Free Stuff! Free stuff!

Hello folks, it is time for another free give-away. Until the end of the week (Sun 13th) you’ll be able to get both The Mariner and Zigglyumph & Other Poems for free! Yes, you too can enjoy amusing little rhymes about Dingos whilst on the loo for absolutely no cost. Why not pick up a friend’s kindle and download it for them? That way when their partner finds The Mariner on there it’ll cause them all manner of awkward conversations.

The Mariner UK
The Mariner US

Zigglyumph UK
Zigglyumph US

As of writing, The Mariner is riding high at #3 Contemporary Fantasy and #5 Horror on the UK Free charts.

Review: Priestess by Justine Geoffrey

Priestess is available on Kindle

Amazon Description:

This collection brings together the first four BLACKSTONE Erotica books from Justine Geoffrey and Martian Migraine Press: RED MONOLITH FRENZY, GREEN FEVER DREAM, ‘Summonings: Anicka & Kamil’and ‘Summonings: Yvette’s Interview’ in the order in which the story occurs. Follow a novice Priestess of the Black Stone as she calls up prehistoric sex-gods in the mountains of Eastern Europe, gathers power and partners in the glitzy dungeons of London’s BDSM scene, and mates with monsters in subterranean chambers of lust and horror! Learn the backstory of her friends, lovers, and enemies! This volume also contains excerpts from Blackstone Book 3, YELLOW SIGN BOUND, and the sci-fi gonzo-erotica ‘Orgy in the Valley of the Lust Larvae’ PLUS a special essay from the author on the weird-erotica writing experience.

PRIESTESS (Blackstone Volume One): transgressive, bizarre sexuality, night-black humour, and cosmic horror! Open yourself to the perverted supernatural world of Justine G!

Ade’s Review:

“Leave your Lycans and vamps and sad succubi at home, Ladies. I’ve got no interest in that only-just-inhuman sphere of influence.” So says Justine Geoffrey in her essay “The Unbearable Strangeness of Being: Why I Write Weird Erotica”, and thank goodness for that because erotica is currently being crushed under a tidal wave of bland cookie-cutter formats, formats that writers like Justine Geoffrey confound with their bold refusal to chase the casual commuter market. You won’t find any Christian Grey’s in the pages of Priestess, but you might just find a Charles Dexter Ward, juiced up on a heady concoction of LSD and Viagra.

Apparently there is a lot of money in weird erotica. I haven’t seen actual statistics, but the theory is that if you corner the market in a particular kink, then you can secure plenty of sales offering a product readers simply cannot buy anywhere else. Sure, there are not many people that get off on fucking a fax machine, but there’s more than you think.

Justine Geoffrey is not one of those cynical authors trying to corner a market. This surreal blend of hyper-erotica and Lovecraftian-prose is expertly crafted, showing a true appreciation for the works she references and emulates. From a pure nuts-and-bolts angle, her descriptions have the linguistic diversity Lovecraft would have been proud of, keeping the sexual elements fresh and entertaining. There is a dreamlike freedom to Priestess, a freedom to indulge any whim or flight-of-fancy, a “Can I stick it there? Well I won’t know until I try!” philosophy that is thoroughly endearing.

So should you read Priestess? Well, yes you should, but don’t come crying to me if you are threatened or sickened by the contents, or (far more likely) aroused by something you never thought possible.

Review: The Blackheath Séance Parlour by Alan Williams

Available in Paperback and on Kindle

Amazon Description:

In 1842, two sisters drunkenly debate their future, their family chocolate business has failed and so they decide to open a seance parlour. The locals are shocked but soon their shop is crammed with people wanting to contact the dead. Despite their change in fortune, a rift forms between the sisters, as young sister Judy gets her novel published, finds a man and proves to be more capable of contacting spirits than Maggie. Spurred on by jealousy, Maggie tries harder and soon even the Queen is consulting her. The Church decides they must be stopped by any means possible.

