~Blog Tour Ellen’s Review~ Angels in the Moonlight by Caimh McDonnell 


Hi everyone,

Today is Ellen’s stop on the blog tour and I’ll be sharing her review a little further down. Also, I have a HILARIOUS guest post from Caimh!

First though, here’s the all-important bookish information!

About the book:

For Detective Bunny McGarry, life is complicated, and it is about to get more so.

It’s 1999 and his hard won reputation amongst Dublin’s criminal fraternity, for being a massive pain in the backside, is unfortunately shared by his bosses. His partner has a career-threatening gambling problem and, oh yeah, Bunny’s finally been given a crack at the big time. He’s set the task of bringing down the most skilled and ruthless armed robbery gang in Irish history. So the last thing he needs in his life is yet another complication.

Her name is Simone. She is smart, funny, talented and, well, complicated. When her shocking past turns up to threaten her and Bunny’s chance at a future, things get very complicated indeed. If the choice is upholding the law or protecting those he loves, which way will the big fella turn?

Angels in the Moonlight is a standalone prequel to Caimh McDonnell’s critically acclaimed Dublin Trilogy which melds fast-paced action with a distinctly Irish acerbic wit, and it is complicated.

Click the links below to get your copy:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

About the author:


Caimh McDonnell is an award-winning stand-up comedian, author and writer of televisual treats. Born in Limerick and raised in Dublin, he has taken the hop across the water and now calls Manchester his home.

He is a man who wears many hats. As well as being an author, he is an award-winning writer for TV, a stand-up comedian and ‘the voice’ of London Irish rugby club. His debut novel, A Man with One of Those Faces was released in 2016 and it is the first book of the Dublin Trilogy series. The follow-up, The Day That Never Come was published in 2017. Both books are fast-paced crime thrillers set in Caimh’s home town of Dublin and they are laced with distinctly Irish acerbic wit.

Caimh’s TV writing credits include The Sarah Millican Television Programme, A League of Their Own, Mock the Week and Have I Got News for You. He also works as a children’s TV writer and was BAFTA nominated for the animated series ‘Pet Squad’ which he created.

During his time on the British stand-up circuit, Caimh has firmly established himself as the white-haired Irishman whose name nobody can pronounce. He has brought the funny worldwide, doing stand-up tours of the Far East, the Middle East and Near East (Norwich).

Follow Caimh’s witterings on @Caimh

Facebook:  @CaimhMcD


Ellen’s Review:

My name is Ellen and I love Bunny McGarry. There I said it. There should probably be some kind of support group for #Bunnylovers – hang on that doesn’t quite sound right but you know what I mean! Having been firmly ensconced into my heart after reading A Man With One of Those Faces and The Day That Never Comes it was a delight to get to know young Bunny and his particular brand of policing.
As always with Caimh’s book there is the perfect mix of crime and humour and I still can’t get over how successful this is. One minute we have a hard as nails local thug commandeering armed robberies and the next a flying sheep. It never gets ridiculous, it works. Every. Single.Time. So yeah; it’s a gritty crime story but it has a hilarious undercurrent and a heart of gold. Did I mention I love Bunny McGarry?

In this prequel we are introduced to a love interest for Bunny (erm….back off love) in the Southern beauty shape of Simone, a gorgeous jazz singer who is very secretive about her reasons for being in Dublin. Reasons which can only spell trouble for Bunny. Simone lives with a bunch of nuns (The Sisters of the Saint) who are in a league of their own. Including such delights as Sister Bernadette’s homemade mace, Sister Assumpta’s stripping antics and sleepy Sister Margaret. The nuns are part of the colourful cast of characters that we always find in this series. I have had a favourite one in every book and for this one I pick Magpie Mary, a tiara wearing homeless old lady. It was great to get a sneaky peek of Paul Mulchrone too and the hurling scenes had me rolling with laughter.


So you must have guessed by now that I REALLY enjoyed this book, it gets #allthestars and once again Mr McDonnell has left me gagging for more!

