Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Paladins (various writers) End Fanzine book review

Paladins (Various writers)

Paladin noun historical – a warrior that is fully devoted to kindness and ridding the universe of evil Paladins is an apt description for the contributors to this charity anthology. This publication has been put together by a whole community of writers who have each written a story especially for this title. The stories all feature a person, or persons in distress and with someone, the knight-errant coming to their aid. Sounds cosy doesn’t it? Nothing of the sort! …Expect pain. Expect violence. Expect…the unexpected. But most of all, expect great stories, written with heart. This anthology was inspired by a very special lady called Henrietta Furchtenicht who was given six months to live when she was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma over four years ago – Henri’s battle continues. All proceeds from this book will be going to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (Paladins publicity blurb)

Well as the intro above explains, this book was put together after it became known that Henri Furchtenicht, (wife of Craig, one of the many brilliant contributors to this book) was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma.
I won’t pretend to be an expert of the illness, but most of us have been touched by knowing someone who has one form of cancer and we know the heartache and distress it causes to friends and family as well as the illness and pain inflicted on the sufferer. I follow Henri on facebook and she is indeed an inspiring person, Brutally honest and funny as fuck..go become friends and wish her well.

The thing I want to say about this book is that ..I have tried many times to get into the short stories genre and it has never held my interest. I read books to become immersed in another world so I’m not dwelling on the shitty one I dwell in. I find that short stories don’t in general, help me escape as I read before I drop off to sleep. I also want to make it clear that this review isn’t influenced by the fact it was inspired by Henri or that the proceeds go to the multiple myeloma foundation. Nope.. I just read it and fucking loved it.

There are many writers featured, but if I mention every one and review every story this review itself would become a short story in its own right, so forgive me if I miss out your favourite story or author (a list of the contributors feature at the bottom of the review)

The book features some of the indie writers that I have been banging on about for the last 2 years..Ryan Bracha, Kieth Nixon and Robert Cowan to name but a few (and not forgetting that the artwork was done by one of my tips for writer stardom, Mark Wilson).

As I would expect all writers not only matched their previous work but actually exceeded expectations.  Each story is very loosely linked to a theme and while they are vastly different in style and accent.(English, Scottish and American writers contribute) We even have a scouse contributor in the form of Lnda Angel with, surely, one of the sweariest stories you will ever read, hilarious and poignant..I will be searching for more from Linda in the very near future.

Other highlights were Bracha’s description of his character’s descent into old age and dementia. This was more terrifying (and pertinent) than any horror story this humble narrator has ever read. Best of all though was reading contributions from those writers I have never read anything by, Bill Baber, Jason Beech, Christopher Davis, Craig Douglas, Craig Furchtenicht, David Jaggers, Cal Marcius, Matt Mattila, , Gareth Spark, Aidan Thorn, Gabriel Valjan, Graham Wynd and the afore mentioned Linda Angel..all of whom surpassed and delighted my reading senses.
Dark tales of Death, destruction, duplicity abound..and the grizzly comeuppance for at least 3 paedophiles make this book compelling and wonderfully entertaining.

Go out and buy this book now, Buy it on its own merit, I guarantee you will love these stories


If you are that way inclined go and buy it to contribute to a very worthy cause and help put a smile on Henri and Craig’s faces.

Just buy it for fucks sake, yer bleedin’ mingbags!!! (Linda will know that phrase!)

Some words from Henrietta Furchtenicht

It is so overwhelming that these people put this together in honor of me and the people that have been affected by cancer. Some that have experienced it themselves. It is a beautiful thing from some beautiful people. They have put a lot of work into this to donate it to MM. From the heart's of compassionate people that have given me hope.

“I have come to realize that heroes often grace our lives when we least expect them, sometimes in the form of complete strangers. The authors of the stories you are about to read are a perfect example of that. Social media has the amazing ability to bring our worlds closer, to offer us the chance to meet those people we would have otherwise never known. We share our shining moments with them along with our darkest days. Eventually the world in which we all live in seems a little less foreign and a whole lot more inviting. We find that no one is truly a stranger and that the heroes have been there all along.
A few years ago I would have never imagined myself writing these words on the night before Christmas 2015. When my oncologist first diagnosed me with Multiple Myeloma in June of 2012 he only gave me 6 months to live. I was already in the last stage of this rare form of blood cancer that attacks the plasma cells found in the bone marrow. At the time of my diagnosis I had seven broken ribs on my left side. He told me that there was no cure for my type of cancer. We could only treat it to the point of remission with high doses of chemotherapy and stem cell transplants. This is when I was first introduced to Dr. Guido Tricot, the finest oncologist that Belgium has ever produced. He has kept me alive, though at times I thought he was trying to kill me in the process.
My husband Craig and I are so fortunate to live very close to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. In the first year we easily spent more time in that place than we did at home. I underwent two stem cell transplants each consisting of 3 ½ weeks of being quarantined in a hospital unit with nothing but Craig and a puke bucket. Neither of them left my side during the entire ordeal. During the hours that I was in a self-induced trance Craig wrote to keep his sanity. By the end of the second transplant he had finished his first novel. Months later I found it hidden away in a desk drawer. After a bit of wifely persuasion he reluctantly published it.
Because of that book, through one social media site or another, we have both become friends with each of the contributors of this anthology. Fighting cancer was not how I wanted to meet any of these amazing people, but whether they knew it or not they gave me encouragement I needed from a world away. They kept me going when it would have been so much easier to just give up. I saw Ryan and Rebecca Bracha bring their beautiful daughter Delilah into the world, went to Borneo with Robert Cowan and got to wish Aidan Thorn’s father a happy birthday. Darren Sant told me what an oatcake was. I saw Matt Mattila go to California, admired Katrina Tia Davies in her wedding dress and watched Keith Nixon move his family across country. I’ve seen a little girl paint her dad’s fingernails and his son holding a “Refugees Welcome” sign in his little red boots. Each one of these writers and so many others have given me the strength and hope that the cancer has tried to take away.
I have read many of the stories written by these authors, including my husband’s. Though they are dark and gritty and downright unwholesome, I must laugh when I get over the shock of reading them. I know for a fact that each of them truly has a heart of gold. When Aidan Thorn approached us with the idea of putting a book together to help support the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, words could not begin to describe how blessed I felt. So much love for these people that I thought my heart would burst. So enjoy the book and take comfort in knowing that the proceeds will go towards finding a cure someday.
Thank you all for giving me a love for life. Much love to each of you:
Linda Angel, Bill Baber, Jason Beech, Ryan Bracha, Robert Cowan, Christopher Davis, Craig Douglas, Craig Furchtenicht, David Jaggers, Cal Marcius, Matt Mattila, Keith Nixon, Darren Sant, Gareth Spark, Aidan Thorn, Gabriel Valjan, Mark Wilson, Graham Wynd

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