#BookReview : The Truants by Lee Markham

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“The Truants” by Lee Markham is available in paperback, hardback and eBook, published by Duckworth OverLook.

Synopsis:

In a fresh twist on the traditional vampire narrative, The Truants is a startling, noirish tale of immortality, bloodlust and rage.

Following his lover’s suicide, the last of the ‘old-ones’– ancient immortal beings as clever as they are ruthless, and unable to withstand the light of the sun – has had enough of this world gone to ruin and decides to end his existence. Yet as he waits for the burning dawn on a bench near a council estate, he is held up at knifepoint by a youth and stabbed. While the old-one’s body turns to ash as the sun rises, his assailant scurries back into the estate’s feral underbelly with the knife in his pocket. The old-one’s blood is still seared into its sharpened blade, and as the knife does its menacing rounds his consciousness is awakened in the city’s children from the depths of the afterlife. Determined to die, he must find and destroy the knife to regain control of his soul. But someone is out to stop him…

A sharp and powerful new voice, Lee Markham has written an intelligent, visceral novel which uncovers the fragility and hopelessness of Britain’s social underclass – and the horror of their everyday lives.

My Thoughts:

The “Old One” is the last of an ancient immortal race, he is centuries old and is awaiting death with the rise of the sun.  Following in the footsteps of his lover, who has already taken this route.  But things go awry when he is stabbed, his blood carried like a plague ready to infect others in the inner city estates.  When his blood infects another, his consciousness is transferred across to it’s new host.

Now this is a hard to read at times book, there are mentions of cruelty to a dog and neglect of a child, be warned!  This story has a “hive” aspect to it, with a controlling leader over it’s workers, but it then delves a lot further than that.  As the consciousness awakens, it takes in the the way some people live their lives in a poverty, drink and drug ridden section of society.  The vampire aspect of this story is actually a “Trojan Horse” concealing a much darker, grim and depraved story.  It explores the filth, stench and grim ridden slums and the desperate people who inhabit them. Now this is bleak reading, but I found also quite addictive and compelling as there is a hint of hope.

The story is told from several perspectives, giving a “both sides of the fence” viewpoint, as well as giving first hand accounts of those living in the estates and the how they struggle to live.  This also has mentions of riots and I was reminded of the London Riots, and the child neglect, again putting me in mind of the case that was in the news headlines regarding Baby P a few years ago.

When I started this book I thought i was going to race through it, but that really was not the case, and it was not what I was expecting, I took my time over it.  I am annoyed that it has been sat on my shelf since I bought it back in May and it has taken me until now (December) to read it.

Now this is a little difficult to recommend to readers, I liked a hell of a lot, but I am also aware that there are things that will not sit right with some readers, and this I get.  Yes it has a horror / fantasy factor to it.  But also an Dark Urban Fiction ( if there is such a thing), but it is very dark, real, gritty and truthful about what happens in the world, just look at the news, (not the vampire bit though) !

About the Author:

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Lee Markham is author of the acclaimed novel The Truants, published by Duckworth Overlook. Inspired by the murders of Baby P, Jamie Bulger and Damilola Taylor, and by the London riots during the summer of 2011, The Truants is a visceral, intelligent, gripping novel which uncovers the fragility and hopelessness of Britain’s social underclass – and the horror of their everyday lives.

With a background in branding and marketing, Lee also writes copy and develops content and narrative architecture for agencies and businesses across all sectors. With an instinctive knowledge for what needs saying and – equally importantly – what can be left unsaid, he is happy to work either as a lone wolf, or to integrate into creative teams to build compelling stories that can be told across campaigns, media and platforms.

Lee is also founder and storyteller-in-chief of Chestnut Tree Tales. Chestnut Tree Tales is a captivating series of children’s stories that generates awareness and revenue for the children’s hospice Chestnut Tree House. The first Chestnut Tree Tale, The Rainbow Snowstorm, is available now, with the next tale, The Flappity Happening, coming soon.

More recently Lee has also started working with schools on a term-long programme that allows Lower School age children to develop and launch their own children’s storybooks. The first book in this project is called The Way Through Gildredge Wood and was created with the Lower School children of Gildredge House School in Eastbourne.

 

Book Details:

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Duckworth Overlook (20 April 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0715651765
  • ISBN-13: 978-0715651766
  • Purchase from Amazon UK ~ Amazon US

Many thanks for reading my post, if you liked give a share.  Better still go buy a copy of this book xx

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#BookReview : The Risen by @TarnRichardson : @DuckBooks

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Before I review this book and then give an overview of this Trilogy, I would like to say i have loved these books immensely. I have been amazed and blown away by this incredible trilogy, is a huge story, well researched and executed.

