And Your Flesh Shall Be A Wild Night and A New Road

Microfiction inspired by two well-known sayings and a recent band festival with someone important ✨

The wild scream of the guitar ripped down his spine, surging like power in his veins. Dominion, utter and absolute electricity, was what their music held over the night.

.  . . 1984.

That was the last time he saw her, and all he could recall were a few, sparse details of how she looked, before she’d faded from his life. Shiny curls and almond skin, and a frame so thin it bordered on frailty. Those details he could recall, and the very last question he asked.

“Heyyy,” her voice broke on a beach of uncertainty as she edged up beside him, eyes a strange elixir of warm and aloof. He regretted saying no to hugs and photos when she had asked over the phone a week ago. But only because he wanted to touch her now, to make sure she was real.

And only because he wanted new memories of anything but that fucking question.

“Hey.” He allowed the sudden burst of heat in his chest to reach his eyes at the sight of her.

Your time is almost up.

They had met over two decades ago, both living a charmed life of naïve optimism. Just two strange kids, sheltered and unsophisticated, who shared a love for folk music, and stargazing, and each other.

“You look great,” he added, almost a beat too late. “. . . Life has been kind.”

The wry regard she gave him slipped into something that lingered, her eyes and mouth filled with stories he wanted badly to taste. Then she broke the moment with a nervous smile as she turned her attention towards the stage.

“You look good too.”

He only just heard those words, swimming soft and slow under the thunderous gathering that threatened to crush them from all sides.

Burn into obscurity.

The energy in the air shifted then, as the chords of the next song opened out over the crowd. Atmospheric and full of emotion. It cast a spell and a shadow over his senses, and when she collided with him, jostled by bodies moving in and out of the throng, it didn’t help the feeling.

He watched her reach for his arm to steady herself, and all he could think of was the realness of her flesh, and what he had once asked her to do.

You’re so much more.

So much more.


Microfiction inspired by stormy weather and lost sisterhood

Clouds thicker than Peruvian fog, vaporous specters rising across the shifting mirror of the sky. The day’s restlessness calms my peregrine heart, part of the patterning and paradox of life I’ve come to cherish. Chilling drops of rain splatter like surprises on my upturned face, not unpleasant, like a birthday party you didn’t expect but appreciated, despite not caring much for the attention it brought. And it reminds me of home, all the homes that I’ve lost, in people, places and ideas, almost forgotten.


I turn at the sound of my name on the lips of Singita, my sister; at the grey sky mirrored in her kind eyes, as much in natural colour as in mood, even under the umbrella she holds overhead. I start as she moves to wrap a thick, knitted shawl around my shoulders, its bold, symmetrical patterning as twin to the one already draped around her, as she was to me. Her eyes glance towards the door she left open; mine follow.

“Mama said to come in before you make yourself sick standing out here. She wants you to check the upstairs shutters before Sari–before the storm hits.”

I nod as I move towards the door of our home – Burro Casita – and the warm, spiced scents of mama’s dinner wafting through an inner archway, pulling me further inside. If comfort had a scent, it would be this. Tugging the shawl tighter around me, I make my way up the endless flight of stairs great grand-uncle Bruno was said to have built almost two hundred years ago. The future is in the bones of all who walk this way, reads the plaque at the top of the landing on the ninth floor. Two more floors after that and I would have made it to the top of our house – eleven stories and five generations tall – despite its modest appearance from the outside.

Entering each room, I inspect the storm shutters for breaks, lubricating their tracks in preparation for Sarita.


The name of the oncoming storm . . . and my vanished, younger sister.

The sister whose lips I cursed to never kiss again, the day I caught them on Milo, our neighbour and childhood friend. She was always taking – and breaking – my stuff. He was no exception.

“I hate you!! How could you kiss him?!”

. . . I love you. How could you leave?


Halloween-inspired Microfiction


Tall pines creak in the eeriness of night, blown by a sudden, fierce gale. It tears through the forest like a spectral fox hounded by wild and ghostly dogs, and the darkness feels alive with power and invocation. Two, small boys stop running to catch their breath beneath the wet candles of one immortal tree, its thick trunk spanning almost two feet wide. The smaller boy bends over, his face streaming fear. Then the older one takes him by the hand, features set with determination as they press on into the night, the ground beneath their feet littered with last year’s pinecones.

Everything has gone so wrong. The bottle of wytch’s tears stolen to quench their mother’s thirst, made her sad forever. Now there is a wytch after them, and they can’t go home, abandoned to the World Wood by their own well-intended but horrible choice. Little choice left then but to run until help for their woes finds them. The trees break to reveal cultivated farmlands and houses, their strong lines lit like folk art in midnight blue and the pale yellow of a rising moon. Light can still be seen from a few windows. Behind them a cackle can be heard like a secret, old and mad.

