Mortal End: A Simmering Pit of Jiggery Pokery, my debut novel, is all about child abuse and the secrets we as observers, witnesses, if you will, to crimes and horror within our own communities, sometimes within our own families, keep in order not to upset the equilibrium. Oddly enough, these fundamental aspects of the book are not something I have ever flagged, rather describing the story as true crime meets Grimm fairytale, which is also true.
I have said that the true crimes that inspired my story included elements of those carried out by Rosemary West and Amelia Dyer (the Victorian baby-farmer) but I have never really talked about the nitty gritty aspects of what that means in terms of the story.
At the very beginning of my horror story, a fire rages through Phooka Wood and leaves in its wake a giant fossilised piece of toffee that clearly has human remains embedded within it. The mystery that then unfolds is a no-holds barred journey through Mortal End (life), where the magnifying glass is held over society in general. What is clearly illustrated is that under our very noses children (and adults, too) are being abused in all sorts of heinous ways and oftentimes those closest to that abominable action are not blinded to it but are the actual perpetrators of that misconduct.
I suspect we are all guilty of ignoring the public actions of others that may strike a nerve, when perhaps we see a parent continuously ignore a child as they chat away on their mobile ‘phones and then harshly admonish that child who is about to step into the path of a car, or the parent is aggressive towards them because they whine for attention because no one is minding them.
Worse still, perhaps we see a child being struck, or touched inappropriately and instead of stepping forward to challenge the culprit, we tell ourselves that we must be mistaken and that what we saw was something altogether more innocent. We then walk away, possibly still questioning what we saw, but walk away nevertheless.
The fact is that all around us, even including in some homes of those we know, things that ought not to be happening are and nothing is being done to stop it.
In Mortal End: A Simmering Pit of Jiggery Pokery, a young girl child is abused by all of her male siblings and her parents, too. This sweet innocent child soon realises that in order to survive, her sweet and innocent ways will have to change and almost overnight she not only becomes unrecognisable as the child we first met, but she outdoes the horror that was once inflicted upon her and wreaks bloody revenge upon those who have wronged her.
The evident change is enormous and the consequences more so and extremely visible to all and sundry and yet no one sees. As no one sees, no one does anything to curtail this awful behaviour and the sweet and innocent child grows up to be a vicious and crazy psychopath; a bedlamite who then has children of her own who suffer even worse atrocities at the hands of their mother, who by this point knows no bounds.
Why do we hesitate, stop ourselves from saying or acting when we see maltreatment? Perhaps we are afraid of the abuser, or we are not entirely sure that we have read the situation correctly. Personally, I am afraid of not being heard and suffering the consequences of inaction but still….I have spoken up, regardless and hope that I always will.
I once called the NSPCC about a two year old little boy that was obviously being mistreated. His parents were of limited intelligence and they clearly did not have the wherewithal to bring up this beautiful child. He was screamed at and beaten (that you could clearly hear) and was terrified of the two adults within whose care he was left.
I was told by a neighbour (the one I was visiting) that they were all aware that his mother would fill the little one’s mouth with burning chilli peppers to shut him up and that they caused blisters and more screaming. Obviously. And on it went. I couldn’t bear what I saw and heard and when I returned home took a very deep breath and made the call that I hoped would change this angel’s life. I was extremely nervous and emotional but tried to be clear, concise and objective. The person taking my call was clearly uninterested and from what I heard, no one intervened or even investigated further and the abuse went on and on.
I often wonder what kind of a man that poor child grew into; who he was taught to be by his familial violators and those around him who did nothing to stop the violation.
Every day for the past few years, headlines have astounded us with their constant revelations of those in the public eye being questioned, arrested and tried for child sexual abuse. Some have been found guilty and imprisoned and still, rather than everyone be truly horrified by the crimes that took place, many people seem to be affronted by the fact that time has passed and that these offenders have been brought to book by adults who didn’t speak out as children, deciding that they can only be speaking up now for the financial compensation. Not once questioning why those who were grown and able at the time to step up, did not.
Mortal End: A Simmering Pit of Jiggery Pokery is written in a gothic horror style and has many dark comedy moments to enable readers to digest the moments of pure wickedness that is carried out and to question whether the maniac be held responsible for her actions, or whether she herself is a victim, too?
Is evil born or created and moreover, what part do the rest of us play in watching the embers of nefariousness smoulder and the flames of wrongdoing eventually take hold?
Toula Mavridou-Messer, member of the American Photography Association, shares her favourite images in this wonderful collection of 100% Simply Perfect Photographs. In her own words, “Art IS how your heart sees things, isn’t it? Sometimes everything is clear and crisp, other times it seems black and white but most of the time it’s filled with joy, happiness and a rainbow of all the colours and shades experienced by man.“ “My heart has captured every image that you see in our book. Hopefully, they will capture yours, too. One of the greatest photographers of all time, Ansel Adams, summed it all up for me with this perfect quote, “Sometimes I arrive just when God’s ready to have someone click the shutter.”
