Prison of Hope is on sale in the Uk for only £1. Now, I know it’s the 4th book in the series, but you don’t need to have read any of the other books to enjoy it.
Long ago, Olympian gods imprisoned the demon Pandora in a human—Hope—creating a creature whose only purpose was chaos and death. Remorseful, the gods locked Pandora away in Tartarus, ruled by Hades.
Now, centuries later, Pandora escapes. Nate Garrett, a 1,600-year-old sorcerer, is sent to recapture her and discovers her plan to disrupt the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, killing thousands in a misplaced quest for vengeance.
Fast forward to modern-day Berlin, where Nate has agreed to act as guardian on a school trip to Germany to visit Hades at the entrance to Tartarus. When Titan King Cronus becomes the second ever to escape Tartarus, Nate is forced to track him down and bring him back, to avert a civil war between those who would use his escape to gain power.
“Okay, this was definitely a five star book. Steve McHugh definitely brought it with this fourth full-length book in the Hellequin series. Nate is definitely going into my top ten of serious badasses!” – Bittenbybooks
“Overall then a really great read, all of them, another strength being that you can read any one on its own, you don’t necessarily have to read in order. A series that I hope will run and run.
Highly Recommended” – Lizlovesbooks
“This series is a must read. The action, adventure and history keeps the reader engaged at all times. It is a story that incorporates the emotional side of the characters, their passion for justice as well as their conflict.” Onebooktwo
So, it’s just under a month away from the launch of Lies Ripped Open, and I thought I’d post the first chapter. if you want to pre-order, the links will be at the bottom.
C h a p t e r 1
New Forest, England. Now.
There are people out in the big wide world who don’t believe in luck. They don’t believe that luck plays any kind of part in our lives. These people are, if I’m brutally honest, fucking idiots.
The idea that luck plays no part in our day-to-day existence on this massive rock ignores the fact that it played a part in us being able to exist in the first place. Luck is evident in our lives wherever you look. Sure, ability, coincidence, and just downright hard work all play a massive role, but luck can sometimes mean the difference between being in the right place at the right time and, well, not.
Case in point, it was clearly a little bit of luck, whether good or bad, that saw me in the living room of my house, turning on the large HDTV and switching to one of the twenty-four-hour news channels at exactly the same moment as they cut to a clean-shaven, young man with short, dark hair, wearing a dark suit and talking in somber tones about a hostage situation that was taking place in the Southampton shopping center, West Quay.
I went to the kitchen to grab a bottle of water from the fridge and returned, taking a seat on my leather couch and increasing the volume of the TV.
“We’re now entering hour four of the standoff,” the man said.
Hour four? I’d been working out in the forest that surrounded my property, running and practicing various fighting and magical techniques, and had no idea of the crisis that had unfolded during that time.
“What, if anything, can you tell us about the situation?” asked a pretty blonde woman as the picture cut to include those sitting in a studio.
“We know that at approximately 10:30 this morning, an armed man entered Hopkins jewelers and proceeded to take the occupants hostage.” The reporter turned aside to give a better view of the Southampton high street and the entrance to West Quay. Police vans littered the area, along with several ambulances.
The police themselves were either shielded behind their wall of cars, or stood at the cordon not allowing anyone to get close to the situation.
“Has anyone been injured?” the news anchor asked.
The man nodded slowly, showing sadness, although I wasn’t sure it managed to reach his eyes. This was clearly a big news story, and he was front and center. Still, it would have been nice if he wasn’t quite so excited about the possibility of being part of such a big story. “It’s believed that one man was shot as he fought back against the armed attacker. We haven’t been updated as to his status since we learned that information.”
“And is there anything else the police are saying?”
“Not at this time. As you can understand, it’s an incredibly complex and fluid situation, where at least eighteen people’s lives are at risk. The police are planning on giving a press conference in an hour, but it’s believed that the information given out will be slight.”
“Keep us informed,” the anchor said as the camera cut back to her. She quickly started discussing the situation with an expert in the studio, and I switched the TV off. Studio experts being dragged in only meant one thing; they had nothing other than speculation and theory to fill the news with, but didn’t want anyone to change the channel. Just in case something exciting happened.