The boys hurry down the unpaved lane that leads to the small town beyond the tree line. Just before they reach the first farmhouse, a large black cat strolls into the middle of their path. His eyes are mercurial in more ways than one, his midnight coat fluffy against the chilled night air. But what freezes the boys in their pell-mell sprint towards the houses is the glow. A bright, luminous light fills his body, making visible every bone, overlain by his thick, dark fur. The cat holds his tail high to show affability, though the faint but sour shimmer of disdain in his eyes says plainly he has no desire to be touched.

He turns and lopes away. The boys follow. They follow for nights and years, until wizened and grey, they stand trembling at his back, their mother’s sadness long forgotten. The cat turns to face them at last, eyes flaring red in the endless gloaming, his face particularly smug.

“I believe we’ve finally lost her.”

Milky eyes look back at him, empty of all but despair. For the wytch is not the only thing that has been lost.


Review by Knicky L. Abbott

Author name: Naomi Novik

Book Title: Uprooted

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: He may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every 10 years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.” 

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for 10 years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood. 

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows – everyone knows – that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her. But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

Publication date: 1st March, 2016

Available formats: Paperback, Hardcover, Audiobook and Kindle

Purchase Link:

I’ve been meaning to write this review since summer 2021, when I first read this book, and I’m afraid I’ve waited too late. But I can’t shake the fact that I must sing the praises of the most wonderful fantasy story I’ve read since my childhood days, no matter how much time has passed since reading it. Perfectly named, and filled with characters I will never forget, Uprooted is the story of a natural village witch, Agnieszka, sacrificed to a beautiful but cold wizard, Sarkan the Dragon, and used for her magic to keep the malevolent, corrupted darkness of the Woods from consuming not only her village, and nearby villages, but all the world.

This book fed me for days, alternating between a languid, poetic, nature-infused read and an exciting, page-turning, moreish binge. No matter where I took my breaks, I couldn’t shake its satisfying hold on my imagination, called and called again by the small adventures and sweeping epic in which Agnieszka found herself entangled, from living with and learning from Sarkan, to the historical intrigue of a taken Queen, lost all these years to the Wood, and the political strongarm of her prince-son demanding that they find his mother. When I read the last line on the last page, I mourned for days the absence of the characters I had come to adore.

It is those characters, their chemistry and their finer details, that is the backbone of this book. I particularly enjoyed the character of Kasia, Agnieszka’s dearest friend, who was not at all who or how I thought she would be at the end of their journey; Her character so quietly strong, resolute and masterful, echoed the skill of novelist Novik in a manner that felt perfectly true to form. Yet it was the character of and behind the Wood itself, that left its mark on my mind as simply fantastic, and one of the most originally-rendered antagonists I have read in a fantasy story to date.

The feeling of time and things in this story are unmatched in their fantastical elements, unmatched and utterly delightful, leaving me greedy and deeply enthralled. It didn’t just feel set in the village of Dvernik in the kingdom of Polnya, it felt set in the very heart of me, and there is nothing more I love than a good story that makes me feel like I’ve come home to myself. A beautiful tale written in beautiful prose, Uprooted will remain a favourite of mine close to forever, and I cannot wait to get into other books of similar ilk to feed the near-hunger it left behind.

For the Wolf (Wilderwood Book 1)

Review by Knicky L. Abbott

Author name: Hannah Whitten

Book Title: Wilderwood Book 1 For the Wolf

The first daughter is for the Throne.
The second daughter is for the Wolf.

For fans of Uprooted and The Bear and the Nightingale comes a dark, sweeping debut fantasy novel about a young woman who must be sacrificed to the legendary Wolf of the Wood to save her kingdom. But not all legends are true, and the Wolf isn’t the only danger lurking in the Wilderwood.

As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose—to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he’ll return the world’s captured gods.

Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can’t control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can’t hurt those she loves. Again.

But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn’t learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood—and her world—whole.

Publication date: 1st June, 2021

Available formats: Paperback, Audiobook and Audio CD

Purchase Link:

For the Wolf is the story of the Second Daughter, Redarys and the Wolf of the Wilderwood, Eammon. It is the story of a sentient, prison wood and its binding forest magic, as it leeches the life from all Second Daughters and all Wolves, in order to hold its shadow monsters and mad kings at bay, and protect the rest of realm. And it is the story of how voluntary sacrifice makes the only difference that matters in the quest for meaning, self-knowledge and the place where you belong.

