Now Available: The Rat and the Crane

London, 1560.

As the madness of the Dark Ages sweeps across Europa, a young queen assumes the throne in England. Elizabeth has a bright future but a dark secret, one which threatens to twist her country down an unexpected path.

Gregory Crane – rogue Jesuit, Englishman-in-exile, and agent of the secretive Consortium – is cursed with a past he can’t forget and debts his masters won’t forgive. When his adoptive father is killed while investigating accusations of sorcery against Queen Elizabeth, Crane is dispatched to London to set things right. London, where his inglorious career began …

But he discovers more than Arthurian fanatics, more than honey-leaking assassins, more than the clock-and-clay Elizabeth someone’s building under Blackfriars. From deep within London’s ragstone heart, Crane will rescue the Rat Faerie’s Daughter, a wry survivor of his stolen childhood. In the hobgoblin’s dark eyes lies something beyond the outermost reach of even his Divine Calculus.


From the author of the well-reviewed Beneath a Black Moon comes a tale of good and evil set during England’s little known “Absurd Age.” The Rat and the Crane is now available through Amazon–click here.…

Rogue’s Galley: Mab the Actress

“I’m always curious when it comes to people. Occupational hazard.” — Mab

As odd as the city-state of Manhattan has grown become beneath the Black Moon, its residents are odder still.

Mabyoronya Konstantineva Tayrakova

Curio, located in tenement building off Mulberry Street. Previous owner unknown. (Vargas, 1904)

Heroes and cowards, petty crooks and murderers, saints and sinners–trace a Manhattan intersection and they say you can find ’em all.

In this case, they’re all the same person.

The orphaned daughter of a Russian sailor and a Mulberry Street whore, Mab was raised by the nuns of the Belladonna Covenant in Brooklyn. A student of the Lower East Side streets, Mab developed a wide range of disreputable habits (lucrative and pleasurable in equal measure) that shocked the nuns and enraged her sister, Tanya. By the age of 16, Mab was breaking the hearts of every sharp, fence and blue belly south of 14th Street. At 18, she was spurning them all for her true love: the bright lights of the Manhattan stage.

Unfortunately, her enthusiasm never quite overcome her dramatic skills, and Mab regrettably slipped back into the wayward, quasi-legal ways of her youth. If you need a sister found or a brother threatened, Mab is your woman. Loan sharking, homes burgled, shops vandalized, an escort to the Met … Mab is immensely popular among all the wrong people. Unfortunately, she’s as adept at making enemies as she is friends, and she is currently being tracked by Ion, an ex-lover with a razor and a plan.…

Helium and Hope: The Rise of the Airship in post-Moon North America

The maiden flight of Seraph-5 outside of St. Louis in 1874. Part of Church & State engineer Henry duValle's famous Seraph line, the S-5 flew eight miles around the City-State and landed safely. Archangel Project would launch in 1877, based on duValle's designs, and provide the logistical infrastructure that enabled C&S North American operations in the 1880s.
The maiden flight of Seraph-5 outside of St. Louis in 1874. The most famous of Henry Valiant’s Seraph line, the S-5 flew eight miles around the City-State and landed safely. The Archangel Initiative would launch in 1877, based on Valiant’s designs, and provide the logistical infrastructure that enabled Church & State operations in the 1880s.
This photograph, credit unknown, was taken during the ill-fated Tabernacle Expedition. Interestingly, there is anecdotal evidence that it was taken after the ambush on May 8th. That implies that the replaced travelers continued to pose for photographs.
This photograph, credit unknown, was taken during the ill-fated Tabernacle Expedition. Interestingly, there is anecdotal evidence that it was taken after the ambush on May 8th. That implies that the worm-worshipers continued to pose for photographs and go about their day-to-day business, despite widespread infestation.

For all intents and purposes, rural America died three months after the Black Moon rose in 1867.  The last refugee column–Father Walter’s miraculous arrival, later immortalized by Haddon Sundblom’s A Christmas Promise–reached Chicago in 1868. Other camps are recorded after 1868 but were turned away at the city gates, revealed to be madmen or witch-packs in disguise, or made to settle among wilderness peoples and/or local Didikko tribes.