I stood up and walked back to the kitchen to throw the now empty bottle of water into the recycling bin, before making my way upstairs and having a nice long shower in water that was hot enough to ease any tension from my shoulders.
Once out, and dry, I threw on a pair of dark blue jeans, and a black T-shirt with blue and red lightsabres crossed over the front and Darth Vader’s head behind them. My best friend, Tommy, had picked it up for me a few months back, presumably in the hope that I’d join him in his love of Star Wars.
It didn’t work, but then his level of geekdom for those movies was something few people could possibly hope to match. I’m pretty sure he owns his own storm trooper costume. Which worries me greatly.
I sat back on my bed and breathed out slowly. A year previously I’d been involved in trying to stop Pandora from massacring everyone who’d ever pissed her off, including the woman I loved, Selene. We’d gone our separate ways after it ended—for various reasons—though I was hopeful that one day we’d be able to reconcile. But as Tommy’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Kasey, explained, I couldn’t sit around and mope about it.
Both Kasey and her mum, Olivia, had tried to set me up with various people over the last few months, but relationships should probably start off with the truth, and I don’t think most people who’ve just met me want to know exactly the types of things I do.
As Tommy had helpfully pointed out, “trained killer” is probably not what most people want in answer to the question, “What do you do for a living?” In the last five months, I’ve been on several dates. So far, I’ve been “ex-military,” “an Avalon specialist,” and on one particularly boring date, “shark trainer,” mostly just to see if she was listening to a word I was saying, or more interested in playing on her mobile.
Dating was a relatively new concept and one I don’t think I was destined to master. I could be charming, I was in good shape, and was what most people would describe as ruggedly handsome, but apparently that didn’t translate to “good at this dating thing.”
So I’d thrown myself into my magic, trying new things and mastering those I could already do. I was able to merge two elements that I could wield—fire and air—into lightning, which now came easily to me.
Two of the six dark blood curse marks that sat on my chest had vanished, bestowing on me an increase in power, and my necromancy, in that order. No one knew what would happen when the remaining marks vanished, nor how long that might take, but I needed to be prepared for whatever their disappearance might bring. Be it good or bad.
I’d just decided that I hadn’t bothered Tommy at work for several days and thought I’d take the drive to the massive building that housed his security firm, when I remembered that he was in Avalon with Olivia and Kasey. While trying to figure out who else I could contact, my mobile rang.
“Nathan Garrett?” a woman asked. Her voice sounded young, but the massive amount of stress in it could be clearly heard.
“That’s me,” I told her.
“My name is Kelly Jensen. I’m an agent with the SOA. Have you seen the news about the hostage situation in Southampton?”
“About twenty minutes ago,” I told her.
“I’m liaising with the police in charge of what’s happening. It’s been escalated to a specialist branch of the armed response teams, Level 2 Cadre.”
The Level 2 Cadre were the people who took over a firearms incident when the situation escalated and required a specialist approach. That’s when a Regional Specialist Ops Unit moved in and took command. They have the authority to come in and take over the situation, no questions asked.
“Okay, what does that have to do with me?”
“Level 2 Cadre’s entire staff are humans who have been placed there by Avalon.”
“That still doesn’t explain why you’re calling me,” I pointed out.
“Because the man who has taken the hostages wants to see you. In fact he’s requested you by name.”
I was a little surprised. It was certainly the first time anyone who’d taken hostages wanted to talk to me. Usually I was pretty far down on the list of people they’d be happy to see.
“What’s his name?” I asked, hoping to jog something loose.
“He won’t give it. He wants to be known as God.”
“That’s what he calls himself ? God?” I asked, making sure I’d heard her right.
“Yep. He says seeing how he decides who lives and dies, it’s a fitting name. I think he’s seven kinds of crazy, but that won’t help get those hostages free. We need you to come down here and see if you can help.”
“You want me to go in?”
“Hell no,” she said derisively. “Olivia told me all about you. I don’t need a dead hostage taker, and with all the media and human police here, I also don’t want the Cadre to be seen sending in a civilian. You come down, you talk to him, find out who he is and what he wants.”
