Mortal End: A Simmering Pit of Jiggery Pokery is the debut novel from author Toula Mavridou-Messer. The story, an adult twist on Grimm’s childhood favorite, “Hansel & Gretel,’ delves deeply into the background of the wicked witch and her desire to eat children.
Many children around the world, when tucked up safely into their beds at night have been read the story of a brother and sister who, after getting lost deep in a wood, end up living in a gingerbread house with a wicked witch, whose only intention is to fatten them up in order to eat them.
For author Toula Mavridou-Messer, the original story only served to leave more questions unanswered than were ever answered and so she embarked on writing her own backstory, a prequel to ‘Hansel & Gretel,’ that gives an incredible insight into the depraved and horrific behaviour of one of folklore’s most terrifying psychopaths.
Researching into true stories of numerous child killers opened Toula’s eyes to how nature versus nuture or indeed vice versa could result in a real life horror and depravity, such as that originally laid out in the fairytale written by the Brothers Grimm.
Rosemary West (one half of notorious UK serial killing husband and wife team) appears to have experienced an absolutely horrific childhood that definitely seems to have had an effect on the terrifying woman that she later became; a woman who ended up sexually abusing one of her own children, later murdered by her husband Fred, whose remains were found beneath their home at 25 Cromwell Street, Gloucester, England.
Couple that with the cold and clinical way in which Amelia Dyer, a Victorian baby farmer disposed of more than 400 children during the course of her ‘career’ and you begin to have more of an understanding of the whys and wherefores of the terrifying witch’s character in ‘Hansel & Gretel.’
Now all of those children who grew up hearing the story of ‘Hansel & Gretel’ at bedtime can read ‘Mortal End: A Simmering Pit of Jiggery Pokery’ to themselves at night, as they slip between the sheets.
This brand new adult fairytale is filled with mystery and humour, a tantalising sense of suspense, absurd darkness and larger than life characters, making it a perfect read for Halloween.
“A lightning storm sparks a fire deep in Phooka Wood.
The following morning, Mortal End’s self righteous rector Ænus P. Wordsworth, his sidekick Savant Poe and a motley crew of villagers venture into the wood to see what damage has been done.
To their amazed befuddlement, right in the centre of the seared earth is a giant mound of molten toffee and within it, a selection of human remains.
Ænus P. Wordsworth takes it upon himself to find out who these bones belong to and how they came to be there. In doing so, he uncovers a horrific tale of murder, incest and cannibalism that spreads throughout the neighbouring villages that surround Phooka Wood.
Their investigation takes them to all corners of their roundabout world; from Mortal End to the oozing Hamlet of Stifle and Little Napoo. Along their colourful journey, we are introduced to a larger than life cast from Doc Sheare the barber surgeon, Verrye Brutall the handsome woodsman, Beliala Bigswoln the publican’s daughter, Baron Rubigo Bluebeard and Umbra the Bogyman.
Everyone seems to have a secret that they are trying to hide that could give clues to the horror of Phooka Wood. Even Ænus P. Wordsworth has something to hide!”
Why does guilt hang heavy in this village like offal in a stew? What secret has the God-fearing Ænus P. Wordsworth kept so carefully? Where have all the children gone? These and many other questions will be answered when you read Mortal End.
What readers are saying about Mortal End: A Simmering Pit of Jiggery Pokery:
“For those who like their humor black, satirical and with a Gothic twist this is a must read. Tongue in cheek all the way, the book is written in a style that satirizes the very language of Victorian, Gothic horror, paying a backhanded ‘homage’ to Dickens, Poe, Stoker and the Grimm brothers with a large dash of Washington Irving’s ‘Sleepy Hollow’ and the epic Beowulf, (Grendel’s mother), thrown in. The tale of Hansel and Gretel will never be the same. Gruesomely funny!”
“It’s a smidge of Dickens, shaken but not stirred with “A League of Gentlemen”, sort of starcrossed with a bit of Neil Gaiman, plus a soupcon of Terry Pratchett. And totally and utterly your own!”
“Mortal End is the funniest and most disturbing adult fairytale ever written.”
“My imagination is being flooded with the most enormous canvas of human depravity… and I am finding that it fills me with delight.”
“Despite it’s subject matter it is light-hearted in it’s delivery and the clever way the writer expresses herself is a joy to behold.”
“Love the incredibly clever mind of Toula Mavridou-Messer. Excited to read her next book as well!”
“Love the prose, the most colourful, creepy, characters in their deliciously rancid world.”
“Toula’s imagination knows no bounds. Her characters are original and fascinating and leap off the page. She is a smart writer with the ability to make a story exciting and mysterious and will take your breath away.”
Background: ‘Mortal End: A Simmering Pit Of Jiggery Pokery,’ the debut novel from Toula Mavridou-Messer, was written in the space of three weeks after two car crashes in just one hour. Even the rescue serviceman who came to collect her from the mangled wreckage was hesitant about transporting her, saying, “Things happen in threes, don’t they?”
“It’s a sign,” thought Toula, as those crashes came during the return journey from a residential crime writing course she attended, given by best-selling author Val McDermid. She had been battling a major problem faced by so many would-be authors – that of actually finishing a project and then doing something with it.
Facing death head on seems to have been the antidote, although not necessarily recommended as a remedy for all. Every time Toula was faced with either a blank page or the option of walking away from the type-writer, she remembered that she had been spared a fate worse than death…or in fact, death and that small fact kept her chained to her desk.
Fortunately she saw the funny side and hopefully so will you when you read ‘Mortal End: A Simmering Pit Of Jiggery Pokery,’ available from Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s and most other good online book retailers.