Tag Archives: #Ghosts

James, Hadena: Dark Illumination (Dark Legacies) (2012)

Dark Illumination
Cover art by Fred Garver

I’m glad the editing issues in Dark Cotillion have been resolved in Dark Illumination.

Dark Illumination comes with one warning. There is quite a bit of zombieish-like goryness – without the zombies (those were in Dark Cotillion).

My fascination with this strange world James has presented us with has not left me. Lucifer is catholic and married to a human. All of their children have been baptised into the Catholic church. Lucifer is not the only mythological character that gets treated this way. In fact, Lucifer and the angel Gabriel are best-friends along with Baal, Anubis and Fenrir. Mammon is Brenna’s god-father and uncle and was present at her baptism.

Who is good and bad is no longer clear-cut, but the least clear-cut is the baddie of Dark Illumination. He/She seems set on destroying Brenna after her maturing. Because of the nature of the attacks the person might be someone close to her or one of her relatives.

Add to the mystery of the baddie all of the action and I guess we have an action-mystery novel. All of the action is the reason for the above-mentioned gore. There is plenty of fighting, both magical and demonic. Poor regular humans who get in the way.

Add to this cabal dead uncle Sonnellion and we have in fact a ghost-mystery-action story for young adults.

I believe it is safe to say that Brenna Strachan has a strange family and some strange friends. Add in her own unpredictability and we have a story that is bound to interest both young and old.


Janey’s review

  • Published: Nov. 21, 2012     
  • File Size: 416 KB
  • Words: 69,610 (approximate)
  • Print Length: 346 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services,  Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AAQ8Q5U
  • ISBN: 9781301107094

My review of Dark Cotillion

Hunter, S.A.: Scary Mary (2007)

Scary Mary
Cover design by S.A. Hunter

For once I feel as though a novella has been reviewed by its target audience. Scary Mary is intended for a YA readership and most of the links below reflect that. I am definitely nowhere near that age but still enjoyed the tale of young Mary.

Bullying sucks in a major way. There is something about the year after year grinding down of one’s self-image that makes life more challenging than it ought to be for a child/teen-ager. Sure, most children and young adults (well, even adults) experience bullying from time to time, but many years? Being different makes it easy to become a target. Having a disturbing ability would make it even simpler for people to leech on to you.

Including this element in Hunter’s novella about Mary was a plus for me. I also liked that Mary was wounded but not broken by the years of ostracism.

I see that Scary Mary is supposed to be a horror novel. Horror seems a strong word. Mystery with a ghost element seems like a better description. The ghost was mean but didn’t quite tilt over the horror wall. There is the history of the house. That is kind of horrorish.

My favorite part of Scary Mary was the dog. A wonderful twist. Absolutely adorable and an idea for people who struggle with allergies.

Anyways, I had fun reading Scary Mary.

Britain, Kristen: Green Rider (1998)

I just finished reading Green Rider to my youngest son. When you have a dyslexic audience, reading to them is always IN. I cannot imagine how frustrating it must be to love literature, yet be so hindered by something that I take so much for granted. Maybe it is somewhat like my need for a wheel-chair.

Anyways. Back to Green Rider.


Check out this cover illustration for the UK edition of Green Rider by April Schumacher. WOW! It catches the spirit of the novel perfectly.

As I read this book out loud, there are a couple of things I want to point out. Kristen writes beautifully. Names like Karigan G’ladheon just roll off my tongue. Reading was a delight. Tension, fear, beauty and humour came through the translation from page to mouth. Wonderful! What a gift.

Karigan G’ladheon is a typical hero character. She is conflicted about the many challenges that come her way, but she desperately wants to do what is right for her country. Danger is drawn to her, or perhaps Karigan is drawn to danger. Action is practically thrown her way. Thank goodness Karigan seems to have a gift of getting out of all of the life-threatening situations. Like Captain Mapstone claimed. Karigan seems to survive due to sheer spunk. Gritting her teeth, Karigan gets on with whatever comes her way. Gray riders, militia, dangerous creatures or spirits is just part of what Green Rider has to offer.

The plot is easy to understand. Someone is out to take over the country of Sacoridia (they think). Someone else has another agenda. Karigan supports the throne and stability. Battle ensues between the “good” and the “bad”. Presentation is everything and Kristen Britain Excels at this. Good job. In fact, excellent work! Enjoy.

