The Sea cover reveal

The Sea cover reveal

The Dark Continents family is over the moon with the cover art for The Sea, an upcoming anthology of dark speculative fiction that will be releasing soon. Photography by Nerine Dorman, design by Carmen Begley and illustration by Norman Begley. The anthology features fiction by Alex Hughes, Amy Lee Burgess, Andrea Jones, Anna Reith, Barry King, Benjamin Knox, Camille Griep, Diane Awerbuck, Don Webb, J.C. Piech, Martin Rose, Patrick O’Neill, Rob Porteous, S.A. Partridge, Simon Dewar, Steve Jones, Toby Bennett, and Wayne Goodchild.

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February 2014 Bestsellers Lists (and a giveaway…)

An interesting and only slightly predictable list for February. Quiet Houses and Fractured Spirits still dominate, which tells us two things: One, top notch writing never goes out of fashion, and two, our readers have a fascination for haunted buildings, both real and invented. Lighthearted paranormal romance Double Double Love and Trouble is still going strong, and Autumn Christian’s surreal short story collection A Gentle Hell re-enters the e-book charts at #5 (see “top notch writing”).

And as for the rest of the charts…it’s the Nerine Dorman show, with four titles either written, co-written or edited by the multi-talented South African. Fun fact: Blood and Fire and A Gentle Hell were two titles in our inaugural launch of the Darkness and Dismay series, and Nerine is now the editor in charge of Darkness and Dismay. Expect to see her assured editorial influence in many more DCP bestsellers.


Top Five Bestselling E-books for February 2014

  1. Quiet Houses by Simon Kurt UnsworthQuiet Houses
  2. Fractured Spirits: Hauntings at the Peoria State Hospital by Sylvia Shults
  3. Double Double Love and Troubleby Sylvia Shults
  4. Blood and Fire by Carrie Clevenger and Nerine Dorman
  5. A Gentle Hell by Autumn Christian


Top Five Bestselling Paperbacks for February 2014Fractured_Spirits_eBook_upload

  1. Fractured Spirits: Hauntings at the Peoria State Hospital by Sylvia Shults
  2. Inkarna by Nerine Dorman
  3. Quiet Houses by Simon Kurt Unsworth
  4. Blood and Fire by Carrie Clevenger and Nerine Dorman
  5. Dark Harvest edited by Nerine Dorman

And now let’s see who is paying attention! Choose one of the above titles and be the first to write it in a comment on this post, and you’ll receive a free e-book of that title. We aim to make this a regular feature of the bestseller posts, so don’t despair if you miss out – there will be another chance next month. And to make sure that everyone gets a fair shot at winning, we’ll post on different days and times each month (just like our authors, our readers are spread out across the globe).

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February round-up

When folks are still trying to get their groove in the second month of the year, the DCP family has been active.

And right now it’s the DCP women who’ve been making waves. February was Women in Horror Month, and a bunch of DCP’s ladies made the list of 93 movers and shakers in the genre. And yes, we agree that these are authors you need to read right now. Congratulations to Amy Lee Burgess, Autumn Christian, Nerine Dorman, Tracie McBride, and Suzanne Robb, who all made the list.

The folks over at Pornokitsch decided to look at the speculative fiction coming out of South Africa, and Nerine Dorman once again got a mention, this time hailed as “The Vampire Queen of the South”… Well, we can live with that. ;-)

Sylvia Shults shares that there’s a podcast called Tales to Terrify that has just been named Podcast of the Year in the awards given out by This Is Horror. Why is this cool? Because part of the Tales to Terrify lineup is Sylvia’s very own true ghost story podcast, Lights Out. Every six weeks or so, the Tales to Terrify show turns from fiction to true ghost stories, hosted by Sylvia. 

ImageDC Petterson, author of Lupa Bella, shares this stunning review of his novel. 
The reviewer, Kelly S Taylor writes: “This constant stream of unexpected revelations not only provides a strong, shape-shifter appropriate theme dealing with the mixed dangers and pleasures of transformation, it fuels the novel with page-turning excitement. The landscape of the story shifts constantly beneath Celeste’s (and the reader’s feet) until the very last page. Just when she (and you) thinks she has finally found a solid footing, something crucial changes forcing her to transform to meet a new challenge.” Read the full review here.

Dark Harvest, our most recent anthology of speculative fiction, has also been getting some fantastic feedback from readers.

Elizabeth Myrrdin writes: “There is something for everyone in this collection, which lures you down many a twisted road… Venture into those unknown worlds through the adventure of the read! … Not every story in this collection captivated me or held my interest, as is typical with any anthology I read, but all were well crafted and unusual in their own way. The stories that did stand out to me, shone bright. Nothing less than 5 stars will do.” Read the full review here.

ImageIcy Sedgwick, whose novella, The Necromancer’s Apprentice, will release mid-March, reveals her cover, illustrated by none other than renowned South African comic book artist Daniël Hugo and designed by Namibian visual artist Carmen Begley. 

Daniel I Russell has a new novel out which is entitled Mother’s Boys

“What do you get when a group of psychopathic killers take on a family of mutated freaks? A whole lot of bloody good fun—and Daniel I Russell delivers it in spades!” – Greg Chapman, author of The Noctuary and The Last Night of October

Natalie has strived to be different her whole life. She’s dedicated her attitude, fashion, and very being to standing out from the crowd. After witnessing a brutal attack, Natalie becomes entangled in an escalating battle between a violent street gang and a strange tribe of sewer dwellers. Now she’s about to learn just how much being different can mean.

