Today’s focus is on a new book to add to your TBR list. It’s actually the fourth book in the series, so you have several to delight yourself with. Are you ready to hear all about it?
The rum bar seems a cosy setting to wait out the apocalypse. When the rain stops falling those who are still breathing are forced to reevaluate their lives. Edensun, The Bringer of Chaos, and Freya’s paths are destined to cross, but when they come face to face who will be the hero and who the villain? The Morrigu gather; they are told their fate is to save the world from Chaos, but they worship a goddess of war whose intentions are dubious. Only the witch in the tower block seems to know the truth and she is unwilling to share.
Ribbons is the fourth book in the Starblood series and an LGBT love story full of horror and dark fantasy.
Screams echo outside Freya’s cell. Inmates wail and moan even more than usual. It’s impossible to block out the cacophony. The theme is an old one: all is lost, we cannot cope. This time some of the stricken aren’t patients. Freya hears the frantic ramblings of a nurse. What can be happening to cause such despair?
Do you hear it too, sister?
Yes, what’s happening?
I don’t know.
Freya is never alone, not completely. Her family might have abandoned her, blaming her for the death of her brother, stealing her daughter and locking her in this prison for lunatics, but Deya is with her. Her other, created with death, a ribbon, and a prayer.
The nurses threaten to shave off her tangled platinum locks whenever she misbehaves. The say she was admitted they pulled out the loose ribbons, but not those already bonded with her hair. She still has those, she clings to the satin strips of colour or more accurately they cling to her. With pale skin and a white nightdress those patches of red, purple and green help her remember she is real, and that she has a life beyond the grey walls.
Freya tries the door. It’s locked. She paces around the room like a caged tiger. Her tundra eyes drift across walls decorated with her hate.
It’s that bitch, Lilith. Freya’s thoughts frequently drift back to the goddess, the book and her misguided devotion. A few months in a psychiatric facility is plenty of time to obsess about past mistakes and who to blame for them.
Shhh, don’t call her that. Deya’s fear tastes like rusted iron.
Freya wants to see her other’s face, but there are no mirrors in the cell. Nothing that might be smashed or ripped or torn to make a weapon.
Why? She left us here to rot. If it wasn’t for Lilith, Ivan wouldn’t be dead. Don’t you dare defend her.
And I wouldn’t be alive, Deya answers.
She didn’t give you life. I did.
Under her instruction.
Freya shrugs. ‘Maybe.’
But you want revenge anyway?
Because of Lilith Rob is dead, Ivan is dead, and I can’t see my baby girl. Yes. I want revenge.
She’s too strong. You can’t hurt her. We can’t even reach her. We’re stuck here, Deya says.
Do you think I don’t remember how to reach her? All I need is to find a weeping willow.
You didn’t reach her. You were … sent back … to me.
Deya doesn’t articulate Freya’s humiliation and rejection in words, but the image of a giant serpent eating Freya’s arm bounces around their shared mind.
I can reach her.
I’ve been thinking about that. I’ve been thinking about a lot of things. I’m ready to worship a new goddess.
‘No!’ Deya gasps.
Freya grins, happy to shock her other. Do you think Lilith would be jealous?
Freya punches the cell door. Her knuckles split and blood smears the metal. Someone on the other side knocks in response.
‘Who’s in there?’ a voice asks between sobs.
‘It’s Freya. What’s wrong? If you open the door perhaps I can help.’
‘No one can help me.’
‘Let me try.’
The lock clicks and the door is pushed inwards.
Streaks of black mascara cover the cheeks of a woman dressed in a once pink, now filthy uniform, one of the mental health nurses whose voice Freya recognised. She’s a kind and gentle soul, one of the few who seems to want to help patients get well. Freya holds her arms open and the woman falls into her embrace sobbing.
‘Shh, let’s get you a cup of tea and you can tell me what’s happened.’ Freya leads the nurse towards the cafeteria.
The nurse trembles and wails as they walk, spilling details of every harm she has caused in her thirty-odd years of existence. ‘I poisoned my rabbit when I was four and I bullied Stu in biology class until he killed himself. I pushed my sister away when she lost my earrings; I didn’t see my dad before he died; I caught my favourite scarf in a car door and tore it; I forgot my daughter’s birthday, and I slept with my best friend’s boyfriend. I buy clothes made by children; I don’t visit my mum anymore; my daughter won’t talk to me, but she cries every night. I listen to music about raping women, and I nod respectfully at the creepy guy next door because I’m scared of him. I throw glass into the trash instead of recycling. I am a terrible person. I should be dead.’
Freya nods. ‘Me too, I guess, but life goes on.’
The nurse grips Freya’s shoulders. ‘It shouldn’t. It all needs to burn. Humanity is a disease. That’s it. I’ll burn it down. The fire will cleanse us.’
‘Cleanse who? Burn what?’ Freya asks.
‘The hospital of course and, if that doesn’t work, the world.’
Freya untangles herself from the nurse’s grip and steps back a few paces. ‘Okay. I’ll go and find something to start a fire, shall I?’
‘You’ll help me?’ A wide grin lifts the woman’s features and her wet eyes shine in excitement.
‘Of course. Wait here. I’ll be back in a minute.’
‘Thank you.’ The nurse sniffs loudly and rubs her face with her forearm. Freya retreats from the room, followed by the nurse’s intense gaze.
‘Are we going to help her?’ Deya asks.
Of course not. We’re getting out of this mad house.
And you still want to find Lilith?
‘She deserves to be punished.’
If you believe the nurse we all do.
The nurse is a lunatic.
Aren’t we too?
We might be the only sane ones left.
