Tag Archives: horror

The Shell Cracked – Sneak Preview

My current project is called The Shell Cracked (at least, that’s my working title) which sounds a bit Agatha Christie-ish but is far removed from cosy sleuthing in middle England!

This is (will be) the sequel to Shun House, and is (will be) just as dark and wicked.  Those of you who have read Shun House will know exactly what I mean by that.  For you loyal readers, and those who are not (yet) here is the opening chapter of The Shell Cracked, to give you a sample of what lied in wait:

 

1.      PATIENCE

Patience is stale, and I am weary of it.

King Richard II, King Richard II: V, v

 

Five thousand years.

To a mountain bearing the weight of the heavens, such a number is inconsequential. Say instead fifty thousand, or five hundred thousand and the mountain may notice the passage of time. But five thousand? That is next to nothing.

To a mouse scuttling and sniffing the air, hugging the skirting board in its quest for food, twitching ears for signals of death from cat or rat, five thousand is a number outside of reckoning, a count of fifteen hundred or more generations. Five minutes or five thousand years, neither is a measure to be comprehended.

To that which dwells beneath the Sierra Gilillo, five thousand years is time enough.

Time to remember.

To fester.

To grow.

 

From the glens and ravines of the Sierra de Cazorla, a sprig of streams emerge, fed by seasonal rains and secret, subterranean pools. They roam the surface world, seeking each other out, converging as a single waterway that strikes out northward through the Guadalquivir valley. The Rio Kertis holds this course for nine leagues before changing direction, diverting west and then southwest, gradually swelling with rills and runnels orphaned from the surrounding countryside. Spreading wide in a majestic meander, she brings fertility to fields and pastures until, at last, she reaches the sea. There she divests herself of her charge, completing the cycle, returning her waters to the Madre del Agua at the Golfo de Cádiz: el mar Mediterráneo.

Rivers, though, are not the only passages to lead away from the mountains. Beneath the sierras, diverse tunnels weave a Spartan mesh through the Iberian subterrain. Most lead nowhere, crushed by the weight of their world, their paths blocked by rock falls, or petering out to the point where only the smallest of organisms can delve. Others tumble blindly into deep pits, stygian sinkholes overflowing with poison. Some are unnavigable conduits for turbulent streams, or channels for the molten vomit spewed up by Mother Earth. Many never admit the kiss of fresh air, or allow the light of day to infiltrate their darkness.

But there are some that do have purpose, some that do follow a definite course, a handful that do broach the surface to secretly link distant parts by invisible threads.

And there are a very few that lead directly to a place known to the people of the region as el Estómago de la Mundo, lying deep within Gilillo, the highest peak of the Cazorlas, a cavern from which a delving of shafts and drifts extrude intestine-like, a piceous interweaving of catacombs.

No one has ever claimed to have seen this place. Not one of the few that sought to find it ever returned from their quest, but all know where it lies, and what dwells within. Such names they have for her: el Bebedor de las Almas, el Terror de la Noche, el Murmullo de la Muerte.

There she rests, brooding in her nest of husks, shrouded by the darkness, barely moving, ever watchful, nursing a hunger that never ends. Her countless children are all gone, sacrificed to that hunger or fled away from her terror. No other prey comes near and now she feeds off all she has left: her memories, black and hard and cold.

How did she come there? What drove her to such isolation, such loneliness?

Fear. And five thousand years of that fear has fixed her within her atramentous tomb, nevermore to see the light of day. Until now.

Half a millennia has passed and in all that time she has cursed and plotted and dreamed and planned. She is perhaps the last, the final incarnation of her race, the uttermost terror of her kind, the one who will mete out retribution to those who vanquished her kin from the world.

But now a time is come when she will return to the world that rejected her. Her web has reached out in all directions, filaments entangling bruit and report. Now she knows where they are. Whispers and rumours have reached her from the far north, soft-spoken tales of dragons, the Nemesis and bane of her race. So north she will go. Instinct will guide her, hate will feed her, venom will drive her.

It is time to prepare.

