Drabble up on Horror Tree…


Under Trembling with Fear column dated 09/16/2018

Beware of going ice skating at night…..

ice skater prone

Beneath the Ice

At 11pm the town’s rink was deserted. The McGuire sisters were there alone and illegally.

Laughing they glided onto the ice…


Review of horror thriller ‘Contrition’ by Deborah Sheldon…

Available to buy on amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Contrition-Deborah-Sheldon-ebook/dp/B07GVPRK66/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1536788988&sr=1-1&keywords=deborah+sheldon+contrition

Published 3 September, 2018

Contrition by [Sheldon, Deborah]

This is the latest horror/thriller from Australian writer Deborah Sheldon, just published on 3 September, 2018 from IFWG Publishing and is available on amazon to purchase. Sheldon has created a seemingly ordinary Mr Average, John Penrose, as her protagonist, however it becomes clear very quickly (and at 240 pages there is no extra fat on the bone in this tale) he lives a not so ordinary life. He might have a boring dead end job, rent in the suburbs, no friends and no social life and drink too much beer, but he has an extraordinary secret lodging with him. Both literally sharing his rental home and sharing his back story, set 30 years previously, which still casts long toxic shadows into the present day.

The unravelling of the past when the young, shy college lad, John Penrose, meets and becomes entwined in the lives of the twins Lyle and Meredith Berg-Olsen, both of whom he loves in different ways but with deadly consequences, is slotted in beside the current day narrative describing John’s tedious existence – moving from rental house to rental house, whenever issues arise with Meredith and her behaviour.

John still loves his Merry, he still sees her with the eyes of his first teenage love, but to us the reader, it is apparent Meredith is not the girl she once was and John is blinded by devotion. Sheldon cleverly gives us clues and hints, but avoids the full reveal about what ails Meredith, until the climax, which is exciting and well constructed and takes an unexpected turn in the last few pages.

A neighbour, a single mother, Donna with a daughter in tow, takes a shine to John, and they begin a sweet, gentle courtship but in the neighbourhood animals keep going missing, Meredith never goes out of the house in daylight hours, a ‘witch’ is seen outside Donna’ s windows and John learns new facts about his past from an old school mate now working for a circus performing in town. The mundanities of life are being undermined.

John has a truly unnerving night time encounter with Meredith’s homeless friend, Sebastian, which has John racing for his life through the suburb’s back gardens. Meanwhile at home the tension mounts. Long before John asks the killer questions, we the reader are suspicious – of Meredith and her hobby boxes and of what did happen that summer day with Lyle down by the river, for which John has carried a lifetime of ‘Contrition’ and provides the motivations for all that he does thereafter.

This is a pacy, exciting read with strong horror content and some gruesome scenes which are well written but not for the faint-hearted reader. If you don’t like shocks and scares this is not for you. There are noir currents at play here too, John Penrose is very much a man trapped by his femme fatale and one fateful act carried out one long ago summer’s day, which changed his life and from which he cannot get out from under. The guy just never catches a break. You’re hoping he will turn things around, but just like for Elisha Cook, Jnr in all those noir B movies of the 1940’s, you know deep down, it’s not going to happen.

The Dance Turns the Wheel

The talented and prolific horror writer Stephanie Ellis- has a number of books out and more to come- here she shares one of her creepy stories- a lesson in how to write folk horror for those wanting to go that way- enjoy!

Stephanie Ellis

In the next few weeks, a new story of mine, The Way of the Mother, will appear in Nosetouch Press’ Fiends in the Furrows, an anthology of folk horror. (This story is the one that will allow me to apply for HWA membership, finally!). It is also a story which evolved from a world I started to create back in 2014 when I wrote The Dance, (first published in Horror in Bloom, and which I rediscovered when we needed an extra tale to go into The Infernal Clock’s CalenDark: The Infernal Almanac last year).

The original tale revolved around 3 characters Tommy, Betty and Fiddler, a travelling troupe which entertains rural communities with their music and dance. If you look up the history of rapper dancing, you will find there are actually characters which take these parts. Tommy is usually the MC, Betty is a man…

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Free Flash comp-

Comp celebrating 200 years of Frankenstein, 1st Sept-15th Oct 2018. Send us your ‘monster’ flash fiction in 18 words. Open to all in UK over 14

Monster Micro Fiction Competition

Competition Rules: – Open to anyone over the age of 14 in the UK – Submit as many entries as you like – All entries must be exactly 18 words (excluding title, twitter handle and hashtag) – All entries must relate to the ‘monster’ theme – Open from 9am 1st Sept – 15 Oct 6pm

Where to send your entries:- you can either tweet us or email

Poem written for an exercise at the Tuesday creative writing class I tutor at the Craft House in Saltaire- inspired by this image below…

grafitti image

Graffiti Guys by Alyson Faye

Here’s me and Dom

spray cans in hand,

strutting around town

in the post-midnight land.

