The Firebird: and Other Extracts from Strange Matters

Bret Allen
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This book features three complete stories and one poem from Strange Matters, a collection of short fantasy stories by Bret Allen.

About the Firebird:
Ekaterina wants to be taken seriously by the men of her village, so she sets out to hunt the greatest prey of all, the legendary Firebird. On the way she encounters three strangers who give her the gifts she needs- for a price.
This short novella, inspired by Slavic folklore, is a symbolic fable about the importance of choosing wisely and keeping sight of the things that truly matter.

About British Gods:
Two strange figures watch the violence of the London riots unfold and do what they can to help, as only forgotten gods can.
A humble nod to my favourite author, Neil Gaiman. This short story is based on British folklore in the modern-day style of American Gods.

About Thornback:
A poem about the humble hedgehog, seen through my eyes.

About Saturday’s Child:
Henri discovers that his afterlife is going to be even more dangerous than his first life, when he meets a predatory and beautiful stranger.
This very short story is set in the world of ‘Sleepwalkers’, a setting of my own creation. In this case, I give a glimpse of the plight of a newly deceased spirit.

Feel free to read these stories before checking out the full collection- Strange Matters- 20 stories and poems of fantasy, myth and magic!

These stories contain some mature themes.

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About the author

What is there to say? I'm Bret Allen and I'm a writer!

I have a blog site at www.bretallen.info where I keep my creative writing, copy writing and musings. I'm a journalism graduate and enjoy writing articles and copy as a freelancer, especially when humour can be used, but my forte is creative writing.

My favourite genres are fantasy, scifi and supernatural. There's something fascinating about the comparisons drawn between real life and the fantastic; in a contrary fashion, they can be more profound than those drawn by real-life stories.

Most of all, I try to put a new spin on those genres, which in many cases have become stiff, old shambling corpses. Stitch on a smart new head, put a little truth in the heart, run a 500 megawatt current of strangeness through them and suddenly... they live again!

I've lived most of my life in Shropshire and Staffordshire. I have a few great friends, a myriad of mates, a large and wonderful family, a fur baby and a long suffering partner.

I draw most of my inspiration from Neil Gaiman, Tolkien, Tad Williams, Kim Newman, Terry Pratchett, daydreams, nightmares and the magic of the everyday.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Bret Allen
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Published on
Sep 18, 2013
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Pages
56
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ISBN
9781310003585
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology
Fiction / Fantasy / General
Fiction / Short Stories (single author)
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Strange Matters is a collection of tales of fantasy, myth and magic.

Some are funny, some are dark, some are both. Some are set in our world, with the skin peeled back to reveal the magical mechanisms beneath. Some are set in fantasy worlds, where instead it’s the reflections of reality which are hidden.

All contain matters best described as ‘strange’, because to me, strange matters.

This book includes twenty pieces of poetry and fiction (some with mature themes), including: 

Wordsmith

Kate’s night is interrupted by meeting a mute, half-naked Ethiopian boy, which would be fine if he wasn’t being hunted through the streets of London by hyenas.

Torc

When a group of bikers get lost in a forest, they find that they are not alone.

The Firebird

Ekaterina wants to be taken seriously by the men of her village, so she sets out to hunt the greatest prey of all… the legendary Firebird. 

Arcturus

A nameless criminal explores his capacity for magic- and empathy- when he’s forced to make unusual acquaintances to escape justice. 

It Wants To Eat Me 

The diary entries of a teenage girl who finds an unusual and unwelcome intruder in her dreams. 

British Gods

Two strange figures watch the violence of the London riots unfold and do what they can to help, as only forgotten gods can. 

Nine

Having just died, Andy’s not pleased to find himself in the ancient Egyptian afterlife, where the goddess Bastet wants a word with him.

Strange Matters is a journey through many facets of fantasy, all united by a fresh, modern eye for incisive storytelling and magical realism.

First published in 2001, American Gods became an instant classic—an intellectual and artistic benchmark from the multiple-award-winning master of innovative fiction, Neil Gaiman. Now discover the mystery and magic of American Gods in this tenth anniversary edition. Newly updated and expanded with the author’s preferred text, this commemorative volume is a true celebration of a modern masterpiece by the one, the only, Neil Gaiman.

