cherry crow children

Tulliæn spans a fractured mountaintop, where the locals lie and the tourists come to die.

Try the honey.

Briskwater crouches deep in the shadow of a dam wall. Ignore the weight of the water hanging overhead, and the little dead girl wandering the streets.

Off with you, while you still can.

In Haverny Wood the birds drink blood, the dogs trade their coughings for corpses, the lost children carve up their bodies to run with the crows, and the townsfolk stitch silence into their spleens.

You mustn't talk so wild.

The desert-locked outpost of Boundary boasts the famed manufacturers of flawless timepieces; those who would learn the trade must offer up their eyes as starting materials.

Look to your pride: it will eat you alive.

Sooner or later, in every community, fate demands its dues — and the currency is blood.

Winner 2015 Aurealis Award (Best Horror Novella) and 2015 Aurealis Award (Best YA Short Story)

Shortlisted in 2015 Shirley Jackson Awards, 2015 Aurealis Awards, 2016 Ditmar Awards, & 2015 Australian Shadows Awards

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Shirley Jackson Award – Novelette (shortlisted): "The Briskwater Mare"

Shirley Jackson Award 2015

Best Collection (shortlisted): "Cherry Crow Children"

Aurealis Awards 2015

Best Horror Short Story (shortlisted): "The Briskwater Mare"

Aurealis Awards 2015

Best Horror Novella (shortlisted): "The Wages of Honey"

Aurealis Awards 2015

Best Horror Novella (shortlisted): "The Cherry Crow Children of Haverny Wood"

Aurealis Awards 2015

Best YA Short Story: "The Miseducation of Mara Lys"

Aurealis Awards 2015

Best Horror Novella: "The Miseducation of Mara Lys"

Aurealis Awards 2015

Kalin's ability to combine beauty with dread astonishes

Kate Elliott

The writing in all of [the stories] is beautiful without weighing the story down with dense prose. When I read my first Deborah Kalin story, I knew this was a collection to look forward to. And I was right. Whether or not you've read any Kalin stories before, if you're at all a fan of fantasy or horror, do yourself a favour and grab a copy of this book.

Tsana Dolichva Tsana's Reads and Reviews

Kalin has a…talent for beautiful description that delivers tantalising hints of the sinister undercurrent. Although her monsters themselves are truly memorable, often it is the way humans react to their presence that is most horrifying.

All the stories in 'Cherry Crow Children' are very strong and well worth reading…However, in my opinion the final novella, 'Cherry Crow Children of Haverny Wood', was outstanding…probably one of the best new horror stories I have read for a long time.

Michelle Goldsmith Goodreads

Shadows of fairy tale horror lurk beneath this cohesively themed collection of fantasy stories, Deborah Kalin demonstrating her characteristic narrative poise in immersing readers within her Grimm but exquisitely built worlds, then leaving them and protagonists both prey to a dark undertow.

Derelict Space Sheep

These stories are of endings, and of secrets, and of quests, each situated in isolated and harsh settings that encourage a certain bloodymindedness and limited vision. To go delving in these locales is to risk much….

The settings are engagingly, succinctly drawn, with customs and seasons and economies adding depth to the worlds as the characters navigate the social currents. …The stories draw longer, the worlds deeper and darker; the forest denizens of the eponymous final story are wild and amazing.

As each story unveils its mysteries, as each protagonist pushes the boundaries and pays the price for their investigation, the assured prose is the measured constant.

This twelfth of the Twelve is a high point in a consistently high field.

Jason Nahrung

Kalin is both a serious writer and a serious talent…[It's] storytelling like a force of nature.

…The result can be alluring, foreboding, unexpected or gruesome, at times achingly tragic, but always faithfully enacted. Kalin’s fantasy settings carry a truth that most real-world fiction fails even to aspire to, let alone attain. This does not make her stories comfortable reads, necessarily, but however bleak at times the subject matter, the richness of Kalin’s prose provides constant succour. Readers may not end up where they’d been hoping, but they’ll be glad to have gone that way.

…Cherry Crow Children taps into a special darkness, Kalin guiding us with no promise of safety through woods fashioned at least in part from our own devisings. Invested, rapt, helpless, we fall prey to the grotesqueries within.

Jacob Edwards Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine

From the coiling stairs and malevolent causeways of Tulliæn to the stark and blood-hungry wilderness of Haverny Wood, Kalin imbues her worlds with such purpose, each tale rich with detail and filled with intent and life, that each setting is a character in itself.

