A truly stunning novel of one man’s dangerous obsession with immortality, from the BAFTA award-winning creator of Bodyguard and Line of Duty
ONE OF THE GUARDIAN‘S ‘1000 NOVELS EVERYONE MUST READ’
Yefgenii Yeremin is a flyer and a phantom.
Destined to go down in Soviet history books as ‘Ivan the Terrible’, the most deadly fighter pilot of the Korean War, one moment of madness sees Yefgenii throwing his reputation to the wind. Exiled to a remote Arctic base, his name unknown and victories uncelebrated, he must endure a fate worse than death: anonymity.
But when a man arrives from Moscow’s Space Committee in search of a volunteer prepared to sacrifice himself for his country, Yefgenii seizes his one last chance of immortality.
I received a copy of this audiobook from Penguin Random House UK Audio via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is an intense story well suited to the audiobook. The narrator keeps the listener’s engagement throughout.
The story explores the historical period from the Korean War in the 1950s to the space race in the 1960s from the Russian viewpoint. Yefgenii Yeremin lost his family during WW2 and suffered life-changing emotional damage. His early life is brutal and devoid of nurture. Disturbing to listen to it shapes him into to driven man he becomes.
His missions during the Korean War are deniable and secret and eventually leave him without the recognition he seeks. The relationships between the fighter pilots are complex and relatable. The story is absorbing as it moves to the frozen north and anonymity. Yefgenii is always seeking something just beyond his reach. He denies himself basic human comforts and emotions desired by most people. His part in the space race gives him a chance of the immortality he seeks but at the expense of everything else in his life.
The research is detailed, and the sense of place and time succinct. The story is an absorbing mix of action and introspection, poignant and with a conclusion that resonates.
Today is publication day for The Wolf Mile by C.F.Barrington by Aries Fiction, the adventure fiction imprint of Head of Zeus Books. The first in a series of five books this promises something different for the adventure fiction market.
A forbidden contest. An international game.
Bankrolled by the world’s wealthy elite and followed by thousands online, two teams of warriors vie for dominance … and the streets of Edinburgh run with blood.
Into this secret struggle steps Tyler Maitland, seeking his lost sister, and Lana Cameron, grieving her dead child. When they are accosted by figures in black hoodies and each handed a silver amulet, they recognise the Triple Horn of Odin – the talisman of the Valhalla Horde.
They are being recruited into the great game known as The Pantheon. And one day they will change everything.
Now they must risk their lives and join the ranks of seven ancient warrior teams which inhabit this illicit world. Their journey will be more wondrous and horrifying than anything they could have dreamed, taking each of them to the depths of their souls … and testing them to breaking point as they search for loved ones and for the meaning in their lives.
I thought your readers might like to hear about my debut novel – The Wolf Mile – which is being launched by Head of Zeus adventure imprint, Aries Fiction, on 6 May (digital) and 8 August (paperback). It is the first in a five-book saga about The Pantheon, with Book 2 (The Blood Isles) launching in October 2021 and Book 3 (The Hastening Storm) coming in spring 2022.
I’ve chosen it because the story – and indeed the genre – has sparked much discussion amongst my early readers, because it is hard to pin into a single category and defies my many attempts to condense it into a snappy teaser. The most concise description came from one of my advance readers, who said it was ‘Fight Club with swords’. I’ll take that! And my agent (Laura Macdougall at United Agents) said it had ‘elements of The Hunger Games’ when she first read it.
What inspired you to write The Wolf Mile?
It is a story which is first and foremost inspired by a sense of place. Apart from a sojourn into the forests of the Highlands, the book’s action all takes place in the closes, tunnels and rooftops which flow from the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. Indeed, it was Edinburgh’s Old Town which really allowed the story to manifest. The dark, malevolent history of the Old Town and its stunning architecture and rumours of tunnels and secret passages, set my mind ticking. I am sure that the whole concept of The Pantheon could not have come together if it had not been for my life in and around Edinburgh.
The story was also prompted by two other factors: Firstly, I had always wanted to take my love of historical fiction and coax it into a modern thriller – without going down the well-trodden route of some sort of time-travel. Secondly, after a career spent in major gift fundraising for charities and universities, I had communicated with many very wealthy individuals and I got to wondering what makes someone excited when they can buy everything? As the book asks….. Imagine riches beyond your wildest dreams. What would you do with them? Travel the world? Buy a yacht? Now times it by ten. A hundred. We’re talking mega-wealth – the kind that buys governments, shapes economies, enervates security forces and makes a mockery of justice systems. NOW what would you do with it? Less certain?