I gobbled this book down in two days, finding every opportunity to return to its pages, inexorably pulled over and again by the chemistry between its characters, the dark, dreamy telling of their story, and how true it rang in my heart. It’s really special that way. Like a letter to myself written by someone else’s hand.

Red is stalwart about her fate; Eammon stoic about his. She is filled with a dangerous magic – Wilderwood magic – and is willing to be sacrificed to protect those she loves, particularly her twin, Neverah. Eammon is willing to sacrifice himself wholly to protect those lives beyond the woods, because of the fate passed onto him through his parents, the original Wolf and Second Daughter. And as the story is told, they’re both willing to face that fate without cowering, despite their doubts, dread, and misgivings, for love of each other.

The scrumptious, slow-burn romance aside, my favourite part of the story was the curse itself. In almost every dark fairytale I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, a curse is just a thing made mention of, for the hero or heroes to inevitably overcome. Yet in For the Wolf the curse lives and breathes on every page, between the surrounding trees and the very bones of our main characters, and while it was transmuted and understood deeper by both those characters and I in the end, it never left or was broken in the traditional sense of the word.

In For the Wolf, the magic and worldbuilding, though wonderfully complex, is not too complicated to follow or understand. And the romantic love between Redarys and Eammon, while Red Riding Hood-coded, has a delightful Beauty and the Beast aesthetic, down to the crumbling castle keep in an atmospheric, twilit wood. Much like a Wilderwood Sentinel, it glows brightly on the pages, roots set deep in this first installment of the Wilderwood duology. And much like the Wilderwood itself, is one of the reasons why I can hardly wait for Book 2.

All Woods

Microfiction inspired by the first line of Robert Frost’s poem, ‘The Road Not Taken’.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood. One led to autumn, calm and chilly, its last bronzed leaf picked by a wind still echoing with residual birdsong. The other to darkness, cloaked in mist, where naked trees loomed overhead like a canopy of murderers, intentions ill. The signpost before us was worn with age, the letters slipped away in time and wood rot. Moira could not read them and didn’t seem to know which way to go. Autumn’s beauty called to my senses, but it was the darkness that beckoned, leading me by my very nature down the wintry lane.

I wanted to be safe. I wanted to be safe. But the call to adventure sang in my bestial blood and I knew I would never find it down well-worn paths. All woods are lovely, dark and deep, but only one is your home. Moira seemed to trust that I knew where we were going, but I was only trusting my heart and knew nothing at all. When the thieving trees thinned at last to reveal the mediaeval castle, it was all I could do to not recoil at the sight. But it was I who led us here, and there is always a reason, even if only in remembrance.

Still, I pawed at the frozen earth and shied away from the high gates before us, skittish and very much unnerved by their gothic, alien ironwork. Even before I heard her sharp intake of breath, I felt Moira’s heartbeat quickening at what now stood before us, and the gate that slowly opened though no one opened it, and the howl of nearby wolves at our back. She slipped off, reins in hand, and reached to touch my muzzle, the gesture intended to steady. From where she tethered me there in the cobbled courtyard, I could observe the end as it unfolded.

Moira’s nervous knock on the thick, wooden door. The shadow within shadows. The pause before her muffled scream, and the sudden tearing away of her beautiful face. The wet noises of him feasting on her flesh, hungrily tearing the clothes from her body, crunching her bones. The eternal silence thereafter, as he slipped into the moonlight and fur fell away from a blood-soaked face more beautiful than even hers. He walked towards me then, reaching out with a gentle hand and an even gentler voice.

“What a fine horse.”


A bit of microfiction about my rather difficult pregnancy, and how the only peace and pleasure I found (from the daily waves of nausea and hostile alien terraforming of my body) was in the texture of gritty things.


The crunch of ice between my teeth – cold edges, agitated nerves, sabulous sensitivity. All coalescing into sharp points of pleasure in my body, my brain. Soothing. Assuasive. Momentary. Cup after cup of chipped ice; euphoria only until they are empty. Nausea quickly returning.

The grit of sand and salt and soap beneath my fingers, the fine powdery textures a more lasting calm. Good wards for bad memories, and worst choices, and keeping unwanted thoughts at bay. But I can only wash and cook and visit the beach for so long before I must again return to myself.

The roughness of baking soda toothpaste scraping my tongue as I brush for the fifth time in one day. Five brushings for five pukes. The corroded enamel of my teeth, stones battered by time and waves of vomit. By the time she is born, I would have stopped smiling in photos and with my eyes.

