Showing posts with label psychological horror.. Show all posts
Showing posts with label psychological horror.. Show all posts

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Book Review: Flings With Rings by Katerina Sestakova Novotna



Evelina is a Hawaiian beauty with a strange hobby: she collects engagement rings from successful men without intending to marry them. She is showing her collection to a pious friend while revealing her secret tricks and opinions on men. Evelina's motivation to share her life story seems as mysterious as the reason why her friend keeps listening and asking questions despite their strong disagreement. Will Evelina's behaviour ever catch up on her? 


Flings With Rings introduces us to Evelina, a woman on a quest to collect rings from men but not necessarily with a view to capture them as husbands, but to use and discard them as needed.

Told through a first person perspective, the friend of Evelina sees her acts through her eyes and hears them through her ears. She appears to be a more refined and decent woman, and is practically horrified at what she hears coming out of Evelina’s mouth.

However, it is hard to dismiss Evelina entirely. The half-Japanese half-Hawaiian beauty knows what she’s got and she is not shy to flaunt it.

She accurately depicts the well held view that men do want flings but not the commitment that a wedding ring would involve. As our first person point of view identifies, a ring should indeed symbolise love, but Evelina’s point is hard to dismiss entirely – she mentions how if a wedding ring was so special, it would be worn on more intimate parts of the body. That’s true, if not rather impractical.

"You have to decide if Evelina is evil or if the poor sap of a man actually deserves the treatment he gets."

Men would find it easy to dismiss Evelina as easily as she appears to dismiss them. Whether she is a likeable character or not is up to the reader to decide. For my own viewpoint, I found Evelina not the kind of woman I would want to know, but at the same time, she is not the kind of girl one would find easy to ignore. Moths to a flame, perhaps.

The twists in the story are many, but one that readers may enjoy and is not a spoiler to say so is that Evelina gets more joy out of collecting engagement rings than actually wedding rings.

Evelina does not ply her trade on every man though, she takes a perverse enjoyment in taunting one particular man. You have to decide if Evelina is evil or if the poor sap of a man actually deserves the treatment he gets.

As usual for the author, one can feel more enlightened and educated from reading her books. Flings With Rings is a short story, but not so short that you feel short changed. The story is packed with a really interesting character dynamic – we almost want Evelina to fail against somebody, but at the same time it is hard to deny that she has a logic to her actions that in her place, we would almost agree with.

The story is a clever and insightful study of marriage, it just utilises an interesting counterpoint about what men and women really want.

What I really like about this story is that it is brave enough to suggest that the best times are after an engagement but before a marriage. Not a lot of people say this kind of thing. Many would say that sex, at least in those initial months of marriage is the best, but this is not always the case, nor should it be, if we are honest with ourselves.

The story works not necessarily because we could relate to Evelina’s outrageous hobby, but perhaps because we cannot relate to it. She is a woman on a mission all of her own. Readers can condemn her, be fascinated by her, but one thing is for certain – she cannot be ignored.

Her looks are one thing – but maybe she has a dynamism about her that men cannot help being attracted to, and women might just appreciate her stance on men, sex and marriage to a larger extent than they may openly agree with.

Arguably Katerina Sestakova Novotna’s best written book to date, but in her growing library of works, there is some tough competition.

Monday, 27 July 2015

The Ghost of Normandy Road - Soundtrack to the Story + Special Excerpt from the Book

Short post today: When I wrote the first book in the Haunted Minds series, The Ghost of Normandy Road, and indeed, many of my books are enhanced by musical compositions that I reference throughout the stories.

For 'Ghost', the song that stayed in my head was released some twenty years ago. As I write this blog post, I cannot quite believe so much time has passed. But life has a way of doing that. Anyway why not play the music whilst you read short excerpt from the story. Maybe you will want to give the full book a try.


Every time I go to the house on Normandy Road, I think it will be the last. No matter how many times I do this, I find myself shaking uncontrollably. Perhaps it is understandable. I do this to myself, time and again. Because, I want to feel the excitement, the exhilaration, the fear. Okay, I admit it.

I want to see her.

I know she’s there. I’ve been told about her before. Only in ghost stories, they are just stories, they don’t mean anything, nor should they, to you or I. When I am not anywhere near that house on Normandy Road, that’s all it is. A house. Nothing more, nothing less.

I want to believe in her. I want to believe in the existence of ghosts.

Oh, I know you will think I’m being silly. Your questions? I’m sure you have many. I bet you have the answers to them all as well.

