When Angels Fear~Polly J. Mordant

Fleeing from a violent and abusive relationship, Emma seeks refuge in Flammark, a pin-in-the-wall destination-or so she thinks. However, besides making a temporary home in the vicar’s cottage and finding herself employment with the village doctor, Emma also finds herself still feeling uneasy, and with a strange sleeping sickness taking over the town following a young girls disappearance after the death of her father, Emma soon learns all is not as it seems and she is at the epicentre of a supernatural shit-show of epic proportions. Can she and her new found friends and allies actually put a stop to the evil surrounding the village? Or will it devour them as it has done its previous victims for over a century?

I was so excited to read this book! I’ve not read many supernatural-themed titles over the last year like I had hoped, so got stuck straight in!

The first half of the book was actually a little slow on the pick-up for me-although I really enjoyed it, it was the second half of the book that really impressed me.

The characters are all very well written and the atmosphere is set perfectly throughout-even at the end, like Emma,I wasn’t sure if I had a small feeling of sadness over the death of Ben or not. Which I personally makes for a good book-I like to see some sort of humanity in these characters in order to question their moral compass (or lack of!).

I will say right away to anyone whose considering reading this title, to be cautious as there are many references to sexual assault, violence, control and self harm which some could potentially find quite triggering and does make for uncomfortable reading.

I’m really grateful for Polly J. Mordant for sending me a lovely note with a copy of her book and to Rachel’s Random Resources for giving me spot on this blog tour.

About the Author

Polly has spent years writing blogs and stories but is a newbie when it comes to penning novels. She was an English and Drama teacher with her own departments within inner city schools for many years before becoming a bookshop owner. Horror and supernatural are her favourite genres and is a big fan of Stephen King. Mordant loves her garden and husband (in that order) and has a gorgeous German Shepherd X Staffordshire Terrier named Mojo, and is a total Scrabble addict.

Beneath The Fear~Sheila Rawlings.

When I was approached to read this, the write up was really intriguing; young woman sees her husband murdered in a bank robbery gone wrong and goes to a holiday home in her families much loved chosen destination (Cornwall) in order to recover after a rocky time of it. Samantha, the leading lady, finds herself under the limelight of her overly eager neighbour, Tony, as well as the new handyman on the block, Nathan. Sam is also pushed in to considering moving on from her late husband by childhood friend Suzy. However, as Sam starts to piece together the missing parts of her trauma, she finds herself in the middle of an awful predicament and is left fighting for her life.

It sounded truly energetic and thrilling, however for me it was 356 pages lacklustre, flat and over-played drama. There was just too much of it sadly, and it just seemed to drag. The boom could easily have been 100 pages less and a lot more fast paced and edge-of-your-seat reading. Also some of the descriptions were just a little too much and there were some annoying inconsistencies that you wouldn’t notice them unless you really knew the scenario, for example, Securicor doing a bank drop would actually have the case chained to one person and many guards actually have bodycams and during the robbery the case is not chained and there are no body cams. A prime example of the descriptions being too much is also during the robbery; Sam notices the get away car is a black Audi A1 Sportback and the robbers were armed with Beretta handguns- please tell me in a moment of crisis how anyone would take note of these things? Another thing that irked me was this; we don’t need to know the characters are wearing Ray-Bans sunglasses and we don’t need to know the exact brand of aftershave a character loved to wear. It deflected a lot of attention from the set up of the atmosphere to these brand names and felt a bit like when you see brand-dropping in TV programmes (to me at least).

I found that when it came to describing the progression of the handyman and neighbour and their stance in Sam’s life, Rawlings began to write a bit like a love struck teenage girl writing her own story about how the two popular boys in school both fancy her. I feel like the set up would have been there still if it were written a lot more subtly.

