REMAINS TO BE TOLD: DARK TALES OF AOTEAROA COVER REVEAL AND SNEAK PEEK
Award-winning author-editor Lee Murray presents Remains to be Told: Dark Tales of Aotearoa, a horror anthology by her Kiwi compatriots revealing dark shadows on the land of the long white cloud. Gingernuts of Horror brings you an exclusive look at the book’s stunning cover PLUS a sneak peek…
As well as showcasing this evocative cover art by Sir Julius Award-winning Kiwi artist Emma Weakley, we’re delighted to reveal a foreword sampler from horror expert Lisa Morton, a comment from Murray, and the book’s incredible table of contents – which includes a couple of surprises.
Featuring uncanny disturbances, death, and the dank breath of the native bush, Remains to be Told: Dark Tales of Aotearoa is mired in the shifting landscape of the long white cloud, and deeply imbued with the myth, culture, and character of Aotearoa-New Zealand. Laced with intrigue, suspense, horror, and even a touch of humour, the book brings together stories and poems by some of the best homegrown and Kiwi-at-heart voices working in dark fiction today.
Here, in our foreword sampler to the book, six-time Bram Stoker Award®-winner Lisa Morton explains why this anthology needs to be on your to-read list.
“One of the many reasons I love this anthology is that it’s very good horror all set in New Zealand and told by New Zealanders. It has made me reconfigure some of my (mis)conceptions about this astonishing place. These stories feature water prominently (oh, right – it’s an island country!) and lush forests (a little like Middle Earth) and alpine mountains (wait – what?), and suburbs recognizable throughout the western world and cities where people meet for coffee. But New Zealand is also a land of living mythology, an intense thread which runs through these tales; Aotearoa (the Māori name for the place) has a history richer than anything a single author could create. That beautiful folklore provides a dense background for many of these poems and stories, spinning a web that catches even those of us who might not be familiar with it.”
“But because this is a horror anthology, all this is wrapped around terrible and disturbing things. All the usual genre tropes are here – monsters, ghosts, serial killers, body horror, post-apocalyptic scenarios – but in the hands of these gifted writers and poets these old standbys feel fresh and reinvigorated, especially being situated within the magical, mystical reality of Aotearoa/New Zealand. This anthology is so much more than a literary travel guide; it’s a compelling, beautifully crafted, and genuinely frightening deep dive into both the darkness and the light at the heart of this island realm.”
Murray agrees: “Aotearoa horror comprises more than just the terrain with its unique flora and fauna,” she writes in her editor’s note, “there is something inherently uncanny about this place, a ‘savage spirit’ that New Zealand author Katherine Mansfield described in her iconic murder tale “The Woman at the Store”:
“There is no twilight in our New Zealand days, but a curious half-hour when everything appears grotesque—it frightens—as though the savage spirit of the country walked abroad and sneered at what it saw.”
According to Murray, “that ‘savage spirit’ doesn’t just sneer, it sucks unsuspecting victims into watery graves, yanks them into cosmic hell, or crunches them between bloody teeth.”
For Remains to be Told, the five-time Bram Stoker Award®-winner has gathered together stories and poems from among her country’s scariest writers, including beloved Kiwi short story “Coming Home in the Dark” by Owen Marshall, now a James Ashcroft feature film of the same name, and a haunting poem horror-fantasy writer Neil Gaiman, who has a made a home in New Zealand’s North Island.
There is something for all tastes in Remains to be Told, including sharp social commentary in “Hook,” a body horror by Kathryn Burnett in which sensible Dawny heads off on yet another retreat to transform her flabby aging body, and comic horror in “A Throatful of Flies” by Paul Mannering, which follows the story of a young farmhand after he accidently slaughters a prize ram.
Ghosts and spirits make their presence known in the aftermath of a farm bike accident in “Spare the Rod” by Dan Rabarts, during a spate of earthquakes in “Her Ghosts” by Tracie McBride, and in the strange visions of a disenfranchised young man in “The Spaces Between” by Bryce Stevens. Likewise, there are uncanny weekend happenings in “Redwoods on Te Mata Peak” by Marty Young, when four adolescents investigate a wrecked vehicle, and in “The Watchman” by Kirsten McKenzie, when a girl loses sight of her pesky younger sister at the Easter Fair. Meanwhile, in Nikky Lee’s “What Bones These Tides Bring,” a witch has chilling answer to the energy crisis.
No horror anthology would be complete without its deadly encounters. Look for “I’m a Gemini” by Helena Claudia where a grieving Gen Zer chances a date with her dead boyfriend’s brother, and Gina Cole’s “Blind Date,” where an assassin meets with a prospective client. And there may be more than one victim when Moira Jacobs rides into Āpiti with her scissors in Jacqui Greaves’ story “Fires of Fate.”
Creature feature lovers will love the Kiwi context of “Ngahere Gold” by Denver Grenell, while Debbie Cowen intrigues with her creeping weird science “The Reaper Beetle” set in a remote pocket of the Ruahine Forest. “Buried Secrets” by Del Gibson provides readers with a classic haunted house tale, albeit with a local tone, and small-town horror features in Murray’s own Bram Stoker Award®-nominated “Dead End Town.”
For the poetry lovers, William Cook presents his “Vision of the Apocalypse on Wellington Harbour,” a child runs away from camp in Tim Jones’s poem “Guiding Star,” and the flesh-eating goddess Whaitiri tells her own story in a devastating poem by Celine Murray.
Developed with the kind support of Creative New Zealand, Remains to be Told: Dark Tales of Aotearoa releases on 1 October 2023 from Clan Destine Press, Australia.