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Tales of Terror: Bloody Parchment Celebrated at The Book Lounge

Diane Awerbuck, Henrietta Rose-Innes and Rachel Zadok

SA Partridge Bloody Parchment: The Root CellarA SA HorrorFest favourite, Bloody Parchment returned to The Book Lounge for a night of spook-tacular tales read by some of South Africa’s top writing talent. This year’s event coincided with the launch of Bloody Parchment: The Root Cellar and other stories (eKhaya), an anthology of horror stories featuring the finalists of the Bloody Parchment short story competition.

In the spirit of Halloween, The Book Lounge transformed itself into a scene from Monster High, with staff dressed for the occasion behind the specially constructed Tuck Shop of Terror. Guests that braved the unseasonal downpour were rewarded with decadent cupcakes and horror-pops as well as excellent wine courtesy of Leopard’s Leap.

But better yet, were the stories themselves.

Henrietta Rose-Innes treated the audience to an extract from Louis Greenberg’s upcoming novel Dark Windows, about mysterious black windows that appear throughout Johannesburg in places where violent deaths took place. The novel will be published in April 2014 by Umuzi. Later in the evening Rose-Innes read an excerpt from her upcoming novel Green Lion.

SA Partridge read from fellow Bloody Parchment finalist Chris Limb’s short story, “Alibi”, about a couple planning the perfect murder. She was followed by Rachel Zadok with a chilling tale of an axe murderer that sent chills up many a spine.

After a brief interval to hand out prizes to the night’s best dressed and an impromptu horror fiction quiz, anthology editor Nerine Dorman read her flash piece, “I dreamt I held her hand”, from the Ash anthology, published by Pandemonium.

Bloody Parchment is a highlight on many book lovers’ calendars, not only for the terrifying tales and spooky atmosphere, but for the ever-popular dress-up competition. Witches seemed to be all the rage this year, making picking an overall best-dressed winner difficult. Book prizes were generously donated by Penguin Books and Dark Continents.

A highlight for many was hearing Diane Awerbuck read from the haunting “Duiweltjie”, featured in The Root Cellar anthology, which details the devastating effect that disease has on a family. Awerbuck is a master at revealing the lighter moments that appear in the darkest times, raising more than one smile from the appreciative audience.

Other participants included Carine Engelbrecht, Zane Marc Gentis, Joe Vaz and Toby Bennett, whose short story, “The Root Cellar”, was the title story for this year’s anthology.

Bloody Parchment continues to grow from strength to strength each year. With capacity crowds, three anthologies and a short story competition to its name, it can only get better from here. Only time will tell what deliciously dark delights 2014 will bring.

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