King of Cards

The spade is painted across the walls. His symbol.

The elite, the top

come to claim the castle and make the king bow down.


The world shifts at that moment

and for him, the situation is tilted and cut

into only a semblance of what it was.


The castle is no longer a castle, the king no longer a king.

A shack and a pauper

are now what he faces.


He looks down at his body.

His proud chest piece reforged

into a string vest of trowels.



Book Review: Waking Beauty by Brittlyn Gallacher Doyle

Waking Beauty is a retelling of the classic sleeping beauty tale, but as with all good retellings, it has a twist:

Aurora Claire (or just Claire, as she prefers) was always told that she would fall under a sleeping curse for one hundred years on her sixteenth birthday – a curse bestowed upon her by a vengeful dark fairy. She lived with the knowledge that everyone she knew would be dead by the time she woke up, and her life was filled with half-friendships and loneliness because of it. Yet she had her fairy gifts – grace, beauty, creativity, wit, sweetness, song – to make up for it. So on that fateful day, she climbed the tower where the dark fairy was waiting with the spindle that would send her to sleep for a century, and pricked her finger just enough so that a single drop of blood was spilt.

Fast forward one hundred years.

Waking in her tower from an age of nightmares, she finds the handsome prince who was foretold, along with his tall and awkward knight. She and prince Damien hit it off right away – he’s everything she’d ever hoped for – but the way his knight, James, seems to regard her with constant disdain makes her feel ill at ease. However, when they leave her tower, she is overjoyed to find that the rest of the castle has been asleep just as she was, and everyone she knows, including her parents, are waking up as well. Wedding plans are soon underway, with much discussion of alliances between kingdoms. A perfect future with a perfect prince, whose charm appeals to everyone. Almost too much so.

Yet after only a few days, a servant is found asleep, and no-one can wake him. Then another is found, and another. The curse appears to be returning, and Claire has no idea why. What’s more, her fairy gifts are disappearing too. She stumbles ungracefully, freckles sprout on her nose, and her hair is a fright. Nor can she keep her mouth shut at James’s obvious distaste for her. Where did her sweetness go?

As panic spreads around the castle, Prince Damien and James volunteer to seek out the fairy who altered the dark fairy’s original curse from death to a long sleep, in order to find a way for the curse to keep from taking hold again. Claire, feeling responsible, insists on coming along, and though James argues that she will slow them down, Damien uses his charms to quiet his friend and allows her to come along. Claire and James bicker incessantly, but after a while, she realises that she finds it much easier to talk to this disapproving, quiet knight than her beloved prince, and dares to even consider him a friend…

First of all, I love that this story focuses on what happens after Sleeping Beauty wakes up, and that it’s not an immediate happily ever after.

The characters are well written and likable (when they’re supposed to be). Claire’s development from prim princess who has always followed along with what everyone expects of her to a confident young woman who is capable of making her own choices is exceedingly well done, and as the story progressed, I liked her more and more. Damien I was suspicious of straight away – no-one is ever as perfect as they appear, and towards the end, his behavior really made me grind my teeth, as it was supposed to. James reminded me very much of a character from one of my favourite fantasy series, not just in appearance, but personality as well. He likes Claire for who she really is, not what her fairy gifts make her out to be, and the back and forth between them was full of wit and humour.

The book also ended brilliantly, in a way that was satisfying but not overly convenient. The narrative is from Claire’s point of view, so I could really get inside her head, which I felt worked well for the plot as a whole.

Waking Beauty is definitely a book I’d recommend for anyone who loves fairy tale retellings with exciting twists, strong female protagonists and good character development, plus more than a dash of romance (which is odd for me, because I’m not normally a romance fan.)

Kat out.


Review: Miss Prince by Alicia L. Wright

‘Vampires don’t belong in fairytales…’

‘Miss Prince’ is a young adult fantasy that tells the tale of Lucinda, a fifteen year old who seeks a part-time job so she can save up enough money for a plane ticket to America to meet her internet friends.

Unfortunately, when she sees a sign advertising for a ‘general assistant’, little does she know that dragon slaying, pretending to be a prince, vampire hunting and witch seeking are part of the deal. Oh, and she’ll end up with a runaway fairy hiding in her bedroom, too. You see, in the Otherworlds, the worlds of legends where all manner of magical things exist, stories have gone wrong. They’re breaking, and Lucinda has been hired to help fix them.