Our world’s full of

underpasses and ubers,

concrete’s our canvas,

searching for that special wall,

which shouts to us

where we can create

our dream scape.

No way council funded,

‘cos we got chucked outta school,

no Art ‘A’ levels for us two.

We got the time and

we’ve got the talent

in our cans,

in our hands.

Me, I do abstract.

Dom’s thing is faces

empty-eyed skulls,

like his mum on valli

and his Dad on whack.

We spray what

we see and know.

There’s no bloody

GCSE for our

life skills though.




New website for Otley writers of which I am a part…


I have been part of the Otley writers WEA class for several years and now as the tutor has retired, the class has decided to step out as a new collective/group with its own website and logo.

We all have our own profile pic and writer’s page and here’s the link to mine;-


which though it says Aly Rhodes in the header ,comes up with my pen name (also my maiden name of Alyson Faye) when you click and I’ve updated my bio.

Otley writers has a new anthology coming out in November this year, Street Lives, which I will be contributing a short story to. This is the 4th anthology they’ve produced, one was a goodbye tribute book to our tutor poet James Nash so was more personal in tone).






Stephanie Ellis, co editor of Horror Tree, writer, editor and blogger for sites like Horror Addicts has a new revamped website- and this is a new piece of flash fiction for you to consume – over a bitter latte 🙂 Enjoy

Stephanie Ellis

When you’re sat gazing at rows of shoes on the shelves of Primark as your daughter browses for just the right pair, what happens? An opening line pops into your wandering mind. What do you with it? Well, when you exchange your seat for one outside the changing rooms waiting for said daughter to try on a whole new wardrobe, you write the rest of it. Keeping me company was a mannequin in skinny jeans and bored-looking husbands and fraught-looking mothers, none of which feature here.  


They had taken the shoes from the feet of the dead, piled them high on display. Families peered through the windows.

“In a line, please,” said the proprietor. “Everyone will get a chance. We play fair in here.”

Obediently, they shuffled into line, worn clothes, battered shoes or even barefoot. All hoped to be shod. They did not expect to become Cinderella and…

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Review of Sarah Rayne’s latest…

Song of the Damned by Sarah Rayne

‘Song of the Damned’ is the latest psychological, supernatural historical thriller from the pen of Saran Rayne or perhaps she writes with a quill and ink, in an attic under owl-light- as she so convincingly recreates the settings and voices of different eras in her stories. This is the third novel starring music researcher Phineas Fox (isn’t that a fabulous name?) and as is often the case with Rayne’s plots, music, ancient, lost and cryptic, is an important thread which serves as a lasso holding together the past/present day narratives. For as always, the present day setting (in this case, a girls’ school, Cresacre Abbey) is the backdrop for past crimes committed, whose shadowy tentacles reach out to entrap the living.

Rayne’s plots remind me of a set of Russian Dolls, so detailed in their execution, and each one when removed, revealing another precise tinier figure inside. You really have to keep up with the plot clues, the differing voices (often heard in diaries or letters) and the historical narrative switching. Take your readerly eye off the ball and you lose the thread; you’ve got to be a Theseus finding his way out of the labyrinth. Minotaurs abound in Rayne’s novels.

I’m a huge fan of her thrillers, and have read them all, see Sarah’s blog http://www.sarahrayne.co.uk/ for a full list and the different pen names she has written under.

Sarah is adept at ratcheting up the tension, and giving hints that all is not well – you start in the present and travel back to the C18th to when the school was a nunnery and via diary entries to France, just prior to the butchery of the French Revolution (which is given a larger role later on) in a touching scene at the Guillotine itself.

Rayne is expert at capturing the nuances of the different historical periods, through language, clothing, food, and in this novel, the use of music.

I suspect she is a whizz at research- for all her novels are rich in such details; much of the plot in ‘Song of the Damned’ revolves around the ancient practice of ‘immurement’ (literally:- walliing-in alive) and Phineas begins to discover that this grisly ritual has not died out.

The scenes set in Infanger Cottage, owned by a remnant of the Tulliver family, Olivia (a brilliant depiction by Rayne of an odd, isolated and ultimately tragic individual), are for me, the most disturbing, sinister and menacing of the whole novel. The denouement with Phin’s girlfriend, Arabella Tallis and Olivia, is a model in how to writing creeping terror brilliantly. You just want to shout, ‘Watch out, don’t go down the cellar stairs!’

There is a hefty amount of plot, minor and major, going on in this novel, with revelations scattered liberally along the way; literally never a quiet moment. Who is Ginevra? Where is the missing opera? Where and why and how did the nuns vanish to in the 1790’s? Why won’t Olivia sell Infanger cottage? The questions continue.

To find out the answers and the full solution to this tricky, elaborate and clever puzzle-box of a novel- well I would strongly advise buying the book and sitting down for a weekend and only come up for a coffee.

Thank you to netgalley and publisher Severn House for the pdf of the book for the purposes of reviewing it.