DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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Friday, September 30, 2022

Arcana believe it... Starfolk (review) with Martha Dunlop


The Starfolk Arcana 

Martha Dunlop (@MarthaDunlop)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“The energy materialised next to her as a dazzling light being. He had blond hair that reached his waist, his eyes were a clear violet, and his ears rose into delicate points…”

Prepare for a fantasy romance that will take you on a highly charged magical journey – meet Beth and Johan – star(folk) crossed lovers who’ve spent lifetimes being pulled apart. Now, they’re ready to fight for their love as destiny calls them. But even as these two soulmates draw closer but one woman stands in their way.

Beth has psychic senses and finds people around her are also cards in a new ‘Starfolk’ tarot deck she buys – it seems that destiny is having fun with her.

Jonan has waited an eternity to be with the woman who haunts his dreams. When he finally finds his soulmate it seems that his nemesis named Amelia is determined to stand in his way.

Spinning tales of supernatural threats to her adoring fan base, she builds a personality cult through fear of the paranormal. As her power grows, she does her best to scare Beth away from Jonan and plans to reclaim him for herself.

Drawn together by deeply buried memories from before birth, the soul connection between the characters opens windows into both their histories and their destiny.

I enjoyed The Starfolk Arcana, Dunlop writes with a spookily compelling style, bringing characters to life effectively and using local knowledge of St Albans to bring smiles to those who know the area.

Having read some fantasies that have great ideas but don’t deliver on the art of storytelling this is a refreshing book that brings the complete supernatural package to the party.

I had the pleasure of meeting Martha through the Society of Authors group that I chair. So I asked her some Q’s so you can get to know her a bit better:

Hi Matt, thank you so much for welcoming me onto your blog!

Matt: If you were granted the powers of a master magic wielder who or what would be your nemesis?

Martha: If I was a magic wielder, I would illuminate and heal people, animals and situations, to help people find their way to their best futures. In my Starfolk books, Amelia is a celebrity who controls people by whipping up fear of the paranormal. She would be my nemesis, because that ability to drag people into the depths and surround them with negativity makes everything harder. So she would be my polar opposite.

Matt: What is the most life-affirming thing you’ve ever read or watched in a book/film of any genre?

Martha: Honestly, Outlander. Diana Gabaldon puts her characters through the most awful traumas, but they are so resilient, and they use their challenges to become stronger and more connected.

When I need strength, I watch Outlander.

Matt: If you were hired to throw a parade of any scale or theme through the centre of London what type of parade would it be?

Martha: It would be a tarot parade! We would dress up as the fabulous archetypes from the tarot and people would give and receive readings along the way. The road would be lined with gongs, singing bowls and sound healers and we would dance, sing, and explore all the stages of human experience as illustrated in the deck. And, of course, we would buy more decks! It would be amazing!

Matt: You are blessed with a supernatural power to bless the world, what does that look like for you?

Martha: I would choose healing. Being able to heal people physically and emotionally would be incredible.

Matt: Who or what inspires you most (can be living or dead)?

Martha: Honestly, stories of all kinds. Books, songs, theatre, films, stories that have that extra something, that lift you out of yourself and put you into a new world, seeding something inside you. In that moment it feels like anything is possible. That sense of pure potential is so magical.

'boo! scared ya - it's me Martha'

Matt: There’s a masked assailant with a gun to your head, who is most likely to be under the mask?

Martha: It’s got to be the character in my book without a name. My protagonists call him the Brute. My antagonist, Amelia, calls him the Sheep. He does a lot of bad things in Amelia’s name, but turns out to be one of her biggest victims. We do find out his name in the end, but it takes a long time. He must be fed up of everything I’ve put him through by now!

Matt: What is the meaning of life?

Martha: Learning. I believe we’re here to learn how to become our best selves, moving through our challenges to find our authentic, magical and non-defensive selves.

Matt: What was the best gift you’ve ever been given?

