I’m very happy to announce that a new collection of WW1 based horror novellas, The Darkest Battlefield, is now available to pre-order. It’s the inaugural publication from Dean M Drinkel’s new publishing venture Demain and is a sequel of sorts to Darker Battlefields which was published a couple of years ago.
The kindle edition features my own novella, The Lost, alongside stories from Richard Farren Barber, Paul Edwards and Terry Grimwood. A paperback is in the pipeline which will feature the added bonus of a novella from Dean himself.
The idea for The Darkest Battlefield was proposed by Dean shortly after publication of Darker Battlefields and once the decision had been made that he would be publishing the book, all that remained was for an editor to come forward. Ignoring the eminently sensible advice to never volunteer for anything, I offered my services and as a result, found myself in the wonderful position of reading three superb novellas – stories whose company I am honoured to share here.
My own novella is set against the backdrop of the Third Battle of Ypres – or the Battle of Passchendaele as it’s come to be more commonly known – a conflict which cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of men and which was fought in some of the worst conditions imaginable with persistent rain turning the battlefield into a quagmire in which thousands drowned. The option to not participate because it was raining was not one available to them. A senior officer, visiting the battlefield towards the end of the fighting burst into tears and asked his driver “did we send our men into that?” Passchendaele was also the place where the German army first used mustard gas, and this plays a hugely significant role in my story.
I’ve long been obsessed by the Great War, something which I believe dates back to when I was ten or eleven and picked up some books in my great-uncle’s house about the conflict. What I read in there horrified me and when I asked my uncle about his experiences he refused to go into any detail and even as young as I was I could sense his discomfort. I’ve subsequently learned that my paternal great-grandfather was a hussar at the Somme (though I’m not sure if he participated in one of the last cavalry charges ever) who was killed by a sniper and that my maternal grandfather was bayoneted in the shoulder and held as a prisoner of war.
I’ve used the conflict as the backdrop for many of my stories and it’s a subject I’ll no doubt return to in the future. I’m very proud to be a part of this project, the stories presented here taking a variety of approaches to the theme. Also included is a foreword from Adrian Chamberlin and original poetry from John Gilbert.
You can pre-order The Darkest Battlefield here.
By Richard Farren Barber
The horrors of the Great War are felt all over the world, not least by those left behind, the mothers of the soldiers fighting in the trenches. They wait every day for the arrival of the delivery boy bringing the letters that tell of the death of another son, hoping that this is not their turn. They will do anything to ensure the safety of their boys.
When a mysterious stranger arrives in New Radford, she brings with her the promise of hope, a way of ensuring the safety of the young men of the Nottinghamshire town. Mary Fothergill is drawn to the woman, desperate to keep her sons William and Henry alive - but will the woman’s demands be too high a price to pay?
Where The Wounded Trees Wait
By Paul Edwards
At the battlefield memorial at Mametz, Caryl searches for the place where her grandfather Huw lost his life. Gifted with a psychic ability passed down from her grandmother, she begins a journey into the past, uncovering truths which throw light not just on her family’s history but her own life.
Amidst the revelations of Huw’s final days, connections form as past and present grow ever closer and Caryl’s own destiny is revealed.
By Terry Grimwood
The sacrifice of war has new meaning for Major Ernst Dreyer.
The son of an abusive father, he has escaped his past and is now a Major in the German army, his company held in reserve as the British mount their attack.
His request that the men be moved up to the front line arises from more than a sense of honour or patriotism – much more is at stake than the future of his homeland. A deal has been made, one which must not be broken.
By Anthony Watson
Amid the rain and mud of Passchendaele, an army chaplain and medical officer form a friendship and uncover the cursed history of the battlefield which is their temporary home.
An evil long since dormant is reawakening and the pair find themselves in a race against time to combat the supernatural horrors of the past, even as the third battle of Ypres rages around them.