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Minstrel's Bargain: The Prophecy Trilogy Book 1

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‘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 ‘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.


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‘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 ‘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.

57 review for Minstrel's Bargain: The Prophecy Trilogy Book 1

  1. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Music journalist Phil Sturgess is given an assignment to check out a new metal band called Minstrel’s Bargain by his editor – just a small piece for the magazine. Following their amazing performance as an opening act, the headline act’s singer and others get massacred. Turns out that’s not the only incident of violence and death surrounding the shows. A mystery begins and Sturgess is unwittingly thrown into it. Minstrel’s Bargain and their hypnotic lead singer, Kick Bizarre, have taken the music Music journalist Phil Sturgess is given an assignment to check out a new metal band called Minstrel’s Bargain by his editor – just a small piece for the magazine. Following their amazing performance as an opening act, the headline act’s singer and others get massacred. Turns out that’s not the only incident of violence and death surrounding the shows. A mystery begins and Sturgess is unwittingly thrown into it. Minstrel’s Bargain and their hypnotic lead singer, Kick Bizarre, have taken the music world by storm, rapidly moving from unknowns to chart toppers. There is gore aplenty as people fall under the mysterious spell of Minstrel’s Bargain and succumb to the desire to cause death and violence. The randomness of those incidents and the way people behave is genuinely unsettling. I had a particular favorite involving an abused husband and an electric carving knife. We also see the violence escalate dramatically to some really large scale chaos. The author effectively creates tension throughout. Phil Sturgess is a really likable character and his relationship with girlfriend Shelley is pleasant, supportive, and genuine. We get back story for Phil and how he came to love music, and it helps build an already like-able character. Along with that, he feels fear in a genuine and realistic way, the way any of us would. He gets shit scared, unlike many characters in horror fiction. He also has an air of vulnerability about him – that he is just a normal bloke. That’s endearing. As the violence and death come closer to home, you really feel for his plight. Phil finds himself in the middle of the Minstrel’s Bargain mystery, very much confused and somehow singled out as a key player in it all. His guide is an enigmatic tramp. The tramp is a fascinating character. We find out that this is a replaying of an ancient conflict. The story behind the story is really captivating but I won’t go into it to avoid spoilers. The 1980’s English setting really captures the feel of a simpler time. It took me back to my own metal concert going teenage years in the West Midlands – not quite that time period though! The energy and excitement of the Minstrel’s Bargain show enraptured the audience. I feel we’ve all had that almost spiritual experience with a live concert at some point. There are a few uniquely English references to soap opera characters, etc., but nothing that takes away from the story if you don’t catch it. Throughout the book the mystery is unraveled. Phil begins to understand his role in events and what he must do to defeat or at least stop the evil. It all leads up to an epic finale that doesn’t disappoint. This is a thoroughly enjoyable read that will take you back to 1980’s horror books, and is reminiscent of one of my favorites, Shaun Hutson.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Chris Tetreault-Blay

    Ah, the eighties rock scene. Memorable in its own right but now immortalised in fiction too with Minstrel's Bargain, a classic horror that gives weight to the claim that heavy metal is 'the Devil's music'. The story tells of music journalist Phil Sturgess who is tasked with reviewing a new band hot on the scene, by the name of Minstrel's Bargain. Soon after their first gig, chaos and terror reign throughout the city as people are killed in unfathomable (yet highly imaginative) ways. Sturgess soon Ah, the eighties rock scene. Memorable in its own right but now immortalised in fiction too with Minstrel's Bargain, a classic horror that gives weight to the claim that heavy metal is 'the Devil's music'. The story tells of music journalist Phil Sturgess who is tasked with reviewing a new band hot on the scene, by the name of Minstrel's Bargain. Soon after their first gig, chaos and terror reign throughout the city as people are killed in unfathomable (yet highly imaginative) ways. Sturgess soon finds himself in the throes of it all, all the while being followed by a mysterious tramp. Just like the nature of Minstrel's Bargain's demonic songs, this book draws you in from the start, holding you close through morbid fascination for the horrors that occur until, in the end, it owns you. Classic rock and age-old terror combine in a truly fantastic and chilling read. I cannot wait to read more from this author, if Bargain is anything to go by!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nev Murray