Ade’s Review:

Okay, confession time. I requested a review copy of this book and the publisher sent me one. Not a big deal, but I suppose that generosity does generate some goodwill. Secondly, and here’s the biggie, I live in Blackheath. If I walk a few minutes from my flat I can be sat on a bench with the Hare and Billet pub in one direction and Ranger’s House in another. So for a book set in Blackheath this is an advantage, and I derived a great deal of pleasure not only from sharing mutual admiration with the author for this village of ours, but also being educated about its past.

The Blackheath Séance Parlour is on the surface a murder/ghost story set in Blackheath in the mid-1800’s, but as the story progresses the real focus of the narrative becomes the relationship between three women. Two of these are sisters (Maggie and Judy Cloak), each facing fading dreams and mounting regrets. Together they run a failing chocolate shop and share in the debts and worry incurred by the enterprise. Through desperation for something more, Judy Cloak hits upon an idea for a new shop: a séance parlour, and in setting up this establishment they enlist the third of their triumvirate, an aging medium, Nettie Walters.

Without spoiling too much, the séance parlour takes off and we chart the controversies and challenges that arise as the women have to contend with the church, a murder investigation, rising fame and rivalries within their own inner circle. Williams does not play coy, the ghosts are real and we are thrown into a world of spirits, visions and ectoplasm (indeed, in the Author Notes he expresses his own distaste for books that shoehorn in a logical reason for séances and mediums after convincing the reader otherwise for the majority of the tale). Dark stormy nights on the heath are vividly described, the era’s clash between faith, science and superstition convincingly evoked. But through all the fantasy elements it is the relationship between the Cloak sisters that keep the pages turning, especially as fortunes dramatically differentiate the two.

At times whilst reading The Blackheath Séance Parlour I felt like I was on a time travelling pub crawl of local establishments: the Hare and Billet, The Crown, The Princess of Wales, The Gypsy Moth, The Blackheath Tea Hut and others, all are visited and described with affection. Williams seems to have done his homework and Blackheath comes alive.

Alongside the main narrative a second story is told, a novel within a novel, written by Judy Cloak. It is a titillating gothic serialised tale (also set in Blackheath), somewhere between Frankenstein and Dracula, that works for us as a satire on the fiction of the time, but also as an insight into the desires and fears of Judy, its author. The story does influence the main narrative, but at times I wish the editor had been a little more ruthless in trimming these parts back, as I found myself impatient to return to the Cloaks and learning more of their adventures.

I grew up in Croydon (South-East London) and so any pride I’ve felt about my home-town was tongue-in-cheek pride about surviving it. Now that I am settled in Blackheath a strange feeling has overcome me: affection for my surroundings. I suppose I am still an outsider as far as true Blackheathens are concerned, but still, there is a big space in my heart for this village mysteriously shielded from the city around it. But any affection I have is dwarfed by the love of Blackheath described in this book and for that I heartily recommend it.

So is this review biased? Well, yes it probably is. I don’t know what someone living in rural Utah might make of it. At times I wondered if the book might benefit from a small map, or a description of the Heath’s relation to London, as these might be difficult to picture. The cover-art would sit well in the London Dungeons, but I feel perhaps a classier image of Blackheath village would have been more appropriate.

I recommend the Blackheath Séance Parlour for anyone wanting an enjoyable, well researched, historical fantasy novel, and certainly for anyone who’s ever been to this little village I call home.

NOTE: The Blackheath Séance Parlour is having a book launch at Greenwich Waterstones today (26/09) at 5-7pm.

Double Giveaway

It’s that time again folks! Free goodies! But it’s not the just the one ebook I’m giving away, but two: The Mariner and Zigglyumph are available for free on Amazon until Sunday.

