Erik Hofstatter returns with the haunting Punishment By Hope. Kendall Reviews are delighted to be able to offer you the chance to win one of two signed paperbacks. All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning is to follow the simple instructions on the Kendall Reviews Pinned Tweet.
The competition is open worldwide and will run for one week (Closes Midnight GMT,14th Feb 2021). Winners will be announced by Erik on the 15th February 2021. Good Luck.
Now please find a wonderful excerpt from Punishment By Hope, a story that best-selling author Tim Lebbon describes as “A dreamlike seascape of desperate wishes, and a nightmarish vision of love’s life and death, this is a powerful, haunting tale.”
Punishment By Hope: Erik Hofstatter
Her face was a broken mirror of rust-tinged waves. Nim swam through her eyes and mouth, breathing in angry droplets. She hissed at him with each stroke. The coppery taste of menses soaked his tongue. He stopped and peered across his scarred shoulder, bouncing like a stranded buoy. This was his life. His penance. To swim and carry. He knew the distance by heart. A tarnished box floated in a mariner’s net tied around his waist. No other man on the island could survive her burning rage. His body ached. Not from exhaustion, but from desire to touch her. The sea smelled of freshly torn hymen skin. He pushed on, watery palms slapping him with perverted memories. Sirilo paced the shore’s end as wails of forsaken daughters sang in far-flung caverns. Nimlesh shut his blood-filled eyes.
Another sleepless night. Tomorrow’s promise fed him hope. He’d catch a glimpse of her again—if only for a darkened moment. He stumbled and crossed jagged rocks decorated with blackened tongues. The giant half-lizard observed, his reduced eyes calculating patience. His skin changed shades from red to orange and back to black in the bright star-fire that burned behind him. Nimlesh untied the net and removed its contents. “You know, one of these days you’ll tell me what’s inside.” Sirilo flashed his little teeth and spoke in a human speech. “Does it matter? Collecting these tins is the only way you get to see her.” Nimlesh bit his lip. It still tasted like menstrual tsunami. “What if I wanted to speak to her?” “Impossible. She tosses, you fetch. That’s how it’s always been.”
His heart drummed a fast rhythm in protest—but Sirilo was right. I swim and collect. Nothing more. But your eyes. They glow like wet stars. “Stay behind the line and focus on your task. Get some sleep.” Nimlesh chewed on words spiced with vexation and resentment. He snatched his empty net and sauntered to the grave of the unknown mariner where eternal fire burned. The flames narrated a story if he listened hard enough. But not tonight. The grieving ship’s solitary figure consumed all his thoughts.
She was short, but fierce. The wind tossed her hair like red sails. What if the albatross line is your bluff? A chance to speak to her was all he hungered for. To remind her how he felt. Maybe if I shouted, the wind lords would deliver my words. But would you reply? Nimlesh thought about her eyes—an aquamarine prison for his heart. You’re my sentence and I am yours. Gruelling ocean labour tensed his shoulders and he fidgeted inside a structure built from whale bones. The daughters of promiscuous mothers still sang an agonizing chorus in the caverns above. Their voices ferried no words—only melodies, conducted by splintered souls. Their tears crashed and echoed on the glass cold ground. The sky was a dying bruise. There were no clocks—only passing moments. He wished for the hand of sleep to pluck him far from these strange waters.
Praise for Punishment By Hope
“Punishment by Hope is a wildly poetic and surreal odyssey through sexual obsession, murder and retribution, set in a bioluminescent Dantesque world of fiery and aquatic horrors.” – Barbie Wilde, Author (The Venus Complex, Voices of the Damned) and Actress (Hellbound: Hellraiser II)
“A dreamlike seascape of desperate wishes, and a nightmarish vision of love’s life and death, this is a powerful, haunting tale.” – Tim Lebbon, Author of Eden
“Punishment by Hope is a vivid and erotic fantasy mystery. Hofstatter weaves a memorable spell.” – James Bennett, Author of Chasing Embers
“Punishment by Hope ebbs and flows in its oceanic imagery, giving you a taste of something you might want before churning in gore or the grotesque and then withdrawing back into its own uncanny depths like some kind of foamy blood tide. And like the vast ocean, the tale it spins is at once visceral, lustrous and literally unfathomable.” – Michael Arnzen, 4 x Bram Stoker Award-winning Horror Author
“Punishment by Hope is an erotic, splattery fever dream of a story. It gets to the core of what makes the very best horror. Underlying both is the sense that the universe isn’t orderly or benign, but rather chaotic and malicious.” – Tim Waggoner, Bram Stoker Award-winning Author of Winter Box
Punishment By Hope
Nim is a master swimmer floating on waves of wet hope. His penance is to swim and carry, but his heart is held onboard a grieving ship in the aquamarine prison of her eyes.
She is his sentence and he is hers. Will a mysterious humanoid jellyfish reunite the star-crossed lovers?
Erik Hofstatter is a dark fiction writer, born in the wild lands of the Czech Republic. He roamed Europe before subsequently settling on English shores, studying creative writing at the London School of Journalism. He now dwells in Kent, where he can be encountered consuming copious amounts of mead and tyrannizing local peasantry. His work appeared in various magazines and podcasts around the world such as Morpheus Tales, Crystal Lake Publishing, The Literary Hatchet, Sanitarium Magazine, Wicked Library, Manor House Show, and The Black Room Manuscripts Volume IV. Other works include Katerina, Rare Breeds, The Crabian Heart, and Toroa.