I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Five Turns of the Wheel by Stephanie Ellis
Published by Brigids Gate Press on May 20, 2022
Genres: British Folklore
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Welcome to the Weald.
The Five Turns of the Wheel has begun.
With each Turn, blood will be spilled,
and sacrifices will be made.
Pacts will be made...and broken.
Will you join the Dance?
In the Weald, the time has come for the Five Turns
of the Wheel. Tommy, Betty and Fiddler, the sons
of Hweol, Lord of Umbra, have arrived to oversee
the sacred rituals...rituals brimming with sacrifice
and dripping with blood.
Megan Wheelborn, daughter of Tommy, hatches a
desperate plan to free the people of the Weald from
the bloody and cruel grip of Umbra, and put an end
to its murderous rituals. But success will require
sacrifice and blood as well.
Will Megan be able to pay the price?
The Five Turns of the Wheel. Folklore meets blood. One look at the intriguing cover hints at its secrets and its mystique. A skull with a gaping hole being claimed by the mud and the autumnal leaves. We are all reclaimed by the mud eventually and Stephanie Ellis does a stellar job of making it a constant theme throughout the story. The illustration mirrors the intricacies held within the pages of this dark folklore tale.
I came to this story for the author but stayed for the vivid imagery that is a true testament to Ellis’s mastery.
The Five Turns of the Wheel – a yearly event to allow the land and people to prosper. This is a summary in its most basic form, it doesn’t sum up just the author puts you in a place. I was there – I could feel the wind blowing through my hair, a land haunted by yearly visitors, I could sense the devastation, the blood still a constant threat in the air. You just have to read it to grasp the magnificence of the time and place. No word is wasted, it seeps into your blood like the sweetest poison, one I was happy to ingest.
Each year the villages are visited by mysterious visitors – Tommy, Betty, and Fiddler, who lead the Five Turns of the Wheel, a centuries-old ritual carried out to appease Mother Nature. They do not seem to age and each year their cruelty and malevolence bring more suffering than the last. It’s all surreal – reading the acts gave me a burning sensation. Fear and pain are a heady cocktail. This feeling runs until the very last page.
Each turn of the wheel brings shocking levels of violence and although this is a beautifully narrated story it is horror and Ellis can bring it with the best of them. A mother and daughter decide to bring an end to the bloodshed, they’ve suffered enough at the hands of these creatures, and someone needs to bring it to an end. But of course, nothing is simple in horror. I was really taken aback by the ingenuity of the plot and just how each thread was meticulously crafted and held together. Everything has a meaning – not one stone was left unturned. The characters are deep, and I found myself being drawn to two in particular. They are multi-faceted and discovering who they were was enjoyable. Think of an onion – each layer got you deeper, an understanding being accomplished.
The Five Turns of the Wheel is intelligent storytelling at its very core. This was an enchanting fever dream.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stephanie Ellis lives near Wrexham in Wales in the UK with her family and is a writer of horror and dark fiction and poetry. She is an active member of the HWA.
She can be found online supporting HorrorTree.com via the Indie Bookshelf Releases posts and on the Dark Fusion Podcast with Beverley Lee and Shane Douglas Keene. Her website is https://stephanieellis.org/ where you may occasionally pick up a free story.You can find her on twitter @el_Stevie.