Shacklady follows a group of friends as they investigate an abandoned mine that holds a mysterious train buried within and uncover dangerous secrets that could cost them their lives. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
The inspiration for ‘Shacklady,’ was based on a trip I took as a child with my parents, to explore the Blue John Mine in Derbyshire. For some reason the caverns scared me, more than a little. I constantly found myself peering into the dark, looking for ‘something’ that was never there. I felt that the darkness was watching me and even though it happened many years ago, that fear never left me. So much so that I still occasionally have a repeating nightmare based around the events of that day and when the nightmare occurs, I usually wake up pouring sweat and disorientated. To this day, caves still fill me full of unnatural dread and I try to avoid them if at all possible.
What was your favorite character to write for and why? Was there a scene you felt captured the characters essence?
Nick, is nearly always my favourite character to write because of his self doubt, which often hinders his case work.
What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer in this book?
I am constantly looking for that elusive, ‘I can’t stop turning the pages but am afraid of what I might find there when I do,’ moment.
I’ve always thought that a fear unknown yet anticipated, is the ultimate heart stopper and that the greatest fear factory resides inside ones own mind.
A major challenge in this story was to write from within semi darkness as it renders most of sight redundant. The characters have to employ all their other senses to paint the landscape within.
Will there be a fourth Nick Swann book, if so when will it be available?
Yes, I’m working on it now and it’s working title is, ‘Krownyn Point.’ I anticipate publishing it by next Summer.
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Shacklady by Keller Yeats is a mysterious tale set in Wales. It follows Alan, a man who has purchased an old building and some land. During his renovation, he discovers that his purchase has more to offer when his friend Gerry finds an old mine that was once owned by Silas Shacklady, who became rich from mining the cliffs many years ago but abandoned the project. Alan has his old friend and business partner Nick and his wife Wendy come to explore the mine further. They soon learn that this mine contains many secrets lurking in the dark.
The suspense and intrigue in this novel is created right from the beginning. The author starts by plunging readers straight into the mystery surrounding the mine. This is done through subtle suggestions at first, such as, why there are no tracks to get the train out of the mine shaft. Then the reader is left wondering what happened to Gerry. As the reader is given the information about Gerry’s return to the mine where the characters are not, this adds yet another layer of intrigue. I reveled in this deliberate buildup of the story as I felt it was laying the groundwork for a compelling, and at times eerie, supernatural thriller.
I had initially imagined that delving into a mine would not yield much in the way of fantastic imagery, so I was content with a claustrophobic story, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the author is able to create vivid imagery that blew away all my expectations. For example, by using phrases like ‘swallowed swiftly by the blackness’ and ‘the thicker the air became and the hotter it felt’ the author utilizes all of the senses while taking readers into the depths of the mine. This allowed me to perfectly visualize what was happening and imagine what the characters must be feeling.
Shacklady is a dark and suspenseful supernatural horror story with an intriguing backstory that gives this book surprising depth. With a captivating cast of characters, a compelling mystery at its core, and sharp writing this is a tense scary story that I highly recommend.
Pages: 346 | ASIN : B09XRG2YKN
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Terrifying things don’t always mean having horrific sightings or hearing frightening, screeching sounds. Sometimes, horror can show up as something harmless–until you get close enough to see that it’s actually capable of harm. Strange things happen all the time as phenomena we cannot always process. No one knows this better than those living in one unsuspecting Los Angeles community.
In Walls: The Beginning, author SF Covell, places readers directly into the action as a shift of energy occurs and a sense of dread overcomes the neighborhoods of California. Tall walls have appeared at each quadrant, surrounding some areas, and preventing individuals from leaving. No one knows where they came from, why they are there, or when they will disappear, but it adds a level of eerie vibes to the surrounding areas. Within Covell’s book, there are criminals and troublemakers looking to make the lives of others difficult. Covell’s novel gives readers both villians and heroes that reinforce the idea that standing divided never works, but by standing united, they will be able to protect one another.