Aurealis Magazine

The Wages of Honey

AurealisFinalist
Shortlisted for Best Horror Novella in 2015 Aurealis Awards & Best Novella in 2016 Ditmar Awards

"Could I see it?" he asked. "I'm looking for my cousin."

With a shrug, the gatekeeper reached under the windowsill and fetched forth a second book. "This cousin of yourn," he said, handing it over. "Cheerful sort, would you say?"

Cadan's fingers stilled with the book half open. "Why?"

Again the shrug. "Like I said, there's some don't sign out. Those as leave by the river, for example. If she came here to die, lad, she'll not be in the book."

Cadan eyed the froth-churned river with horror, his voice raw as he said, "You get people coming here to die?"

The gatekeeper grinned and said, like it was a point of pride, "We get all sorts."

The Briskwater Mare

AurealisFinalistUntitled Shortlisted for 2015 Shirley Jackson Award (Novelette), for Best Horror Novella in 2015 Aurealis Awards, and Best Novella in 2016 Ditmar Awards

What matter then a little dead girl, we tell ourselves. There's no strike in her: she but waits. And those few hearts which wash ashore — black and water-sodden and nudged up at a river-bend where the water, forced to slow, laps at the proffered detritus — why, those hearts are given, every one.

Or so we teach our children. Even — especially — children such as I.

The Miseducation of Mara Lys

AurealisWinnerWinner Best Horror Novella in 2015 Aurealis Awards, Winner Best Young Adult Short Story in 2015 Aurealis Awards, Shortlisted Best Novella in 2016 Ditmar Awards

They'd said their farewells last night, under the auspices of the Hare, the star rising bright above the mouth of the river's thickening waters, and this new year rising red, red as the ground and drowned carcasses of the knotweed larvae, red as the pigeon's blood rubies clawed whole from rocks sleeping deep beneath the shifting sands. It was a once-in-a-lifetime promise of plentiful harvests and a year without worry or want. So the millet beer and the summer wines had flowed as fast as the rising river, and though Mara tasted none of it, not wanting a sour head, still the atmosphere alone was intoxicating. Beneath the sparks of torches leaping for the stars, while the music from lyre and tambur whirled about them all, she had stepped out with no hesitation the dance of the flooding rains; and she had run, blindfolded, the railing of the Little Baldariyu; and she had joined in the songs of burgeoning, flinging her voice skyward until the stars shivered. She had been laughing and vibrant and triumphant, and none could match her. It seemed a fitting last memory. Let her family sleep, then, while she slipped out, her braids slipshod and her wrists and ankles still circled by last night's beadwork.

Now, with the sun's baleful eye pushing past the ramshackle roofline, her blood beat with the threat of the bells, soon, so soon, to sound out the hour.

The Cherry Crow Children of Haverny Wood

AurealisFinalistShortlisted Best Horror Novella in 2015 Aurealis Awards and Best Novella in 2016 Ditmar Awards

Claudia Andraste and her mother Anika were the poorest residents of Haverny Wood, having but a single ageing she-goat to call their own.

Anika, a seamstress known for her deft but sadly unique hand, had in her youth indulged the unthinkable folly of leaving for the lowlands, and out of her recklessness had sprung Claudia.

The only extenuative lay in the prodigal's eventual and suitably rueful return — happily still in good time for her daughter to be tight laced. Goedman Harald threaded the charm, which was of great comfort to all, for if any stitching could overcome the length and strength of the mother's shadow, it would be wrought by his expert laececraft.

What Harald Brun never mentioned was how Anika had wept, the heartbreak of proffering up her babe quite undoing her; and he, moved to pity and not liking to lace such a small creature, one still weak from poverty and the lowlanders' lack of charity, had suggested a wait of one scant year would surely cause no harm, and give the babe time to quicken and thrive first. He enjoined Anika to secrecy on the matter, because fear led to restless minds, which of course did no one any good. Grateful for his compassion, Anika naturally agreed.

Two months later, he disturbed a den of coffin dogs and, in the confusion, tumbled down an outcrop's jagged edge. His shield got him home, but the fall had snapped his shin, and the blood took toxic, and swifter than speech Goedman Harald was gone from them.

And so, through chance, kind-heartedness, and a slight omission her mother at first didn't know how to correct, and later did not wish to, Claudia Andraste grew up unlaced: a cuckoo in the crow's nest.

Volume 12 of the Twelve Planets

The Twelve Planets are twelve boutique collections by some of Australia’s finest short story writers. Varied across genre and style, each collection offers four short stories and a unique glimpse into worlds fashioned by some of our favourite storytellers — See more/subscribe at Twelfth Planet Press

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