All posts by Narrelle

Review: Faerie Apocalypse by Jason Franks

Have you ever wondered what’s going on in the mind of people who set about pursuing quests in the worlds of magic? Potential lovers seeking the fairest of them all; mages seeking further power; sons seeking fathers; daughters seeking vengeance; those seeking simple distraction and escape from their everyday lives.

Jason Franks has. And he doesn’t think very highly of them.

Faerie Apocalypse plays with the tropes of quests and fantasy violence. He twists the old storytelling standards of cycles-of-three, cunning humans outwitting faerie malevolance, all the same-old-same olds.

Franks isn’t afraid of being pretty damned gruesome with it, either. Many encounters end not merely with violence but with gore so extreme it’s less horrific and more a form of nihilism. If Shakespeare wrote Titus Andronicus in a spirit of ‘I’ll show YOU a revenge tragedy!’, Franks has said, ‘I’ll show YOU a tide of pointless butchery!’.

Except that it’s not pointless. The purpose, mostly hinted at throughout the brutal excapades of the mortals, the mage, the daughter of the warrior queen and the Bad Little Dog is very pointed, but it’s a spoiler to say what it is.

I loved how the inklings that supposed mortal questers aren’t as noble or heroic as they’re cracked up to be turn into certainties that they’re all pretty awful people with little regard for the consequences of their actions. Where they go, death follows, on a scale that humans in the mortal world have wrought with such horrific abandon.

The level of butchery is a bit much at times, but it’s a deliberate choice that is less gratuitous than it seems, by the time you reach the end and learn why. Though the hint is in the title. It is a faerie apocalypse, after all.

I’ll admit that I have a fonder spot in my heart for the wild and wickedly funny Bloody Waters , but it’s good to be reading Franks again and I’m looking forward to whatever comes next.

About Faerie Apocalypse.

Over the centuries the Faerie Realms have drifted away from the mortal world. But for some, the Doors will open. For some, there is a Way to travel there, if they want it badly enough.

If they dream it hard enough.

In this era, only lovers, poets, and madmen can access the Realms of the Land—and for good reason.

A succession of mortals travel to Faerie: a veteran seeking beauty; a magus seeking power; an urchin seeking his wayward father; an engineer seeking meaning. These mortals bring the horrors of our age to the Land, and the Folk who live there respond in kind.

Buy Faerie Apocalypse

Review: The Compact by Charlie Raven

Late last year I read and thoroughly enjoyed A Case of Domestic Pilfering by Rohase Piercy and Charlie Raven. That book had originally been written by Raven then reworked by Rohase.

Raven’s style is clear in her solo effort The Compact,  set in London and England of 1898 – a paranormal queer adventure where real people meet fictional ones and detection meets ghosts.

The action revolves around two extremely close friends, widows Harriet Day, who teaches piano, and artist Alexandra Roberts. The lifelong friends share an undercurrent of romantic attachment, but their lives are about to be turned inside out. First, Alex falls under the unhealthy influence of the wealthy Minerva Atwell, whom she has been commissioned to paint. Then one of Alex’s boarders dies in a horrible accident.

Their lives ares entangled with Roberts’ boarders, including the unpleasant Albert Burroughs, and the childlike and ethereal George Arden. George is fey and vague and sees ghosts. He’s also falsely accused of murder by Burroughs.

Real life figures Aleister Crowley, occultist and magician, and his lover, poet and female impersonator Jerome Pollitt, become involved with George’s situation, as does Dr John Watson, who is recovering from illness while Sherlock Holmes pursues a case in Russia.

It’s a large cast which Raven deftly handles with charm, elegance and excellent pacing. The story has plenty of humour as well as creeping dread, while the story slow-builds towards the discovery of grisly crimes, horrible secrets, Atwell’s disturbing schemes and George’s strange history.

Dr Watson’s efforts to be a detective in his friend’s absence are naturally not as brilliant as Holmes’s, though he does his best in partnership with the brilliant, unpredictable, substance-abusing Aleister Crowley. The comparisons he (and the reader) makes between Holmes and Crowley are inevitable and entertaining.

Watson is only a small player in the tale, however, which focuses on Harriet trying to discover Minerva Atwell’s power and clear George Arden’s name. She and Alex are both strong characters, as is Minerva and all her mystery. Crowley and Pollitt are lively, too, as are all the supporting cast.

The action reaches its climax of mystic threats, ancient Sumerian tablets, the unquiet dead and deadly intent at Minerva Atwell’s creepy spa in the country.

Raven’s prose is lively, her period detail light and evocative, and even the most minor of her cast of characters is distinct and fresh. She’s also made me keen to read more of and by Aleister Crowley!

The Compact is engaging good fun. After enjoying A Case of Domestic Pilfering so much too, I’m hoping I won’t have to wait too long for some more from Charlie Raven.

Buy The Compact