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Mistress of the Crows and other short stories by Gary Kruse

It is my great pleasure to welcome English author Gary Kruse back to the blog to share an excerpt from the title piece from his new collection of short stories. Thank you for your time, Gary and for sharing this excerpt with my readers.

The Blurb

“Mistress of the Crows” is a collection of nine short horror stories from Gary Kruse, author

of Badlands and Bleak Waters.

Journeying from the afterlife to the London Underground via Bodmin Moor and all point in

between, the stories feature a wild array of witches, vampires, ghosts and human monsters.

Coming to Kindle (£1.99), Kindle Unlimited and Paperback (£9.99) on Thursday April 4 th ,

below is an excerpt from the title story, “The Mistress of the Crows.”

The Extract

The Mistress of the Crows

Can you see her?

The phantom in the mist.

The shadow amidst her flock.

The vapour carried on the wings of the corvids that obey her call.

Can you see her?

She is the Mistress of the Crows. And she is here for the children.

I lay rigid beneath my summer bedsheets, staring up at the branch-like patterns of ice

covering the windows of my loft room and wondering how there could be a frost in the

middle of a July heatwave. The day before, the temperature had been in the low thirties, and

had still been nudging twenty-five when I crawled into bed. Now though, my skin pimpled

beneath my cotton nightdress and a deep chill settled beneath my ribs.

Frowning, I sat up. The cold oozed through my arms and legs, my summer tan turning winter

blue. The smell of burnt toast filled the room, the only hint of normality in the strange world

I’d woken into.


That wasn’t correct.

I hadn’t woken. I’d just realised I was already awake. Maybe I hadn’t slept at all.

But awake or not, sleep deprived or just over-tired from the party the day before, I had more

important questions.

Like why was it winter in July?

Guessing there’d be something on the news about this descent into an unexpected ice age, I

snatched my phone from the bedside table.

The screen was blank. I tapped it. Nothing. I clicked the side buttons. Nothing. I swiped up,

swiped left, swiped right. Nothing. I pinched the buttons on both sides to do a reset, but the

phone stayed defiantly lifeless. I swore, dragging a hand through my hair.

Then bedroom door burst open.

Zack and Lucien stormed into my room.

“Sara!” Zack, older than Lucien by five years,

held one arm across his younger brother’s chest, holding him back. “It’s winter out!”

“Where’s Mummy? Where’s Mummy?” Lucien cried, his face red. Snot bubbled from his dot

of a nose. He was straining to get through Zack’s arm, but Zack kept holding him back, which

made him cry louder.

“Zack, let him go.” I stood.

Zack scowled but dropped his hands. Lucien bounded across the room. I sunk to my knees

and held out my arms. He leapt into them, knocking me back. Burying his face in my

nightdress, he wept as I rocked him back and forth, kissing his hair, getting that whiff of burnt

toast again.


I peered up at Zack. Tears glistened in his eyes. His nostrils were flared, and the blood had

leeched from his cheeks.

“What’s wrong?” I said, panic fluttering like crows wings in my chest.

“Mum and Dad are gone.”

The Author

Gary Kruse is a dark Thriller and Horror author from Hornchurch, Essex. His short

story, Hope in the Dark, won the November 2021 Writers’ Forum short story

competition, and his short fiction has been published in several Horror Anthologies. His

debut dark Thriller novel, Badlands is an Amazon bestseller and was a finalist in the

Read Freely Book of the Year competition for 2023. His Supernatural Mystery, Bleak

Waters is out now.

The Links

Badlands - Order here.

Find me on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

Mistress of the Crows -

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