One for the house, one for the Church and one for the sea.

Every so often a book comes along that absolutely enthralls me and I can’t wait to  share my delight.  This time it’s a Gothic tale infused with Irish folklore, A.G. (Angela) Slatter’s latest, ALL THE MURMURING BONES.

Long ago, the O’Malley’s made a deadly deal with the Merfolk: one child each generation in exchange for prosperity and power.

But they didn’t keep up their end of the bargain and have fallen on hard times. Miren O’Malley, abandoned by her parents, is the family’s last hope, pledged against her will to marry a cruel cousin in the hopes they’ll breed and regain the clan’s fortune. Miren escapes and undertakes a harrowing journey to find the truth about her past and shape her future.

I love strong heroines, and Miren rates highly in that regard. She’s prone to musing, but quick-witted and swift to action when the situation demands it. I enjoyed her growth as a character from a rather naive, protected girl to a determined young woman.

On the surface, the plot sounds like a familiar story: a young woman running away to escape an arranged marriage, cruel men wanting her power, heartless guardians, missing parents. In lesser hands, these elements would come off as trite but Slatter weaves them into a story that mesmerizes. The first chapter, in particular, is absolutely gorgeous, drawing you into a richly atmospheric tale full of mystery and dark delights.

Slatter’s writing is so good it’s often breathtaking. And she knows how to keep your interest, infusing folkloric stories, introducing fantastic characters–a kelpie, a singing automaton, grim mermaids, to name but a few–while staying true to the pulse of the central story.

My only quibble is that Miren’s internal dialogue feels tiresome after a while, but it fits the young adult genre and her character arc so that’s a minor nit. The ending, while predictable, was still heart-stopping.

Lovers of dark fantasy, this book is for you!



In my search for the perfect word, I sometimes turn to Roget’s Thesaurus. It’s a great resource, but the potential for distractions can take me to unexpected places.

For example:

Look up sat. See Satan at top of page. Investigate synonyms and antonyms for “the devil.” Notice Beezlebub.

Am reminded of the Washington Post’s Mensa Invitational’s contest for reworking of the word. Search old emails until I find it: Beezlebug (n): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three a.m. and cannot be cast out.

Re-read the rest (**) and have a good laugh. Return to thesaurus. Notice Loki under the subheading “fallen angels.” Hey, wasn’t that the spirit that possessed Jim Carrey in “The Mask?”

By now I’ve forgotten why I open Roget in the first place. And I wonder why my word count is so low for the day!  😉


**The Washington Post’s Mensa Invitational asks readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Recent winners:

Cashtration: The act of buying a house, which renders the person financially impotent for an indefinite period.

Ignoranus: A person who is both stupid and a butthead.

Intaxication: Euphoria at getting at tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

Bozone: The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating.

Caterpallor: The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you’re eating.

Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.

Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.

Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

Karmageddon: It’s like, when everybody is sending off these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s like, a serious bummer

Decafalon: The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

Glibido: All talk and no action.

Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

Arachnoleptic fit: The frantic dance performed after you’ve just accidentally walked through a spider web.





Webster’s defines a talisman as “an object held to act as a charm to avert evil or bring good fortune.”

I grew up with talismans, mostly religious, rosary beads and such. Now that I write fantasy, I have a few around my computer. They serve as potent reminders that supernatural elements are integral to my stories. And if they bring me luck, well, I won’t say no. 😉

The first two are rattles, good for shaking when my mind is stuck. One comes from Yosemite, brown and round and open-mouthed, ready to whisper words of encouragement. Another was forged from a Gerber baby spoon. How clever is that? Helps me focus on my young audience.


The other three are power stones I bought in Maui. The dragon, my Chinese astrological sign as well, symbolizes wisdom and nobility. The hummingbird stands for joy, miracles, and beauty. The seahorse brings confidence and grace. All qualities I’d like my work to reflect.

How about you? Got any lucky charms?