Review: The Evil Seed

Click to Purchase

Title: The Evil Seed

Author: Joanne Harris

Published by: Black Swan

ISBN: 978-0552775045

Blurb

Something inside me remembers…
It’s never easy to face the fact that a man you once loved passionately has found the girl of his dreams, as Alice discovers when Joe introduces her to his new girlfriend Ginny. Jealous, Alice is repelled by Ginny – an ethereal beauty with a sinister group of friends.

Then Alice finds an old diary hidden away in Ginny’s room and reads about Daniel Holmes and his friend Robert and the mysterious woman who bewitched them both – Rosemary Virginia Ashley, buried in Grantchester churchyard half a century ago – buried but far from forgotten.
As the stories intertwine, past and present are merged into one; Alice comes to realize that her instinctive hatred of Joe’s new girlfriend may not just be due to jealousy as she’s plunged into a nightmare world of obsession, revenge, seduction – and blood.

Review

I’ve seen the film of Chocolat and enjoyed it. I’ll put my hand up and say I haven’t read the book. It’s not really my kind of thing for reading, is it? And I’m sure Alan Titchmarsh meant well last Saturday when he told Classic FM readers that Joanne Harris’s latest book, Peaches for Monsieur le Cure (how do I find the sodding accent on here?!), is full of ‘long and evocative descriptions of France and her food’ but he made me doubt whether I was doing the right thing. You see, I was on my way to see Ms Harris at the SOA’s annual Author’s North Summer Social (if authors can actual attend anything remotely social). Long and evocative descriptions are not really my kind of things for reading, are they?

I have to say that I found Joanne’s talk utterly inspiring, so much so that I came home and finished my ‘work in progress’ which had been doing a reasonable impression of an angry boil for the last month. And she delighted me – being something of a cross between the school teacher we all wish we’d had (though she is far too young in my case) and a sort of Victoria Wood. Were that all authors performed in public so well. Anyhow, before I’m likened to Ronnie Corbett again, what has all this got to do with horror? If I hadn’t gone along last Saturday I probably would never have known that Joanne’s first ever novel was a vampire story called The Evil Seed. That made me sit up a bit, and I dare say you too. It had gone out of print but once she became famous, there was a call to re-release it. And I’m glad about that.

If you look at the reviews, The Evil Seed gets a mixed reception. One reviewer calls it ‘turgid’ – the kind of thing I might, in the past, have been known to say about long, evocative descriptions. I can only say that I loved it. This is a first novel, readers, and of course she’s done things she wouldn’t do now, maybe she privately cringes at parts, but it doesn’t alter the fact that she creates a wondrous, dream-like, nightmarish horror. Yes, the prose is a little more flowery than I would normally praise, but in this case it works and adds to the haunting atmosphere. And the end did make me wonder if I’d had bit too much vin rouge, but that can’t be all bad, can it? I hate tidy endings. Can it be compared to anything else? Well, Joanne says that her publishers hoped she was going to be the new Ann Rice. I dare she could have been if she’d used a lot more adjectives and adverbs.

The Evil Seed. As it is: 5 stars from me. If you like a brooding Gothic horror, I think you’ll love it.

Now, you see, I might just be tempted to a little death by Chocolat…or Peaches…

Review: The Devil Inside Her

Title: The Devil Inside Her

Author: Catherine Cavendish

Publisher: Etopia Press

Book Blurb

Haunted by the death of her husband and only child, Elinor Gentry’s recurring nightmares have left her exhausted. She’s crippled by debt, and only the remnants of her former life surround her, things she can’t bear to sell, and wouldn’t make much profit from if she did. Then, for no apparent reason, the nightmares transform into pleasant dreams. Dreams that lead her to take back control of her life.

A string of horrific and unexplained suicides–and an unnerving discovery about Elinor herself–lead her best friend to seek help from the one person who has seen all this before, and things begin to spiral out of control. Hazel Messinger knows that Elinor’s newly found wellbeing is not what it seems, and Hazel’s not about to let the demon inside remain there permanently.

Review

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Cavendish’s creepy stories and I looked forward to The Devil Inside Her. Once again, as with her previous novellas, I actually found myself chilled and the hairs standing up on my arms in a couple of places. That doesn’t happen often, so she must have something right. The premise of this novella is good. Cavendish gives us enough description to know where we are, and to know the characters. The main characters are women and their relationships form a good part of the story. I am certain, therefore, that lots of women readers who want a thrill of a different kind to what E L James is offering will love this. If I have a criticism of the story itself it would be that I’d have liked the exorcism to be explored in more detail – but it is a novella when all’s said and done. So, overall a good impression. Here and there I sensed that the editing might have been sharper, but again that’s not the author’s doing, hence it gets 4 stars from me.