Dirt behind my eyelids, no matter how carefully I clean them. Clean eyes, soiled vision. And soil isn’t just good for growing life. It’s good for growing death too. I could scrub for years and years and never be clean, here on these desert shores, where death and life both flourish within me.

A dusting of ash is all that remains of that time now. After the eruption of esophageal trauma and peptic ulcers; after losing my tooth; and a lot of myself; and a bit of my mind; after the stretched skin and mummy’s carpel tunnel, I can feel my smile returning at last. To eyes still angry with grit.

But touched by clearer vision.

And a soul with grit of its own, far stronger than I ever possessed.

This is Our Undoing

Review by Knicky L. Abbott

Author name: Lorraine Wilson

Book Title: This Is Our Undoing

Could you condemn one child to save another?

In a near-future Europe fracturing under climate change and far-right politics, biologist Lina Stephenson works in the remote Rila Mountains, safely away from London State. When an old enemy dies, Lina’s dangerous past resurfaces, putting her family’s lives at risk.

Trapped with her vulnerable sister alongside the dead man’s family, Lina is facing pressure from all sides: her enemy’s eldest son is determined to destroy her in his search for vengeance, whilst his youngest carries a sinister secret…

…But the forest is hiding its own threats and as a catastrophic storm closes in, Lina realises that if she is to save her family, she must become a monster.

Publication date: 3rd August, 2021

Available formats: Paperback, Hardcover and Kindle from Amazon

Purchase Link:

This is Our Undoing is a near-future dystopian novel set in Bulgaria amidst climate politics, human trafficking, and monsters both supernatural and man-made. It intimately follows protagonist Lina Stephenson, a biologist with a dangerous past that has followed her to the isolating Rila Mountains and the sinister beauty of its surrounding forests, in the form of an old adversary’s strange family and the wake of his murder. The disastrous climate storm approaching the mountains is not the only storm Lina has to weather, and I was completely gripped by how she would survive either, in the end.

From the story’s onset the suspense is believable, and I was invested in what was taking place and how the characters would interrelate. Much of this has to do with the subtle spin of author Lorraine Wilson’s stunning prose. The delicacy of her words weaves a web of suspense that I earnestly became entrapped in. The unfolding scenes are powerful and penetratingly tense, on both an interpersonal level as well as that of the overarching plot. I got goose bumps time and again.

Lina’s superbly rendered emotional landscape, which she occupies so frequently and fully, is also a point of interest – very compelling, and in equal turns vibrant and nuanced. The dance between this internal landscape and the landscape and magical realism of the mountains and forest itself, is exquisite and masterfully executed. The powerful, emotionally wrought scenes surrounding her, with their realistic streams of consciousness and fantastic dialogue, make Lina an engrossing character to follow.

I loved how impossible it was to tell the truth of things in this story right until the very end, where the truth – finally revealed – was the only thing that made sense, even if I didn’t see it coming. And so satisfying! Even before the appearance of monsters and Otherness is made on the peripheries of this tale, I was invested in the murder mystery in which the characters were entrenched, as well as all the other characters themselves, not just Lina. I didn’t always agree with their decisions, but I cared! There are also darker things than the monsters in the woods in this book.

The tapestry of this story is so gorgeously and subtly woven that once it became clear, the impact of it was just like a tornado manifesting, from unseen elements, in a seemingly clear sky. The hybridity of magic and science, the masterful characterization, the beautifully paced world-building, all coalesced into my undoing. I cannot recommend this book enough.

When Days Tilt (Time Catchers Book 1)

Review by Knicky L. Abbott

Author name: Karen Ginnane

Book Title: Time Catchers Book 1 When Days Tilt

A historical fantasy adventure for teens set between Victorian London and a darker parallel city.

It’s 1858, and there are two queens on the throne. Victoria reigns over London, the biggest city the world has ever known. But London has a secret shadow city, called Donlon, where another queen, the Green Witch, rules her own domain – time.

London is in turmoil. The Thames is at the height of the Great Stink; a blazing comet is searing the sky; technology is moving so fast it seems otherworldly; and the city is exploding with more people than it can hold. Darwin is about to publish his theory of evolution and humanity’s very place in the world is in question. On top of all this, people are disappearing into thin air. If they return, it is with empty eyes and torn souls, never to be the same again. Ava, a fourteen-year-old Londoner, feels trapped by the limited life of a young Victorian woman and by her watchmaking apprenticeship with her father. Her predictable world is turned upside down when she discovers that the body in her mother’s grave is not her mother, but a stranger.

When Ava goes in search of her real mother and her true identity, she is thrust into the dark world of Donlon and must fight a battle to save those she loves and the future of both worlds . . .