One last time her bloated abdomen heaves. One last time she evicts the eggs from deep within, her final brood. A hundred soft sacs spill out onto the silken bed she has created for them. She spins a blanket to keep them secure and now there is nothing more she can do. The next generation will survive or they will perish but she has no more thought for their welfare. One thought only remains.

Vengeance!

 

I’m aiming to see this published in 2017 so please be patient.  But do give me feedback on this opening, if you would like to.

 

Best Wishes and Happy Reading,

Nigel.

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Shun House – Free for Five Days!

Beginning 3rd July, Shun House is available for FREE on Amazon Kindle!

Shun House on Kindle

E-book and Paperback available from the usual channels.

Shun House is a romance, but it’s far from conventional.

Marquis Raphael, the last survivor of the family Vaskapu – descendants of legendary and unholy unions between human captives and dragons.

Raphael spends his days dreaming of the future. He yearns to find a bride, someone who can perpetuate his name, preserve his bloodline through generations to come. But human women are poor hosts, only rarely able to conceive, and he despairs of ever succeeding in his goal.

Then, when all hope seems lost, Raphael learns of another, a young Contessa from Iberia, a descendant like himself from the most ancient of days. He sends for her and they duly wed.

Accompanying Contessa Adelina is Constanza Cantabria, her chaperone and surrogate mother. She falls in love with Joseph Harrow, the Marquis’s most senior and trusted servant. But if the Vaskapu are monsters, so is Harrow with his own cruel lusts. He is a slave to them, and suffers extreme anguish born of his guilt and fear of what might wait for him in the afterlife; yet he is not strong enough to resist the lure of his perversion.

To his own astonishment, Harrow finds himself falling in love as well, discovering a semblance of peace and forgiveness in Constanza’s affections. Could she offer him an escape from his dread nightmares?

Try Shun House for free, and leave your feedback on Amazon.

Happy Reading,

Nigel Edwards.

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Shun House – Beta Readers Wanted

Shun House

Cover for Shun House, for planned release in spring 2016

 

RIGHT, I’ve just completed my read-through of Shun House, tweaked and adjusted until it seems about right to me, but now I really need some independent comment from insightful readers.  Could that be you?  Here’s the blurb and a synopsis to help you decide.

Blurb 

Benediction House: set high on a promontory, dominating an estate that stretched from the highland border in the north, and south to where a languid river dribbled into the sea. An edifice in Gothic stone; an old, grim building with wings and towers, built with the rewards of a King’s service by a rich and devout nobleman.

Plague swept the land. The nobleman succumbed, his surviving family was displaced, and his demesne fell into disrepair, languishing for years until acquired by a secretive visitor from a distant land who restored the buildings and returned order to the estate. Others of his kin joined him from the Iron Gate region of the Carpathian Mountains. Vaskapu, they called themselves, a name that came to haunt the north lands down the centuries that followed.

