It is Wednesday and I am still ill

So I am on the verge of getting better, but still coughing and spluttering and exhausted easily and VERY VERY BORED OF THIS! I would like a modicum of health and ability to think back now please.

But on the upside, look what arrived at the library yesterday!!!!! I am 170 pages in and it is SO GOOD!

Cover for Children of Blood and Bone by Tomii Adeyemi - image of black girl with white hair

And with that, I am off again to down cough syrup. Please be assured that there will be Tantamount and book reviews once I am back on my feet.

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Tales From Tantamount: Almost June of the Year of the Sad Plastic Bag

Being an ongoing record of various Happenings, Unhappenings, Persons and Ephemera from the town of Tantamount, most often found along the river Severn, and therefore by nature occassionally Welsh.



Headlines in Tantamount, around the 1st June
The Tantamount Herald
Yearly quota of sunlight almost entirely used already, p4
Safety warnings put out for roaming packs of feral children, now released from school p3
The-Mind-That-Lives-In-The-Soil is stirring, p4-6
Tantamount Life
Big Cats form historical guild, claim they have been misrepresented p2

This area, heretofore known as ‘the area’, is to be kept clear at all times. This is due to unpredictable manifestations. We recommend that, should strangely compelling food suddenly appear here, you do not eat it.
Tantamount District Council

Morris dancers sighted here. Take protective measures.

A discussion of the so-called Shadow Council, by Celeste Lupe Hildibjorgsdottir
Recent months have seen the abrupt emergence of a Shadow Council, complete with a re-spawned history and varied conspiracy theories. Although this in itself is not unusual for Tantamount, what is interesting is the secrecy. Most historical discoveries/tamings quickly become a matter of public record, and are just as quickly subsumed, unhappened, eaten or discarded. The Shadow Council, however, comes to us not through our vaunted historians but through scattered leaflets, whispered gossip and, most notably, the live blog of the recent elections (the writer of which has been permanently banned from the historian profession). So who, or what, is the Shadow Council?
There appears to be some connection with the Pinprick Cafe, and various whispers point to Thora Hope as a member. Thora Hope, as residents of Tantamount go, is remarkably interesting in that she is neither native, nor has she spent any time Out Of Town. She has made no comment on her supposed membership of the Shadow Council, and I was distracted from my questions by a truly excellent mocha. She also employs a chef, Laura Lovelace, who has spent time Out Of Town. Laura does not like to discuss it, and maintains that the outside was so confusing that it is barely comprehensible once returned.
But I have been sidetracked. It has been suggested that the Shadow Council are in direct opposition to the District Council, an idea which the District Council “oppose in the strongest terms, but in such a way as to not imply we really believe the Shadow Council to exist at all”. Perhaps an act of collective dreaming can highlight… From this point the essay has been heavily censored, with perhaps more vehemence than necessary, and the only other words that can be made out are hills, Hope, and reigniting.

Weather report
The weather today was a lowlevel growl, felt primarily in the base of the spine and tummy. It caused many people to believe they had a small animal living inside them (in some cases this was even true). Little showers of kindness fell throughout the day.

Tantamount is currently experiencing fluctuating levels of wilderness. Please take care when out in the wilderness, as it is easy to become lost in the depths of the within-without that is found there. We recommend you carry lucky charms, and try to avoid reflective surfaces. Instances of self-devouring have been linked to unsafe wilderness exposure, although equally many people return much happier than before, and with the added ability to sprout vines from interesting places.
Tantamount District Council

RE: Aquatic display
TO: management@pinprick.tan
FROM: lauralovelace@hotmail.tan

Dear Thora,
Please find attached the menu for the Aquatic Display night – I consulted with some nyads to make it a more authentic experience, and it actually works out cheaper for us. I’m not sure it will taste any good, but with the right marketing I think people will come anyway so that they can look good… Is it bad that I really hate some of our customers? You know, the bastards with all the money and entitlement?
Also, the Woman in the Well keeps leaving me these enigmatic little notes which I can’t quite read (they are too damp and the pen is smudged). I feel bad, because I have no idea what she is trying to say to me, but she puts so much effort in and always persuades the waitstaff to give me tips.
Hope you are recovered from the near miss with the Carrion the other day – so glad those magpies were on hand!

