Gypsy Shadow Publishing . . . Quality e-Books for today; Print books forever . . .

Back to Gypsy Shadow's Homepage


Lisa Farrell


Lisa Farrell

Lisa Farrell has been writing for as long as she can remember. Much of what she writes is speculative fiction, but she tries other things from time to time. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia.

          Lisa's Blog:



New Titles by Lisa Farrell


The Cursed by Lisa Farrell The Mother by Lisa Farrell Brambles and Thorns by Lisa Farrell Holly and Ivy by Lisa Farrell


The Cursed by Lisa Farrell

Magic cannot be used without consequences, that's why you need a license to use it. But if your child was suffering because of the backlash of someone else's spell, could you stand by and do nothing? Wouldn't you want to save them, no matter what the cost?

This is a dark tale of magic, desperation and revenge.


Word Count: 7600                                    Pages to Print: 26
File Format: PDF                                    Price: $.99



The Mother by Lisa Farrell FREE READ!!!

As a child of the temple, Alandra's goal is simple: to please the Mothers who raised her. When sent on a mission, she knows she must obey without question, no matter who is to be punished or how. Until the face of a victim brings back memories she didn't know she'd lost, and changes everything.

Word Count:
Pages to Print:
File Format:
                                Price:  FREE!
     Free Download

Brambles and Thorns by Lisa Farrell

Moira's mother is long gone and her father comes and goes, but she can look after herself. So when Riana appears, trying to get involved in her life, Moira resists. She doesn't want a fairy godmother; she wants to make her own choices.

Adam doesn't know who he is. He has grown up as the plaything of some very sinister fairies, and only the occasional kindness of the three sisters has kept him alive.

Moira and Adam must both get their destinies back on track, but Riana has been doing more than giving gifts and setting people up. And even the sisters cannot claim innocence.

Word Count: 53000
Pages to Print: 169
File Format: PDF
Price: .99
Brambles and Thorns, Category Finalist in the Eric Hoffer Awards for 2013!

Holly and Ivy by Lisa Farrell

Ivy doesn’t get excited about Christmas, but her mum won’t let her spend the holiday alone and miss out on the magic. No matter that her mum has technically departed the mortal world… Witches have their ways.

Word Count: 4900
Pages to Print: 20
File Format: PDF
Price: $.99




The Cursed

     She pretended not to notice the women watching her as she approached the bier. She kept her head up and eyes forward as she passed them, her baby held carefully in the crook of her arm. Her offering was precious perfume for the chaotic god; she had to bring the best she could afford. It wasn't her fault the other women could only spare a loaf of bread or a bunch of wild flowers. Their husbands toiled in the wheat fields because they hadn't the skills to do anything else. Her man could both write and count, and so served the lord personally, up in the great house on the hill.
    That was where he was now, though the sun had almost set. The farmers were able to attend to the rites with their wives while she had to make their pledge alone. As the other women joined hands with their men and marched past her with their noses in the air, she turned to head for home. She cooed to her baby, who was waking up.
    It was a warm day, so she kept to the shade of the tall rickety houses along the street. The smell was worse in this season, as the sun released the vapours from the dung that had been walked into the cobbles of the road.
    She hated the town. Everywhere there was life, but of a very different sort to that around the country dwellings where the more fortunate lived. The sort she could have lived in, had her husband's family not been cursed with ill fortune. It would be a long time before he could afford to house her on one of the hills above the town, where the air was clear and the ground not infested with maggots or disease.
    Her husband worked all day up on that hill, and she envied him for that. She had to return now to their poky little house, with nothing but a stone wall between her and the farmers' families. At times she even envied the farmers themselves, who at least got to spend their days in the open fields beyond the town walls. They weren't encased in stone all day.
    Her baby began to cry as she closed the gate behind her. He didn't like the grate of metal as the latch dropped back into its place. Her garden was a mass of herbs and the scent greeted her. Everything she grew had a strong smell; it served to mask the stench of the town.
    She walked up the little stone path, jiggling the baby in an effort to quieten him.
    “It's all right, my sweet one,” she said, “we're home now.”
    She wished that she needn't take him out when she paid homage, but she couldn't keep a nanny for him, and it would look bad if she didn't take something to the bier in the square at least once a day. Not with her husband doing so well in comparison with the other poor souls around, and with a young child to keep safe too.
    Her key was in the bottom of her pocket; she could feel it digging into her thigh. She held the baby close with one hand and fumbled for the key with the other. Her long skirt was too tight, she couldn't get her fingers in without shifting position again. The baby was starting to thrash in her arms.
    “Stop it,” she snapped. “Give me a minute.”
    Her tone did nothing to soothe him, but when she pushed the heavy door open at last and stepped into the dark of the hall, the cool air quietened him. He whimpered softly as she moved to the living room, where she placed him on the rug before the empty grate.
    “There, that's better,” she said, smiling as she knelt before him, hoping to have a smile in return. He just stared at her with his big blue eyes, but she tickled his round tummy and was rewarded with a giggle. He was getting bigger so quickly. It hadn't been long ago she could leave him lying there as she worked and he'd be safe. Now if she turned her back for a moment he would crawl off somewhere more interesting.
    “Are you hungry?” she asked as he reached for her. “Already?”
She gathered him in her arms and sat in the chair by the fireplace to feed him. She had worked hard today, washing and baking. She hoped he'd sleep after his feed, and give her time to rest herself.