“Why is SOA involved?” The SOA, or Shield of Avalon, was Avalon’s internal security force, sort of a combination of MI5 and the Secret Service. They were usually only involved in crimes that directly involved Avalon members, otherwise the LOA, or Law of Avalon was involved. The LOA was a sort of cross between the FBI and Interpol. They investigated crimes against, or perpetrated by, members of the nonhuman community as a whole.
“There was a hostage injured when the shop was taken. We told the media that he was shot, but he was burned on the leg. The hostage taker is a fire elemental from the sounds of things, possibly a sorcerer. But the victim said the man’s entire arm turned to flame, so I’m leaning toward the former.”
It certainly sounded like an elemental, a being that was one with their element, able to control it with incredible ease and capable of immense power. But this sounded like something for LOA, so why were the human police involved at all?
“You haven’t told me why the SOA are involved,” I reminded her.
“We think the hostage taker might have been employed by Avalon.”
“What makes you think that?”
“You know I can’t share that kind of information with you. Will you come down here, or not?” she snapped, a little anger in her voice.
I really hated Avalon political bullshit, and I got the impression that Kelly didn’t like me much. I’ve met several Avalon employees who see my leaving Avalon—and the manner in which I left—as a sort of betrayal of the principles they believe in. Personally, I didn’t much care what she thought of me, so long as she could remain professional. “It’s an hour’s drive,” I told her. “I’ll be there as soon as possible.”
My proximity alarm rang, signaling that someone was coming up the drive toward my house.
“Did you send people here?” I asked. “It seems I have visitors.”
“Those would be the two LOA agents I sent to find you. They’re going to escort you to Southampton.”
“You don’t trust me to turn up, Agent Jensen?” I asked.
“Actually I trust you to turn up fine. It’s what you do when you get here that I want to control. See you in forty-five minutes.”
She hung up and I opened the door to reveal two very large men with shaved heads, both wearing black suits. “Wow, you guys are very intimidating,” I said with a smile. “What are you, half troll or something?”
The man-tower closest to me smiled. “You ready to go?”
“Let me get some shoes and a jacket,” I said, grabbing both from beside me, and putting them on before pocketing my keys and wallet from the table next to the door.
“You’re not going shopping,” the second man said, his voice much deeper than his friend’s, and his accent was South African, unlike his friend’s English. There was some animosity in his voice. He was probably unhappy at having to give me a lift, which, considering the circumstances and that people’s lives hung in the balance, was more than a little childish on his part.
“Just in case I see a bargain,” I said. “Or, as is more likely, I have to make my own way back here when everyone is suddenly too busy to drive me home.”
They moved aside and let me pass, walking with me to their black Mercedes SUV.
“Shotgun,” I called.
“Fuck off,” the South African said, and both men laughed as they got in the front of the car, leaving me to sit in the back. Couldn’t blame them for having to babysit me on the way from my house to West Quay, but I could dislike them intensely for being dicks.
“The rules of the road clearly don’t apply to you guys then,” I said and lowered the electric windows, letting in a nice breeze as we sped off to deal with a probably very angry man and his scared hostages.
And there’s chapter 1. Lies Ripped Open is out on 25th August and can be pre-ordered from:
And whichever other Amazon you wish to use.
With Silent Screams is on sale for only £1.
Click here to pick up a copy.
His name is Nathan Garrett, but he’s also known as Hellequin. And murdering one of his friends and trying to blow him up is a good way to get this centuries-old sorcerer’s full attention…
An old friend’s dead body, a cryptic note, and an explosion that almost costs him his own life propel Nate headfirst into a mystery involving a new threat from an old foe. Now he must piece together the connections between a grisly series of tattooed murder victims, an imprisoned madman, a mysterious alchemist, and a deranged plot to usurp the throne of the hidden realm of Shadow Falls, rival to the power of Avalon.
Can Nate avert the coming slaughter, or will he become the latest to fall in this clandestine war?
With the story careening between modern-day New York and Ontario and 1977 Maine, With Silent Screams continues the gritty and action-packed mix of urban fantasy and ancient mythology that mark Steve McHugh’s popular Hellequin Chronicles.
Review by Liz Barnsley:
This is definitely a set of books that has grown in stature since its humble beginnings as Nate and the mythology surrounding him has grown, developed and taken on a life of its own. So, all in all a terrific 3rd book in a series that is now absolutely one of my favourites in the Urban Fantasy stakes alongside Felix Castor and Alex Verus. Possibly not for the faint hearted but if you like your Urban fantasy absolutely Urban and fantastical these will probably bring great satisfaction.
