Abomination: excerpt

Tomorrow is launch day for my publisher, Finch Books, and Abomination will be available for purchase from the Finch Books website. This is the last excerpt before the big day.


“On that pallet over there. A few big cans of beans left. Bring one.”

“Have you all forgotten how to speak, as well as how to wash?” Carla snapped.

“Mostly. Yes.”

Carla staggered over with the ten-kilo can of white navy beans to where Kat was opening a much smaller can of frankfurters. She opened the beans and together they tipped the contents into a stew pot of dubious cleanliness. The sausages followed.

“How many is this for?” Carla asked. She had seen at least a dozen men and boys and nearly twice as many women.

“All of us.”

“Then those sausages won’t go very far.”

“Just for the men.”

“I might have guessed,” Carla sighed. “I suppose we ought to be grateful to get a few beans.”

The girl heaved a world-weary sigh. “If they leave any.”

Carla was about to ask why they let themselves be pushed about by a bunch of macho brutes who thought they were living in the Middle Ages when she took a good look at the girl. Carla had taken her for a skinny kid, but a closer inspection revealed the bony shoulders, scrawny breasts and haggard look of a woman, but under-developed and emaciated. Like Tully, Carla was beginning to put together a picture of their new environment.

“There’s not much to eat, is there?”

Kat just looked around. The warehouse was three-quarters empty. “You see much?”

“Can’t you get food somewhere else? Find another supermarket, I mean.”

Kat sighed. “This is Flay territory. Other places like this are in some other tribe’s territory. Not enough warriors left to fight over food.”

“What about hunting?”

Kat forced a wry smile. “Hunt what? Rats? Crows? Drax?”


“Big dogs.”

“Why not, if that’s all there is?”

“Rats and crows eat corpses, drink poisoned water. Drax eat rats and crows and corpses. They are all sick, rotten. If we eat them, we become like drax. Drax used to be dogs.”

This was the longest speech Carla had heard from Kat. It had been a real physical effort for her, as if she had to drag the words from her memory, as if they were so rarely used they had almost been forgotten. Carla asked one last question, though she dreaded the reply.

“So, what will happen when the food runs out?”

Kat’s expression was dull and hopeless and she did not reply. She didn’t need to.

Carla bit her lip, trying to hang onto the strange, obscene ideas that darted like cockroaches in and out of the shadowy places in her mind.


Evolution release

You may remember a short while ago I reviewed E by Kate Wrath. Some of you will have since read it. The good news is that the sequel is out today.

Evolution, the second book in the E series, is now available! Get Evolution and E for only 99¢ each during release week, November 12th-19th, 2014.


cover of Evolution by Kate Wrath
Outpost Three is still standing… barely. But the deadliest threat it has ever faced is on its way– a violent force that will annihilate every man, woman, and child.

With the Sentries under his control and Grey’s army defeated, Matt is more powerful than ever. Eden is little more than his prisoner, but that line is blurring as her affection for him grows. Now, as the Outpost faces total destruction, Matt must sacrifice the possibility of attaining Eden’s love in the vague hope that her past might hold the key to saving them all.

Eden’s journey will begin to unravel the mysteries of her previous life, reveal dangerous new questions, and change not only the future of Outpost Three, but shape the course of history.

This eagerly anticipated sequel to Kate Wrath’s E begins an epic quest into the dark, dystopian landscape of Eden’s world.
Add to GoodreadsBuy E $0.99Buy Evolution $0.99

Get both books in the E series, E and Evolution, for 99¢ each on Kindle for a limited time only: November 12th- 19th, 2014.

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You’re invited! Come hang out November 12th from 8-12 pm Eastern and celebrate the release of Evolution. Woohoo!

An excerpt from Evolution:

We run down the narrow alley and take the first turn, then another. We keep running, moving. I don’t even notice my surroundings until, at last, we slow to a stop. The smell hits me first—the stench of piss, of something rotten, all condensed into a small space. Breathing hard, we stand in the street and look around us. We’re in a main thoroughfare now, judging from the traffic, but it’s still narrow. I feel squashed, smothered. On all sides, a crowd throngs around us. Most of them are dressed in rags. Hollow faces huddle three or four bodies deep against both edges of the road, dirty, hopeless, and lost. Many of them are children.

I’m scanning their faces frantically before I even realize what I’m doing. “Oscar,” I hear myself whisper. It hits me, and I break off before I can call out his name. Before I can start running again, sifting through the masses of them.

Apollon’s hand clamps onto mine, but he says nothing. He and Jonas are focused on Jacob, who is shaking violently. Tears are pouring from widened eyes down his face. I want to help him, but all I can do is stand here trying not to break down, myself.