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Devil-Inside-Her-ebook/dp/B008DI19GA

When Digging Gets Close To The Bone

Here is an interesting article from the BBC today: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18505222

 

How do you feel about digging up cemeteries, for whatever reason? Are the remains of the dead just bits of bone and traces of DNA, or do you fear the exhumation will anger those laid to rest? Will our constant expansion lead ultimately to the dead seeking revenge, or is it all just a load of hogwash? Take the poll – if you dare.

 

A Book Of Horrors

Hardcover:400 pages

Publisher:Jo Fletcher Books

Language:English

ISBN-10:0857388088

ISBN-13: 978-0857388087

I’ll admit that I’m not a lover of anthologies. I own several, including Robert Aickman‘s Cold Hand in Mine and Ramsey Campbell‘s Superhorror. I’ve had those some years and still haven’t read all the stories in them. I always prefer to read a novel by a writer I like or have just discovered. A Book of Horrors is, I must say, a hefty slab in hardback and has a splendidly creepy cover, but I have been skirting around it for longer than I should. Not for the first time in my life, I’ve been a fool.

This collection of short stories, edited by Stephen James and published by Jo Fletcher Books http://www.jofletcherbooks.com/ assembles original works from no fewer than fourteen accomplished horrorists. The list includes Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Peter Crowther, Robert Shearman and John Ajvide Linqvist.

Now, it’s no secret chez moi that I’m a Lindqvist fan. I have loved everything he’s ever written. So it was his contribution that I went to first. The Music of Bengt Karlsson, Murderer is a splendidly chilling tale, and one of which Lindqvist himself says “It might be the one story I have written that has scared me the most……I wrote on in a state of mild but constant horror…It was a relief when it was over.”

For me, quite unashamedly, A Book of Horrors is well worth having just for the Lindqvist contribution, but I’d be doubly foolish to overlook all of the others that sit so well with it between these superbly crafted covers. To have so many of the best horror writers of our day to dip in and out of makes for a must-have book.

The big surprise is the introduction from editor Stephen Jones, to my mind, a work of genius in itself. To quote from it:

“What the Hell happened to the horror genre?…These days our bloodsuckers are more likely to show their romantic nature, werewolves work for government organisations, phantoms are private investigators and the walking dead can be found sipping tea amongst the polite society of a Jane Austen novel…..Today we are living in a world that is ‘horror-lite’…This appalling appellation was coined by publishers to describe the type of fiction that is currently enjoying massive success under such genres as ‘paranormal romance’, ‘urban fantasy’, ‘literary mash-up’ or even ‘steampunk’…these books are not aimed at readers of traditional horror stories.”

Thank heavens – or maybe Hell – that someone knows what we really want.

A Book of Horrors. 5 stars from me. Buy it – if only for the introduction!

What The Devil Has Got Into Catherine Cavendish?

I’m pleased to welcome back Catherine Cavendish who has a new book out today. Here she is..

A Woman Possessed…

 

Catherine Cavendish

 

My latest novella – The Devil Inside Her – features a woman possessed by a demon intent on murdering and dragging souls back to hell.

A work of fiction? Yes. But what about the reality?

Today, I’m focussing on a real-life report of demon possession – and one that appears to have been accepted as a defence plea by the judge who tried her case:

In Leicester (UK), 20 year old Lorraine Mbulawa walked free from court in May 2011, even though she had repeatedly stabbed her 43 year old mother who was sleeping. The judge, Mr Justice Keith, accepted her claim that she had been possessed by evil spirits. The psychiatric report concluded that she was sane and the jury agreed that she knew precisely what she was doing.

Mbulawa

The judge sentenced her to 120 hours of unpaid work and gave her a twelve month suspended sentence because he accepted that ‘she believed spirits can enter your body and make you do things that you otherwise would not have done.’ He praised her for being, ‘unusually confident and assured, also not unintelligent with a degree of charm and poise.’

Mbulawa claimed that the spirit of her dead grandmother had told her that her mother was responsible for her father’s sudden death in 2000 and had instructed her to, ‘do the honourable thing to my father by killing my mother.’

