tales of the zeppelin artwork by frazer irving

The Boy in Winter's Grasp
Available now  - click here

It is Christmas 1914. As Europe descends further into the Great War, Christopher Flyte is sent home in disgrace from his school. He returns to the sleepy English village of Alton. It is there that he meets the mysterious traveller, Bailey - a master storyteller who fills the boy's head with stories of King Arthur's time. The more Christopher hears, the more he suspects that Bailey's stories are more than just simple myths.

Soon, Christoper is a pawn in a game that has been playing out for centuries....

Published by Fantastic Books

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Deadly ReflectionsAuthor: C L Raven

Reviewed in Books on Mar 23, 2014 by John Scotcher
A collection of ghostly short stories with the shock factor.  Blood flows and the bodycount keeps getting higher, but on occasions this collection tries to be just a bit too cool for school.

Deadly Reflections from C L Raven puts a British (well, to be totally accurate, Welsh) spin on the kind of thing we have been seeing in US teen dramas for the past twenty years:  Cool kids vs the supernatural.  Here however, the cool kids are in a fair amount of trouble.  The supernatural definitely gets the upper hand.

Virtually all the thirteen stories in this collection fall into this genre, and that is not by any means a bad thing.  The stories are all rendered with a light touch yet tempered with a dark humour that makes them easy to read.  Even as many of our young heroes and heroines in the story shuffle off their mortal coils in a variety of grisly or disturbing ways, a wry smile is never far from your face.

CL Raven is actually two twin sisters from Cardiff.  In addition to writing a number of books they are themselves ghost hunters with a YouTube show (Calamityville Horror).  The sisters use their own experiences extremely well, basing all of the stories in this volume in a world that they know.  Their locations have a sense of the real about them that leaves one in little doubt that they have themselves been in very similar places.  

Their lead characters also seem to have a striking resemblance to themselves and their friends.  Most of the ghost hunters in the book are young and alternative, dressed in black leather, sometimes rock gods by day and ghost hunters by night.  C L Raven has created an enhanced version of their own reality that is a great setting for their tales.

I liked this book, but I didn't love it.  There were a couple of niggling issues for me that stopped me getting completely immersed.  The first was a simple case of volume.  With this many short stories, admittedly put together along a theme, I would have liked to see just a little more variety with them.  I must admit to a slight groan a couple of times as I started a story to realise I was with another bunch of gothic kids in a dark and lonely location.  Where C L Raven breaks that formula, for example in the stand out stories 'Field of Screams' where we see things from the point of view of the ghosts and 'Memento Mori' where trying to get away from a village becomes a nightmare, I was far more drawn in.

The second issue I had was again within the ghost hunting stories.  One of the reasons ongoing series like 'Supernatural' or 'Buffy' worked was that you got to know the characters over time and formed an attachment with them.  Unfortunately, in a short story, where characters are killed off just a few pages after you first meet them, there is no time to form a bond no matter how cool their one-liners and thus any real sense of drama and emotion from their demise is made somehow flat.

CL Raven writes well.  There are other books available and I would certainly be happy to read another.  Do buy this book, and perhaps read it at the same time as something else, to give yourself a break between the stories.  Reading them one after another was, for me, a little relentless.

I look forward to reading something longer by CL Raven.  Their novel, Soul Asylum is on my list to read and review.   I think that when wortking on somthing that allows development of an extended plot and characters, they could really shine.    Once I've read it, I'll let you know!


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