My reviews of books 1 (Green Rider), 2 (First Rider’s Call), 3 (The High King’s Tomb) and 4 (Blackveil)


Briggs, Patricia: Alpha and Omega series

Patricia Briggs books fall into the light-reading fantasy section. Her books are fun and easy to read. In the Alpha and Omega novels we meet werewolves and witches, vampires and fae, all capable of wickedness and heroic deeds. As usual in such tales the characters tend to survive the most amazing things. There is plenty of humor, some romance and lots of action in this series. The Alpha and Omega series has been set in the same world as the Mercy Thompson series.

Bran – the leader of the werewolves (Marrock) in the US lives in the hills of Montana. He has two sons, Samuel and Charles. We’ve met Samuel already in the Mercy Thompson books, although he does make a brief appearance in his function as a doctor. Charles is Bran’s other son. He has been born a werewolf, not something that should be possible. Charles is Bran’s assassin. If a werewolf steps out of order, it is his job to take care of the problem. His ability to remain cool and collected while killing is one of the main reasons for having such a job.

CRY WOLF (2008)

“Cover for omnibus” by Lindsey Look (Stunning cover)

Anna, Charles’ mate (to her surprise), has been living with a pack in Chicago. The other werewolves had been abusing her severely. When that came to the attention of Bran, Charles was sent to take care of the matter. That led to Charles and Anna’s wolves recognizing each other as mates. Anna is brought to Bran’s pack to live with them.

Walter Rice, a Vietnam veteran, lives up in the Cabinet Wilderness in Montana. One day he witnesses the attack on a young man and steps in to protect him. Rice ends up being mauled, but survives. When other mysterious deaths occur in the area a rogue werewolf is suspected and Charles is asked to look into it. He and Anna go.

HUNTING GROUND (2009) – Nominee for the Endeavour Award – for best book by a Pacific Northwest writer 2010

Cover by Dan Dos Santos

Charles is trying to convince his father to stay away from a convention of werewolves in Seattle. He feels his father will be in unnecessary danger from the European delegation. Charles’ intuition is acting up. Being an Omega, Anna is able to stand up to Bran without his Alpha influence taking over. After she has yelled at Bran, he is able to listen to what the two have to say.

Bran accepts Charles’ feelings and sends Charles and Anna instead as his representatives. Together they are to try to convince the other delegates of the need to go public. The other delegates aren’t exactly thrilled at the idea of going public. Here we see that the timeline is a bit back in time from the Mercy Thompson series. There the decision to go public has already been made and Adam is the werewolves’ outward face.

In Seattle people are being found dead and mauled. When Anna is attacked by vampires using werewolf tricks and magic, Charles has to figure out how to save the situation without getting killed by former lovers and new enemies.

FAIR GAME (2012)

Young Leslie has moved to California with her father. There she ends up in the capable hands of Mrs. Cullinan. When animals and children start disappearing (even Leslie’s new puppy) three people turn up at the neighbors and take her away. The neighbor and the three new people turn out to be fae. When one of them offers Mrs. Cullinan a favor as thanks for her warning, she says no thanks. Instead Leslie ends up being the one owed. But having learned that the fae were powerful and charming and that they ate children and puppies, Leslie was not eager to cash in her favor.

Fair Game is set a while after Hunting Ground but shortly after River Marked. Charles is struggling in his capacity as an assassin and Anna seems the only one capable of seeing it. She keeps on confronting Bran about it, and only Omeganess keeps her from shaking in her shoes. Because of the new rules, Charles no longer feels he is dispensing justice but rather murder and this is causing ghosts to haunt him.

When the FBI call the Marrock for help in solving a spree of murders, Bran chooses to send Charles and Anna to take a look. Anna gets to play good guy and Charles her bodyguard. In Boston Anna meets Leslie and they get to test each other’s intentions.

Alpha and Omega: Cry Wolf Graphic Novels published 2012 by Dynamite. Adapted by David Lawrence,  illustrated by Todd Herman with additional art by Jenny Frison and a cover by Dan Dos Santos.

Bradley, Marion Zimmer: Sword and Sorceress XXI (2004)

Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword and Sorceress XXIOriginally, Marion Zimmer Bradley started the Sword and Sorceress series to further strong female protagonists in the sword and sorcery genre. She saw the need to change what she considered an appalling attitude toward women in these works.