    She woke to his wailing and sighed. Her head hurt, as it generally did when her sleep was interrupted. Her husband rolled over to face her and mumbled something, but she hushed him. She would get up to quiet the baby and let him sleep.
    Her candle had burnt down while she slept. Moonlight highlighted the cracks in the shutters and allowed her to see her way to the cot by the shades of grey. The baby's cries were angry and urgent, as though he was in pain. He was kicking his legs in the air as he shrieked, and his tiny fists were clenched. She reached in to lift him out, but before her fingers touched him she could feel the heat radiating from his body. She was afraid to touch him. She put a finger to his wrinkled forehead and yelped at the burning of his skin.
    “Mark!” she cried. “Get up! Something’s wrong.”
    She didn’t try to lift him for fear of dropping him, so stood uselessly looking down at his face. Her husband stumbled to her side and blinked down at the screaming child.
    “Maybe he just needs feeding?”
    “He’s too hot, Mark, feel him. I think . . . I think someone has brought the curse on us.”
    Mark put his hand to the baby’s forehead and the little hands latched onto his bare arm. The sickly smell of burnt hair began to fill the room but Mark didn’t move.
    “Fetch the doctor,” he said.
    She spared little thought for the shame of having to go herself, but hitched her nightdress up and ran barefoot through the street to the doctor’s house. A learned man who came at no small price, his house had a wall higher than her own. She clambered over the gate, for her hands shook too much to open it, and hammered on the door.
    She was shivering by the time he opened it to her, but couldn’t feel the cold. She could only blurt out that they needed him before she broke into sobs. He came with her at once, throwing a coat over his dressing gown.
They could hear the baby’s cries from halfway down the street, and she cried harder to think that his little throat must be raw with screaming.
    “He’s burning up,” Mark said as they entered the bedroom. “What’s wrong with him, Doctor?”
    He had detached his arm from the child and lit a candle. She could see red welts on his arm where he’d been gripped. The doctor hurried to see into the cot, and swore.
    “What is it?” she asked, and gasped as she peered over his shoulder. The child’s face was scarlet, and his eyes, open wider than she’d ever seen them, were bright yellow.
    “Oh, gods help us!” she said. “What’s happening to my baby?”
The doctor turned to her, his lips a tight line and his brow furrowed.
    “I can’t help you,” he said. “It’s the curse. Only magic can save him from magic.”
    “No!” she shook her head, and her husband caught her trembling hands before she could grab the doctor by the collar. “There are no magicians in this town! There must be something we can do.”
    “I’m sorry, Madam, but this is no natural sickness. Do you want me to inform the witch-finders?”
    “No,” Mark said. “That won’t help him. We must employ a magician to redirect this curse.”
    “Someone has cursed our child,” she growled at him, “and we can’t let that go unpunished. No one has a license in this town. They must be brought to justice!”
    “One man has a license,” Mark said. “Our lord. And I shall go to him at once.”
    “Be sure that you do,” the doctor said. “The child will burn out; he doesn’t have long.”
    “Wait!” she shrieked, breaking from Mark’s grip to follow the doctor from the room. “I beg you, Doctor. Send for the witch-finders.”
    “As you wish, Madam.”        Back to The Cursed

