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Monday, September 23, 2013

The Freshest Hell...Dark Paranormal!

Guest blog by This Freshest Hell author Natasha Ewendt...

“I may be a creature of hell. But you will know hell long before I do.” – This Freshest Hell
Hi there. I’m an Australian author with Lacuna Publishing. My debut paranormal dark fantasy/horror novel This Freshest Hell is now on sale worldwide. I started writing This Freshest Hell on Friday the 13th of July, 2007. What better day to start a paranormal horror novel than Friday the 13th? As with most speculative fiction books, it started with a “What if?” question: What if there was a demon that could grant you a death wish? And what if that death wish went horribly wrong? That’s where the idea of Arachine, the spider-hell god (loosely based on Arachne of Greek mythology) came from. Then came the main characters Lily and Maggie, the psychically gifted misfits who stumble upon an incantation to summon Arachine, and then have to deal with the bloody consequences ten years later. It takes a vampire twist, but it ain’t no Twilight. There are no influences in here from any of the recent vampire books, movies or shows, as either they didn’t exist when I wrote the book or I hadn’t heard of them, so fear no regurgitation! It’s all original, plucked from the darkest depths of my own brain. At the time of writing TFH I was far removed from vampire pop culture. Buffy had been off the air for years, and the Twilight phenomenon was a couple of years off. So I was well placed to write something new and unique with no influences. The result is something quite dark, disturbing and compelling. Yes, there are vampires. There are werewolves, demons, gods, ghosts, snake deity vamps, hybrids and all-new monsters. But This Freshest Hell isn’t just about the horror; it’s about the darkest reaches the human psyche can reach. TFH is a powerful exploration of the dark side of human nature and the search for life’s meaning. My aim was to target the outsider. I wanted Lily and Maggie to be a voice for the disenchanted, for those who don’t fit in and don’t want to. And I wanted the book to be darkly honest and even nihilistic to keep it real. It goes to some pretty dark places, but the darkness and supernatural aspects are balanced by irreverent and at times blasphemous humour. If you enjoy edgy books in the Anne Rice vein (pardon the pun), TV shows like Being Human, or movies like Interview with the Vampire and Donnie Darko, you’ll enjoy This Freshest Hell. 5-star review excerpt: “Loved it. Didn't see the twist coming at all. And that ending - holy hell! An intelligent novel, it reads at first like a YA coming of age, but it becomes so much more. I saw shades of John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let the Right One In though the pacing is snappier.”

See below for synopsis and excerpt. Sink your teeth into This Freshest Hell at: Connect on Twitter @NEwendt, Facebook, or on Goodreads

