#BlogTour | #Extract: Halcyon by Rio Youers (@Rio_Youers) @TitanBooks #Halcyon

halcyon.jpg“Nightmarishly compelling and flawlessly told horror for fans of Paul Tremblay and Joe Hill.

Halcyon is the answer for all Americans who want to escape, but paradise isn’t what it seems. A beautiful self-sustaining community made up of people who want to live without fear, crime, or greed, Halcyon is run by Valerie Kemp, aka Mother Moon, benevolent and altruistic on the outside, but hiding an unimaginable darkness inside. She has dedicated her life to the pursuit of Glam Moon, a place of eternal beauty and healing. And she believes the pathway there can only be found at the end of pleasure.

On the heels of tragedy, Martin Lovegrove moves his family to Halcyon. A couple of months, he tells himself, to retreat from the chaos and grind. He soon begins to suspect there is something beneath Halcyon’s perfect veneer and sets out to discover the truth, however terrible it might be, behind the island and its mysterious founder.”

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the Halcyon blog tour. Halcyon is written by Rio Youers and was published in paperback by Titan Books on 23rd October 2018.

If you’ve been with me for a while now you will know that I am a massive fan of horror novels. Yes, I am primarily a crime reader, but horror will always have a very special place in my heart. If I’m suffering from a dreaded reading slump (we’ve all been there) then I can guarantee reading a horror novel will reinvigorate my love of books. I don’t read enough really and I would love to immerse myself in more. I first saw Halcyon mentioned on another blog; it was this review of Abby’s over on Anne Bonny Book Reviews and I knew I had to read it. So look out for a review coming your way soon!

In the meantime, I have an extract to share with you today.

Shirley stood up from the top stair, where she’d sat for the last fifteen minutes listening to her parents’ conversation. She didn’t have to strain her ears, either; when Mom and Dad had one of their powwows in the kitchen, their voices— even if they whispered—carried into the hallway and swirled around the ceiling above the stairway. A cool acoustic quirk. Her music teacher once told her there was an area inside Grand Central Station where you could whisper into a corner, and no matter how much noise and kerfuffle there was around (and Shirley figured there was always a good deal of noise and kerfuffle at Grand Central Station), the person standing in the opposite corner would hear your voice like you were standing next to them. This was similar to the way Edith sometimes communicated with her—a direct, secret method, bypassing traditional routes. It was fun to begin with, but it wasn’t normal, and Shirley knew it had to stop.

No good could come from it.

Shirley eavesdropped on her parents until they started smooching—totally gross—then snuck along the landing to Edith’s room. She inched the door open and crept inside.

“Edith? You awake?”

The bedclothes shuffled and Edith sat up, her eyes bright and owl-like in the glow of the nightlight. She clutched Paisley Rabbit to her breast. He squeaked companionably. She was too old for Paisley, but he made an appearance every now and then. A comfort thing.

“They’re talking about us again,” Shirley said, and perched on the edge of Edith’s bed. “About you, mostly.”

“What are they saying?”

“That thing in Buffalo. The bomb. They think you saw it in your mind before it happened in real life.”

“Oh. That doesn’t sound good.”

“How much do you remember?”

“Nothing really.” Several shallow lines crossed Edith’s brow. “Just . . . ashes. Like trying to remember a dream.” They sat in silence for a moment, the only sounds coming from the other side of the blinds: the traffic coursing along Melon Road, a radio playing some catchy nerd-rock song, older kids shooting hoops beneath the lights in Oval Park Court. Just another cool spring evening in Flint Wood, New York.

“They’re worried about us.” Shirley looked at the wall where Edith had scrawled her symbols. Nothing there now but the fresh-paint tracks Dad had made with the roller. “Mom’s bringing in help. A specialist.”

“The Star Wars guy?”

“Not this time. It’ll be someone different.” She recalled her mom’s description. “Someone sympathetic.

Edith gathered Paisley a little closer. She appeared to take all this on board, and accept it, then her brow furrowed more deeply and her upper lip quivered, and all at once her face scrunched. Tears jumped from her eyes and she used Paisley’s floppy ears to smudge them away.

“It’s not my fault,” she sniveled, trying to keep her voice down. “I didn’t ask for this.”