Her mother stated that, at the time of the attack, she didn’t recognise her daughter’s voice, thereby adding weight to the defence that her daughter believed she was possessed by her grandmother’s spirit, hell bent on revenge.

The psychiatrist told the court Mbulawa was still a risk, as she believed spirits could possess her again and she would have no control over them. At the time of the incident, she would have been in a disassociated state, a subconscious experience where the mind doesn’t go with the actions.

A policewoman told the court that, when she arrived at the house, Mbulawa was in a trance-like state, crying, shaking and hyper-ventilating while her mother, bleeding heavily from her wounds, tried to comfort her. On the way to the police station, the accused calmed down and became ‘like a different person.’

She was cleared of attempted murder but guilty of unlawful wounding. The judge said he accepted she had strong beliefs in witchcraft and sincerely believed she was possessed by the spirit of her grandmother at the time of the attack in May 2009.

As she left court, her mother – whom she had stabbed five times in the face, neck and shoulders in the frenzied nocturnal attack – embraced her. After two years apart, the two would now live together once again.

By his controversial and arguably lenient sentencing, Mr Justice Keith was roundly criticised for accepting ‘The Devil’s Defence’.

Was he right? Was she truly possessed? It appears, by all accounts, that mother and daughter were normally very close. Something out of the ordinary clearly happened that night and it doesn’t seem to have been a result of any sudden argument or flare-up between them. Before attacking her mother with a kitchen knife, Mbulawa had dressed in a balaclava, gloves and dark clothes.

Let’s hope, for both their sakes’, that grandmother’s spirit is now at peace.

 

Catherine Cavendish’s latest horror novella, The Devil Inside Her is available from  Amazon.co.uk Amazon.com   Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.

                                 

You can find out more about Cat and contact her at:

www.catherinecavendish.com

http://www.facebook.com/CatherineCavendish

www.goodreads.com as Catherine Cavendish

http://twitter.com/#!/cat_cavendish

Sample Sunday 17th June – Diavolino

I hadn’t realised how much time had gone by since my last Sunday Sample, so to celebrate the paperback release of Diavolino here’s another little taster. If you like it, maybe you’ll think about buying a copy in one form or another? All the links are on the right -

Alice slept in her bed, a length of knotted silk held tightly in her fist. Tom had stacked the dishwasher and tidied away with Elspeth. It was something he tried to do whenever he could. Back in London work got in the way so often. Here they would have more opportunity to share simple chores.

“We could sit outside and have a nightcap,” he said, “if it weren’t for those fucking insects.” The glass walls of the house were pebble dashed with flies drawn by the light from within. “I feel a bit of a fool, actually. I never thought there would be so many.”

“If they’re stuck to the windows trying to get in, maybe they won’t bother us if we sit outside in the dark,” said Elspeth.

“You could be right. Let’s give it a go.”

Tom took two small glasses and a bottle of grappa out onto the terrace. Elspeth nipped through behind him and slid the door shut. The outdoor furniture was still packed in bubble wrap and brown cardboard; it was easier to sit on the floor, legs dangling over the edge of the raised platform that constituted their terrace and main entrance. Tom uncorked the grappa, the heavy perfume of sour pond water clinging to the night air.

Elspeth screwed her face up. “God, it stinks. But it does taste good.”

“Darling,” said Tom, putting his arm around her hips. “Tomorrow, I really should get to grips with the job, you know, like a proper working day. You can afford to be a bit laid back for a couple of weeks or so. How about you take Alice to school in the morning and just have a poke around, see what you can find out about the place, see who you bump into?”

“You mean do the Miss Marple bit?”

“If you want to put it that way. You’re so good at it. I want to know about the history. I want to know what was so bloody terrible that Diavolino had to be erased.”

“You think it’s important?”

“I have to come up with a concept. Any historical coat hooks are welcome at this stage, you know that. If you can do some research in and around Poggio, I can ferret around the island. Apart from that, I’d just like to know. I hate unsolved mysteries.”

“OK, love. It’s fine by me. It’ll almost be like being on holiday. Oh, Tom, I’m so happy that we’re doing this. It’s only our first night here, and it already feels like home.”

“I know. Look at Alice. Most kids would be racing around completely hyper.”

“What did you make of that little outburst? You know, about the nutria?”

“Weird. She’s never been one to snap like that, but I don’t think it’s anything to worry about. This is all a big upheaval. And it’s been quick by any standards.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

“Let’s hope all’s well at school.”

