Phineas Varga and the Revenants of Windsor
by A.K. Rouse Genre: Dark Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal Romance, Historical Fiction
"A brilliant and riveting vampire novel . . . showcases a complete mastery of this dark fantasy genre." --Midwest Book Review
In 1014 AD, Nieve, a young Irish woman, nurses wounded Fintan, a mysterious foreigner fighting for the Irish at the Battle of Clontarf. From this point on, their fates are intertwined as they attempt to navigate secrets, supernatural beings, a rival for Nieve's affection . . . in addition to their own conflicted feelings for one another.
Over five-hundred years later, in 1563, the Black Death descends on the kingdom of Queen Elizabeth I. She welcomes into her court at Windsor Castle, a man, Phineas Varga, who offers protection. However, the young queen soon finds that his strategy includes the use of gargoyles . . . for she and her kingdom are to be defended against something far worse than the plague. England and all mankind are at the mercy of the revenant should those most ancient and evil have their way.
Phineas, too, has his secrets, secrets that shaped who he is and who he will become. In his quest to rid Europe of the foul revenant, he is joined by a young, eager apprentice, a gargoyle warrior, a female assassin of a strange guild, and others who seek to find the source of the revenant outbreak. It is only when mysteries are revealed, and tragedy occurs that the reader discovers why five-hundred years is but a short time for some.
Today, the revenant is known by its most popular name . . . that of . . . vampire.
Whether good fortune or the benefits of a good life, Phineas had what many would say was a handsome countenance. However, the astute, like the good doctor, would always add that despite the fair features and chiseled jawline, despite the olive complexion devoid of any flaw, there was a menacing undercurrent, an almost hidden savagery that lay in wait, and it seemed to emanate from the youth's eyes, eyes that commanded all attention beyond any other trait.
Phineas returned a cold stare then, and the doctor, mesmerized, realized at that moment that he had never until then noticed the unusual color of the younger man's eyes. Phineas' eyes were gray--a stone-cold gray. At first glance, one would think that perhaps they were an unusually dark blue, and hidden in shadow, but with the right tilt of his head, with just the right cast of light, as was now, one could tell they were assuredly gray, a soft, melancholy gray. Phineas Varga had the visage of a beautiful fallen angel, and the doctor found the effect both captivating and horrifying.
Phineas sighed, but then, in a slight accent of nondescript origins that most, other than the observant Dr. John Dee would fail to hear, he responded simply, "Let it be done. I will approach the gate after Vespers, and I shall have a gift for the Queen."
He stood then, nodding to the doctor, and took his leave, motioning for Jory to follow. Jory smiled and bid good day while plucking the remaining crust of bread from his plate.
Dr. Dee watched the tall form of the young, dark-featured man as he meandered through the crowded pub until Varga reached the threshold of the doorway. Then, Dee noted a brief exchange between the two companions, followed by Jory turning on his heel, striding down a side hallway, past a serving table, and out of sight. Dee watched Phineas turn back to the open door, pull up his cloak's hood, before striding outdoors.
Though part of her childhood was spent in the West Midlands, A. K. Rouse now writes from the United States' great Midwest. Memories of traipsing through beautiful English gardens, forests, and castles during these years provides the backdrop for her stories. Now, you will find her roaming the verdant fields of a music fest or walking the city streets with her husband, three children and two Irish terriers.
How did you come up with the title of your first novel?
It was tricky business coming up with a title as the novel is two intertwining stories with different characters, though some overlap, and in some ways, there exists an almost ensemble grouping of characters in many important scenes. The title refers to the lead character and antagonists of the main story-line. There is something about the ring of it that appeals to me, though I can't put my finger on it.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
Yes. I have written one other book that is not currently published and I am going through extensive edits at the moment. It takes place in the 1950's through 80's in the United States and has a strong paranormal element to it. I also have a third book, which is the second in the Phineas Varga series, in which I've completed the outline and written several parts, but I am now realizing I am farther than I initially thought from completing that.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
Several. I find that writing two stories simultaneously for part of the time, at least, gives me perspective and the ability to notice things I might not otherwise see if I'm only focused on one work. Often, I'll take a week away from one book to write on the other and then when I return, things jump off the page needing my attention that I think I would have otherwise overlooked.
Pen, typewriter or computer?
Computer, but occasionally I will print out a chapter and edit with pen, then return to make corrections in the electronic file.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I am not a fan of social media, but use Instagram for work, and I am being told that I need to start using Twitter. I know that in 2020 this mindset is probably beyond "quirky," but I suppose I got a bad taste in my mouth years ago when I tried Facebook. I found myself simply overwhelmed by it all . . . the need to "like" posts, the expectation that I should in turn post things of my own, and the time-suck that could occur when going down rabbit holes regarding people I had neither spoken to nor seen in twenty-five years, etc. I know that there are many good things about these types of apps, and by my not using them, I certainly acknowledge that I am missing out on the daily occurrences of distant friends and acquaintances. However, I am increasingly wondering whether the bad that comes along with them has come to outweigh the good, and if man is innately incapable of collectively and positively wielding a tool with such power. That being said, if you email me, I will always respond.