The Mother
     “We are all proud of you, Alandra,” the Mother said. “You have learned your lessons well.”
    “Thank you, Mother,” she said, bowing low and taking hold of the holy skirts to kiss them. The feel of the rough, bleached fabric against her lips was familiar and comforting.
    “You performed well on the last mission, and we think that the time has come to send you on a task of your own. Do you feel ready to face the world with no one by your side?”
    “I know that the Great Mother will be watching, Mother,” she said, unable to keep the smile from her face. She kept her eyes cast down. “I will attempt whatever task you see fit to give me.”
    “Good, child.”
    She felt the Mother's bony fingers brush her cheek, and images began to flick through her mind like memories. She saw the house they wanted her to hit, along with the route she must take to find it.
    “It is up to you, child, how you bring their fate upon them. But the Great Mother has made Her choices and tonight you must be Her instrument. However you do it, be sure that Her will is made known.”
    Alandra nodded, the smile still upon her face. She waited, listening to the slow, sliding footsteps of the Mother shuffling away across the marble floor. She flexed her hands, stretching her fingers, then clenched them into a fist, digging her long nails into her palms. Only when the Mother was definitely gone did she lift her head. The room was empty, but for the crates stacked against one wall, obscuring a frieze of the Great Mother defeating the crocodile god of a nearby island, some old enemy of her people.
    Alandra would not be carrying any more crates today, she would leave the task for some other child of the Great Mother to complete. She had to prepare herself for the work ahead. This would be her first solo mission, the first time the Mothers trusted her to go out into the world without some elder as an escort. She had done everything she could to show them how useful she could be, and now she finally had a chance to prove her competence.
    She would pray. She left the storage room, her bare feet quiet as she walked with practised care. It was mid-afternoon and supplicants still lingered in the temple, waving incense sticks and muttering before the image of the Great Mother. Her statue was made of white marble like the floor, and looked as cold. Her expression was meant to be serene, but it looked merely unfocussed to Alandra, as though the Goddess gazed uncaring over her people and did not see them. Her six arms were spread out, her palms cupped to receive candles and offerings. It had once been one of Alandra's jobs to clean and polish them when night fell and the temple closed, but she had given that job onto another, younger child as soon as she was able.
    She passed the statue and went through the dark doorway behind to the inner sanctum, where only the Mothers and children of the temple were allowed to go. She passed through the room containing the Casket, said to house stars that had dropped from the sky, sent by the Great Mother to be made into powerful weapons of war. Beautiful shells had been arranged around it, gifts from the waters surrounding the island, the waters that kept their enemies at bay for much of the year.
                                                                                                 Back to The Mother 
Brambles and Thorns

Moira cut across the field, her bike rattling beneath her. She went through a particularly large cow-pat and knew her jeans had been splattered. Anne’s mum would probably insist she change into a pair of Anne’s clean, expensive jeans. They would be too short and would show her ankles, which she’d not shaved since last week. That woman’s kindness always led to humiliation.

The sky was thick with clouds and a feather-light mist was rising, making everything dim and grey. By the time she came home she would need her lights, but the batteries were running low. Maybe she would leave them off and speed silently through the darkness, a creature of the night. Of course, if she ended up in the river, then it would be her fault.

She had not seen a soul since she had reached the river path, and usually it was busy. Maybe the cold was keeping people at home, or in their cars. Moira sniffed hard; the cold made her nose run. She didn’t want to slow down to dig a tissue from her pocket. It wasn’t much farther to the bridge, and the light—not that she was scared of the half-dark.

Someone was standing on the bridge, right in the middle, right in her way. Moira flicked at her bell a couple of times as she approached, but the figure just stood there, a dark form under the light. Moira was forced to stop, clenching her brakes, and found herself face to face with a woman who looked more than a little crazy. She had a huge hooded black shawl pulled around her, over a humpback. Her face and hair were white, shining out from the darkness under her hood. Her eyes doing the rabbit in headlights stare.

“Excuse me,” Moira said, dismounting.

The woman didn’t move so Moira pushed past her, and the woman let out a yelp of surprise. Moira fought the urge to apologise, or look back. She hopped back onto her bike and got away as fast as she could.


“Hey, Morra,” Anne’s mum said. “Come on in!”

If the jeans were noticed, they weren’t mentioned. Moira followed her into the house, gritting her teeth and politely refusing the many offers of food. She used to think Mrs. Harris pushed food on her because she thought she wasn’t fed properly at home. She had soon realised it was because Anne was too fussy to eat any of her cooking, so she had no other child to give it to.

“Is Anne upstairs, Mrs. Harris?”