Synopsis: Dark secrets shared … Dark spells invoked … Death desired and death defied … Goth Maggie and misfit Lily unite against school, family, society, normality and life itself. But can they fight the darkness within? When the demon world claims them, revenge and blood lust become literal matters of life and death. A new darkness tests their relationship with the world – and each other. Excerpt from Chapter 17 (Spoiler alert): Lily looked up at the sky as she and Maggie trawled new streets in search of prey. Thin wisps of cloud bathed an ocean of stars, the grey mist crowning a full moon. Suddenly, Maggie stopped at a cathedral. Her face fell. Lily recognised that look. She’d seen it in the mirror often enough. Maggie was replaying bad memories. Maggie looked up at the dark stone with sickness in her eyes. “That church looks kind of like the one I was abused in.” She turned sharply, like a predator sensing prey. “He’s here.” “What? Who?” “Minister Hirst.” “You mean …” “Yes.” Face like stone, Maggie ascended the church steps and pushed open the huge heavy doors. Lily followed, her breath quickening in anticipation – of what, she wasn’t sure, and she dreaded to even think. There was movement in a dimly lit office at the back. Maggie walked toward it, boots echoing. A small tubby figure emerged from the office. He scratched at the mop of thinning grey hair that made him look like a frayed Franciscan monk as he threw an impatient glance their way. “You’ll have to come back tomorrow. I’m about to leave.” He went to head back to his office. Maggie kept walking. “We need to ask you a question. It’s a matter of life and death.” He stopped and turned around slowly. His frown unfurled into fear as an imposing Maggie came closer. She stopped in front of him. “Does the name Margherite Marcelli mean anything to you?” His bulbous eyes darted in evasion. His nostrils flared nervously, ex-panding feathery red veins. He turned and tried to scurry away. Maggie moved swifter than his human eyes could see to block his path. He backed into a wall like a helpless animal cornered by a beast, eyes bulging under Maggie’s laser gaze. “I r-really need to be gone,” he stuttered. “I can help you with that.” She slid a hand to his neck. The minister perspired, anxiously clenching and unclenching his clammy hands. “There’s cameras.” He pointed fretfully toward the ceiling, hand aquiver. “No bother. It will make for intriguing viewing. Ironic. I wanted to be a film-maker. Now I don’t even show up on film.” Maggie’s serrated smile shone like silver. She laughed at his bug-eyed look of dread as he saw her fangs. He tried to edge away, desperation paling his jowls. “It wasn’t me. It was the demon. Satan took control of me and … Jesus saved me.” Maggie forced him further against the wall. “That’s what they all say when they’re trying to get out of prison. But some prisons you can’t … ever … leave.” Chapter 18 The minister clutched at his chest with a gasp. Maggie seized him roughly by the shoulders. “Oh, no. You’re not hav-ing a heart attack before I even start.” In a lightning motion, she lifted him high and threw him into a wall. The smashing of bones ricocheted through the cathedral like broken glass. Maggie was across the room and standing beside him before he even hit the ground. She knelt down, looking satisfied to see the impact had in-stantly contused his aged skin. “Shattered ribcage. Sorry about that. I was aiming for your skull. Looks like I’ll have to keep trying.” Lily ducked as the airborne minister hurtled toward the altar, crushing it on impact. Adrenaline surged like mercury through Lily’s bloodstream. Though disturbed by the brutality, she wanted to help Maggie. And she real-ised with self-disgust that part of her desperately wanted to see this man suffer. She stiffened at the smell of blood. He was coughing it up all over the altar. Maggie leaned over the minister, admiring the blood pouring over the remains of his sacred podium. “Liquescent entrails. Kinda like viscera soup. How does it feel?” She clapped a hand on his shoulder. A scarlet spatter spilled down his jaw as wails drowned in his sodden throat. “Shh,” Maggie whispered. “We can’t have anyone else join this party. It’s an exclusive reunion.” She yanked a remaining tuft of hair, lifting his head to thrust her hand inside his mouth. A scream died in its first strain as Maggie pulled, opening her fist to re-veal the pink stump of his tongue. She released it to the floor like an empty can as blood seeped from his mouth. Fluid sobs wracked his chest, tears trickling over waxy purple jowls as he covered his mouth in an attempt to stop the blood flow. Red rivulets spilt over his useless hand. Maggie raised her fist and delivered a grievous blow, sending a hae-matic spray flying from his mouth. Then she grabbed his hand and slowly uncurled his fat fingers, drinking in his horror as she bared her teeth and sank them into his palm. The minister trembled, unable to scream. Then Maggie dropped his hand. Lily wondered why Maggie hadn’t drunk. Then she realised – once she started, she wouldn’t be able to stop, and she wanted to play with her prey a little longer before the death knell. He began to flail. Maggie snapped her fingers, shattering his leg bones. His body splayed like liquid. She grabbed his left hand and pressed a heel into his elbow until a clean crack resounded, then did the same with the other arm. He sank in a pile of fractures. Maggie crouched beside him. “See what you made me?” She searched his eyes as if looking for remorse, or at least revelation. But there was only mortal fear and sparks of impending death in the pale grey irises. Maggie frowned. “Face what you made.” He tried to avoid her stare. “Have the courage to face what you made!” Her voice bellowed through the cathedral. The minister froze, slowly raising petrified eyes. Maggie dragged a fingertip through the blood on the floor and held it up, dripping. “I may be a creature of hell. But you will know hell long before I do.” She stood. “I could drain all the blood from you right now.” His head shook in hysterical mute pleas. “The thought disgusts me.” Maggie flicked his blood off her hand into his face. “Rather than feed on your filth, I’ll leave you here. Paramedics should control the bleeding. A few months in hospital might fix you. Plenty of time to wonder when I’ll come for you again. I will always know where you are. And it’ll make me slightly euphoric to know you live each day in fear of when you’ll see me again. Just like I did with you.” Lamplight illuminated her chilling leer as she loomed over her oppressor. The minister slumped, clearly about to lose consciousness. Maggie grabbed his hand and mercilessly wrenched him upright into lucidity. Then, looking satisfied with her reign of terror, she turned and began to walk away. Lily went to the office and fetched the phone to dial the ambulance ser-vice. Suddenly, Maggie paused. She held up her hand to Lily. Hesitantly, Lily ended the call. Maggie faced the weeping, mangled heap. “On second thought, I don’t think hell should wait. And I want to be the one to send you there.” She looked from the quaking shape to the giant cross above the ruins of the altar, and smiled. With a flick of Maggie’s hand, the minister was thrown from the floor to the cross. His rag-doll arms were pulled straight in a crucifixion pose. The altar wreckage quaked as Maggie’s powers drew out all its huge nails until they hung in the air, poised and aimed at the minister. Maggie held him in terrified thrall, taking clear delight in the minister’s begging expression. She watched with cold fervour as he quivered like a guillo-tine victim waiting in a standstill of time for the blade to fall. His glassy eyes spewed final tears. Then with a dark smile, Maggie gave another flick of her hand. The nails shot like bullets into his arms and legs, pinning him to the cross. Then, just as Lily thought Maggie might leave him there to die, Maggie clicked her fingers – and turned the minister inside out. Lily gasped and turned away as the minister’s insides splattered onto the floor. Maggie stood for a moment, as if taking in the sight of justice served. Then she calmly walked out. Lily followed, finding Maggie standing on the steps. Silence reigned as though the nightmare – and dream – had never happened. Eventually Maggie spoke. “Nothing like extreme closure.” She looked strangely at peace. “All my life I’ve lived in the house he built. The mental prison he created. I used to dream about this day. But I never could have done what I just did as a mortal.” Lily nodded. “I couldn’t have killed Troy as a human. We’re different now.” A strange calm stemmed her contrition, like cauterisation, like Valium – like justice. <br>