Martha: My Mum overheard little-girl Martha telling her friend that the best present she could receive was a signed hardback of The BFG. So my Mum wrote to Roald Dahl and guess what I got for Christmas!

Matt: If you could create a sidekick familiar – what would it be able to do for you?

Martha: My familiar is definitely my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and he’d get insanely jealous if he had to share me. We communicate very well, but if I could give him the ability to help me, I’d create a telepathic link with him and allow him to use his significant charm to soften situations up for me and report back!

Matt: What would you like written on your tombstone?

Martha: Martha Dunlop. Creator of worlds.

Matt: Any final words you like to add...

Martha: All my books, are on Kindle Unlimited, and I also have a Starfolk Prequel short Story, Starfolk Illusions, which is free to my newsletter subscribers. If you’d like to sign up to receive it, go to

www.marthadunlop.com, hit subscribe, and enjoy!

Thanks again for having me on your blog!

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:


(4 - Starfolking is the new tarot craze...)

Buy your copy of  The Startfolk Arcana here: AMAZON LINK

Still reading?  In the mood for something chilling? May I recommend this new anthology for which I had the pleasure of writing the foreword for and submitting a short story that is included. Proceeds go to charity too so jump in (click the image below):

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Matt is creeped out by The Innocents

The Innocents (15)

Dir. Eskil Vogt 

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@cleric20)

“We don’t need you, we can stop him, we have to…”


Children can certainly be scary, and I don’t mean in the ‘drain your money and energy; way that parents experience. Here we have some actually menacing kids building on a horror staple – from the old school creepiness in The Village of the Damned, callous antics of the Children of the Corn and the heart-breaking murderousness of the classic Let the Right One In (My Review).


Here we meet young Ida (Rakel Lenora Fløttum), a pre-teen who has just moved into a new apartment complex with her parents (Ellen Dorrit Pedersen and Morten Svartveit) and autistic elder sister Anna (Alva Brynsmo Ramstad). Things start off building up the sense of the mundane existence of newcomers, but things take a turn when Ida makes a new pal, Ben (Sam Ashraf), and realises that he has a form of telekinesis.

Things start small and innocent enough – making bottle tops change direction when dropped etc but the children keep this discovery a secret from the grownups around them. It seems that there are other children in the same tower block with supernatural abilities too and initially it even seems beneficial when it helps Anna start to begin to find a way to speak.

The Innocents builds up slowly, an incident of horrible cruelty to a cat, a violent retaliation for bullying, but before long there is a body count and some horrific happenings.

What unfolds is a fascinating treatise on the cruel secrets’ children harbor and what they might do if given the power to hurt those around them. Don’t come expecting action or a fast pace, Director Vogt takes plenty of time to turn the screw of the situation but the pay-off is excellent and a breath-taking quiet climax that takes place under the very noses of the adults around them.

The Innocents is an exceptional film that deserves to build a reputation as a cult classic, a new kind of nightmare that takes existing tropes and energizes them to deliver something memorable.

Out of a potential 5, you have to go with a Darkmatters:


(4 - X-Kids can be cruel too

Awesomeness öööö – some scenes will stay with you

Laughs ö – not much funny business 

Horror ööö
ö – burst of grimness 

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - not so innocent

Imagine a world where the earth is becoming hell?

Click below to find out about my dark sci-fi novel...



Sunday, September 04, 2022

Matt is bitten by The Wolves of War - The Beckoning (review)

The Wolves Of War: The Beckoning


T.L. Campbell (@TCampbellAuthor


Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@cleric20)


“ …Songs of heroes and legends fed the ears of people throughout the city. Ale and wine ran thick and fast down the throats of all, even the special brewing that the Dwarves brought along with them… ”

OK fantasy nerds, pause watching House of the Dragon and The Rings of Power for a moment… Here’s a great fantasy book that is very much worthy of your time.

Meet young Prince Maxin, almost fourteen and instead of a PS5, his birthday present is to finally become a man… Yes as second in line to the throne behind his elder brother, Belthran, he is obligated to hand-pick his own ten-man army to command. 

