Do you dare open the box?
Today I have bestselling author Steven Katriel. I had feature a review for his novella A Portrait of Alatiel Salazar when it was first released. You now have a chance to pick it up along with 19 other amazing stories for just 99 cents!
Blurb:When Gabriel Holland’s beloved Helena vanishes from his life, he journeys to the home of disgraced artist Cristian Salazar, the man he holds responsible for her disappearance and the death of several friends. Once in the town of Carliton, Gabriel finds only malice and mystery in the tales told by the few brave enough to speak ill of Salazar and the sinister Cousin Beatriz. And within shadows, in the guise of night, walks Alatiel, the creature Helena has become. . . .
My Review:Disclaimer: A Portrait of Alatiel Salazar is a Gothic Horror novella. It is for a niche audience and not what I am used to reading. So, if you read more of this than i do you may have a differing opinion. This was given to me for a fair review by Steven's publisher Immortal Ink.
Writing Style: Mr. Katriel's choice of wording and voice give a very creepy overall feel throughout the book. He sets the horrific ambiance well. The novella is written in a Victorian style which is around the time the story is set in. I would have to say this is my favorite part about the story.
Characters: Even in the beginning which focuses on series of journal entries you can still get a feel for even the tertiary characters. My heart aches for Gabriel and what he has to endure throughout the novel. Alatiel is intriguing and horrifying all at once.
Confusion: This may be because I am used to reading more fantasy, but I never really understood what Alatiel or a few of the other characters were. The is a point in the story where another character tells Gabriel what he knows of them, but this still only gives me a very vague sense. Also there were a couple of times that I got confused at what was going on in the story. Still this may be because I don't read a lot of this type of story. The ones I have to compare to are Dracula and a Picture of Dorian Gray. Those two stories I knew before I read the books, so it may just be me.
Overall: I would definitely recommend this book, especially is you want something to run chills down your spine in cerebral way. There or no cheap thrills in this book.
Camden Town, 1880
THIS IS MY VOICE. You cannot hear me, but I hope you will read my thoughts . . . .
The only sign of life he found in the broken and windswept house was one of death, the outline of a body, borne on a cradle of blood-stained paper. The intruder took another page from the dishevelled bed and continued to read Helena Graham’s journal:
I will endeavour to record everything—every word, each thought and action; such is the hateful gift of insight Alatiel has forced upon me. To my regret, I am certain she will take her turn to relate our story, smiling to herself all the while, secure in her wretched vanity and the knowledge that the chances of this journal being found are slim. Besides, she may just cast these pages into the fire and all my words will have been in vain. That would amuse her, I imagine . . . if indeed she is capable of such a human trait’.
She will use my mind, my memories, to set down this tale. I hope against hope that someone discovers my journal and, having read it, fashions a way to destroy Alatiel, even if this action means the loss of what was once my life.
“I’VE FOUND HER!” Julian Paradine said. Those were his very words. But, truth be told, Alatiel found him, marked him out; well, she left her mark on poor Julian . . . on all of us, in fact.
We sat outside a small café on Thurzon Street, the men daydreaming, no doubt, that they were kindred souls of the Parisian Bohemians we had all read about; I, the token female in this circle of art lovers, was admitted only by virtue of my writing pastime and, of course, because of my brother. Although our parents had passed on, keeping company with these harmless ‘radicals’ would have been unthinkable were it not for my beloved Matthew.
Julian alone had actually been to Paris, but then, he was the only one amongst us whose career was in the ascendant; the Academy were beginning to notice his crowd-pleasing paintings. We were happy to follow his lead in so many things . . . .
He pulled away from our table, took the girl roughly by the arm and pushed her forward. She appeared to glide, or float, towards us, and even when the cause of her strange and somewhat comical motion came into view, the eerie effect remained. The girl gave the impression of perfect control—of herself and of events—although seemingly at the whim of her master. She did not stir, did not blush, as one might expect.
With his usual carefree, infectious enthusiasm—the joie de vivre which so endeared him to us—Julian presented his new plaything for closer inspection. Or perhaps that should be ‘delectation’; Matthew’s mouth fell open, and he gazed in wonderment. The poet Callum Flynn, however, flinched as though he’d been struck. He raised himself, made no attempt at excuses and simply murmured, “I must go,”; he’d always impressed me as a strange man, all the more now. My fiancé, Gabriel Holland, also stood up suddenly and left us. His seat fell to the ground, and he backed away from the table. Finally he excused himself by claiming that he was worried about Flynn. At first, we were perplexed and concerned, but once the two friends had departed, we gave free rein to our merriment. To my shame, I was too curious about Julian’s latest escapade to follow Gabriel. As it was, the remaining men resumed their scrutiny of the girl in that concentrated, trepidatious and thoroughly silly way which is the hallmark of their sex. I, of course, could stare freely at her, with no such pretence or man-made restriction.
Certainly, she was beautiful, but in a strangely bland, indistinct way—not unlike an elder sister of Mr Carroll’s ‘Alice’, I thought. Her complexion was simply too pale, as though iced water slithered through her thin veins, and her ash blonde hair had none of the lustre of true health.
Julian held the girl by her shoulders and addressed us again:
“Well actually, Cristian Salazar found her, or rather, he bought her. Made a gift of her to me. She is perfect, isn’t she?” he looked at each of us in turn, soliciting agreement. “Say hello to Alatiel.”
They greeted her respectfully enough, I suppose, though Daniele Navarro made a show of slowly raising his hat, a display of ironic homage unworthy of him, I thought. Perhaps I was mistaken, and this was the closest thing to chivalry he could muster . . . . Matthew stuttered a few indecipherable words, such was his amusing shyness. The girl remained silent and still. Julian Paradine stood apart from her now.
“Ah, my apologies, gentlemen—and Helena, of course—I should have mentioned that Alatiel is a mute . . . or, at least, she claims she is.”
I felt rather ashamed as the others laughed at the girl’s expense.
“Alatiel . . . that seems familiar to me, as if it were from a book I read many years ago.”
“She has no name, Daniele,” Julian said, “so I chose one for her. I have invented her, you might say.”
About the Author:Steven J. Katriel writes Gothic Horror, Paranormal Fantasy, and Literary Fiction. He has lived in Wales, UK all his life. In recent years, he wrote history articles for a community magazine. Steve’s literary heroes and heroines range from Oscar Wilde to Hilary Mantel. He has a passion for past times and this is reflected in his writing.
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