Readers flocked to these anthologies and submissions to them increased. By the time of her death, she was on the 18th collection. After her death it was decided to publish three more collections. In the end, a volume 21 with Diana L. Paxson as editor was printed, and the tradition has continued from there on. (Wikipedia)


IntroductionDiana L. Paxson

Sword and SorceressJennifer G. Tifft – Poem

Dawn and DuskDana Kramer-Rolls – Dagne, with the different colored eyes, grew up ostracised by her father, step-mother and brothers for being a freak. In the end she has to run away to protect herself. We meet her in a cabin in the woods on a cold and bitter night.

Spell of the SparrowJim C. Hines – A family of two ex-thieves and a budding wizard ought to be a dream come true. But parents will be parents everywhere, and our two ex-thieving parents do not approve of Mel’s dabbling in magic. That is all about to change when poor old dad is spelled by a Cloudling.

The Woman’s PlaceSusan Urbanek Linville – The continuing welfare of the tribe is of prime importance. When winter threatens to destroy all of the, grand-dame has to make a choice that will mean life or death to them all.

KinNaomi Kritzer – Once magic has been properly woken in a person, they become addicted to the feeling. Julia is going to have to make the choice between her magic or the saving of a child.

Child’s PlayEsther M. Friesner – Mira’s father is the richest man for miles, but that does not make a difference to either of them when Mira’s mom dies. When a new woman moves into the house, Mira knows she is in trouble. Thankfully she has her teacher on her side, a teacher willing to go the extra mile to protect this child.

UrsaJenn Reese – A child was placed on a mountain side to die. Saving it changes the life of Ursa and the father.

Red CaramaeKit Wesler – Caramae sneaks into the catacombs of the wizards looking for an object of power. What she finds is more than she has bargained for.

Parri’s BladeCynthia McQuillin – When Soela steals away with a blade that was supposed to follow Parri on his pyre, Hamli goes after her to right the wrong. What she discovers is that grief has many ways of expressing itself.

Necessity and the MotherLee Martindale – In Hemfrock Donta runs the inn – The Mercenary’s Mother. It has an excellent reputation and is popular with all kinds of customers. When the city council decide that all metal in the city must be confiscated for the sake of magicks, Donta and her crew pack up and go somewhere else. What will the city council do when they discover that perhaps their decision was a bit hasty?

Sun ThiefK. A. Laity – This is a story of the sacrifice rebelling against her fate when she discovers the truth about the alleged god she is being sacrificed to.

LostlandRosemary Edghill – Ruana Rulane was a proper hero, the kind with a special sword and a destiny to fulfill. Not everyone wants her to keep her sword or for her to stay true to her destiny. Betrayal sends her to Lostland, from which very few people have returned.

PlowsharesRebecca Maines – When Elisabeth loses her husband to illness, she decides to go on pilgrimage to the holy cathedral. Her journey will teach her a great deal about herself and the role of women.

Step By StepCatherine Soto – After betrayal from their uncle, Lin Mei and her brother have taken to the roads as caravan workers. One night they are attacked by robbers.

Favor of the GoddessLynn Morgan Rosser – An unknown woman is hiding from the guards. She isn’t sure why she keeps on fighting them and running away, she just knows that she has to. Then the Empress is scheduled to appear on the Holy Moon.

Rose in WinterMarie M. Loughin – Rosabel has three chances to grab happiness. Some choices are life-defining.

Kazhe’s BladeTerry McGarry – Kazhe prefers staying drunk to stay the memory of her loss. Then the loss comes to her opening old wounds.

The Skin TradeHeather Rose Jones – Being a Kaltaoven – skin wearer – is a quality the Marcalt of Wilentelu would like to possess. When two come to town, he uses all of his persuasive powers to give him the gift.

Multiple ChoiceLeslie Fish – Magic is exacting business, but is a useful tool in discovering the truth. When the old wizard dies and leaves his cabin for the next one coming, the wizardess discovers that he is haunting it. She calls him forth and asks him a few questions.

OuluAimee Kratts – Hilda Lajatur decides to quit the village she is living in so she can go to warmer areas. But not everyone in the village is happy about her choice and decide to kidnap her.

