By Ben Gwalchmai
Maker, writer, managing editor: Ben Gwalchmai has worked with international opera and theatre companies, written for national newspapers and international journals, had several fiction and non-fiction publications as editor and writer, produced innovative prize-winning projects, and has consistently won awards for all his work. He can be found on Twitter, where he regularly makes #3WordPoems, or LinkedIn where his work is detailed. For more information, see bengwalchmai.com
Awarded: Top Ten pick of 2014 - Reece M Jones, The Cult Den
Awarded: Historical Novel Society's Editor's Pick shortlist 2014 - Editor, Historical Novel Society
'...a remarkable piece of work' - Rebecca Carter, Janklow and Nesbitt
'Intriguing, vivid.' - John Hunt, Zero Books
'Breathtakingly intimate and obscure, the story takes many turns...Written with authentic and artistic use of language, the novel felt all too real...The colourful characters are varied and interesting, the setting believable and the mystery of what is behind this trip and where it will end kept me on tenterhooks until the end. The psychological terror, grief, fear and thread in their respective gothic colouring together make for excellent horror writing. The historic aspects are equally well accomplished and I should imagine the book doing well with fans of either genre.' - The Historical Novel Society, historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/purefinder/
It is 1858, April 2nd and Good Friday in London, Great Britain. Bryn Lewis, ‘Purefoy’ as he’s known, is a purefinder – someone who collects dog dung to sell to leather-tanners – and failed entrepreneur. He wants a peaceful day and, if he’s very lucky, to see the woman he loves. Before he has a chance at any of those, he is told his wife is dead, a child dies, and he is blamed. He panics, flees. Before he can get to safety, a stranger attacks him and takes him under citizen’s arrest. Purefoy resigns himself to imprisonment but hopes that he’ll find a moment to run.
The stranger, who gives the false name Murphy, walks Purefoy through the city and introduces Purefoy to his friends. Purefoy enters worlds he didn’t know existed and cannot figure why he’s shown them. They meet a gang that Murphy knows. After placating them, Murphy and Purefoy run. The gang give chase. After successfully hiding from two of the gang, Murphy and Purefoy slip into a warehouse…but gang members quickly find them. A bloody fight ensues. Murphy pushes the men into a vat in the warehouse. The warehouse is a glue-factory. The gang members’ flesh is boiled from their bones.
Beaten, emotionally destroyed, and ill after traversing London from West to East, Purefoy is offered a choice: a job with Murphy and go free or be taken to the police. Though he doesn’t believe Murphy will be true to his word, Purefoy agrees to the job and begins again to hope that he might be free.
The job is in the sewers. There Murphy explains what the job is: to destroy people’s houses, from underneath, on behalf of rich men. Purefoy runs again.
Murphy gives chase. Their lanterns go out. The hellish atmosphere begins to strangle them both. Murphy finds Purefoy and, in a stark contrast to earlier, is tender. He helps Purefoy through the sewers to an exit on the Isle of Dogs.
Here Murphy finally tells Purefoy the truth of and gives him a choice: to go back into the city, knowing what he now knows, or to leave London completely but as a free man. It is entirely Purefoy’s choice. Purefoy chooses to die.
'Highly recommended - Having spent the whole of Christmas buried in this book, I can highly recommend Purefinder whether you are a gothic horror aficionado or (like me) a relative newcomer to the genre. Gwalchmai has an exceptional understanding of the physicality of grief, fear, affection and hopelessness. In Purefinder, he takes the reader into the very body of his protagonist and holds him there. We are relentlessly marched through the filthy streets of Victorian London, tugged along by the very visceral nature of the world created before us. Here is a world where violence is never far from the surface and choice is frequently between one hell and the next. Within this gothic squalor, the glimmers of hope, fraternity and redemption are rendered all the stronger and all the more precarious.' - Reader Review on Amazon.co.uk
Independently Published 2013 (Cosmic Egg Books)
ISBN: 9781782790983 - 236 pages - Paperback
World Rights Available