ARC Review – “The Bloody Maiden” by Sophie Mitchell

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Mitchell is a master of nautical atmosphere – having grown up living by the sea myself, I can 100% confirm that she knows how to make the ocean come alive in text. The Bloody Maiden instantly had me comparing it to Jamaica Inn. Imagine if a feminist, orphaned, and morally gray Mary Yellan left Jamaica Inn to join the smugglers; that’s the Bloody Maiden for you.

The book is largely character-driven, following Prudence’s (an orphaned barmaid at a brothel) journey to become a free woman (some may say a fallen woman) as a ruthless pirate. She’s unapologetic and so very feminist that I instantly clicked with her. She longs to escape a life in which she’s smothered by the constraints of her sex. By contrast, her sister-only-in-name, Eleanora, is a prostitute who likes the safety of the brothel where they both live. When Prudence drags Eleanora onto a pirate vessel after a bloody barfight, they become part of the crew. This creates a split between the two sister-friends, and the roles are reversed: suddenly Prudence is happy with life, but Eleanora isn’t.

A lot of the book is centered on their fraying survival-of-the-fittest friendship. Indeed, their friendship was one of my favorite things about the book. When Prudence makes friends with the crew despite her sex, and then later falls in love with the captain of the ship, this friendship is tested further. This is a book for you if you enjoy found family, BUT you must also be able to swallow a lot of tragedy and darkness as that’s part of the genre. Don’t expect roses and candles.

The story has a well-built fantastical slant with folklore and mythical creatures (yell hound/lindworn/sirens/blood magick/witches), but never so much that the world feels far removed from the natural one as we know it. You can say that Mitchell has brought the superstition of sailors alive – literally. That’s what it feels like.

The narrative does touch upon subjects not for the faint of heart, but that’s expected of the genre. It’s explicitly gritty in some places, but not overall too explicit, in my opinion. Prudence suffers suicidal thoughts at the beginning of the novel, plus an opium addiction. Although not at the forefront of the plot, LGBTQ-rep is naturally and realistically implemented in the book.



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Commissioned Art for my Adult Fantasy

For the longest time I considered commissioning art for my current WIP, The Deathsea Dyer (working title), but I always felt a little too… afraid of it, really. There was something truly daunting about seeing my characters be brought to life by other people on a visual level. Likewise there was something truly daunting about the process itself. The choosing of an artist, the working relationship and the payment process etc. Oh, and let’s not forget that I’m absolutely horrible at faceclaims for my characters. I had so much trouble finding reference pictures for the artists to work with, but in the end I’m happy I settled on the ones that I did.

I’m happy to say that I’ve finally conquered all of those fears – I HAVE ART!

I compiled a list on twitter of artists whose style I loved. More particularly, I wanted to find an artist with a style that matched the mood and aesthetic of my WIP. In this case, that aesthetic was color and whimsy. A fairytale for adults. Think Brothers Grimm meets Diana Wynne Jones. From my compiled twitter list, the first artist I reached out to was @lacunaorphic1 (ko-fi.com). The two headshots below are the final product of the commission – and I couldn’t be happier, from the very bottom of my heart!

What’s even better is that I have another commission in the works – and I’ll share it with you in due time…

Idah is a con-woman with a double identity and lifelong ambition to empty the king’s pockets.

Prince Eske is a stutterer-turned-polyglot, overlooked by his father until he teams up with Idah to steal a magical artifact.

20min Drabble Challenge: “Monolith”

Shoutout to @stnorahed on twitter for the word prompt! The 20 minutes is from the moment I jot down the first word till I write the last. I’ll sit and consider the theme and the visual imagery for some minutes beforehand, oftentimes googling images of the word.


Every day the molehill grew higher until it rose like a monolith in my backyard, haloed by the sun and moon. It became obvious it wasn’t a molehill, but my neighbor called the cops before I could decide what to do about it myself. The journalists and photographers came after the cops had done their stint. The scientists came last, carrying equipment bigger than themselves. These days, nobody comes.
I haven’t heard a word from anyone.
The molehill keeps growing.
It’s not a molehill, but nobody will tell me what it is.
Guess I’ll have to find out for myself.