What people think about HARBINGER ISLAND

HARBINGER ISLAND by Dorian Dawes is a collection of character-driven stories which combine dark fantasy and horror elements within a modern setting, featuring a diverse cast of LGBT+ individuals.

How have people responded to it … ?

HARBINGER ISLAND received an Honourable Mention in the Rainbow Awards 2017. Among other things, the judges said:

Delightfully creepy tale that could well have been part of the Twilight Zone series … Interesting and spooky plot. … I loved the way the stories all linked together to form a full story. Great sense of evil and horror, and interesting diverse characters. Hope there’s a sequel as it feels as though the fight against evil has only just begun.

Cheryl at Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews gave it four stars and said:

Harbinger Island contains all the classic Lovecraft themes … While other horror writers focus on shadows, gore and violence, Lovecraft (and Dawes) paints beautifully creepy landscapes and situations then saturates them with ichor and sprinkles them with tentacles. … This was a real sit on the edge of the seat, keep your eye on the shadows and trust absolutely no one book. After a slow start, I thoroughly enjoyed it and can recommend it to anyone who has a love for creeping horror, ritualistic murder and things with more tentacles than they’ve any business to have – oh and a damn sexy, green gorgon with scales.

Our readers have also been impressed! Kyrah commented on our website to say:

This is one of the best up and coming authors I have ever had the pleasure to discover, their book is truly an amazing work of art. What a gifted writer! It is like reading colorful poetry that completely sucks you into a world of mystery and magic. Bravo, Dorian Dawes!

On Goodreads, Laura said:

this was a wild, gay ride from start to finish

And Lindsay Bee seemed particularly impressed:

I really enjoyed this book. Like. REALLY. A LOT. MUCH ENJOYMENT. … I love the interconnected-short-story format when it’s done right and here, it’s done right. … I also love how the book doesn’t feel the need to explain itself. It doesn’t infodump, or go into convoluted back stories – it gives you enough information to enjoy what’s happening while leaving enough unsaid to keep you thinking about it. … I would love to read more from this author, and I’d LOVE more books set within the universe of Harbinger Island; it’s a terrifying world for sure, but one with enough points of light to give you a bit of hope.

Meanwhile, on Amazon, Joshua Valley gave it five stars and said:

This is a horror story of impeccable craft, evoking cosmic terrors and oppressive forces from beyond the world that threaten to expose the insidious secrets of a community. The characters fight against these forces valiantly, with depth and beauty. It’s not a “fun” novel by any means, but it’s worthwhile and satisfying to those who have been looking for it’s like for ages.

Does that sound weird enough to be your kind of thing … ?

Manifold Press is currently offering five of our recent novels – including HARBINGER ISLAND – at discount prices on Smashwords. Follow these links, and then click the Buy with coupon buttons for the books of your choice. (Whether you then click the Give as a gift button is entirely up to you, but hey it is the silly season soon!)

Happy reading, and do remember to leave the lights on!

New review of CALL TO ARMS

In fact this is the very first review of our new anthology CALL TO ARMS – and it’s not a bad way to start! Our good friend Kazza K at On Top Down Under Reviews has posted a hugely enthusiastic review which examines the merits of each individual story – no small task, as there are seventeen of them! – and sums up with these resounding words:

“I really do love a good short story. If you can tell me a heartfelt tale in a limited word count I am in total awe, and that mission was well and truly accomplished. I also want to give mention to Heloise Mezen for meticulously compiling the anthology. I can’t recommend Call to Arms highly enough. 5 Stars!”

In return, we can say that we love a detailed review which lets us know when a book has met an appreciative reader: thank you, Kazza, we’re grateful for all the time and thought that went into your review – and very glad indeed that you enjoyed CALL TO ARMS so much!

Have you read HARBINGER ISLAND … ?

Fiona Pickles was keen to take up the editing reins for this tome by Dorian Dawes. I recently asked for her thoughts, and this was her response:

“It’s different! That was what took our attention when we read HARBINGER ISLAND for the first time. In fact it’s a wild – and, at times, terrifying – ride through a sort of Hieronymus Bosch landscape which is all the more disconcerting for being located in an otherwise blameless corner of the USA. Here the familiar intersects with the bizarre; in a series of short stories we’re introduced to a galaxy of disparate outsiders who gradually form a coherent group to defend their world against the creeping evil threatening to engulf it. What sets these characters apart is their diversity; lesbian, gay, trans, with or without strange magical powers, they transcend their often horrific backgrounds to become a ‘found family’ with a shared aim.