    "This is one of those books I class as easy reading. It’s easy to get really involved in the story to the point where you just don’t want to put the book down. It’s an uncomplicated story that is very entertaining and a perfect introduction to the writing style of Richard Ayre." See here for the full review: Minstrel's Bargain "This is one of those books I class as easy reading. It’s easy to get really involved in the story to the point where you just don’t want to put the book down. It’s an uncomplicated story that is very entertaining and a perfect introduction to the writing style of Richard Ayre." See here for the full review: Minstrel's Bargain

  4. 4 out of 5

    Loretta

    I was in the mood for horror and boy did I get it. Dark and gruesome, fascinating characters, intriguing plot, and the "showdown" ending was wicked. The 80's rock scene, demons, hell, good vs evil, mystery, suspense, murder, & mayhem all combined made this one heck of a great read. Absolutely loved Richard Ayre's story telling, writing style, and his imagination is incredible. I actually had nightmares when I read this book before going to bed and that is my kind of story! In his bio the author I was in the mood for horror and boy did I get it. Dark and gruesome, fascinating characters, intriguing plot, and the "showdown" ending was wicked. The 80's rock scene, demons, hell, good vs evil, mystery, suspense, murder, & mayhem all combined made this one heck of a great read. Absolutely loved Richard Ayre's story telling, writing style, and his imagination is incredible. I actually had nightmares when I read this book before going to bed and that is my kind of story! In his bio the author says: "Minstrel's Bargain is my first novel but I am working on another project at the minute before I intend to write the second novel of what will eventually be a trilogy concerning the demon called Minstrel." I for one am definitely looking forward to the next book!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Heidi Whurr

