The Devil’s Servants by CL Raven

The Devil’s Servants is a story set during the 1649 Edinburgh Witch Trials and tells the story of Nessie and how she gets wrapped up in the trials.

Now, I am a big fan of CL Raven. Not only are they great people I LOVE their writing. Their previous release, Silent Dawn, blew me away and I had high expectations for The Devil’s Servants, and I wasn’t disappointed.

It’s very easy to feel like you’re in Edinburgh while reading this. CL Raven give just enough to fuel the imagination, I felt like I was there in the graveyard, or the market. Or in Nessie’s room. Especially the Gaol. Cat and Lynx know a lot about the subject of the witch trials from this era, and that came through in the book.

Not only is it beautifully written, its gripping. I’m really not a big fan of historic fiction in any form. It’s just not something that catches my attention, The Devil’s Servants really hooked me though. The amount of times I thought I’d only read one chapter and end up reading two or three instead, I can’t even count.

With each book, Cat and Lynx Raven are getting stronger and stronger with their writing. I haven’t read all of their work, but each time I read one of their stories I see the strength there is in them. With each new release I see a new strength to their work. One of the elements I loved in Silent Dawn was the relationship between the main three characters. What I love in this book is what Nessie goes through and her whole arc. I felt a lot of her conflict throughout the story and really liked how her story wrapped up.

A quick little shout out for the cover(above image) by David V G Davies. It’s awesome!

I strongly recommend The Devil’s Servants, it’s a page turner and one that got me interested in a part of history that I’ve never really paid much attention to. Please check it out.

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Silent Dawn by C L Raven

Silent Dawn tells the story of Ben, Keira, and Drake and their interest of a video game Silent Dawn, and how the game seems to begin merging into the real world.

This book is beautifully written, paced, structured, and doesn’t hold back from putting the protagonist through their paces. It has a tension that rises as the story progresses and as a reader I was wondering what was really going on with the story. There was times when I couldn’t quite figure out what exactly might be happening.

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The beautiful cover by River Rose

Each one of the protagonist has a lot of depth and all have a very engaging personality. Each one felt very genuine, as did their home lives and what they had to go through when they were at school. These teenagers are not the stereotypical teenagers that you see in the media, and for me that is one of the things that made them more real. That and what they went through when they were at school. Ben, Keira, and Drake are goths and they suffer the fact that they are not afraid to be different from the herd. What the characters went through with their class mates and teachers is so exquisitely handled by C L Raven it felt like I was there with them. I got a little bullying when I was at school but it wasn’t to the extent that Ben, Keira, and Drake go through though.

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Cat and Lynx Raven

Something I really like about how C L Raven have written this is that we don’t really see a lot of Silent Dawn. They keep her as the boogey man type character, and that works really well for the story. As I was reading it I was never quite sure when or where she’d appear in the story.

I’ll wrap this review with a quick comment about the social commentary and humour in this story. The dialogue between Ben, Keira, and Drake is just beautiful. It’s humorous, on point, character building, and just fun. There was more than a few times which had me laughing aloud.

I enjoyed this book massively, and would recommend that people check it out.

You can find C L Raven at their website.

 

Birmingham Horror Con 2017

Yesterday I travelled to Edgbaston Cricket ground for Birmingham Horror Con with my buddy Stefan and his partner, Steph, and boy was it a lot of fun! Aside from the fact that I got to see my friends C L Raven again I met some awesome people who all seemed really nice. I brought a load more books, T-Shirts and some really cool artwork, as well as a couple of comics.

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My Swag From Birmingham Horror Con

One of the things I’ve loved most about the cons I’ve been to (DemonCon, Bristol Horror Con, and now Birmingham Horror Con) is how warm and welcoming these events are. I’ve not encountered any negativity from anyone. It just seems to be everyone there to enjoy themselves, which is really refreshing! In a world where there’s so much hatred and desire to stop other people enjoying themselves it’s something I’ve found to be really quite awesome.