In the two years that followed, the City-States maintained tenuous connections via relatively stable, albeit dangerous, caravan routes. Traveling under heavy guard and moving swiftly by horse and mule along old rail beds and roadways, these convoys provided limited ability to move critical personnel (mostly military or scientific) or supplies (some luxury goods, but mostly the products of companies like Colt and Winchester).

However, on May 8th, 1870, a 200-man convoy was ambushed approximately 10 miles outside of Philadelphia. The convoy escaped and arrived at the city with minimum casualties on May 9th.…

The Manhattan Essential presents: The New Exposition Building

TEMThe New Exposition Building

Those claiming our fair city has forsaken innovation before the bleakness of our times need only travel along Broadway, 5th Avenue, or 22nd Street–the busy sinew that ties our beloved Manhattan together–and cast their eyes upward. There they shall find a breathtaking renunciation.

Constructed for the 1896 New York Exposition Fair, this modern-day palace boasts twenty-three stories, advanced elevators, a forced-water fire suppression system and impenetrable foundations to hold safe its many inhabitants. Councilman Charles Taffy (may his wisdom persist!) paid for many of the improvements out of his own pocket; loathsome anarchists and the ever-envious agents of Philadelphia shall find no chinks in the New Exposition Building’s modern armor.

Its glittering flanks are guarded by nothing less than the divine: a total of six-hundred-and-fifty-four copper angels, each shaped by the artistes of Fohrmann Inc. in poses of unearthly beauty. Many of these cling to manfully to gigantic, glass globes set with electric lamps provided by the marvelous workshops of the New Edison Company. As the poet Ginn Wing-Holland wrote from Blackwell’s Lunatic Asylum: “The night sky itself envies the Teapot.”

In mentioning this incredible edifice’s charming nickname, we arrive at the most marvelous of its accouterments: the Exposition Elephant. No tawdry torchbearer or dull flagpole for this, our avatar of Flow Deco and the modern style, nothing less than a vast, rearing elephant shall serve. For upon the sixteenth floor stands that wise yet fierce lord of Lost Africa, his mighty bulk reaching well past the airship dock to trumpet the greatness of Manhattan to the vassal states and beyond.…

Boston City Hospital, 1867: The ‘first’ postmortem examination of Moonspawn

This photograph's accuracy cannot be independently verified, but it was included with a series of dispatches sent from Boston to the Johnson administration in 1867. Wentworth subsequently provided it to the New-York Historical Society in 1868.
This photograph ran in the Boston Post on Dec. 20, 1867, accompanying what is widely considered to be the first published article addressing the existence of Moonspawn. Second from the right is Samuel Fogg of Boston City Hospital. At far right is Professor Lewis Vanderhilt of Havard. The nurse and assistants to the left of Fogg are unidentified. While the photograph is credited toward John Bishop, the Post journalist that wrote the article, it was more likely taken by a staff photographer, with Bishop claiming the credit in order to minimize the staff’s exposure to federal reprisal.

The Federal government and the American cities (later, City-States) pursued different tactics in publicly addressing the rise of “Moonspawn”–the wide-ranging collection of unnatural, post-Moon plants and animals that span numerous biological kingdoms.

Prior to its collapse in 1868, the Federal government undertook a systemic campaign of medical misinformation, downplaying the havoc Moonspawn were wrecking throughout rural America. Increasingly stringent controls upon hospitals and universities resulted in a backlash by these naturally-progressive institutions, culminating in the John Hopkins Rebuke of Nov. 17, 1867.

After Federal artillery had reduced the famed Baltimore hospital to rubble, a number of doctors angrily rejected demands to cease Moonspawn postmortem examinations. The most famous of these “protest procedures” was conducted at the Boston City Hospital on Nov. 21, 1867. Excerpts of the postmortem ran in the Boston Post that very day as a special daily edition (also known as a bulldog), under the headline ‘MONSTERS STALK BOSTON.’


The Manhattan Essential presents: The Lower East Side



Your fearless friends at the Manhattan Essential (all rights reserved, accept no substitutes) endeavor to bring you, fortunate visitor to the City of the Isle, an accurate and utterly unbiased view of our fair city. In addition to our own keen observations, The Manhattan Essential also provides tidbits and asides from the Metropolitan Police, our faithful friends at the Church & State and (of course!) the advertisers that sets ink to our veins and fire to our purpose.