Praise for The Mariner

“This story is the wildest of rides – fast paced, energetic, unafraid, relentless, exhilarating, disturbing, and smart. I absolutely loved it.” C.W. RHODES, Writer & Blogger

“A barrage of harrowing imagery and bitter-sweet revelations… Both despicably vile and heart-warmingly comforting.” David Chapman, Goodreads Reviewer

“A surreal, political, critical and analytical allegory.” David Shelton, Amazon UK Review

“Made me wince at my species… my sex especially.” J. Hooker, Amazon USA Review

Praise for Zigglyumph and Other Poems

“I was drunk when I read this collection… and had a blast throughout.” Richard Langston, The Mind Of Madness

“Hilarious and warped… you can read it whilst drinking your afternoon tea, or indeed using the loo.” M, Amazon UK Review

Reviews

While I slowly tap away at the various short stories that are in the works (as well as the long slog that is my next novel), various reviews continue to roll in. The most notable being on the horror blog “The Mind Of Madness“, a link to which you can permanently find in the side bar. The author, Richard Langston, has also reviewed Zigglyumph & Seeker so I urge you to head on over and take a look.

So what’s been going on? Mostly I have been working on Tote projects – that’s the grim steampunk world that the Hayes brothers and myself have been developing for some time. Truth be told the task of capturing this alternate world has left me rather daunted, but the various tales chug along and I hope to have the first available soon.

I have also been listening to The History Of Rome podcast. This has quickly become one of my favourite pastimes and I highly recommend it. I am currently on episode 117 and am as gripped as ever.

So for now here’s something I stumbled upon whilst strolling in Kent. The setting was rather more idyllic that I would imagine a hill belonging to the Mariner to be.

Mariner’s Hill, Kent

The Sound Of Silence (Quick Update)

It has been quiet on the Ade Grant front of late. This has primarily been because I’ve been visiting friends abroad, catching up with those at home, and working on the various novellas that have been haunting my brain for the last few years. During this absence, various current events have sailed by without comment, some underwhelming (public reaction to Thatcher’s death) some horrific (Boston bombing) but in unusual restraint I have held my tongue. Eventually you might have to endure a diatribe about Thatcher, but thankfully for all concerned that time is not now.

So while you watch this space, please consider picking up The Mariner, which is once again free for three days from today.

UPDATE: Featured on Indie Book Bargains

Indie Book Bargains

Mariner Giveaway

The Mariner is available for free on Amazon from 22/03 – 23/03. Why not snare your free copy today? Some quotes from readers:

The Mariner, Free Giveaway!

“Ade Grant’s particular brand of psychological horror is a corrosive assault on the reader’s morals, which repeatedly promises reprieve, only to smash all hopes with a barrage of harrowing imagery and bitter-sweet revelations.”

“I felt the flow was like that of a road-trip, a nightmare highway journey… The Mariner himself made me wince at my species, at my sex especially.”

“…a polemic, twenty-first century “Gulliver’s Travels” of satirical fantasy. I think that it is a surreal, political, critical and analytical allegory. It seems to challenge perceived politics, religion, science, reason and physiology.
Read and think.”

“I was so completely disturbed at times, and at others times I was disgusted. At times I hated the Mariner character – wanted to end his wretched life myself – and at times I empathized with him greatly, wanted to protect him. It was a very difficult book to read at times, though the story was so engrossing I couldn’t stop. And when they end came around – though still some things were left deliberately without answers – I was completely fulfilled and left the story, in my opinion, a better person than when I started.”

USA Link
UK Link
Check it out on Goodreads

Review: The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne

FREE on Amazon

Amazon Description:

The plot of this novel depicts a group of men who have become castaways stranded on an island in the Pacific during the American Civil War.

Ade’s Review:

NOTE: This book was published in the late 1800’s. I, however, read it in 2013. Due to cultural differences the book may not have been received as intended.

Here we have five civilised men stranded upon a desert island, but as soon as they arrive they act as a plague upon the paradise, slaughtering the indigenous wildlife and destroying the landscape, shaping it to their own end with no respect for the natural world. Not the slightest remorse is shown for the creatures whose lives they destroy; every new beast or bird encountered is met with the same response: “Can we eat it? How do we kill it?”