Anxious tales found root in the fens and the rugged coast that touched the Vaskapu estates, dark stories whispered on cold nights by a frightened and superstitious population. Benediction House became Shun House, a home to secrets, a place of death, an abode of monsters. And from this domicile the family Vaskapu exercised lordship over the lives of all the little people who cowered in their hovels beneath the brooding gaze of Shun House…

~~~

 

Synopsis

Shun House is a romance of sorts. It is the tale of Marquis Raphael Vaskapu: last of an ancient and warped dynasty, searching for a way to ensure the future of his bloodline; and Joseph Harrow: butler, valet, factotum to the family, and a monster in his own right.

The Vaskapu dynasty is a half-breed race whose blood is said to be mixed with that of dragons from mythic prehistory.  The local populace fears the them, believing they hunt and prey on the people of the region.

The time period is a very loose amalgam of (mainly) 17th and 18th centuries.  Geographically, the setting is a fictionalised north of England. Shun House – bastardised from Benediction House, the property’s original name – is an edifice in stone, a mansion built on top of cliffs overlooking the fishing village of Hook.

Much of the story is told from Harrow’s perspective.  He is a complicated man, intensely loyal to the Vaskapu but plagued by a vengeful conscience – which manifests in the ‘haunt’. Harrow is a fatalist, believing himself destined – owing to his predilection for cruel and perverse gratification – for an eternity of torment.

Marquis Rafael receives a communiqué from an Iberian count introducing Rafael to Contessa Adelina Cantabria.  The marquis sends for her in the hope they might wed, and so secure the family line.  The contessa arrives by ship at the start of the year.  She is 18 years old, beautiful, haughty and petulant.  She is accompanied by her guardian, Señorita Constanza, who has cared for Adelina since birth.  Constanza is tall and aristocratic – although she has no blood relationship with Adelina – and classically beautiful.

In due course the Adelina and Rafael fall in love and marry.  Meantime, Constanza falls equally in love with Harrow.  He, however, is more reticent with his affections, but eventually he falls under her spell –  or is he, in truth, merely using her to escape the torment of his guilt?

Shun House lies within the duchy of Umberland.  The present duke, Percival, is in debt to the Vaskapu, a burden he wants desperately to be rid of.  The duke sends for aid from a clan living on the continent (think Romania) who have a reputation for confronting and defeating ‘monsters’ like the Vaskapu.

The clan, family name Kárpáti, arrive and assail the marquis’s home.  Harrow is charged with the safety of Adelina, and guides her, together with Constanza and others away from Shun House.  They journey to the castle of Duke Umberland where Adelina –  now pregnant – not only receives the attentions of the duke, who proposes marriage to her, but is also brought face-to-fact with the Kárpáti.  Adelina will have none of this, and determines to exact retribution from both the duke and the Kárpáti.  In the end… well, you must read that for yourself.

~~~

Shun House is a strong story that some will not find easy to read.  It deals with death  and cruelty, though I hope I’ve dealt with these topics sensitively.  The key characters are well rounded – but I can’t help wondering with which, if any, the reader will fully empathise.  All the protagonists have feet of clay.

The book is sprinkled with Spanish/Romanian/Hungarian words and phrases but these are languages I do not speak, and so would appreciate any expert views.

~~~

 

SO, Are you interested?  If you are then I will send you an electronic copy (Word or Word PDF) to review.  What I’d appreciate back is your honest, constructive opinion, which I will use to hone the story.  When the book is published (CreateSpace/Amazon) I will give you full credit in the book for your contribution (or you can remain anonymous if you wish), plus a copy of the finished book.

Let me know.

Best Wishes to All,
Nigel.

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NSFWG on Facebook

The Northampton SF Writers Group is now on Facebook.  The page is kept up-to-date with news and info about public events, author signings, latest releases through NewCon Press and Greyhart Press, so well worth a visit!

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Grayhart Press January Sale

Announcing our Late-January Sale

Grayhart Press are holding an end-of-January sale with great prices on some of their catalogue (including one of mine).  Do go and take advantage and help a starving author earn a crust!

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Badger’s Waddle – publisher’s warning

Greyhart Press have teams of beta readers (get in touch with them if you’d like to participate) who fastidiously review pre-publication copies of books, picking out all the mistakes the author has deliberately put in to trap the unwary beta-reader.  In the case of Badger’s Waddle, Tim (the publisher) has seen fit to provide a note of caution as follows:

Style/ Genre: It’s fantasy with deliberate smatterings of science fiction and even a little gothic in places. The little village of Badger’s Waddle is a haven of old-fashioned English politeness and traditional values (hot, sweet tea, stiff upper lips, choir practice in the medieval parish church), but look again its inhabitants are grotesques and pastimes surreal. There is a dark and subtle humor running throughout, and although the language and descriptions are never crude, some will find the goings-on in the village to be “gross-out” humor.

And the first ever review (from fibrochimp) produced this response:

Badger’s Waddle rocks, and rolls and sometimes makes you feel a bit queasy… but don’t let that put you off there are a lot of LOL moments.

You have been warned!

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Waif

Kindle Book by Nigel Edwards

Kindle Book by Nigel Edwards

Waif (published by Greyhart Press) was written as a piece of indulgence. I wanted to see if I could write an atmospheric story with multiple characters but without giving them real names. The idea was for them to be defined by their functions; thus we have Butler, Cook, Young Master, as well as Waif herself. I think this worked pretty well… (continue to read here)

Note that Waif is currently a FREE download from Amazon and also Smashwords

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