“This is a book which can be read on more than one level. Taken at face value it’s a series of stirring encounters between good and a horrific supernatural evil, but look a little more closely and it’s a picture of how frightening it can be to grow up ‘different’ – and how those who don’t conform to society’s expectations can gain strength from one another, banding together against something which seems to be larger, stronger, and more terrifying than any of them can deal with separately.”

If you’d like to bring your courage and wits to the challenges faced by Professor Bartleby Prouse, HARBINGER ISLAND is currently on sale at Smashwords!

Blurb: Every community has a dark side, a sordid past that’s kept to hushed whispers and out of the ears of prying tourists – and Harbinger Island has the darkest shades of them all. Professor Bartleby Prouse is obsessed with the secrets and occult conspiracies surrounding the island’s myriad of unsolved murders and mysteries. He’ll have to use every bit of magic and cunning at his disposal if he is to protect his students after they unwittingly draw the attention of one of the island’s most insidious cults.

A collection of character-driven stories which combine dark fantasy and horror elements within a modern setting. The diverse cast of LGBT+ individuals come from various backgrounds, and the stories examine the prejudices they experience in their day-to-day lives along with the supernatural horrors they face.

Word count: 84,500 words

Smashwords sale: $6.95 $5.95

Recognition: Honourable Mention in the Rainbow Awards 2017

It’s the season for thinking about gifts – for yourself and for your loved ones! Is there ever any better present than a book … ?

Manifold Press is currently offering five of our recent novels at discount prices on Smashwords. Follow these links, and then click the Buy with coupon buttons for the books of your choice. (Whether you then click the Give as a gift button is entirely up to you.)

Happy reading!

Two lost boys on a journey

A guest blog
by Michelle Peart

The two main protagonists in my book TO THE LEFT OF YOUR NORTH STAR are Edward and Burn and I love the journey their friendship takes. They are much more than polar-opposites, they are planet-opposites. To the Left of Your North Star is an adventure, a fantasy, and a road trip, but at its core is the relationship between the two lost boys, Edward and Burn.

Edward is a spoilt rich kid with a huge chip on his shoulder. He lost his mother at a young age and has a rocky relationship with his famous father. His bravado is to cover up the fact that underneath he’s scared, alone, and neglected emotionally by his father. With his good looks and money, he was the boy that everybody at school fancied but Edward’s relationships never lasted long because, put simply, he was a complete ass.

Edward represents the boys that I used to watch from afar in secondary school, the boys that always had a flood of kids around them, popular, perfect, and trendy. As I was the weird kid that tried to disappear into the walls, I used to admire those plastic people. But, now I know the plastics weren’t perfect after all, in fact they probably had the same self-doubt that I had.

Edward has always believed, because that’s what he was taught, that the only valuable people in the world are the rich and famous. But he slowly learns that is not the case and I love the fact that he has to rely on Burn, a weirdo as far as Edward is concerned, for his food, shelter, and protection.

Burn is a simple boy from a simple life, different from the other villagers but intelligent, loyal, and loving. Orphaned from a young age he had to raise himself and that gave a quirky edge to his character.

At school, I always felt different; a vegetarian in an age where people couldn’t even spell the word never mind understand why some people refused to eat meat. I was the only vegetarian in the village (so to speak) and viewed with suspicion. It’s unbelievable to think of that now. I feel I unconsciously wrote a part of younger me into Burn.

Burn uses Edward’s desire to leave Abaytor as a way of experiencing his planet and expanding his horizons. Whereas Edward has a serious dislike for him, Burn likes Edward, he likes everyone, it’s in his nature, but he also has a naughty streak and decides to liven up their journey and seduce the sullen boy from another planet.

My teenage son and his friends have read the book and I overheard them all talking about who identified with Edward and who identified with Burn. I was so pleased that I had created characters that resonated with them and hopefully others.

I’m very proud of my debut book, it marks a steep learning curve in which I acquired new skills, new friends, and a new passion. I have a short story in the A Call to Arms anthology and one in the No Holds Bard anthology, and I’m delighted with both.

You can find me on my blog thecopperriver.wordpress.com blogging about anything from writing to theatre to travel to Merlin, or catch me @shellpeart.