    [Spoiler alert] I am astonished. Downloaded this book free off amazon, expecting little of it, having chosen it because of the glowing reviews and I cannot believe how entertaining it was. I don't particularly like rock music. I don't like blood, gore or believe in god or the devil. Yet I loved it! The main character Phil Sturgess was thoroughly likeable and I felt like his mate, following him in his life while everything around him fell apart. Although Minstrel's Bargain is full of blood, gore, h [Spoiler alert] I am astonished. Downloaded this book free off amazon, expecting little of it, having chosen it because of the glowing reviews and I cannot believe how entertaining it was. I don't particularly like rock music. I don't like blood, gore or believe in god or the devil. Yet I loved it! The main character Phil Sturgess was thoroughly likeable and I felt like his mate, following him in his life while everything around him fell apart. Although Minstrel's Bargain is full of blood, gore, horror and other similar things, the kind of story I would usually turn my nose up to be honest, it got me within the first pages. The immersive style of writing and with so few words creates pictures and feelings which make me want to read more. I could not put it down. The blood and gore was a part of the story and felt relevant, not simply gratuitous. The main reasons I disliked the film 28 Days were its gratuitous violence, the cold emptiness of its tone and lack of care I had for the characters. I didn't get this with Minstrel's Bargain and this had far more violence in it. It was a joy to read, mostly. If you do not want to reveal in its blood, Richard Ayre's simple, easy to read style of writing enables you to tune out to those parts, if you so choose. It doesn't rub it in your face. The elusive baddie, Minstrel AKA Kick Bizarre captured me utterly and from the start. He wasn't over the top, at least not for the main part of the story, more furtive and coy in his wickedness, something which made me curious and want to see and learn more about him. I read on to find out what Kick Bizarre was about and cannot believe my curiosity was sustained throughout the entire book. The vague way the author describes his characters and places in his book enables to reader to formulate his own impressions of how people and places look. I saw a dark Jim Morrison in Kick Bizarre, playing and singing out his heart to possess the world and drag it to hell. The book's name is perfect. At first I didn't get it but when you read it and learn about the real bargain it all begins to make sense. Perfect! Even the minor characters had character. I remembered them, how they all looked, in spite of the fact that they hadn't been described in any depth, and I felt for them. Toby, Shelley (to a far lesser degree), Deirdre, Sturgess's parents and even Billy. Minstrel's Bargain is broken up with other character narratives as Kick Bizarre's evil takes its grip on the world and even these people raised feelings of sympathy from me. Ayre went into their stories in a remarkably short space of time. In little more than a few pages of words I cared for none characters and didn't want them to get hurt. Ayre broke away from the main narrative, in a way you'd think would be annoying. It wasn't. Each and every one of the isolated stories breathed life and realness into the main one, showing the repercussions of the main events were far and wide and could affect anyone at anytime. None was without its place. The author did seem to enjoy mentioning medicine, medical school and I wondered while I was reading if he himself had been a medical student? Or if he had applied to become one at points in his life? The story was amazing, a simple hero's journey down to its basics, not complicated in essence but totally unpredictable in the path it took to bring our hero to his knees and then to his victory. So then why did I rate this with 3 stars instead of 5? Ayre seems to be uncomfortable writing female characters. He has his males to a t and I love their bromancy, playful, bantering type dialogue. The females however are bland. Shelley sometimes came across a wet and none-existent. Her place on the page was merely to fill in a gap that would otherwise be there. She wasn't a character as such. She didn't do much or drive the story forward. Her presence merely served to reassure us that the hero wasn't gay. The only time Shelley did anything of interest was when she had a fleeting affair with Kick Bizarre and even that was glossed over. I'd have loved to have seen that scene and felt cheated when I didn't. Also, the ending didn't impress me. I knew we were building up to something epic the whole book but sadly when we reached it, it was too much. I feel as though the author lost touch with his main character and instead became immersed with describing how he himself perceived hell, demons to be and the horrors of the place. At this point Ayre didn't describe things with his usual, refreshing vagueness. It was as if he had been waiting the whole book to spill this out, saving up all of his descriptions until this very moment. They were well written descriptions and I cannot complain about the effort he went to to try and make it come alive on the page but it took me out of the story. I can see what he was doing but sadly it didn't wash. The failed ending of the film 'Insidious' comes to mind. The entire film suspended me on the edge of my seat to give me a budget Darth Maul at the end of it. The image is distracting and makes me laugh, taking me out of the fearful and suspenseful mood. He even mentioned the light sabre! I found myself getting bored while reading the end of Minstrel's Bargain and where I hadn't paid attention to the pages numbers until this point I now started to sigh and wonder how long it would take to end? Having given so much thought and care with the rest of the story, it is a shocking shame that Ayre fell short at the last hurdle. Perhaps I am being overly critical and shouldn't take this story so seriously? Yet, the tremendous skill of this new writer implores me to be honest, so he will not make this mistake again. He is far better than this ending! He is imaginative, witty, has the ability to make the bland come to life through words. Writers however must think carefully before writing the climax. Not rush it and fit it in with the rest of the story. Climax is often the place where stories fall short and it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, the only thing you remember. Damn! I feel bad for giving this 3 stars but have to I'm afraid. I myself prefer something a little more mature than cartoon demons doing what our ancestors used to natter about around campfires to scare each other and then laugh about it afterwards. And if I feel like that I'm sure others will too. That all being said, I think Ayre will go far. He has a rare talent for hooking you into his pages and getting you to invest unrestrainedly in his male characters. I eagerly await the sequel. Although I hope it isn't just a rehash of what we've already read. With the sequel I would like to learn more about the baddie, Minstrel and follow his story next.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gloria

