Tuesday, 11 April 2017

KIN of CAIN by Matthew Harffy

Amazon UK £1.49 £5.99
Amazon US $1.85 $7.99
Amazon CA $N/A

Novella / Military / Adventure
7th Century
North of England

Kin of Cain is a novella from this popular writer of Anglo Saxon saga. At only 104 pages it is shorter than his usual work but if you are not familiar with this writer, this serves as a perfect introduction.

King Edwin is in his hall when the air is rent with a scream. Grabbing swords and knives, the thegns rush to discover the source and cause of the scream, and come across a man, broken and distraught, claiming his son has been killed by an other-worldly beast. King Edwin charges his most fearsome warriors to track down this creature and kill it.

The action starts right away, with little build up and the reader is thrust into this Anglo Saxon world of Harffy's, his Bernicia, centred in the north west around Bamburgh. His Saxons are the stuff of legend, larger-than-life men who live in a world long lost to us, even the names are unfamiliar, and yet it is vividly drawn and tangible. For those who have some understanding of the times, there is a delightful twist to this story, one you may or may not see coming, but one I think the majority of readers drawn to this novella can appreciate and enjoy.

I find it hard to praise this little work highly enough. I was hooked from the first page and the pace never lets up. That it is over so soon is the only disappointment with this accomplished piece of story telling. I loved it.

A Discovered Diamond -  but no surprise there!

© Nicky Galliers

a second review:

630 AD and terror and winter grip the lands of Bernicia, the northernmost kingdom in the lands of the Englefolk. A monster stalks the hills, livestock and men have been found torn asunder, their bones gnawed, their flesh gorged upon. King Edwin sends his champions, Bassus and Octa, with a band of trusted men to rid the kingdom of this evil. As Bassus leads this brave war band into the northern hills, they soon question whether they are the prey or the hunted, but whatever the darkness brings it will sow the seeds of a tale that will echo down through the ages.

I enjoy a good scary story, or movie, I’m one of those people who prefer the ghost ride to the wheel at the fair, however, it would never occur to me read a tale that was both historical and horror. I really enjoyed it. It is atmospheric, and I could feel the tension as though I were with the characters in the marsh.

There is little to criticise in this book, it is well written and the characters enjoyable. Harffy takes strands of an ancient story and creates a believable plot, that, although wildly imaginative, could easily be interpreted as belonging to the supernatural, especially to a people whose lives were governed by superstition. And when you read the last few pages, you think, “Wow,” that’s a clever way of linking it to the one of the most popular tales that ever came out of the Anglo-Saxon period.

What I enjoyed most about this book was the way the author creates the right environment for my mind to easily conjure the visuals. I could hear, see, and smell the entire stage, from the rolling waves on the beach below the cliff, to the wind driven, plaintive cries of seagulls flying overhead. The dark sky, with its patches of blue and cloud, the aroma of the decaying pieces of flesh that the brave warriors walk unknowingly amongst in the night on their search for the monster, are as unforgettable as waking up and getting out of bed for work in the morning. If this is the type of style you like to read, a style that sucks you into the book and places you firmly within it, then this book is for you, and possibly starts a whole new genre of Anglo-Saxon horror. 

© Paula Wilcox

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