The plot was good though! I liked the idea! However there was too much of a gap between important events. I feel that the look in to Nathan’s life with the chapter in the pub with Clive (his buddy and co-worker) could have been strategically placed a lot earlier, meaning more of an atmospheric build up. Suzy did not need to be so immaturely pushy when it came to Sam moving on (she was just widowed! Have some humanity!) Despite Suzy’s reasons for backing Tony, which were shown to us at the end, it made me feel very cross for Sam (there are just something’s you don’t push, even with your best mate).

I feel that this would make a good TV adaptation but a lot of it would be left out as it wouldn’t hold an audiences attention if it was unabridged.

I’ve not read Rawlings previous title “Truth & Revenge” and I’m not entirely sure it’ll be in my list anytime soon, but I would be curious to see for myself if her writing style and structure were different.

Sadly I can’t recommend Beneath The Fear. I would be interested in hearing other people’s opinions of this book though.

Deep Level~Richard E Rock

How can I start this review without giving too much away? It was incredible! For a rather short book (149 pages) there was a lot packed in to the pages and it didn’t disappoint! From the characters to the places, my brain was filled with an extraordinary experience!

The book starts with three female friends, Ffion, Rosalind and Syeeda, meeting in a cafe set in modern day, early morning London and having a good catch up and gossip before being met with their male friend, Richard. Each character has their own back story which we are introduced to along the way, and I have to say I wasn’t a huge fan of the way Richard saw the family aspect of his life, but I suppose each to their own and you never really know how you’ll feel until these moments are presented to you. But Ffion was a girl after my own heart-Welsh, food loving and a devoted mother. Syeeda and her sense of humour just creased me (her CV was hilarious!) and Rosalind with her survival instincts was the sort of woman we all need in our corner to help us fight our wars!

This foursome, who seem like the most unlikeliest of companions in a way, take a trip to discover the secrets held within the lost underground stations beneath London. They want to unearth the long forgotten depths and share them with the rest of the world, but little do they know that only one will get out alive.

The gang come across abandoned train carts and platforms as well as a sealed-up tunnel deep underground, with them suspecting that they have stumbled upon an underground station for the Victorian era’s wealthy elite when in reality they have stumbled upon something far worse.

If you want a book that isn’t going to have you yelling out WTAF (or contacting the author wanting explanations-which I did!) then this book isn’t for you. There isn’t a brilliantly and deliriously happy ending and the cliff hanger is ludicrous BUT so very good! I have been left wanting more and my own imagination has gone in to over drive with analysing various parts of the plot and the mystery of the Deep Level. This book is a stroke of genius that I couldn’t put down. I need a sequel or prequel! And quick!

About The Author

One Night in Bear Town~Nick Jones

One Night in Bear Town is set in a small village that celebrates all things Bear, and one inhabitant in particular has such a huge love for bears, that she sadly faces school playground bullying .

Sandy Lane’s best friend is her beloved teddy bear, Berisford, and unluckily for Sandy, he is confiscated one day after a run-in from the class bully (he picks on her by saying bears are babyish and makes her the butt of his cruel sneers and jibes). That night Sandy faces bedtime alone without Berisford and cries herself to sleep.

And then, in the middle of the night, something truly magical happens; the village bear statue is alive and at her bedroom window! Along with his fellow bear friends (the school mascot being one, and Berisford being another), he invites Sandy to go with them out in to the night. On their journey together, Sandy explains about the class bully, and is reassured that never again will he pick on her.

It isn’t until the next morning when Sandy wakes up and goes to school, she learns that the bears paid her tormenter a visit in the night, and she is left alone to happily enjoy her beloved bears.

One Night in Bear Town is a sweet story of overcoming bullying, being yourself and staying true to what you believe in. It’s superbly written and beautifully illustrated by the talented Si Clark, with child appropriate language used throughout. It’s relatable and enjoyable for all ages. As a mother and an Early Years worker, this truly deserves a special place on every bookshelf and so much more.

