Where Shadows Lie by Allegra Pescatore – SPFBO #6 Semi-Finals Review

Where Shadows Lie

SPFBO #6 Semi-Finals Review

Shadow of a Dead God by Patrick Samphire – SPFBO #6 Semi-Finals Review

Shadow of a Dead God

SPFBO #6 Semi-Finals Review

Shields in Shadow by Andy Peloquin – SPFBO #6 Semi-Finals Review

Shields in Shadow

SPFBO #6 Semi-Finals Review


The Lore of Prometheus by Graham Austin-King – Cover Reveal & Excerpt!

Those of you who are new to Fantasy-Faction may not know this, but I love SFF art, and am particularly found of book cover art. It won’t be a surprise then that this is one of my favorite types of announcements to post. For today we have an amazing cover reveal from author Graham Austin-King!

For those of you who don’t know him or his work, let me introduce you:

Graham Austin KingGraham Austin-King was born in the south of England and weaned on broken swords and half-forgotten spells. A shortage of these forced him to consume fantasy novels at an ever-increasing rate, turning to computers and tabletop gaming between meals.

He experimented with writing at the beginning of an education that meandered through journalism, international relations, and law. To this day he is committed to never allowing those first efforts to reach public eyes.

After roaming across both England and Canada he settled once again in the north of England surrounded by a seemingly endless horde of children and a very patient wife who can arguably say her husband is away with the faeries.

But enough about the man, let’s tell you about the book! It is a cover reveal after all.

The Lore of Prometheus is Graham’s fifth novel and draws on a foundation of literary influences ranging from David Eddings to Dean Koontz. Here is the official blurb:

John Carver has three rules: Don’t drink in the daytime, don’t gamble when the luck has gone, and don’t talk to the dead people who come to visit.

It has been almost five years since the incident in Kabul. Since the magic stirred within him and the stories began. Fleeing the army, running from the whispers, the guilt, and the fear he was losing his mind, Carver fell into addiction, dragging himself through life one day at a time.

Desperation has pulled him back to Afghanistan, back to the heat, the dust, and the truth he worked so hard to avoid. But there are others, obsessed with power and forbidden magics, who will stop at nothing to learn the truth of his gifts. Abducted and chained, Carver must break more than his own rules if he is to harness this power and survive.

Sound cool? Well wait till you see the cover!

The Lore of Prometheus (cover)

Awesome right!? Pen Astridge did an AMAZING job on this cover! I love the way the smoke and fire coil around the two figures creating a kind of yin-yang effect. The opposite energies are mirrored in the man and the woman, one igniting a flame and the other putting it out. You can tell their energies and motivations are different, but also seem to stem from the same place.

And if that cover doesn’t get you excited to pick up this book, then check out below where the author has generously given us a sample to read today! And if your interest is peaked, then you can go ahead and preorder The Lore of Prometheus here! You can read more about The Lore of Prometheus on its Goodreads page. And if you’d like to learn more about Graham’s many other works, you can visit his website and follow him on Facebook and Twitter!

Happy Reading!

– – –

The Lore of Prometheus

Chapter Sample

The door opened, pivoting out to one side with a soft pneumatic hiss. The sound called to Mackenzie, and she lifted her head from where it lolled back against her shoulder. She blinked and scrunched her eyelids together, trying to clear the sleep from her eyes as she glared at a man in white surgical scrubs. He looked her up and down, then glanced at his notes.

“What do you want?” she asked. Her voice was a weak croak and she turned her head to sip water from the hose.

When had she stopped caring that she was naked? She was strapped to a frame in the middle of a room, stark naked, and she couldn’t care less about it. For a fleeting moment she realised that wasn’t normal, but the thought vanished almost as soon as it arrived. Was that a sign she was giving up?

“Just some tests,” he said in a soft voice. She looked at him as he stepped into the light. Another Middle Eastern man with a short, dark beard and excellent English. Just like all the others who came in here wearing scrubs and carrying clipboards, he could have been from anywhere. He pulled an ear thermometer from his bag and reached for her head with one gloved hand.

“Don’t touch me,” she hissed, twisting her head away from him.

“Easy,” he said, speaking to her like she was a spooked horse. “I will not hurt you. Just let me take your temperature to start with.”

It wasn’t as if she had much choice. She could make it difficult for him, but in the end, he would get what he wanted, and all her struggles would get her was a sore ear.

“Fine,” she said, sighing and relaxing her neck.