Previous reviews:

A Man With One Of Those Faces by Caimh McDonnell

The Day That Never Comes by Caimh McDonell Review

Telephonic Spree


I read an article recently where an author went through a list of morning routines she had in order to inspire her creativity; I’ll be honest, I was dead jealous. I’m really not a morning person at the best of times and frankly, I invariably don’t end up doing much writing until about midday, which means I’m wasting quite a bit of time faffing about. As a ‘creative professional’ you’re always trying to find a way of getting into that blessed ‘flow’ state as quickly as possible, and then staying there for as long as possible. You know the one I mean, everyone has experienced it regardless of what they do – where you’re brimful of ideas and any problems you encounter are laughably easy to fix. It feels like your brain is firing on all cylinders. You’re like Bradley Cooper in that film Limitless; you are to all intents and purposes a superhero/God/Stephen Fry.


I have tried meditation but  I honestly just sit there going ‘so, this is meditation?’.  A morning walk, caffeine, listening to the right music, reading a few motivational quotes – I’ve tried them all. I’ve had some glimmers of success but nothing consistent. In fact, do you know the only activity I’ve found that gets my mind immediately in the zone? My version of the little blue pill that makes Bradley Cooper into a tornado of genius? Telephone rope-a-dope!


I shall explain; my wife and I have a landline in our flat because, as we all know, you have to have one to get broadband. The only use the landline gets is when we use it to ring a mobile that has gone into hiding. Nobody has ever been given our landline number and we’ve had ourselves removed from all registers to stop us getting sales calls. Yet, we still get calls most days  – we just get those calls. You know the ones – scammers who have got your number from somewhere and who are looking for easily scared and vulnerable people to take advantage of. Most people see these as a nuisance, I don’t. It is very, very rare in this world to have someone on the other end of the phone who you know is a nasty piece of work, an utter waste of space. My advice is, don’t get mad, get creative!


I literally skip to the phone now when it rings, my head instantly a maelstrom of ideas. The purpose of the subsequent conversation is seeing how much time of the scammer’s time I can waste and how creative I can be. I have answered as Jorgen the Swedish ski instructor, Tourettes Terry, Barry on a rollercoaster (I pretended to be on a rollercoaster), Confused Colin who kept opening an actual window as opposed to one on the PC, and my personal favourite, Narcoleptic Niall (I explained the situation to the very understanding scammer who then shouted ‘wake up Niall’ seven times in the conversation when I kept falling asleep).


Normally the scammer is a ‘BT Engineer’ or ‘from X bank’. Once though, I did get a phone call from ‘the government’ informing me that I had been given a grant of ten thousand pounds for reasons that never became clear. In case you’re wondering, I explained how I was going to use the money on fake boobs – for me (three pairs), the cat, the dog and on the front of the house. The beauty of this is that, although the person on the other end thinks you’re insane, that was also one of the options they were hoping for, someone crazy enough to give a stranger bank details or download a dodgy bit of software. I’m really hoping ‘the government’ rings back as I have a lot more ideas on what I can spend the money on. I want to launch the first manned privately funded space mission to the sun!

There are also numerous musical options – for example, I tried to see how long I could go for only speaking in U2 lyrics. That is dead tricky by the way, he hung when I told him I couldn’t live with or without him – men really are bastards! I’ve also used it as an opportunity to stretch my own musical wings though, I do enjoy putting the scammer ‘on hold’ and then providing the hold music myself. I’ve done show tunes, freeform jazz, a brief and regrettable foray into gangster rap  – the point there is that there are no wrong choices in telephonic improv.


So, when they hang up, as they always do – I’m left creatively inspired and feeling morally fulfilled as I’ve made my day start with a bang and I’ve hopefully made a terrible human being more fully aware of the contempt they are held in by the rest of society.


Huge thanks to Elaine Ofori and Caimh McDonnell for having Ellen on the tour! 🙂

Make sure to check out these great blogs too:

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Home is Nearby by Magdalena McGuire ~Ellen’s Review


Today is Ellen’s stop on the blog tour for Home is Nearby by Magdalena McGuire and I’ll be sharing her review with you all today. As usual though, here’s the all-important bookish information!