Oh what loathsome devils! On one excursion they return to find apes inhabiting their home. Rather than peacefully usher them away, the blood-thirsty gang slaughter the lot, taking one final orangutan prisoner to turn into a slave. Indeed, they callously mock the poor beast for its inability to understand the concept of remuneration for its troubles.

The brutality does not end there. Happening upon a large turtle on the beach, the men joyously turn it onto its back so it would die slowly in the sun. Upon finding whale bones, they freeze them curved in fat, to lure animals into eating and thus pierce their stomachs. Oh, what twisted degenerates they are!

So arrogant are these men in their claim to this land that when a ship comes to dock for a similar purpose (to restock food and water), the quintet attack them without mercy, killing every last one.

Over the course of the story it becomes clear that Cyrus Harding is a villain of the most devious kind. I found myself first rooting for the big cats, then the pirates and finally the volcano.

Upon reaching the outcome, I was very disappointed.

Mariner Cover Revision

As a part of a redesign of the Mariner (Kindle edition), artist Christopher Hayes has taken his original work and re-jiggered it to work better in thumbnail format. What do folks think?

EDIT: Any now we’ve added a third!

In other news, Eastleigh by-election is taking place. This vote looks to be a disaster for every losing party (aside from UKIP), and not much better for the winner neither. Keep an eye on twitter for cursing well into the night, though I expect many a re-count will be requested.

The Mariner, Hardback Cover

Hardback Cover

Kindle Cover

Alternative New Cover

Review: Mosquitoes by Marc R. Soto

Mosquitoes by Marc R Soto is available now through Amazon

Amazon Description:

David is a normal ten-year-old boy who lives in the bosom of a happy family in a quiet town by the marshes, until some mysterious nightly bites lead him to undergo changes. All of a sudden, he knows things he shouldn’t, horrible things: his father dreams of going to bed with the intern and the husband of his teacher Mercedes is cheating on her. Mercedes is herself hiding a terrible secret from her past and is prepared to do something hideous to protect her future… And suddenly, along with awareness comes hunger. And thirst. An irresistible thirst…

Ade’s Review:

I am rather conflicted about this novella. I read it in one sitting, eagerly devouring every page, testament to the genuinely creepy concept that Soto explored. However, as the story entered its final stages I felt myself becoming increasingly disappointed with the direction the author chose to take us in, twisting away from the subtle into well-trod cliché.

Mosquitoes is a vampire story (yup, another one) but with a nauseating twist: the bloodsucker is an actual bloodsucker – a mosquito that feeds nightly upon a young boy and bestows nefarious powers upon him. Veering away from the mystical vamp of common lore to this everyday insect (albeit one with supernatural qualities) suddenly transforms the campy nosferatu into a much more real and unsettling presence. ‘Mosquitoes’ taps into the fear we all hold of bodily intrusion by the natural world, making the bloodsucking scenes so much more uncomfortable than the borderline erotic ones that dominate contemporary literature.

As David’s mind becomes transformed by the presence I found myself being reminded of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary (IMO the best horror story ever told), but not so closely as to feel that this was anything other than a comparison in my own mind. Ultimately, I wanted David’s powers explored further as these were a genuine source of horror in the tale.

Unfortunately, after these fresh and gripping elements had only just been introduced, the story suddenly becomes a typical one of evil vampire vs courageous heroine. The change of tone into cliché brought up glaring plot weaknesses; for example, the villainous entity was suddenly affected by a cross, even though there had never been the slightest hint of a Christian link to the tale. Perhaps these weaknesses wouldn’t have seemed so troubling if the book had been longer and the concepts more fleshed out.

Verdict:

Mosquitoes is a very promising novella that doesn’t quite deliver. The genuinely creepy concept underpinning the majority of the book makes it worth reading, but I hope the author returns to the story someday to flesh it out further. Ultimately I wanted to read more, which of all the problems a narrative can have is the least troubling.

Mosquitoes is available here!