About the Author

Nick Jones is an award-winning author originally from Bristol but now living in Congleton, Cheshire. He’s written several joke books for adults (Gagged and Bound-A Book of Puns, One-Liners and Dad Jokes is best-seller under Puns and Wordplay on Amazon UK, and two sequels soon followed) and now writes books for children, his fist being Sarah’s Shadow.

Sarah’s Shadow was first published in 2018 and won Best Children’s Picture Book in the 2018 Book Awards on international book review site Readers’ Favourite ( previously won by none other than Jim Carrey for his children’s novel). Jones also was Runner-Up in the Book Excellence Awards and received a Purple Dragonfly Book Award as one of the best picture ebooks for children aged 6+.

During the lockdown of 2020, Jones was inspired to start up a funding campaign after a local event called Bearmania pushed his imagination towards the creation of One Night in Bear Town, which was supported by local businesses in his town.

There’s a new project on the horizon to keep your eyes open for and lots of adorable Bear Town merchandise available on his website.

I’d like to thank Nick Jones and Rachel’s Reading Resources for the opportunity to review One Night in Bear Town

Death at Rainbow Cottage~Jo Allen

Death at Rainbow Cottage is the fourth instalment in the DCI Satterthwaite series and when I was given the opportunity to review the book, I had not read the previous three-meaning it works as a stand alone novel in a way, as anything that has occurred previously with regards to character backgrounds is recapped throughout the novel. When I began to read it, I did contact author Jo Allen to ask if I would need to read the previous books beforehand in order to give a well thought review, but she assured me that I wouldn’t and I can confidently say that there was no struggle to keep up with character plots in anyway and it was a pleasure read!

So what is Death at Rainbow Cottage about? Well obviously a murder, but it also runs a little deeper than that.

In this book, we meet the main character Jude (DCI Satterthwaite-what a name! I struggle to spell it and usually have no issues with spellings or pronunciation!) whose got a discreet office relationship with fellow officer Ashleigh, which isn’t really an issue until the bee boss shows up and happens to be an ex lover of Ashleigh’s who has a bit of a grudge for reasons of her own. There are other pivotal relationships among the staff which do come in to play during the book-but I don’t want to give too much away!

The investigation begins when a man is found after a brutal and bloody stabbing by the poor, long OCD-suffering Natalie, and not too long after a second body is found by Natalie’s tolerance and diversity workshop-running husband, Claud. witness to Claus’s no gruesome discovery is a well known doctor (who is the husband of the lead CSI on Jude’s original case, and the father of a police officer who is dating one of Jude’s colleagues-not as complicated as it sounds I promise! I really just don’t want to give too much away!). And then follows a discovery of a third body while someone is in custody. This is the part that picked up so much speed my head was spinning! I honestly believed I had the case solved by this point!

We then have a fourth murder, swiftly followed with an uncomfortable chat which sees Ashleigh trying to clear the air with her new boss/ex lover which is topped with an attempted murder. Pretty hectic but so very good!

Once the perpetrator is in custody after questioning, we see Jude attend a family party. He’s several hours late and has a minor indiscretion with an ex followed by a pretty shaky run-in with her new man. Which has minor consequences of its own. And this is where the book ends. Ready for the follow up.

I actually LOVED this book! I loved all the characters and their own stories. And I loved how easy it was for me to get in to the flow of the story line-it’s not often you can be late in to a series and pick up the pace almost immediately, which is a credit to Jo and her writing skills and well thought out plot.

Finally, I really liked the killer too! Oddly enough, this person actually was relatable in a way and so vulnerable that I found myself feeling really sorry for them and actually wanting to protect them from what they had done-once I had gotten over the shock of who it was that is!

Allen has broached the subjects of mental health and sexuality in a well researched and gentle manner and has clearly used an open mind within her writing and creations of characters. I highly praise this. I really want to read book number five (and also books one through three too!) but I hope that we get to learn a little about what happens to the perpetrator at some point in the future.