A storm is coming . . .

Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.

But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.

Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined—it is a job that takes him on a dark and strange road trip and introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own. Along the way Shadow will learn that the past never dies; that everyone, including his beloved Laura, harbors secrets; and that dreams, totems, legends, and myths are more real than we know. Ultimately, he will discover that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing—an epic war for the very soul of America—and that he is standing squarely in its path.

Relevant and prescient, American Gods has been lauded for its brilliant synthesis of “mystery, satire, sex, horror, and poetic prose” (Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World) and as a modern phantasmagoria that “distills the essence of America” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). It is, quite simply, an outstanding work of literary imagination that will endure for generations.

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A fresh and imaginative retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale from the bestselling author of Uprooted.

“One of the year’s strongest fantasy novels.”—NPR

“A perfect tale . . . with the vastness of Tolkien and the empathy and joy in daily life of Le Guin.”—The New York Times Book Review

With the Nebula Award–winning Uprooted, Naomi Novik opened a brilliant new chapter in an already acclaimed career, delving into the magic of fairy tales to craft a love story that was both timeless and utterly of the now. Spinning Silver draws readers deeper into this glittering realm of fantasy, where the boundary between wonder and terror is thinner than a breath, and safety can be stolen as quickly as a kiss.

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father’s inability to collect his debts has left his family on the edge of poverty—until Miryem takes matters into her own hands. Hardening her heart, the young woman sets out to claim what is owed and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold.

When an ill-advised boast draws the attention of the king of the Staryk—grim fey creatures who seem more ice than flesh—Miryem’s fate, and that of two kingdoms, will be forever altered. Set an impossible challenge by the nameless king, Miryem unwittingly spins a web that draws in a peasant girl, Wanda, and the unhappy daughter of a local lord who plots to wed his child to the dashing young tsar.

But Tsar Mirnatius is not what he seems. And the secret he hides threatens to consume the lands of humans and Staryk alike. Torn between deadly choices, Miryem and her two unlikely allies embark on a desperate quest that will take them to the limits of sacrifice, power, and love.

Channeling the vibrant heart of myth and fairy tale, Spinning Silver weaves a multilayered, magical tapestry that readers will want to return to again and again.

Praise for Spinning Silver

“Gorgeous, complex, and magical . . . This is the kind of book that one might wish to inhabit forever.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A book as cool and mysterious as a winter’s night, with two marvelous heroines at its heart. Spinning Silver pits the cold of endless winter against the fires of duty, love, and sacrifice. I couldn’t put it down.”—Katherine Arden, New York Times bestselling author of The Bear and the Nightingale

Strange Matters is a collection of tales of fantasy, myth and magic.

Some are funny, some are dark, some are both. Some are set in our world, with the skin peeled back to reveal the magical mechanisms beneath. Some are set in fantasy worlds, where instead it’s the reflections of reality which are hidden.

All contain matters best described as ‘strange’, because to me, strange matters.

This book includes twenty pieces of poetry and fiction (some with mature themes), including: 

Wordsmith

Kate’s night is interrupted by meeting a mute, half-naked Ethiopian boy, which would be fine if he wasn’t being hunted through the streets of London by hyenas.

Torc

When a group of bikers get lost in a forest, they find that they are not alone.

The Firebird

Ekaterina wants to be taken seriously by the men of her village, so she sets out to hunt the greatest prey of all… the legendary Firebird. 

Arcturus

A nameless criminal explores his capacity for magic- and empathy- when he’s forced to make unusual acquaintances to escape justice. 

It Wants To Eat Me 

The diary entries of a teenage girl who finds an unusual and unwelcome intruder in her dreams. 

British Gods

Two strange figures watch the violence of the London riots unfold and do what they can to help, as only forgotten gods can. 

Nine

Having just died, Andy’s not pleased to find himself in the ancient Egyptian afterlife, where the goddess Bastet wants a word with him.

Strange Matters is a journey through many facets of fantasy, all united by a fresh, modern eye for incisive storytelling and magical realism.

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