Maxin sees this as an opportunity to prove to his family and the kingdom of Ar'Gurd that he has what it takes to be a warrior, like his brother, and a leader, like his father. But is he tho??

His quest for recruits is rudely interrupted by a full-scale pirate attack - cue fights and fleeing through the  Ar'Gurdian kingdom. Maxin has to journey to various cities with names like Paran-Dun, meeting other races including Dwarves, Elves and wet, wizards!? Will his brother stab him in the back or help him, what about his dad the King?

Maxin’s mission to raise those who can help fight sees him travel through a perilous wilderness is choc with fantasy staples like mystical woodlands and cavernous canyons, ravenous beasts to untrustworthy strangers.

The very fate of the kingdom rests on his young shoulders - will he make it and spawn a sequel? Only one way to find out…

Just for reference - this is NOT the same T L Campbell

I met Tommy (which is what the T in T L Campbell stands for) at the Tales on Trent event this year - he’s a good sort and I got to ask him some Q’s - so read on to get to know him a bit better:

Matt: If scientists ever managed to create a giant mecha version of you –

who or what would be your nemesis?

Tommy: Animal hunters.


Matt: What is the most disturbing fictional scene you’ve ever read or

watched in a book / film of any genre?

Tommy: The ending of The Mist(the film). It’s not so much disturbing, as i’m not so easily disturbed, but it’s one scene that I have always watched and though ‘that’s just brutal.’

Matt: You can bring back two people from the dead - who would they be and why?

Tommy: My dad, because I was really close with him, caring for him for 7 years, up until I was 17. It’d be nice to have that opportunity to spend time with him as an adult now. Stephen Hawking, because he for me, he is the smartest man to ever live. If we were ever going to truly find out about the magnitude of the Universe, and the ‘meaning of life’ so to speak, then Hawking would have been the man to do it. Plus I’d love to just sit there and talk science with him. 

Matt: You’re in a strange town with £100,000 that you have to spend in a

single evening – talk me through what you get up to…

Tommy: Probably nothing too exciting(sorry to disappoint) I’m a man of food, so I’d find a buffet and eat my fill. I would then likely go shopping and waste my money on stuff that I definitely don’t need. If there’s any leftover at the end of the night, then I’d find a casino and stick the rest on Red(that’s if I get to keep what I win) if not, then I guess I’ll give the remainder to charity, maybe one supporting Marine life. 

Matt: You’re asked for a line of ‘Wisdom’ that will be taught to every citizen on earth - what is your line??

Tommy: I would certainly steal from J.R.R. Tolkien on this one. ‘All we have to decide, is what to do with the time that is given us.’ It’s my favourite quote, and it’s such a powerful saying that is so true to life, and anything that you might be going through. 

the foretold 'King Campbell'

Matt: There’s a masked assailant with a gun to your head, who is most likely to be under the mask?

Tommy: Someone trying to steal my ideas for a new book perhaps?

Matt: What is the meaning of life?

Tommy: To live each day, and make the world flourish, and be sustainable for centuries to come. Enjoy the life you’ve been given, and respect the planet you live on. 

Matt: What was the best gift you’ve ever been given?

Tommy: Life. It sounds cliche, but without it, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to experience everything this world has to offer. 

Matt: If you could have a sidekick from a fantasy world – what would it be and do for you?

Tommy: Jason Voorhees. Everyone needs protection right? Although, I’m not sure how he’d feel about being labelled a sidekick.

Matt: What would you like written on your tombstone?

Tommy: All legends must come to an end. But their stories live on.

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:


(4 - Fantasy has a new hero author…)

Buy your copy of Rosie Shadow here: https://geni.us/sBXRJ

Still reading?  In the mood for something chilling? May I recommend this new anthology for which I had the pleasure of writing the foreword for and submitting a short story that is included. Proceeds go to charity too so jump in (click the image below):