Exclusive Content and Images especially for My Shelves Are Full! Read on for a fabulous stop on the blog tour celebrating Monstrous Devices and The Shadow Arts by Damien Love.
Read On for an Exclusive Extract….and be prepared to be completely hooked!
SNOW IS FALLING on the city of Prague.
Soft white against a sharp black skyline, it dances around the castle spires and wisps past the patient statues of the church of St. Nicholas. It flurries over fast-food restaurants’ glowing signs, drifts down on cobblestones, tarmac and tramlines. Old women in headscarves shiver and street vendors selling hot sausages stamp their feet in Wenceslas Square. Bleary young tourists’ teeth chatter outside bars in the Old Town.
A tall man and a small girl stalk through the snow. The man wears a long black coat and a homburg hat. He clutches a cane. The girl’s black coat reaches her ankles, where purple and-
black-striped socks disappear inside heavy black boots. She looks nine or ten, with a pale, round face framed by long black hair.
They cut briskly across the Old Town Square: past grumbling workmen struggling to erect a huge, eighty-foot Christmas tree; past the house where a famous writer lived an unhappy life long ago; past an ancient cemetery crammed with graves like a smashed mouth filled with broken teeth.
For each of the man’s long strides, the girl must take three, yet she easily matches his angry pace. The city grows older around them as they walk. The light is fading, the day turning blue beneath a heavy slate sky. The snow is beginning to lie. It crumps under their feet. It frosts her hair like icing sugar. It gathers in the nooks and crannies of the strange metal straps that encase each of his boot-heels like heavy surgical supports.
They come eventually to a narrow street, barely more than an alley between ageing buildings, dark, save for a single yellowy light burning in a shop window bearing a sign painted in
B e c k m a n ’s Toy s
Behind the words, heavy red curtains frame a dusty display. Monkeys wearing fez hats brandish cymbals. Ventriloquists’ dummies leer secret smiles at blushing Victorian dolls. Black bats hang from black threads alongside ducks with propellers on their heads and wooden policemen with bright red noses. Machine guns and ray guns, farting cushions, furry spiders and fake bloody fingers.
A line of robots marches through this chaos. Tiny cowboys and cavalrymen battle rubber dinosaurs at the feet of fat tin spaceships.
The man in the long black coat pushes open the door, ushering the girl in ahead. A bell actually rings, a pleasing old sound of polished brass in the musty dim as they step inside. Around them, the little shop is a cluttered cosmos of toys. Squadrons of fighter planes and hot air balloons swarm the ceiling. Sailboats and rocket ships patrol shelves. Teddy bears are crammed into corners with rocking horses and dogs on wheels. Bright things new and old, of plastic, lead and wood, fake fur and cheap metal.
When they are certain there is no one else in the shop, the girl flips the sign from open to closed. Snapping the lock, she stands with her back to the door and folds her arms.
The man strides to the counter, heading on towards the back room, when a figure emerges from in there, pushing through the rattling hanging beads holding scissors and a roll of brown tape. A small man with severely cropped grey hair and big, round glasses, thick lenses reflecting the light, shabbily dressed but for an incongruously bright-yellow-with-black-polka-dots silk scarf knotted at his throat. A torn-off strip of brown tape hangs from the end of his nose.
“Snow is falling,” this little Beckman sings in a high burble, still frowning down at the tape in his hands. “Christmas is coming—” Looking up to blink happily at his visitors, he stops abruptly.
A few questions posed to author Damien Love about his books;
What was the connection between the robots and Prague?
When I started to write Monstrous Devices, I had two vague ideas in my head: one, that the story was something about an old, scratched-up tin toy robot; and, two, that the mystery would finally lead to Prague, in the Czech Republic. But it wasn’t until I’d already started writing it that I remembered there was actually a really strong connection between robots and Prague. The word “robot” actually comes from a play called Rossum’s Universal Robots – or R.U.R. ¬– which was written by an amazing Czech writer called Karel Čapek in Prague in 1920. His play was about a factory where they made artificial people to do all the work for us human beings. He called these artificial people ROBOTS, and that’s the first time the word was used.
What was your favourite book of 2020?
My memories of 2020 are hazy, but I can give you two. One is A Tomb with A View: The Stories and Glories of Graveyards by Peter Ross, which is a beautiful and unexpectedly life-affirming book about graveyards. And the other is Wrappers Delight by Jonny Trunk, which is a strangely life-affirming collection of old sweet wrappers and other food packaging from days gone by, or, in my case, yesterday.
Can you describe your book(s) in 5 words?
Strange adventures, sinister stuff, biscuits.
Thank you to Damien Love for these books which are full of suspense, intrigue and incredible places. I adored reading both books and have recommended them widely. Thank you to One World Publications for allowing me to be part of this tour! DO check out the other stops on the blog tour for more exclusive content!