In ancient times, the wealthy of Rome spent their money and energies on forsaking human life in the gladiatorial stadia – and that’s where the concept of The Pantheon grew from in my head.
The Wolf Mile charts the rise of Tyler Maitland and Lana Cameron as they are plucked from their normal lives to become players in The Pantheon, a secret game bankrolled by the world’s wealthy elite and watched online by thousands. Warriors from seven ancient civilisations are trained, sworn to allegiance, then pitted against each other in battles amongst the claustrophobic alleys which flow from Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and filmed in real-time.
Set in today’s city, this is very much a modern thriller, but it mixes elements of historical fiction, as well as a sweeping romance over the five-book series, which takes the protagonists from friends, to sworn enemies and finally to lovers. So when Aries came along and declared it was, above all, adventure fiction, it was perfect – because this is exactly what the saga is: A twisting, turning, relentless adventure with a big cast of characters, which propels the protagonists on a journey more horrifying and wondrous than they could ever have dreamed, into a world which perhaps we all secretly wish we experience.
Comments so far include:
‘The Wolf Mile is a thrilling ride and a heck of a debut. C F Barrington knocks it out the park.’
‘Featuring two compelling yet flawed lead characters, an intriguing mystery and unrelenting action, I can’t wait to see where Mr Barrington takes us in the future.’
‘It is a very cool idea and I think if done right will become one of my favourite secret societies.’
‘Get ready for a rip-roaring adventure through the streets of Edinburgh – The Wolf Mile is the perfect escapist read!’
I’ve included some photos of the Old Town which have helped inspire me. One evening before the pandemic, a friend and I toured the Old Town cameras in hand. We ended up climbing onto buildings and lying in the middle of roads, getting carried away discovering the dark, brooding essence of The Pantheon. It was great fun and hopefully the images provide a taste of what to expect in The Wolf Mile.
C F Barrington spent twenty years intending to write a novel, but found life kept getting in the way. Instead, his career took him into major gift fundraising, leading teams in organisations as varied as the RSPB, Oxford University and the National Trust.
When his role as Head of Communications at Edinburgh Zoo meant a third year of fielding endless media enquiries about the possible birth of a baby panda, he finally retreated to a quiet desk beside the sea and discovered the inspiration for the Pantheon saga.
Raised in Hertfordshire and educated at Oxford, he now divides his time between running over the hills of the Lake District and dog walking on the beaches of Fife.
My website is www.cfbarrington.com – and provides lots of visuals and backstory about Edinburgh’s Old Town.
Simon Lord has it all—the beautiful fiancé, the loving family, the sprawling mansion, and the famous last name. Little does he know that what is supposed to be the happiest day of his life will become his last. The little town of Solomon’s Wake has managed to keeps its secrets hidden for nearly a century, but no darkness can lie dormant forever. It only takes one fateful night, one storm, one wedding, for a vampire to rise, a werewolf to escape, and a witch’s age-old curse to rise again.
Decades later, the Lord family is a shadow of its former self. Windwood, the Lord family ancestral home, sits in near ruin as Simon Lord lies in a coma, but life goes on. That is until Joshua Lord makes the fateful decision to return to Windwood with his young family. Curses, as young Jenna Lord finds out, do not have an expiration date. The Lords and their friends find themselves battling vicious werewolves, homicidal grandmothers, the unrelenting spirit of a vengeful witch, and their own dark pasts. The only question is, who will make it out of Windwood alive this time?
Available at special pre-order deal 99p (normal price £3.50/$3.99) Books2read
Publication Date: 1st May
Kelly S. Marsden grew up in Yorkshire, and there were two constants in her life – books and horses. Graduating with an equine degree from Aberystwyth University, she has spent most of her life since trying to experience everything the horse world has to offer. She is currently settled into a Nutritionist role for a horse feed company in Doncaster, South Yorkshire. She writes Fantasy stories part-time. Her first book, The Shadow Rises (Witch-Hunter #1), was published in January 2013, and she now has several successful series under her belt.
The remains of a 17th Century witch, an MP found hanging above a five-pointed star, and three girls with powers beyond anyone’s control.
