Love, death and everything evil and bloody


Martin Paytok
Love, death and everything evil
Mystery Press 2024

Rabenštejn, a lonely castle reminiscent of the Victorian era in its appearance, located in the Krkonoše hills near the town with the characteristic name Katův Hrob, recently witnessed the funeral of its longtime owner. Because of it and the subsequent reading of the will, almost all living relatives of the Raven family come to it. The old family residence, surrounded by deep forests and an old family cemetery, is thus to become a witness to future events as well. These will be as gloomy as the coming night.

The reading of the will and the subsequent division of the property can check many a family. And it won’t be any different for the Ravens. It soon becomes clear that even their mutual relations are not just idyllic, and old and new grudges surface. After all, the author devotes the first hundred pages to introducing individual family members, outlining their mutual relationships and characters, delving a little into their past, and considering how many family members gathered in Rabenštejn, this space is really minimal. In this part, and actually several times after, I as a reader found the family tree of the Havrans very useful, which is very tastefully displayed on the front cover of the book. After all, there are exactly a dozen family members. And to the (un)lucky thirteen, the number of participants is completed by the rather peculiar butler Kašpar, who has rather strange tastes.

So, here we have a lonely, hard-to-reach, sometimes gloomy, old house surrounded by a cemetery. A dark and frosty night, with the worst blizzard in recent years. A family that probably hides some skeleton in the closet, and a group of survivors, in which they are definitely not all burning with undying love for each other. The scenery is perfect, the actors are introduced after a hundred pages, and so the play can begin on those ten little black girls mentioned under the annotation of the book. And the game is definitely great. Well, when you pull the one with the dead woman clutching an hourglass in a skeletal hand from a deck of tarot cards three times in a row, it’s fairly clear that you’re running out of time.

Photo: Lubomír Kupčík, with the permission of Mystery Press

Love, death and everything evil

At first, Martin Paytok sprinkles hints about the secrets and oddities of the family here and there, slowly building an atmosphere of apprehension that turns into pure horror when the dwindling members of the Raven family discover who is against them and who has made Rabenstein a bloodbath. Even with the revealed identity of the blood monster, the story works very well and it is difficult for the reader to guess who is next in line. And that’s good too.

The wind roared in the treetops, whistled among the gravestones, and howled in the bowels of the tombs.

I also really enjoyed the language in which Martin Paytok tells his story. The book is full of turns of phrase and sentences that are simply pleasing to the eye and very easy to read. It’s been a long time since someone used the phrase “as if it wasn’t bubbling” in the right case. Behind the walls of the castle there is a lot of chatter all the time. And this is just another proof of how pleasantly the author plays with the native language. All of them therefore and after which they are pleasing to the eye and fit into the atmosphere of the story. I would just complain just enough, there were too many for my taste. But that’s just a small blemish on the beauty of an otherwise excellent text.

Love, death and everything evil it will definitely impress with its processing and graphic design, which was taken care of by Lubomír Kupčík. The title illustration depicts the castle itself in an original way and suggests that the reader will enjoy something with sharp teeth. In the same way, the original irregular cut tempts you to flip through the pages. But be careful here, I definitely do not recommend it, because every death has its own illustration in the book, and the reader would be deprived of who jumps off. Likewise, definitely save looking at the back cover (if that’s the right term) until after you’ve finished the book. There is a similar, only slightly bloodier, family tree as on the front cover.

For a book that presents a relatively classic story scheme, it is very important whether the author can add any superstructure to the story. And this one worked. Martin Paytok incorporated exciting scenes and several very surprising moments into his story, one of which he kept until the very end. We can only look forward to his next literary venture.

Rating: 80%


Funerals are usually mournful affairs. But for the Havran family, the death of the bitter patriarch Isaiah means more relief – especially in the area of ​​financial problems. The aloof old man has amassed wealth during his lifetime that anyone would be willing to kill for, and the only condition for obtaining it is the necessity of spending the night at a remote mansion high in the Giant Mountains.

Therefore, Izayáš’s relatives from near and far begin to gather at the Rabenštejn castle, and you can probably imagine how smoothly such a meeting goes. And that’s before darkness falls and the first of them inexplicably (and inexplicably bloody) dies. And then another. And another and another.

While everyone tries to save their necks, Isaiah’s niece’s adopted daughter Agatha tries to find out who is behind the murders. Is it someone present, or do they all have a satisfactory alibis and there is someone else in the castle with the Havranovs…or something?

Ten little black girls through the lens of Guillermo del Toro. Nightmares will haunt you long after you finish reading!


Issued by: Mystery Press
Cover: Lubomír Kupčík
Release date: 26/02/2024
ISBN: 978-80-7588-572-2
Number of pages: 376
Binding: bound

Author Homepage: (Henry’s SF&F website)

The article is in Czech

Tags: Love death evil bloody


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