A Kind of RedemptionJohn P. Buentello – All I’m going to say about this story is that it is a proper ghost story.

Journey’s EndDorothy J. Heydt – Looking for answers to her questions to the death of her husband, Cynthia goes into a cavern of the gods.

Love Potion #8½Marilyn A. Racette – Sometimes when customers do not wish to pay the full price, one must use imagination to change their minds.

There were three stories that I especially liked: Jim C. Hines – Spell of the Sparrow for the ingenious way mother and daughter solved their problem, Dana Kramer-Rolls – Dawn and Dusk for its retribution, and Marilyn A. Racette – Love Potion #8 1/2 for its wit.

The stories are all good. Some are quite serious: Susan Urbanek Linville – The Woman’s Place and some quite swordy (and humorous): Lee Martindale: Necessity and the Mother.


Price, Kalayna: Alex Craft series

GRAVE WITCH (2010) – Maggie Award of Excellence 2011 – Paranormal

Cover for Polish Grave Witch by LeafOfSteel

The one constant in Alex Craft’s life is Death. Ever since she was 5, she has been able to interact with him. Her mess of a family is another certainty in Alex’ life. Her ability to raise shades and do magic is shameful in a family where the father campaigns against just that.

Thankfully, Alex has more than Death as a friend. She has her dog PC, her landlord Caleb, Holly, Tamara and John, her detective friend. When John asks her to investigate a high stakes murder, Alex finds trouble.

Grave Witch is an old-fashioned mystery with ghosts, fae and magic thrown in. As is so common in a lot of urban fantasy there is romantic tension. In Grave Witch we find that in homicide detective Falin Andrews. For some reason he has decided that Alex is a quack and resents having to work with her.

Having been introduced to two men who are hotties (Death and Falin), we know right away that there is going to be a love triangle. It’s just the way these books go. Once you’ve accepted that, then you’ve got an action-packed, soul-sucking urban fantasy that is a pretty good read.


Soul collector by Hiimlucifer

We continue our journey in the city of Nekros. Alex Craft is still estranged from her family and is first and foremost a grave witch. But her power developed a great deal in the previous book, and she is now discovering more about her fae side.

Because of the fame incurred in Grave Witch, Tongues of the Dead is doing well. This time Alex is called in to investigate the unusual discovery of left feet.

Her investigations make it necessary for Alex to take a trip into the land of faery. She is guided by Falin, but does not know if he can be trusted. As his allegiance has been given to the Winter Queen, it would be a safe bet to assume that she cannot. Death is still a large part of her life. We still have a love-triangle. I find them silly, but it seems they are the THING in these types of urban fantasy novels.

In spite of the love triangle Alex is helped greatly by all of her friends: Death, Falin, Roy, Caleb, Holly, Tamara, and PC. She will need all the help she can get in dealing with the dangers thrown her way.

I liked the development of Alex Craft. She gained more depth and the people around here weren’t quite as two-dimensional. It’s still not quite there, but Kalayna is certainly heading the right way in her Alex Craft series.

Winter Queen by Andreea Cernestean


Kalayna Price has really nailed the writing in Grave Memory.  The previous installments were pretty average, but Grave Memory has taken Price up a notch in my regard. I like that in a writer. It’s not really the story that makes the difference, but rather the way Kalayna ties her words together into beautiful music. Just remember that this is an urban fantasy and is supposed to be a light read.

Falin is still in the clutches of the Winter Queen and that makes him less than reliable. Alex is kind of naive about him in Grave Memory, but then we tend to be like that when we care about a person. She and Death take their relationship to the next level and it seems as if they might possibly become exclusive. But as all good series do, preparation for the next book comes towards the end. Twisty twist, but not wholly unexpected.

This time the pressure is on Alex to choose whether she will be an independent fae or attached to one of the courts. She still knows very little about the fae world, although Rianna and Caleb are trying to educate her. Along with the usual fae pressure, Alex gets into to trouble with the police because she goes on and on about apparent suicides. She will not accept that verdict and begins investigating the whole thing. That lands her into trouble with Death’s colleagues. Some of that trouble is deserved, because Alex messes up on this/these cases.


p style=”text-align:left;” align=”center”>I’ll buy the next installment of the Alex Craft series when it comes along. My fascination with the series has grown. I like the world Price has created in Nekros and its fae version. If her writing improves as it has to date, then I’m in for a treat.