Manifold Press is currently offering five of our recent novels – including TO THE LEFT OF YOUR NORTH STAR – at discount prices on Smashwords. Follow these links, and then click the Buy with coupon buttons for the books of your choice. (Whether you then click the Give as a gift button is entirely up to you, but hey it is the silly season soon!)

Happy reading!


I had the privilege of acting as editor for this debut novel by Michelle Peart.

TO THE LEFT OF YOUR NORTH STAR is the sort of science fiction that prompts you to think about who we are and who we want to be. Edward Kemp, who has reluctantly accompanied his father on an expedition to the planet Abaytor, is certainly forced to consider these questions during his journey down-river with an off-kilter alien named Burn. This ‘odd couple’ relationship is rife with misunderstandings at first, but slowly Edward starts to view his other-worldly companion as less infuriating and more insightful, and perhaps even someone he can befriend and learn from.

This story takes place in an unfamiliar setting on a copper-coloured river, with an ever-surprising assortment of Abaytorian life challenging our all-too-human Edward – but the ‘road trip’ and ‘coming of age’ aspects will help you feel right at home.

If you’d like to join Edward and Burn on their adventure, TO THE LEFT OF YOUR NORTH STAR is currently on sale at Smashwords!

Blurb: The self-assured Edward has accompanied his father, famous explorer Herb Kemp, to Abaytor. Herb is on a mission to save Earth’s bee population, but Edward couldn’t care less and just wants the comforts of home. Burn, an off-kilter Abaytorian with a desire for change, is charged with escorting Edward down the Copper River to Herb’s spaceship. As they travel through perilous lands on a makeshift raft, they are in a constant battle with the river, themselves and each other. Edward’s problems with his father are laid bare as they are hunted, starved, almost drowned, and confronted by difficult choices. But, among the striking landscapes and colourful people of Abaytor, Edward slowly learns about trust, self-acceptance and love.

Word count: 63,300 words

Smashwords sale: $5.95 $4.95

Recognition: Honourable Mention in the Rainbow Awards 2017

It’s the season for thinking about gifts – for yourself and for your loved ones! Is there ever any better present than a book … ?

Manifold Press is currently offering five of our recent novels at discount prices on Smashwords. Follow these links, and then click the Buy with coupon buttons for the books of your choice. (Whether you then click the Give as a gift button is entirely up to you.)

Happy reading!

“Have you read … ?”

Manifold Press is known for a few things – which may well come up in discussion over the next few days! The thing I want to focus on right now, though, is our penchant for supporting new authors and publishing stories that do the unexpected. It’s a real privilege to be able to help authors take their first steps into the publishing world, and a real joy to share excellent new voices with our fellow readers.

During these last weeks of the year, and in the lead-up to the festive season, we’d like to focus on five such novels – and offer them to you at a merry old discount!

The links below will take you to the books’ pages on Smashwords, where each of these five novels is currently on sale.

ARDENT by Heloise West

Heloise West isn’t a debut author, but she’s new to the Press – and her novel ARDENT is a superb fit with us, being a beautifully written historical gay romance. The setting is Florence, Italy during the Renaissance period, with the Medici family providing a menacing backdrop. Heloise paints her characters Morello and Benedetto as vividly as they paint their world.

Click here to fall in love with ARDENT on Smashwords!


Dorian Dawes is a force to be reckoned with, as is their main character, Professor Bartleby Prouse. The eponymous HARBINGER ISLAND is full of mysteries and unsolved murders, and it takes a full cast of LGBTQ+ characters to face the horrors there. This sequence of linked stories has to be read to be believed!

Click here if you dare to find HARBINGER ISLAND on Smashwords …

SUBMERGE by Eleanor Musgrove

At first glance, SUBMERGE offers a far more wholesome setting for its LGBTQ+ characters than HARBINGER ISLAND. The eponymous nightclub provides a safe and happy place for Jamie, Miles, Addie, Gina and their delightful friends. But as Eleanor Musgrove starts to cunningly reveal, there is something more going on just below the surface …

Click here to SUBMERGE below on Smashwords!


Michelle Peart takes us further afield, to a planet that is almost but not entirely unlike Earth. Edward Kemp does not want to be there, and certainly does not want to journeying down the Copper River on a ramshackle raft with Burn, the most annoying alien in this world or any other. But as the story matures in TO THE LEFT OF YOUR NORTH STAR, so – very slowly – does Edward.

