Today I am delighted to be sharing an extract from Rosie Shadow which is a new release by Louise Worthington, as soon as I read the blurb for this one I knew I wanted to read it as I love a good horror and I am lucky enough to be sharing a passage with you all today. Don’t forget if you love the sound of it, to grab your copy using the purchase link below
‘Whatcha crying for, sissy? Why don’t you grow a pair?’ Rosie says to her mother…‘Send me to school and I’ll rip off your arm! Beat you with the stump.’
Abandoned by her terrorised mother at the age of six, Rosie Shadow will do anything to win the affection of her father Archie, an undead cannibal in charge of Her Majesty’s Prison Shortbury, now operating as a visitor attraction.
Clare is sent reeling into Archie’s arms with the grief of losing her boyfriend in a mysterious car accident when he collides with an ancient yew tree.
The secrets in the Medieval dungeon beneath the prison are under threat when Clare becomes suspicious of Archie’s true identity and his progeny.
Rosie Shadow is the first book in The Black Tongue Series, a gripping horror thriller by the author of Rachel’s Garden, The Entrepreneur, Willow Weeps and Distorted Days.
Available to purchase here
An extract from Rosie Shadow by Louise Worthington
People in the modern world, tottering above Archie’s head, have never known real suffering
or real hunger. Sure, a belly rumble if they skipped breakfast, but not the agony of hunger,
the death from hunger, the desperation, the instinct to chew, bite, swallow, denied day after
day until it’s tempting to eat your tongue, to chew the flesh from the insides of your mouth or
an inmate’s ear, just to taste something in your mouth and use your teeth.
The convenience of vending machines, take-outs, drive-throughs, irritates him – that
and so much more at the touch of a button. It’s unbelievable how easy people have it now.
People whine about the weather, for God’s sake. Get them down here, in this dungeon; then
they’ll have something to whine about. Experience real and prolonged suffering, and then the
sun never stops shining.
There is a chastity belt on the stone floor – old pickings of his. Once the woman got
skinny the belt slipped right off, like a ring on a finger. No mistake. A ball and chain loosely
encircle the bones from a dismembered leg. Had rats eaten their flesh? There are so many rats
scuttling over his shoes; he kicks the fat ones off, sending a couple flying against the stone
wall. Using salt as a preservative, and exhuming more recent corpses from the grounds, he’s
managed to keep the pantry stocked and himself alive.
‘Rosie, can you hear me? I’m talking to you. If you can hear me, send me food, Rosie.
Send me food. There’s a good girl, then Daddy will come for you to bring you home.’
Ah, the blissful stinking and whispering, the cackling and the odours of people left to
rot in their cells, one on top of the other. Humane? What’s humanity in the business of
criminality and punishment? He’s glad the women were convicted, so he can fill his belly.
‘Hello, stinky,’ he says to a female corpse who is still wearing her work shoes. ‘Nice
of you to drop by. Or rather, nice of Rosie to feed her Daddy-coo. Do you have any salsa to
go with you, or guacamole goo?’ He laughs, and the sound thuds against the damp walls.
‘Man, you stink, lady! Weeeell past your best. I’m going to call you Jasmine today, just for a
touch of irony.’
Archie tries not to overindulge on what he calls his Mexican meal, since rations are
‘I’m hungry, so you’ll have to do.’ A snuffling sound comes from his mouth as he
dines on the female corpse, who is still on some missing persons’ list. The flesh is chewy;
pieces get stuck in his canines. ‘You’d taste better boiled, or braised. I’d sooner have fresh
meat to flesh me out. Got any tips for me, Jasmine, to make Clare want me?’
The grey outline of the man-thing begins to flesh out, to take a firmer, more definite
shape, as the grotesque sound of chewing and smacking of lips takes hold. There’s a slurping
sound as he finishes up. Archie rubs his biceps, enjoying the feel of muscle, then runs his
hands over his chest, pleased by the small swell of his pectoral muscles.
As he exhales, Archie’s breath is an icy circle hanging in the air. The sight of it makes
him happy. Breathing. It’s a bitterly cold, gloomy place, perfect for a man like him to savour
the joy of life. He’s lucky to be alive. The restaurant lit by candlelight is most suitable for a
banquet. The gibbet is a piece he’s fond of, empty now of course, but a decorative piece. The
mask of shame and torture shoe are still in reasonable shape, though rusty and unbelievably
On an iron rack there are bones so old they have almost perished to nothing. He snorts
their white dust up like cocaine. The door to an iron maiden is open, another closed with a
skull for a joker’s head. Archie likes to stand in it, just for fun. He picks up a skull and aims it
at the open iron maiden, but misses.
‘Do you think I should get my hair cut, Jasmine? I mean, it stopped growing about
two hundred years ago, but it’s still long.’ He fingers his hair gently. ‘I do like my hair,
though. I think Clare does, too. There aren’t many men who can make long hair look
There isn’t the usual background music to dine to: the history of suffering and sounds
of pain come and go in waves as if all the inmates are one wave, one break, longing for fresh
air, natural light, food and water.
‘Ssssh,’ he says. ‘I’m talking to Jasmine. If I can make Clare happy, make her want
me, I needn’t dine on dead flesh ever again. How perfect that would be. Staying fat and fed
on pure sex. No gristly bits between my teeth.’
Prisoners had been friends down here in the place Archie thinks of as his pantry. They
talked about their crimes, their victims, their hopes. He hasn’t touched any of the men. Their
stories are embedded in the brick, buried in the soil. He eavesdrops, then gets up from his
knees a fatter, wider man with one hand on his stomach, which is bloated and feels gassy.
Merek, Tybalt, Rowan, Thea, Alice, Brom.
They were here, once.
Elspeth, Tristin, Josef, Cedric.
He removes a mask of shame from a skull. ‘You think I should be wearing you, don’t
In one cell no more than ten-by-ten there are twenty or more fragments from
skeletons. Men and women locked up for their crimes, to ‘do time’, perhaps dead from
starvation, torture or disease – cholera, polio, the plague. Maggots and beetles, which had
once perhaps wriggled through the eye sockets in a macabre game of hide and seek, have
shrivelled up and died as if in sympathy.
His friends had rotted to nothing. But not Archie. He didn’t need bread or meat to
feed on. Just a woman’s body. Living or dead, but the living kind fills him up faster for
longer – not that there’s much left of anything down here, now after the rats have gorged with
Clare is tender meat. Soft flesh, and muscles. But she’s still off the menu for a while.
‘I bet she misses that boyfriend. Thinks about him when she’s in bed. Jasmine, I think it’s
time we had some fun, don’t you? Send her running in fright, and I’ll have my arms open
wide for her when she comes running to Daddy-coo.’
Meet the Author
Louise Worthington lives in Shropshire and is the author of six novels. She writes across genres, including psychological fiction, horror and women’s fiction. She takes inspiration for settings from Cheshire where she grew up, her local town of Shrewsbury and the surrounding natural landscape. As a teenager, she read until the small hours, enjoying the dark worlds conjured by Stephen King and Daphne du Maurier.
In June 2020 she signed with Bloodhound Books, leading crime and thriller publishers. 2021 will see the launch of book one of The Black Tongue Series, Rosie Shadow, a supernatural horror, and Dr Glass, book one of the Glass Minds Series, psychological thrillers.
Louise’s debut novel, Distorted Days, was described by Kirkus Review as ‘a formidable work’. Her novella-in-flash was longlisted by Ellipsis Zine and many of her short stories and flash fiction are published in the UK and America.
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