She stared at a point on the featureless wall as he took her temperature and worked a cuff around her arm to test her blood pressure. She flinched as he took hold of her chin but forced herself to relax again as he examined her eyes with an ophthalmoscope.

“Why are you doing this?” she asked, blinking at the light from the scope.

He ignored her, walking around the frame to examine her other eye and making a notation on his clipboard.

“You’re a doctor, or a nurse at least,” she carried on. If he didn’t want to talk, he could damn well listen. “Aren’t you supposed to help people? How can you be a part of this?”

He glanced at her then, meeting her eyes for the briefest moment before looking away. “I need to take some blood. Are you going to cooperate?”

She glared at him in silence until he parted his lips to speak again.

“Do I have a choice?” she growled.

He shrugged and tightened a strap around her upper arm, going through the process of drawing blood that she’d done so many times herself at the clinic in Kabul.

“What’s your name?” she asked, knowing he wouldn’t answer. She was a lab rat, you don’t talk to your lab rats. The thought brought a small smile to her lips.

“My name’s Mackenzie,” she told him, enjoying the wince her words brought to his face. “Mackenzie Cartwright, from Brisbane. A person, with a mum and dad, friends. People who miss me.”

Their eyes met again for a moment and she felt a small surge of pleasure in the minute grimace that had shown behind his circular glasses. You don’t name your lab rats either. It’s much easier to hurt something when it doesn’t have a name, or a life beyond its cage. But she had a name now, and he knew there were people who would notice she was gone. He might not be responsible for her abduction, but he was responsible for himself; and if she could make him suffer, then she would. He didn’t speak again, taping to cotton wool swab on the inside of her elbow and leaving quickly.

She sank back against the frame with a sigh. Calling him out like that might have been cruel, but she didn’t have time to be nice. She needed answers. “Fuck it,” she muttered. “Maybe it’s time to be cruel.”

“Armond?” she shouted.

He didn’t answer for a time. It had been days since he’d begun any conversations himself and his responses to her shouted questions had been brief and confused.

“Mackenzie?” He sounded alert and concerned, rather than dulled and exhausted. What had changed? It didn’t matter. He was alert, that was something at least.

“I need to know what’s coming for me, Armond,” she told him. “I need some answers.”

He didn’t respond, but then she hadn’t really expected him to.

“How long have you been here?” she asked, wondering if his lucidity had faded already.

“I don’t know…” His admission was a quiet thing. Small and uncertain, as if he feared to give voice to it.

“Weeks? Months?” Mackenzie persisted. “You must have some idea?”

“I think maybe six months. It might be longer. It’s so hard to tell.”

Six months?


What would being penned up like this do to you after six months? It was no wonder Armond drifted in and out. The body needs to be up and moving to keep muscles from atrophy, and the mind is little different. Six months with nothing to look at but these four walls would be enough to drive anyone crazy.

She bit back a response and took a deep shuddering breath before she spoke. “How many others do you think there are?”

“I’m not sure,” he replied, his voice curious, as if he wasn’t sure where she was going with this. “At least two others. There hasn’t been anyone else I could actually speak to for a long time. I could hear them sometimes, though.”

“You spoke to someone else, someone before me?”

“Yes,” he admitted. “A Dutch woman, Femke. She had two daughters. Do you have children?”

She ignored that. The mention of children and family somehow made this all so much worse and, for a moment, she was grateful she didn’t have the kids she’d always wanted. What was happening to her was bad enough without her becoming the mother who simply vanished one day.

“What happened to her?” She hadn’t meant to ask the question. She certainly didn’t want to hear the answer.

He paused again, long enough that she wondered if she’d lost him.

“She went quiet,” he said. “She stopped answering me.”

There was no need to query what that meant. She knew as much as he did. Death wouldn’t come with screaming and blood in this place. Death lived in the silences between their conversations, waiting to reach out and claim another victim.

“Do you think anyone ever gets out of here?” Her voice was hesitant, laced with her fear of his answer.

Armond’s reply was quiet, just on the edges of her hearing. “I don’t think so, Mackenzie, no.”

“They’re crazy, Armond. They think I can do some kind of magic.”

“I know,” he replied, and she shivered, shocked that the mention of magic hadn’t even given him pause.

“I told you they are looking for miracles,” he said. “What do they want you to do?”

She swallowed a lump from her throat. “Put out a candle, so far. They think I can control fire.”

“Can you?”