Click here to travel TO THE LEFT OF YOUR NORTH STAR via Smashwords.

UNDER LEADEN SKIES by Sandra Lindsey

We find ourselves back in a more familiar setting with UNDER LEADEN SKIES, a wonderful historical story set during the Second World War. Sandra Lindsey has happily and thoroughly researched the Sunderland flying boats that feature in this tale – but her real love is for her characters, Teddy and Huw. Not to mention the irrepressible Cheeks!

Click here to fly UNDER LEADEN SKIES on Smashwords.

Like us, you’re probably inclined towards trying something new – and here’s a wonderful chance to do so! Follow those links, and then click the Buy with coupon buttons for the books of your choice.

But do it now … The discounts won’t last for ever!

New review of CALON LAN

Elin Gregory’s delightful Espresso Shot CALON LAN is making friends already. Over at On Top Under Book Reviews reviewer Kazza K has been particularly enthusiastic, awarding the book five stars and commenting – among other remarks in a supportive review –

I love short stories when they deliver so much in so few words. This novella may be shorter on page count but it’s huge on heart and vivid storytelling. The characters were all three dimensional thanks to Bethan’s patient, kind, and loving eyes. Thanks to the author’s skill. I can imagine both Alwyn and Joe before the war and I just knew how they were feeling when they could be together again.

You’re absolutely right, Kazza; CALON LAN packs a lot of great storytelling into quite a small number of pages, and we’re truly proud of it! Thank you for your time and your comments.

Walking Hadrian’s Wall

A guest blog post 
by Cimorene Ross

It was the year I left school that I first encountered Roman remains. It was also the summer that the first incarnation of THE EAGLE’S WING was born as a school project, along with the Sixth Form play, to keep us occupied after the A-level exams until the end of term. My friend and I decided to walk from Northumberland back home to Yorkshire, staying at Youth Hostels on the way.

On the first day we visited Corstopitum (Corbridge), which had been replaced by the fort at Halton when Hadrian’s Wall was built. It didn’t become a supply base until much later, so wasn’t in use during the period of THE EAGLE’S WING.

The following day we discovered Cilurnum (Chesters), which I must admit was the only time I have visited the fort that I hijacked to house the 3rd Augusta Gallorum (with apologies to the 2nd Asturian Horse who actually garrisoned the place). Cilurnum is situated beside the river where the remains of the Roman bridge can still be seen alongside what is considered to be the best military bath-house in Britain.

Ruins of bath-house at Chesters Roman Fort, along Hadrian’s Wall. (photo by Steven Fruitsmaak, 2007, Wikimedia Commons)

The reason I chose Chesters rather than the better known neighbouring Vercovicium (Housesteads) is that I needed a cavalry fort. Housesteads is a much bigger site built on a windswept hillside.

That summer in the early sixties we walked along the Wall itself exploring milecastles and watching rock climbers ascending from Crag Lough. Since then I have been back to Housesteads, once in a fog which was very creepy. It was easy to imagine that an infantryman would emerge from the mist at any moment.

The last time I visited Housesteads was on the way back from an American Civil War event in Tynemouth, so Morgan Cheshire and I were accompanied by two Confederate soldiers which garnered some very odd looks. It being too warm for Victorian costume, Morgan and I were both in mufti, so we explored the praetorium and the hospital (my model for the one in Eboracum) while the scruffy members of the 33rd Virginia were unaccountably fascinated by the communal latrine in the south-east corner.

The latrines of Housesteads Roman Fort along Hadrian’s Wall. (photo by Steven Fruitsmaak, 2007, Wikimedia Commons)

Once we’d managed to drag them away and back onto the Military Road, our journey was disrupted by an overturned lorry stuffed with chickens – which brings me to Vindolanda (Chesterholm) and the 3rd Augusta Gallorum’s obsession with chicken rustling.

I know I have been to Vindolanda but I can’t remember when or with whom. Appealed to on the telephone, Morgan swears she has never set foot in Vindolanda, so it remains a mystery.

Some thirty or so years ago there was the amazing discovery of the hoard of letters that have revealed so much about life on Hadrian’s Wall. A recent issue of the Association for Roman Archaeology’s newsletter announced that there has been a new discovery of 1st Century writing tablets. It will be interesting to see what these reveal once the tablets have been deciphered. All my information about chickens in the diet of soldiers comes from the previous letters published in Anthony Birley’s book GARRISON LIFE AT VINDOLANDA. Until I read that I wasn’t even sure that domesticated poultry had reached Northern England.

