Category Archives: fantasy

New: The Quarantined City by James Everington

ebook: Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CanadaBarnes and NobleKoboAppleSmashwords
paperback: Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CanadaCreateSpace – and other booksellers

The Quarantined City by James EveringtonThe Quarantined City: sealed off from the outside world, with only the sight of the ocean to remind its inhabitants of life beyond. No one knows why the city has been quarantined and conspiracy theories abound.

But for Fellows life continues largely as before. He walks the streets, hunts out rare books; the sun continues to shine and the gulls circle above.

There’s the small matter of the ghost haunting his house, but Fellows doesn’t let himself think of that.

But when he tracks down a story by the reclusive writer known as Boursier, his old certainties fade as he becomes aware that the secrets of the city, the ghostly child, and the quarantine itself, might be more connected than he thinks…

“There is an edge of Murakami here, we are in a world just slightly skewed from our own but all the more foreign for that. Everington has a crystal clear prose style, reminiscent of JG Ballard but, like China Miéville, twisted toward the gothic…” Damien G Walter

“Good writing gives off fumes, the sort that induce dark visions, and Everington’s elegant, sophisticated prose is a potent brew. Imbibe at your own risk.” Robert Dunbar, author of The Pines and Martyrs & Monsters

“Everington is excellent at evoking a mounting sense of unease, turning to dread, that close, oppressive feeling when everything is still and ordinary, but the whole world is filled with the sense that something huge and terrible is just about to happen.” Iain Rowan, author of One Of Us and Nowhere To Go

ebook: Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CanadaBarnes and NobleKoboAppleSmashwords
paperback: Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CanadaCreateSpace – and other booksellers

Amazon USAmazon UKBarnes and NobleKoboApple – Smashwords

The Quarantined City by James Everington


Extract: Hell’s Ditch by Simon Bestwick

Hell's Ditch by Simon BestwickThe dream never changes: a moonless, starless night without end. The road she walks is black, bordered with round, white pebbles or nubs of polished bone; she can’t tell which but they’re the only white in the darkness, marking her way through the night.

In dreams and nightmares, Helen walks the Black Road. It leads her back from the grave, back from madness, back towards the man who caused the deaths of her family: Tereus Winterborn, Regional Commander for the Reapers, who rule the ruins of a devastated Britain.

On her journey, she gathers her allies: her old mentor Darrow, the cocky young fighter Danny, emotionally-scarred intelligence officer Alannah and Gevaudan Shoal, last of the genetically-engineered Grendelwolves.

Winterborn will stop at nothing to become the Reapers’ Supreme Commander; more than anything he seeks the advantage that will help him achieve that goal. And in the experiments of the obsessed scientist Dr Mordake, he thinks he has found it.

To Winterborn, Project Tindalos is a means to ultimate power; to Mordake, it’s a means to roll back the devastation of the War and restore his beloved wife to the living. But neither Winterborn nor Mordake understand the true nature of the forces they are about to unleash. Forces that threaten to destroy everything that survived the War, unless Helen and her allies can find and stop Project Tindalos in time.

*

Extract: Hell’s Ditch by Simon Bestwick

No sound. Somehow that’s the worst part of it: the silence.

She can’t even hear her footsteps click on the Black Road’s cobbles. Normally, when she finds herself walking of nights, when she sleeps, that sound’s the one bit of company she has. Now even that’s gone.

Colour begins bleeding into the night. Or at least grey does. It fills up the space on either side of the road, then covers the road itself. She feels it, soft and cushioning, underfoot.

The sky lightens. The sky, too, is ash. Somewhere beyond it there might be a sun, but it’s no more than a rumour of light. In the distance, the City, or what’s left of it. It’s only recognisable because it breaks the horizon in the right spot.

She stops and looks about. All is ashes. Here and there, the crumbling remains of a tree, a body, a gun stick clear of the dead grey carpet. Then she sees motion. Things crawling. They’re people, she realises. Or they were. It’s hard to be sure what they are now. The ash coats them – their clothes, their skin. And many of them are incomplete, missing fingers, hands or entire limbs, sections of faces stripped away. She can’t tell where their flesh ends and the dust begins, especially as they crawl in it, flounder in it, sink into it, some vanishing from sight to never rise again. Their faces – their faces are wads of ash and dust, with black gaping holes for mouths and eyes.