The Lower East Side

Venture south of 14th Street and the bold visitor can enjoy the multicultural bounty that makes fair Manhattan great. A dozen languages can be heard here, amid colorful neighborhoods that would not seem out of place in Constantinople or Kingstown or even socialistic Chicago. Visit the local grocer, shop along newly-renovated Mulberry Street and take in an afternoon show at the Magnus Theater. Business and pleasure for the adventurous await at either end of each and every street!

Marvel at local ingenuity as the East Side inhabitants gather fire escapes and overarching pipe systems into skyways, dead useful for the busy traveler. Walk without risk of stepping in offensive offal, as the bright-eyed lads of the city’s sanitation crews wage unceasing war against disorder. Tip your cap to the gallant and incorruptible men of the Metropolitan Police; each would lay down their life to protect the least of your parcels.

Conduct your commerce with utter confidence, as each and every sewer grate has been locked and warded behind cages of blessed steel.…

The Johnson Dispatch of 1867 (Wentworth Trunk)

Following the loss of the District of Columbia in November 1867, the Wentworth Trunk remains the single, largest repository of pre-Moon presidential documents. Horus Wentworth, a White House butler, reached the Manhattan Knickerbocker line on December 11. (All excerpts are at the permission of the New-York History Museum's American Dissolution Exhibit)
Following the loss of the District of Columbia in November 1867, the Wentworth Trunk remains the single, largest repository of pre-Moon presidential documents. Horatio Wentworth, a White House butler, reached the Manhattan Knickerbocker line on December 11. (All excerpts are at the permission of the New-York History Museum’s American Dissolution Exhibit)

Editor’s Note: The following dispatch was sent to Washington D.C. in late October. Ostentatiously, it addresses the confirmation of Gov. Jenkins in Reconstruction Georgia. Jenkins, of course, would not live to be inaugurated.

MILLEDGEVILLE, Georgia, Oct. 21, 1867.

His Excellency Andrew Johnson, President:

You will be delighted to know that the state senate has confirmed Gov. Jenkins, as anticipated. He is, as you know, loyal to the reconstruction effort and I foresee no future differences between Washington and his office. We shall make every effort to assist in the transition.

I must now turn to the discomforting events of the past week. While Georgia is hardly the Capitol, we receive our fair share of dispatches from across the South. These overwhelmingly express universal dismay over what our Dr. Bridges (of Harvard fame) has termed a “singular astronomical event.” He refers of course to the darkly-unwholesome satellite that appeared in the sky three evenings ago.

The men have named it the Black Moon. It is a baleful thing.

The second Moon’s rise was heralded with the lowing of cattle about Milliedgeville, and the rusty caw of crows. The inhabitants took to the streets to gawk, but fear soon overcame curiosity. The Georgians now nail their shutters shut and hang crosses and colorful, local charms across the slats.…

Available Now: Beneath a Black Moon

Black Moon Cover

Enter the deliciously warped world of Beneath a Black Moon, the debut novel of author Benjamin Hanstein …

God and the Moon, but Mab has had better evenings. First, she’s booed off the stage at the Magnus (despite a perfectly suitable turn as Lady Marmalade) and chased all the way up Mulberry Street. There, her poor throat is slashed by an ex-lover’s razor. Then, she’s sent to Hell, wallowing amidst the mud and sinners. How can a hard-luck actress’ evening get any worse?

Well, she could get dragged back into an oafish clerk’s corpse and given one week to solve a depraved murder in a haunted city full of depraved murderers. That might be worse.

Still, the company’s tolerable—cannibal witch packs, British spies and fanatical Confessors, not to mention the mathematical soothsayer that may or may not be Mab’s estranged sister. And the job is plenty interesting, what with the Better Tomorrow Society trying to destroy the world and all.

Anywhere else—anyone else—and she might just stay in Hell. But this is Mab and Manhattan, beneath the Black Moon.

So let’s hit the houselights, cue the curtain and mind the storm drains.

And, please, whatever you do … don’t look up.…