About the Author

Jo Allen lives in the Lake District, which is where she has based the DCI Satterthwaite series, and began writing under the name of Jennifer Young and publishing short stories in the romance and romance suspense genres after a career in economic consultancy. 2017 saw Allen taking the plunge in to crime thriller, her personal favourite genre, and really enjoys football (being a ticket holder for Wolverhampton Wonderers) and likes cats and her Instagram feed features squirrels, cats, alpacas and nature (woman after my own heart!).

Gordon Square~Tracy Martin-Summers

I was so excited to start reading this book and was kindly gifted a paperback copy in exchange for this review, however, it has no impact on my review or feelings about the book.

The story starts when Detective Sergeant Mike Brugge and partner Detective Constable Mel Bailey have a case of a young m, unkempt girl they found who was malnourished, not speaking and non-responsive to any stimulus-even in the form of medical help. Mike and Mel have no idea who she is, where she came from or who her captor was. During their frustrating investigation, Mel falls victim to a serious assault by her dodgy landlord.

While Mel is in hospital and Mike works tirelessly to hunt down her attacker, he’s always on working to the bone trying to learn about the girl they found in Gordon Square, who is now under the care of a psychiatric team and undergoing hypnotherapy to try to unravel the mystery surrounding her identity. During this time, another girl in the same condition, only younger, is also found in Gordon Square and in need of in-depth medical and psychiatric help.

As the Gordon Square girls are being nursed and treated, Mike and his colleagues are lead to a children’s home, which gives them extreme feelings of suspicion, and in turn leads them to the man who put Mel in hospital.

The plot unravels at a quick pace at this point as the mysteries are solved and the links between the Gordon Square girls, the children’s home and brutish landlord are revealed.

I really couldn’t put this book down and read it in a matter of days! I didn’t see the links or twists coming what so ever and I really enjoyed the fact that to book started in the past and dipped back in to it much later in the book. It was really riveting! And the chemistry between Mike and Mel! Well, those two should just get a room already! But not in the cheesy, overly obvious but trying to avoid it way- obviously as partners who grow to become friends it’s fairly obvious that two singletons are likely to be faced with a similar situation, but the fact that neither knows about the depth of the others feelings actually makes it realistic and bearable to the point where you’re actually rooting for them!

I feel like this could actually be the start of a series-which I’d be more than happy to continue reading with two small exceptions; some of the narratives were a little repetitive in the respect that during a conversation, those speaking would often say the name of the person they were speaking to, which was a tad unnecessary for the most part. The second bug-bear I have is the punctuation- speech marks would stop mid-sentence which meant having to re-read bits, and occasionally paragraph breaks would be used when it wasn’t necessary and made things a little confusing again. Not major issues really, but something a proof-reader should easily be able to spot and make note of (I’m quite picky I know, but the spellings were spot on!)

I loved Martin-Summers’ style and the plot was riveting! The characters were perfect-even down to that awful landlord of Mel’s! The descriptions and adjectives truly bought them to life and I could envision the entire book playing out in my head while I read! If anyone has seen or read The Dublin Murders/Dublin Murder Squad, it’s easy to understand the chemistry and relationship between Mike and Mel, as it’s so similar to that of Rob and Cassie (that painstaking type where you want to shake them to just be a couple because it makes so much sense!).

Gordon Square is the first book by Martin-Summers, which shows with the punctuation irks, but the plot reads like a well seasoned crime author. I really do hope there many more Mike and Mel mysteries to come!

Author Biography

Tracy was born in Middlesex in 1964, has a husband, grownup children and one granddaughter. And like a lot of creative people I know, studied a variety of topics via moduled learning over the years, embarking on City and Guilds and NVQ courses, ranging from a brief spell in hairdressing to administration, and now works for a utility company in North West London (clearly the changes of career are good for developing characters)

Tracy will say she has always enjoyed writing short stories for the amusement of her own children (lucky!) and it’s only recently that she has become seriously invested enough to write a crime thriller (I’m seriously hoping for that sequel to land in my mail box soon!)

