ariadne, i love you
Jude is dragged out of Alt Country obscurity, out of the dismal loop of booze and sadness baths and the boundless, insatiable loneliness, to scrub up and fly to Australia for a last, desperate comeback tour. Hardly worth getting out of bed for—and he wouldn’t, if it weren’t for Coreen.
But Coreen is dead. And, worse than that, she’s married. Jude’s swan-song tour becomes instead a terminal descent, into the sordid past, into the meaning hidden in forgotten songs, into Coreen’s madness diary, there to waken something far worse than her ghost.
Praise for ariadne, i love you
Publishers Weekly – “Ashley-Smith (The Attic Tragedy) uses this eerie, ambiguous ghost story to explore the fraught relationship between artist and muse and the thin line between love and obsession… The result is multilayered, atmospheric, and thought-provoking.”
Aurealis Magazine, #141 – “Sensual and deadly, enticingly sinister.”
Nathan Ballingrud, author of North American Lake Monsters and Wounds: Six Stories from the Border of Hell – “Ariadne, I Love You, by J. Ashley-Smith, is my favorite kind of horror story: intimate, whip-smart, and relentless. The protagonist is in many ways a terrible human being: selfish, directionless, blind to the needs of others—and totally sympathetic, at least to this jaded reader. He is also doomed, which comes as no surprise. The mechanism of that doom is a surprise, though, and a delightfully awful one. More stories like this, please.”
Kaaron Warren, winner of the Shirley Jackson Award – “Ashley-Smith makes the reader feel like a sick voyeur in Ariadne, I Love You, as he takes us on a road trip through a diseased, obsessed, restless, haunted soul. Highly recommended.”
Robert Hood, award-winning author of Peripheral Visions: The Complete Ghost Stories, and Fragments of a Broken Land: Valarl Undead – “J. Ashley-Smith has created a superbly written tale of love and haunted passion, with a poetic ambiance that leaves this reader both sympathetic and unsettled.”
Angela Slatter, award-winning author of All the Murmuring Bones – “A haunting tale of desire and madness and what might—or might not be—love. Ashley-Smith weaves a compelling story of music, bone, and nightmare.
Lynda E. Rucker, award-winning author of The Moon Will Look Strange and You’ll Know When You Get There – “Fallen-on-hard-times musician Jude has always loved Coreen, even when she was his best mate’s girl, even after she was dead. But this is no conventional love story nor is it a conventional horror story. J. Ashley-Smith has an eye for the right precise detail that illuminates characters who seem to live and breathe well beyond the bounds of his evocative prose. Ariadne, I Love You is a powerful novella of enigmas and delusion and madness, of the lies we tell others and ourselves, and of the darkness at the heart of love. This is the kind of oblique, unsettling fiction I’m always looking for and too rarely find; I highly recommend it.”
Simon Strantzas, author of Nothing is Everything – “J. Ashley-Smith deftly blurs the lines between real and nightmare, love and obsession, in this haunting novella of aged rock stars, unrequited devotion, and the unassailable power that the past has over us. In here, guilt, grief, and regret leave an opening for worse things to tempt us in the buzzing darkness. You’ll feel Ariadne, I Love You whether you want to or not.”
J.S. Breukelaar, author of The Bridge – “A nuanced and numinous rock ’n’ roll Gothic about the distances—in time and space—that a broken heart will go to terrifyingly reassemble. You might begin J. Ashley-Smith’s condensed riff on the abyss of student longing, artistic burnout and unresolved grief, on the train. You almost certainly will continue reading while stirring the pasta and eating it, and halfway through your meal you will look up from your second glass of wine and wonder where the hell you are.”
Keith Rosson, author of Folk Songs For Trauma Surgeons and The Mercy of the Tide – “Ashley-Smith understands that ghost stories are, most importantly and at their core, about people, and with Ariadne, I Love You, he’s crafted a haunting, ambiguous, confident and ghastly tale of eternal love.”
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the attic tragedy
Sylvie never called them ghosts, but that’s what they were—not that George ever saw them herself. The new girl, Sylvie, is like a creature from another time, with her old-fashioned leather satchel, her white cotton gloves and her head in the clouds. George watches her drift around the edge of the school playing fields, guided by inaudible voices.
