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Despatches Front Cover-final_edited.jpg


By Lee Murray

Daily Star war correspondent Cassius Smythe is off to the Dardanelles to report on the Allied campaign. That is, if only the War Office will let him tell the truth. But after months in the trenches at Anzac Cove, Smythe learns that it isn’t just the Ottoman who wish to claim back the land, and the truth is as slippery as a serpent…

Absinthe Books (PS Publishing)  / Order HERE

Cosmic horror, historical fiction, novella

Cover art by Greg Chapman


Praise for Despatches

Despatches is all at once heart-breaking and mythic, highlighting one of the darkest chapters in human history. Murray presents truth and fiction simultaneously, putting the reader amongst the horrors, both real and imagined.” —Greg Chapman, Bram Stoker Award® and Australian Shadows Award-nominated author


“Murray’s Despatches has all the hallmarks of a classic; capturing not only the imagination, but the strengths and failings of what it is to be human.” —Dave Jeffery, award-winning author of the A Quiet Apocalypse series.


“Multi-award-winning author Lee Murray skilfully combines history, horror and Māori mythology to create a gripping tale that will slither its way into your imagination, there to make its dark, abiding lair.”—Anna Taborska, author of Bloody Britain and For Those Who Dream Monsters


“Horror is a good match for war: wouldn’t we rather believe in the fantastical than the brutal insanity of combat? Lee Murray’s Despatches wraps the all-too-real horror of the Dardanelles campaign in a gossamer of eldritch fancies, creating a story that is not only a superb piece of historical fiction but a damned good horror story, too.” —Alma Katsu, author of The Fervor


“Lee Murray’s Despatches innovates the Lovecraftian with her signature chills in an enthralling epistolary tale of compassion and eldritch horrors set during one of the bloodiest campaigns of World War One.” —Craig DiLouie, author of Episode Thirteen


“What imagined terrors can rival the all-too-human horror of war? In the powerfully melancholy Despatches, Lee Murray offers both, pitching the distressingly real theatre of blood and carnage as a cosmic board for a mythic game between gods beyond our comprehension, playing with people like pawns. And one truth pervades it all – no one wins here. This is historical horror fiction at its most beguiling.” —Alan Baxter, award-winning author of The Gulp and Sallow Bend


“Death, disfigurement, and disease prowl the battlelines at Gallipoli, slaughtering men in their thousands. But soon there will be more to fear than the enemy. Within the fetid trenches and freezing coastal waters, an ancient evil will be drawn to the chaos. Blending fact and fiction, Despatches leaves the reader with a distinct feeling of unease and sorrow. Another masterful tale from Lee Murray.” —Alister Hodge, international bestselling author, Aurealis and Australasian Shadows Award finalist

“A masterclass in weaving myth into the darkest gaps in history, Lee Murray’s latest novella is at once moving and disturbing. Murray’s writing breathes life to the very human face of the Allied Campaign and conjures terrifying cosmic forces that lie behind the madness of war. Among the mud, despair, and death, there are aching moments of connection and ordinary beauty, which hold a bittersweet light against the realisation we are ultimately small and alone against the pitiless dark. Meticulously researched and vividly written, Despatches is outstanding historical horror.” —Geneve Flynn, double Bram Stoker Award-winner, and editor of Black Cranes


A masterful storyteller. Strongly recommend.—Steve Stred, author of Churn the Soil

Multi-award winning writer, Lee Murray, never fails to impress. Her new novella, Despatches, is a case in point, on a subject near the heart of the then young colony of New Zealand. When young journalist, Cassius Smythe, accepts a role as war correspondent for a British newspaper, near the beginning of World War One, he has no idea what lies ahead. He is sent to Anzac Cove in the Dardanelles, finding horrors and a death toll he could not have even imagined. Like millions of other young men, he is trapped in a struggle between powers of which they have little understanding and which can crush them without mercy. In fact, so dreadful is their lot, could it be that it involves forces that are not even human, and although living, are beyond their worst nightmares? Murray uses the astute literary device of military despatches to create the setting and progress the narrative; hence the title. It works so well that I almost felt I was involved. Despatches left me with a sadness at the self-created disasters that humans too often find themselves caught up in, along with the intrigue that is Lee Murray’s flair. Intrigue tinged with sadness. Brent Leslie, author of Milk Bar Warriors

“This is a tour de force that melds World War One action and supernatural intrigue into a page-turning narrative. Murrays writing pulls readers into the heart of the story with vivid descriptions and finely-tuned emotional depth.—Ian Charles Douglas, author of the Zeke Hailey Adventure series. 

A brilliant novella that captures the sombre cruelty of war. Strongly recommend.—Run Along the Shelves


“In less capable hands, adding Lovecraftian-type monsters to the grim horror of war might have turned the story into an unpalatable mess but Murray plays these disparate elements beautifully against each other. The visceral and heart-wrenching elements of both serve to lift the narrative into the realms of a classical epic tale, echoing Herman Melville’s Moby Dick in its imagery, from which emerges a powerful work which left this reader devastated.—Kete Books

“…chillingly effective. For a short book, Despatches manages to convey a vast amount of thematic depth. The horrors of war are prevalent throughout, as are their impacts on those who fight. There is an undercurrent of grief across the novella, lending an emotional weight to those lost in battle. Murray humanises the soldiers on both sides of the war and reminds the reader that cosmic horror knows no bounds…If you like historical war stories, eldritch horror, and literary scares that feel palpably real, Despatches is well worth a read.” —Aurealis Magazine

Exorcise Your Writes with host Angela Yuriko Smith

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