What can you say about this book which hasn’t been said already? The character of ‘Count Dracula’ is generally considered the benchmark by which vampire fiction is measured. It is also a prime source for today’s vampire mythology.
Written in a time when human society dearly clung to Christian ideals, it comes as no surprise that Dracula was portrayed as an undead monster. His kiss may not only cause death, but forever put your immortal soul in peril.
Dracula could walk around during daylight hours, however, much weakened and without being able to use his Devilish talents. At night he could take the form of a bat, wolf or even mist. He could command the elements to hasten or hinder a ship’s voyage. He slept in a tomb and when away from home sought refuge in the soil of his homeland. His sanctuaries could be rendered useless to him with the use of communinion wafer or The Host. And of course garlic was abhorrent to Count Dracula.
This ‘original’ vampire has been the basis for several movie adaptations. And like most things Hollywood gets its hands on, ruined what was a great story. (Notwithstanding the falsehoods told about vampires, well that’s what Bektamun tells me)
Almost ten years after Nosferatu scared movie-goers witless along came Bela Lugosi as the infamous Count Dracula.
Many still argue that Bela Lugosi is ‘THE’ Count Dracula. However, Hollywood always ready to recycle and claim improvement has seen a couple more renditions of this chilling tale.
Again in 1958 starring Christopher Lee and once more in 1992 with Gary Oldman in the lead. I have not seen all of these movies, so forgive me if I forgo the opportunity to critique them.
Reading Dracula in the 21st century it can be hard to understand why this was considered such a horror story. We must remember the time it was written. Christian morals and religious ideals were more or less a ‘must have’ in society. It was unthinkable in that day and age for anyone to admit they weren’t Christian.
And so, full of religious whim and notions, along came Count Dracula; ready not only to take your life but damn your immortal soul to Hell. Creating an undead army to unleash upon an unsuspecting humanity. Unfortunately the idea of vampires being the hero was beyond any writer’s wildest imagination, our poor Count found himself defeated.
Fans of vampire fiction, certainly any writer who uses vampire characters, owe a debt of gratitude to Mr Stoker. Without him and his ground-breaking work vampire fiction would likely not exist today.
Ishtar Rising (Book 4 of Sinnis) by Natalie Gibson
Tara Kay, or Special K as she likes to be called, has come back to her family home after the violent theft of her magical ability and surrender of her position with her order, the Daughters of Women. Her return is not so celebrated as she expected and she finds that without her skills, her home town is not only unwelcoming but downright dangerous. Her fear awakens her Guardian from his 5000 year slumber but his is not the only new face in town and they must defeat an unfamiliar enemy who possesses a powerful weapon. To to this Kay and her Guardian must wake old allies, create new ones and trust in the growing but fresh bond between them. Will Special K rediscover her magic in time? Can the family land she loves protect her? Does the goddess rise to save her chosen?
Y1 by Sherrie Cronin
Zane is a twenty-four year old who just wants to be himself. He doesn’t believe in magic, and he’s gotten a whole degree in neuroscience just to try to figure out how he can alter his body the way that he does. Unfortunately, that degree has landed him in the sales department of Penthes Pharmaceuticals, and the more he learns about the company’s secrets the more uncomfortable he becomes.Good thing he has always excelled at blending in. Then upper management discovers him and his life gets far more complicated.A sales boondoggle in the South Pacific lets him learn that he isn’t alone, and that others have problems far worse than his. As his new friends flee those who would control their lives, Zane would like to help, and their freedom-loving philosophy of y1 calls to him.But first he has to deal with a murder charge, an unsavory boot camp manager, and serious repercussions from the fact that not everyone at Penthes likes him, or wants him to knows the mysteries that the company has worked so hard to keep hidden. In fact, it may take all the talents he has just to keep himself from going from a murder suspect to a murder victim.
Available for Purchase
About the Author
Sherrie Roth grew up in Western Kansas thinking that there was no place in the universe more fascinating than outer space. After her mother vetoed astronaut as a career ambition, she went on to study journalism and physics in hopes of becoming a science writer.
She published her first and only science fiction short story in the November 1979 issue of Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine and waited a lot of tables while she looked for inspiration for the next story. When it finally came, it declared to her that it had to be whole book, nothing less. One night, while digesting this disturbing piece of news, she drank way too many shots of ouzo with her boyfriend. She woke up thirty-one years later demanding to know what was going on.
The boyfriend, who she had apparently long since married, asked her to please calm down. He explained that in a fit of practicality she had gone back to school and gotten a degree in geophysics and had spent the last 28 years interpreting seismic data in the oil industry. The good news, according to Mr. Cronin, was that she had found it at least mildly entertaining and ridiculously well paying. The bad news was that the two of them had still managed to spend almost all of the money.
Apparently, she was now Mrs. Cronin, and the further good news was that they had produced three wonderful children whom they loved dearly, even though to be honest that is where a lot of the money had gone. Even better news was that Mr. Cronin turned out to be a warm-hearted sort who was happy to see her awake and ready to write. “It’s about time,” were his exact words.