And the worst thing, the worst, worst thing, is the absence of sound. When those faces lift and gape wider to howl their prayers and agony to the uncaring, dying sky, she sees chests and shoulders heave as they try to scream. But there’s nothing. One figure kneels and screams and screams as its hands dissolve into streams of ash, waving the diminishing stumps of its arms about as if to extinguish the invisible fires devouring it.  But there’s no sound. It tries to rise, trips and falls into the ash. A grey cloud billows up. When it settles, the figure has broken apart like a toppled statue, its fragments either crumbling into or being swallowed up by the soft blanket that is the end of everything. A couple of the pieces are still moving.

Darkness falling, over her and them; an end to this at last? But no, in the distance the sky is still grimily pale. And this darkness has its edge, its contours. A shape. It’s the shadow of something vast and alive.

Slowly she turns and stares upwards. She doesn’t want to, but, as is common in dreams, she can’t stop herself.  She looks up and sees something vast and hunched and black blotting out the sky, sees its huge head turn and tilt downwards, feels whatever serves it for eyes come to bear on her.

She wants to wake up. She wants to wake up. But she’s still there, staring up at it from the plain of ash as the black shape leans down towards her, a scream building in her throat she knows will go unheard.

And then there’s one sound. Just one. The hiss of a wind through stone; the great shape’s whisper of its name:

Tindalos.

*

Simon Bestwick is the author of Tide Of Souls, The Faceless and Black Mountain. His short fiction has appeared in Black Static and Best Horror Of The Year, and been collected in A Hazy Shade Of Winter, Pictures Of The Dark, Let’s Drink To The Dead and The Condemned.

Website: www.simonbestwick.com
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Simon-Bestwick/373730462654091
Twitter: @GevaudanShoal


Publication day for Robert Holdstock and Garry Kilworth’s The Ragthorn, winner of the World Fantasy Award

Published today in book form for the first time:
The Ragthorn by Robert Holdstock and Garry Kilworth

The Ragthorn by Robert Holdstock and Garry Kilworth

“I am placing this entry at the beginning of my edited journal for reasons that will become apparent. Time is very short for me now, the final part of the ritual draws near… I cannot pretend that I am not frightened.”

There were these two British writers, one lived in the country, the other in the city. The country writer loved to visit the city and partake of brandy and Greek kebabs in the local hostelry. The city writer liked to visit the country and guzzle ale and barbecued steak under the apple trees. The two writers needed an excuse for these indulgences, and so they invented one, and this excuse was called “collaborating on a story” … It soon emerged that the story was to be about a legendary tree, which they both vaguely recalled from the tales their grandfathers used to tell them of mystery and myth. Soon they were delving with suppressed excitement into old documents at the British Museum and began to come up with some frightening discoveries.

The first of these finds was in studying the original text, in Anglo-Saxon, of the Old English poem “The Dream of the Rood”. The marrying of the “tree” (crucifixion cross) and the “thorn” (a runic character) was too elaborately regular to be an accident of metre or alliterative language. Other discoveries followed, and the story gradually surfaced, like a dark secret from its burial mound.

The Ragthorn: a dark and unsettling World Fantasy Award-winning novella by Robert Holdstock and Garry Kilworth.

Also included in this volume, two bonus stories: “The Fabulous Beast” by Garry Kilworth, and “The Charisma Trees” by Robert Holdstock.

Buy this ebook from: Amazon USAmazon UKBarnes and NobleKoboApple – Smashwords

Buy this book in print (ISBN: 1512281255): Amazon USAmazon UKCreateSpace – and other booksellers

Robert Holdstock:
‘Britain’s best fantasist … these are the visions of a real artist.’ – The Times
‘Our finest living mythmaker. His narratives – intense, exuberant, earthy, passionate, dense with metaphor – are new trails through the ancient forest of our imaginations. An essential writer.’ – Stephen Baxter
‘No other author has so successfully captured the magic of the wildwood.’ – Michael Moorcock
‘A new expression of the British genius for true fantasy.’ – Alan Garner, on Mythago Wood

Garry Kilworth:
‘Garry Kilworth is arguably the finest writer of short fiction today, in any genre.’ – New Scientist
‘Kilworth is one of the most significant writers in the English language.’ – Fear Magazine
‘Probably one of the finest writers of short stories Britain has ever produced.’ – Bookstove Online
‘Kilworth is a master of his trade.’ – Punch Magazine


in the bundle: Little Sisters of the Apocalypse by Kit Reed

In July 2015 infinity plus and Storybundle offered a special deal for a set of nine literary fantasy books, including Kit Reed’s Little Sisters of the Apocalypse. The deal is no longer available but Little Sisters of the Apocalypse will be available in September as a standalone book. 

