Author: Victoria Arius
Publisher: Uruk Press
The Squab Fiends is available from Amazon.
What is The Squab Fiends?
A devilish blend of fantasy and history, The Squab Fiends is the debut novel by Victoria Arius.
Elizabeth Herbert is as free as any woman can be in Victorian England. An alluring widow with fortune, connections and an appetite for new experience, her search for her old lover John Maginn will lead her into adventures which stretch her credulity and sexuality. When two scientists pull Maginn from the side of a Channel steamship in 1862, he bears little resemblance to the dilettante who left England seven years before. Exiled by his Herbert’s husband, left for dead on a battlefield in India and battling constant pain and an addiction to opium, it seems the fates have conspired to make his existence intolerable.
Damodar Rao has been raised to rule, every moment of his childhood and adolescence carefully controlled to prepare him for a great future. Arriving on English soil after his guardian disappears, a happy accident will open his eyes to becoming a prince among women, without violence or responsibility. Together the trio must keep transform themselves by rejecting their dark pasts and dependencies. Determined to take control of their destinies and using progress as their weapon against superstition, they discover that to be truly free, they must fight an elite occultist movement, while warring against their own desires.
Why should you pick it up?
Fans of the supernatural secret histories of Tim Powers, the steampunk Victoriana of Alan Moore and the Gothic romance of Edgar Allan Poe will enjoy immersing themselves in the world of The Squab Fiends. A genre and gender-bending novel of epic scope, it has something for everyone: mystery, horror and adventure, not to mention sex, drugs and Charles Darwin.
It had been with great sorrow and many apologies that Dr Clover had explained to Maginn that for the first part of the operation, they would be unable to employ his new local anaesthetic. Mr Fox had also explained that Maginn would be unable to take any form of pain relief, except for small sips of brandy.
‘We need you to remain alert and when we affix the metal leg to yours, we shall need to connect as many of the nerves and muscles of the still living part of your leg to it. Only by attaching them one by one and then working the mechanisms will we be able to tell the reaction of your nerves to the prosthesis and vice versa.’ His eyes had gleamed and he had rubbed his hands together. Dr Clover looked more concerned .
‘Hem, yes, I am so sorry but I also must remove a little more of your leg. Your knee in fact. When the young man in India cauterised your stump, he probably saved you from death from infection but he also damaged many of your nerves. I must cut away at the scar tissue until I find new and responsive flesh and muscle. We shall have to conduct a few small experiments while I do this, to ensure that what we have left to use is viable. ‘
When Maginn had taken in this information with a stoic reaction, the two scientists had glanced at each other meaningfully. They were fully aware that he could not understand the full importance of what they related, his previous operations having taken place with the aid of opiates. However, they had discussed the operation many times apart from Maginn and had decided that the end justified the means and method. Once they had obtained his consent and he had fasted for twenty four hours, they had given the mercenary hotel manager a large purse of money and he had informed them that the floor would be clear that afternoon. So caught up in preparing for their procedure were they that they did not noticed the soft steps of Daiyu’s arrival on the soft carpets, or hear her client arriving a few minutes later. The concierge had thought, quite rightly, that the man and woman in room five would not reveal anything that they heard, so he was making a tidy profit that day.
It was only when Mr Fox had produced the long straps of leather and had secured Maginn to the bed, raising his amputated leg onto a contraption secured by clamps to its sides, that the patient had realised the agony to which he was about to be subjected. Dr Clover had then poured a little brandy into his mouth, allowed him to swallow and then a soft leather gag was strapped around his head.
Mr Fox, in designing the prosthesis, had decided to amend his original drawing and provide Maginn with a totally new joint. With judicious use of springs, pneumatics and bearings he had constructed a replacement limb that would join almost seamlessly with Maginn’s remaining leg. As he held it aloft for Maginn to inspect, the wires and tubing that sprouted from it looked like the many roots of a tree. The procedure would be long, arduous and complicated.