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Bleak Midwinter - Solstice night - Quill & Crow Publishing House

I happily received an ARC of the second part of Quill and Crow’s Bleak Midwinter anthology as a part of their recent call for reviewers. I know Quill and Crow from Cassandra Thompson’s Instagram posts, and I have also read a future release from them by Catherine Fearns, -Lamb of God, which I had the pleasure of editing, so was looking forward to seeing what else Quill and crow have out there.

This was a book of two halves for me, though the writing throughout the book was good, and the editing was exceptional. Some of the stories, for me, petered out at their endings or rushed to provide details withheld from the reader. One described a person’s ongoing fear, only to have it revealed there was no substance to her fear. All readable, all good.

The seventh story in the collection, however, Amanda M. Blake’s “The warmth of many skins” – as I am sure you may have read in other reviews on Goodreads – raised the bar. It is, frankly - exceptional – like living through the bear attack in The Revenant – you feel as if you have lived through the character’s trauma. It makes no difference that you are aware that it is fictional, the moment you read it you are transported to the scene and feel every wound the character receives as she fights for her life. It’s a fantastic short, I won’t spoil it here, but it’s a survivor’s story that makes you live the nightmare hours of a final girl. If anyone can suggest which of Amanda’s book’s I should buy next, I’d be extremely grateful, here’s an Author I’d love to read more from.

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Of the 10 authors collected here, I had only previously known one – Mary Rajotte, with whom I shared a space in the Gothic Blue book 6 – A Krampus Carol, with her short “Castaway stones”. In Bleak Midwinter, her short “The Stone Mother” concerns the same theme: worshiping an old god to bring prosperity to the land. Mary’s voice remains as authentic as ever.

Other gems were “Malediction” by Seluna Drake, which flowed off the page and felt like a fully realized period piece (great voice), and “The Dormant season” by Jacqueline West, notable for the excellent characterization of the gruff neighbor. The kind of character you’d love to see up on the big screen.

Bleak Midwinter Solstice light is a solid collection with a rising star of a short that is alone worth the cover price. I’m giving the book 4 out of 5 ⭐ ‘s, and have my eyes locked onto Amanda’s back catalog.

My thanks go to both Quill and Crow Publishing house, and Cassandra Thompson, for the Review copy.


You can buy Bleak Midwinter - Solstice light - by clicking on the appropriate Amazon link, below:


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