Author SF Covell has written an highly enjoyable page-turner that hooks you from page one and keeps you intrigued throughout, making this a book that is difficult to put down. The eerie feeling I got from reading this book made me feel like I was reading a horror novel based on real life, as it talks about the possibility of aliens and God’s judgment upon us. These strange walls have caused interference in the lives of everyone affected by them. Covell has done a phenomenal job of demonstrating how important community strength can be if everyone works together instead of against one another. It was interesting to see how people’s true colors come out when a disaster strikes. Covell does a great job with character development as each person is different and has their own personality. The vivid descriptions in the story made me feel as though I were standing alongside Covell’s cast of characters experiencing this terrifying event for myself.
I highly recommend Walls: The Beginning, by SF Covell, to anyone looking for an attention-grabbing read that provides you with a fascinating storyline packed with well-developed characters that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Pages: 179 | ASIN: B09SFC2BNM
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Another Slice of Fear by Andrew Allen Smith is a collection of compelling and thrilling short stories that share a common theme, fear. The author provides 14 chilling short stories that will shock you but also leave you wanting more. Each short story has a different character and a different plot which is a refreshing approach.
Author Andrew Smith has creatively written short stories that immediately immerse the reader into the story and end abruptly. However, even though the stories end abruptly, the reader is left satisfied because the short stories get straight to the point and deliver fear. The author provides just enough information about the characters to understand their motives, and he successfully gets the reader to worry for the characters in the stories.
I appreciated the level of detail put into such short chapters. I was able to clearly imagine each scene. I would have to commend the author for his torture and terror scenes, as they are perfectly portrayed throughout the book. Although a brief read, most of the characters were well written and original. I found it interesting that each character felt fear but in a different way, whether it’d be from torture to mind games, torture by insects, and much more.
Another Slice of Fear by Andrew Allen Smith is a unique read that is not for the faint of heart. I highly recommend this novel to readers who love a good horror novel especially many short horror stories. However, this book isn’t for everyone as it is filled with mature themes and graphic descriptions that might trigger readers.
Pages: 126 | ASIN : B09ZDRY3HV
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At the end of the 19th century, Silas Shacklady was obsessed with his mine in the Snowdonia mountains. Digging ever deeper in search of a Motherload, Silas disturbs dark secrets and powers hidden for centuries within that subterranean world. In 1897 the mine was sealed after a cave-in buried Silas and over two hundred men, caught forever within its black maw.
The mystery of how this happened and the strange presence of The Lady Emily, an ancient steam engine, draws Nick, Wendy and Alan into a dangerous underground adventure. One which finds them trapped in a battle between malevolent forces, risking all their lives and creating profound consequences for many.
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Jessica Goeken’s Ashes, Ashes centers around teenage monster slayer, Adrienne Young, as she navigates family drama, high school crushes, and magical responsibilities. Adrienne has more on her plate than your average seventeen-year-old — trying to strike a balance between attending classes and battling creatures from the Shadow Plane isn’t easy. But when her guardians come under attack by an unknown entity, Adrienne must put her life on the line to save them. With the help of her adoptive siblings, Adrienne is duty-bound to solve the mystery surrounding her guardians’ disappearance, alongside the death of several schoolgirls — and it’s going to take all her strength to do it.
Reminiscent of young adult adventure stories like the Percy Jackson series, Ashes, Ashes is an action-packed rollercoaster filled with fights, tears, and humor. While some may find the high school romance plot less compelling than the magical battle Adrienne becomes embroiled in, overall this novel strikes a balance between high-stakes conflict and more lighthearted concerns.
This story does make use of some well-worn tropes, such as the popular boy falling for the outcast girl (who, we are led to understand as readers, is beautiful but unaware of it). However, the world-building is immersive and exciting — the author has clearly put a lot of thought into the existence of her magi, with their uniquely turbulent lifestyle and varying skills and abilities.
