Hauling Like A Brooligan

Stephen Gallagher

Blackwood: a fairy tale

That stocking-filler time of year approaches…

This year’s chapbook offering is Blackwood: a fairy tale, a 69-page novella that was original to my Plots and Misadventures collection from Subterranean under the title The Blackwood Oak. It gets a bit dark, so it’s flagged for readers of 10 years and up.

All profits to Doctors Without Borders, and I’ll match whatever it makes.

Here’s what you or your loved one or worst enemy will get for your extremely modest outlay:

Back in1912, a rural valley somewhere in England was flooded to create a new reservoir. Three villages and an ancient woodland disappeared beneath the waters and a new, man-made forest was planted on the banks of the lake. Now it’s a leisure park supervised by Forest Ranger Gideon Ryan with backup from his semi-retired father, Donald.

Five generations of the Ryan family have served this valley. Their traditional duties have included managing the woodland, policing the area, looking after the public… and dealing in a matter-of-fact way with the occasional rogue nature spirit or elemental that may need capturing and returning to its habitat. They do this quickly and discreetly, ensuring that the existence of these relatively harmless ‘hidden folk’ remains unnoticed by the general public.

But when globetrotting academic and anthropologist Ariane Ryan returns to the family home, she finds her father and brother preparing to take on an unusual challenge. The lake’s been partly drained and, for the first time in a century, the ancient woodland has re-emerged.

Its Elementals, trapped in darkness and slow decay for all that time, have been set loose. And for at least one of them, there’s an old score to be settled…

Buy it now

Chapbooks from previous years are still available. Art historical By the River, Fontainebleau, sideshow gothic Melody James, and the award-winning The Governess. All at £3.99