As Freya steps out of the hospital the madness she hoped to leave behind increases in intensity. Ambulance lights dance in the rain to the cacophony of screeching sirens and barely human screams. Deepening puddles at the bottom of the asylum steps glisten like pools of blood.
‘Are we hallucinating, sister?’ Freya asks.
‘No, this is magic,’ Deya replies. ‘Something big is happening.’
‘No doubt Lilith is responsible for this too.’ Freya grits her teeth. Lilith! The goddess who seduced then abandoned Freya to self-doubt and loneliness. Freya gave Lilith her broken soul and received nothing but sorrow in exchange.
‘Should we go back inside?’ Deya asks.
‘Not unless we want to burn. You heard that nurse. She’s going to cleanse the hospital with fire.’
‘We should go home. Make sure Ava is safe,’ Deya says.
Freya nods. Deya is right. Deya is always right. If she’d had this guiding voice years ago, she might never have lost her mind. Although Freya isn’t dressed for the inclement weather, she steps forward and descends.
As she moves beyond the shelter of the building the warm, heavy water drenches her. It plasters her hair to her face, runs off the tip of her nose and down her chin. It tastes bitter; not like any rain she’s tasted before. It weighs her down. Her nightdress reddens, reminding her of the wounds in Rob’s chest. Her poor husband. He was innocent. All he ever wanted was to love his wife and daughter and keep them safe.
‘It hurts!’ she cries.
‘I’m with you, Freya. Hurry!’
Freya runs, away from the madhouse and the shrieking ambulances. She avoids the bundles of soiled clothing on the street, too bulky to be empty. People have fallen here, and they are never getting up.
The viscous rain brings Freya’s grief to the surface and she beats her fists against her brow to dispel the insidious horrors. Her sister beaten to a pulp, her brother and husband stabbed, her daughter torn from her breast while she was locked away to rot. She moans as despair rocks her. Her legs are weak. She stumbles forward, blindly. One thing keeps her moving. One thought. A baby she must protect.
‘Ava!’ Freya cries.
‘Mummy and Daddy have her. She’s safe.’ Deya’s voice remains calm. Freya clings to it as a lifeline in a churning ocean of red. Ava’s safe. My baby is safe. I must go to her.
This part of the city is unfamiliar. Labyrinthine streets twist left and right. Trees line the edges, sheltering cars from the downpour. Their leaves heavy, ready to purge. Freya carries her burden with her, unaware that she has lost her slippers somewhere along the street.
‘We killed Ivan,’ she wails.
‘It was an accident,’ Deya reassures her. ‘Keep moving.’
‘I didn’t want to see him with her. She’s poison. Everyone around her dies, yet she endures. F***** Star.’
‘I know. We were trying to save him. You have to forgive yourself, Freya. Don’t give in to regret. Keep moving.’
Puddles suck her bare soles each time she lifts her feet. They remind Freya of the cave where she met her goddess: Lilith, the betrayer. The rain is the colour of the rose petals that fell onto her brother’s bed as she claimed his body and invoked the mother of demons.
‘Shhh,’ Deya whispers. ‘Don’t think about that now. Ava needs us.’
‘Stupid!’ Freya shouts as she punches the side of her face.
‘Naive,’ Deya insists. ‘You were a child. A frightened, lonely child, and Lilith used you.’
Gravity tugs at Freya’s limbs, but Deya refuses to let her fall. The other’s strength urges her onwards, pumps blood to her muscles, lifts her despair.
‘We can do this, Freya. We have to.’
Freya nods. She cannot let another loved one die.
Freya runs for hours. The sky grows darker even as the sun rises behind the clouds. The rain continues to fall. Occasionally she spots someone alive, always heading in the opposite direction, but mostly she passes corpses. Blood from their broken bodies mixes with the rain without altering the colour. At last she reaches a street she recognises and knows she is nearly home. Fear of her parents’ reception slows her steps. They must truly hate her now. She killed their son so they stole her daughter. An eye for an eye, a child for a child. How will they react when they see her?
‘I’m afraid,’ she admits out loud, although Deya already knows her thoughts.
‘I’m here. We’ll do this together. It’ll be okay. Daddy loves us.’
‘We’re all he has left now.’
Freya’s family knows nothing but tragedy.
About the Author
Carmilla Voiez is a proudly bisexual and mildly autistic introvert who finds writing much easier than verbal communication. A life long Goth, she is passionate about horror, the alt scene, intersectional feminism, art, nature and animals. When not writing, she gets paid to hang out in a stately home and entertain tourists.
Carmilla grew up on a varied diet of horror. Her earliest influences as a teenage reader were Graham Masterton, Brian Lumley and Clive Barker mixed with the romance of Hammer Horror and the visceral violence of the first wave of video nasties. Fascinated by the Goth aesthetic and enchanted by threnodies of eighties Goth and post-punk music she evolved into the creature of darkness we find today.
Her books are both extraordinarily personal and universally challenging. As Jef Withonef of Houston Press once said – “You do not read her books, you survive them.”
Carmilla’s bibliography includes Starblood (Vamptasy Publishing, Dec 2018), Psychonaut, book two of the Starblood series (Vamptasy Publishing, March 2019), Black Sun, book three (Vamptasy Publishing, June 2019), Starblood the graphic novel, Psychonaut the graphic novel, The Ballerina and the Revolutionary, Broken Mirror and Other Morbid Tales. Her short stories have been included in Zombie Punks Fuck Off (Clash Books), Slice Girls (Stitched Smile), Another Beautiful Nightmare (Vamptasy) and Sirens Call Magazine.
Amazon author page: http://smarturl.it/