She stared at the wall for a moment before she trusted herself to speak again, raking her teeth across her lip. There had been no incredulity or surprise in his voice, as if controlling fire were perfectly normal. She cleared her throat and hoped she sounded more certain than she felt. “No, of course not. What do they think you can do?”

“I heal,” Armond told her. “I heal much faster than other people. They wanted to know how far they could take it.”

She fell silent as she thought about that. How would they test that? There is only one way to see how fast someone can heal. “Dear God, Armond. What… what have they done to you?”

“They cut me, Mackenzie. They cut me and then record how long it takes to get better. It started small in the beginning…” He trailed off, and for a few minutes there was silence.

She waited, hoping he would come back on his own.

“Armond?” she called, her patience gone.

“There is no stopping them,” he spoke suddenly, as if unaware he’d fallen quiet. “No begging or bargaining will help. Just give them what they want.”

“And what if I can’t?”

It was his turn to be shocked into silence. “I don’t know,” he admitted finally. “I don’t know what you do then.”

“You sound like you’ve given up.”

“Perhaps I have.”

“You can’t give up, Armond. You have to fight. You have to believe you’re going to get out of here somehow. That we’re going to get out.”

There was an odd noise and for a moment she thought he might be crying. “I can’t leave, Mackenzie. I can never leave. Not now…”

She frowned. What sense did that make? “Why not?”

When he spoke again there was an edge to his voice. Hard, and brittle as broken glass, but no less able to wound. “They discovered I can heal, Mackenzie, so they cut me. Small cuts to start with, to test how long it took the wound to close. After time, the cuts got bigger, deeper. And then they took a finger.”

She grimaced as he carried on, ignoring her gasp.

“The wound healed, and in time, the finger even grew back a little. So, they took more. They took my foot, and then my lower leg. They’ve carved me up, Mackenzie. Chopped me into pieces like meat on a slab. There’s nothing left of me. Don’t you understand? I barely have arms or legs now. They’re going to keep taking until there’s nothing left of me to scream.”

The whisper of the door mechanism cut off her next question, and the same mute technicians she had seen before entered.

“I can’t do it,” she called out, prompting a glance and a whispered conversation between the two of them.

She froze when she saw the needle. A simple hypodermic, something she’d used countless times at the clinic; but then she’d been doing simple inoculations or administering pain relief. Somehow, she doubted this contained anything so innocent. In a sci-fi film it would have been some kind of lurid green liquid. As it was, it was just a clear fluid. But you can hide any number of horrors in a clear liquid: Ebola, HIV, Cancer… the options are almost endless.

She flinched back as far as the straps would let her as they drew closer, faces half-hidden behind the surgical masks they wore today. “What is that? What are you doing?”

“A mild sedative, do not worry. It will simply help to relax you.”

“No,” she pleaded as the nurse took hold of her arm, and then there was that peculiar sensation that comes with an injection—part pain, and partly the odd feel of the needle inside her flesh. They fiddled with the candle as she watched through half-lidded eyes and then withdrew quickly, as if she were some kind of caged animal that might bite if they lingered too long.

Whatever it was they had given her was already starting to take effect. Her arms hung limp from the restraints and her head sank back against the frame as she viewed the world through a detached haze.

“Put out the candle,” the voice commanded her through the speakers. She looked around, searching for whoever had spoken until she caught herself. The technicians had gone, the door was already closed. How had they left without her noticing?

“Put out the candle.”

The candle was suddenly lit, burning bright, not three meters from her face. When had they moved it closer? She watched the flame for a time, fascinated by the colour until she shook herself.

Christ, what was in that needle?

It was a little like being very drunk.

“Put out the candle, Mackenzie.”

Did the voice speak again? Or was she just remembering it? All at once the words made sense to her, like an image coming into focus, and she turned her head from where it had lolled back against her shoulder.

“Put out the candle.”

She puffed at it, giggling away to herself as she sang. “Happy Birthday, dear Mackenzie…”

“Not like that. Use your mind, your power.”

A small crease grew on her forehead as she puzzled over that. The words made sense in isolation but—

“Put out the candle.”

God, anything to shut him up!

She reached out, almost lazily, and touched the flame with her awareness. It guttered, and then froze as she grasped it, strangling it. She shrank it down to a pinprick, not pausing to consider how she was doing it, and then lifted it higher, turning the tiny fleck of flame into a raging torrent that consumed the candle in moments.

“There,” she muttered in a slurred voice, rolling her head back towards the window. “Happy now?”


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