“Call me Sally, please, Morra,” the woman said, her head bobbing up and down like a mother hen’s as she spoke. “Yes, she’s upstairs, but be sure to knock, I think Darren’s still with her.”

“Darren Marsters?”


Mrs. Harris’s eyes gleamed. He had obviously charmed her. She obviously didn’t know about his reputation.

“Maybe I’d better come another time.”

“Oh no, dear, she’s expecting you. Go on up.”

Moira suppressed a shudder. If Anne was expecting her she was probably in for a scene. Maybe she should stall a bit longer, let Darren call Anne’s bluff. How long could it take to undress, given how little Anne ever wore?

Moira climbed the stairs slowly, her socked feet treading quietly on the faded flowery carpet, her hand gripping the polished brass handrail. At the top she paused, listening for clues. She heard Anne’s patently cute giggle, but that didn’t tell her anything.

She stood in front of the door and examined the pretty, painted sign. Welcome to Annabelle’s Room had been done in swirly blue letters, tiny flowers curling from them. The door was white and plain, but there were sticky marks where Anne had taped posters to it in the past.

Moira held the doorknob in her palm. The brass was cold. She wondered how many hands had held it in the past. Had it been here before the Harrises moved in? Or had Mrs. Harris insisted on changing everything, so it was all clean and new?

She opened the door without knocking and found Anne and Darren on the bed, fumbling at each other, still mostly dressed. Darren was topless and he seemed genuinely embarrassed, tumbling from the bed and retrieving his shirt from the floor. Anne just giggled.

“Your dad didn’t let you fit that lock yet?” Moira asked, forcing a smile.

“Not until I’m sixteen,” Anne said, lying back against the pillows. Moira could see a red silk bra through her open blouse. She wasn’t known for wearing blouses, but buttons slowed boys down.


When Darren had gone they laughed about him, and Anne told her all the secrets he’d spilled. There was nothing too incriminating, but Anne loved gossip in all its forms and was enjoying herself so much that she made herself breathless with talking, her cheeks turning a delicate shade of pink.

Moira pretended to listen, until Anne paused long enough for Moira to bring up her idea. She hadn’t come just to talk about Darren.

“I found this,” Moira said, producing a crumpled page from her pocket. “I thought it might be fun to have a go.”
Anne was frowning as she took the page, which Moira had ripped from a magazine, but her brow smoothed as her eyes skimmed the words. She smiled, and her eyes lifted from the page and met Moira’s.

“Unlock the secrets of your destiny with candle magic,” Anne said. “A bit melodramatic isn’t it? And they’ve spelt magic wrong.”

“Since when do you know how to spell?” Moira teased, plucking the page from Anne’s hand. “You only do well in English because Mister Rangle fancies you.”

“Ew!” Anne shrieked, jumping to her feet and dancing about as though the thought of Mister Rangle was a bug to be shaken off.

“Maybe his initials will appear in the water, and I’ll know you like him too!” Moira said, laughing. Anne grabbed a pillow from the bed and began hitting her round the head with it. Moira collapsed, but pulled Anne down too. They ended up in a giggling heap on the floor.

“Whose initials would you like to see?” Anne asked her.

Moira pushed her off.

“Come on,” Moira said, “I can’t stay long. Let’s do this. Please?”


Moira lifted the candle slowly over the bowl. She knew that candlelight was supposed to be flattering, but she still felt self-conscious with Anne watching her. She tipped the candle and let three large drops of wax drip into the water. The wax solidified at once, and she waited for the pieces to stop spinning so she could interpret the shapes they made.

Then it would be Anne’s turn, and they would both know who Anne was destined to be with. Or so the magazine claimed. Moira took a breath to say the words, but before she spoke, something changed. The light of the candle dazzled her, the darkness beyond it made her feel suddenly alone. She was aware of Anne talking, but the girl sounded far away. Moira’s ears seemed full of water, the world was receding and all she could see were the wax drops, still spinning round and round. Candlelight flickered on the rippling water, streaking it red. The red faded to pink and Moira saw ribbons fluttering. There was a dark shadow in the middle of everything, the shape of a person, surrounded by tiny lights.

“You shall have him,” whispered a voice by her ear. “He shall be your handsome prince.”

Moira screamed and the light came on. Anne was standing with her hand on the switch, staring at her like she was on fire.
Back to Brambles and Thorns
Holly and Ivy

Ivy slammed the door and let out a stream of curses that would have made her old mother proud. Her commute was bad enough without the Christmas shoppers clogging up the tube. She kicked her shoes off and stomped into the kitchen to find something to dull the memory of her day. Half a glass worth of white was still in the fridge, but it just left her feeling cold. Fergus padded into the kitchen and sat between her and the door.

