John Crabbe (The John Swale Chronicles)

John Crabbe (The John Swale Chronicles #9)
By: David Pilling
Musa Publishing 2012
an historical fiction review


John Crabbe returns the chronicles to tempestuous Scotland, with pirates at the helm.  Notorious pirate John Crabbe finds himself facing defiant nobility on and off the water.

Pilling deploys his excellent introductory skills to meld excitement and tension into the debut of his first sea bandit.  The pace whips everything along so briskly that this short work feels even shorter than it really is.  The variety of conflicts, both internal and external, keeps John Crabbe in choppy emotional waters while the action keeps it salty.  It’s a harsh voyage to read, but one that offers all the expected thrills of piracy within the darker context of Scotland’s impending warfare.

Proof the unnatural does not need zombies.

The Best of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet
edited by: Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant
Ballantine Books 2007

Drawing on a decade of submissions to the zine, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet , the variety of stories in their newly published “Best Of” anthology hold only one clear message: here there be monsters! Whether it involves mushroom-crazed duchesses, unavoidable ghosts, talking animals, or only a sorry inability to mix a great cocktail, the imaginable atrocities of life, and some that only these authors could have imagined, find vibrant and stirring representations in this book.

Designed to tempt every palate, this collection of far-ranging stories seems to include something for everyone-and no one story can accurately indicate the tone or appeal of the others. A skim through Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet is rather like flipping through the stations on a radio: you’ll find everything from pop music to health advice, and one of those stations is bound to interest you. The main difference is that where one might feel silly for finding a commercial more engrossing than anything else on the radio, this book’s offerings embrace so much, in such a short span of pages, their readers will be too busy paying attention to compare them to anything else.

A satisfyingly weird homage to the magazine pledged to publish the best and the oddest of today’s literary world, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet is a provoking experience. The only piece of advice that could help prepare readers for some of the strangeness in store for them here, is to avoid reading it right before bedtime.