MY REVIEW: 5*

The Risen is the final book in “The Darkest Hand” trilogy.  It is set in during The First World War, when war is ravaging Europe and its implications are felt across the world.  The Vatican is dealing with its own internal war, the implications of this will affect the populations across the world.  The Apocalypse is almost here.  Those loyal to the Church will have to draw heavily on their reserves and resources as they battle the hordes.  They will discover the truth behind a prophecy. That all is not as it appears and old foes will again play their part. The story takes you on a journey around the globe, showing how far evil and war can travel, but comes back full circle as the battle against the Antichrist reaches its climax.

With this book being the final in the trilogy, it pulls together all the subplots, previously unanswered questions from the earlier books.  A small detail or conversation mentioned in those books, suddenly carries a great weight.  A seemingly insignificant detail becomes a bombshell of realisation.  Nothing has been missed out in this gory, brutal, bloody and truthful conclusion.  The story has come full circle into an epic finale.

REVIEW OF THE TRILOGY:

I fell in love with a little e-book called “The Hunted”. It had so many things going on its 45 pages, I couldn’t help but wonder how it would transfer into a longer book, nevermind a trilogy of them.  Tarn Richardson has brilliantly put together a huge story with a vast array of memorable and unique characters.  I have loved some, loathed some and have been very wrong in my opinion of some.  For me this shows what a great author he is, he has managed to bring his characters and his books alive for me in the words he has written.  It is like reading a film.  There has been a huge amount of research gone into this book and it shows, through the way he has intertwined his world into our own world history.  For me he has pulled off one of the most amazing trilogies i have come across.  I agree with Cal Moriarty’s comment on the front cover, “Evokes the fantasy of Tolkien and the darkness of King” very deserving of this recommendation.  For me these books are second only to The Lord of The Rings books, and they are my favourite.

You will not be disappointed when you read these books.  Be warned however;  you will become addicted, you will not want to miss a single word or sentence, if you skim over any passage (I don’t think you will) you will miss a crucial detail. You will be immersed in a magnificently twisted and deep-rooted plot, that will be intertwined with treachery, conspiracy, immorality and also faith, loyalty, friendship and so much more.

I would recommend these books for readers of fantasy, dark fiction, horror, thriller and historical fiction.

THE BLURB:

The final, thrilling instalment of Tarn Richardson’s Darkest Hand trilogy (‘a remarkably original premise [with] damn fine characters’ David Moody), The Risen serves up a fittingly visceral, relentlessly gripping and action-packed climax to this epic series of dark fantasy.

1917. War and revolution are consuming the world, and the apocalypse is imminent. The world is desperate for a hero who can push back the relentless tide of darkness, and save humanity from the return of the Antichrist. But where is Poldek Tacit, the only man capable of defeating these terrifying forces? As old allies unite in a frantic race to unmask the Antichrist and thwart his plan to bring everything into his power, the Darkest Hand continues to terrorise the innocent – while in the Vatican’s vaults long-buried secrets are about to be unveiled, and humanity’s chance of redemption from the forces of evil hangs by a single thread…

BOOK DETAILS:

Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 18th 2017 by Duckworth Overlook
ISBN13 9780715651704
Edition Language English
Many thanks for reading my post, if you liked it, please give it a share.  Better still, go and buy these great books.  You will not be disappointed.

The Fallen by Tarn Richardson.

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Book 2 of The Darkest Hand Trilogy

MY REVIEW:  5*

Set in 1915 on the Italian Austro-Hungarian border during the 1st World War.  The war between armies are ferocious, battles are bloody. The focus is on the Italian front, the Soco River in Northwest Slovenia. With Poldek Tacit incarcerated after the killing of a cardinal in the first book, the Inquisitors are torturing him.  The Vatican is rife with conspiracy, no-one is to be trusted.  Many secret meetings are happening, rumours are rife and trouble is brewing.  The Darkest Hand has their own agenda, and their own  plans.  Demonic possession has increased, exorcism is getting more common, crows are massing in Vatican City, fountains flow with blood and a general feeling of wickedness and evil is creeping its way across Rome and beyond.

This story throws a lot of curve balls, and unexpected turns of events.  Old friends and allies still remain, new allegiances are forged.  Ancient rituals are once again being prepared for and performed. Races that have fought as enemies for centuries find themselves up against a common enemy.

This is the 2nd in the trilogy, I was concerned as to how this book would live up to the first, The Damned.  There was no need for concern.  It went straight into the fast paced action where the first book left off. There was no lull, no hanging around and at times no pause for breath.

This book is a slightly different beast to the first, it has less of its main character Poldek Tacit, he has his own battle to deal with. But you can feel his presence simmering away in the background as you read.  It is a chance to get more acquainted with the characters that still have a story to tell.  Again there are several stories twisting their way through the pages that culminate in a huge and explosive finale.