Deep Level~Richard E Rock

Deep Level is a short tale of four unlikely friends who go on an urban adventure to explore the hidden depths of long forgotten railways and stations, only to come across a mysterious phenomenon that will change everything.

With three very likeable characters and one who is a bit so-so (I’m sure other readers will like him, but I’m a bit unsure on his thought process if I’m honest) and a highly intriguing plot, this fast-paced, quick read will literally have you wanting more and frowning at the amazing cliff hanger-because it can’t just end there. Right?!

I LOVED this book! I started and finished it within a few shorts days and it’s literally still rattling around in my head making me think of all the possibilities of what could happen next! It was such a cliff hanger! And with the atmosphere created, the book has such a creepy edge to it that literally sent shivers down my spine!

Literally a few hours after finished this book, there was a wild exploration documentary on the TV about free divers entering under ground hollows in the jungle to see where the water filled caves go- I was quite literally shouting from the sofa “WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?! THAT’S JUST ASKING TO BE EATEN REALLY!” Much to the annoyance of my fellow sofa-sitters.

I don’t want to say too much and give away the whole story, but each character has a back story that we get a glimpse in to as the book progresses, which leaves you with a sense of mourning for each as well as a respect (not so much for Rich though. I’m quite relieved for his family in a way. I sound like a horrible person but there’s a valid reason I promise!). And after reading the final page, my sense of adventure has been replaced with a sense of safety and I have absolutely zero temptation to explore anything underground ever! I was that freaked out!

If this was to be made in to a short film or a mini series, it would be EPIC! Because the atmosphere is electric and you’re left with so many questions after! Deep Level is a really satisfying quick-thrill ride that I highly recommend.

About the Author

Richard E Rock is a commercial script writer for radio and contributes to Viz magazine (an adult comic full of sarcasm and wit which has been around in the UK since the 70’s-highly recommend as a gift for any sarcastic and dry-humoured dad/grandad/uncle!) and spends his nights writing horror.

Richard, who experienced some pretty gnarly and ferocious nightmares that would him up at all hours, decided to use them as a creative tool and created his realm of mysteries and monsters. Now he induced these awful nightmares to inspire him.

Rock lives in Wales with his girlfriend (who rocks Paramore vibes and has some seriously enviable hair!) and their cat and enjoys heavy metal gigs (and gets excited about snow). His Instagram feed is full of book/music/film covers, travel and his unimpressed-looking cat (think Satan crossed with Salem from the 90’s Sabrina series and Grumpy Cat with a dose of sleek gorgeousness thrown in for good measure). If you like oddities and horror, this is one Insta you need to follow!

A Deep Q&A with Richard E. Rock

I was really lucky enough to grab a quick Q&A session with the author of Deep Level, Richard E. Rock, and began my grilling as soon as I finished the last page of Deep Level. Literally, I grabbed my phone and typed “WTAF?!” and went off on a tangent about the ending, and then the entire book! I loved the book so much but was left with so many questions, poor Richard ! I’m not sure he knew what had hit him when my name flashed up on his screen! But here it is, the most interesting discussion I have had this year!

MR- How did you come up with the idea of Deep Level? Are you in to urban exploring yourself or is it something you’ve stumbled across and been inspired by? 

RR- It all started with a nightmare. I dreamt I was being pursued through dark tunnels by a silent, steamless, driverless Victorian engine. It was horrifying. In another part of the dream I was being stalked by a demonic presence. If I let it get too close cobwebs would form over my eyes and I would feel my life-force ebbing away. I woke up in the morning and thought, “That was amazing!” so I wrote down all the details before they faded away. And that’s how Deep Level was born.

MR- How did you find the process of having this idea, starting to write it down and going on this big journey to have it published? Is there any advice you would give a budding writer? 

