Reviews about Crow Bones and other stories:  5/5 *****

This short story collection came recommended to me by Lorinda J. Taylor, so I knew going in it would be good. And it did not disappoint. The stories are all weird, unsettling, at times disturbing, at other times very funny. In short, an excellent blend of moods.

Each story is based on a famous painting, including works by Chagall, Picasso and others. A neat concept which leads in interesting directions, and allows for new interpretations of famous pieces.

My favorite story in the collection was probably "The Gift", which is a classic tale of a vengeful spirit, a concept that I love. I also greatly enjoyed the story from which the collection takes its name, a disturbing blend of sci-fi and horror that evoked AC Flory's Vokhtah in its detailed portrayal of an utterly alien society. "Corden's Coral Phase" was also a highlight, with the entertaining banter between the characters gradually revealing the personalities.

The description of this collection on Goodreads says "If you like authors such as Philip K Dick, Edgar Allen Poe, Ray Bradbury, PG Wodehouse, Annie Proulx and Franz Kafka, then this is the anthology for you,"

I can definitely see the influence of Poe and Bradbury. (To be clear, I'm talking Bradbury at his best, i.e. Something Wicked This Way Comes.) I didn't pick up on the Wodehouse influence so much, maybe because the subject matter, even when it is humorous, is more off-kilter than "Plum" would usually do. But it is well written, and to that lineup above I would add two more names that it brought to my mind: Harlan Ellison and Ambrose Bierce. It has the same dark mood that characterized their works, and frequently the sardonic edge as well.

These stories are probably not for everyone, as their grimmer elements may deter some readers. But if you like dark, weird fiction, then you should absolutely check it out.

By Berthold Gambrel on

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Reviews about Lightning Tattoo



Worthy sequel to Black Danube 5/5*****


Having enjoyed Black Danube by the same author very much, I was really looking forward to the sequel, and I was not disappointed. Along with Leo's close associates from the first book was a cast of new and fascinating characters and as before, there is a compelling sense of atmosphere and mystery as the pace increases throughout the book to the dramatic conclusion.


 Lightning Tattoo 5/5*****


I was so excited that the second book in this series was available. In this one, Leo faces many dangers from his past, threats that can unravel all he had hoped to achieve with his new life. I loved both the plot and the feeling that I was at the turn of the century, living along with everyone. The story contains so much detail about the era, and the growing hatred of the Jews. The ending left me shocked... I can't wait for the next book.



 Just fantastic 5/5*****

Another fascinating and thrilling read from Nik Grybaski!

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Books by Nicola McDonagh

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                  short story collections


The Song of Forgetfulness

Y/A dystopian series

To get your copy of The Song of Forgetfulness Series, Glimmer or Crow Bones, click on the book cover images above or click HERE to visit Nicola's Amazon Author page for further information


Click HERE to join the mailing list and receive a free download of

Changeling Fog, a Song of Forgetfulness novelette.

Reviews about Glimmer and other stories:  5/5 *****


‘I loved these short stories. Thought provoking, clever. Her writing is filled with suspense, creepy and fast moving. Believe me, you won't skip a page for fear of missing something vital - and it's not what she says, it's what she doesn't say, that's brilliant.


‘Ms. McDonagh has created a world that is like an out-of-body experience almost. The stories took me out of my confined world and took me into science fiction a little horror drama, and wonder.


‘The subjects range from humour to horror and supernatural romance to repressed creativity - they all have an underlying oddness about them which is quite refreshing. Recommended for those who enjoy something a bit out of the ordinary.’

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Books by Nik Grybaski

Reviews about Black Danube



Black Danube 5/5*****


This was such a great book, one of the best I've read recently. You quickly get immersed into the story and feel as if you're there in the early 1900s Vienna. The writing is vivid and you can see the imagery, smell the odors of the city, taste its delicacies, and feel the emotions of the characters. Not only do you get entwined in solving the murder mystery, you forge your way through the clues to discover what Leo's great secret it. Storytelling at its best. Highly recommend to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.



Be transported to another world of senses and feelings 5/5*****


I loved this book. It took me off into a different world with a group of characters reminiscent of Dickens. This is a writer who relishes the small detail and spares none of the darker side but who manages, throughout, to reassure the reader of all that is good in human nature. We need more from writers like this



A real page turner 5/5*****


I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I was transported to another time and place with vivid descriptions and wonderfully developed characters that I really cared about. The main plot develops well, and the intriguing subplot smoulders underneath to give depth to the narrative. As for Leo and his secret - let's just say we do find out what it is, which makes his relationships all the more complicated and tragic. Well written, full of drama, tension, and humour, Black Danube is simply an excellent read.



Looking forward to reading about Leo's future mysteries! 5/5****


This was a brilliant mystery with a twist. There were numerous elements to this story which gripped my attention from the start. Set in 1899 Vienna politics are at the forefront of this mystery. When a young woman is accused of killing her fiancé, crime photographer Leo Katz is asked to photograph the crime. Leo finds himself becoming deeper and deeper in the mystery, with the help of his two friends. However, will his own secret be revealed? I love the twist of Leo's own secret.