Nen and the Lonely Fisherman

Mr Ian Eagleton, inventor of the celebrated Reading Realm gadget for use with those infernal iPlod devices which everyone seems to use these days, has been kind enough to speak well of my Vale of Strange novels on several occasions, so I am delighted to be able to reciprocate here with some very well deserved words of praise for his own magnificent book, which by all accounts has been flying off the shelves as fast as he can squeeze it out of his exceptionally vivid imagination.

When I was young, my aunt had an apron which was covered in pictures of the seaside. She held me in goggle-eyed fascination as she showed me what she said was the house she used to live in and the street leading down from it to the beach, with its row of multicoloured changing huts, and the nearby harbour where the fishermen landed their catches and mended their nets. James Mayhew’s illustrations for Ian Eagleton’s fabulous fable ‘Nen and the Lonely Fisherman’ seem likely to have a similar power to enchant, their windswept multi-hued blues and contrasting patches of golden yellow providing a memorable setting for the story of the merman Nen and his new friend Ernest the fisherman, who come together across a great chasm of loneliness and differentness to find happiness together.

It’s a story of triumph over adversity, hope in the face of despair, of what can be done if we follow our dreams and don’t give way unnecessarily to the fears of those such as Nen’s father, who – it turns out – may have just a little more advice to share then they have of wisdom.

One of my favourite parts of the book is where we see the deep sea angler fish, which have always terrified me with their bulging mouths full of sharp pointed teeth, each of them dangling an illuminated fishing rod from their mouths to ensnare their unwary prey. But on this occasion the angler fish themselves have to flee in terror when Nen’s father Pelagius unleashes a great tempest upon the ocean, and their gruesome mouths gape open in fear as they try to escape. (Serves them right for scaring us all…)

I guess you could argue that this whole book is about emerging from darkness to live in the light. It has many issues to raise about our attitude to others, how we treat our planet, and our right to lead the kind of life that we want to lead. I think we may find that children have plenty to say on these matters – and I would guess they may have even more to say after reading this splendid book.

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Must-Read Books!

Hooray! Many thanks to the ever-supportive Ian Eagleton, developer of the fabulous Reading Realm app, for including The Vale of Strange amongst his top five must-read children’s books! At any rate, he did yesterday. He admits he may change his mind from time to time but, hey, we’re relaxed about that, aren’t we guys?

In case you were wondering, the other books that Ian chose were The Tunnels Below by Nadine Wild-Palmer, Poems the Wind Blew In by Karmelo C Iribarren and others, Look Up! by Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola, The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson and Elisa Paganelli, and The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell, which actually makes six in all but who’s counting?

Oh, and er, Happy New Year! Sorry you haven’t heard much from us recently but what with having to remember to wash our hands and wear a mask as well as wearing sturdy boots and a hat here in the Vale, we’ve been kept rather busy. We hope to have more news for you soon so, if you haven’t already done so, subscribe to the blog or like us on Facebook to make sure you stay up to date, ok? And do stay safe! – love from Grimly and the Team.

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas from all at the Vale of Strange! Stay safe – and don’t forget your hat!

Funny, mysterious fantasy stories, The Shop on Peculiar Hill and Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill – Special Kindle prices on both books! Get them now before they’re gone!

Amazon UK 77p

Amazon US 99c

Congratulations!

Many congratulations to Teresa and her son, who won our recent Halloween competition for a copy of The Shop on Peculiar Hill, my funny, creepy fantasy adventure. We really hope they enjoy the book!

If you weren’t successful this time, you can still buy the book from Amazon of course, along with the exciting sequel, Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill. Both are available in paperback and Kíndle formats, and if you are a member of Kindle Unlimited you can read the books for free!

Here’s the UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shop-Peculiar-Hill-Vale-Strange/dp/1946892165

Here’s the US link: https://www.amazon.com/Shop-Peculiar-Hill-Vale-Strange/dp/1946892165

And there are similar links scattered conveniently around the planet…

A Free Book for Halloween!

If the COVID pandemic is stopping you trick or treating this year, there’s still a chance for some spooky fun! Join in our competition to win a free paperback copy of The Shop on Peculiar Hill! Just visit me @DarkwoodGrimly on Twitter then retweet one of my tweets about this competition and follow me on Twitter.

That’s all you need to do to be in with a chance of winning. And if you already follow me on Twitter, that’s fine. Just retweet and it counts anyway!

The competition ends at midnight on Halloween! Or if you can’t wait and want to get a copy of this spooky, funny, thrilling book right away, you can buy one right now from Amazon:

USA: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KR17MGT

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07KR17MGT

Still time for a Bargain!

I’ve just notified the three lucky winners of the recent competition (run by LoveReading4Kids) to win a signed copy of Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill. I’m pleased to announce that there were no fewer than 1585 entries for the competition, so confirming the enduring popularity of my books – at least on occasions where no exchange of funds is required.

If you happen to be one of the 1582 people who just missed out on winning a book, I’m happy to report that you still have a chance to pick up a bargain. The first book in the Vale of Strange series, The Shop on Peculiar Hill, which is the prequel to Stranger Days, is still available as an e-book from Amazon, priced at just 99p UK or 99c US (and for similarly paltry amounts in other parts of the globe). The paperback version is also competitively priced at just £6-99 UK or $9-99 US.

