Monday 27 July 2015

Guest Post from Alex Davis

A guest post from Alex Davis, part of his month long blog swap to promote The Last War (Tickety Boo Press)


Four days and counting on the July Blog Swap Trail, and that means four exclusive extracts from The Last War to go! And today we're onto Chapter Sixteen, where a plan that will change life forever on Noukaria is about to come to fruition...




Viarus stares blankly at the Re'Nuck, scarcely able to believe what he has heard.

'You... want to speak to the gods?'

'I want us all to speak to the gods, Viarus.'

'How could we even achieve such a thing? And why do you need me?'

'What I speak of is true communication, not the one-way process of worship.'

'You want not only for us to speak to the gods, but for them to speak to us also?'

'Surely that is the very pinnacle of what we could achieve as Animexians? But our voices will not do enough. To achieve this we must transcend the physical and reach another level entirely.'

'You... you speak of the scream?'

'You may wish to call it that, Viarus, based upon your experience. But you must realise there is  more to it than that. Your voice emerged as a scream, on that occasion. Just bear in mind what you saw, and what your natural reaction would be.'

'Your followers would have been horrified at the sight!'

'Of course they would. Even those yet to accept our religion may have felt the same. But maybe it was the hand of the gods themselves guiding your actions that day, showing us what we must do! Did you never stop to ask why it was only you who returned to help me?'

'I came... out of duty. Out of wanting to maintain our faith.'

'All noble purposes, unquestionably, but surely the rest of the congregation feel the same? No, there was a reason it was you above any other – to demonstrate the power at your disposal!'

'Power! If only I could believe I had the power of which you speak!'

'I have witnessed it first-hand, and do not forget that Asha witnessed it as well. It was your power, and your power only, that saved me.'

'There is no power! That scream was beyond my control. I do not even know how it happened!'

'Viarus, please, calm yourself. I realise that we have much to learn of this mental capacity. But what is evident is that you have a great well of  potential power. I do not wish to hear that sound again, as I am sure you do not. But what does not yet shine can be made to gleam. We shall take on this endeavour, and take it on willingly. And you shall be at the very centre of it!'

'I... you know that I have never refused you, Re'Nuck. I have always been most loyal. But I cannot do this thing of which you speak. What if I should fail?'

'Viarus, you fail me now by questioning this. There is no way to know if we shall succeed – but we must believe we can, and make the attempt!'


To find out more about The Last War, visit

Tuesday 21 July 2015

Sunny With A Chance Of Zombies - a review

Zombies - they seem to be everywhere in horror fiction. Not as bad as the re-invented sparkly, boyfriend material vampires, but still, there does seem to be a proliferation of them. So, when I was offered a copy of Sunny With A Chance Of Zombies (henceforth 'Sunny') my first thought was ....deep sigh......more zombies!

But I looked at the premise and the tag line on the back page "....a sensational selection of strangely uplifting stories to help raise a smile at the end of the world." and decided it might well be worth a look. It didn't harm matters that it's published by Knightwatch Press who have, in my opinion, a good track record with horror collections.

So, to the stories....12 in all, and, to be fair, all pretty good. The idea was for something a bit different, 'uplifting' and that is what you get, a lot of different outlooks on the Zombie Apocalypse and the future after it. There is humour here among the horror but there is also a kind of romance (Paradise by Nikki Tanner being a good example), revenge (Thirty Minutes Or It's Free by Anthony Cowin) and even a tale set in the world of illegal zombie racing (Run, Rabbit by Louise Maskill).

As a collection 'Sunny' certainly does what it set out to achieve and gives me hope for the future of zombie fiction (to be honest I'm really hoping for another volume of these tales). With 'Sunny' editor Dion Winton-Polak has put together something that zombie fans will love, with plenty of variety and that little bit of something different we've probably all been secretly hoping for.

The cover art is pretty good too

9/10 stars

Wednesday 15 July 2015

Clovenhoof by Heide Goody and Iain Grant

When Heaven, Hell and Birmingham collide.........

Clovenhoof is the first in a series of books (four so far with a fifth in the works) and if this is anything to go by it will be a very enjoyable series indeed. The main idea for the story is that Satan has been fired from his job in Hell for Gross Incompetence and exiled to the suburbs of Birmingham where he is expected to live as a mere mortal .......oh, if only things were that simple.

As you would expect from the Prince of Darkness, he isn't going to take this lying down. He has tricks up his sleeve and ruses a plenty and with the help of his neighbours, the bookish, slightly nerdy - actually, lets be fair, very nerdy - Ben and the man-hungry Nerys he plans to get back to where he belongs.