“We need to find somewhere to regroup,” Jonas says quietly. “Get out of this mess.”
I cast around for somewhere to go, but as far as I can see, it’s piles upon piles. People, and people, and buildings looming over them. There’s no breathing room. No space. I have to force my breath to steadiness. It’s too much.
There is a commotion on the street ahead, maybe a block away. The ragged masses push away from the center, squashing and trampling each other in the process. We’re caught in a wave of motion and carried backward, but still we try to look. Where the commotion started, there’s a group of figures, similarly dressed in black with blue bandanas. They’re moving down the street toward us.

The wave of people suddenly backlashes from the other direction, and we’re pushed the opposite way from before. We manage to finally see why. On our opposite side, there’s another group of people. These are dressed primarily in white. One of them, clearly a leader, wears a purple doo rag and carries what might be the biggest gun I’ve ever seen. He raises it toward us.

Book review: E by Kate Wrath


The opening of E drops us straight into a nightmare worthy of Room 101. When the torment stops, the bleak reality of life in an outpost kicks in. Outpost of what? Who knows. This is a story full of unanswered questions, not questions that interrupt the story, but the kind of questions we ask because this appalling world is so fascinating.
The action takes place in a very circumscribed area and focuses on a limited number of characters, giving it the quality of a play. Bit players enter the stage and leave, while the storyline progresses at a relentless pace. We walk the same few streets to the same destinations, in an oppressive atmosphere of fear, beneath the inhuman gaze of the sinister Sentries.
The story is told through the perceptions of Eden, a random name she gives herself based on the letter E marked on her forehead—when she comes to her senses in a filthy alleyway, she has no recollection of who she is, what was her life before, or what she had done to be put in the box. What the box is exactly, why it is, and who operates it is shrouded in mystery like so much of this world. All that really matters to us is all that matters to the inhabitants of Outpost Three—even more narrowly, to Eden. Existence is dependent on the whim of the local power broker, gang leader, Mafia boss, and civil order is maintained by the Sentries, peace-keeping robots, who deal out instant justice.
However skin-creepingly nasty the opening scenes are, things get gradually worse, more terrifying and hopeless. I think hopelessness is the defining sentiment of this world. The one and only view of the greenery beyond the wall of the Outpost is tied up with the massacre of a deer closely followed by the massacre of the hunters. It is hope that Eden hangs onto, fragile and tenuous as it is, when she burrows her way into a small nucleus of warmth, a surrogate family. She has nothing, not even a character. She has to rebuild her whole persona while trying to stay alive in the hostile environment she discovers at the same time as the reader.
Because we are so intimately attached to Eden what doesn’t impinge upon her survival or her emotions drops out of the narrative. This heightens the dramatic tension, focusing directly on one character, her feelings, physical and emotional. I came to like the character of Eden as she built it up, piece by piece, and found that I never passed judgement on her. Whatever she did, it always seemed like the right thing to do. It is a tribute to Kate Wrath’s talent of characterisation that despite Eden’s obvious courage, her ‘family’s’ solidarity and strength, and not one but two big, handsome men to look out for her, that terrible sense of impending doom never lets up.
Despite the awfulness of Outpost Three, I enjoyed this book a great deal. The writing is never uneven. It is sparse and stripped down to the essentials, but the author chooses her words with great care to create a world and characters very much in three dimensions. E’s story should appeal to anyone who has enjoyed Melvin Burgess’s Bloodtide. It is dark and bloody and leaves the reader with no illusions about the basic inhumanity of humankind.

Amazon UK link

My new super-hero is called Melmoth

Who wouldn’t be thrilled to get a review like this? It even made me want to grab a copy!




Echoes from the lost ones: book review

This is a YA dystopian fantasy that I have just finished reading. It is one of the most original pieces of writing for young teens that I’ve read in a while.

Echoes from the lost ones

Drawn originally by the beautiful cover of this book, the original language swept me along from the first page. Adara speaks a quirky slang, reminiscent of Nadsat, the language of the droogs in Clockwork Orange, instantly recognisable as a mingling and mangling of familiar words. Language is an aspect of a futuristic society we often ignore, but nothing dates a novel more than the use of contemporary slang that is outmoded before the book has had time to make an impact.

In Echoes from the Lost Ones, Nicola McDonagh has used this simple device to create a realistic and unforgettable world. Adara herself is an endearing character, and has a great talent for making the reader (this one at least) laugh with her remarks. The story rattles along at a great pace, which will suit younger readers, but is the only real criticism I, as an adult, would make of it. I would have liked to explore this frightening world of mutants and shadowy armies, and the place Adara escaped from, and to learn a bit more about the dangers that beset her.

Ms McDonagh introduces a very colourful crew of characters who I would also have liked to spend more time getting to know. That said, this is the first volume of a series, so no doubt we will be filled in with more details in the subsequent volumes.

Well worth reading.