The Minstrel’s Bargain (Horror)

Title: The Minstrel’s Bargain | Author: Richard Ayre | Publisher: Originally published by Bloodhound Books | Pub. Date: 10/14/2017 | Pages: 430 | ASIN: B01M6X9WNO | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Triggers: Scenes of torture and violence | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Received from the author for an honest review

The Minstrel’s Bargain

‘A tale of horror, hell and heavy metal.’
Newcastle. 1988….
They say that music is the food of love. Reporter Phil Sturgess would disagree with this. He would argue that some music is the stuff of nightmares. Some music can literally tear out your soul and drag it, kicking and screaming, down to hell itself.
Sturgess loves rock music. He loves it so much he makes a living from it. But when he hears of a band called Minstrel’s Bargain, Sturgess’ life descends into horror. As the city he lives in succumbs to ever more violent and macabre episodes of grisly murders and barbarous acts of self-destruction, Sturgess begins to understand that there is something very wrong with Minstrel’s Bargain. Something very wrong indeed.
With time running out for humanity, Sturgess is threatened with an age old evil. And to stop that evil he is forced to confront the terrifying stranger who has been dogging his footsteps for months. The only question is; will Sturgess do what needs to be done? If not, the souls of millions will be destroyed.
Sturgess has to make a choice. Fight or flight? Heaven or Hell? Live or die? Whatever he chooses, it will be a Devil of a decision. – Goodreads


The Minstrel’s Bargain 

I really, really wanted to give The Minstrel’s Bargain four stars because I really did love it. A lot. It just has a few flaws that are hard to get past but with some tightening up it could be a phenomenal book.

The characters are great. I loved Sturgess and Shelley. They were a great couple and very believable. I got really attached to them. The dialogue was perfect, very casual but not rude and it wasn’t overly formal. Since this seems to be a series I’m very interested to see where it goes and spending some more time with Sturgess and Shelley. The surrounding characters were fleshed out very well, even the incidental characters.

One of the problems of The Minstrel’s Bargain was with pacing. Near the middle of the book it kind of slows down and stays on a plateau for a while. It’s detailing some of the things happening in the wake of the band but after a while you kind of want to say, “Ok, got it. Let’s get moving”. All of these incidents are well detailed and the author does a very good job of fleshing them out so you really get invested in what’s happening to them. Which is nice but it does slow the book down a bit.

One of the other problems the book has is it’s tendency to use phrases like “If he had known this would happen” a lot. Which a lot of writers do but it’s also nice not to have everything telegraphed beforehand. Another common mistake that shows up in the book is the mysterious “You’ll know when you’re ready” speeches that The Chosen Ones always seem to be a recipient of. But those are really the only flaws with it.

The author does know the music scene, especially in the eighties. Which kind of made me wonder why no one put two and two together about the band. I didn’t knock any points off for this because a lot of people might not notice it. Anyways, in the late eighties there was a huge deal about heavy metal, Satanism and bands influencing people with their music. Ozzy Osbourne’s song “Suicide Solution” got hit hard. Judas Priest got a lot of flack over their music, which really bothered them Their song “Holy Smoke” is directly in response to religious fanatics burning their records. They were also blamed for the suicide of a teenager. So I kind of find it hard to believe that no newspapers would have made the connection between the deaths and the band.

I’m also thankful for the lyrics at the beginning because I’ve found a new band to love and that gives me the happiness like you wouldn’t believe. I’m always on the lookout for more (hint, hint).

So, with the minor defects tightened up this could easily be a four or five star read and I’ll definitely be watching for the sequel.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Skulls


7 thoughts on “The Minstrel’s Bargain (Horror)

  1. Hey, just came across this. Probably not the place to post but I can’t find another way. Just wanted to say a huge thank you for your review. Really appreciate it! I take on board the criticisms and I’m pleased you mostly enjoyed it. Review sites are the lifeblood of authors, especially self published authors, and it’s always nice to know that there are people like your good self out there willing to put the work in. Thanks again, and once more I apologise if this is not the place to say this.

    1. It’s a great place for it! The only comments we are leery about are from authors who don’t approach us in a mature and thoughtful way. Thank you for stopping by to comment. I really am looking forward to the rest of the series. I love a mix of horror and music and from the book it seems that you really know your stuff when it comes to music. I loved your passage about how rock is forever, because it was absolutely perfect! \–/

      1. Thanks. I used to know the rock scene but that was a long time ago lol. I would love for you to have a look at the sequel to Minstrel’s Bargain. Should I just go through the review request sheet again? Cheers.

        1. You can either send it to us or go through the process, whichever you choose. I also loved your quote about how rock endures even though other fads come and go.

          1. Thanks! I think it’s true, and to be honest I think there is a growing audience for it now. The bands may change but the essence of rock is still around, helped by digital radio.
            I’ll fill in the request sheet for the sequel, Minstrel’s Renaissance. Thanks again.

    1. It mostly did, I just think the pacing was a bit uneven. And your description is pretty spot on with the evil pied piper image. Can I ask why you might pass on it? I’m just curious. Is it the violence shown? It’s no worry if you don’t want to answer. 🙂

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