Sherrie Cronin discovered that over the ensuing decades Sally Ride had already managed to become the first woman in space and apparently had done a fine job of it. No one, however, had written the book that had been in Sherrie’s head for decades. The only problem was, the book informed her sternly that it had now grown into a six book series. Sherrie decided that she better start writing it before it got any longer. She has been wide awake ever since, and writing away.
Connect with Sherrie at the Y1 Blog
See XO also by Sherrie Cronin
Ishtar Anomaly (Book 3 of Sinnis) by Natalie Gibson
Camilla Lovejoy is barren because her natural healing ability cannot differentiate between a desired pregnancy and a unwanted parasite, but wants children desperately. Nanae is the Nephilim with healing talents that could enable Camilla to carry a child to term, but Nephilim cannot procreate. They turn to a friend and sometimes lover of the Daughters of Women, Israel. Izzy, as his friends call him, is happy to aid Camilla achieve her dream of motherhood. He loves Camilla but has always felt there was something missing in the traditional two person relationship. Now with Nanae in the mix he may have found the perfect solution. Can Nanae share his Sinnis with another man? Can Camilla handle her lovers loving each other? Will Israel survive the appetites of both? Will the hunger that Nanae battles constantly win and force him to destroy everything that he has come to love and need?
This is an extremely graphic novel with sexual situations for open minded adults, with not only m/f/m scenes but also m/m/f with a sprinkle of BDSM between two superhuman men and a pregnant petite.
Skolthan – Witches, magic & mystery by Damaris West
Skolthan is a book about an island. In a sense it’s an island within an island within an island because an isolated community goes all out to defend a physical island (based on real life), while within and beyond that physical island is a place so wonderfully beautiful, tranquil and perfect that evil forces wish to get hold of it and corrupt it so that they’ll have destroyed the goodness at the heart of the universe itself.
I was inspired to write the book by the original island on which it’s based, which is Scolt Head Island off the coast of North Norfolk. It’s uninhabited, apart from a Warden looking after the birds, and you reach it either on foot at low tide, or by boat. It has golden sands and white-winged terns like I describe.
My protagonist Hilda is a reclusive alter ego who lives in a tumbledown house on the site of a bungalow where we spent family holidays until I was about 6, on the seaward side of Holme-by-the-sea. I remember so clearly the shimmering heat on the marsh, and finding everything interesting, mysterious and timeless.
The evil characters in the book reflect the fact that eccentric people are readily absorbed into a Norfolk village. My characters have the hypocrisy as well as the wickedness to want to take over the whole world for their own purposes which are essentially negative, much like Lucifer’s. There could be no more sinister job for a snatcher and sacrificer of babies than a midwife.
In the climax of the book, I wanted to show that in their effort to preserve good, the good people almost tip themselves over into evil. It’s not a happy ending exactly, but I think it’s an appropriate one.
I would hope that people would read my book both for its strong atmosphere and the power and mystery of its storyline. After all, the ‘good’ people are made up of a bunch of semi-impoverished coastal-dwellers, holders of a secret which they can impart to no-one else, not even their spouses. The equivalent of their combating the witches and warlocks might be the waving of a rather thin stick at the advance of a tank.
I wrote the book while I was working alongside my husband as Director of a Tuition Agency. I was determined to allow myself time to write, so I set aside Fridays for that purpose. They were not always respected, but I did try. We actually called those days ‘wobbly cat’ days because I did my writing on a laptop which required many attempts and much patience to get started; the customised start screen which I was trying to reach was a cat that sort of shivered.
Written just on Fridays, and including some drastic cutting and revision, the book took me 2 to 3 years. The most difficult part was definitely picking up the threads when I’d had a week to totally forget where I was.
The title ‘Skolthan’ obviously derives from ‘Scolt’. I wanted it to have an Anglo-Saxon or Viking ring about it because it’s on the East coast. The cover design is a composite of some of the elements of magic and mystery found in its pages.
I did a lot of research for the book, mainly for individual scenes so that I knew how to make elderflower wine, and how much would be left of a human body after it has been burnt. My evil forces are fairly original so I didn’t have to check them against anything, but I did do research about talismans, leylines, dream sightings and the like so these would line up with people’s experience of reading about them.
The main thing I learnt from the actual writing of the book is that it’s important for me to write where possible ‘in a rush’, so I don’t waste time picking up the threads of my thought. I also found out how much I enjoy writing about evil characters.
I would say to my readers: bear with the scene-setting at the beginning as it’s definitely going somewhere!
Review: “So if you love Witches, magic and all the rituals that go with it then this book is for you.”
About the Author
Damaris West (born Damaris Naylor) was brought up in Cambridge, but it is her family’s property near the sea in Norfolk, where they went for every holiday and all the weekends they could manage, which has inspired much of her writing. It was a row of four farm labourers’ cottages with three-quarters of an acre of land, and to her it was the Garden of Eden.
