Deep within Crik Wood is a village in which every person has a unique ability called a “Talent”. The Mayor can talk to insects, a girl can disappear in a cloud of smoke, and a young boy called Jack has a living shadow.
One thunderous night, Jack discovers the horrifying secret buried at the heart of his village. Thrown into an adventure filled with danger and discovery, Jack is faced with the question: ‘What would you do if your closest friend was your greatest enemy?’ For Jack that someone is his shadow…
Crik, sporting a cover by the talented concept artist Mark Beer is a new novel by his brother, Karl, who works at the Swansea University Research Department and gained his creative writing education through the Open University. It’s an intriguing coming of age story, in which Jack discovers the hidden truth about where he and the rest of the people in his village get their special abilities.
“This secret is so damning he leaves his village to seek a way to rid himself of his closest friend, Yang, his shadow,” Karl explains, whose father, Leslie, is a published author of two novels in the Lifelight saga.
“Fantasy is my greatest love, and the genre I enjoy most to write,” he says. “With all great books, characters come first; I enjoy putting mine through hell, thinking of ways to make them grow, and for the reader to relate to them.
“I’ve always been a fan of myths and folktales,” he recently told The Examiner. “I watched all the Ray Harryhausen films, Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts. I loved to see the creatures come alive on the screen. This love for all things mythical led me to read the Greek, Norse and Egyptian mythologies… Hungry for more, I started to read fantasy, David Eddings, Raymond E Feist and Terry Brooks to name a few. I was enthralled by the concept of building your own world, with its own history and mythology. Crik is born from that desire to share new fantastical worlds and to build a tapestry of history that draws the reader in as much as the ancient tales drew me in as a child.
The tale of Crik has some creepy origins, Karl says, born of childhood nightmares after an unexplainable encounter with something paranormal in a local graveyard. “Writing Crik allowed that child, which is still within me, to believe in monsters again and to make others believe as well. The magic of writing fantasy is that anything can exist; it is only a matter of believing.
“I am very fortunate to have a very talented artist as a brother, who has worked on films, album covers and comics,” he says of the book’s cover. “Mark’s ability to create with a paintbrush is overwhelming. When I showed Mark Crik, he became inspired, sketching creatures that I dreamt up. He used the description of the Giant, with its many eyes and the roots covering its mouth, to sculpt a 3D image that you can find on his website that is now inseparable from the written word.”
What I’ve read of the story has a haunting charm and I’m keen on Mark’s art, so why not check this book out… if you dare.
• You can read Chapter 1 of Crik online here