Gothic Fiction, Pagham-verse, The Crows

SpookyMonth Showcase ~ THE CROWS

You knew it was coming… my first novel is available in eBook (alone and with THIRTEENTH, its sequel), audiobook, paperback and an anniversary edition hardback that has a prequel short story in the back, “Gerald”.

The hardback and paperback are from Amazon only

The Crows

I sat down and bashed out a version of this in 2013 – it was an exercise in whether I could write a cozy murder mystery with a romantic subplot, set in a fantasy version of reality like Neil Gaiman’s NEVERWHERE. I love the sentient house trope, and I wanted an English version of Stephen King’s ROSE RED, and the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland Paris (my favourite ride).

In the original version, the house’s avatar was the love interest and Guy Bishop was the other corner of the love triangle. Phil was just a cheater and never appeared on-page. People in the History Society were dropping like flies while the core secret (who performed the ritual murder of a child in 1958, and why) was being protected.

There was no Ricky and no family, but there was Beverley Wend and I had an idea that she had thousands of grandchildren or spawned lots of monsters, and I expanded on this concept in later stories I wrote in 2015-2018 based on this world.

When I decided to rewrite the first shelved version (which was straight to Wattpad and up there for a while), I picked up on bits from all the expanded ‘verse stuff to create Bramble Cottage and Ricky Porter, and this shifted the emphasis of the plot.

Influences and Comps:

  • MIDSOMER MURDERS (TV series based on the books by Caroline Graham)
  • MISS MARPLE series, Agatha Christie (particularly the romantic B-plots in her mysteries where the practical, clever girl gets the more-or-less competent guy who really needs a practical woman in his life, bonus points if he’s a bachelor policeman working on the case)
  • NEVERWHERE, Neil Gaiman
  • The 2010 economic crash and poverty trauma
  • Mental health issues I worked through and the major mental health crisis I had 2006-2008, a lot of which got put into Ricky Porter and exaggerated to its furthest logical points to create his personality
  • COLD COMFORT FARM, Stella Gibbons
  • THE TURN OF THE SCREW, Henry James
  • JANE EYRE, Charlotte Bronte
  • SILAS MARNER, George Elliot
  • PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, Gaston Leroux (also musical adaptations and film)
  • English folklore, Welsh mythology and bardic culture
  • ROSE RED, Stephen King
  • Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Beauty and the Beast – Ricky is the Rapunzel figure, the house and its avatar is more the Beast/Sleeping Beauty, and Carrie is the prince figure waking things up, making things happen, and inadvertently making people’s lives simultaneously better and worse as a result.
  • THE OWL SERVICE, Alan Garner
  • Classic Hammer Horror films featuring houses – like The Manor, Elstree, (The Devil Rides Out), and Oakley Court, Windsor, which I considered for our wedding/honeymoon, but is now where I’m planning on having my 40th birthday.
  • Tredegar House, Newport and Llancaiach Fawr, Nelson, where I spent a lot of time as a child.
  • The Phantom Manor ride at Disneyland Paris, which I became obsessed with when my grandparents took me there
  • VENOM (2018)
  • A lot of conversations at the gym where I worked around disordered eating, restrictive diets, training and how a lot of guys have undiagnosed, unnoticed issues around their image and eating disorders because they ‘look good’ – more for Ricky’s image, self-image and backstory development

[Weirdly, I didn’t actually read THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE until after I’d written THE CROWS, but it must have filtered into my consciousness through popular media representations and parodies.]

The Crows – from £3.99

Rosens’ body horror is sublime, and scenes are repulsive and gorgeous all at once. There’s a transcendence of physical and sexual boundaries that is exhilarating rather than flatly grotesque, and I found myself yearning for the mutability of such a world.

Rosens’ prose is also as funny as it is macabre. The humour grounds the weirdness, and vice versa. 

~ Horrified Magazine Review – Full Review Here

I adore this book! It’s a marvellous contemporary horror story which bustles with lively, horrific characters doing terrible, fascinating things yet still manages to have the horror of lonelier books in the genre and several of the scenes were incredibly chilling.

The curiosity, anger and fear of the heroine makes her feels incredibly real – she’s not just a passive character through whom the story is observed. The plotting and pace draw the reader on and on and on, it’s an incredibly addictive read! I managed to read it and the Thirteenth in a very short time. The character interactions are also quite hilarious.

The dichotomy between the modernness of the town and normal life outside and that which goes on at the Crows, which involves old magic and bloodlines rife with inbreeding and family feuds, is incredibly done.

All in all, if you like characters with character, horrific occurrences and excellent writing, I cannot suggest this book (and its companions) enough!

~ 5 star Goodreads Review

I was blown away by this book, I just couldn’t put it down. There were so many twists and turns I didn’t see coming, I needed more. Carrie Rickards finds herself head over heels in love with a total wreck of a house (Fairwood, but the locals called it The Crows), not realising that her life would change drastically forever! The Crows is cursed, and Carrie needs to find out why. Well written and gripping from the start, this book will keep you wanting more. I’m very excited for the sequel. Buy UK and US

~ Red Cape Publishing’s Review

This is a fantastically surprising work of gothic horror. I loved it. Every single time I thought I had an idea of what the plot was doing the plot twisted around and bit me, gleefully. So for example, at the beginning we have Carrie Rickards, who has recently left a (terrible) relationship and somewhat impulsively/compulsively bought a crumbling ruin of a house (known as the Crows) and spent all her money doing it up. And so as a reader I thought “oh yeah, gothic horror, single woman in a spooky house it’s gonna do That Thing where it’s all Atmospheric and maybe there is a plausibly deniable ghost”. And then we get the POV of her neighbour, who knows that Carrie will die in 33 days because he read it in the entrails of the girl he just killed. And for the first of many times, I went “OH WHAT?!” It was GREAT!

So we have Carrie, a compelling main character who I instantly enjoyed, and her neighbour Ricky, who was… a lot less disturbing than he should have been for a cannibalistic bloke living in the woods with a truly messed up family. And a very strange town, Pagham-On-Sea. And an author who really knows how to twist a plot around a reader. One of the things I really adored was the way that mundanity crept into everything: the Crows is definitely strange, in a supernatural and disturbed way, but Carrie is less worried about that than she is about trying to get a job to pay the bills. There’s a dead werewolf in the living room and she’s finding out increasingly odd things about the town she’s moved to, and her neighbour is really really weird, but also her job is a zero hours contract and her ex is harassing her and well, frankly those last two are more upsetting. C.M. Rosens kept startling me with surprising breaks from the sort of story patterns I’m used to while sneaking important foreshadowing in the back, or sneaking it in so blatantly that I just… forgot about it? Ten pages from the end I was still going “EEEEEEEEE Hoooww is this going to eenndddd?” and my lovelies, I was not disappointed!

The Crows is a book that has all the ingredients for a classic gothic horror: a stubborn and compelling protagonist, some ghosts, an excellently old house (is it alive?), a desperately creepy neighbour, a setting that was so alive it might eat you, and years and years of small-town family history and feuding. But it takes all those ingredients and just… completely goes to town with them in the most wildly enjoyable way possible, and definitely leans into the horror… It’s also illustrated by the wonderful Tom Brown, which is certainly a joy. And I just tried to search for an example of the inner illustrations and have found that C.M. Rosens has a whole lot of extra Pagham-On-Sea content on her blog so um, I shall be going to read all of that now.

Rating: read this. Don’t plant what you don’t want to grow…

~ Meredith Debonnaire’s review on

The hardback and paperback are from Amazon only

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