About the book:

1980: the beginning of the Polish Crisis. Brought up in a small village, country-girl Ania arrives in the university city of Wroclaw to pursue her career as a sculptor. Here she falls in love with Dominik, an enigmatic writer at the centre of a group of bohemians and avant-garde artists who throw wild parties. When martial law is declared, their lives change overnight: military tanks appear on the street, curfews are introduced and the artists are driven underground. Together, Ania and Dominik fight back, pushing against the boundaries imposed by the authoritarian communist government. But at what cost? ‘Home Is Nearby’ is a vivid and intimate exploration of the struggle to find your place in the world no matter where you are.

Published by Impress Books in November, click HERE to order your copy!

Ellen’s Review:

Have you ever read a book and felt you were destined to find and love it? That although it was set in a different time and place to what you know it resonated with you? Home is Nearby was that book for me and it made my heart sing! It also makes me anxious to write a review as my words are no match for those of the author.

The story begins in Wroclaw, Poland 1980 before martial law was introduced. Ania lives with her father and has gained a scholarship to university to study art (I very briefly studied Art History at university). I was entranced by the descriptions of Ania’s sculptures and the beauty she created out of such diverse mediums. Ania meets and falls in love with Dominik at university and is introduced to his group of avant garde friends including the irrepressible and boundary pushing Malgorzata. I loved how daring she was and that she was prepared to risk her freedom for free speech through her art. Once martial law is imposed life gets a lot tougher for them all; Ania a

nd Dominik fight back for what they believe in but at what cost to their liberty, love and friends/family.

Magdalena’s writing is an absolute delight; I was there, drinking in the art and inhaling the delicious food aromas. In 1981 at aged three I stayed with family in Gdansk. My grandad was Polish so my childhood was full of rye bread, kabanos (polish sausage), sauerkraut etc. This book transported me back to those times.

In 1983 Ania has emigrated to Australia alone and is struggling to find her creative streak after the trauma of all she has experienced. Again the gorgeous descriptions of where Ania was brought back memories; in April 1983 I stayed with relatives in Queensland for three months. I absolutely loved this book and it really packs an emotional punch, I had tears in my eyes at points. The message that art can transcend politics and also give comfort and strength in difficult times was beautiful. Also that home is always nearby because you will forever carry it in your heart.

Five stars, the story will stay with me for a long time.

Make sure to check out the rest of the blog tour:

Sleep Savannah Sleep by Alistair Cross~ Ellen’s Review


About the book:

The Dead Don’t Always Rest in Peace

Jason Crandall, recently widowed, is left to raise his young daughter and rebellious teenage son on his own – and the old Victorian in Shadow Springs seems like the perfect place for them to start over. But the cracks in Jason’s new world begin to show when he meets Savannah Sturgess, a beautiful socialite who has half the men in town dancing on tangled strings.

When she goes missing, secrets begin to surface, and Jason becomes ensnared in a dangerous web that leads to murder – and he becomes a likely suspect. But who has the answers that will prove his innocence? The jealous husband who’s hell-bent on destroying him? The local sheriff with an incriminating secret? The blind old woman in the house next door who seems to watch him from the windows? Or perhaps the answers lie in the haunting visions and dreams that have recently begun to consume him.

Or maybe, Savannah herself is trying to tell him that things aren’t always as they seem – and that sometimes, the dead don’t rest in peace.

Out on September 25th, click HERE to order your copy!

About the author:


Alistair Cross’ debut novel, The Crimson Corset, a vampiric tale of terror and seduction, was an immediate bestseller earning praise from veteran vampire-lit author, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and New York Times bestseller, Jay Bonansinga, author of The Walking Dead series. In 2012, Alistair joined forces with international bestseller, Tamara Thorne, and as Thorne & Cross, they write – among other things – the successful Gothic series, The Ravencrest Saga. Their debut collaboration, The Cliffhouse Haunting, was a bestseller. They are currently at work on their next solo novels and a new collaborative project.

In 2014, Alistair and Tamara began the radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!, which has featured such guests as Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake novels, Peter Atkins, screenwriter of HELLRAISER 2, 3, and 4, worldwide bestseller V.C. Andrews, and New York Times best sellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, and Christopher Moore.

