Book Reviews

Book Review: Witch Bottle

Witch Bottle by Tom Fletcher.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Witch Bottle is the story of Daniel, a man who is haunted by an event that took place in his childhood. He isn’t just haunted in a figurative sense, he is literally pursued by a shambling hooded figure that turns up regularly until Daniel places a witch bottle beneath his patio. For a while, that helps, but it isn’t the end of his problems.

The opening chapter was worrying for me, because I found it too unbelievable, and if I had been in a bookshop I probably would have put it back on the shelf. However, this was given to me as a gift, so I persevered, and I’m glad I did.

Fletcher’s writing style is clean and tight, very appealing, with a strong sense of place. I loved the ordinariness and familiarity of the northern setting, and the everyday events as Daniel goes about his business delivering milk for The Bean and magic remedies for Kathryn, his witch girlfriend. It’s clear that something isn’t quite right about the area, but the reader is kept guessing until near the end.

I recommend Witch Bottle. It does have a supernatural element that more grounded readers might find hard to swallow, but having said that, Fletcher is an excellent writer, and that kept me hooked.

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Short Stories


Buried is a short story I wrote at the end of 2020. It was first published in March 2021 by CafeLitMagazine. The opening paragraphs are below, and you can visit the CafeLitMagazine website to read the full story.


Some people have happy memories of school, forever wishing they could return to those carefree times.

Not me.

I hated school, especially sports. Each week I got Mum to write a note about a sprained ankle, sore back, or ingrowing toenail. The games teacher recognised the weak excuses, and made me watch in the cold, where I stood, wishing I could be normal, running after the ball like the others, without my belly jiggling under my shirt.

Hugging my trombone case brought comfort, knowing I was good at music. That, and chess. I would look at my watch every few minutes, worrying I might be late for computer club. When Sir blew his whistle, I hurried to the changing room to collect my school bag, which stood out among the smart Gola and Head ones, a cheap, nasty thing, like my Tommy Balls shoes.

I was a typical target for a bully.

It began on the bus. I had my trombone case between my legs, cradled in my arms. There was a thump next to me as the boy who was about to become my bully plonked down and dropped his bag on the floor. I had never noticed him before, and he didn’t speak. He had no reason, until the bus turned onto the main road out of town.

Continue at CafeLitMagazine


Photo by Riccardo Fissore on Unsplash.

Blog Posts

Where have I been?

I’ve been quiet lately, and haven’t read much since I wrote my review of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, back in January. I’m reading a few short story collections by Graham Mort, Stephen King, Ernest Hemingway, Ray Bradbury, and John Steinbeck, so I’m not completely idle, but they are taking some getting through.

My main reason for being quiet is a novella I’ve been editing. I wrote it over twenty-five years ago, but when I went through it last year, I felt I should work on it some more. During the edit, I cut about fifteen percent, and think I have a much tighter piece of work now.

I’m also waiting to hear about the novel I wrote last year, provisionally titled A Different Path. After several rounds of edits, I’m expecting some professional editorial feedback which will help me determine the next steps to publication.

In addition to all the above, at the back end of last year, short stories were flowing out of me at a rate, and I’ve been submitting a few to online literary magazines this year. I hope to share some good news on that front, very soon.

So, you could say I’ve been busy.

Photo by Francesco Gallarotti on Unsplash.