Guest Author: Evie Manieri

Evie Manieri

Evie Manieri graduated from Wesleyan University with a degree in Mediaeval History and Theatre, disciplines that continue to influence her work in about equal measure. She is enthralled by intricacy, and when not weaving together the threads of her plots, she can be found knitting airy lace shawls and singing soprano with New York’s Renaissance Street Singers. Evie lives with her family in New York.

Just Hang On to that Other Shoe

I worry the most when things are going well, and for this I blame the thousands of stories I’ve stuffed into my head over the years. We all know the tropes: a tastefully nude couple in bed in broad daylight, gazing at each other while gauzy drapes blow in an ocean breeze; a schoolyard of children laughing in slow–motion; a doting father making home movies of his adorable toddler. In fantasy, you brace yourself if the story opens on a happy kingdom with a benevolent leader, a sagacious order of wizards using their powers for good, or an ostentatiously ordinary boy nestled in his family’s pastoral bosom. These are ideal moments that exist in fiction only to be shattered; they provide explosive motivation for the protagonist to get out there and do what needs doing. It’s a handy and serviceable device, but it’s not my favorite way to propel a story.

I work very hard not to live my life as if I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. If I don’t, the next thing I know I’ve disappeared down the rabbit–hole of ‘silent killer’ diseases, home invasions and doomsday cults. In order to get out of bed in the morning, I need to remind myself that every day people face disasters and losses that in fiction would be the justification for all sorts of wild behavior, and yet in real life they continue to go to work, take care of their kids and do their laundry. That’s just what most people do. They’re magnificent that way.

Over the dangerous warrior with nothing left to lose, I’ll take the person who’s inadvertently dislodged an orange from the bottom of the pyramid at the grocery store and is trying to stuff it back in before the whole thing comes tumbling down. That’s a struggle I can really relate to – the heroic attempt to hold together something just as precious as it is precarious. This kind of story may lack the wish–fulfillment of being handed permission to chuck everything aside in pursuit of a single goal without regard for anything or anyone else, but in the end, I think it’s a lot more satisfying.

Evie’s novel, Blood’s Pride, is published by Jo Fletcher Books

See Evie Manieri’s blog tour in full:

Monday 17th September “Favourite Characters”
Tuesday 18th  “Blueberries”
Wednesday 19th “Monomania”
Thursday 20th “The Other Shoe”
Friday 21st  “Midlife”

A Book Of Horrors

Hardcover:400 pages

Publisher:Jo Fletcher Books



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 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!

Let The Right One In


Title: Let The Right One In

Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist

Publisher: Quercus

ISBN: 978-1847241696



Oskar and Eli. In very different ways, they were both victims. Which is why, against the odds, they became friends. And how they came to depend on one another, for life itself. Oskar is a 12 year old boy living with his mother on a dreary housing estate at the city’s edge. He dreams about his absentee father, gets bullied at school, and wets himself when he’s frightened. Eli is the young girl who moves in next door. She doesn’t go to school and never leaves the flat by day. She is a 200 year old vampire, forever frozen in childhood, and condemned to live on a diet of fresh blood. John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel, a huge bestseller in his native Sweden, is a unique and brilliant fusion of social novel and vampire legend. And a deeply moving fable about rejection, friendship and loyalty.


I should have read Let The Right One In before I read Little Star (see my review) but only because this was Lindqvist’s first novel. Fortunately, the two are stand alone and in terms of the stories can be read in any order, but I think writers who read them chronologically will appreciate the evident development of Linqvist’s style and technique. There is much to be learned.

I have to confess I am now a firm fan of this Scandinavian author, albeit late to the party. I saw the film of this book and enjoyed it, and even if it’s a cliche I have to say that the book is better – far, far better – than the film. I wish someone would make a film and keep the whole story, sod the running time – it would be the best horror flick in history.

Yes, it’s a vampire story – but if you think you’ve had it up to the neck with vampires I urge you to think again. Let The Right One In is as much about the woes of social exclusion, loneliness, dejection, family dysfunction, bullying, alcoholism and coming of age as it is about blood sucking. As a divorced father there were times it pulled me up short and made me review my life. At the same time, Linqvist creates wonderfully round and weird characters but all of them totally believable. The pages are filled with pure horror of the multi-layered kind not seen since the early works of Clive Barker. And after all of this, I defy you not to feel sorry for the vampire.

It is a bloody good read and deserves 5 stakes.

The Vampire Shrink : Book Review

The Vampire Shrink

Author: Lynda Hilburn

Published by: Jo Fletcher Books (25 Aug 2011)

Kindle version ASIN: B005IHBWDE

Hardback: ISBN-13: 978-0857387196


Kismet Knight is a young psychologist with a growing clinical practice, and she’s always looking for something to give her the edge in her chosen career. When her new client turns out to be a Goth teenager who desperately wants to become a vampire, Kismet is inspired to become the vampire shrink, offering her services to people who believe they are undead. Kismet herself, as a scientist, knows it’s hokum, but she’s looking at it in a purely psychoanalytic light, already imagining the papers she’s going to write on this strange subculture. That’s until she meets the leader of a vampire coven, a sexy, mysterious man who claims to be a powerful 800-year-old vampire, and she is pulled into a whirlwind of inexplicable events that start her questioning everything she once believed about the paranormal.


If you’re a Brit, get the Kindle version because it contains British spelling and punctuation, making it an entirely ‘gotten’ free zone. Yay! I hate the word ‘gotten’ so much I can’t tell you. And there’s another thing about The Vampire Shrink; it is so witty that at times the reader can believe the author is a Brit. Oh, boy, the American vampires will be after me now!

Seriously, this is one of the funniest books I’ve read for a long time. The self-deprecating MC, Kismet the psychologist, is brilliant. She gives us a clever sideways look at the uptight materialistic USA of today,  as well as poking fun at her own kind.

“It seemed he’d had a close encounter with a protester – I couldn’t imagine what anyone would protest about at a Star Trek convention..”

And when the vampire presents her with a collection of exquisite gowns: “What is this? Vampire Cinderella?”

“There was blood all over my living room. A trashed office and a living room that smelled like a used sanitary pad.”

There are plenty of vampires, lots of blood letting and some well-written sex scenes. Is it horror? Nope. This isn’t going to have you pulling the duvet up tight around your neck or stringing garlands of garlic across the windows. But I don’t believe that was ever the author’s intention.

I loved it and recommend it. Was there anything to pick at? Well, the final big scene, the ritual, I felt was rather mechanical and lacked the sparkle of the rest of the book, but it’s a small point in an otherwise commendable debut novel. Stars out of 5? Oh, go on: 4.5 and well deserved.