 

 

Little Sisters of the Apocalypse

“Reed has a prose style that’s pure dry ice, displayed in dystopian stories that specialize in bitterness and dislocation.” – The New York Times Book Review

Kit Reed: Little Sisters of the ApocalypseA motorcycle gang of nuns rides out on a mysterious rescue mission in this dazzling work of metaphysical fiction by Kit Reed. This scarifying trip into the near future provides an extraordinary look at women in the contemporary world. Marooned on Schell Isle in a pre-apocalyptic near future, the women are waiting. The men have all gone to war – the ultimate sexist act. When he comes back will he be welcomed? It’s an open question. But today is the day everything begins to change. What unknown force is rushing towards the island? What do the women have to fear? Is it the murderous Outlaw family, riding their way and bent on revenge, or the men, or an enemy within? But the bikers are coming: sixteen in all, in black helmets emblazoned with a silver cross, metaphysical infonauts who run computer programs in a ceaseless search for the name of God. They pray for the dead and when they have to, they ride out on their bikes to defend the living. Until they lift the face plates you will not know who they are. Watch out for them. The Little Sisters of the Apocalypse.

“A touching tribute to the author’s mother, a bittersweet space-age tale on the nature of women and loss.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Her stories are sharp, transgressive and full of the unexpected, with enough keen social observations to launch a thousand dissertations. ” – Chelsea Cain in The New York Times Book Review

“The Story Until Now unleashes new and classic stories fired by a radiant imagination.” – Elissa Schappell in Vanity Fair

A personal note from bundle curator Keith Brooke

Of all the notes I’ve written on books in this bundle, this has been the hardest, with far too many false starts followed by deleting everything and starting again. As befits her ‘transgenred’ label, Kit Reed’s work defies categorisation and tags. Little Sisters of the Apocalypse raises all kinds of questions about society, women’s roles, and the political of the everyday, but above all, for me, it’s one of the most moving stories I’ve read in a long time. And there are biker nuns. This is its first ebook publication, exclusive to this bundle.

Extract

And in a ruined city so remote from Schell Isle that Chag has never heard its name, sixteen bikers roll out of an underground garage and into the cold morning. Their black helmets are bisected by sleek crosses in silver. Warm breath mists the smoked face plates. The leader raises her gloved hand.

Ready?

The sixteen dip their heads briefly and cross themselves. In ordinary times the bikers dazzle with new software at the top of the Pearson Tower in the blasted city, but today they have business elsewhere. In ordinary times the women are brilliant hackers, who market technology to support their mission to the homeless. They pray together four times a day and when circumstances permit, they meditate. In gentler times they would have been contemplatives.

But in this continuum the savage world demands more. When people are starving you can’t just turn your backs and pray for them. Right now life is uncertain and time is short. There’s too much to be done here.

The women pursue their God at lightspeed. Brilliant, driven, the bikers devise computer programs in an attempt to address the Almighty. Like divers they are poised for the ultimate leap. Let the computer vault everything that’s gone before, leapfrogging millennia of prayer and effort; let the analog mind pursue possibilities at speeds it’s impossible to comprehend; let it take them to the new jumping-off point. Then let it begin. For the gifted ones, who come closest to pure contemplation, time spent any other way is a necessary sacrifice. Love-struck and drawn, the women yearn only for the Presence, but even among themselves these bikers will not acknowledge which of them has come close, for fear God may hear them trying to describe what has been given and take it away.

They raise their own vegetables in the city park behind their office block. They celebrate the Sacrament of the Eucharist with the occasional transient priest; they try to do God’s will and they try not to resent the male hierarchy that tells them they are only women, and therefore not fit to be His priests.