RR- I originally wrote it as a short story. As soon as I finished it I thought all the ingredients were there to make a good novel, so I got to work. I read up on urban exploration and watched loads of videos on YouTube. There’s a lot of fascinating stuff out there, including one doc specifically about hauntings in the London Underground. I didn’t send Deep Level off to any publishers or agents straight away. It ended up sitting in my hard drive, forgotten about, for a couple of years. When I got furloughed from work I suddenly had the time to look into getting it published. The third one I sent it to, Darkstroke Books, came back to me very quickly with a yes, so I got lucky. The advice I would give a budding writer is the same advice I would give my younger self if I could go back in time: if you want to be a writer, surround yourself with other writers. Join a writing group and go to book launches and events. I really do believe that creativity begets creativity, and my writing didn’t take off until I joined a writing group.

MR- Do you have a specific writing process? Is there anything you need to do in order to get started, like sitting at a window with a coffee or going for a spooky walk somewhere off limits?

RR- I am catastrophically disorganised, so I don’t really have any processes or rituals. My writing space is a tip with notebooks and stationery everywhere. I tend to jot ideas down as they come and when I have enough of them to suggest a story I start trying to mould them into shape. I never know how a story is going to end when I start work on one, I just see where the ideas take me. I like that, though. It’s exciting.

MR- There are four very different characters with very very different lives in Deep Level- how much of these characters are based on the personalities of yourself and the people around you and how much have you created from your own mind?

RR- When I wrote the original short story there was only one character, Rich. When I expanded it into novel form I knew I had to have a supporting cast, and so Rosalind, Syeeda and Ffion were born. However, Rosalind didn’t stay supporting for long and, for me at least, became the heart and soul of Deep Level. She’s definitely my favourite character. They all have elements of myself in them. Rich works in a bookshop. I’ve done that. Ffion is a cinema usher. I’ve done that. Syeeda gets a job in radio. That’s what I do now. And Rosalind? She’s an archivist and that’s what my mother does. You could say that I’ve been researching this book for my entire professional life! Also, there are bits of various friends and acquaintances mixed in there too. Rosalind’s love of ska and resemblance to Pauline Black from The Selector came from a former girlfriend. In my head, Rich resembles a chap I used to work with in the bookshop. Syeeda has quite a bit of someone I know in her DNA, as does Ffion.

MR- Down on the train tracks among the carriages just before the Deep Level, we briefly learn of a person whose been living and hiding among the forgotten carriages and is possibly the person who helps Rosalind- is this the man from the flashback who was taken to and escaped from the “Club” this man? Has he somehow been cursed to live forever and guard the bricked up tunnel? 

RR- Without giving too much away, the lost soul living in the abandoned carriage is just that. He’s someone hiding from the world for reasons of his own. However, I love the thought that there may be more to him than that and now my head is spinning with ideas and possibilities. That would a great angle for a return to the Deep Level in a future book.

MR-Are we ever going to learn about how the Deep Level came to be abandoned and who bricked up the tunnels and why? 

RR- The reasons are hinted at in the book, specifically in the scene where Rich meets the old man in the pub. It would be fun to expand on that in a future story, so watch this space!

MR- When creating the dust-making shadow creature that preys on the group when they enter the Deep Level, what did you envision it looking like and the way it moved and sounded, was there anything in particular that helped you form this “thing”? And will we ever know what it actually is and why it likes and also how it makes people in to piles of dust?

RR- I glimpsed the tunnel dweller in my nightmare, so that’s where the inspiration came from. It was humanoid but tall and spindly like a spider. Also, it had glowing eyes. I’ll admit that the glowing eyes thing is a bit corny, but that’s what happened in my dream so I went with it.

Everyone knows that dark caves are crawling with rats and spiders, so making it arachnoid in its appearance and movements made perfect sense. Also, a lot of people have an extreme phobia of spiders so I couldn’t have envisaged a better monster for my book!