Note: With Silent Screams can easily be read as a standalone book with no problem whatsoever, so if you fancy starting with this one, go right ahead!
Well the time for the release of Lies Ripped Open is almost upon us (25th August), so in preparation, here’s the prologue and cover reveal for those who haven’t seen it. If you want to pre-order the book, just click on the cover.
November 1888. London.
It’s not every day you get to meet the Queen of England. It’s even rarer when a human who rules a country gets a visit from someone in Avalon and the human ruler is happy to see us. But Victoria was a tough old lady, and someone I respected, if not liked. I’ve met her a few times since she took power, but only once since the death of her husband, Albert, some twenty-seven years ago. I found her to be a strong, honest woman, who said what she thought and rarely cared one way or the other about offending anyone. She was the queen; if you were offended it was your problem, not hers. But she wasn’t exactly easy to get on with. She resented Avalon’s influence in the world, and by extension resented the visits from Avalon’s emissaries, such as myself.
But on this occasion I actually got a smile from her that didn’t look like she was considering whether or not to attack me with a walking stick.
She’d thanked me, and then as she hurried away, clutching the small item I’d brought her, I’d been asked to leave so that she might have a moment alone. It was a fair request; I had returned something of her husband’s, after all. Something that had been stolen by an annoying insect of a being by the name of Alan Daly.
I stepped out of Buckingham Palace and walked the few miles to where a carriage was waiting for me. It was outside of a house in Whitechapel that the SOA—the Shield of Avalon, Avalon’s internal security force—used when spending time in London. The two horses were busy eating from their feedbags, although I didn’t see either of the SOA agents that were supposed to be watching the prisoner. I reached the horses and patted one of them on the side of his neck. He flicked his ears in response, but was clearly more interested in his food than in me, so I left him be and checked the coach, but found it empty.
On the one hand, the locks were still in place and there was no blood inside the comfortable carriage, but on the other, Alan was a slippery little bastard. I entered the house and checked every room, but it was empty, too. One of the rooms had been changed to a prison cell, complete with rune-marked walls and floor, but it had been decided that we’d transport Alan the second I returned, so he’d been moved to the carriage.
His absence didn’t raise any immediate level of concern. The likelihood was high the two SOA agents had taken him into the seclusion of nearby streets to give him a good kicking. They’d wanted to do it all day, and with Alan’s almost continuous taunts about their wives, sisters, girlfriends, and in one particularly rage-inducing speech, their mothers, I figured he’d probably brought it on himself. Ordinarily I’d have left the agents to their fun, but they were liable to kill Alan, and for all of his irritating qualities, he didn’t deserve to die.
I made my way back outside and walked off into the nearby gloomy streets in the hope that, just maybe, I’d find them before one of the many criminals in the city decided to find me.
Whitechapel, like a fair amount of East London, was riddled with crime and death, and large numbers of people doing incredibly unsavory things, a lot of whom lived in squalor. I’d questioned why they’d put a safe house in the middle of the area, but had been informed that it was the safest place to put anything. No one asked questions in Whitechapel, probably because they were afraid of the answers.
Even during the recent spate of horrific murders a few months earlier, no one had come forward to say they’d seen anything. And no one ever would. Either the police would resolve it, or the local people would get to the killer first, and then no one would ever find him. Those living in the East End of London trusted your average copper probably less than they did your average criminal, and people taking the law into their own hands was fairly common.
I had a pretty good idea where the SOA agents would have taken Alan. There was a small park down an alley a few hundred meters from the safe house. It was somewhere I’d heard that the police took suspects to question them when needed. It was dark, and from what I’d heard, it was a well-known area to stay away from, even in Whitechapel.
I reached the alley after being propositioned by half a dozen women, although I noticed that no one stood close to the mouth of the alley, as if it were creating its own barrier of fear.
I walked down the alley. The light from the street lamps appeared to be pushed back by the darkness, which was a stupid thought to have, but even so it still made me pause. Something about this place wasn’t right. About half way down I heard grunts and groans.