Publication date: 2nd July, 2021

Available formats: Paperback and Kindle from Amazon

Purchase Link:

Time Catchers When Days Tilt is a stunning YA Historical Fantasy with a seam of thrilling suspense woven throughout. It is set in Victorian London and its dark parallel counterpart, the city of Donlon.  It is the story of reluctant, watchmaking apprentice Ava and her quest to find her real mother at the height of 19th century turmoil, uncertainty, and human proliferation.

I loved the setup of this story from the very first chapter. Author Karen Ginnane provides her reader with a solid starting point for understanding and caring about Ava, as well as introduces a few other most intriguing mysteries along the way for good measure. There is a real feeling of being ‘Off on an adventure’ or ‘Away with the faeries’ to this book, one that both excites and underscores the emotional impact of what happens to each of the characters we grow to love.

The words pulled me along scene after incredible scene, with prose that is very surreal, nostalgic and whimsical on the one hand, but tells a dark, dangerous, and deadly tale on the other. In a word, this book is truly enchanting, a richly-spun wonder with a mood that is exactly right for teens and young adults.

My favourite character is Malaika. Without spoiling too much of anything, I’ll simply say I found his ‘speak’ a true joy to read, and reading him was like watching a favoured childhood film. The whimsy and fancifulness just unfurled in my mind with wondrous, magnificent, dreamy imagery. And it’s this imagery, and Ginnane’s incredible prose, that makes Malaika so lovely, and this story simply exceptional.

Malaika aside, the world-building as a whole is both solid and subtly done in When Days Tilt. A feat of pure imagination disseminated through dialogue, imagery, character experience, emotion, and realization. It is such a wonderful story. The kind that lingers. The kind my soul favours best. Looking forward to more offerings in The Time Catchers series, and from Karen Ginnane herself.

A Seeming Glass: A Collection of Reflected Tales

Review by Knicky Laurelle


Author name: The Random Writers

Book Title: A Seeming Glass: A Collection of Reflected Tales


How can I read the futures if I cannot see your skin?’ Six mysterious swans glide on a holographic pond in a totalitarian capital city. A terrified girl awaits her part in a ritual that could change the future… and the past. A dancer in ancient Jerusalem mourns her maimed sister and prepares for the performance of her life. A sword of legend sends its wielder back through the fiercest battles in history. A freshly qualified vampire hunter experiences the practical side of his vocation. Fourteen intriguing, dramatic, humorous and unsettling tales, inspired by existing stories and reflecting the breadth of storytelling from Greek myth to Hammer Horror, via fairy tales and Arthurian legend.

Length: 264 pages

Release date: 13 July, 2014

Available formats: Paperback and Kindle from Amazon

Purchase Link:

“For thy it round and hollow shaped was, Like to the world it selfe, and seem’d a world of glas.”

No finer words than these from Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queen capture the ethos of the short fiction collection, and debut tour de force of The Random Writers, A Seeming Glass. A mirror reflecting the truth of what could be and might’ve been, the universal that underscores every story ever told.

Even the most original work in this anthology echoes the oldest fairy stories, myths and legends we know, from Arthurian legend to Scottish, Irish and Greek mythologies, a genderbent take on the biblical Samson and timeless classics such as Rumpelstiltskin and Snow White.

This anthology is an experience, one that fully satisfies. The Rising Tide by Lorraine Wilson is deeply eerie and unsettling, and wildly contrasts in mood and temperament with the crackling-hot badassery of Karen Ginnane’s Samsara. Mirror Skin is an amazing contribution by Shell Bromley, and as the name suggests is perfectly in keeping with the reflective theme.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Straw Man by Martin J. Gilbert, and was absolutely thrilled to see Matthew Willis’ No Loyal Knight and True, a story inspired by one my favourite poems, The Lady of Shalott by Lord Alfred Tennyson. Each story builds on the themes of the ones they’re inspired by, showing a different truth, an alternate aesthetic, old paths and endings made new.

And none more so than A Lamentation of Swans by J. A. Ironside. This vividly reimagined telling of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Wild Swans, set in a futuristic, totalitarian world of transhuman slavery, technology and even possible cannibalism, is simply astounding in imaginativeness and execution; while being utterly faithful to the spirit of the original tale.

Harrowing and inventive, I’ve never read anything like it, and it was my favourite story in this entire anthological work. This is a mirror, A Seeming Glass. Held up to stories of old, reflecting possibilities of a different kind, and echoing the constants that remain true in the stories we all love.

Overall Orb Rating

4 Roses – Bloom and Grow (I enjoyed the splendour)     


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