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”

The {Booker} Award

Author Julia Kavan has handed over the {Booker} award – no, not that Booker and not a flaming torch either. This means I have to reveal my five all time favourite novels. I hate doing this, to be honest, as I have more than five. So I’ve picked the five that I might be in the mood to read today from my all time list. Ask me next week and you might get something entirely different. In no particular order:

Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist

Published by: Quercus

One autumn day in 1992, former pop singer Lennart Cederström finds something unexpected in the forest: a baby girl in a plastic bag, partially buried. He gives her the kiss of life, and her first cry astounds him; it is a clear, pure musical note. He takes her to his wife and persuades her that they should keep this remarkable child. But the baby becomes a strange girl, made more unusual by their decision to hide her in their basement to keep her from the prying eyes of government departments. When she reaches puberty, a terrifying scene sees her kill both her parents. When her scheming adopted brother returns to find her over their bodies, he seizes the opportunity and enters her into an X Factor-style talent competition. She quickly becomes famous. In spite of this, she remains very lonely, until she befriends another damaged girl on the internet. They form a powerful bond and soon create a growing gang of other disgruntled girls and, calling themselves the Wolves, they set out to take revenge for all they’ve ever suffered.

You can read my review HERE.

Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist

Published by: Quercus

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.

You can read my review HERE.

Author: Sam Eastland

Published by: Faber and Faber

It is the time of the Great Terror. Inspector Pekkala – known as the Emerald Eye – was the most famous detective in all Russia. He was the favourite of the Tsar. Now he is the prisoner of the men he once hunted. Like millions of others, he has been sent to the gulags in Siberia and, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, he is as good as dead. But a reprieve comes when he is summoned by Stalin himself to investigate a crime. His mission – to uncover the men who really killed the Tsar and his family, and to locate the Tsar’s treasure. The reward for success will be his freedom and the chance to re-unite with a woman he would have married if the Revolution had not torn them apart. The price of failure – death. Set against the backdrop of the paranoid and brutal country that Russia became under the rule of Stalin, Eye of the Red Tsar introduces a compelling new figure to readers of crime fiction.

Shame I didn’t write a review!

Author: Clive Barker

Published by: Simon and Schuster

Terrifying and forbidding, subversive and insightful, Clive Barker’s groundbreaking stories revolutionized the worlds of horrific and fantastical fiction and established Barker’s dominance over the otherworldly and the all-too-real. Here, as two businessmen encounter beautiful and seductive women and an earnest young woman researches a city slum, Barker maps the boundless vistas of the unfettered imagination — only to uncover a profound sense of terror and overwhelming dread.

Didn’t review this either! Maybe I should?

Author: Dennis Wheatley

Published by: Arrow

Simon Aron fails to turn up for the traditional reunion dinner with the Duke de Richeleau and Rex van Ryn. The answer to the puzzle of his disappearance is more terrible than Rex and the Duke fear and plunges them into a struggle against the
Forces of Darkness.

Okay, it’s old and the prose hasn’t weathered well but this was one of those books that got me hooked on horror. The cover shown is the old Arrow paperback but if you want to read it these days there are various issues out there.

And now my time to curse – sorry, pass on – to others:

Joanne Harris

Rosie Fiore

John Ajvide Lindqvist

Catherine Cavendish

R A Evans

Review: Bereft by Chris Womersley

Title: Bereft

Author: Chris Womersley


ISBN-13: 978-0857386540


A CRIME UNSPEAKABLE. Australia, 1919. Quinn Walker returns from the Great War to the New South Wales town of Flint: the birthplace he fled ten years earlier when he was accused of a heinous act. A LIE UNFORGIVABLE. Aware of the townsmen’s vow to hang him, Quinn takes to the surrounding hills. Here, deciding upon his plan of action, and questioning just what he has returned for, he meets Sadie Fox. A BOND UNBREAKABLE. This mysterious girl seems to know, and share, his darkest fear. And, as their bond greatens, Quinn learns what he must do to lay the ghosts of his past, and Sadie’s present, to rest.


Not horror, not in the strictest sense, but horrific nonetheless. This is a superb book, not only for the vivid reminders of the horror of war and the things mankind is capable of, but for the wonderful writing. I was unsure from the blurb if I would like it so downloaded the sample to my Kindle. It captured me from the first line and I have read the whole book greedily. This is not some dismal military tome, far from it, and the aspects of war are deftly woven into a peacetime story. If you’re looking for something that gives pleasure through its language, buy it. You won’t be disappointed. 5 Stars.

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!