world-building. While she has published academically, she prefers creative writing, and retirement has given her the opportunity to pursue her long-standing ambition to become a professional author.
She currently lives in Gloucestershire with five cats, a huge library of books, a treasure hoard of fabric and thread, and far too many dice.
About the book
Title: Working Weekend
Sometimes authenticity sucks!
Marcus Holland, European Folklore expert and award-winning writer of Horror and Fantasy fiction, is Guest of Honour at the CoffinCon convention being held in an old gothic mansion-turned-hotel. He’s looking forward to the weekend, as he’s hoping for a break from the pressures of work, the enthusiasm of his agent and the demands of his ex-wife. There’s to be a midnight masque, a Real Ale bar, and the convention committee have even arranged to have a ‘real’ vampire wandering the halls, to help add to the atmosphere.
From the moment Marcus arrives, he starts to feel uneasy, but can’t quite put his finger on the reason why. Although he soon comes to realise what is wrong, he knows that he can’t broadcast his concerns without being thought insane. Far from having a relaxing break, he will be working harder than ever in order to safeguard his friends and fans.
Cover by Alison and Sofia Buck
Fiction / Fantasy / Urban; Fiction / Thrillers / Supernatural; Fiction / Occult & Supernatural
Print edition: ISBN 978-1-911409-61-8, 240pp, Demy; RRP £10 / €13 / US$20 (13 Apr 2020)
Electronic edition: ISBN 978-1-911409-71-7, EPUB / Kindle; RRP £2.99 / €3.49 / US$3.99 (06 Mar 2020)
When a magical problem and a political challenge threaten Marek at the same time, Marcia, Heir to House Fereno, finds herself at the centre of the responses to both. Can she and her allies withstand Teren politics, while her friends withstand Teren magic?
DARTFORD, KENT – 18 December 2019 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the publication of Shadow and Storm the much-anticipated second book in the epic Marek fantasy series from author Juliet Kemp. This latest instalment sees more political intrigue in the city-state of Marek, while a magical problem is heading their way from the Teren capital.
Aliette de Bodard, Nebula award-winning author of The Tea Master and the Detective described the first book in Juliet’s Marek series, The Deep and Shining Dark, as “A rich and memorable tale of political ambition, family and magic, set in an imagined city that feels as vibrant as the characters inhabiting it”. Shadow and Storm continues with that same mix of politics, magic and friendship that has been enthralling readers.
Once again, Reb and Cato, the two surviving sorcerers in Marek, must work together with the city-angel to deal with a demonic threat to the city. Meanwhile Marcia, Fereno-Heir, starts to realise that the new Lord Lieutenant recently arrived from the Teren capital for the annual formal opening of the Council, has her own agenda that may be as big a threat to the prosperity and stability of Marek.
Peter Buck, Editorial Director at Elsewhen Press says, “the conjured world of Juliet’s Marek series is at once both highly believable and utterly fantastic. We can readily relate to the politics of a prosperous city-state keen to maintain its virtual independence from a distant ruling throne, while struggling to deal with internal rivalries for power and control over the lucrative trade on which its prosperity was founded. At the same time, in these days of concern for our planet and uncertainty over our own future we, perhaps longingly, perhaps with trepidation, can imagine the possibilities of a world where magic is real and is mediated by a benevolent spirit keeping malevolent demons at bay.”
As with the first book in the series, the front cover is graced by beautiful artwork from renowned artist Tony Allcock: Marcia showing the new Teren Lord Lieutenant the view from the top of Marekhill across the river to the docks, the old market and the highlands beyond, while a storm is brewing both politically and magically.
Shadow and Storm is now available to pre-order on all popular eBook platforms prior to publication on 3rd January 2020. The paperback edition will be available from 23rd March 2020.
Notes for Editors
About Juliet Kemp
Juliet Kemp lives by the river in London, with their partners, child, dog, and too many fountain pens. Having had stories published in several anthologies and online magazines, The Deep and Shining Dark was Juliet’s first novel and Shadow and Storm is the sequel. Their employment history variously includes working as a cycle instructor, sysadmin, life model, researcher, permaculture designer, and journalist. When not writing or parenting, Juliet goes climbing, knits, reads way too much, and drinks a lot of tea.
About the book
Title: Shadow and Storm
Never trust a demon … or a Teren politician
Although the city-state of Marek is part of Teren, the Thirteen Houses and Guilds have long been protective of their de facto independence. So Marcia, Heir to House Fereno, expects the annual visit for the Council opening by the Teren Throne’s representative to be nothing more than the usual symbolic gesture. But this year the Lord Lieutenant has been unexpectedly replaced. As Marcia is showing the new Lieutenant, Selene, the view from the top of Marekhill, she suspects that Selene has her own agenda. After all, Teren has politics too, just like Marek.
In Marek, magic is mediated by the cityangel. But elsewhere in Teren, magic is enabled by bloodletting. A Teren magician will invoke a demon to do their bidding and bind them with blood. But demons are devious and will take advantage of any flaw or loophole to avoid being bound. An unleashed demon is dangerous and sure to create havoc, and the Teren way to stop them involves the letting of more of the magician’s blood – often terminally. But if a young magician is being sought by an unleashed demon, their only hope may be to escape to Marek where the cityangel can keep the demon at bay. Probably.
Once again Reb, Cato and Jonas must work with Beckett to deal with a magical problem, while Marcia must tackle a serious political challenge to Marek’s future. But of course magic and politics never seem to remain separate for long, especially when Teren politics are involved.
Fiction / Fantasy / Epic; Fiction / Fantasy / Paranormal; Fiction / LGBT
Print edition: ISBN 978-1-911409-49-6, 336pp, Demy; RRP £9.99 / €11.99 / US$17.99 (23 Mar 2020)
Electronic edition: ISBN 978-1-911409-59-5, EPUB / Kindle; RRP £2.99 / €3.49 / US$3.99 (03 Jan 2020)
About the cover
The cover artwork for Shadow and Storm was produced by Tony Allcock, the same artist who produced the much-lauded cover for Book 1 of Juliet’s Marek series, The Deep and Shining Dark. Tony lives in Hertfordshire and has been both a Research Scientist and a Fine Artist for 40 years. He has exhibited watercolour and oil paintings in galleries and exhibitions in the UK, France and Italy. More recently he has also been painting digitally, illustrating music CD covers and book covers.
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 you’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.”
Thanks for a great review Nikki.