The dust is to do with time. When the tunnel dweller gets close to someone he feeds off their life-force. They shrivel and die and end up just as they would if left for thousands of years: as a pile of dust.

MR- What does 2021 have in store for you and your writing? 

RR- Hopefully a lot!

I’m in the editing phase of my next novel. It’s a sci-fi horror concerning UFOs and aliens, so it’s very different from Deep Level. It’s about two shipwrecked refugees, sisters, who wash up on an east African island where incredible experiments have been taking place. The only person who can save them is a lowly slacker who lives half a world away in the US.

It’s a not a ‘hard’ sci-fi novel, though. It’s actually set in 2018! But again, the ideas for it came to me a series of nightmares and anxiety dreams.

Also, I’ve completed a Victorian vampire novel which I’d like to develop into a series. Believe me when I say I’m just getting started!

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Richard for doing this Q&A with me. Deep Level is available now in didgital and physical formats.

Guest Post written by Ashleigh Nugent for Morelli’s Reads.

LOCKS- Beyond the Binary

The growing pains of adolescence can feel like the worst of times: confusing, alienating, conflictual. In my book, LOCKS, Aeon, a sixteen-year-old mixed race boy from a leafy English suburb, finds himself in the heat of the forge.

It’s 1993, and Aeon has flown to Jamaica to escape the racism of his home town and to develop his own identity in a place where he will better fit in. Only, he doesn’t fit in. Within days of being in Jamaica, Aeon is mugged and stabbed, arrested, caged in an underground dungeon, and beaten unconscious while a gang of boys chant: ‘Fuck up the White man.’

Aeon, by the way, is based on me. I spent my seventeenth birthday in that Jamaican detention centre. When people hear me tell this story, they often offer some words of sympathy or pull a sad face. As if they think the experience may have damaged me. Or maybe they believe I was damaged from birth; a ‘tragic mulatto’ doomed to never fit in. However, when people read the book they come to understand (at least I hope they understand) that Aeon’s experience was a rite of passage, a necessary experience for him/for me to grow and develop his/our unique identity.

As I write this, in January 2021, it must seem to many that the racial divide is more entrenched than ever: Trumpism, All Lives Matter, nationalistic xenophobia and so on. And whilst I agree, these are fraught times, I would like to offer an optimistic analogy. What we are witnessing now are simply the growing pains of a culture in adolescence?

Our society is still young. The interconnected global community was only conceived 500 years ago, when western Europe started exploring the Americas, trading more in Africa, and venturing to the farthest eastern reaches.

But Europe was an angry, jealous, and violent father. Christianity had curtailed his creativity; on the Iberian Peninsula, he had been at war for 800 years; England and France had been killing each other for over a hundred years . . .

Now Europe meets this beautiful bride, overflowing with warmth, sustenance, and creative energy.

And so our society is born. Just like all babies, it only knows what it needs: ‘Feed me’ it cries, ‘Keep me warm’, day and night, with no regard for how its mother feels: ‘Love me’.

Europe, in order to control his less than willing bride and their cantankerous child, invents false doctrines that position him as the head of the family. And amongst the most pernicious of those doctrines is the pseudoscience of race.

In more prosaic terms, contemporary racism is the vestigial effect of slavery and imperialism, perpetuated to this day by outmoded oligarchs, their puppet politicians, and profiteering media moguls. Pretending racial dualism wasn’t an issue anymore was never going to make it go away. Lame phrases like post-race and colour-blind and multi-cultural were actually exacerbating the situation–you can roll a shit in glitter but it’s still gonna stink.

What we are currently experiencing is a culture in its adolescence, trying to overcome the strictures imposed by a tyrannical father and define its own identity. Those of us who remember being a teenager know that this is a turbulent, difficult, and totally necessary phase. The fact that peoples’ covert racist attitudes have been made overt is not a bad thing; it’s essential.