Aaron, Rachel: The Spirit War (Eli Monpress) (2012)

Miranda and Gin by Minna Sundberg

The Spirit War” is book no. 4 in the story about Eli Monpress, the cleverest thief in the world. Eli lives in a world where magic is based upon the cooperation with spirits that live inside all things. Although full of action and deception, all four books are light-hearted. Aaron writes well and brings her characters spirit and verve.

About the book: All Eli Monpress wanted was the biggest bounty in the world. He never meant to have obligations, or friends, but master swordsman Josef Leichten and Nico, the daughter of the dead mountain, have saved Eli’s life too many times to be called anything else. And when a friend upsets your plans and ruins all your hard work, what’s a thief to do?

After years of running from his birthright, Josef is forced to return home and take up his title as prince. War is coming for humans and spirits between the Immortal Empress and the Council of Thrones, and Josef’s little island is right in the middle. But conquest isn’t the Empress’s only goal, she has a personal vendetta against a certain thief.

What started as a simple side trip to help a friend is rapidly turning into the most dangerous job of Eli’s career, but he can’t back out now, not when Josef needs him. But when you’re under attack from all sides, even the world’s greatest thief can find himself cornered, and it’s going to take all the fast talking Eli can muster to survive the next few days.

Gaiman, Neil: The Graveyard Book (2008)

Graveyard Book McKean 2.jpg
Bod in the graveyard. Art By Dave McKean

Neil Gaiman is another of my favorite authors. Each story I have read has captivated me. The Graveyard Book flows and left me with a sense of having enjoyed something wonderful. His texts lend themselves to being read out loud, and they would be fun and interesting for both reader and readee. However, reading to yourself is just as enjoyable. This is a Children’s story, but it is definitely not for the very young. Perhaps at least 8 years old due to some of the violence.

Nobody, or Bod as he is called, is a loveable boy. He’s completely believable and the characters around him are fascinating. I love his “mom” and “dad”. What a place to grow up and what friends to have. Like any kid, Bod accepts the world around him just as it is. His unusual childhood prepares him for whatever comes his way. I wish I could be more like him. Accepting people for what they are rather than what I think they are would be an incredible gift.

The Graveyard Book is available in four versions:

  1. The children’s version, illustrated by Chris Riddell;
  2. The adult version, illustrated by Dave McKean and
  3. The slipcased edition, illustrated by Dave McKean.
  4. Read by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book won the Newbery Medal, Hugo Award for Best Novel, Locus Award for Best Young Adult Novel and the Carnegie Medal for 2009. It was also nominated for the British Fantasy Award for Best Novel and World Fantasy Award for Best Novel for 2009.

Damsgaard, Shirley: The Witch is Dead (2007)

The Witch Is Dead (Ophelia and Abby Mysteries)“The Witch is Dead” is part of the Ophelia and Abby mysteries. This is the only one of them that I’ve read. Even though it is the 6th book in the series, I had no problem figuring out what was going on. It’s always nice when authors manage to write stand-alone books.

I found Damsgaard’s writing pretty good. She kept the action coming and her characters, especially Aunt Dot, likeable. The baddies were not a given from the start. As I’m one of those terrible people who reads the last few pages right after the first chapter, I knew who they were. I find reading books more enjoyable if I’ve read the ending quite early on.

As a mystery The Witch worked. At times it was a bit off in its rhythm. For the most part it followed a Christierian formula. Violence wise it was the same. It’s refreshing when writers avoid splattering guts and blood all over my pages.

“Psychic librarian Ophelia Jensen has an exciting life––solving supernatural mysteries with her Grandmother Abby and her adopted teenage daughter, Tink, who also happens to be a medium. But, all Ophelia really wants is to create some normalcy and routine. When Ophelia’s elderly Great–Aunt Dot comes to Summerset, Iowa, for a visit and is out from the watchful eye of her older sister, Dot is determined to find a little fun and excitement, too.

Barraclough, Lindsey: Long Lankin (2011)

Long Lankin - Lindsey Barraclough

Lamkin, Bold Lamkin, Bold Lantern, Bolakin, False Linfinn and Long Lankin are some of the titles belonging to the story of the mason who builds a castle, is cheated of his fee and who then exacts a bloody revenge (A.L. Lloyd). I have included below what is thought to be the original ballad along with one of the musical interpretations of the story.