They pray for the dead and when they have to, they ride out on their bikes to defend the living.

Their legend precedes them: crimes interrupted by the mysterious riders; lives saved at the last minute by bikers roaring to the rescue, robberies thwarted, murderers stopped; children rescued from floods or snatched from under the wheels of runaway cars at the last possible minute; householders saved from foreclosure by an astonishing gift of money; evildoers foiled and the helpless— helped. Picked up from the gutter and handed new lives, the blessed run to the door—too late—in an attempt to say thank you.

Before they can be identified, the mystery riders are on their bikes and gone, whisked away with a roar, disappearing in a cloud of oily exhaust.

Householders stand in the doorway, baffled. Who was that … What do we have to reckon with?

Riding with black scarves streaming, the bikers do not advertise. Surprise gives them the advantage. Mystery makes them powerful; they give their lives to it. Pressed to name the source of their strength, they can only partially explain, although they’ve spent a lifetime trying to comprehend it.

They are riding out for a reason, and if only the leader knows what it is and she only imperfectly, no matter.

It’s enough to know something needs doing.

So it is over the lakebed that the motorcycles will come, pulverizing the cracked earth and raising a terrible dust. They will come in a roar of souped-up engines and a cloud like an approaching sandstorm. Until they thud to a halt in a tight half-circle and the whirlwind stills, you will not be able to see the riders clearly, and this is the way they want it. Until they lift the face plates you will not know who they are. Even then the riders’ features will be obscured, frosted with desert sand, so that until their leader speaks you will not know her, and the lettering on the helmets? Not yet clear.

Bikes start: HUDN-HUDN. RMMM RMMM RMMMM. The leader raises a gauntleted hand: everybody here? Fifteen other bikers raise their hands for the count. Ready.

RMMM RMMMM RMMMMMMM. Watch out for them. The Little Sisters of the Apocalypse.

(end of extract)


in the bundle: Hairy London by Stephen Palmer

In July 2015 infinity plus and Storybundle offered a special deal for a set of nine literary fantasy books, including Stephen Palmer’s Hairy London. The deal is no longer available but Hairy London can still be bought separately:

 

 

Hairy London

“Stephen Palmer is a find.”—Time Out

Hairy London by Stephen PalmerWhat is love?

One evening at the Suicide Club three gentlemen discuss this age-old problem, and thus a wager is made. Dissolute fop Sheremy Pantomile, veteran philosopher Kornukope Wetherbee and down-on-his-luck Velvene Orchardtide all bet their fortunes on finding the answer amidst the dark alleys of a phantasmagorical Edwardian London.

But then, overnight, London Town is covered in hair. How the trio of adventurers cope with this unusual plague, and what conclusions they come to regarding love is the subject of this surreal and fast-paced novel.

And always the East End threatens revolution…

“Stephen Palmer’s imagination is fecund…”—Interzone

“… (a) supremely odd yet deeply rewarding experience.”—CCLaP

“…a tour de force in imagining possibilities that lie beyond our information age… If you enjoy the full immersion experience of neo-magic, you’ll [like] Muezzinland.”–Gwyneth JonesNew York Review Of SF, on Muezzinland

Buy this ebook from: Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CanadaBarnes and NobleKoboApple – SmashwordsGumroad

A personal note from bundle curator Keith Brooke

Although not an out-and-out comedy, I actually laughed out loud at some of the puns and witty observations in this satirical and incisive romp when I edited it for its first publication at infinity plus. Hairy London takes the known and twists it into odd shapes, an alternate-London fantasy that paints an extraordinary backdrop to an adventure story that puts love and society under the microscope in a novel quite unlike anything else you will have read before.

Extract

There were so many horseless carriages outside the Suicide Club that Sheremy Pantomile found himself pushing between lampblack-stained running boards, so that to his horror his trousers became blemished below the knee. He clicked his fingers at the doorman and shouted, “Gentleman! Find me a passage between these smoking wrecks, or I’ll have you cashiered.”

Gentleman Smyth adjusted his turban, glanced this way and that, then descended to street level. “My apologies, sir. There is talk of one of our explorers returning from furthest Oriental reaches. It seems news has spr––”

“Just find me away in, fellow. Then find me new trousers. I take a thirty four inch waist.”