The conversation has now opened up. And this honest debate is the start of the growth process. And I for one hope we never again attempt to conceal this ridiculous doctrine of race in platitudinous glitter. We need to take in the extent of its odious stench, seek it out where it hides, and lovingly bleach the shit out of our floors.

And we shouldn’t expect that a culture in adolescence will never again foul our speckless veneer, or act outrageously self-serving. In LOCKS, it was Aeon’s birthright that his identity be constructed anew, around a unique framework that stands outside the momentary strictures of society.

Of course, not all adolescents do grow up. Some never survive their death-wish phase. So I cannot promise that we will live to see the end of this current divisiveness. But I do believe that we have an opportunity. And I believe that we are worthy of taking more responsibility for our own culture. And I believe that we must be honest about who our parents are and forgive them for they are growing too.

Locks~Ashleigh Nugent

What do you get when you live in Liverpool, have a Black father and a White mother in 1993? Unrelenting racial abuse, injustice, stereotyping and a vast heritage that isn’t tapped in to.

Locks gives us the character of Aeon-a 16 year old boy with parents of different colour, and his cousin Increase- his 24 year old Black cousin. The pair take a trip to Jamaica so that Aeon can discover his fathers heritage, learn about Black culture and embrace his colour. Increase isn’t so keen to explore this side of himself as he sadly lost his father in the 1981 riots. As a reader we’re soon introduced the two sides of Jamaica; the picturesque, happy tourist side, and the deprived shanty-town-like side which the tourists are told to keep away from at all costs.

Unfortunately, from early on in his arrival, Aeon isn’t seen as an exploring teenage boy whose eager to see his heritage, but is in fact seen as a White tourist and soon he falls victim to a horrific mugging, receives a stab wound as a memento and is thrown in to prison. This is when Increase is tracked down for some money owed by his younger cousin. Frightening stuff.

Sadly this isn’t Aeon’s first time on the wrong side of the law, and when he’s bailed and back with Increase, it becomes clear that the only way home is quickly but illegally.

It’s a fantastic and hard-hitting read, which is made all the more impactful by the fact that it’s based on true events experienced by Nugent himself. And what must be taken in to consideration at all times, is that 1993 is the year of the murder of Stephen Lawrence which really hit home the horrific hidden depths of racism and stereotyping that people of colour face even to this day (sadly, we are learning more and more that ethnic minorities are still being targeted with violence and horrific abuse along with LGBTQ communities, religious practices and anyone deemed “different” by society).

There is some light-heartedness added with memories of a favourite teacher (Miss Elwyn) talking about hero’s and how they start and go through their journeys. Which left me as a reader with a fond warmth for an inspiring teacher, who seems to have had a great impact on Aeon.

There were a lot of intense moments that found me feeling frustrated, angry and scared for Aeon and Increase, but I also found myself having a little giggle to myself and shaking my head at some of their antics and situations (I feel any parent reading this would likely be similar!) but this book was a huge enlightenment and should be used as an education tool in schools, colleges and communities worldwide-its a valuable resource and insight in to the injustices people have thrown at them every day. I was deeply impacted by this book and I firmly believe it’s one title everyone should read this year.

About the Author

Ashleigh Nugent left school with no qualifications and a diagnosis of ADHD, he also had three arrests before his seventeenth birthday and was released each time without charge. He cites himself as being angry, Feeling that he was a victim of racism and hating all authority.

It was at the age of sixteen Nugent went to Jamaica in search of belonging and identity; sadly he was the victim of a stabbing and mugging, and held prisoner. A year later, back in England an arrest for threatening behaviour with a knife followed.

Nugent had a lengthy criminal record by the time he turned 21 and little hope with lots of anxiety; this was the driving point behind Rise Up. Now Nugent has a 1st class degree, teaching qualifications and uses his experiences and knowledge to empower and support others.