Best wishes,
Laura Lovelace

Lost Extremely sentimental scrying mirror, used for nostalgic memory-viewing. Reward offered! Eurydice xxxxx 872365

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Tales From Tantamount: Late May of the Year of the Sad Plastic Bag

Brief missives from the wandering town of Tantamount. It really is a lovely place, except for all the death…

Headlines in Tantamount, 26th?? May
The Tantamount Herald
Summer fashion recommendations for June: 18th century armour, breathing tanks, and hornets. P3
47 dead in longship collision. Sales of longships now restricted to people who know what they are doing. Full story p2
Six more Morris sides go rogue in dispute over health and safety rules, claim that ripping holes in time and space is “part of tradition” p5
Tantamount Life
Unrestful dead haunt the streets, make extremely boring demands. p3 Personal story “My mum turned up and kept berating me about lack of grandchildren” p3
Are health and safety rules killing our traditions? We had a secret meeting with the cat of the Tantamount Trickster’s leader to find out p7

Proverb for the day Many a mickle makes a muckle. We have found that this sounds like sufficiently wise nonsense that people will nod along, and then leave looking baffled. It is a good response to many things, especially if said threateningly enough.  We hope therefore, that when you come to the Council Offices demanding answers about our electoral procedures, you already know what response you are going to get.
And that’s only if you get past the wild boar.
Tantamount District Council

Have you considered urine? Well, have you?

Lost Small asteroid, containing octopus eggs. Please return to xXyyllrrgrgwiiuy
Lost Beloved chicken, name of Marshmallow, bantam. Quite talkative, if a little dim. xxxxx 771232 Mika
Found Dispersed memories, floating around Jasperine Road. Mostly sepia, some completely non-visual, all featuring a pair of very nice shoes. Latisha xxxxx 908 783
For Sale Carnivorous plant, very large, not yet sentient. Todd xxxxx 232 121

Weather Report
The weather today fell on everybody’s heads repeatedly, causing a lot of headaches and some property damage. There were pleasing trickles of mist between the buildings, which were oddly affectionate and not at all evil.

It has come to our attention that our esteemed town does not have a motto. After consulting with local hedgewitches and a few randomly selected members of the public, we have decided on a motto which we think everyone can enjoy: Keep Calm and Carrion

This bridge is false. It will tell you otherwise – do not listen! It is in some sort of mutually beneficial relationship with the siren living in the river below, and they will work together to drown and devour you. Please go the long way round, unless of course you don’t mind being tricked by a bridge and eaten by a siren.
Tantamount District Council
PS the siren is called Michael, and the bridge-that-is-not-here is called Angelo. Just in case you were curious.

Phew! A short one! May is a difficult month for me for various reasons, but hopefully I’ll be back on form in June.

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Tantamount Delay

Hello! Due to unavoidable life-stuff, Tales From Tantamount is going to be late this month. I should still be able to get you an installment later this week. In the meantime, please enjoy this artistic interpretation of the Carrion; it is of course not entirely accurate, as anyone who has actually seen the Carrion is in no fit state to do art afterwards…

Tales From Tantamount Carrion

Carrion will occur between nighmares and waking, every other Thursday.


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Poem: #07 25.07.2016 Somewhere Along the Severn by Meredith Debonnaire

This is from a series I wrote in 2016 called Letters From A Chained Place. I mostly don’t want to share it, because it is extremely personal, but I’ve performed this one out before and I feel okay sharing it. I realise that a lot of my poems (or at least, a lot of the ones I like) deal in imagery of decay, which is interesting I guess…

Somewhere along the Severn
there’s a place where wrecked boats rest:
timber and steel sinking into a nest of grass.
I’m glad you found me.
I’m glad you found me,
wracked among the ruins of ancient envy.
I only went there once,
and I lost the photographs.
There are no masts,
just rotting beams and sleeping dreams of steel,
strange submarines marooned on the edge of their element.
The water will not take them back.

I’m glad you found me, here, howling among the wrack.
I’m always howling somewhere,
and in the aftermath of havoc wreaked
I was glad to find you there.

This strange season washes tidewrack up on my shores;
breathing bones of beasts that came before.
I’d like to roar.
I’d like to feel that anger
shudder through the hollow of my chest.
I’d like to stand, a warrior,
defiant at the daybreak with a gleaming chainmail vest.
But I know what I like best,
and that is ruins.
The sublunary broken tombs of structures doomed to rot.
The hot forge of unmaking,
the shaking screech of separation and then…
the rest.