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The Awesome Cat and Lynx Raven

As for Birmingham Horror Con, it was vibrant, full of great people selling their books, works of art, clothing, jewellery, and a tonne of other horror related merchandise. As I mentioned it was great to see Cat and Lynx Raven again, and spend a little time talking to them. It was also great chatting to Dave from From The Shadows, J.R. Park, Daniel Marc Chant and very briefly with Adam Nevill. This is where I fail a little. I need to get better at talking to people. I do have a shyness and I need to get over that. Just talking to the cosplayers and getting some photo’s of them would be great as well because they all looked so cool!

There’s another one later in the year, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get there for it but I’m going to try. I will definitely be there again next year because it was just so much fun.

Bristol Horror Con 2016

Yesterday my buddy Stefan and I drove to Bristol for Bristol Horror Con at the Future Inns in Bristol, and damn it was a lot of fun. It was quite a long drive from my home in Kent but I wanted to go because CL Raven were going to be there, and although I’ve know them for a couple of years we’ve never met. I like a little horror in my life as well, so I thought screw it! Let’s go! And I am so glad we did. Not only was it great to meet Cat and Lynx I met a bunch of other people who I found to be awesome and welcoming. The atmosphere was just so chilled out and relaxed, it was great just being there and soaking it all up.

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Cat and Lynx Raven

We spent most of our time on the 6th floor of the hotel where all of the dealer tables where but went down to a Jazz Club below the bar for author readings, which Cat and Lynx were a part of. That, I found a lot of fun and very interesting. There was four people doing readings, including Cat and Lynx. The other two novelist were A K Benedict and Martyn Waites. Sitting and listening to all four reading excerpts or short stories was really thought provoking. Both in that once I actually get my butt into gear and get stories written, then I’ll be (hopefully) doing this sort of thing. But also in listening to writers whose work I hadn’t come across before. Obviously I’ve read a fair bit of Cat and Lynx’s work, but it was a lot of fun hearing it out loud, and they really aced the reading. Both A K Benedict and Martyn Waites are new to me but both rocked their readings and I’ll be checking their work out.

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The Swag!

Needless to say I brought a load of books, six in all. As well as a couple of comics, a few key rings, CDs and a T-Shirt from the band Lesbian Bed Death, and a gorgeous skull paperweight. I could have brought a lot more, but managed to reign myself in.

Lesbian Bed Death was an awesome experience, I brought their first album years ago but like with all music I lost track of them and am seriously out of date. So I managed to pick up a couple of albums, including their latest and damn, it’s some good stuff!

The comics I got were Domeinion: A Threat From Within, and Dark Matter. Both are from Close2Immortality, and really caught my eye. Some very gorgeous artwork and the stories sound fantastic.

The skull paperweight I got is really cool and hopefully will be the first of a number of badass ornaments that I’ll gather over the next few years. Definitely check out the creator From The Shadows. He’s got some really sweet bits on his site.

Now, onto the books. I brought Deadly Reflections and The Malignant Dead by the aforementioned CL Raven. The Starblood Trilogy by Carmilla Voiez. A Tiding Of Magpies by Peter Sutton. Dead Cells by Adam Millard, and The Last Plague by Rich Hawkins.

Speaking to each of these fantastic authors was a lot of fun. All of them were very engaging and all of them seemed really nice and down to earth. It was very inspiring, speaking to people who are getting their words out into the world.

Everyone was so nice and welcoming. I can feel awkward at times, and not quite sure of myself, but at Bristol Horror Con, and DemonCon, I felt at ease in these groups of people. They’re there for the same reason I am, a love of horror and sci-fi and comics etc. My buddy Stefan, who is a big horror nut, loved it too. We’ve both pretty much deciding to go back again next year.

It was a highlight of the year for me.

Still Water by Justin R. Macumber

Still Water is the third novel released by Justin R. Macumber and is his first foray into the horror genre. It tells the story of a young man, Kyle,  who after escaping his coal mining hometown and joining the U.S. Army he is pulled back into it some years later after receiving disturbing reports of a change in character of his parents by his younger, High School, aged sister. Also entering this little American town is a blogge, Maya,  who has been drawn to the town to investigate its strange history for her website. They come together to discover what is truly happening in this town  and how it could affect the world around them.

