Tuesday 4 November 2014

The Asylum for Fairy Tale Creatures by Sebastian Gregory.

Sebastian Gregory's latest book, The Boy in the Cemetery, was the perfect choice of reading for so many of us this Halloween and so now, as a post-Halloween treat, I'm happy to be sharing a spooky excerpt from Seb's previous book, The Asylum for Fairy Tale Creatures.

Doctor Grimm’s notebook: Beauty

Once upon a time...as a merchant set off for market, he asked each of his three daughters what she would like as a present on his return. The first daughter wanted a brocade dress, the second a pearl necklace, but the third, whose name was Beauty, the youngest, prettiest and sweetest of them all, said to her father:

“All I’d like is a rose you’ve picked specially for me!”

When the merchant had finished his business, he set off for home. However, a sudden and unnatural storm blew; his horse was killed by a falling tree in the howling gale. Cold and weary, the merchant had lost all hope of reaching safety when he suddenly noticed a bright light shining in the middle of a wood. As he drew near he saw that it was a castle, bathed in light.

“I hope I’ll find shelter there for the night,” he said to himself. When he reached the door, he saw it was open, but, though he shouted, nobody came to greet him. Plucking up courage, he went inside, still calling out to attract attention. On a table in the main hall, a splendid dinner lay already served. The merchant lingered, still shouting for the owner of the castle. But no one came, and so the starving merchant sat down to a hearty meal. There were all kinds of exotic meats served rare in deep red sauces and, although the merchant did not recognise the flavour, it was indeed delicious.

Overcome by curiosity, he ventured upstairs, where the corridor led into magnificent rooms and halls. A fire crackled in the first room and a soft bed looked very inviting. It was now late, and the merchant could not resist. He lay down on the bed and fell fast asleep. When he woke next morning, an unknown hand had placed a mug of hot red liquid and slices of thin pink meat.

The merchant had breakfast and, after tidying himself up, went downstairs to thank his generous host. But, as on the evening before, there was nobody in sight. Shaking his head in wonder at the strangeness of it all, he went towards the garden where he had a horse, tethered to a tree. Suddenly, a large rose bush caught his eye. The rose bush was placed in front of a large crypt, where a stone angel looked down from above.

Remembering his promise to Beauty, he bent down to pick a rose. Instantly, out of the crypt entrance sprang a horrible pale hand. The man was lifted by the throat. Two bloodshot eyes, gleaming angrily, glared at him and a deep, terrifying voice growled: “Ungrateful man! I gave you shelter, you ate at my table and slept in my home, but now all the thanks I get is the theft of my favourite flowers! I shall put you to death for this slight!” Trembling with fear, the merchant fell on his knees before the beast.

“Forgive me! Forgive me! Don’t kill me! I’ll do anything you say! The rose wasn’t for me, it was for my daughter Beauty. I promised to bring her back a rose from my journey!” The beast dropped the claw it had clamped on the unhappy merchant.

“I shall spare your life, but on one condition: that you bring me your daughter!” The terror-stricken merchant, faced with certain death if he did not obey, promised that he would do so. When he reached home in tears, his three daughters ran to greet him. After he had told them of his dreadful adventure, Beauty put his mind at rest immediately.

“Dear Father, I’d do anything for you! Don’t worry, you’ll be able to keep your promise and save your life! Take me to the castle. I’ll stay there in your place!” The merchant hugged his daughter.

“I never did doubt your love for me. For the moment I can only thank you for saving my life.”

So Beauty was led to the castle. The beast, however, had quite an unexpected greeting for the girl. Instead of menacing doom as it had done with her father, it was surprisingly pleasant, as was his cold, pale skin and blood-red lips. In the beginning, Beauty was frightened of the beast, and shuddered at the sight of it. Then his red eyes looked deep into hers and she felt compelled to obey. She found that, in spite of the monster’s awful fangs, her horror of it was gradually fading as time went by. She had one of the finest rooms in the castle, and sat for hours, embroidering in front of the fire. And the beast would sit, for hours on end, only a short distance away, silently gazing at her, watching her throat. Then it started to say a few kind words, till in the end Beauty was amazed to discover that she was actually enjoying its conversation; his words sounded like tombstones from the ages.

The nights passed, and Beauty and the beast became good friends. Then one day, the beast asked the girl to be his wife and Beauty agreed, so the beast kissed her neck and she fell into deep sleep. When she woke that evening there was a new strength about her. She went to see her father to tell him the news, but when she arrived a strange hunger gripped her and she supped on the blood of her father and her sisters until they were dead. Stricken with grief from what her fiancé had made her do, she went back to the castle and drove a wooden stake through his heart, turning him to dust. The spell broken, she was human once more, but insane with what she had lost. There was only one place in the world left for her: the asylum.

From THE ASYLUM FOR FAIRY TALE CREATURES, free for a limited time on Amazon, Apple and other retailers.

Sebastian’s latest book THE BOY IN THE CEMETERY is only £0.99 for a limited time on Amazon, Apple and other retailers.

THE GRUESOME ADVENTURES OF ALICE IN UNDEADLAND is also £0.99 for a limited time on Amazon, Apple and other retailers.

Look out for A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY, coming in December.

Thanks to Carina, you can win an ebook copy of The Asylum for Fairy Tale Creatures, The Gruesome Adventures of Alice in Undeadland or The Boy in the Cemetery - whichever you choose! Fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter the giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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