The concept of creatures existing within different planes, and the relationship between our world and these planes, is also intriguing and employed to good effect. It is both thrilling and amusing to watch Adrienne leap between fighting malevolent creatures and returning to the Mortal Plane in time for school. I would recommend this book, particularly to any young adult who enjoys a mixture of supernatural horror and teen drama, as life-threatening events coincide with the typical trials and tribulations of growing up.
Pages: 344 | ASIN : B09YY333XL
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The Yellow Sign follows a traumatized FBI agent that has to figure out what is real and what is in her head in order to save her friend that has gone missing. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
The inspiration for the story is a little cliche: I was struggling to fall asleep one night a few years ago after reading The King in Yellow by Robert Chambers, and a scene kept playing in my head of a doctor racing to a college campus to help an (unknown to him) dead patient. Her revival, her mad zealotry, and her turning the tables on the doctor (“He told me your name”), the scene wouldn’t let me go. Round and round it went, as more details filled in.
Eventually, around 02:00, I had to get up and write down the scene, just to get it out of my head. Most of the opening of TYS is straight from those first notes, that punch-in-the-face pulpy hook.
After that, it became a question of what made that scene important. Some parts of the setup were natural storytelling (a friend of the doctor tries to find and save him), while others came much later and with much staring at a blank screen (Blaine’s struggles with… everything).
Erica Blaine has suffered a great deal but still risks it all for a friend. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
Blaine is a very flawed character; she has made plenty of mistakes, suffered much, and we meet her at her lowest. Some of the driving ideals in her development include her willingness to jump into danger for those she loves, showing how sometimes the best way we can help ourselves is to help others, despite our own (sometimes literal) internal voices telling us how worthless we are.
Blaine presents as an extreme loner, but when push comes to shove she becomes very protective of those she becomes close to (e.g. Amber). These actions help her to begin moving towards the road of recovery, but alas, when your therapist is the leader of a cult, are things really going to get better?
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
The themes most dear to my heart are all of the struggles Blaine goes through: deep depression, fighting through trauma, and the courage it takes to face those pains. Everything around the inner voice was very important for me, allowing me to shape the story in a unique direction. I’ve always loved cosmic horror tropes, and they allowed me to play with themes of narration and motivation in ways I rarely see.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am currently working on The Knife that Bites, a story set in a far-future hive-city of ten billion souls, as famine runs rampant; it will be more sci-fi than The Yellow Sign, but will still have plenty of horror. I just can’t resist. Give me red and raw and ruining any day.
I am hoping to get The Knife that Bites out to everyone in 2023. Fingers crossed.
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The Youngling gang of supernaturals is back in the second installment of Helena M. Craggs’ series. This time Quinn and his friends are more experienced, more determined, and have even more troubled spirits to clean up after. A wannabe vampire on the loose, stalkerish witches and the pressure cooker of first years of college mean that their break from the supernatural realm has well and truly come to an end.
The Younglings: Fire & Magic picks up from where it left off, continuing the journey of first loves, sexuality, friendship, loyalty and familial unity. The ongoing guidance of demon nanny Mrs. D was the feel-good stability and wisdom that can often lack in the young adult genre.
Narrated predominantly from Quinn’s perspective Helena M. Craggs has done well to maintain his humorous and charismatic character. The addition of storytelling from multiple perspectives created the perfect amount of angst to keep the reader feverishly turning pages and builds upon the logic and reason of characters the reader has already had the opportunity to understand.
The natural progression of the original characters truly shines through in this second installment. Eve and Quinn have matured immensely; tougher and more direct, they set the tone of the novel to be logical and infallible, genuinely growing into the ruling roles so heavily focused on in book one. An outstanding friendship dynamic with purposeful powers and personalities, Craggs has taken her time to evolve relationships through real-life themes young adults face. The romantic subplot solidified this novels place in the workings of a brilliant young adult read.
The Younglings: Fire & Magic is a lighthearted paranormal fantasy that takes young adult readers on an action-filled adventure. The supernatural characters are engaging and will have readers hooked from the start.
Pages: 340 | ASIN : B09YHMTV4Z
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