This book is a very easy read, and has just as much excitement and adventure as you’d expect from a book of this genre. I loved the twists in the tales (there’s a witch who won’t use magic, and a vampire who flatly refuses to terrorise the villagers like he’s supposed to), and the characters are fun and likable.

It’s also part of a trilogy, so I’ll have to pick up books two and three at some point.

A great read for any YA fantasy fan.


Small Cares


Why do you hang your head

so low, my pet?

You may only be the size

of a snow drop or crocus,

and a puddle may appear

as a small lake to you,

but why is that a sad thing?

Think of all you can

see and hear

that no other can.

Observe the flowers as they first emerge,

seek the moment they reach for the sun!

See the bees buzzing back to their homes

and help them carry their bags of pollen.

Listen to the secrets of dormice

and ask to fly on the backs of butterflies.

Sleep in the shade of a snail’s shell,

be carried by a team of worker ants.

But most of all, my pet: live!


The Long March

One, two, one two.


Line by line,

side by side,

up the steep mountain path

following the piper’s march.


One, two, one, two.


Rock and stone,

wind and rain.

Soon we’ll reach the river,

He doesn’t care if we shiver.


One, two, one, two.


Unable to stop.

Unable to think.

Unable to breathe.


One, two, one, two.


All because the villagers;

our family, our kin;

refused to pay the price

that was owed

to him.


The Light that is Dark


In the night when the moon is high,

light brightens pale pebbles.

A guide to home.

Yet knowing home is

not where you’re needed,

not where you’re wanted,

not where you are even allowed to exist,

why do you still try to return?

Do you believe he will listen,

that your voices can override hers?

I know you want to believe in him.

But he was the one who left you here.


Said the man to the King

Said the man to the King

(whilst concealing a grin):

Rolls of fabric, neat and trim

shroud your holy, pale skin.

Silver thread stitched thickly

around collar and sleeve, strictly

the finest for this work of art;

certainly, Sire, you’ll look the part.

It’s magic, I confess,

to help weed out those who are less

than intelligent at court,

it’ll be a game, a sport,

for the dim witted cannot see

these garments made by me!


Said the King to the man

(though he was panicked by the plan,

for in fact he could not see

the clothes supposedly reaching his knees):

What cleverness, sir, you’ve shown,

I would truly never have known

that a charm could be used

to seek out those who have abused

their position by my side,

but now they cannot hide!


And so the next day,

to the townsfolk’s dismay,

the King held a parade,

and a declaration he made

that any who claimed

his robes not to be, shamed

themselves and should admit

their serious lack of wit.

Yet among the mutterings

and unsure shuffling

a hum of laughter did climb

at the sight of the King’s bare behind!



If you’re grey on the outside,

are you grey on the inside, too?


Forever a colour

that is not a colour?

Neither bright, nor dull

but a fluffy, half-formed

substance in-between?


A blur of identity,

an endless game of cat

and mouse,

see-sawing up and down,

with the fear of staying

who you are

at one end,

and the fear of

becoming someone new

at the other.


If you’re grey on the inside,

are you grey on the outside, too?



Mechanical Lungs (draft)

I gave you my voice

once. You had me

caught and caged,

ready to sing for

you and any audience.

To perform until my lungs

were spent, my fragile

frame shaking, but it made you happy;

I could see.

So I persevered, even though

my head would droop and my

light chest was gripped

with tightness.

Then you were gifted a metallic me.

It astounded you and every





was ensnared

by the grinding inner workings

as it chirped out

a charming replica of song.

You cast me aside,

I was free to fly again.


to sing when I pleased or sing

not at all.

But eventually, as all things

do, the grinding of fake me

ground to a halt.

And your heart was released

to beat on its own.

The beat was weak.

You realised that it was starting

to break apart.

The cracks had appeared when you first

pushed me aside,

yet the pain was masked by false joy.

I can fix you,

bandage you up will warm trills

filled with spring flowers and

gentle breezes, the chorus of dusk and of dawn.

I can heal you.

Will you ask?


Uncovered (draft)

Why should my  sensitivity

be a sign

of who I am?



should I be measured by

the bruises I bear

from a night of unrest,

when all I asked for

was hospitality?


Why would you seek

to drug me

with pea-sized pills

and force me to climb

the innerspring tower,

when a simple question

would so easily give

rest to your doubts?


Don’t take my truths

as acceptance

of your hand.


If you had

seen me

first, I may have reconsidered.


The cover has been

removed from you, not me.


Your chance has been spoiled:


desire has that effect.

You will