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Edition 29: Poetry Book Review: Corona Obscura by Michael R Collings

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 Reviewed by Lee Murray


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I was in high school when I discovered sonnets and Donne. I saw Donne as someone who embraced form but was entirely irreverent in his approach. Even now, I imagine him as the hip bad boy rapper of his day, the 16th century version of Snoop Dogg.

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Edition 29: Book Review: The Ghosts of Moonlight Creek by Sue Copsey

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 Reviewed by Lee Murray


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Remember your first ghost story? You probably heard it late at night. You were in your pyjamas, maybe snuggled in a sleeping bag on the floor, the story told to you in a rasping eerie voice while torchlight glanced off the ceiling. For me, it was during a power cut, the ghostly story told by my dad against a backdrop of flickering candlelight. I don’t know how he managed it, but as Dad reached the story’s terrifying conclusion, the lights went on. It was miraculous, as if some supernatural being had been listening in and flipped the switch at just the right moment. It also flipped the switch for me on ghost stories. And a similar phenomenon affects the main character, Joe, in Sue Copsey’s middle grade novel The Ghosts of Moonlight Creek.

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Edition 28: Book Review: Night’s Champion series by Richard Parry

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 Reviewed by Lee Murray


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New Zealand author Richard Parry has been on my radar for a while now. A former finalist in New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Awards, he’s part of a friend’s critique group, someone who lives only a few blocks away, and, as it turns out, once worked with my brother. With those close yet nebulous connections you’d think our paths might have crossed at least once, but in fact we have never met other than via our novels. Recently, I read two of Richard’s titles: Night’s Favour and Night’s Fall (June, 2016).

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Edition 28: Poetry Book Review: Sacrificial Nights by Bruce Boston and Alessandro Manzetti

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 Reviewed by Lee Murray


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Rediscovering Poetry

Disclaimer: Lee Murray appeared on a conference panel with Alessandro Manzetti and subsequently received a copy of his poetry collection as an ARC for honest review.

I’ll admit, I know very little about poetry—I struggle to string a line together myself—but I have recently discovered some new-to-me poets, who have prompted me to take up reading it again, beginning with the collection Sacrificial Nights co-authored by Bruce Boston and Alessandro Manzetti. I had the pleasure of meeting Alessandro Manzetti at the HWA StokerCon 2016, where he became the first Italian winner of a coveted Bram Stoker Award. Co-writer Boston is also a Bram Stoker winner, so in the manner of tried-and-true recipes, I already had an inkling that this collection would be good.

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Edition 27: Book Review: Interspecies (The Inlari Sagas) edited by Ally Bishop

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 Reviewed by Lee Murray


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Shared-world anthologies—stories by multiple authors writing in a single universe—are difficult to get right. They require a collective mind-set and a sometimes lengthy collaborative process to develop the world building in a way that resonates for all the book’s players. Max Booth III, the editor of shared-world anthology Truth or Dare explains: “if you want to put together a shared-world anthology, please take your time. Know your universe in and out. Every crack, every pebble. Every buried corpse in the local graveyard. Every haunted house and every cannibalistic witch.” (Lit Reactor, December 2014) But done right, shared world-writing can be an innovative and exciting experience for participants as fantasy superstar George R.R. Martin describes: “writers work together, bouncing off of one another and reacting to each other’s stories and characters like a group of talented musicians jamming…” (Tor.com, June 2011). Read the rest of this entry

Edition 26: Selfie by Lee Murray

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Eve has come on this trip at the behest of her sister. No one could have predicted what would happen, or how it would change Eve’s very real plan to end it all. 

Lee put together a story that was a literal example of two beings working together toward a common goal: life. Be warned though, Lee is an expert in the horror that leaves your stomach churning. SY


Was I dead?

I peered through the fog.

I was dead: I had to be, because I could see an angel. But if I was dead, why was my head throbbing like the inside of a nightclub? People were shouting and moaning. Somewhere nearby a car alarm was blasting. I smelled petrol.

I blinked. Blinked again. Slowly, my eyes cleared.

Not an angel, then. Just a man with a pigeon flapping on his shoulder, the soft grey insides of its wings like an angel’s at his back.

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Edition 26: Book Review: The Eschatologist by Greg Chapman

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 Reviewed by Lee Murray


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In our time-poor society, novellas are becoming a mainstay of our literary diet: stories which can be told in manageable bite-sized chunks, ideal for bedtime reading or workday commutes. So, when Greg Chapman’s The Eschatologist came across my desk, just 96 pages of concentrated darkness, it didn’t languish on the pile for long.

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Edition 12: Inside Ferndale by Lee Murray

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Lee Murray was the winner of the 2013 Story Quest competition. Judges were impressed with her story of young women shunted into the system, and how reform fails the best of them. While not supernatural, she invokes true horror in the girls’ plight. SY


Ferndale Hostelry for Girls: a pretty name for a juvie detention centre, and a place I’d never heard of until I came up on the last charge. It was my third offence, this time for assault on a teacher, but the snotty cow deserved it, and everyone knows the law has no teeth when it comes to teens. So I was sitting in the courtroom not worrying, picking at the frayed knees of my jeans, waiting for my parents to arrive at the hearing. Only they never did. And when Judge Eastergard realized they weren’t going to show, he sent me to Ferndale. He said, if my parents weren’t willing to take on the job of straightening me out, the state would have to do it for them.

Eastergard may as well have sent me to prison. Hell, it was a prison. One for kids. There were no cigarettes. No alcohol. No TV after ten. At Ferndale, they told me when to wake up. When to eat. When to pee. And the good-cop bad-cop thing? They had it mastered. One minute, pursed-lipped guards were checking under the mattresses and rifling through drawers, and the next, sweet-voiced counselors offered milky smiles and stupid suggestions: “Come on, Storm, we’re here to help: a problem shared is a problem halved, after all.” Silly do-gooders. They didn’t know anything.

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