Allyson Bird

Writer of the Weird


Wine & Rank Poison

Press, Reviews & Blurbs

From the introduction  by Joe. R. Lansdale:

‘She reminds me of a few writers, and it’s my guess that it’s coincidence, because the reminding is not due to style. But, she shares a way of thinking with such inventive writers as Philip Jose Farmer and Avram Davidson. Both could take simple ideas and turn them into unique stories that defied classification. They were brave… 

It takes a certain knack partly learned, partly inborn, to write these kind of stories, these brave ventures into the dark lands where creeks of blood flow and bodies hang from trees. I’m speaking metaphorically, of course. Not about the content of Allyson’s, or anyone else’s stories. But it’s an attitude that can’t be faked, can’t be borrowed. It can only be stimulated by hard work. 

So let me repeat: as a writer, Ms. Bird is her own thing. She has a kind of nuthouse sanity, if you will; she believes in her own writerly psychosis. She is a writer of organized chaos. Her work is Halloween candy with razor blades in it. Fairy Tales with the flesh and blood and bones and viscera in them. Her skill is sneaky and exciting, and everything a reader could want from a good story.

“The Twelfth Chair” and “Atalanta” will show you right off what I mean…

            I envy you the reading of this book.'


Pete Tennant. Black Static

'Ilf and Petrov are referenced in second story ‘The Twelfth Chair’ (there seem to be links planted within several of these stories to other narratives within the book) and was an altogether more substantial outing. A man wanders the streets of Odessa in search of his estranged mail order bride, but as events become clearer, almost in direct opposition to the way in which Odessa is lost in sea fog, a picture of an abusive personality slowly emerges, seen in subtle comments about how thin he likes his women to be and his use of ‘glamour’ images. The end result is a creepy and atmospheric variation on spectral revenge reaching out from beyond the grave, with a feminist subtext that ground events in our present day.'


Laird Barron.

‘Wine and Rank Poison by Allyson Bird is her sophomore collection and shows a maturation of style.'


Norm Partridge.

‘Allyson Bird's WINE AND RANK POISON is a potent brew indeed. It's a choice bottle aged with old gods and ghosts in a cellar long forgotten, and it's chilled by the expert hand of a writer who understands horror, and magic, and the dark tunnels that wait between. Watch out for this one. Savour it... and drain it dry at your own risk.'

Bull Running for Girls

Laird Barron.

‘Bird’s classical influences are evident; her pieces owe much to the likes of Poe, Le Fanu, Machen, and Jackson — as much is referenced throughout her narratives and the excerpts preceding each tale. She exhibits a fascination with regional legends, fairy tales, and ghosts. Her renovation of traditional weird tropes reminds me of Matt Cardin, and Don Tumasonis — contemporary authors who cleave to the classical vein without resorting to pastiche. The Tumasonis comparison may be the most striking in that he and Bird seem chiefly concerned with a quiet, almost prosaic type of horror; the horror of psychological dislocation and alienation. Tumasonis demonstrates this most profoundly when examining relationships between the protagonist and his/her significant other, and the isolation experienced by the protagonist as a stranger in a strange land. While Bird similarly gives us a veritable travelogue of settings and a substantial dose of supernatural intrusion, her protagonists are often most thoroughly afflicted by personal demons, as much victims of their own pathology as they are of external forces, becoming, like as not, strangers in their own skin. There’s a great deal to love about Bull Running for Girls, not the least of this being its promise that we’ve only seen the beginning of a remarkable career.’ 

Read the full review here


Joel Lane.

‘Allyson Bird’s stories are richly informed by folklore and literature, and use a range of weird fiction narratives to explore female perspectives in terms of the unknown and the supernatural. Bull Running For Girls is reminiscent of both the Gothic fantasies of Tanith Lee and the empathic ghost stories of Mary Elizabeth Counselman. The strangest of Bird’s stories, ‘The Caul Bearer’, also recalls the stark emotional landscape of Robert E. Howard’s classic ‘Sea Curse’. For Bird, the supernatural is an aspect of life, not something from outside it. Her ghosts and demons are as likely to have a stake in our world as in their own withered hearts. This book brings you witches, revenants, mummies, spirit mediums and ritual murderers. Above all, it brings you face to face with real human issues that few of us, however we pass through the night, can safely avoid.’


Des Lewis.

'Blood in Madness Ran. That madness again.  Here, for me, all comes together, in a glorious Vancean fantasy masterpiece of Legends of the sea and of history and of mythology, underpinned as it is by many of the previous stories (including ‘The Caul Bearer’, ‘The Sly Boy Bar and Eatery’, ‘In a Pig’s Ear’ &c.) and by Gulliver’s Travels…  This should win awards. Enough said. Worth the admission price alone. [Without going back in time, it is impossible for me to tell whether this story-in-itself would seem quite so great without the previous parts of this book permeating its bull-runs or surfing-tides, with the book’s earlier tutoring of me to easily absorb mixed protagonists and changing narrative points-of-view, its fast moving jumped-started conclusions of disbelief-neutralisation, its Legends mixed like absinthe ... and more.]' Norm Rubenstein. 'You have a wonderful, unique, light touch with your “horror/fantasy” and your stories can be considered as “straight” literary fiction of the highest and most professional kind. Truly, you have already found your own “voice” and your stories are all distinctive and recognizable in the best of ways.'