Gentleman used his rear to nudge aside one of the horseless carriages, allowing Sheremy to squeeze through, then led him up the steps and inside the great marble edifice that was the hall of Bedwards House, Chancery Lane. Sheremy hurried into an ante-chamber, not wanting any of his peers to see his embarrassment. Gentleman followed. “I will go at once to the Trousery,” the doorman said, “then return with a fresh garment. What colour, sir?”

“Same as these. And don’t go, run.

Gentleman bowed. Sheremy waited, his annoyance fading as the sounds and smells of the Suicide Club calmed his mind. This was home. Here, he could be at peace, be free of the noise and stink of London; and here he could exercise his talents in the service of his fellow men. Damn, that Sikhish fellow was taking his time…

At last, as the Belladonna Clock struck nine, and then a few seconds later the great Tibetan dinner gong, Gentleman returned. Sheremy whipped off his trousers, adjusted his leather undergarment, then pulled on the clean trousers. “Excellent,” he said, “though they smell of lavender.”

“We use it to drive away moon moths,” Gentleman explained.

“What’s on the menu tonight?”

“A deviled tartar of yak, sir.”

Sheremy departed, hurrying up the stairs that led to the dining room. Before entering it he checked his appearance in the mirror held upright by the statue of Turkman Hi retrieved from the ruins of Constantinople by Pharaday Lemmington. Aha… tall, dark eyed, black hair slicked down, a subtle moustache on his upper lip. No wonder the girls loved him.

He walked into the dining room and at once saw several of his associates seated at a pentagonal table; one chair free. He strode forward.

“Friends!” he said, allowing a servant to pull back the vacant seat.

“You are a minute late,” said Velvene Orchardtide, examining a gold chronospiel that hung from his waistcoat spigot.

“An unpleasantness outside the building,” Sheremy explained, “caused by news of some import – or so I believe.”

Sheremy glanced at the other two diners: Sir Hoseley Fain, white-bearded Treasurer of the Suicide Club, and Lord Blackanore of Highgate, the Secretary. He enjoyed exalted company tonight. “Frankly,” he said, lighting a cigaroon, “I’m getting rather tired of dear Lemmington’s comings and goings. Can’t we find a higher calling than shooting exotic animals and returning them to London?”

A few embarrassed titters rose from the table. Sir Hoseley sniffed, then said, “What did you have in mind, mon ami?”

“Oh… just something better, I suppose.”

“Then you must think of something,” said Velvene, glancing again at his chronospiel. “Where is that soup, eh? It is Arctic onion, and if they do not bring it in soon it will go warm.”

“This place goes to hell if Pharaday’s around,” Sheremy muttered. “It’s just not good enough.”

Sir Hoseley shrugged, the ghost of a smirk on his face. “Complain to Juinefere,” he said.

Sheremy scowled. All here knew of his feelings for Lady Bedwards, though he had done his utmost over the years to conceal them. Sir Hoseley was an impudent weasel. “Very good,” he said. “Meanwhile, perhaps you should comb your beard before the birds start nesting in it.”

“Now, now,” said Lord Blackanore. “The soup arrives.”

As he cracked the surface of the soup and began cutting it up, Sheremy’s mind turned to the situation he found himself in, which some might call unfortunate, though he termed it unjust. “You see,” he explained, “I didn’t know she was married. I swear I didn’t know. How could I? She was just a freed slave, little more than a maid. Who’d have thought her husband would be so… well connected?”

“It seems you protest too much,” Sir Hoseley observed.

Yes, they all knew the tales here. He hated that. When people discovered his failings, he hated it. He loathed being talked about. Pushing aside his empty bowl he said, “You all think you know me, don’t you? You don’t. Only a lover truly knows their lover.”

There came laughs from the other four. “Well, we certainly all know you, Pantomile,” said Velvene.

“Alas rather too well,” Sir Hoseley added. ”Tu me décois.”

Sheremy felt his face flush. He had gone too far; spoken out of turn. “You are buffoons,” he said.

“Rather a buffoon than a lovestruck bumpkin,” said Sir Hoseley.

Sheremy felt his embarrassment turn to anger. “You’ve never married, have you?” he said, staring across the table. “Perhaps that is because you prefer the monocled post–”–”

“Enough!” Lord Blackanore cried. “Enough, please, all of you. We diminish ourselves with this horse banter.”