As DI Tanner and DS Evans endeavour to make plans for their big day, the chance discovery of Norfolk’s last known witch, tried and hanged by Norfolk’s infamous Witchfinder General, sparks a chain of the most horrific events, none of which Tanner seems able to stop.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is the fifth book in the DI Tanner murder mystery series. The plot is a mix of police procedural and noir crime with a paranormal twist. The atmospheric setting in the Norfolk Broads reinforces the plot themes making them chilling. There is an occult theme, although the investigation conclusion is more human than paranormal. Authentic team dynamics and relatable characters make this an absorbing read. There is a dramatic plot twist that allows for great character development within the team.
Consistently ranked within the top 30 most read authors on Amazon.co.uk, David Blake is a full-time author living in North London. To date he has written eighteen books along with a collection of short stories. He’s currently working on his nineteenth, The Wherryman, which is the next in his series of crime fiction thrillers after Broadland, St. Benet’s, Moorings, Three Rivers and Horsey Mere. When not writing, David likes to spend his time mucking about in boats, often in the Norfolk Broads, where his crime fiction books are based.
The Monstrous Me collection are split perspective books looking at situations from other points of view, helping children develop a sense of balance, roundedness and wellbeing. Readers can literally and figuratively, turn the story on its head, and look at the very same situations from different angles. In this book, ‘My Brother is a Monster/My Sister is a Monster’ two siblings are convinced the other is a monster. But, are they really? When we look at the story from the other side, we see a very different story.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is the third book in the entertaining and educational Monstrous Me series. It explores how brothers and sisters see each other. It’s easy to read and understand. Bright, humorous illustrations make it appealing to young children too. The book explores everyday events where siblings may not understand each other, encouraging understanding of others behaviour and points of view. The final pages end with a positive message.
My Brother is a Monster. one book, two stories with humorous text and vivid and vibrant illustrations.
Natalie Reeves Billing is a Liverpool lass with a dark sense of humour, which often spills onto the page. She loves to write spooky, fantastical stories for young audiences, and dabbles in poetry, contemporary fiction. Natalie spent most of her early career in the music industry as a performer and professional songwriter. This lead, almost inevitably, to storytelling.
Natalie is an Arvon Foundation friend and is a student of the Golden Egg Academy. She is mentored under the Lloyds Bank SSE program, with her Bubs Literacy project. She is published in several anthologies with her poetry and flash fiction, including the Writing on the Wall, Read Now, Write Now, and is involved in several collaborations with fellow writers across poetry, song, and scriptwriting. This is the third book in her Monstrous Me collection.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
One Night in Beartown, set in Congleton, locally known as Beartown, is a lovely story aimed at young children. It explores bullying, being apart from someone you love and the life’s magic that’s always there if you look hard enough.
The illustrations are bright and engaging and illuminate the text in a way that appeals. The story is an easy read, perfect for reading to younger children or for older children to read by themselves. There is a magical feel to the story and a lovely twist at the end.
In December 2017, I tried something different: a children’s picture book about a girl who loses her shadow. Illustrated by the super-talented Si Clark, Sarah’s Shadowhas proved popular with kids and parents alike. In 2018 it won Best Children’s Picture Book in the 2018 Book Awards on international book review site Readers’ Favorite. My claim to fame is that the same award was previously won by none other than Jim Carrey, the Hollywood actor-cum-children’s author! Sarah’s Shadow also won Runner-Up in the Book Excellence Awards and received a Purple Dragonfly Book Award as one of the best picture ebooks for children aged 6+.
In 2020 I ran a Kickstarter campaign during lockdown to fund my next book, One Night in Beartown. It was inspired by the Bearmania event that took place in 2011. Thanks to amazing support from businesses and individuals in Congleton and beyond, I raised £4,000 to illustrate and print the book. It was published on 1 December and you can buy it on my online shop, on my publisher’s website or as an ebook on Amazon. For updates, please follow me on social media or subscribe to my newsletter!
Discover the fascinating folklore, lurid histories, and malignant properties of toxic plants.