Read the full review here

Isis Unbound

The Library Journal. April Steenburgh.

'Generations ago, Cleopatra, with the blessing of Isis and Anthony at her side, started an empire. Her descendants still rule, but the goddess Isis has fallen silent, and there are those who fear her favor has been lost and the empire is falling apart. It is not that Isis has forgotten her empire, but she has been killed by her sister, the goddess Nepythys. Now the dead cannot pass over and stumble restless and frightened through a city already oppressed by plague and tyranny. The Chief Embalmer’s daughters, Ella and Loli, get involved in the machinations of the gods themselves as the fate of an empire is decided. VERDICT Set in a declining Egyptian empire dusted with the familiar technological and scientific trappings of a steampunk setting, this debut novel by British Fantasy Award winner Bird (Bull Running for Girls) is a frightening, gorgeous book that breathes something fascinating and new into the genre. It will appeal to avid readers of steampunk as well as horror fans.’


Gene O'Neill.

'Historical fiction is very difficult to write. In addition to telling a compelling story, the writer must insure that, facts and names are all accurate, nothing factual manipulated for plot purposes. Juggling myth into this mix of fact and fiction adds to the high degree of difficulty. Only the best writers attempt this often later in their careers. But Allyson Bird does all this and makes it look easy in ISIS UNBOUND. She must be a polished veteran of historical -mythological novels? But no, amazingly this is a first novel. And an excellent novel at that. The prose is rich, rewarding with a density of detail, the plot compelling, the characters completely believable. A highly literate novel that should appeal equally to genre and mainstream reader alike. I would give this novel my highest recommendation, (and have to a number of my reading friends).’


F. Paul Wilson. (author of The Keep and the Repairman Jack series)

'Allyson Bird proves herself a deft and detailed world builder in her debut novel. A mesmerizing, intoxicating blend of steampunk and Egyptian mythology, Isis Unbound is sui generis.'

Never Again

Simon Marshall Jones.

‘Who better than to introduce this important genre anthology than the very people who were chosen to be included within its pages. As the publisher’s website puts it,  “Never Again is an attempt to voice the collective revulsion of writers in the weird fiction genre against political attitudes that stifle compassion and deny our collective human inheritance. The imagination is crucial to an understanding both of human diversity and of common ground. Weird fiction is often stigmatised as a reactionary and ignorant genre – we know better”. Each of the authors were asked about what inspired them to write what they did and what follows is the first part of a two-parter on what each of the writers had to say.’

Read it here and here

A Season in Carcosa - The Beat Hotel

Des Lewis.

‘The colour perhaps that had made Van Gogh go mad with his blessed sunflowers? He ended up drinking the paint of that colour, I think. As I do eventually drink it from this story, as its author crafted that the pages seep or even ooze with it, her heroine, a balconyless Juliette, perhaps eventually melting into the walls of her Parisian hotel room, into its wallpaper? Men haunt her, true, with their intentions that she imagines or simply knows, and one man who actually haunts this room…a room let to her by Madame Rachou, Barron’s Rorschach come to life along with a cat’s sorcery. Hell is what colour? I am already thinking hard about this skewed Proustian threnody artfully threaded, inter alia, with Rimbaud or even perhaps Ginsberg, thinking of this and that … of this story’s ‘excelsior': an explicit reference to that writers’ Hothouse again wherein few avoid “THE fall”.
Not only the explicit “rings on her fingers and bells on her toes”, but also “Upstairs and downstairs / And in my ladies’ chambers…” Read the whole rhyme and see if I am wrong.'

Read more here


Dark Wolf's Fantasy Reviews.

‘Juliette is an artist who lives in the Beat Hotel and her art is influenced by the King in Yellow himself. Paris, the city of art, and the Beat Hotel, the lowest establishment for artists, of the 60s are wonderfully brought to life in an atmospheric story of creativity, decadence and naturally, one particular king. A story that draws in style the curtains over the collection.’

Read more here


The Grimscribe's Puppets - Gailestis

The Arkham Digest.

‘Allyson Bird's Gailestis is a fine example of quiet horror. The story is almost reminiscent of a fairy tale or piece of folklore, with horrific implications strewn throughout.’

Read more here

Cassilda's Song - Les Fleurs du Mal 

Laird Barron.

'Allyson Bird, past winner of the British Fantasy Award, specializes in travelogue-style narratives, frequently conjoined with mythological undertones. Such is the case in her ‘‘Les Fleurs du Mal’’, as her protagonist proves to be the ultimate tourist and all the world her museum. Bird has come into her own as a stylist; the prose is exquisite. Delivered with more poetic restraint as suited to the dour setting.'

Read more here