I love the fact that every character has a reason for being in this story, each person mentioned has a name.  No-one is a bystander or an extra.  This book puts you right in the midst of things, as I was reading, there were times I actually saw the fights and the chases.  Being able to create a world out of words, so that I can actually see as i read is outstanding.

It is obvious that a lot of  research has been done, as was in the first book.  The descriptions of battles fought in the trenches, battlefields and mountainsides, shows great care and attention to historical detail, it is a credit to the author.

This is another I would recommend if you love fantasy, horror, historical, thriller and mystery. A mashup of Dark Fiction at it’s finest.

How am I going to be able to survive until the 18th May 2017 for the 3rd book The Risen. (Only 6 days at the time of writting this, but it feels longer.) I would like to thank Tarn Richardson for my copy of this book, I was lucky enough to win it in a competition.

THE BLURB:

1915. As the second battle of the Isonzo Front rages on the Italian Austro-Hungarian border, war threatens to engulf the Inquisition as dark forces muster amongst the most fanatical servants of the Catholic Church.

Prior to his murder, a desperate priest sends a secret letter to his brother serving in the Italian Army. Now this young soldier, destined for the horrors of a frontline high above the clouds, carries with him a letter which holds the key as to why terrible satanic rituals are being committed and by whom.

Drawn into this conspiracy and hunted by agents of The Darkest Hand, old rivals must put aside their differences to discover the contents of the letter before it’s too late. But unity comes at a price for this unholy alliance. While the war rages, old enemies return from the dead and conspiracies weave tighter and deeper still into the heart of the Vatican. Only Poldek Tacit, the most determined and unhinged inquisitor of them all, can hope to push back the forces of evil and unite those for good. But what happens when Tacit finds that the path he walks has already been prophesised and that where it leads threatens the very future of a world already on the edge of the abyss?

BOOK DETAILS:

Paperback, 1st, 352 pages
Published May 5th 2016 by Duckworth Overlook
Original Title The Fallen
ISBN13 9780715650592
Edition Language
English Series

The Damned by Tarn Richardson

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MY REVIEW:A definite 5*

Initially set in the First World War, in the city of Arras, France.  The barrage of artillery fire is the least of the British or the German forces problems.  There is something more dark and deadly under their feet.  The locals warn them, but the soldiers are deaf to their advice.

Then the reader is introduced to the main character of Poldek Tacit, a priest of the most unusual kind.  Trained by the Catholic Church to hunt down heretics and those wishing to undermine the Church.  He is moody, blunt, aggressive, uncompromising and often found drinking.

During the book Poldek’s life is laid out.  The more you learn about him, the more you realise that there is more to him than the fighting priest, whose reputation precedes the man himself.  There are hidden layers to him and gradually you find a heart and soul that is true and faithful.

There are more battles than those of men.  There are subplots and stories throughout this book that have kept me riveted.  From start to finish, the research that has obviously been done, shows.  The characters that are included have a reason to be there.  They have their own history and purpose in the book, the author has not just thrown them in for the thrill of it.  The book flits back and forth through the years, to achieve a brilliantly pieced together world and story to create a fantastic alternative reality.

This book expertly intertwines the genres of fantasy, horror, thriller,crime and history.  It also draws on fact, folklore, conspiracy and myth. The reader is taken on a journey of epic proportions.

I would recommend this book to readers who like a story they can get their teeth into, who want adventure, action, well written and researched books. The tag line of “Dark Fiction” is a deserved one for this story.

I would like to thank Tarn Richardson for sending me this book for my unbiased and honest review.

THE BLURB:

1914. The outbreak of war. In the French city of Arras, a Father is brutally murdered. The Catholic Inquisition – still powerful, but now working in the shadows – sends its most determined and unhinged of Inquisitors, Poldek Tacit to investigate: his mission to protect the Church from those who would seek to undermine it, no matter what the cost.

Yet as Tacit arrives, armed forces led by Britain and Germany confront each other across No Man’s Land. As the Inquisitor strives in vain to establish the truth behind the murder and to uncover the motives of other Vatican servants seeking to undermine him, a beautiful and spirited woman, Sandrine, warns British soldier Henry Frost of a mutual foe even more terrible lurking beneath the killing fields that answers to no human force and wreaks their havoc by the light of the moon. Faced with impossible odds and his own demons, Tacit must battle the forces of evil, and a church determined at all costs to achieve its aims, to reach the heart of a dark conspiracy that seeks to engulf the world, plunging it ever deeper into conflict.

Morally complex and fast paced, this is a gripping work of dark fiction set in an alternative twentieth century, where humanity’s desire for love, compassion and peace face daunting challenges in a world overwhelmed by total war and mysterious dark forces.

BOOK DETAILS:

Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 28th 2015 by Gerald Duckworth & Co (first published May 21st 2015)
ISBN13 9780715649541
Edition Language English