My research into cavalry auxiliary forts came from these early visits and a lot of reading. All the books said that the arrangement of barracks and stables are still mostly conjecture for the smaller cavalry forts, and I chose to use what most archaeologists have agreed on.

It wasn’t until I had finished the epic that I visited two unusual forts, both courtesy of our village Coffee Club’s summer trips. About three years ago we went to South Shields. I and several other historically minded people set out to discover Arbeia, which is perched on a hill and acted as a seaport and supply depot, now incongruously surrounded by modern housing. An hour later and I was on my own (my fellow explorers long gone in search of lunch), admiring the reconstructed buildings – the magnificent gatehouse, the commanding officer’s house and, more importantly, a barrack block complete with officer’s quarters at one end.

The reconstructed barrack-block at Arbeia Roman Fort, in South Shields. (photo by Chris McKenna, 2005, Wikimedia Commons)

Long after THE EAGLE’S WING was published I finally reached reached Segedunum (Wallsend) on one of the last Coffee Club trips (most members are now too old or infirm for day trips). No one was surprised when I abandoned everyone in Newcastle to disappear down into the Metro and head for Wallsend. It is the only railway station in the world with signs in both English and Latin.

The fort has been excavated, but cut in two by the main road. Houses built on the site in the late 19th Century have since been demolished. It is now one of very few places in the Roman Empire where a fort can be seen almost in its entirety (the road is still a problem).

The cavalry barracks at Segedunum are several centuries after Lucius and Keret’s time and are totally different from those at Cilurnum. There the stables are separate entities, but in Segedunum three horses are stabled in the front part of the barracks with three cavalrymen sleeping in the back room. The decurion and his under-officers lived in the larger set of rooms, complete with their horses, at the end of each barrack block. It would have been nice to have seen this layout earlier, but the Cilurnum design suits the Pannonians better – the Wallsend pattern gives them no room for stockpiling ill-gotten gains.

Segedunum has an extensive museum with reconstructions of barracks and the strongroom, while a decorated bath-house is based on the Chesters building as the original hadn’t been found at the time. The real bath-house was discovered down by the River Tyne after the existing buildings were demolished in 2014, and parts have been excavated and are now on display to the public.

Segedunum Roman fort., from the viewing platform. (photo by Keith Edkins, 2004, Wikimedia Commons)

The legionary fortresses of Deva (Chester) and Eboracum (York) have very few remains visible above the ground apart from bits of the walls in York and the amphitheatre in Chester. There are smaller remains open to the public in unlikely places such as the basement of Spud U Like (a takeaway serving baked potatoes), and a piece of the strongroom is hidden in a side-street in Chester. The foundations of the headquarters building can be seen under York Minster. It is well worth a visit to the Grosvenor Museum in Chester and the Yorkshire Museum in York.

I would recommend membership of the Association for Roman Archaeology to anyone interested in this subject. Membership not only includes newsletters but free or discounted entry to 45 Roman-related sites.

Being a librarian, even though retired, I can’t help but conclude with a book-list.


A delightful first review has emerged of Farah Mendlesohn’s debut novel SPRING FLOWERING, by author Heather Rose Jones on her own blog, Alpennia.

An informed and thoughtful evaluation of the book concludes with these wonderful words:

If you’ve longed to read stories of women loving women in history with happy endings that ground their love and their happiness in the spirit of the times, then Spring Flowering will be a breath of fresh air and a hope for a new wave of lesbian historical fiction.

That’s a powerful recommendation, which we can only echo wholeheartedly; thank you, Heather, for your time and for your eloquent endorsement!


Reviews continue to read us in random order, including this response of 12 September by reviewer Michael Joseph to Chris Quinton’s intriguing novel COINS NOT ACCEPTED. The reviewer loved the set-up and world-building, and concluded with this paragraph:

Allan, Miles’ childhood friend, is our main conduit for information about the parallel world. His story comes out little by little but in the end his history is, sadly, not that different from what some young men still go through in this world.

We love Chris’s world-building and her characters, too, and we feel that if ever a book was ripe for a sequel it’s this one; thank you, Michael, for your time and your good opinion!