Shirley shuffled closer, threw an arm around her little sister, and kissed her clumsily on the cheek. “Shhh . . . hey, I never said it was your fault.”

“You’re mad at me. I can tell.”

“No, it’s just . . . I told you, Ede, I can’t hold your hand anymore. Not up here.” Shirley pressed a finger to her forehead. “I thought I was helping you, but I’m not. I’m making things worse.”

“I was scared,” Edith moaned, mopping more tears away. “I know you said not to, and I tried, but it was too big.”

“Yeah, but we freaked Mom and Dad the hell out. They’re bringing in a specialist. There’ll be questions, examinations. I’m worried it’ll lead to more questions—smelly old men in suits digging through your brain.”

Edith’s jaw fell. “You think?’

“Maybe,” Shirley said. “ This thing . . . it’s not natural, Ede. It scares people.”

“It scares me.

“Right, which is why you need to control it. And I’m going to help you.” Shirley touched her forehead again. “Just not up here.”

A barking dog joined the evening chorus. It was loud and insistent. Shirley listened for a moment, lost in thought.

“I’m going to take you somewhere over the weekend,” she said.

Edith looked at her curiously. “Where?”

“My special place.” Shirley leaned closer, lowering her voice. “But don’t tell Mom and Dad. We’re in enough trouble as it is.”

“Okay.”

Shirley smiled. Not a full smile, certainly not a happy one, but better than nothing. She kissed her sister on the cheek again, then stood up and started toward the door.

“Shirl?”

She stopped, turned around. Maybe it was the way Edith’s eyes shimmered in the nightlight’s bluish glow, or the stuffed toy secured faithfully in her arms, but she looked so young. Five years old, not ten.

“This place,” Edith said. “Is it bad?”

Shirley bristled. She tried to keep her voice even, but it quavered just a little. “You need to stay out of my mind, Ede.”

Edith shook her head. “I didn’t, Shirl. I promise. I . . .” The rabbit in her arms squeaked. “I didn’t.

“Do you trust me?”

I can’t wait to read this book! I may even cheat and move it to the top of the TBR, just don’t tell anyone 😉.

Halcyon by Rio Youers was published in the UK by Titan Books on 23rd October 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

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rio youers.jpgRio Youers is the British Fantasy Award–nominated author of Old Man Scratch and Point Hollow. His short fiction has been published in many notable anthologies, and his novel, Westlake Soul, was nominated for Canada’s prestigious Sunburst Award. He has been favorably reviewed in such venues as Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and The National Post. His latest novel, The Forgotten Girl, was released by Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press in June 2017.

Rio lives in southwestern Ontario with his wife, Emily, and their children, Lily and Charlie.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter |

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#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Hell is Empty by Conrad Williams (@Salavaria) @TitanBooks

hell-is-empty-1“Private Investigator Joel Sorrell is exhausted and drinking hard, sustained only by a hopeful yet baffling note from his estranged daughter, Sarah.

An SOS from an old flame whose child has been kidnapped gives him welcomed distraction, but the investigation raises more questions than answers.

Then comes the news that his greatest enemy has escaped from prison with a score to settle.

With Joel’s life and the remnants of his family at stake, any chance of peace depends on the silencing of his nemesis once and for all. But an unexpected obstacle stands in his way…”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Hell is Empty blog tour.  Hell is Empty is book three in the excellent PI Joel Sorrell series, written by Conrad Williams.  And it’s publication day today so a very happy book birthday to Conrad Williams and all at Titan Books!

Now I have a confession to make, I’ve only read the first book in this series (that’s Dust and Desire if you haven’t come across Joel Sorrell before).  But I do have Sonata of the Dead and Hell is Empty on my TBR and I can’t wait to read them.  Dust and Desire is such a fabulous book and you can read my review by clicking here.  Dust and Desire also features on my recent top 20 all time favourite crime books post for #TBConFB.  You can see my other nineteen choices by clicking here.  Anyway, enough of my waffling!  I’m delighted to have a guest post from author Conrad Williams to share with you today, the topic of which is anti-heroes.  Over to Conrad…

