reads, Recent Reads

Age of Assassins

Publisher’s Description:

TO CATCH AN ASSASSIN, USE AN ASSASSIN…

Girton Club-Foot, apprentice to the land’s best assassin, still has much to learn about the art of taking lives. But his latest mission tasks Girton and his master with a far more difficult challenge: to save a life. Someone, or many someones, is trying to kill the heir to the throne, and it is up to Girton and his master to uncover the traitor and prevent the prince’s murder.
In a kingdom on the brink of civil war and a castle thick with lies Girton finds friends he never expected, responsibilities he never wanted, and a conspiracy that could destroy an entire land.


My Review:

I recently read Age of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom, #1) by UK fantasy author R. J. Barker.

Age of Assassins follows the protagonist Girton, apprentice assassin to Master assassin Merela Karn, when she and Girton find themselves unwillingly embroiled in court intrigue and blackmailed by the Queen of Manyidoc determined to find those behind the attempted assassination of her son and heir, Aydor.

Girton, disguised among the noble blessed class, and using the title ap Gwyner, takes a position among the squires to learn the grievances and allegiances between Aydor and the challenger to the throne, Tomas. The machinations of the court at Castle Manyidoc, rivalries and alliances soon threaten to sweep Girton and Merela into deadly intrigue with fatal consequences. The only hope for survival that Girton and Merela can have is staying one step ahead of other assassins, rival factions, and a growing threat from sorcerers.

Final Thoughts:

I had reservations about reading Age of Assassins, concerned how similar the publisher’s description was to Robin Hobb’s Assassins trilogy. Despite my misgivings, The Wounded Kingdom series has been an interesting journey through a unique fantasy world and history, the well-defined characters intriguing and thoughtful.

My Conclusion?

Age of Assassins is likely to become a favourite for any fans of epic fantasy, unique world-building, and intrigue. A highly recommended read!

events, Writing

Avenge Anthology Release


Thrilled to announce the release of Avenge (Five Hundred Fiction, #2) on 23rd March, 2021. This flash fiction anthology published by Black Hare Press on the theme of superheroes and villains features my dark fantasy, anti-hero story, “The Hero of Silversmiths”. You can read more about that here.

If you’re interested in reading this great collection of superhero-supervillains inspired stories, you can find more details on purchasing ebook and paperback copies here.

events, Writing

Lost Lore and Legends Anthology Release

Pleased to announce the release on 22nd March, 2021 of micro-fiction anthology Lost Lore and Legends published by Breaking Rules Publishing Europe and featuring five of my 100 word drabbles inspired by European folklore and mythologies.

Lost Lore and Legends explores a variety of legends, mythologies and folklore from European tradition. Two of my drabbles, “The Troll-Witch” and “The Elf Stone” were inspired by Icelandic folklore and legend, “The Seelie Court” was based on Scottish Fae folklore, while “Pixie-Touched” explores the dark Cornish lore of pixies and madness, and “Oak and Holly” tells of the physical manifestation of the summer and winter kings, forever duelling for supremacy. If you are interested in the research behind these five drabbles, you can read more here.

Interested in purchasing an ebook, paperback or limited hardback edition of Lost Lore and Legends? More details and links can be found here.

Short Fiction, Writing

Dark Fantasy Assassins


There’s any number of great epic dark fantasy books and series that explore the darker nature of humanity from the point of mercenaries, assassins and anti-heroes.

I decided to delve into some of that inspiration and an anti-hero protagonist in a flash fiction story. What motivates characters to choose a darker path? Does the morally ambiguous road they follow trouble their conscience?

The result was an interesting character with a psyche primed to survive, whatever the cost. A “riches-to-rags” story in the underbelly of a fantasy metropolis where the only ones imagining a hero are dependent on an anti-hero to survive. “The Hero of Silversmiths” will feature in the Avenge (Five Hundred Fiction, #2) Anthology, coming soon in 2021.

Short Fiction, Writing

Reimaging the Pied Piper Fairytale

One of the most fascinating fairytales to me has always been the ‘The Children of Hameln’ recounted by Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm in 1816 and 1818 editions of their famous fairytale collection. But there are several legends of similar figures like the Piped Piper from surrounding region of Saschen and wider Germany. Another fairytale I found intriguing is the ‘The Singing Bone’ and the variations, including the Scottish legends of an enchanted harp made from bone.

In crafting my own reimagining of the Pied Piper tale and the fate of the children from Hameln, I was inspired by of the gothic folklore of Forests, a common theme in many fairytales. The Forest often represents great dangers and only reason a community taught to fear it might enter would be unwillingly. The Pied Piper is often described as a troubadour or jester-like character, but in this reimagining, I wanted something darker and connected to the Forest. I thought of magicians, a failing harvest in the otherwise fertile valleys where an unspoken agreement between hamlets and magician to restore fertility and abundance to the lands would come at a high price. The magician is feared, not only for his magic but his appearance, a gaunt and physically deformed man, historically not welcome in many medieval communities for the ill-fortune to which they were associated. In keeping with the tales, the hamlets refuse to honour the bargain with the magician and an enchanted harp wrought from human bone becomes the tool to steal away the young and future generations of the hamlets, summoning them to wander forever among the groves and copses of the Forest.

events, Writing

Women in Horror Interviews & More!