Following gaining a degree in Modern Languages at Oxford, she went on to train as a librarian and then as a Montessori nursery teacher.
After meeting her husband, Clive, she used her skills and knowledge to home-tutor pupils with ages ranging from three to eighty. When it became clear that demand for tuition exceeded what they were jointly able to offer, they set up a tuition agency which over the course of its operation achieved national coverage.
Damaris’ work so far consists of a large body of poems, short stories (some of which would be enjoyed by children), a collection of anecdotes about her life in Italy, and two novels – Queen Anne’s Lace and Skolthan.
Clive and Damaris now live in a rebuilt farmhouse in the Umbria region of Italy with their three dogs, all originally rescue puppies. As the main Italian-speaker of the family, much of Damaris’ time is spent on domestic and administrative duties to do with the house and its occupants, but she escapes whenever she can to work in the garden and orchard, and writes a daily blog about her life and the natural history around her.
Damaris writes for Any Subject Books (www.anysubject.com).
Connect with Damaris
From the primitive cottage where she lives a hermit-like existence, Hilda can reach a tidal island which gives her access to a beautiful world, a fragment of the one-time Garden of Eden.
She is almost unique in possessing the gift to pass through to this other world, but her gift puts her in danger from sinister forces that wish to use the island’s power to secure their own domination.
In a bid to rescue a mother and her unborn child, the intended victims of a horrific ritual with cosmic implications, Hilda and her friends must outwit a charismatic warlock (Hilda’s former husband) and the arch-witch Alice, embodiment of evil, who masquerades as a midwife.
Their mission culminates in an act which threatens to tip them over the edge into the same evil world which they are so anxious to destroy. Nonetheless, good prevails, but at a terrible price …
Available for Purchase
House of Shadows by Walter Spence
Befriended as a young teenager by a beautiful and mysterious benefactress, Eugene Evans believes the downward trajectory of his white trash existence has finally been arrested and his life turned around. Then, after he becomes a man, he is confronted by a horrifying and unavoidable choice between two unacceptable options.But it doesn’t stop there.For once his decision has been made, and the consequences accepted, he finds himself in a new and terrifying reality threatening all that he loves, where his first wrong choice will be his last . . .
Available for Purchase
Transit of Ishtar (Book 2 of Sinnis) by Natalie Gibson
Nathalia Lovejoy should be dead, she can remember committing suicide, but she wakes up in a ancient tomb. Her voice destroyed, she must rely on a new source for her magical ability, telepathy, in order to communicate with her savior. Nathalia has a real distaste for men. Lucky for her, Eiran Kafziel is not a man. He is a demigod, a halfbreed, unlike anything she has ever known. He found her in the moment of her death, repaired her body, gave her his holy blood, forever changing her into a Sinnis. She must come to terms with the fact that she is attracted to him, even loves him.
Along the way she discovers a whole world of mythical creatures living among humans. She battles her own hunger for violence and releases a demon from his 500 year prison. Can she become the weapon against that newly freed evil and save the world from his plans, or is she better suited to be his dark queen?
The Dark Rainbow Project Book One
Raine Falinmore is a young woman with massive potential in a rapidly decaying world. Despite her secret supernatural ability to heal plant life, the land around the home of her deceased parents continues to deteriorate.
Raine’s already shaky world is upended when she discovers a network of caves that runs beneath her property and a group of orphans who live in it. Although her appearance is not met kindly by the orphans or the property’s duplicitous caretaker, Raine knows that her mother would have wanted her to befriend and save the orphans. And when Raine discovers that the orphans are trying to protect a legendary, mysteriously powerful tree on the premises, she knows that it is her destiny. As the environment plagued with earthquakes and a forest fire continues to decay, Raine uncovers a web of murder and betrayal that dates back to her parents’ deaths, forcing her to decide if she has the inner strength to save the world she loves.
Available for Purchase
Mythical by C.E. Martin
Returning to life with partial amnesia, Colonel Mark Kenslir eventually remembers his last mission: stop a shapeshifter on the loose in America. It can take the form, memories and even the powers of anyone- by ripping out and consuming their heart. Kenslir and his squad were sent to stop the shapeshifter, but were all killed by the monster.
Unarmed, with no support and not sure who to trust, Kenslir sets out with the teens to stop the shapeshifter’s killing spree.
The Space Between by Alexandra Sokoloff
Sixteen-year old Anna Sullivan is having terrible dreams of a massacre at her high school. Anna’s father is a mentally unstable veteran, her mother disappeared when Anna was five, and Anna might have been able to chalk the dreams up to a reflection of her crazy waking life — except that Tyler Marsh, the most popular guy at the school and Anna’s secret crush, is having the exact same dreams.
Despite the gulf between them in social status, Anna and Tyler connect, first in the dream and then in reality. As the dreams reveal more, with clues from the school social structure, quantum physics, probability, and Anna’s own past, Anna becomes convinced that they are being shown the future so they can prevent the shooting…
If they can survive the shooter — and the dream.