“Oh, I’m sure it will be. If I’m any judge of character, that Annamaria is a first-rate headmistress.”

“Absolutely. Do you think it would be just too cheesy to invite her for lunch or something? I bet she can spill a few beans—”

Something moved across the hollow. The snapping of a dry stick pierced the air. Something was breathing, moving toward them. A vague shape was visible in the darkness. Tom leaped to his feet and peered into the gloom beyond where the house lights pooled on the ground. He could see bushes moving, left, right, and then a figure rounded the big oak tree, its swift movements speeding it on through the darkness toward the house.

 

 

Yorkshire Ridings Magazine

I quite understand that some of you might have done a double take on the title of this post. What has a Yorkshire magazine got to do with horror? Oh, I can hear the hoots from the southerners already. Stop it and listen, or I’ll despatch a demon.

When I received my first batch of Diavolino paperbacks I sent one to Yorkshire Ridings Magazine. They’d shown interest last year when the eBook was published. YRM features lots of books because, erm, yes, we Yorkshire folk not only write books but read them too!  So I was really chuffed to bits this morning to hear that they are featuring Diavolino in their August issue (out 20th July).

Yorkshire Ridings Magazine is the fastest growing county magazine in Yorkshire. Here’s the link to their website: http://yorkshireridingsmagazine.com/

If you don’t want to miss out, you could always take out a subscription! Even if you live dahn sarf.

Amazon UK Finally Did It

Yes, as soon as the Jubilee weekend was over, Diavolino in paperback finally appeared officially on Amazon.co.uk

In Paperback

It says ‘not currently in stock’ but I’ll bet you that will change quickly. Why? Because thanks to you they’ve already been processing orders. When I last looked, Diavolino was at number 29 in Fantasy Horror, and that’s within hours of the site being open for orders. It would be really great if that continued (hint).

Thanks to all of you. I’ll come up with some competition/freeby shortly so watch this space (*competition is HERE)

Once again, the buy link in full: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Diavolino-Steve-Emmett/dp/1936751941/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

 

Booksellers, Bookstores and Patriotism

As a British author with a respectable following in my home territories it’s exciting watching the paperbacks of Diavolino coming up for for sale this side of the pond. First off the starting block was the Book Depository where Diavolino was on offer almost as soon as the ink had dried. So a big THANK YOU to them. If you don’t know them I recommend you check them out: http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Diavolino-Steve-Emmett/9781936751945 They have tons of books and are not limited to the UK – they ship all over the world free of charge. They are prompt AND they have a customer service department that actually responds to you!

Which brings me to giving thanks once again to someone on the other side of the Atlantic. I have been wondering if my local bookshop(s) might stock Diavolino. I mean, I’d be happy to help them promote. Well, imagine my delight when it was pointed out to  me (by the eagle-eyed Julia Kavan - and check her writing out if you like horror) that at least one bookstore in the USA is already offering Diavolino. The least I can do is give them a plug:

RJ Julia Booksellers

“Located in the shoreline town of Madison, Connecticut, RJ Julia Booksellers has always been a place of inspiration, information, and excitement.

RJ Julia opened 21 years ago as an independent bookstore whose mission was, and is, to be a place where words matter, where writer meets reader, where the ambiance and selection and merchandising of books creates an atmosphere that is welcoming and presents the opportunity for discovery. Ultimately we are fiercely committed to putting the right book in the right hand.

We are extremely proud of having won major awards nationally, statewide and locally, including in part: Publishers Weekly Bookseller of the Year, Lucille Pannell award for bookselling excellence, Connecticut Magazine Best Bookstore, Connecticut Retailers Award for Community commitment, Advocate’s Best Bookstore and the New Haven Business Small Business Award.

We host over 300 events a year. Authors from all over the country—some even from overseas—visit the store to inspire, educate, and entertain us.”

Well, maybe I’ll have to make a trip over and see what we can do! Now, their address is:

768 Boston Post Rd. Madison, CT 06443

Tel: 203-245-3959

Fax: 203-245-8126

e-mail: books@rjjulia.com

and here’s the all important weblink: http://www.rjjulia.com/search/apachesolr_search/diavolino

They are on Twitter: @rjjulia  and Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rjjuliabooksellers

Do you stock my book? Do you know someone who does? Let me know and I’ll give you/them a plug too.

 

And I have some exciting news to come. So watch this space.