“That’s enough,” I called out while using my fire magic to give me a semblance of night vision.
One of the SOA agents sat hunched over, leaning against the wooden panels that surrounded the park’s long grass.
I walked over to the second agent, whose back was toward me as he stood a little further into the park, and placed my hand on his shoulder. “That’s enough,” I repeated, but he spun around and all of the breath left my body at once, followed immediately by pain as it exploded across my torso. I glanced down as a shimmering blade of ice was pulled free from my chest. It was covered in my blood. I dropped to my knees and watched as the magical weapon vanished from view. The pain forced me to abandon my night vision, and the darkness once again took control.
The overwhelming thought that bounced around my head was that neither of the SOA agents had been sorcerers.
My attacker crouched beside me. “They interrupted me and my prey got away,” his accent was from East London, but sounded slightly different from many of those living in the city. As if he’d been away from here for a long time, and had not quite remembered how the accent was meant to sound.
I glanced up at him, still unable to breathe; the blade had punctured a lung. It wouldn’t kill me, but it would be a few hours until I was back to normal, and without my night vision I could have been staring into Merlin’s own face and I’d never have known.
The man got back to his feet and kicked me onto my back. “I should make sure you remember your time here, but I’m sure your comrades over there will be able to do that better than I could.”
He sat on my chest—the weight of him making me gasp as the remaining air left my body—and placed his finger to my forehead. He moved his finger slowly, removing it every few seconds before returning it, newly wet against my flesh. “Don’t go forgetting me now,” he said, before almost jumping off of me and running down the alley.
“Anyone conscious?” I wheezed.
“Your agents are dead,” Alan said. “I hope you weren’t friends.”
I closed my eyes and sighed, trying to control the anger that flared inside of me, while at the same time managing the pain that still coursed through my body.
I rolled onto my side. “What happened?”
“Your companions took me here to give me a good beating. But we found that man and a woman already here. She got free and ran for it, so he took it out on the agents. He had a knife.”
“Not that blade of magical ice?”
“No, a real knife. He cut your boys to pieces.” There was an unmistakable strike of match, and a sudden flare of light. Alan held the meager flame against a piece of paper he took from his pocket and soon there was enough light for me to see him.
“Holy shit,” I whispered. “Did he cut you?”
Alan shook his head. He was drenched in blood; it covered every single part of him that I could see. “All of this blood belonged to your friends. He killed them while they were next to me.” He raised his wrist, showing me the sorcerer’s band—a small metal band that stopped him from using his powers. And would explode if he tried to remove it. “I couldn’t do a damn thing.”
“You could run now,” I said. I coughed, which caused more pain, but once it had eased off I finally managed to sit up and use my own fire magic to illuminate the area. Night vision took too much control for me right now.
“Shit,” I continued. One of the two bodies was in the deep grass, invisible to me as I’d entered the park. The side effect of my magical night vision was that everything was in shades of orange and yellow, so blood was harder to pick out.
“I’m not going to run,” Alan told me, his tone hard and full of anger. “I used those agents to get me here so I could escape. I wasn’t going to do this to them though. No, I’m going to help you find the man who did this. And then I’ll escape.”
I chuckled. “Deal. But first we need to get back to the safe house.”
“Actually, first you need to know what that asshole wrote on your forehead,” Alan told me.
“It’s in blood.”
“What does it say, Alan?” I demanded, anger dripping into my words.
“It’s just two words. It says From Hell.”
In amongst all of the writing (of which there’s been a lot) and editing (again, a lot), I really haven’t played many videogames this year. I picked up a bunch of them while in sales, but never really got round to doing much with them, Borderlands I’m looking at you.
I was always going to get Batman: Arkham Knight. Arkham Asylum is one of the best games of all time, and Arkham City is excellent, but not quite as good. Origins is treated a little unfairly simply because it exists in the shadow of its much better brothers, but it’s hardly a bad game.
I got Arkham Knight yesterday, so I can’t say if it’s the greatest thing ever or anything like that, but I figured I’d share a few thoughts from the two hours or so I’ve played.
What I like:
The fact that you don’t have to start your upgrades from scratch. You have quite a few that you’d have already unlocked in previous games, which certainly makes getting around the city a lot easier.
