From the Author
'Caxton Tempest at the End of the World' is the first in a series of novels from Ken, which are set in Victorian London.
Talking about his novel Ken said: "The book is best described as a cross between Harry Potter, Oliver Twist and Dracula. It follows the adventures of Jim Kerrigan, a young street thief who lives with a gang of other children in a doss house ruled over by a vicious bully called Marchek Mulready. The book opens as Jim discovers a mutilated corpse late one night in an old curiosity shop. The murder is only the latest in a series of strange killings, which are baffling the police. Mysterious adventurer Caxton Tempest is called on to help solve the case and Jim is plunged into his dangerous world, battling evil forces of darkness, demons, vampires and secret societies."
Ken lives in Stourbridge with his wife, two boys and a cat. He began writing this book in August 2003, but work stopped on his novel for a few months when his eldest son was born. Now Ken is already on his way to writing his second book in the series and facing the challenge of tying up several loose ends and many of the unanswered questions from the first book.
Talking about his passion for writing Ken continued "I have always been a voracious reader and into inventing stories. I still have two stories that were published in my junior school magazine from 1974!
At age 10, I found a typewriter and having just finished reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I decided to type it all out! Needless to say I only managed half of chapter one before giving up. At the time, if asked, I wouldn't have been able to tell you why I wanted to do that. Looking back now, I think I was trying to find out how Tolkien had written his book and where the ideas came from.
It's difficult to say where the idea for my first novel came from. I had wanted to write a Victorian adventure for some time. I had also been reading the colourful accounts of the Victorian explorers in Africa and had re-read Dracula, which is another Victorian set novel. I suppose these different elements sat in my head and stewed for a while, eventually surfacing in the novel as it is now.
It's really exciting to see my work published and I hope that people who read the book enjoy it as much I as I did writing it."
From the Back Cover
Orphan Jim Kerrigan and his young brother George live by their wits on the streets. But after stumbling across a mutilated corpse one night Jim finds himself thrust into the dark, dangerous world of the mysterious Caxton Tempest. Now, along with new friends Denver McCade and Johnny Chen, Jim must fight for his life against a killer intent on opening up the gates of Hell.
But other forces of evil are gathering, and Tempest finds he needs the help of an unlikely ally if he is to defeat them...
Scary, gripping and unsettling CAXTON TEMPEST AT THE END OF THE WORLD takes the reader on a journey into the sordid East End, the opium dens, the rookeries, slums and beyond into a world of magic and horror...
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The Mutilated Corpse
Dark, viscous pools of blood glistened in the yellow light of the sputtering gas lamps mounted on the walls. In the middle of the room lay the mutilated corpse of a fat, middle-aged man. The blood had finished gushing from his ripped flesh hours ago, leaving his skin pale and waxy. He now looked like a hideous mutilated doll. Spatters of dark red decorated the walls where his arteries had sprayed blood, soaking into the flock wallpaper and dripping from the expensive paintings, ruining them forever. Large, bloody handprints marked the glass of the shop door where the man had tried to escape, or maybe just seek help, but it had been too late. His blood was already spouting from his lacerated throat, filling his lungs, drowning him in his own bodily fluids.
Jim Kerrigan, standing in an open doorway at the back of the shop, stared involuntarily at the grisly scene before him. Hypnotised by the carnage, he jumped when his younger brother bumped into him from behind.
"Jim!" the ten-year-old boy said, coughing, and wiping the soot from his eyes. "Why've you stopped?"
"Keep your voice down!" Jim said. "He might still be here."
"Who might still be here?"
"I dunno," Jim said, his voice dropping low now. "I dunno."
George wiped the last of the soot from his eyes and stretched to look over Jim's shoulder. He drew in his breath at the sight of the slaughtered body on the shop floor, and gripped his brother's arm.
"Do you think he's dead?"
"Course he's dead!" Jim hissed.
"Somethin' got him bad. Look at him."
"I know," Jim said. He turned to look at his brother. "Stay here, I'm going to have a look around."
"Don't go in there, we should go back. The coppers'll be here soon," George replied, tugging at Jim's filthy shirtsleeve.
"Just stay here and keep your mouth shut. I'm just going to have a look, that's all."
Jim pushed his brother down into a sitting position on the flagstone floor and turned back to face the shop. He pushed the door open a little wider so he could see the whole room from where he stood.
More blood, splattered on the walls, the shelves of objets d'art, the antique books, the glass vials and coloured vessels, the wall hangings of bright colours and intricate patterns, blood everywhere.
Jim took a few cautious steps into the shop, carefully avoiding the deep red pools of congealing gore. He looked back at George, framed by the doorway of dark oak, his eyes wide and riveted upon his brother. Jim put his finger to his lips, silently imploring him to keep quiet, and turned back to face the shop. Quietly, slowly, he gingerly stepped round and over the dark expanses of blood, making his way to the body by the front door.
Jim looked down at the man's fleshy, waxen face, his eyes wide open in terror, and his red, pudgy lips parted in a grimace of fear exposing his yellowing, chipped teeth. Jim knew him, recognised him from a couple of days ago when Mulready had brought him down here. They had not gone into the shop straight away; Mulready had taken him round the back first, pointed to the chimney stack, crumbling away at the top, allowing him to climb down and get inside. Then he took Jim back out onto the street and they went inside and admired the expensive, unusual antique items on display. Mulready pointed at certain pieces, giving him a little nudge in the small of his back, that one, nick that one!
Jim and Mulready had dressed up for their trip into town but none of their worn, tattered clothing could disguise their poverty row origins in the Dials. The shop owner had watched them carefully from the moment they entered. After a few minutes it became obvious they were buying nothing, and the fat, middle-aged man bustled them out of his shop, threatening them with the police.
"Fat old shit!" Mulready hissed back out on the street. "Yer'll show 'im tonight. What yer can't nick, smash up, smash the place to smithereens. That'll teach 'im."
Jim looked around. Nothing to nick now, everything covered in blood and gore like that.
"Jim!" George hissed from the doorway.
"What, what is it?" Jim said, looking back down at the murdered shop proprietor.
"I want to go. Please, let's go!"
Jim waved his hand absently towards his little brother. "In a minute."
Something about the dead man's posture unsettled the young boy. His arms were outstretched beside him as if he had been crucified, and his legs stretched wide apart. Jim doubted that he could have fallen down into that position. Had his killer arranged his victim like that?
Something had torn at the man's throat, leaving a gaping, ragged wound. How the shopkeeper had managed to live long enough to attempt an escape from his attacker as the blood had gushed from his neck was a mystery. The splashes and pools of blood indicated that he had put up a strong fight.
Jim looked at the man's face again. He had seen dead bodies before, drunks passed out in the street, worn out by a life of hardship, their frail bodies killed by the cold of the night. Once he had seen a man who had starved to death. He had been lying in a back alley, his body so wasted and thin Jim could have encircled one of the man's legs with his hand. His eyes bulged from his yellowing skin stretched tight over his skull, the cheeks sunken and hollow, the lips drawn back from his teeth.