I have no direction.
Even on reflection the paths are deep and murky
as an unfamiliar whale-road.
Voices goad me on, to rashness or inaction
and there are no easy choices supplied.
There is no balm for the soul that died lost.
There is only the comfort
of moss growing thicker each year upon the stones,
there is only the comfort
of becoming part of a sea of unknowns, drifting.
A tide is shifting somewhere in the deeps,
down in the keep of the sea-beast,
Where the darkness forms solid against sight.
Where the darkness is thicker than night.

And the might of the ocean ripples
through all that it has touched –
a hushed whisper,
a glistening promise to those who call the water home.
It shivers through my bones and I am alone.
I am always alone with ghosts.
With a host of empty ships,
with iron teeth scraping my lips
and a body that shifts like rolling hills.
A mermay without gills,
drowning on the land and in the sea,
trying to find home in the places where they meet;
in the wrecked ships,
a haunted fleet stationed on land,
stuck where they stand, beached.

And I am glad you found me,
truly glad.
I still love the time we had but I am changed.
I cannot stay the same.
I’m here upon uncertain ground,
among my temple of lost and unfound
and I am biting my nails to the quick to build a ship
that will carry me over the lip of the world
and up from the realm of the dead.
I cannot recall what the wrecks said
but they spoke when I was there.
They spoke like water upon air
and their voices billowed into mist.

Everything we’ve built is dust.
Everything we’ve made will rust,
this beating heart of mine can only take so much
before it bursts and brine pours out to soak my veins,
saturated with the names of all the things that I forgot.
I am so very skilled at forgetting.
I make an art out of letting memory decay.
I forget the words I say
before they’ve fully left my mouth –
they taste of salt and the desire for south
and they burn my tongue.
They burn my still-young flesh.
They burn the fresh soil of my skin.
They burn the thoughts I keep within.
And if I speak too soon my words will burn
the ship-graveyard in which I turn
and turn
as I try to decide
if it’s the sea or the deep blue skies that I desire –
if this wreckage will be my funeral pyre.

And the grass on my feet
is cool and sweet and draped in dew.
I admit that I came here searching for you…
But the tide only brought memories that I thought lost,
and as ever I’m left paying the cost
of life inbetween;
of having one foot on the land
and one in the sea.
Knowing that oceans are deadly
and land stultifying.
And the horrifying fear of never belonging to either
is slowly becoming a comfort again:
like that moss over stone,
like the wave polishing bone.

The water won’t have me,
the earth will not either.
If I cannot have both then I will have neither and
somewhere along the Severn
there’s a place where wrecked boats rest
with salt in their bones and mud on their beams.
And there,
there I’ll make my nest.

Back next week, probably with book reviews.

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Book Review: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

I’ve always been fascinated by candles.

This book is also published under the title What Sunny Saw in the Flames, which has a few textual differences mainly related to dialogue (or so I’ve heard).

I devoured this book. I picked it up and did not want to put it down until it was done, continually asking “What happens next?”. And yet, I find it (along with a lot of Nnedi Okorafor’s work) hard to review: I know that, as a white English person, there are going to be things that I miss. And there are places where I know I am missing things, and probably things that I am missing that I don’t notice I am missing. I really, really love Nnedi Okorafor’s work, but I am scared of somehow, without meaning, doing her a disservice by being ignorant in my reviews.

So, here is what I think I can confidently say; Sunny Nwazue is a wonderful, engaging protagonist with a clear and unique voice. The imagery is stunning, and the plot is carefully done. I loved the writing style, and the magic system is fascinating. There is a whole hidden magical world that Sunny is drawn into, which (I think) has a basis in a real secret society, and the rules of the magical world were brilliantly thought out. I enjoyed the friendships, and the way that they grew and changed. I like reading things that are not set in Europe or America, especially fantasy. Overall, I strongly recommend this book: it’s gripping and fun, although the danger is very real…

Rating: read this book, look deeply into candles.

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The Life and Times of Angel Evans

I got a rather wonderful review the other day 🙂

The Moth Festival

Hello! As most of our blogging focus is on Hopeless, Maine this year (and that happens over here) I thought I’d spend some time over here bringing attention to some of the amazing things and creators we have found in our travels.

This time, I’d like to tell you about Meredith Debonnaire. If she does not become one of the major voices for her generation in fantasy, I will be very surprised. Seriously. Her story, The Life and Times of Angel Evans has a novel’s worth of unspeakably cool ideas in it and a VOICE. Dear gods, what a voice! In terms of density and originality of ideas, it compares favorably with China Miéville. There is also a novel’s worth of suggested story here. There is deft invocation of atmosphere and a complex believable character in an impossible situation. The emotional weight is utterly convincing (for reasons) and is…

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