    *Disclaimer – I received free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review* ‘Minstrel’s Bargain’ is the first in a musical horror trilogy of epic proportions. Spanning lifetimes and generations, the darkness in this story is a legendary and mythological one. Our protagonist Philip, a young music journalist with the world at his feet, becomes embroiled in the fight against this evil when his hometown of Newcastle is overrun with an obsession with a new rock band, and numerous and sporadic vi *Disclaimer – I received free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review* ‘Minstrel’s Bargain’ is the first in a musical horror trilogy of epic proportions. Spanning lifetimes and generations, the darkness in this story is a legendary and mythological one. Our protagonist Philip, a young music journalist with the world at his feet, becomes embroiled in the fight against this evil when his hometown of Newcastle is overrun with an obsession with a new rock band, and numerous and sporadic violent events. Finding the connection between these two things is the only way for Philip to stop them and save the people around him, but he is loathe to look to deeply into the shadows. Reminiscent of ‘The Dark’ by James Herbert, ‘Minstrel’s Bargain’ is a succession of insanity fueled horrifying incidents, held together by the strange events currently affecting Philip Sturgess’ life. After listening to music of the new sensation that is ‘Minstrel’s Bargain’, a band from the states that has swept the airwaves like a tsunami, listeners may find that they have dark and violent impulses that must be sated – whether it’s their friends, work mates, or even their own mother who draws their eye. Ayre’s writing is competent and enduring, giving each character just enough life to keep us interested before they are violently ripped from the pages. While cosmic horror-ish elements of the mysterious ‘tramp’ and the world which he inhabits did slow the pace of the book somewhat, overall ‘Minstrel’s Bargain’ is a novel that stretches across time, about an evil that annihilates everyone in it’s path, and the time honoured tradition of a chosen one who must fight it. And who better to take down an evil band than a music critic?

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ifor

    Good book I liked the idea behind this story. It's well worth a go. The ending for me, was a tad disappointing, I don't know why, just one of those things. Good book I liked the idea behind this story. It's well worth a go. The ending for me, was a tad disappointing, I don't know why, just one of those things.

  8. 5 out of 5

    k buyukkaraca

    Better than expected Not my usual genre so I expected it to be trashy rubbish. It was however very entertaining. Pretty bloody but fun.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    Very gory and scary!

  10. 5 out of 5

    GracieKat

    I really, really wanted to give The Minstrel's Bargain five 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 I really, really wanted to give The Minstrel's Bargain five 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. Received from the author for review consideration

  11. 5 out of 5

    Flopal

  12. 4 out of 5

    Saira Viola

  13. 4 out of 5

    jaqui williams

  14. 5 out of 5

    Anita Waller

  15. 5 out of 5

    Faisal

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Falconer

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey Elliott

  18. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa Leah Ashford

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tanja Hayden

  20. 5 out of 5

    Trish Franks

  21. 4 out of 5

    Betsy Reavley

  22. 4 out of 5

    Katie Hodgson

  23. 5 out of 5

    wayne t laundry

  24. 4 out of 5

    John Driscoll

  25. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Goodwin

  26. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Peters

  28. 4 out of 5

    Linda Redshaw

  29. 4 out of 5

    K

  30. 4 out of 5

    Wordsl Dreamsl

  31. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  32. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

  33. 4 out of 5

    Nicola Fantom

  34. 5 out of 5

    Clare

  35. 5 out of 5

    Laura Pritchard

  36. 4 out of 5

    Pam

  37. 5 out of 5

    Susan Hunt

  38. 4 out of 5

    Agnes

  39. 5 out of 5

    Emma

  40. 4 out of 5

    NormaCenva

  41. 4 out of 5

    SALLY WHITE

  42. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Hall

  43. 5 out of 5

    Sam

  44. 4 out of 5

    Louise

  45. 5 out of 5

    Kate

  46. 5 out of 5

    Alan

  47. 5 out of 5

    Claire

  48. 4 out of 5

    Christine

  49. 5 out of 5

    Betty

  50. 5 out of 5

    April

  51. 5 out of 5

    Stella Clarkson

  52. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

  53. 4 out of 5

    Helen

  54. 5 out of 5

    Diane

  55. 4 out of 5

    Kim Parker

  56. 4 out of 5

    Maxine

  57. 4 out of 5

    Bacsa

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