Ellen’s Review:

If you’re looking for a modern gothic tale you can’t go wrong with this book; a spooky murder mystery set in a quaint American town called Shadow Springs. Jason Crandall (recently widowed) and his children Amber and Brent move into a Victorian house in the town and are soon introduced to its various inhabitants: sweet Dottie Blanchard and her astrologically named cats (all 12 signs!), Travis Delgado with the reputation as the local bully and Tabitha Cooper their blind neighbour who is rumoured to be a witch to name but a few. Then there is Savannah Sturgess, the provocative girlfriend of Jason’s realtor Flynn Garvey. She’s sexy and she knows it!! Savannah has a certain reputation in Shadow Springs and Jason is firmly in her sights as her next conquest.

Things take a paranormal turn when Savannah goes missing and Jason starts experiencing terrifying visions as to what has happened to her. Thanks to these horrific hallucinations Jason is able to help the police with their investigations and the missing persons case soon turns into a hunt for Savannah’s murderer. It transpires that a lot of the town’s occupants had issues with her and solving the case will prove tricky, especially when the sheriff is guarding his own secrets.

I enjoyed this book and really felt for Jason who is suddenly thrust into ghostly happenings as well as trying to hold his family together after the loss of his wife. I would definitely read more from this author.


Big Flies by Keith Hirshland~ Ellen’s Review

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*Many thanks to the author for the review copy*

About the book:

After Chester Daniel David, highly celebrated travel writer and hospitality critic, dies in an automobile accident, his son, Leland, is the heir to his prosperous estate. Among the late writer’s possessions are stacks of magazines hidden in an attic that suggest that his stories about his world travels were less than authentic.

As Leland grew up, it seemed as if his father was never home. If he wasn’t at the exotic locations depicted in the various publications, then where was he? And what was he doing?

In a witty mystery that simultaneously follows the lives of the father and son, clues that Chester leaves behind point to notorious unsolved crimes committed within a fifteen-year span:

    • The D. B. Cooper plane skyjacking and ransom demand in the Pacific Northwest


    • The theft from a Caribbean museum of a twenty-four-carat-gold cross recovered from a sixteenth-century shipwreck


    • The inexplicable vanishing of $1 million from the Chicago First National Bank


    • The theft of a collection of priceless artifacts from a Mexican anthropological museum

As Leland unlocks the mysteries surrounding his father’s true life, he finds himself with even more unfathomable questions that he never anticipated asking about his family—and himself.

Click HERE to order your copy!

Ellen’s review:

“Laws are spider webs through which the big flies pass and the little ones get caught.”


One of the most original books that I have read this year – I enjoyed how the stories of Leland and his father Chester were told in tandem. A chapter from Leland in These Days discovering his father wasn’t the travel writer he had always been told and then a chapter from Chester in Those Days revealing his true activities.


I was intrigued and entertained throughout although there was one point in the story where I got a little confused and had to go back to re-read as it seemed a bit “Bobby Ewing”.


Chester was my favourite character in Big Flies; his story of heists and derring do really appealed to me. The weaving of real life mysteries onto the narrative really added to the story and left me wanting to know more. I can’t leave this review without mentioning another favourite – Harriet Potter, Leland’s two-year-old Bernese mountain dog. I just loved her!


4 stars!


~Blog Tour~ One To Watch by Rachel Amphlett~ Ellen’s Review

Hi everyone,

Today is Ellen’ stop on the blog tour for One To Watch by Rachel Amphlett and she’ll be sharing her review with you all. As usual, here’s the all-important bookish information first!

About the book:

One to Watch Cover LARGE EBOOK2

Sophie Whittaker shared a terrifying secret. Hours later, she was dead.

Detective Kay Hunter and her colleagues are shocked by the vicious murder of a teenage girl at a private party in the Kentish countryside.

A tangled web of dark secrets is exposed as twisted motives point to a history of greed and corruption within the tight-knit community.

Confronted by a growing number of suspects and her own enemies who are waging a vendetta against her, Kay makes a shocking discovery that will make her question her trust in everyone she knows.

One to Watch is a gripping murder mystery thriller, and the third in the Detective Kay Hunter series:

  4. HELL TO PAY (out 2017)

One to Watch (The Detective Kay Hunter series) (Detective Kay Hunter crime thriller series Book 3)

About the author:


Rachel Amphlett is the bestselling author of the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the new Detective Kay Hunter series, as well as a number of standalone crime thrillers.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel’s novels appeal to a worldwide audience, and have been compared to Robert Ludlum, Lee Child and Michael Crichton.

