I am delighted to announce that my first Novella, The Girl With The Roses:A Tale From The Haunted Auctions, is now available for pre-order from Amazon and Kobo. The ebook release date is 18th August. There will also be paperback and hardback editions; I’m currently waiting for Feedaread to confirm that these are ready to print. I’ll be sure to post when they are available too.
So here it is, the blurb for The Girl With The Roses:
“It was to be a summer of storms.”
A dark supernatural tale of love, obsession and power.
At the haunted auctions of Thornhill and Swift, where artefacts of the ghostly and the macabre are bought and sold, we learn of the statue entitled: ‘The Girl with the Roses’.
Charlotte Salt has always dreamt of marrying for love but when she receives a proposal she realises that romance isn’t always the deciding factor in the Victorian marriage market.
Married to the eligible but secretive George Avery, she finds herself cut off from her family and friends when her husband takes her to live in his isolated Derbyshire home.
Trapped in a loveless marriage, she finds her thoughts turning towards her brother’s newly returned friend, the handsome Charles Jameson. In failing health and increasingly troubled by strange sights and sounds, she cannot help recalling Jameson’s mysterious warning: “be on your guard.” What danger did he foresee?
As dark forces surround her, she contemplates the fate of her predecessor. What happened to the first Mrs Avery?
In a summer of storms, can anyone save her from the shadows?
A Gothic horror novella from the author of A Spirited Evening and Other Stories and The Haunted Chamber and Other Stories.
When I bought Marina I also bought The Watcher In The Shadows by the same author. In some respects this book is similar to Marina, in that it is a young adult book dealing with the loss of childhood innocence and the move towards adulthood. In fact the theme of loss is present throughout this book in one form or another.
In summer 1937, following the death of her father, young Irene and her family move to the coastal village of Blue Bay, where her mother goes to work as housekeeper for retired toy maker Lazarus Jann.
Jann is a recluse who lives locked away in his mansion surrounded by bizarre mechanical toys. When Irene meets Ismael together they begin to uncover the mystery behind the abandoned lighthouse that overlooks Blue Bay and Lazarus Jann’s secret past.
The Watcher in The Shadows creates the feel of an idyllic, beautiful, long summer. But as this is a gothic horror things soon take a darker turn. You feel the shattering of the characters’ dreams. This book is both beautiful and sad. It takes the idea of the shadows of your past controlling your life and weaves it throughout the book, creating a kind of gothic tapestry of loss and survival. There is also a strong sense of foreboding that is ever present.
I got the sense from The Watcher in The Shadows of the characters learning that it’s those sometimes brief and fleeting moments of happiness that they carry with them that get them through all the darkness. There is a definite air of hope at the end.
Like Marina, The Watcher in The Shadows is aimed at young adults, but as an adult I found plenty to enjoy in this book. I can only hope that young adults are reading books like this. A nice introduction to the genre.
Marina is a gothic story aimed at young adults. I didn’t know it was young adult when I bought it but that never worried me. I’m OK with a teenage protagonist if the story is good.
The story centres around young Oscar Drai who meets a mysterious girl called Marina. One day Marina takes Oscar to a graveyard where they witness a woman dressed in black lay a single red rose on a grave whose headstone bears no name, only the emblem of a black butterfly. They decide to follow her. From there onwards they are dragged into a dark vein of the cities forgotten past.
I enjoyed Marina. It’s a quick read and doesn’t hold back on the emotion just because it’s a young adult book. There are two stories at play in the book; there is the main gothic adventure and the story of Oscar and Marina’s growing relationship. You get the feeling of a character waking out of childhood into an adult world where he’s having to face up to the frailty of life, human weaknesses and fear and how those things can easily lead you into darkness. You know at the end of the book that he can never go back to being the boy he was at the beginning.
I know some people dislike the way Ruiz has a habit of writing big sections of back-story being relayed by one character to another but personally I feel he does this pretty well. I didn’t feel like there was too much putting the story on pause to fill in the back-story. I don’t recall it happening at moments of immediate action. It felt quite natural, and one character sitting down to tell another character their back-story isn’t exactly a new contrivance.
Without giving too much away, the end of this story is heart-breaking. I say this even though I could see it coming. I don’t know whether it was expected that younger readers wouldn’t pick up on it so soon (which I doubt), or whether we are supposed to see it coming and therefore have more sympathy for Oscar who clearly doesn’t. Either way, it was very emotional.
The reason I gave this 4 stars rather than 5 on Goodreads is because I felt there were some elements of the story that were not brilliantly explained, and not in a mysterious ambiguous sense; it just felt a bit unclear. Also I didn’t like the decision two characters made on the train platform at the end of the book. I can understand why they would make that decision but to me it would have felt more natural for them to decide the other way. But it’s the kind of situation everyone deals with differently. I don’t want to spoil anything so that’s all I’m saying!
All in all, a nice piece of accessible gothic horror that can introduce young adults to the genre and also engaging enough to appeal to adults. And if it is a consideration for you, it had a gorgeous cover.
One side note, there are parts of this book that remind me very much of one of the classic books of the gothic genre; I wont say which, but there is a character whose name greatly resembles that of its author. I wonder if this was an intentional nod. I do hope so.