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Writers Inspiring Change feature book review: Dun an Doras: Bytheiad

Updated: Mar 24

Dun an Doras Bytheiad, by Gemma Tarr, the third in this fantasy/horror series, is laced with a good dash of frightful and repulsive imagery, as well as plenty of witty and humorous dialogue. The combination is a good balance, and one does not detract from the other whatsoever. The characters in this story are a band of humans, or not, with a twist. Some are werewolves, some trolls, some speak to the dead, travel to other dimensions, and some are shapeshifters. This is a story that seriously pushes the edge of one's imagination. The author's presentation of her characters, the lives they lead, and the way they integrate within the human realm, makes it seem almost plausible. In this story, people start disappearing in a park in Wales, at the maws of a terrible creature (no spoilers). This thing conjures up ugly nightmarish images that are haunting, and the author pulls no punches on letting the reader delve in its episodes (of which there are many) where it goes on a killing spree. The merry band of misfits above are forced to come together and use their special talents to hunt down this creature and end its feasting - but they soon discover that they are dealing with something that even in their world, is beyond anything they have ever faced before. A ghoulish bizarre and creepy thrill ride to the very end.

Review by International Writers Inspiring Change

About Gemma Tarr

Reading is basically staring at slices of tree, risking a tree's last revenge, and hallucinating wildly. And I love it.

I have always loved reading and writing, penning short stories or long ones, writing bad poetry and staring at the sky wondering if anyone else is thinking what I'm thinking at the same time; the odds aren't great. (How did people learn you could eat an oyster and who stuck their hand in the first one thinking 'I can't wait to eat this sea bogey.'?)

As the years passed, I wrote more, I'd always been told in school that I had to learn to slow down my brain to meet my writing speed, that I had to stop thinking so much and why hadn't I just finished the quadratic equations yet. I always found it mildly unfair. Why shouldn't I love reading? I wasn't hurting anyone by devouring book after book, relishing getting a new book, speeding through another tale and smiling, content, as I closed the back cover.

Then I had 'The Problems'. I developed PTSD, anxiety and depression. Suddenly books didn't hold me anymore, I just wanted to die quietly in the corner and not bother anyone.

But one day, it hit me, books had been my escape for years, my rescuers, my friends and confidantes, why couldn't they now? Why couldn't I use the power being drained away by my mental health issues and make a whole new life.

Thus, Dun an Doras was born.

I refuse to die quietly, I refuse to let the fantasy genre die alone, remembered only by D&D players and kids. We would rise together, via mythology and legend, whipping past werewolves and banshees and settling in the wonderful world of togetherness.

Also, as we all know, these things do exist, they're just better at hiding than we thought!

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