Sheremy nodded at his associate. “Thank you,” he said. “But you will admit it’s true. Nobody here knows love. Mankind does not know love, it doesn’t even have an explanation yet. We live in pandemonium because of that lack.”

“Then you have your higher calling,” Velvene said.

“What do you mean?”

“Explaining the inexplicable.”

“My dear fellow,” Sheremy said, “those long mornings you spend bathing have done something to your mind.”

Velvene shrugged. “Explain it for us and you will both solve the inequities of your life and do mankind a service.”

Sheremy felt he was being mocked by the urbane Orchardtide, whose family were well known eccentrics. “I won’t humour you,” he said.

“I mean it.”

Sheremy sat back. The deviled yak supper was approaching. “Then we’ll have a wager,” he declared, “all of us sitting here at this table. If, one season from today, one of us returns to the Suicide Club with an explanation of human love that mankind – from East to West – can accept, they will take the pot.”

(end of extract)

Buy this ebook from: Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CanadaBarnes and NobleKoboAppleSmashwordsGumroad


in the bundle: Facade by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

In July 2015 infinity plus and Storybundle offered a special deal for a set of nine literary fantasy books, including Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Facade. The deal is no longer available but Facade can still be bought separately:

 

 

Facade

“A joy of clarity and lyricism.  She is a new breed of writer: a Renaissance woman.” —Charles de Lint

Kristine Kathryn Rusch: FacadeThomas fell in love with the Oregon Coast while filming his signature role as Anthony Short. Then his estranged daughter Heather died there, and Thomas fled.

Now he returns, not to solve his daughter’s murder, but to see if he can live with himself and his past.

Only someone leaves mysterious notes signed Your Daughter, and birds die on his porch. Strangers report a man in a cloak who looks just like Thomas, but the fans who follow him everywhere don’t see anyone.

But Thomas knows something strange lurks in the shadows. Then more people die and Thomas realizes he holds the key to it all. He alone can solve the crisis, if he only dares…

“Rusch’s [Façade] is an exceptionally effective casebook of abnormal psychology…Rich and revelatory. The ending is perfect.” —Locus

“Like early Ray Bradbury, Rusch has the ability to switch on a universal dark.” —the Times (London)

“Kristine Kathryn Rusch is one of the best writers in the field.” —SFRevu

Buy this ebook from: Amazon USAmazon UK

A personal note from bundle curator Keith Brooke

Kris Rusch is both versatile, working in a number of genres, and phenomenally productive. Neither of these things is particularly noteworthy, of course. What makes Kris stand out is that she maintains such a staggeringly high standard, repeatedly lauded by critics and fans alike, regularly hitting the bestseller lists, and gaining her top awards across the genres. Facade is a fine example of her ability to take a genre – in this case dark fantasy suspense – and proceed to dissect it, reassemble it, and make it her own.

Extract

 

TAKE ONE
(NOW)

FADE IN:

EXT. VILLAGE STREET ALONG ROCKY SEASHORE.

OPEN with water breaking along the rocks, surf splashing over the edges of the cliff, spraying passersby on this street in a small seaside town. In the distance, a lighthouse looms. Gray clouds overhead, old gray buildings weathered by the ocean—even the passersby are gray. The entire area evokes a mood of gloomy darkness. Shoot almost FILM NOIR, gritty and shadowy, à la 1930s B movies.

ANTHONY SHORT and his cat, RUMBLES, stroll across the road. Rumbles is half Siamese, half everything else, all mouth and no substance. Short is tall, lanky, and very impressive. His rain cape billows out behind him, making him look as if he is flying.

“CUT! CUT! Dash it, Thomas, the coat is supposed to billow out behind you. You’re supposed to look important, not like the Wicked Witch of the West after she’s met with a bucket of water.”

Thomas shakes the moisture out of his black hair. Skizits, the cat, easily drops her Rumbles role and runs for a drier section of road.

“Sorry,” Thomas says.

The camera crew relaxes. One of the grips reaches beside his chair for a thermos. The assistant director checks the script as if it is at fault for the flub instead of Thomas.

