I Blurbed a Book

I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of Remains to be Told: Dark Tales of Aotearoa, edited by Lee Murray and published by Clan Destine Press and given the opportunity to write a review.

I’ve put the whole review below, but the publishers have also used an exerpt in the opening pages, along with blurbs from Richard Thomas, Eric J. Guignard and Christa Carmen. All high praise and all quite right – it’s a remarkable collection.


Remains To Be Told

Dark Tales of Aotearoa

Edited by Lee Murray

Review by Sean Monaghan

It’s always a treat to dip into a collection of short stories by different authors. The eclectic mix of styles and voices creates a wonderful smorgasbord of flavours and feelings. There are stories you will love and stories that will leave you perplexed, stories that are heartwarming and stories that are challenging, stories that are straightforward and predictable until the last moment and stories that seem to come from the strangest of places, make a brief visit to startled readers and depart back to their odd origins.

This anthology has all of this, with the remarkable addition of a deep Aotearoa/New Zealand feel, and another layer in that the stories are startlingly prickly and uncanny horror tales. The title gives that away, of course, but what one forgets, in the midst of New Zealand fiction and, in particular, New Zealand speculative fiction, is that we can be a little bit nice.

Sure our fiction is filled with family drama and challenging situations, but often we skate over the surface and miss plunging into the very visceral mire these stories present.

It’s an eclectic mix and I’d like to avoid singling out any particular stories–my favourites would quite possibly be different to yours anyway (which is one of the delightful aspects of multi-author collections). What I will mention is something that the stories have in common; these are stories of the land, about the history and the geography of our odd nation. These are stories that invoke our remarkable blending of cultures.

Colonization and decolonization stand side by side. The intertwining of Māori myth and oral history with the day to day practicalities of raising families in this twenty-first century capitalist world is one of the key threads that unify these stories as they bob and weave around social commentary, entertainment and pointed, bald and wry–even witty–observations.

A supremely readable collection that deserves high recognition and a wide readership.

I’ve written numerous book reviews over the years, for newspapers, and that’s always been fun. With changing times, there are fewer newspaper review slots around, so it’s nice to have the opportunity again. Even cooler to have an exerpt included


The volume contains stories by Kathryn Burnett, Helena Claudia, Gina Cole, William Cook, Debbie Cowens, Neil Gaiman, Del Gibson, Jacqui Greaves, Denver Grenell, Tim Jones, Nikky Lee, Paul Mannering, Owen Marshall, Tracie McBride, Kirsten McKenzie, Celine Murray, Lee Murray, Dan Rabarts, Bryce Stevens, and Marty Young.