When George stands up for Sylvie, beating back Tommy Payne and his gang of thugs, it brings her close to the ethereal stranger; though not as close as George would have liked. In the attic of Sylvie’s father’s antique shop, George’s scars will sing and her longing will drive them both toward a tragedy as veiled and inevitable as Sylvie’s whispering ghosts.
Shirley Jackson Award winner
Praise for the attic tragedy
Publishers Weekly – “Ashley-Smith debuts with a gorgeous, melancholy coming-of-age novella about girlhood and ghosts. … This eerie, ethereal tale marks Ashley-Smith as a writer to watch.”
Aurealis Magazine, #129 – “A tale of loss, trauma and identity, masterfully told. Horror and thriller elements underpin an unsettling coming-of-age story … Ashley-Smith’s style is gripping, his structure clear and considered. The Attic Tragedy’s multifaceted nature and effective storytelling has far-reaching appeal.”
Brian Evenson, author of Song for the Unraveling of the World – “A beautifully written book about desire, pain, and loss, haunted by glimmerings of the supernatural. The Attic Tragedy manages to do more by intimation and suggestion with its 53 pages than most novels manage to accomplish over their several hundred.”
Kaaron Warren, award-winning author of Into Bones Like Oil and Tide of Stone – “J. Ashley-Smith doesn’t put a foot wrong in this chilling, devastating story. The Attic Tragedy is hard to read in the best possible way.”
Alan Baxter, award-winning author of Devouring Dark and Served Cold – “Lyrical and melancholy, The Attic Tragedy is a dark and poignant study of what it means to love and to be loved, to lose and to be lost. Ashley-Smith conjures a compelling, haunting tale that will stay with you like a ghost long after the last page is read.”
John Langan, author of Children of the Fang and Other Genealogies – “J. Ashley-Smith’s stunning The Attic Tragedy follows the friendship between two young outcasts, Sylvie and George, as they navigate the treacherous years of high school and after. With piercing, clear-eyed sympathy, Ashley-Smith depicts a relationship centered on the secrets of the living and the dead. Sylvie knows and voices the histories of the spirits attached to the objects in her father’s antique shop; George wrestles with the emotions raging within her and which find their outlet on her skin. Acutely observed, frequently surprising, this is fiction of the highest order.”
Sarah Read, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Bone Weaver’s Orchard and Out of Water – “The Attic Tragedy is full of heart and darkness, both endearing and terrifying. These pages open like a raw wound. You don’t read this story. It bleeds into you, and it leaves a scar on the way in.”
Eric J. Guignard, award-winning author and editor, including That Which Grows Wild and Doorways to the Deadeye – “The Attic Tragedy is beautifully engrossing, elegant, and lavish in the traditions of ornate architecture: J. Ashley-Smith’s exquisite words are its sculpted stone blocks; his layers of resonant emotions their subtle coloring treatments; his backdrop of ghosts those detailed flourishes that drive all expressive design to be admired for impression and refinement.”
Lee Murray, three-time Bram Stoker Award nominee and author of Into the Ashes – “Softly shrouded in smoke and shadow, Ashley-Smith’s The Attic Tragedy cuts close to the bone. Startling, pointed, and powerful.”
Aaron Dries, author of House of Sighs and A Place for Sinners – “With The Attic Tragedy, J. Ashley-Smith proves himself an elemental writer of great talent. Emotions are bushfires. Foggy mountains shadow streets where violence festers. Dust, the microbes of otherness, settle over empty rooms that are never as empty as you think they are. This attic is a place of patchwork-detail where characters are forced to question their legacies, and I was held captive by their frightening revelations. A moody, melancholic read that I can’t recommend highly enough.”
Seb Doubinsky, author of Missing Signal and The Invisible – “J. Ashley-Smith’s short novella, The Attic Tragedy, is a sharp and delicate jewel that both shines beautifully and cuts deeply. Focusing on the friendship of two girls, it slowly unveils a deep sense of strangeness and dread, both puzzling and fascinating. Masterly crafted, it will please all lovers of Shirley Jackson, who will be thrilled to find again this mix of humanity, beauty and cruelty.”
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The Black Massive, Dimension6 (October, 2020)
In Memoriam, Aurealis Magazine #131 (June 2020)