Long Lankin is Lindsey Barraclough’s first novel. Whatever hiccups it might suffer from are compensated by Barraclough’s excellent prose. For a new author her flow was a delight.

Horror stories are not my forte simply because I am too easily frightened by authors stringing words together in that manner, but Long Lankin is within my endurance limit. Barraclough’s ability to convey the creepiness and uneasiness of the horror story did affect me in the manner the author probably intended.

During their stay at great-auntie Ida’s, Cora and Mimi encounter a mystery of terrible dimensions. As all children ought, Cora and Mimi venture into places they should not. Auntie Ida has not explained why they need to stay away from certain places, thinking to spare them from a terrible truth. Even though I promised myself that I would never do such a thing to my own children, I too have been guilty of doing underestimating them. Auntie Ida is going to discover what I did. Telling the truth is generally the wisest.

With their new friends, Peter and Roger, the four children set out to explore the church and the graveyard, and our horror story begins. Cora is the hero of this story. She is the one who is responsible for looking after her little sister. This is the age-old duty of older siblings. But keeping Mimi safe becomes increasingly difficult.

Cora and Mimi become embroiled in the history of the village, the history of the church and the history of their Auntie’s old house Guerdon Hall. Some places are the perfect settings for a horror tale. Old manors struggling to keep themselves together would qualify in my mind. Another such location can be old churches and graveyards, perhaps even forests and marshes. Long Lankin has three of these: Guerdon Hall, of course. The church close to the house and the nearby marsh.

Choices may have far-reaching consequences, sometimes centuries into the future. Everything has a cost. Payment must be made one way or another. Friendship, family, loss, grief can be some of the price extracted. Cora and Mimi coming to stay with Auntie Ida happens to be one of these long-term costs. I love the way Barraclough brings the old ballad into her story in tiny drips along the way. The Lay of Lambert Lanikin is frightening enough on its own. Add the terror of the future that Barraclough shares, and we can all huddle under our covers waiting for the wolf under our bed to jump onto it.

What a creepy good time I had!

Exactly what age group this falls into is difficult to say. According to the author, she did not have a particular age group in mind when she wrote Long Lankin.


Long Lamkin, 2008; By Wong Mei Sheong;
Long Lamkin, 2008;
By Wong Mei Sheong;
Thought to be the original version
Belinkin was as gude a mason
As e’er pickt a stane;
He built up Prime Castle,
But payment gat nane.
The lord said to his lady,
5 When he was going abroad,
“O beware of Belinkin,
For he lyes in the wood.”
The gates they were bolted,
Baith outside and in;
10 At the sma’ peep of a window
Belinkin crap in.
“Gude morrow, gude morrow,”
Said Lambert Linkin.
“Gude morrow to yoursell, sir,”
15 Said the fause nurse to him.
“O whare is your gude lord?”
Said Lambert Linkin.
“He’s awa to New England,
To meet with his king.”
20 “O where is his auld son?
Said Lambert Linkin.
“He’s awa to buy pearlings,
Gin our lady ly in.”
“Then she’ll never wear them,”
25 Said Lambert Linkin.
“And that is nae pity,”
Said the fause nurse to him.
“O where is your lady?”
Said Lambert Linkin.
30 “She’s in her bouir sleepin’,”
Said the fause nurse to him.
“How can we get at her?”
Said Lambert Linkin.
“Stab the babe to the heart
35 Wi’ a silver bo’kin.”
“That wud be a pity,”
Said Lambert Linkin.
“Nae pity, nae pity,”
Said the fause nurse to him.
40 Belinkin he rocked,
And the fause nurse she sang,
Till a’ the tores o’ the cradle
Wi’ the red blude down ran.
“O still my babe, nurice,
45 O still him wi’ the knife.”
“He’ll no be still, lady,
Tho’ I lay down my life.”
“O still my babe, nurice,
O still him wi’ the kame.”
50 “He’ll no be still, lady,
Till his daddy come hame.”
“O still my babe, nurice,
O still him wi’ the bell.”
“He’ll no be still, lady,
55 Till ye come down yoursell.”
“It’s how can I come doun,
This cauld frosty nicht,
Without e’er a coal
Or a clear candle licht?”
60 “There’s twa smocks in your coffer,
As white as a swan;
Put ane o’ them about you,
It will shew you licht doun.”
She took ane o’ them about her,
65 And came tripping doun;
But as soon as she viewed,
Belinkin was in.
“Gude morrow, gude morrow,”
Said Lambert Linkin.
70 “Gude morrow to yoursell, sir,”
Said the lady to him.
“O save my life, Belinkin,
Till my husband come back,
And I’ll gie ye as much red gold
75 As ye’ll haud in your hat.”
“I’ll not save your life, lady,
Till your husband come back,
Tho’ you wud gie me as much red gold
As I could haud in a sack.
80 “Will I kill her?” quo’ Belinkin,
“Will I kill her, or let her be?”
“You may kill her,” said the fause nurse,
“She was ne’er gude to me;
And ye’ll be laird o’ the Castle,
85 And I’ll be ladye.”
Then he cut aff her head
Fra her lily breast bane,
And he hung ‘t up in the kitchen,
It made a’ the ha’ shine.
90 The lord sat in England A-drinking the wine:
“I wish a’ may be weel
Wi’ my lady at hame;
For the rings o’ my fingers
95 They’re now burst in twain!”
He saddled his horse,
And he came riding doun;
But as soon as he viewed,
Belinkin was in.
100 He hadna weel stepped
Twa steps up the stair,
Till he saw his pretty young son
Lying dead on the floor.
He hadna weel stepped
105 Other twa up the stair,
Till he saw his pretty lady
Lying dead in despair.
He hanged Belinkin
Out over the gate;
110 And he burnt the fause nurice,
Being under the grate.