“Take one part Sid Vicious, one part HP Lovecraft and shake. Throw in a dash of the thrill kill thug life and you have Mother’s Boys.” – David C. Hayes, author of Cannibal Fat Camp

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We have a winner!

Our promotion to increase the number of our blog followers recently ended, and the lucky winner of $50 worth of Dark Continents paperbacks is…*drumroll*…”The Chimping Dandy“, a.k.a. Rob Grimes of the UK.

Not only did Rob win free books, he also gained a new best friend (me!), partly because one of the books he chose was my own “Ghosts Can Bleed”, and partly because we share a common taste in cheesy 80’s synth pop. I discovered the latter when, at Rob’s polite invitation, I took a peek inside his book, “Mumblings of an Irate Pangolin”.

Go on, gentle readers – we already made Rob’s day by giving him free stuff. How about making his entire month by purchasing his book? It’ll be a win-win.






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The Necromancer’s Apprentice … Coming soon!

Today we welcome Icy Sedgwick, one of the newest authors who’s part of the Darkness and Dismay line here at Dark Continents. Icy’s stopped by today to share the cover for upcoming novella, The Necromancer’s Apprentice, and to talk a little about her world building. Over to you, Icy!

When it comes to writing, I’m very much in the “What if…” camp. The Necromancer’s Apprentice began in such a way – I’d just watched the godawful Nicholas Cage version of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and said to my companion, “Imagine if you replaced the sorcerer with a necromancer.” Well you can’t just leave an idea like that hanging, so the more I thought about it, the more the brooms became mummies (specifically royal mummies, intended to be resurrected for a Coronation parade) and the more Mickey became Jyximus Faire, an over-eager student of magick who ends up wielding forces he can’t control.

However, I like to think The Necromancer’s Apprentice isn’t just a retread of a familiar tale. After all, Fantasia doesn’t give us much back story or view of the world beyond Mickey’s immediate experience. For The Necromancer’s Apprentice, I wanted to come up with a world that I’d want to visit, and I devised a city of two halves, in which the Underground City forms the slum and home of the undesirables, and the City Above is a light, airy metropolis aspired to by those underground.

ImageThe Underground City first came into being when I took a trip to Edinburgh in March 2012, and I visited the labyrinthine Blair Street Vaults, and the famous Mary King Close, that was closed off and built over, leaving a network of alleys below street level.

The design of the Underground City owes a lot to the Old Town of Edinburgh, with its narrow streets and tall buildings. By comparison, the City Above is a mish-mash of my favourite European cities, favouring the canals of Venice and the ornate boulevards of Madrid or Bonn. I think it’s understandable that a writer would take from those places that they know, or have visited – it’s an easy way to form a mental picture of a place, which can then be populated with specifics.

Indeed, since first conceptualising the Underground City, it’s since been home to several Friday flash stories, each exploring the slightly weird and fantastical goings on of the place, and it’s my intention to keep writing these to continue uncovering more of its history and customs.

Yet as much as I love the two cities, the main location of The Necromancer’s Apprentice is that of the House of the Long Dead, situated on the edge of the City Above. Home to Eufame Delsenza, the Necromancer General, the House performs several functions within its society, a society which doesn’t view death in quite the same final way that Western society does. Not only does Eufame oversee the preservation of the dead, she also conducts research, particularly into alchemy, and entertains visiting dignitaries.

It’s this huge opportunity for learning that allows Jyx to overcome any distaste he might feel at working with the dead, and he essentially swaps his home in the Underground City for a new home in the underground labs of the House. The design of the House itself owes a lot to Egyptian aesthetics, with its black marble walls and striking portraits in profile, and there are a lot of other Egyptian influences in the novella, from Eufame’s cat Bastet, to statues of deities such as Thoth, as well as the Wolfkin, dog-headed men descended from Anubis who help Eufame in her work.

ImageThe Wolfkin are not to be confused with werewolves – they form part of the tradition of cynocephali that appear throughout mythology. I’m absolutely nuts about ancient Egypt, so I suppose it’s understandable that the book would be populated with figures associated with Egyptian myth or funerary practices. I’m really proud of the story I’ve ended up telling and I’m really looking forward to seeing what the characters do next! You can see some more of the images that inspired the book on my Pinterest board, and read the short stories set in the Underground City.

Cover illustration by Daniël Hugo, design by Carmen Begley.

Though Jyximus Faire lives in a crumbling tenement in the Underground City, he escapes the squalor daily to attend lessons in magic and sorcery at the prestigious Academy in the City Above.

But the pace isn’t fast enough for Jyx. He wants to learn everything—and he wants to learn it now. Then the dread necromancer general Eufame Delsenza sets her sights on Jyx; she needs a new apprentice, and Jyx fits the bill. When she tasks him with helping to prepare royal mummies for an all-important procession, he realises this might be a chance of a lifetime.

Will Jyx’s impatience lead to him taking his education into his own inexperienced hands, and can a necromancer’s apprentice really learn to raise the dead—and control them?

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