Do the floorboards creak? Of course they do. Does the door open slowly, making a sound only those on the other side of the grave could possibly make? You bet.

Do the windows rattle? Yeah, for real.

All houses do this, don’t they?


Yes they do. Pretty much all of them.

Come on. Rationalise this. Everyone knows why I shake uncontrollably when I go there. It’s because she is real. She exists, and she will not rest in her grave. Why? Because she belongs there, belongs in the house on Normandy Road. She’s never going to leave, because she can’t. But I can. I tease her every time I go, daring her to scare the living daylights out of me.

Sometimes, I can swear she responds to my dare. But no-one will believe me. No-one believes in ghosts, where I live.

Perhaps they don’t believe because I have not followed through on the dare, and lived to tell the tale. I hear them say ‘you should spend a night in the house then’, or they put it in the rules of threes, you know, like saying ‘you should go there, three nights in a row. Whatever is in that place, sure won’t like that.’

Of course, it’s my own fault. I say I will go and stay the three nights, but I never do. I can’t, really. I have to be home soon after school, otherwise Mum will be mad.

To understand, you’d really have to see the world through my eyes. That’s the problem with convincing people of the truth. They are only ever willing to accept their version of it.

Everything else, is a lie.


“Came in from a rainy Thursday
On the avenue
Thought I heard you talking softly

I turned on the lights, the TV
And the radio
Still I can't escape the ghost of you.”

Ordinary World – Duran Duran


Act One: The Witch of Hill-Top Green

The route from my school to home takes about fifteen minutes to walk, maybe ten if I run. On the days that I dare to pass the house on Normandy Road that stands so tall, foreboding, and yes, terrifying to me, I go quicker. Much quicker. On those days, I don’t think Jesus himself could catch me.

It’s something my mum would term as ‘he’s got the fear of God put into him.’ That would be a pretty accurate way to describe it. My heart would beat fast as I would approach it, and even faster as I passed it. As to what happened to my heart as I ran alongside it, maybe, just maybe it stopped beating for a few moments.

I know you won’t believe me, and think that it is the overactive imagination of a child. I’m only ten years old, and I will soon be eleven. I think I might just be growing up, but I know for a fact that the adults think differently when they look at me.

They think I am scared of my own shadow, and well – they’re probably right.

I do have a genuine reason for being scared, I really do. I’ve been nervous for as long as I can remember. Maybe it is a case of genetics, and my parents have passed their fears on to me.
Every time I pass that house on Normandy Road, I refuse to believe my fears are anything to do with genetics. The fear – the one psychiatrists would say is not real or rational, nor one that could hurt me, takes on a life and persona all of its own.

I believe an entity that is the embodiment of all I fear resides in that house.

Now I know I’m being irrational.

At school, we are always trying to scare each other. Sometimes, it’s a dare like going into the girls toilets, even though it’s five minutes after hometime and only the teachers remain in the school.

Oh, and the caretaker. He’s always there.

And the ghost.

Well. We don’t know for sure. There’s an old story that the girls failed to confirm or deny, but it is said that a girl died after being locked in the toilets one night.

The official record of her death (say the girls) is that she died from a severe anxiety attack. The news had reported she was found with her eyes sewn up, and her tongue had been ripped out to stop her screaming.

The boys that heard this added something to it.

“She was killed by the Ghost of Normandy Road.”

Prior to them saying anything, I never believed there was a ghost on Normandy Road. Our school was in the next street, called Bayswater Road.

There was a church beyond it, and a football stadium on the other side of the road that stands to this day.

Normandy Road had tall houses back then, and it’s fair to say that adults were sure to be dwarfed by that big old house.

It stood alone, you see. Every other house was semidetached or part of a terraced block – all except that one. Why, I did not know, but I was intrigued to find out.

That’s what we kids do. We like to look around – if there’s a side entry, a dark alleyway, a broken window or an abandoned house, you can bet we want to check it out.

Not for its historical significance, if it had any, and not because we are without any sense of right and wrong. Don’t let anyone just say ‘oh, they’re kids.’

We know what we are doing – we just happen to rely on the foolishness of society to let us off the hook. I know for a fact that there are some children at the school who play the ‘I’m only a child, I didn’t know it was wrong’ card on purpose.

As for me, I probably had one of those faces that looked innocent in one way, only to be ratted out by my guilty as charged expression.