Poisonings are among the most memorable deaths in history, from the Roman Empire to the Medieval era and beyond. Concealed and deliberate, it’s a crime that must be planned in advance. And yet there is a fine line between healing and poisoning – Paracelsus argued that only the dosage matters! In Botanical Curses and Poisons, illustrator, author, and folklorist Fez Inkwright returns to archives to uncover the fascinating folklore, lurid histories, and untold stories behind deadly plants, witching herbs and fungi. Filled with beautiful illustrations, this treasury offolkloreis packed with insight, lore, and the revealed mysteries ofeveryday flora!
I received an electronic copy of this book from the author and publisher in return for an honest review.
Folklore, history, mythology, medicine and witches all have a part to play in this story of Botanical Curses and Poisons. There are lovely illustrations to illuminate the text and a fascinating A to Z of plants.
This is an intriguing, well researched, vibrant book about the secrets of everyday plants.
Fez Inkwright is an illustrator, author and folklorist. Her greatest passions are botany, nature, primitive religions, and folklore, which flavour most of her work. For the past eight years she has produced work for children’s books, hand-drawn maps and tattoo design and now spends her time indulging in conservation work and writing. She lives in Bristol with two cats and several hundred bees.
Luna suffers from an undiagnosed illness causing hallucinations and blackouts that have plagued her for years. The root of her bazaar illness comes to light when she meets her pro-wrestling hero, Gunner Cain, and his wrestling faction friends, The Tribe. Luna discovers her romantic connection to Gunner isn’t just a fangirl crush, he is her eternal soulmate.
Gunner wants Luna to become his Alpha dreamer mate, for as part of a prophecy written in the Lycan Oracle, Luna must choose to bond to the Alpha of the Tribe, or all will be stuck in wolf form, forgetting their humanity forever. Luna learns the steps they must take to complete the bonding ritual could also end a centuries-old curse, saving lone wolves abandoned by their packs and plagued with the dreaded Lycan fever. Gunner’s connection to Luna is more than prophecy fulfilled; it is hope for Lycan kind in this steamy shifter tale of prophecy and romance.
Loretta Kendall is a professional image consultant, writer, and author of the new novel Dreamer. She started her life with a daydream and a story in her mind. As long as Loretta can remember, she was a storyteller sharing stories with her friends from her overactive imagination. After twenty-two years as a talent manager, professional makeup artist, and photographer for the entertainment industry, she revisited her love for storytelling.
Loretta is a hopeless romantic and lives for a good happy ever after. Her husband must agree because they have had twenty-four years of wedded bliss. When she isn’t reading or writing steamy stories, she’s probably singing, watching pro wrestling while yelling at the TV, or spending time with nature.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have hot, funny, feisty, rule-breaking angels protecting and fighting your corner? Keeping an eye on those who slip through law enforcement’s fingers?
Well here you go…the Fallen. You’re welcome!
At the age of four, Amy Fox was taken…. She survived….
A week later, another little girl was taken…. She didn’t.
Angry, Amy made a deal with the heavens. Decades later her lifeless body was found beneath a London commuter train and she became an angel. But for how long? Lusting after her partner, competing with hell warlords, avenging personal scores, and dishing out toughkarma on evil exes, crime gangs, traffickers, drug dealers, rapists, abusers, trophy hunters, trolls, and serial killers, all without her units authorization, will have her thrown below ground. Running with a world network of fallen angels, Amy has never worked so hard in her entire earthly life. She has to wonder if making a deal was a mistake.
I received an audiobook from the author in return for an honest review.
This audiobook creates a believable world where fallen angels bring evil humans to justice. This is a hard-hitting series with disturbing themes. It’s difficult to listen to in parts because of the detailed descriptions, but the author creates a world of avenging angels who don’t follow the rules to achieve what human justice systems cannot.
It works well as an audiobook, with the narrator distinguishing between the characters and bringing them to vivid life. This is an adult story, the action and language befitting the evil portrayed. Relatable characters and relevant themes make this an absorbing story to listen to for adult fantasy fiction listeners.
CUNNINGHAM writes suspense thrillers and paranormal rom crime with a skilled mix of fuelled tension, dark humour and pulsating passion. Having worked in the industries she writes about, her novels offer a fresh level of sincerity and authority, rare in fiction.
An ex-model, British born of Irish roots, she married a rock musician and worked in music, film, sports and crime (CID, Wanted/Absconder Unit, Major Crime Team, Intelligence Analyst, Crime Investigations). She is owned by daughter (artist Scarlett Raven), three dogs and two cats.
And GlamMa to a brand new grandson who has stolen her heart.