The story is very interesting. At least at the moment, the opening ten minutes are breathtaking and there have been quite a few interesting little bits and pieces.
The mission wheel. Oh how I love the mission wheel. Basically side-missions and main story missions all show up on this wheel, you can select which one you want to tackle and it’ll show you how you’re doing. It’s basically what RPG’s have done forever with quests, but it works brilliantly with this sort of game too.
The controls are still great; the fear takedowns are a wonderful addition.
What I’m unsure about:
The Batmobile. I want to love it, and I certainly like it more than I did when I first started, but it takes some getting used to. It’s very twitchy and until you’re used to the controls you will crash into everything in sight.
However, I will say this. Jumping off a ledge, dive bombing to the ground, summoning the Batmobile and then gliding into the cockpit is one of the most Batman like feelings ever. In fact this game goes a long way to make you feel like Batman. It depicts him as both a badass ninja, and a detective, and has done a good job so far.
What I don’t like:
The overly expensive season pass, and the pre-order horse crap. Neither detract from the game itself, and I have no problem with season passes if they’re a good price and the developers say up front what you’re getting (and it’s worth the money), but to say, there’s going to be stuff coming out, not say what it is and then expect people to pay a ludicrous price for it is frankly a shitty practise. And getting different pre-orders from different places sucks, stop doing it, all it does it piss everyone off.
Like I said, I’m not far into it, but so far it’s an very solid game. If you liked the last games, you’ll want this, if you didn’t, well… there’s something wrong with you. And if you never played them before, you’ll probably want to read up on their plots before picking this up. But if you have any interest in Batman then pick it up, because seriously, it makes you feel like the goddamn Batman. What more could you ask for?
This is a quick post today, just to let everyone know that Crimes Against Magic is currently on sale in the UK for the sum of 0.99p. Click the picture below to go take a look.
In case you’ve never heard of the book, here’s the blurb:
How do you keep the people you care about safe from enemies you can’t remember?
Ten years ago, Nate Garrett awoke on a cold warehouse floor with no memory of his past—a gun, a sword, and a piece of paper with his name on it the only clues to his identity. Since then, he’s discovered he’s a powerful sorcerer and has used his magical abilities to become a successful thief for hire.
But those who stole his memories aren’t done with him yet: when they cause a job to go bad and threaten a sixteen-year-old girl, Nate swears to protect her. With his enemies closing in and everyone he cares about now a target for their wrath, he must choose between the comfortable life he’s built for himself and his elusive past.
As the barrier holding his memories captive begins to crumble, Nate moves between modern-day London and fifteenth-century France, forced to confront his forgotten life in the hope of stopping an enemy he can’t remember.
“I don’t think I have ever been so pleased to see the great words “Book 1″ in the title!” Liz Barnsley
“Crimes Against Magic is definitely a debut that should not be missed for all readers who want a great urban fantasy read” – Fantasy Book Critic
“I am thrilled I am able to read and review this series, since I do love my urban fantasy.” BittenbyBooks
Well now that the launch for Prison of Hope has finished and the book has been almost universally enjoyed, it’s time to look forward to August’s Launch of Lies Ripped Open.
There’s no cover yet, but there is a blurb. Which is below.
Over a hundred years have passed since a group of violent killers went on the rampage, murdering innocent victims for fun. But even back then, sorcerer Nate Garrett, aka Hellequin, knew there was more to it than simple savage pleasure—souls were being stolen.
Nate’s discovery of the souls’ use, and of those supporting the group’s plan, made him question everything he believed.
Now the group Nate thought long dead is back. Violent, angry, and hell-bent on revenge, they have Hellequin firmly in their sights. And if he won’t come willingly, they’ll take those closest to him first.
The battle begins again.
You can pre-order the book by clicking the links below.
Today I have both an interview and review over on Romorror Fan Girl’s blog. Here’s part of the review.
“The plot is a page turner type, full of twists and turns, with great action scenes, witty dialogues and some romance. I’m amazed how the Author was able of bringing two worlds together in such a wonderful way, the writing is impeccable, the words flow and the plot develops on a fast pace that keeps you really entertained from beginning to the end, is not an easy read but a highly enjoyable one!”
Click the cover below to read the rest.