The Shop on Peculiar Hill has become unexpectedly topical since the onset of COVID-19. The young hero Peter finds that his move to stay with his uncle and aunt on Peculiar Hill puts him in an unfamilar situation. He is told that he is not allowed to go out of the house without taking special precautions like wearing a hat and sturdy boots. His aunt and uncle use weird protective concoctions called unge and glop which they put on the dining table and spread in a ring round the house, while Aunt Maggie will never even leave the house without a long pole to defend herself against monsters. Indeed, she never goes out at all except on a Thursday.

How is Peter supposed to adapt to this strange, unfamilar predicament?

Anne-Marie Reynolds at Readers’ Favorite wrote: “The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ by Grimly Darkwood is a fascinating story, much like a dark version of a fairy tale… This book has it all – death, darkness, fearsome creatures, strange vegetables – everything needed to brew up a fantastical tale. This story is well written in very straightforward language… There is always something going on to keep your interest. The author has written the characters very well, so clearly that you can picture them in your mind – kind of like watching a Harry Potter movie.”

Joanne Owen at LoveReading4Kids said “A riotously imaginative feast of fantastical adventure with lashings of larger-than-life characters and curious goings-on… This book’s whimsical, jaunty language and characterisation make it marvellous for reading aloud. In fact, as you read the dialogue, it’s easy to hear and see the characters in action, replete with tone of voice and physical quirks.”

Ian Eagleton, Creator of the Reading Realm app, wrote: “Thrilling, dark, utterly barmy, funny and surprisingly moving… if you haven’t read it already, please do. What a hidden gem!”

You can find out more about The Shop on Peculiar Hill here on my website. You can also try before you buy! Read the first two chapters here for free…

Competition Extended to 12 August!

Just when you you thought you had missed your chance, I am pleased to inform you that you haven’t! That’s good news, isn’t it? What could be better than that?

Now don’t get overexcited. I’m afraid that some opportunities have indeed disappeared into the mists of time. You’re still too late to attend the 1966 World Cup football final for instance, which may be for the best, because I have a sneaking feeling that the more times we watch it, the more likely it is that Germany is going to win after all. We’re also too late to be the first person to land on the moon. I can vouch for that because they brought me back an authentic stick of moon rock which had little green men on it and a label which said ‘made in Blackpool’ with the ‘Blackpool’ bit crossed out and ‘the moon’ written in.

So that possibility’s gone as well, I’m afraid, But don’t worry because believe it it not, you are still in time to win the most important prize of all: one of three signed copies of that fantastic work of fiction, ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’ because the deadline for entries to the LoveReading4Kids competition has now been extended (by popular demand) to 12 August. So get in now while you’re still in time! Hurry across to LoveReading4Kids to find out all the instructions for how to enter. Those books won’t be there for ever, you know, so don’t miss out!

I understand that if you don’t win a book, you can still pick up a piece of moon rock, though the rumour is that the latest ones don’t come from the moon at all but from a popular range of insolvent garden centres. So that’s hardly the same sort of quality prize as Peter’s mysterious adventures in the Vale of Strange, now is it?

So make sure you win one of those books, personally signed my me, Grimly Darkwood.

And if you win,

a) Don’t forget to read it, and

b) please post an honest review of the book on Amazon, Goodreads, your own blog, or in some other reputable publication, whether in print or online. Most people who read the Vale of Strange books seem to really enjoy them, with lots of five star reviews, but we need more people, kids and adults alike, to spread the word!

More Signed Copies of Stranger Days to be Won!

If you didn’t get lucky in our previous competition, there’s now a new chance to win one of three signed copies of the paperback edition of Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill, this time courtesy of Lovereading4kids You can find out all about how to enter on the lovereading4kids website here, where you’ll also find the Lovereading4kids review of the book.

This is of course the second in the Vale of Strange series, the sequel to The Shop on Peculiar Hill. Lovereading4kids points out that it’s also a stand-alone novel which works very well even if you haven’t read the previous book. They say: ‘this is an exciting book which will certainly be a page turner for those who love all things weird and wonderful’.

The book is one of the Lovereading4kids ‘indie books that we love’ and also one of their featured books. There’s lots more about the book, including more reviews, on our own special page here and you can read some free sample chapters here. Good luck in the competition!

Grimly Talks about Stranger Days… plus Books to be Won!

Those really nice people at The Reading Realm app called round for a chat a little while ago (when such things were still possible) and Grimly shared a few thoughts about Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill, the second book in the Vale of Strange series. It’s a really good interview. You’ll find out all about one of the new characters in Stranger Days, Peter’s new friend Mala; how Grimly says you can save the world by asking questions; and what might be coming up in the third book in the series. You’ll find it all on the Reading Realm website here.

And if that wasn’t exciting enough, there’s a chance to win one of three signed copies of Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill! To find out how to enter, visit @reading_realm on Twitter.

And before you go, don’t forget that The Reading Realm app is a great resource to encourage kids to read, with lots of games, extracts from books (including The Shop on Peculiar Hill), and tools to help you write and draw stories yourself.

Right then, that’s it… Good luck in the competition, keep safe, and don’t forget your hat!

The Shop on Peculiar Hill – now on YouTube!

If you missed the great reading of The Shop on Peculiar Hill Chapter One by Ian Eagleton, developer of the terrific The Reading Realm app, you can now catch it on YouTube.

The video is set to start at 14 min and 40 seconds in, which is about where Ian starts reading Chapter One, but the whole video is fun. Amongst other things, Ian reads a poem called The Owl and The Pussycat in sign language plus a snippet of my biography!

Ian is continuing to do readings, quizzes etc while the schools are out, about a couple of times a week at 11am, so do take a look at them. If you want to catch them live, you can find them on the Reading Realm Facebook page.