Tag Archives: Novella

The Worm and His Kings: A Review

RATING: 💀💀💀💀💀

Excellent prose.  Tons of dark tone.  Novella, 116-pages. A MUST READ.

There comes a time for every reader that they suddenly realize that they are not just reading a good story, but that they are also reading something that has transcended simple good storytelling and entered the realm of the special.  Call it literature, call it art, call it what you like.  You know when it happens.  It’s when the story takes on a kind of life that makes you think of bigger things.  Orpheus Descending, Dante’s Inferno, Blade Runner, The Old Man and the Sea.  The Worm and His Kings is that kind of novella. 

There are layers within layers with layers to this story.  The novella begins with a monster kidnapping homeless women from an enclave of the lost in an abandoned subway line under New York City.  Donna is one of the missing.  Monique, Donna’s lover and one of the abandoned (by society and her family), believes the creature has taken Donna to its lair.  She goes in search of her love and that search takes her deep into the underworld of a cult that is waiting for its god, the Worm, to return. 

Hailey Piper draws us into this dark underworld by not only capturing the despair of those whom the world has abandoned but also by drawing us into the subterranean world of her characters’ souls.  As dark and as dangerous as the underworld becomes, the life that her protagonist has had to endure is equally as dark and foreboding.  Monique is a transgender woman whose love for Donna has ruined Donna’s career.  Donna has comforted Monique through her blotched operation and rejection from her family.  Society rejects the love that Donna and Monique feel for each other driving them into the abandoned subway tunnels of the homeless and eventually into the arms of a monster.

The Worms and his Kings is a classic “quest” story, but under the skillful pen of Hailey Piper, that quest takes on multiple layers with multiple twists.  Monique is on a quest to save Donna, much like Orpheus in the classic Greek legend was on a quest to save Eurydice from the underworld or later in the Medieval poem The Divine Comedy, when Dante was willing to brave the inferno of Hell to find his Beatrice.  In the underworld of Piper’s story, the followers of the Worm are also on a quest to fulfill the Worm’s wishes.  Even the monster, the Worm itself, is on a quest to find a resolution for both its own pain and suffering and the faith that its followers lacked eons before.

Then Piper gives the story a twist and asks the reader to question who is the monster?  Which quest is the most important?  The author forces the reader to reassess the meanings of specific words, actions, and thoughts as the story turns on who is doing what to whom.  Eventually, Monique must confront a juxtaposition of both her humanity and sexuality. 

In The Worm and His Kings, Hailey Piper constructs a world of darkness, horror, and desperation as all the characters struggle to achieve their ultimate goals.  Monique must confront the horror of what HAS happened to her and the horror of what IS happening to her.  This is the kind of book that demands to be read and reread, to have its nuances explored.  It is the kind of book that makes us look at ourselves as much as we look at the leading character.  We all have demons to identify and confront and hopefully in the cosmic realm of things, reduce them to their proper places. 

The Worm and His Kings is most definitely worthy of all the accolades we, at THE DARK SIRE, can offer.  It has a depth of darkness that our readers not only appreciate but seek out in the kinds of things they read.  The multiple levels, the twists, and, above all, the ultimate resolution raises this book into a category achieved only by Poe, Shelley, King and a handful of others.  This is a great read.

The Worm and His Kings is available on Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook formats.


RATINGS: TDS rates all books based on the dark content and how well the reading experience lends itself. Of course, author craft, storytelling, and mechanics are considered, as well. For this purpose, we use skulls (💀💀💀💀). And explanation of the skull system follows.

RATING: 💀
Boring, not dark, not interesting. Do not recommend.

RATING: 💀💀
Fair plot, not too dark, fairly interesting. Read at own risk.

RATING: 💀💀💀
Good plot and mild darkness, good reading experience. Encouraged read.

RATING: 💀💀💀💀
Great reading experience with heaps of dark tone. Strong recommend.

RATING: 💀💀💀💀💀
Excellent prose, tons of dark tone. A MUST READ!

The Novella — Not Just A Short Novel

THE DARK SIRE would like to reintroduce you to a time honored format that has been somewhat ignored in the recent past: the Novella.  You are probably more familiar with this form than you realize.  Many of the “books” you had to read in high school and college were novellas but were not presented as such.  Famous novellas include: George Orwell’s Animal Farm; Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol; Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend; and Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.  Robert Silverberg, a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, called the novella “one of the richest and most rewarding of literary forms… it allows for more extended development of theme and character than does the short story, without making the elaborate structural demands of the full-length book.”

You might wonder why TDS’s interest?  Everyone who subscribes to our magazine will have noticed that we publish serializations.  Novellas, because of their concentrated focus on the story coupled with an equally focused exploration of the subject, lend themselves quite easily to serialization.  The novella is actually quite difficult to sell to commercial publishers.  It is too long for many magazines and too short for book publishers.  Being able to serialize them fulfills a needed niche in the publishing world, especially to authors who write in the Gothic, Horror, Fantasy and Psychological Realism genres.

From Victorian England to the 20th Century, writers of the supernatural have drawn to this form.  In 1879, Margaret Oliphant published one of the most innovative pieces of horror fiction ever written.  A Beleaguered City tells the story of a city under siege from the dead.  (Familiar plot, anyone?)  Charlotte Riddell’s novellas concern mysterious disappearances, ghosts, greed, murder, and revenge.  Florence Marryat’s The Dead Man’s Message has ghosts, ghost animals, spirit photography and séances.

When a novella has been serialized in THE DARK SIRE, our interest does not stop there.  We intend to publish those novellas as CHAPBOOKS.  In a world where there is a lot of talk about readers’ dwindling attention spans, chapbooks are a great way to soak up great writing.  They are, by nature, short.  Edgar Allen Poe said that the optimum length for a piece of literature was one that could be read in one sitting.  A chapbook can.  This is the TDS way of supporting writers whose work doesn’t fit into the commercial publishing pattern.  We want to give them a voice, to tell their stories and, above all, to entertain our readers.  In the changing paradigm of how readers choose books and shop for them, chapbooks look like the new age way to go.  Their compact style is perfect for readers with busy lives.

If you are a writer and have a story that fits into the novella category, please consider submitting to THE DARK SIRE.  We want to support you and your creative journey.