“All right, I’ll feed you,” she said. “No need to give me that look.”

Fergus’ tail twitched as he watched her pour dry food into his bowl. He seemed to be judging her. Mum had always spoilt him, fed him carefully cooked chicken and fish. Now he had to make do with brown flaky lumps that smelt faintly of mouldy cheese.

“Tell you what, I’ll shop tomorrow,” she said, “get you some posh cat food, stuff they advertise on TV.”

Fergus ignored her and wandered off towards the bedroom. He had heard such promises before. Ivy shivered, but she could tell from Fergus’ behaviour that she was alone in the flat. She would have a hot shower; that might cheer her up. It was the weekend now. Hooray.

The shower wasn’t enough to warm her. She turned the water up as hot as it would go and scrubbed herself briskly. She felt like she was turning into some sort of ice queen, she’d been alone so long. She didn’t have any close friends in London, and as for men . . .

Ivy wrapped a towel around herself and scowled at the wet footprints leading to her bedroom. She’d know the shape of those gnarled toes anywhere.

“Not fair, Mum,” she muttered, following the prints. “I was naked in there, funnily enough.”

There was a sprig of holly on her bed, and Fergus was purring contentedly on her pillow.

“What do you want?” Ivy asked, picking up the holly to examine it. Three juicy red berries shone in the light. “You think I should decorate? Christmas doesn’t cheer me, so if you’re trying to make me feel better, just let it drop.”

Something just out of her line of vision fell from the bookcase to her left and hit the floor with a thump. Ivy jumped despite herself, startling Fergus. He lost his usual composure, leaping from the bed and streaking from the room.

Ivy’s lips were clamped shut as she retrieved the book from the floor. She was determined not to speak ill to the dead. “Ha ha,” she muttered, replacing her mother’s old copy of A Christmas Carol on the shelf. “I get it, I’m Scrooge. Now I’m going to bed, so leave me alone.” She donned her nightdress a little self-consciously and climbed into bed. As she closed her eyes she thought she saw the curtains flutter, though the window was firmly closed.

“‘Night, mum,” she whispered.

It wasn’t until she was buying cat food the next morning that the thought occurred to her. Perhaps her mother didn’t want the flat decorated. Maybe she was nudging Ivy to remember her. This had always been her mother’s favourite time of year. Her only daughter could surely take the time to pay her respects.

“All right, mum,” she said, though she was alone. “I’ll come see you today.”

She hurried home to feed the cat, and then set off at once. Every minute that passed seemed to make her little mission seem more urgent, until she was fighting the urge to speed on the icy roads. She didn’t drive often these days, but being on the familiar roads seemed to erase the last few months of her life and she almost forgot her destination was the graveyard, not the old house.

She parked behind the church and stepped out of the car to find herself knee-deep in frosty nettles. Thankful for her jeans, Ivy quick-marched back up the road. She knew where the holly grew round here, and though there probably wouldn’t be any berries left now she could take some for her mum. It was the thought that counted.

The world felt bigger here, where fields stretched away on each side and the sky was wide. So different from her new home. The air smelt so clear, and tasted like ice water at the back of her throat. She reached the line of trees and slowed her pace, looking for the bush they’d walked to together, years ago.

Berries shone. She couldn’t believe it; the bush was full of them.

“Looks untouched, doesn’t it?”

She started, her hand flying to her chest of its own accord. A man was standing between the trees, a tall, dark, handsome stranger. If her mum had somehow set this up, she might have just got it right for once.

“Oh, sorry,” she said, quickly stuffing her hands into her pockets. She didn’t want to come across like a Jane Austen heroine. “I didn’t see you there.”

The man stepped out of the trees. Ivy took in his deep brown eyes, square chin and broad, muscular shoulders. For a moment the silence was awkward.

“Picking holly?” he asked, pulling a small pair if shears from his pocket. “Me too.”

“Well there’s plenty for two here,” she said, laughing unnecessarily. “I don’t need much anyway, and I’ll be out of your way.”

She hadn’t thought to bring any shears. She pulled at a small sprig, but it wouldn’t break. She felt her face growing hot and red.

“Here.” The man leant past her and snipped the sprig free. She gasped as his hand brushed hers, and a sharp tingle passed up her arm.

Back to Holly and Ivy