In celebrating Women in Horror Month, I have been fortunate to be interviews by Eerie River Publishing, a small press based in Ontario, Canada specialising in horror, dark fiction and dark fantasy.

You can read the Author spotlight interview on Eerie River Publishing blog here. While you’re there, check out the other amazing women writers interviewed!

On the 20th February (21st for Australians!), I joined author chat and Q&A hosted by Michelle River at Eerie River Publishing with fellow women in horror authors Neen Cohen, Destiny Pifer, Melody E. McIntyre and CA. McDonald. A wonderful group of women authors discussing portrayal of women characters in horror, stereotypes, how women are perceived as horror writers and some of our favourite women authors (past and present). You can check out and subscribe to the YouTube channel for Eerie River Publishing for more or watch the this event now!

Short Fiction, Writing

Forthcoming: Dark Fiction Anthology

Watch (Five Hundred Fiction, #3)

Pleased to announce my flash fiction story “The Eldritch Wood” will feature in Watch (Five Hundred Fiction, #3) to be published in 2021 by Black Hare Press! All flash fiction in this anthology is inspired by the theme of stalking. My flash fiction story “The Eldritch Wood” is inspired by gothic folklore of forests and dangers of the Fae beings.

Release dates and how to purchase a copy of the Watch (Five Hundred Fiction, #3) will be updated when available. Keep an eye on my publications page here.

Short Fiction, Writing

Forthcoming: Heroes & Villains Anthology

Avenge (Five Hundred Fiction, #2)

Pleased to announce my flash fiction story “The Hero of Silversmiths” will feature in Avenge (Five Hundred Fiction, #2) to be published in 2021 by Black Hare Press! All flash fiction in this anthology is inspired by the theme of heroes, anti-heroes or villains.

Release dates and how to purchase a copy of the Avenge (Five Hundred Fiction, #2) will be updated when available. Keep an eye on my publications page here.

events, Writing

Women in Horror Month

February is Women in Horror Month! What began, and essentially still is, a movement to celebrate and highlight female creators in the horror genre. There has been a tradition of women writing horror long before Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein but female horror writers continue to remain in the shadows compared to their male counterparts.

There are many publishing events happening around the world this month. I am fortunate enough to to join an event hosted by Eerie River Publishing. There is a great schedule of Online events, blog interviews, story readings and more!

For me personally, there’ll be an upcoming author interview soon with Eerie River Publishing and I’m participating in a Live Author Chat and Q&A session on February 20th (21:00 GMT).

Recent Reads

Ivory’s Story

From the Blurb:

“Long ago, a good man transgressed and was brutally punished, his physical form killed and his soul split asunder. Now, one half of his ancient soul seeks to reunite with its lost twin, a search that leaves murder in its wake…
In the streets of modern day Sydney a killer stalks the night, slaughtering innocents, leaving bodies mutilated. The victims seem unconnected, yet Investigating Officer Ivory Tembo is convinced the killings are anything but random. The case soon leads Ivory into places she never imagined. In order to stop the killings and save the life of the man she loves, she must reach deep into her past, uncover secrets of her heritage, break a demon’s curse, and somehow unify two worlds.”

My Review:

I recently read Ivory’s Story by African-Australian author Eugen Bacon after readings several reviews and the description roused my interest in this unique speculative fiction novella set in Australia.

The protagonist of Ivory’s Story is female detective Ivory Tembo who has the unhappy task leading the failing investigation into a series of grisly murders of high-profile men in sexually explicit ways in Sydney, Australia. Raised as an orphan and without knolwedge of her family, Ivory has only the unusual opal amulet from her mother to link her to true heritage. Determined to solve the killings and discover her identity, Ivory is directed to a seer at Orange Crater in the northern-central Australia.

The long travel to Orange Crater, Ivory finds her mother also visited but finds no trace of any other family ties only a strong affiliation with a cranky medicine woman. Under the guidance of this medicine woman, Ivory learns how to defeat and stop the murders and the reasons behind the gruesome killings. The medicine woman explains a past tragedy involved an exiled son of a medicine man. This son harboured a rare gift of twin-souls but when accused of stealing a Chieftain’s daughter, his execution does not kill him but does separate his souls, causing one to remain forever within his body, the other to always seek to return. For Ivory, she must re-unite the twin souls after centuries and dimensional planes apart if she is to save the man she loves and stop the killings.

Final Thoughts:

A combination of beautifully written prose and vivid descriptions of the Australian and inter-dimensional landscapes, Ivory’s Story also features a cast of well-defined characters and refreshingly strong female characters. Although, there are sections of the novella that seem to drift from the central focus of the story and can detract from its purpose, leaving me wanting more about Ivory’s detective work and development as a seer, the strong weird fiction themes do not make this feel like a true flaw, more like a necessary element of the weird fiction style.

My Conclusion?

Ivory’s Story is recommended for its beautiful prose and strong female characters. Readers will be certain to enjoy a cultural odyssey for those familiar and new to both the weird and speculative fiction genres.