The Tale of Storm Raven

The Tale of Storm Raven

The Tale of Storm Raven by Steph Minns (April 2014, Dark Alley Press)

Nick, a London musician and bookstore manager, falls for a goth beauty he meets online. However, Suzy has a problem. No one believes a ghost is gradually taking over Suzy’s life, until Nick and his friend Zac start to investigate. But is it too late though for Suzy, who is gradually spiraling into a sordid decline?

 

Praise for The Tale of Storm Raven

The Tale of Storm Raven is a hair-twisting, Koji Suzuki-style tale of the macabre that reminds us identity is fragile…fans of Japanese horror, don’t miss this one!”
                                  — Kristi Petersen Schoonover, author of Bad Apple

 

Excerpt of The Tale of Storm Raven

I’d arranged to meet Niagara Falls, as she called herself on the London Goth forum, outside the U Noir club in Wardour Street, Soho. We’d chatted online for some time now and seemed to click, so I’d suggested we meet here. Rain fell relentlessly out of the London sky, drizzling down under the collar of my leather jacket, and crisp packets sailed like boats along the dirty gutters of the road. Yeah, a pretty dismal autumn evening in all. I was chatting to Zac, the security guy on the door, when a petite, willow-the-wisp Goth girl dodged out of the rain into the club’s doorway, almost running into me. She glanced at me from under a rain-spangled mane of black and purple hair, her dark outlined eyes catching the reflection of the neon sign above the door as she slipped the hood of her coat down. Could this be Niagara Falls? She looked like her forum picture, just different hair, so I decided to introduce myself.

“Hi, I’m Storm Raven — well, Nick. I’m guessing you’re Niagara?”

The wary brown eyes narrowed a little before expressing recognition, and she stuck out a purple-nailed hand.

“Hi. Yeah that’s me. Nice to meet you, Nick. Call me Suzy though as that’s my real name.”

I shook the hand with what I hoped was a gentlemanly flourish but thought better of raising it to my lips, first meeting and all that. She might just think I was being a bit creepy. Besides, this wasn’t really a date so much as a forum chat buddies meet up.

“Let’s get inside and warm up. I’m soaked through,” I said.

“Yeah, me too.”

I was impressed with the hourglass figure she revealed as she shrugged off the velvet coat and handed it to the cloakroom guy. Underneath, she wore a red satin and leather dress that showcased her curves, and spiky buckled boots. I complimented her on the dress, and she replied with a pleased smile.

“Thanks. I finished my fashion design course last year, and I’m working for a small fashion house now. Nothing big, but I’ve got plans. This is one of my prototypes.”

A rush of warm, beer-soaked air hit us as we stepped through the glass doors and the industrial thrash beat of the band on stage almost punched us backwards. I started to speak, then realised she wouldn’t be able to hear me so steered her gently towards the far side of the bar. It was quieter there, and I’d spotted an empty table.

“What can I get you to drink?” I offered.

“Just a white wine please.”

Her  manner was quite formal and proper, and I sensed a little shyness, which intrigued me. As we chatted, she began to open up, her laugh genuine and cute, even though my jokes to break the ice were pretty naff, admittedly. After a couple of hours, we were getting on like old friends. She seemed genuinely interested in hearing about my bookstore manager’s life and the music I was into, even my ramblings about the pretty rubbish thrash metal band I played guitar (badly) with. I was surprised at just how much we had in common. She’d actually heard of some of my favourite books, underground classics from cult fringe writers that I still kept on the shelves at the shop, even though they sold very few copies. With certain books I had a sort of misguided affection.

When the bar closed and the main lights came on, stabbing our eyes, we made a move for our coats.

“Shall I walk you back to the station?” I offered.

“That would be good,” Suzy smiled.

We strolled, still talking enthusiastically about art-house films, through the rain to Holborn tube. At the ticket barrier, she gave me a quick peck on the cheek before scampering onto the escalator with a wave and a grin.

“See you soon, Nick.”

“Yeah, that would be good.”

Maybe my mundane life was about to take a turn for the better.

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