“Sorry? Sorry?” Michael takes a step closer to him. “We only have the morning to do the damn opening scene, and all you can say is sorry?”

Fifteen people wait for him. The cameras and equipment hide the road. Thomas turns away from them, and gazes at the lighthouse, half lost in the morning mist. “I’m not much for grimy seascapes,” he says.

(end of extract)

Buy this ebook from: Amazon USAmazon UK


in the bundle: The Ragthorn by Robert Holdstock and Garry Kilworth

In July 2015 infinity plus and Storybundle offered a special deal for a set of nine literary fantasy books, including Robert Holdstock and Garry Kilworth’s The Ragthorn. The deal is no longer available but The Ragthorn will be available in September as a standalone book. 

 

 

The Ragthorn

The Ragthorn by Robert Holdstock and Garry Kilworth “I am placing this entry at the beginning of my edited journal for reasons that will become apparent. Time is very short for me now, the final part of the ritual draws near…

I cannot pretend that I am not frightened.”

There were these two British writers, one lived in the country, the other in the city. The country writer loved to visit the city and partake of brandy and Greek kebabs in the local hostelry. The city writer liked to visit the country and guzzle ale and barbecued steak under the apple trees. The two writers needed an excuse for these indulgences, and so they invented one, and this excuse was called “collaborating on a story” … It soon emerged that the story was to be about a legendary tree, which they both vaguely recalled from the tales their grandfathers used to tell them of mystery and myth. Soon they were delving with suppressed excitement into old documents at the British Museum and began to come up with some frightening discoveries.

The first of these finds was in studying the original text, in Anglo-Saxon, of the Old English poem “The Dream of the Rood”. The marrying of the “tree” (crucifixion cross) and the “thorn” (a runic character) was too elaborately regular to be an accident of metre or alliterative language. Other discoveries followed, and the story gradually surfaced, like a dark secret from its burial mound.

The Ragthorn: a dark and unsettling World Fantasy Award-winning novella by Robert Holdstock and Garry Kilworth.

Also included in this volume, two bonus stories: “The Fabulous Beast” by Garry Kilworth, and “The Charisma Trees” by Robert Holdstock.

A personal note from bundle curator Keith Brooke

Rob Holdstock was co-editor of an anthology that published one of my very first stories. I first met him at the book launch, one of the most charming, warm and intelligent people I’ve ever encountered, and he went to great lengths to help me establish my writing career. He is also one of the finest fantasy authors we’ve ever seen. Around the same time I was reading every story by Garry Kilworth I could lay my hands on, even delaying the reading of them simply to prolong the pleasure – it’s with good reason that New Scientist has described him as ‘arguably the finest writer of short fiction today, in any genre’. Rob and Garry’s World Fantasy Award-winning collaboration The Ragthorn captures the strengths of both authors, and appears here in its first ebook publication, exclusive to this bundle.

Extract

I am placing this entry at the beginning of my edited journal for reasons that will become apparent. Time is very short for me now, and there are matters that must be briefly explained. I am back at the cottage in Scarfell, the stone house in which I was born and which has always been at the centre of my life. I have been here for some years and am finally ready to do what must be done. Edward Pottifer is with me – good God-fearing man that he is – and it will be he who closes this journal and he alone who will decide upon its fate.

The moment is very close. I have acquired a set of dental pincers with which to perform the final part of the ritual. Pottifer has seen into my mouth – an experience that clearly disturbed him, no doubt because of its intimacy – and he knows which teeth to pull and which to leave. After the inspection he muttered that he is more used to pulling rose thorns from fingers than molars from jaws. He asked me if he might keep the teeth as souvenirs and I said he could, but he should look after them carefully.

I cannot pretend that I am not frightened. I have edited my life’s journal severely. I have taken out all that does not relate forcefully to my discovery. Many journeys to foreign parts have gone, and many accounts of irrelevant discovery and strange encounters. Not even Pottifer will know where they are. I leave for immediate posterity only this bare account in Pottifer’s creased and soil-engrimed hands.

Judge my work by this account, or judge my sanity. When this deed is done I shall be certain of one thing: that in whatever form I shall have become, I will be beyond judgement. I shall walk away, leaving all behind, and not look back.

(end of extract)


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,616 other followers

%d bloggers like this: