Ragthorn Reviews

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

The RagthornThere have been a couple of recent reviews of Rob and Garry Kilworth’s award-winning novella ‘The Ragthorn’, which was published in September.

The Guardian had this to say:

The novella recounts Dr Alexander’s quest to trace the legend of the mythical ragthorn tree. In the 1880s his great uncle, scholar and archaeologist William Alexander, brought an ancient stone from Egypt to England and installed it as the lintel in his Yorkshire cottage. Soon after, in the grounds of Scarfell Cottage, the terrible ragthorn took root and encompassed the building. Dr Alexander, like his great uncle before him, is convinced that the tree possesses supernatural qualities, and this powerful novella charts his investigations of a tree that he believes crops up in Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer and the Bible – an obsessive quest that culminates in his search for immortality.

The This is Horror web site published a more in-depth review by Simon Bestwick. Here’s a sample:

‘The Ragthorn’ won the 1992 World Fantasy Award for Best Novella, and it isn’t hard to see why. Like many great ideas, the story’s premise has an elegant and enviable simplicity: it’s the kind of tale no writer can read without thinking ‘Why the hell didn’t anyone think of this before? Hell, why didn’t I?”

As ever, though, the proof of the pudding is in the execution, and Holdstock and Kilworth never disappoint. The spell they weave is utterly convincing; the sense of place, from the Mesopotamian plain to the bleak Yorkshire moorland, is perfectly evoked.

Another of the novella’s particular charms is the evocation of classic English literature, from Chaucer to Shakespeare, to provide evidence of the ragthorn myth and clues as to its application. It’s beautifully done, deepening the sense that we are lifting the lid on history to see something that was always with us, only just out of sight. And it comes full circle with a verse by John Betjeman, absorbing the events of the story into the cycle of myth and legend that Alexander has drawn on throughout the narrative in a chilling conclusion that will stay with you long after the last line is read.

‘The Ragthorn’ is available to buy on Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, or at CreateSpace.

Cuckoo Song wins 2015 Robert Holdstock Award

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

Cuckoo Song

The winners of the 2015 British Fantasy Awards were announced at the British Fantasy Society’s award ceremony today.

The Robert Holdstock Award for Best Fantasy Novel was won by Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan Children’s Books). Congratulations!

A full list of all the winners is available on the BFS web site.

The Ragthorn Published

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

The Ragthorn

This smart new edition of the World Fantasy Award-winning novella ‘The Ragthorn’, written by Rob and Garry Kilworth, is now available to buy in paperback or as an ebook, published by Infinity Plus.

It also contains two bonus stories: ‘The Fabulous Beast’ by Garry Kilworth, and ‘The Charisma Trees’ by Robert Holdstock.

It’s available to buy on Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, or at CreateSpace.

“I am placing this entry at the beginning of my edited journal for reasons that will become apparent. Time is very short for me now, the final part of the ritual draws near… I cannot pretend that I am not frightened.”

There were these two British writers, one lived in the country, the other in the city. The country writer loved to visit the city and partake of brandy and Greek kebabs in the local hostelry. The city writer liked to visit the country and guzzle ale and barbecued steak under the apple trees. The two writers needed an excuse for these indulgences, and so they invented one, and this excuse was called “collaborating on a story” … It soon emerged that the story was to be about a legendary tree, which they both vaguely recalled from the tales their grandfathers used to tell them of mystery and myth. Soon they were delving with suppressed excitement into old documents at the British Museum and began to come up with some frightening discoveries.

The first of these finds was in studying the original text, in Anglo-Saxon, of the Old English poem “The Dream of the Rood”. The marrying of the “tree” (crucifixion cross) and the “thorn” (a runic character) was too elaborately regular to be an accident of metre or alliterative language. Other discoveries followed, and the story gradually surfaced, like a dark secret from its burial mound.

‘The Ragthorn’: a dark and unsettling World Fantasy Award-winning novella by Robert Holdstock and Garry Kilworth.

New Czech Mythago Wood

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Les Mytag

There’s a new Czech edition of Mythago Wood available, published by Argo.

It’s called Les Mytág in Czech, and it’s translated by Petr Kotrle. The volume features the original cover created by Geoff Taylor.

It also contains a foreword by Neil Gaiman, and beautiful new illustrations by Jan Dřevíkovský.

You can read a sample chapter of the book online.