Tores. The projections or knobs at the corners of old-fashioned cradles, and the ornamented balls commonly found surmounting the backs of old chairs. Motherwell.


 Sites of interest:


Kay, Guy Gavriel: Under Heaven (2010)

Under Heaven

Under Heaven affected me profoundly. I believe it was the depth of Shen Tai’s mourning for his father and his offering to his father’s spirit that moved me most. Imagine setting yourself the task of burying all the bones from a battle twenty years past in order that those spirits might find peace. A more appropriate place for restless spirits than a battleground I cannot imagine.

Kay went on to say that he’s interested in how the course of a person’s life can change in a moment, and how “small moments and events can ripple outwards.” Whether it’s an individual or the life of a people, he pointed out, “significant consequences can begin very inconsequentially. That’s one thing that fascinates me. The other thing that fascinates me is how accident can undermine something that’s unfolding, something that might have played out differently otherwise.”

To Kay, “the human condition is redolent with this aspect of randomness, and I try to work that into all of my books.” (CBC Books)

The choices Shen Tai, his older brother and their younger sister, Shen Li-Mei, make end up having both intended and to a great extent unintended consequences. All three discover that assistance and opposition comes in many forms and sometimes from unexpected quarters.

In this story there aren’t any really bad people. There are mainly just people with the regular gamut of human emotions and with varying degrees of ability to do something about their desires. While the Tang Dynasty was a better place for women than the ones before it, women held less room in society than men. As with most places in the world today, women had to be a lot more creative in their maneuvering than men did. Their accepted roles were also very different from the one men were able to hold. To become a warrior like Wei Song, one who even guarded a man, was not something that was open to most women (much like today).

Reading about the role of women was both a painful process but also a delight. Delightful because of the intelligent and brave women I got to meet and painful due to the few changes that have happened in the world when it comes to the roles of women and how true their power is.

Under Heaven is a fairly dark story. Considering the times and the rebellion it portrays that is no wonder. I am trying to decide if I would call it dark fantasy, but I don’t know if that would be appropriate. I love its complexity and many threads that all come together one way or another in the end. What an awful race we humans are. It really is rather sad to see us revealed in all our terrible glory. Under Heaven was an intensely touching book that left me thankful for having found it. According to the author, his goal in writing is to keep the reader turning pages. It worked.


Women of the Tang Dynasty

Song Dynasty (the Kitai Empire in Under Heaven)

An Shi Rebellion (simplified Chinese: 安史之乱)

Hua Mulan (Chinese: 花木蘭): female warrior

Uyghur Khaganate

  • Winner of the 2011 Sunburst Award for Adult Litterature
  • Nominated for the 2011 World Fantasy Best Novel
  • Nominated for the 2011 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature