Sunday, 21 November 2010

In the deep (and deadly) midwinter

Ahhh, Christmas!

The season of mince pies and mistletoe, holly and tinsel, joyous carols and roasting chestnuts. What could be more enjoyable than a traditional Victorian Christmas: snow cascading in feather-sized flakes, friends and family coming to call, lively music, games and revels, a parlour adorned with festive greenery, piles of colourful packages stacked under a tree laden with stars and candles and glistening white angels …

But this merriest and most mythologised time of the year can sometimes have a sting in its tail. It’s also notable for long nights, icy mist, and supernatural stories. For those trapped outside the realms of common society, Yuletide can be a tale of …

The ornate Christmas chamber had vanished – instead it was a bare brick hangar. Where the jolly fire had crackled in the hearth now there were only dull, red flames, the vile smoke of which hung below the ceiling in a dirty blanket …

The marionette was directly behind him. Its arms were by its sides, but its head had jerked upright, the beads rolling in its bauble eyes. Its hinged jaw dropped to reveal a cavernous blood-red mouth, from which a demented squawk issued …

The snow had now been churned to filthy mush; there was a nauseating reek of sewage. Looming over everything, Newgate Prison looked even grimmer than usual. Its massive, black brick walls were streaked with sickly, greenish ice …

If you fancy a Christmas of the more spine-tingling sort, my short novel, SPARROWHAWK, is now officially available from the Pendragon Press website ( and from Amazon. We may even, if we’re lucky, have a few copies with us at Twisted Tales event at Waterstone’s, Liverpool One, next Friday evening (but that’s not guaranteed at present).

Christmas may be a time of fun and frolics, but evil wakes when Man is off his guard.

His golden eyes were saucer shaped; his very breath seemed to rumble as it slipped in and out of his capacious chest. It reeked of brandy and cigar smoke, but there was something below this that was vaguely unpleasant – blood maybe?

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