That’s the general gist of it, I will just say how much I hate writing plot synopsis as I never feel I give them enough oomph, but to what I thought of it:

So far this year I’ve ben lucky as I’ve had a few books which have really blown my mind away and Still Water is right up there with them. The story is solid, the characters are fascinating and not cookie cutter. The setting of Stillwater feels very authentic, and creepy all the way through the book. Speaking of creepy this one did really creep me out at times. There have not been many books where I’ve flinched as I’ve been reading them, Scott Sigler’s Infected comes to mind, but this one made me flinch on a number of occasions. It also made me laugh and I actually said at one stage ‘Ewww’

Mr. Macumber has written a very tight book here, there is next to no fat in the entire novel; everything in it has a point and there are very few words that are wasted. This is one of the things that makes it a page turner, the story doesn’t take half a book to get started. There are no chapters that felt like they took a tea break. The plot deepens with each page, but the characters don’t feel hurried because of this. I’ve seen criticism of some books that say the story never gives the reader a chance to breath, but how Mr. Macumber has paced the story allows for a slow build up of tension which is eased off in various places, but it doesn’t loose that momentum of cranking up the threat which is almost always there.

One of the strong points of the novel is the characters and their interactions. They all felt very natural and genuine, especially the dialogue between Kyle and an old friend, Dirk. We can see they’re good friends and despite time apart they pick up the laddish banter without any hurdles.

The part of this story that sticks with me the most is how I felt reading it, throughout the novel there is this sense of despair and decay; which Justin R. Macumber does really, really well. He doesn’t force it down our throats, he doesn’t spell it out in black and white, it’s just there. I’d imagine it’s easy to just throw into a story lots of blood and guts and those torture porn tropes but Still Water doesn’t have those; yes it does have gross parts and those parts I mentioned about flinching but none of them would have been half as effective without that sense of decay and despair.

Please check it out, it’s available on Amazon and other fine retailers, and if you like what you see give it a go, it’s worth it.

 

Tonights Update

I’ve just a quick little update tonight.

I’d like to give a shout out to Patrick E. McLean who wrote the book How To Succeed In Evil which is a really entertaining book. The characters are brilliant, out there in the odd case but in a good way. This is hugely entertaining and I found myself laughing out loud more than once (I got some funny looks at work).

http://www.patrickemclean.com/

 

Theres the link to Mr. McLean’s site, you can also find his work at Podiobooks.com and iTunes.

 

There’s a sad note here I’m afraid. It was announced today that the actor Richard Briers has passed away. He was 79. Mr. Briers starred in a number of great shows over the years. I’ll remember him mainly for his role as Tom Good in The Good Life and as Hector Naismith MacDonald in Monarch Of The Glen. The most recent thing that I saw him in was Cockneys vs. Zombies. He seemed like a proper gentleman and I will always remember the shows that I saw him and what a talent he was.

R.I.P Mr Richard Briers.

Igniting Old Ideas

I’ve watched a couple of alien invasion movies recently, Skyline and Battle:Los Angeles. I was planning to watch this movie again soon but a post on I Am Ipodman’s blog pushed the viewing forward (http://iamipodman.wordpress.com/2013/01/29/have-you-watched-battle-los-angeles/)

Alien Invasion is something that I love but I’ve not found many examples recently that have really impressed me, Aside from Scott Sigler’s Infected and Contagion, and the movie District 9, but those are not what I think of as alien invasion, not in the Independence Day, War Of The Worlds sense. I would love an epic alien invasion story to come out (if anyone knows of one please feel free to share 😀 )

Me and Owen (writing partner) have an alien invasion story that we’ve played with but we never took it anywhere. I think it is far too complicated for our current level of writing ability but one day this could be a story that we go back to one day because like our Project Delphi and Project Apollo universe it is a world that we have batted about for many years and just because we have not been able to get a story up and running in the past doesn’t mean we wont be able to get it going in the future. If a story needs to be told, it’ll be told.

 

This week’s episode of The Dead Robots Society was really good. It was about description but slipped into Pacing too. I found this episode really helpful and it got me thinking about how I describe scenes and characters as well as how I’m pacing my work.

 

Here’s the link: http://deadrobotssociety.com/2013/01/29/episode-257-setting-the-scene/

Please go over and check it out. It’s an impression show and this episode in particular was very good.