Tartarus Press


Figurehead is a sewn hardback book of 246 pages with silk ribbon marker, head and tailbands, and


Limited to 300 copies.


ISBN 978-1-912586-06-6


Sorry - This book is now out of print



Carly Holmes


‘Beneath her soft skin covering, my mother was once made of twigs and branches. Sometimes in the autumn I swear there was a gleam of berry in her eye, a sloe-shine peep between the thorny tangle of her lashes.’


In this debut collection of stories Carly Holmes peers into every corner of the strange fiction genre: from rural gothic through to traditional ghost stories, the uncanny, and folk horror. Mothers turn into trees when the sun goes down; Russian Dolls mourn their missing sisters in rotting houses; men offer sacrifices to the monsters who embody their inner wildness; and murderous demons protect young girls’ virginity.


Ranging from flash fiction to novelette, these stories are in turn chilling, playful, and melancholy. They resonate with an unsettling and unsettled anxiety about finding, and losing, one’s place in the world. The bonds of family and of community, both in their fracturing and their healing states, the uneasy relationship between living in the present and yearning for the past, are themes that thread their way through Figurehead. Every tale is rich with landscapes haunted by loss and longing.


Contents: ‘The Demon L’, ‘Miss Luna’, ‘Little Matrons’, ‘Sleep’, ‘Ghost Story’, ‘Dropped Stitches’, ‘Like Water Through Fingers’, ‘Maria’s Silence’, ‘Piece by Piece’, ‘The Glamour’, ‘Wich’, ‘Three for a Girl’, ‘Strumpet’, ‘Runty’, ‘Into the Woods’, ‘Alter’, ‘Before the Fairytale’, ‘Bake Day’, ‘Friday’, ‘Heartwood’, ‘Figurehead’, ‘They Tell Me’, ‘Woodside Close’, ‘A Small Life’, ‘Beneath the Skin’, ‘Rootless’. ‘Acknowledgements.’


Carly Holmes lives and writes on the banks of the river Teifi in West Wales. Her debut novel, The Scrapbook, was shortlisted for the International Rubery Book Award and her prize-winning short prose has appeared in journals and anthologies such as Ambit, The Ghastling and Black Static.

When not writing, Carly works as an editor and proof reader.


‘Figurehead’ illustration based on a photograph of a carving by Mark Bridges.



"The 26 stories in Holmes’s impressive first collection of fantasy fiction alternate between skillfully orchestrated forays into traditional supernatural horror and modern vignettes steeped in the magic of classic fairy tales." Publishers Weekly, "starred" review.

"...great heights of truly exquisite description" British Fantasy Society

"This is an impressive body of twenty-six pieces which are by turns surprising, intriguing, poignant and humorous, and always intelligent." Horla magazine. (Carly Holmes has also been interviewed here.

"[A] terrific debut, by a Welsh writer, with twenty-six stories (and a poem or two), almost half of them new. They’re weird, ghostly, dark, and often chilling. Highly recommended." Ellen Datlow, The Best Horror of the Year Vol 11



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