She is a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold, being sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint in 2014, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag in 2017

Ellen’s review:

It’s no secret that I am a massive fan of the Kay Hunter series (and Rachel Amphlett). I was delighted to be given the opportunity to read and review the 3rd in the series One to Watch. This could be read as a standalone but why deny yourself the pleasure of the first two; Scared to Death and Will to Live? Go get them all and dive in.


DS Kay Hunter is one of my favourite protagonists; she is the perfect paradigm of a police officer. Willing to go to any lengths to grill suspects even if that means she may face disciplinary action from her superiors. Underneath this resilient exterior Kay has a soft and vulnerable side. She is still obviously distraught over a personal loss as well as the thought that she may not be able to trust her team, some of who who she counts as close friends.


I really felt for the young victim of the story, 16yr old Sophie Whittaker. Found bludgeoned to death at her own “purity pledge” party, there were a number of likely suspects, none of who seemed particularly keen on participating in the enquiry process. It was unsettling to think that such a young woman would have so many people who would want her dead. There were tons of twists, turns and red herrings – all the ingredients for a winning police procedural.


I absolutely loved One to Watch and hereby award it #allthestars. I cannot wait for Kay Hunter #4 Hell to Pay later this year!

Follow the tour:

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~Blog Tour~ The Spy Who Chipped The China Teacup by Angie Smith~Ellen’s Review

Hello everyone,

Today is Ellen’s stop on the blog tour for The Spy Who Chipped The China Teacup by Angie Smith and she’s sharing her review with you all.

About the book:

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Arms dealing. Murder. Corruption.

In Africa, Taylor Hudson reaches the stark realisation that she is in imminent danger. Time is nearly up when, out of nowhere, she is thrown a lifeline.  Left with little option, she places her trust in a complete stranger. But who is this stranger and why the interest in saving her?

The answers lie 6,000 miles away, deep inside the British Secret Intelligence Service, where a former, disgraced, senior officer is attempting to work his way back into the heart of the organisation. But what are his real intentions?

What ensues is a deadly game of bluff, double-bluff and triple-bluff. Can The China Teacup survive this time?

The Spy Who Chipped The China Teacup by Angie Smith

About the author:

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Angie Smith, having recently survived locally advanced breast cancer, discovered that her lifelong desire to write had been rekindled. Consequently, her love for international crime thrillers became the springboard to the creation of the highly acclaimed CXVI Trilogy.

Her passion for travelling to exotic places greatly inspires her work. A recent trip to Southern Africa inspired her fourth novel, The Spy Who Chipped The China Teacup.

Angie, born in 1961, was educated at Huddersfield University where she graduated with a First Class Honours Degree in Education and Training. She was nominated for an award on her knowledge transfer partnerships work, during which she co-produced and presented a journal article at the International Social Work Conference in Durban.

Ellen’s review:

I’ll be honest and say I have never read an espionage/spy thriller as I never thought they’d be my “thing”, so was intrigued to pop that particular cherry with this book by Angie Smith. I do have the CXVI trilogy on my kindle to read and apparently there are characters from that series that appear in this novel, I did not feel I had missed out and it didn’t affect my enjoyment.

This book transported me from my dreary, cold reading spot in West Yorkshire to the beautiful white beaches of South Africa; Angie has obviously put a lot of research into this area. There are a lot of prominent roles and I did get a little lost at the beginning with who was where and what they did. Once I got into the swing of it I really started to relish all the twists, turns, bluffs and double bluffs. In fact I think there were some treble bluffs in there at some point!

My favourite person was Stephany Pascal and I was annoyed on her behalf when she was met with such wariness and scepticism, especially when this was mainly from the other female players Taylor and Zoe. They seemed to be particularly harsh on her and it really irritated me! My second favourite was Daniel Shepherd – a man of many faces and talents.
I enjoyed my first taste of espionage brew and wouldn’t hesitate to read more. Four stars.

Catch up wiith the blog tour:

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~Blog Tour~ Disenchanted by Heide Goody and Iain Grant~ Ellen’s Review

Hi everyone,

Today is Ellen’s stop on the blog tour for Disenchanted by Heide Goody and Iain Grant, and she’s sharing her review with you guys along with a story from the authors! First though, here’s all of the bookish information you need to know!