What talent! When you get this book, you have to read the intro before going through all the amazing photographs. They were taken with a used 10 year old camera. For those of you into photography this is a big deal as cameras have advanced so much today. Yet, the pictures are so perfect you would assume the latest and greatest camera available was being used!
These pictures are incredible! As I was going through them, I said to myself that I will mention my favorites in the review. Not even halfway through I was laughing at myself for having that thought because at that point, I had so many favorites, I would just be re-stating what you would find in the book. There were so many pictures that caught my eye.
The picture layout is fantastic as well! The color pattern flowed beautifully! (Word Forward)
100% Simply Perfect Photographs takes you on an adventure on land, sea and air. I was captivated by incredible pictures from an incredibly talented photographer! (Heather)
Love this book. Filled with stunning images that transport me visually someplace unexpected and unique. Can’t wait to get all her other books. A must have! (Annie Jeeves)
Gorgeous photos!! (Jason)
Featured photographs are available at prices for all budgets, as prints or merchandise (greeting cards/ T-Shirts/ ‘phone covers/ cushion covers/ tote bags/ shower curtains/ metal prints and much more)…just click here.
Pocketful of Poesies is unlike any publication you have ever previously perused and that is quite a phenomenal pursuance. Pocketful of Poesies is a pick of perfectly plangent dark tales. An astonishing array of very short stories that take alliteration to a completely new level with absolutely EVERY word beginning with the same letter. This mind blowing volume of amazing alliteration, such as “Annie and Adam’s Adventure at Arthur’s Animal Aid Association,” “Betty Bets Billy ‘Bout Blowing Bigger Bubbles Better,” and “Colin Couldn’t Comprehend Chafing Cream” WILL blow your mind. The alphabet may have 26 letters but there is no rule that each word you use has to start with a different one each time and Toula Mavridou-Messer proves just that in Volume One of Pocketful of Poesies.
Your eye is naturally drawn to the colourful artwork on the cover – courtesy of James Messer, and you can’t wait to take a peak inside… What awaits is a courageously clever collection of short sharp stories, each with an astounding array of alliterations. Quite how it is possible to start every word in every story with the same letter is stupefying! (Heidi-Jane Smith)
Unlike Toula Mavridou-Messer, the author, I have no words. Well, I have one word, WORDSMITH. The Urban Dictionary has almost as many words as Ms M-M and they describe a wordsmith as ‘One with the ability to effortlessly string together words, no matter their actual meaning, in an instance and in such a way it brings a smile to the faces of those listening, sometimes often laughter or tears of admiration for having heard someone with such an amazing skill.’ Ms M-M is a wordsmith beyond compare making this book brilliant for both older children for whom it can only nurture a love of words and their clever use whilst keeping them gloriously entertained and for adults who can only marvel at the size of her vocabulary whilst chuckling at her tales. 10/10 (Miss T)
A tongue twister of a read. Great use of words. Betty and Billy blowing bubbles reminds me of my children when they were younger. Frightened Frank is me! The illustration are great too. (Lai)
This book is absolute genius and a master class in the use of language and alliteration. This book ought to be standard text in schools as a great example to young learners of creativity and language.
A gothic horror novel that has grabbed the attention of genre fans around the globe, combining true crime with Grimm to provide a fast-paced adult fairytale romp through the darkest recesses of your imagination.
Reviews The spookiest treat for Halloween’s right here. 178 pages of dark, twisted & mysterious goings on. (Jonathan Ross)
Toula Mavridou-Messer has one of the most creative minds I have ever come across. In fact, her imagination knows no bounds! (LA Writers Center)
Just. WOW. What a unique book! I loved this! This was a horror book with a mystery and a twist! (Word Forward)
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. Gruesomely funny! (Sara Salyers)
If you enjoy dark, but easy to read mysteries, I definitely recommend Mortal End: A Simmering Pit Of Jiggery Pokery by Toula Mavridou-Messer. This will be a great Halloween read! (Ellen P. Lafleche-christian)
Mortal End brings together some of the best aspects of Grimm’s Fairy Tales mixed with larger than life characters in a Tim Burton-esq way and adds a dash of sexual content and some great humour all wrapped up in a fantastic writing style. (WJ Thompson)
This is a fantastic read, Macabre and funny, witty and clever, no long journey should be attempted without it! The writer couples rich and vivid language with a superb plot that keeps you guessing. (Dominic Wolf)
This is crime fiction like no other! Fairy tales for grown ups with just enough humour to see you through the dark. (Amanda Goldman)
This is Grimm in the best way – it’s a strange and twisted murder mystery. I enjoyed this book immensely. Wonderfully Dickensian names, completely twisted logic, weirdly gorgeous descriptions – it’s a totally bonkers dark fairy tale, with fantastic twists and turns and an unexpected ending. (Ally A)
A truly delicious dark tale well worth the read. (Johnny Kyriacou)