Sometimes, it was innocent enough. I would be unable to wait to open at least one Christmas or birthday present. I would sneak down the stairs, placing one foot, then another on the far side of the stairwell.

Life was very simple back then. We had a bit of blue carpet that covered the stairs, except for the edges where I now depended on keeping my balance, my safety and my secret. In fact, falling down the stairs and breaking my neck would have been preferable to my mum or anyone else in the family catching me.

I wasn’t supposed to be out of bed. Young children were supposed to go to bed early, quietly, and stay there until the right time to get up for school.



School itself was fine. Looking back, it’s hard to know exactly what we learned in class. I think we had fun for the most part. There was Miss McManus, who would teach us almost every lesson.

Maths, English, Music, she’d do it all.

Sometimes, we’d get Miss Oakley, who was a Nazi in a twinset. Okay, I’m being a little unkind. That sort of title was better reserved for Mrs Pearson (or Mizz Pearson, we were never quite sure and she was unlikely to explain her married status, or otherwise, to a class of school children) whose contempt for us was barely concealed.
Mr Flanagan would teach us Maths too, along with Geography.

P.E class would involve having to change with the other schoolchildren, which I disliked intensely. Not for the bizarre communal situation, no, it was just that certain boys would take it upon themselves to talk when they weren’t supposed to, and our class would be harder as a result.

“Today, we’ll be doing cross-country running.”

The teacher was probably going to let us play football, but decided on a change of lesson content just because one boy was sniggering or had been playing another boy up.

Now we would all pay for it.

“Hey,” they’d say to me, as we would go for the hated run in the mud, the rain, and the cold, “you had better keep up with the pack. The Witch of Hill Top Green is just behind one of the trees, waiting for you to pass.”

I’d fight back with words. “Witches wouldn’t hide in trees. They wouldn’t have to. And it’s you who needs to keep up with the pack, not me. You watch out for the bleedin’ witch!”

Ah yes, the Witch of Hill Top Green.

We’d all seen her, though no-one admits to it, at least, not openly.

We would run, and it would be pleasant enough. The September sun grazed our shoulders gently, unlike the harsh glare of early July. Honestly – two weeks before breaking up for the summer holidays, and they are making us run in blistering heat.

In contrast, I almost found myself enjoying the September run. Then, they’d start their annoying tales again.

“Roy’s gone missing,” said one of them. “I’ve lapped you lot twice now, and there’s no sign of Roy. She must have got him, her bony fingers must be gutting him out right about now.”

I would get a poke in the back when I’d attempt to ignore them, and continue on my run.

“Are you listening? She’s out there! Out here.”

No. I am not listening. I’m running, and will keep running until we get back to the school.

Usually, we would see the teacher over the course of the run. Where was he?

The Witch of Hill Top Green has got him, and Roy. Best be happy she hasn’t got you.




Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Cover Reveal Day! Dark Winter: Crescent Moon

Cover reveal time!

Well everyone, here it is. The second story in the Dark Winter trilogy is subtitled 'Crescent Moon' and you'll notice that significant things happen throughout the story, but especially when a crescent moon turns up. You need to remember these points as they link to the final part of the story (due 2015)

For those of you who haven't read Book One: The Wicca Circle...get stuck in - I think it's on silly-O-price on Amazon at the moment.

If you like witches, demons, ghosts, serial killers, straight-up horror shocks as well as psychological horror, this is the book you simply have to get. I'm not going to say it's scary, I will let readers be the judge of that. If it scares you in the day as well as the night, I consider my job done! Funnybones are easy to find, but what about your scarebone? It's there in your body...I promise you that!

Continuation, not sequel

The book follows the events of Book One very closely, though the time period of the majority of the book is eighteen months after The Wicca Circle ended. If your favourite character or characters survived Book One, what do you expect from Book Two? Anyway, I hope you'll like it and give an indie your support :)

Please add to your GoodReads pile. I know, I know. You have so many to-read already. But I wouldn't ask unless I thought this was worth your time!

Recommended for...

YA, but don't expect it to be too light. Don't let the pretty girl on the cover fool you. It's paranormal, but not overdone on the romance. There's a story to tell, we need to advance the tale, not hold it back. It's quite adult in parts too. So if one website rates The Wicca Circle as 15 rated, this is certainly 15 and up. Might be even an 18 in some parts. I think it's for everyone except the very youngest of readers.


Final edits for the proof are in the mix now, so expect an announcement for a giveaway soon.

Happy reading!!