Clovenhoof (which is the new name given to Satan on his exile - Jeremy Clovenhoof) works well as a character. He struggles to adapt to his new life where nobody (apart from the barman at his local) recognises him. He needs his new friends to guide him in his new life and tries to be a friend himself but is still the sneaky, crafty type you would expect but he never really comes across as Evil Incarnate - just ........a bit naughty.

Add to this an overcrowding problem in heaven, generally shown through scenes from a series of committee meetings and there is a good little backstory to keep you thinking.

As a story this reminded me very much of Tom Holt in its' style and craziness. There is a lot going on and just when you think you may have read the daftest thing ever the next scene will come along and prove you wrong. There are 410 pages and sometimes a story of this ilk can feel stretched over this length but with Clovenhoof that is certainly not the case. I got through this in three days solely because once I put it down I was itching to get back to it. Just one small point to finish on - for a book written by two people I couldn't see the seam. There was no point where it felt like 'this was written by one person and this by another' so bravo to both for a job well done.

Jeremy Clovenhoof - rogue, rascal, sneak, untrustworthy, former Prince of Hell - and one of the best damn comic leads in a long time.


Friday 10 July 2015

Abendau's Heir by Jo Zebedee -a review

Abendau's Heir is the first in a trilogy (The Inheritance Trilogy) by first time author Jo Zebedee, although you wouldn't believe it to be a first time effort. The general gist of the story is that there is an 'Evil Empire' vs 'Rebels' war in progress. Our hero, Kare, is the key to the future, to victory for one side over the other. His Mother is The Empress, his Father the leader of The Rebellion. They both want Kale on their side but what Kale really wants is to survive.

Just from that synopsis you will get the idea that this is very Star Wars like in concept so you know what you are getting but the characters and story are much deeper than you would expect, so, certainly not a Star Wars clone. One aspect of the story I really appreciated was that the characters are not all cut and dried Good Guys and Bad Guys. Prepare yourself to be wrong footed every now and again is all I will say on that matter ;-)

 This is Space Opera done right, in my opinion, plenty of action, entertaining story and not too much deep science. I do sometimes find that some Space Opera novels leave you wishing you had a degree in the sciences so you could understand just what is going on - with Abendau's Heir this is not the case. It isn't Space Opera Lite but neither is it brain boggling stuff, just a well told space romp.

As for the book itself - I ordered a copy from Waterstones and have to say, this is a really well produced, high quality book. Tickety Boo Press, the publishers have made something that is a pleasure to own.

I've been torn as to what score to give Abendau's Heir ( it kept me well entertained on a recent beach holiday). Everything about it worked for me so I was going to give it 5* but, I just have a feeling that the next in the series is going to up the ante even more so I've decided to split the score (don't worry, it'll all make sense)

Story - 4/5* (just because I need to be able to go upwards with the next volume)
The Physical Copy - 5/5* (a really well put together book)

Abendau's Heir total -9/10*

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Black Mountain by Simon Bestwick - a review

Charles Dickens used to do it, Stephen King did it with The Green Mile and now Simon Bestwick and Spectral Press are doing it with 'Black Mountain'. The 'it' in question is the serialised chap book - a story released in parts at regular intervals. When done right this idea can work really well and thankfully Mr Bestwick seems to have got it spot on.

The story itself (in 11 parts) is an interesting blend, and possibly not something I have come across before (and I like things that up the ante a little), the best way I can think of to describe it would be 'Blair Witch Project in book form' I guess but maybe that doesn't quite do it justice.

The general gist of the story is that Simon Bestwick  (the author tells the tale as a real document) is called to a psychiatric hospital on behalf of an old colleague Rob Markland, now a patient there. Markland has been studying events and occurrences in an area of Wales known as 'The Bala Triangle' and centring on The Black Mountain itself. Whatever he discovered has led him to either a breakdown or madness but before things got too bad he put all his documents together and now it is up to Simon to go through them and find out what happened and what if anything can be done to help his old friend. The following episodes cover the items in the documents from back in Roman times right up to the final expedition by Markland himself. Each part of the tale is by turn creepy, suspenseful and horrific, just the thing to keep you watching eagerly for the next episode to appear on Amazon.

I said at the beginning it was similar in style to something like The Blair Witch Project, that reference was mainly because the bulk of the story is told from the documents read, video files watched etc. but I am going to go a step further and say The Blair Witch Project written by H P Lovecraft. Horror as it should be - the kind that sticks in your mind and keeps you coming back for more. The only real disappointment is that, now, the story is over. But oh, what a story it was. Simon Bestwick could well be one of the best British horror writers around today and Spectral Press have done a grand job on putting his story out. Keep an eye on both.......I know I will

4 1/2 out of 5 stars