Do you love the dark heart of story-telling? Do you love magical tales with an edge?
In his ShadowGrimm world of make-believe Clive first developed his love of traditional story-telling, and has taken a number of established tales from Andersen, the Brothers Grimm, Perrault et al, and twisted them into modern tales of magical realism and fantasy - very much in the tradition of Angela Carter and Frank Baum.
This new collection, published for the first time under the name ShadowGrimm, finally brings Clive's many and varied earlier tales together for the very first time.
Clive Gilson's ShadowGrimm series of tales have in various degrees been published in magazines and online over the last seven or eight years, with a number also appearing in short story anthologies in the UK.
Excerpt from Do Unto Others:
A broken home is rarely anything other than a trial for all those who have to live within its walls. Apart from the trauma caused by the breaking up of a previously coherent family unit, subsequent actions and hardships often make life extremely difficult and taxing for each and every one of the unhappy participants in these events. The time when and the place where lives are squeezed and wrung out under such circumstances is, in the great scheme of things, immaterial, but for one such family, living in a small village in one of England’s elm-folded western valleys, the struggle for a good life was particularly hard.
Mrs. Milligan and her two daughters, Estelle and Hazel, lived in a small redbrick cottage that stood in a forlorn and lonely spot at the far end of a shabby and dusty village high street. Where there had once been rows of vegetables growing in the front garden and a pretty orchard of neatly pruned and espaliered fruit trees in the back garden, there was now nothing more than a choking of weeds and ivy smothered, skeleton branches. Ever since the departure of her husband some years previously, the family had scraped a living by taking in washing and ironing, and doing cleaning jobs for some of the village’s more prosperous families. The two girls could remember little other than traipsing around after their mother, visiting house after well-appointed house, in a desperate quest to earn money amid fineries and fripperies that they could never hope to afford for themselves.
Of the two daughters, Estelle was the spitting image of her mother, although blessed, thankfully, with the softness of youth, while Hazel, two years the younger, was the very picture of her father. The similarities between mother and eldest daughter did not end in looks. They were both of a similar personality and disposition, being proud and disagreeable to an extreme, convinced as they were that they were the victims of a cruel and heartless man. Because of this undoubted sin perpetrated against them by the ogre, they both believed the world owed them big time for all of their suffering and undoubted grace under poverty’s iron heel. It was no surprise to anyone in the village that Mrs. Milligan had remained single for so many years.
Hazel, on the other hand, was one the sweetest, kindest and most courteous little girls in the whole county. She had a radiant smile that lit her face up with a pure and natural beauty, a beauty that brightened the gloom well beyond the physical limits of light. No matter what the hardship or the provocation, she always tried to see the best in any situation and so, despite the tragic circumstances of her family’s life in the closeted world of Upper Risington, she remained a shining beacon of happiness when all around was shadowed in darkness and despondency.
Life in the Milligan household was a bleak affair at the best of times and Mrs. Milligan suffered unaccountably from her nerves due to the continual reminder of her bastard husband that blazed out from her youngest daughter’s face every minute of the day. She would have been quite content for the girl to spend her days out of sight and her nights locked in her bedroom had it not been for the fact that Hazel never complained about chapped hands or ironing elbow. Hazel was quite unlike Estelle, who preferred to spend her time, when not pretending to dust someone’s knick-knacks, watching day time television soap operas and reality shows about other people’s lives. Mother and eldest daughter doted on each other and regularly shared the little luxuries that came their way when there was a purse full of cash left over from the benefits payments and the hourly wages earned from charring.
Poor Hazel, meanwhile, worked her fingers to the bone in a never-ending cycle of drudgery and domestic slavery, washing other people’s clothes and ironing them, cleaning the house, cooking meals and fetching thick, black coal from the back yard bunker. She was never allowed, now that she was blossoming into a beautiful young woman, to leave the house and accompany her mother and sister on their daily errands and cleaning jobs. Her only respite from the drab surroundings of the little redbrick cottage was a weekly trip to visit an aged, one time neighbour, a certain Miss Huddlestone, who had been kind enough to baby sit for the girls in happier times before the family had split asunder.