About the book:

Disenchanted cover.jpg

Ella Hannaford has a small business to run, an overworked father to look after and a future stepmother who wants a perfect wedding.
Can she avoid a girly night out with her clueless stepsister?
Can she side-step lovesick suitors at every turn?
Not if it’s up to that team of foul-mouthed dwarfs who want to forcibly drag her in
to her happily ever after.
Gingerbread cottages, dodgy European gangsters, gun-toting grannies, wisecracking wolves, stubborn fairy godmothers, ogres, beanstalks and flying carpets abound in a tale about what happens when you refuse to accept your Happy Ending.
Buy the book:
Ellen’s Review:

I’ve been in need of something fun to read recently, so when I was given the chance to review Disenchanted I was quick to offer my services. I have read and loved the Clovenhoof series and knew that I was guaranteed giggles galore.


Before we get to me actual review, I have to mention the cover which is absolutely beautiful. It reminds me of the Zap lollies I used to get from the ice-cream van as a child; totally lickable!


Now to the story – I was not disappointed in the slightest: snorts/giggles and guffaws aplenty. This twisted fairytale was absolutely on my humour wavelength. At one point I lost the plot over the word shepherd’s pie and it’s still making me laugh to think about it!  I loved Ella’s no-nonsense attitude and her refusal to accept the “happy ever after” ending that her intimidating fairy godmother has planned. It is difficult to pick a favourite character as they all had a certain charm but if pressed I’ll go for the talking teapot with potterycide on his mind, Grandma Rose for her tough Yorkshire outlook (I’m Yorkshire born and bred myself tha’ knows) and I’m a little worried that I may have peculiar feelings over a certain Mr Wolf….


An unconditional five stars for this intelligent and hugely entertaining book. I look forward to the next from Heide and Iain!

Short story:

Heide and Iains latest novel, Disenchanted, is out this month. The fairy tale fantasy comedy was
written with no small assistance from Dr Epiphany Alexander of Sheffield Universitys Department for Folklore and Oral History. As an insight into the research material used to create Disenchanted, we present one of Dr Alexanders letters to the author duo.
My Dear Friends,
I came home from my trip to Leeds to find a copy of your book,
Disenchanted, on my doormat. The
artwork is delightful and the jacket text suggests a very, um, eventful narrative. I
m sure I will love it
and will no doubt be able to give you a critical opinion when we
meet a week on Saturday. It is my
habit to read in the rear study perhaps with a round of cucumber sandwic
hes and a pot of tea. Pak
Choi, my loyal retainer, brews a superior dandelion tea but is, sadly, no
help with the sandwiches (its the cutlery; his folk cannot abide the cold touch of iron). H
owever, I realise now that such niceties
as tea and reading will have to wait for the time being as I must be off again tomorrow.
[Pak Choi has drawn a superior picture of my usual tea]
As I say, I came home to Sheffield to find your book on my doormat
but, in all honesty, I was more
distracted by the vellum parchment I had brought home with me. Its
gruesome origins
notwithstanding, it was a peculiar piece, covered as it was with writing in
a precise hand but of an
ink that had faded to almost total
illegibility. There was little of it I could make out but there was a
clear mention of Langs Black Fairy Book and that alone was enough to send me all aquiver.
I am sure as amateur students of fairy tales, you are aware of the Victorian scholars incomparable
work in collecting and categorising fairy tales. His twelve
books of fairy tales are well-
known and widely published but I had only ever heard scandalous and dark rumours of this
thirteenth volume. The only other word I could truly make out in the text was
whilst seeming tantalisingly familiar, was unknown to me.
To clear my head and perhaps inspire thought, Pak Choi and I took a walk. My house backs onto
Wardsend Cemetery, home to the final resting place of a Lakota Sioux who died in
the city while
performing with Buffalo Bills Wild West Show. There is a local story about how the ghost of the
Sioux flagged down a train and thereby prevented a collision with a derailed coal t
ruck but, delicious
though it is, my research into the matter traces the story back to no
earlier than 1973 and an
argument between two drunken Sheffield Wednesday fans in the Masons Arms. This is how
tales are born.
We cut through the cemetery, past the Trebor sweet factory and down to the banks of the River
Don. There is a veritable forest of fig trees growing along the Don towards the east of the city. The
trees are hardly native. As best anyone can tell, their roots
not their literal roots, dear friends
the fig roll factories that dotted the area. However, used to a Mediterranean climate, the original fig
trees were only able to grow because of the hot water being continually
pumped into the Don by the
riverside steel works. Pak Choi and I did not make it as far as the fig trees but when we do, I always
try to spot any flowers on the trees, just like Dunzfel in the old
Eastern European tale.
The Six Tasks of Dunzfel appears in Langs Lilac Fairy Book. It is one of a broad range of fairy tales in
which the poor protagonist
in this case, a young man who wished to marry the princess
is forced
to undertake a number of seemingly impossible tasks. In Dunzfels case, the tasks are to fill a barrel
of water from a well using only a sieve, to state the number of hairs on the kings head, to hold his
breath from one year to the next, to collect a posy of a thousand fig flowers, to weave a carpet from
s silk, and to summon all the wolves in the world. Dunzfel achieves most
of these by cunning
(he plucks a hair from the kings head and tells him he has one less hair than before and holds his
breath just before midnight on New Years Eve) and through the assistance of animal friends (who
line his sieve with moss and find a thousand of the elusive fig flowers fo
r him). The request for a rug
of spider silk is answered with sarcasm (Dunzfel presents the king with a twig and
says he will weave
the rug on a loom fashioned by the king from the twig). The king waives
the final task, seeing that
Dunzfel has completed the other five and not wishing to have all the wolv
es in the world turn up on
his doorstep.
We returned home in good spirits –
Pak Choi once again regaled me with the tale of why he had set
fire to the Trebor factory in the early seventies (it is said that the ferocious
fire that consumed the
mountains of sugar in the factory created a burned toffee smell across the city
for weeks)
only to
find that our house had been burgled! The downstairs rooms were in some disarray. Furniture had
been overturned, drawers ransacked and items thrown from shelves. Anything and every
thing of
value or interest had been taken. You will be pleased to hear that my copy of your book was
untouched. But, most alarming of all, the vellum parchment I had placed at the very back of the desk
drawer had been found and taken. Pak Choi thought this most suspicious.
I was suddenly reminded of the French tale of Rum Baba Boy. Perhaps the recollection
was caused
by the sight of the destruction of my home, coupled with Pak Chois talk of sweet factories
Baba Boy is a curious variant of the gingerbread man story, except in this instance, the young
protagonist is not made from gingerbread but alcohol-soaked pastry. The poor,
drunken creature
spends nearly the entire narrative running through the city, crying
lack-a-day, lack-a-day, who will
find a cure for my malady?
Rum Baba Boy runs through the houses of Paris, looking for a cure for
his drunken madness. He ransacks the home of a baker, a doctor, a lawyer, a priest
and a merchant.
Only when he reaches the poorest part of the city does a stray terrier offer him a
cure for all his ills
and gobbles him up. Unlike the gingerbread man, Rum Baba Boy does gain
some form of revenge
from beyond the grave; the terrier, intoxicated by the rum-soaked cake, falls i
n the Seine and
[here is a picture of a drunk terrier falling into the Seine]
The human mind is
curious thing; the recalling of that story reminded me where I had encountered
the word
before. I gave a sudden shout of
Bunty Jangles!
which, I can assure you, is
not something I shout out often. I followed it with a shout of
I must go to Uttoxeter!
which is
something I shout out even less.
While Pak Choi packed a small valise for me, I telephoned for a taxi-cab. T
he young man who came
to the door had a bit of a terrier look about him and his not insi
gnificant eyebrows put me in mind of
the hotel-boy I met in Leeds. But we shouldn
t judge people by their appearances, should we?
I am taking my copy of your book with me and shall read it as I go
on this little adventure of my own.
I will write again,
Dr E. Alexander
Dr Epiphany Alexanders latest book,
Get Your Head Out Of The Clouds: Why Jack Shouldnt Have
Climbed That Beanstalk
is currently available from Sheffield Academic Press.
Heide Goody and Iain Grants novel, Disenchanted, is available now from Amazon.

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