The anti-hero

We all do and say things that are sometimes cruel and hurtful, perhaps even damaging, even though we perceive ourselves as essentially being good. That means our heroes and villains in literature should too. I don’t believe in evil. Evil acts, sure. But not evil people. I like a knotty, chewy protagonist with layers. Joel Sorrell is vulnerable but also capable. He’s someone who can be pushed only too far before he cracks. He doesn’t react well to stress. And, of course, he’s a potty-mouthed individual who relies on drink a little more than is good for him. In his first outing, Dust and Desire, I wanted to pit him against a ‘baddie’ who is also vulnerable. This person – the Four Year Old (aka Wire) – is driven to find the person who ruined his mother’s life (ironically, by doing what he thought was the right thing). But he is young and wet behind the ears. He has trained his body to look like that of a man much older, but his brain and his behaviour are undernourished things. He has committed violent acts that have also damaged him. No person can kill or maim and not be affected by it, certainly not a teenager. When Joel and the Four Year Old finally meet, I wanted their confrontation flavoured with tragedy. I was very pleased when Publishers Weekly recognised this in their review: ‘The suspenseful face-off between Sorrell and Wire carries an unexpected charge of pathos.’

In Sonata of the Dead I introduced Joel to an amoral writers’ group called the Accelerants who have never really gained any kind of experience. Perhaps they travelled a bit in their gap year. Perhaps they had a summer job. But that’s about it. A cossetted, privileged type who nevertheless recognises their own failings as people who want to write what they know… but know nothing. And so they force experience. They steal cars. They shoplift. They play chicken on the motorway. Idiots, basically, trying to justify their so-called lives and their so-called fiction. When they start getting picked off, one by one, by an unseen and unknown killer they quickly go to pieces despite this obviously being quality grist for the mill. You wonder if a writer from an earlier time –  Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingway, Harper Lee – might have turned such an experience into gripping material. But not the Accelerants. This kind of pressure can only have one outcome.

In Hell is Empty, Joel finds himself up against a person who he thought was a friend, but is in fact a gun for hire. Joel is also digging into a cold case from the 1980s, concerning a killer who pushed construction workers to their deaths as the skyscrapers they built scratched at the London sky and blocked out the light for those living below. It was interesting to press Joel into situations such as this to see how he reacted, but also for him to have to deal with the fallout of besting people who – but for a moment of greed or bad judgment or desperation – find themselves doing questionable acts with deadly consequences. Capering in the background of the three novels is someone much worse than all of these characters, the kind of cartoon villain readers perhaps feel more comfortable with. He has no redeeming features whatsoever. He commits atrocities. I felt the narrative arc needed this, at the end – a classic good versus bad scrap – white versus black, after so many pages of what I hope is seen as subtle grey shading.

***

Thanks for such a great post, Conrad.  I’m even more excited about reading Sonata of the Dead and Hell is Empty now.  Sounds like Joel is getting in even more trouble than he did in the first book of the series!  Keep an eye out for reviews of both books coming your way soon.

Hell is Empty was published in the UK by Titan Books on 29th November 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads | Titan Books |

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Conrad Williams was born in 1969. He is the author of seven novels (HEAD INJURIES, LONDON REVENANT, THE UNBLEMISHED, ONE, DECAY INEVITABLE, LOSS OF SEPARATION and DUST AND DESIRE), four novellas (NEARLY PEOPLE, GAME, THE SCALDING ROOMS and RAIN) and two collections of short stories (USE ONCE THEN DESTROY and BORN WITH TEETH). He has won two major prizes for his novels. ONE was the winner of the August Derleth award for Best Novel, (British Fantasy Awards 2010), while THE UNBLEMISHED won the International Horror Guild Award for Best Novel in 2007 (he beat the shortlisted Stephen King on both occasions). He won the British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer in 1993. He won another British Fantasy Award, for Best Novella (THE SCALDING ROOMS) in 2008. In 2009 he was Guest of Honour at the World Horror Convention. He edited the anthologies GUTSHOT, which was shortlisted for both the British Fantasy and World Fantasy Awards, and DEAD LETTERS (forthcoming from Titan Books). He is an associate lecturer at Edge Hill University.

He lives in Manchester, UK, with his wife, three sons and a monster Maine Coon.

Author Links:Website | Twitter |