At a trendy Turkish tavern one Friday night, astrophysicist Gabriel Diaz meets a mysterious young woman. Captivated by her beauty as well as her views on good and evil, he spends the next several days with her. Soon, however, he begins to notice a strangeness in her–her skin’s abnormally high temperature, her obsession with milk products, her child-like and bizarre behavior as she seems to take pleasure in toying with his conscience.
The young woman, Kamilah, invites him to Rize, Turkey, where she claims her family owns a cottage in the woods. In spite of his heavy workload and the disturbing visions and nightmares about his sister’s baby that is due to be born soon, Gabriel agrees to go with her.
But nothing, not even the stunning splendor of the Black Sea, can disguise the horror of her nature. In a place where death dwells and illusion and reality seem as one, Gabriel must now come to terms with his own demons in order to save his sister’s unborn child, and ultimately, his own soul…
Dream Realm Awards Finalist!
“Mayra Calvani is a masterful storyteller… Dark Lullaby is complex and compelling…” –Habitual Reader
“Dark Lullaby is an atmospheric paranormal horror that grips you from page one and refuses to let go until you’ve raced, breathless, to the end.” –ePinions
“Dark Lullaby is a page-turner. A horror story from the top shelf! You’ll love it.” –5 stars from Euro-Reviews
“This is a terrific horror…” –Harriet Klausner
“Dark Lullaby will capture you with its rich descriptions, its exotic location, and the need to uncover the dark secrets hidden within its pages.” –Cheryl Malandrinos, The Book Connection
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About the Author
A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. She’s traveled extensively and lived in 3 continents, but now calls Belgium her home. When she’s not writing, reading, editing or reviewing, she enjoys walking her dog, traveling, and spending time with her family. Visit her website at www.MayraCalvani.com. For her children’s books, visit www.MayrasSecretBookcase.com.
Read an Excerpt
"You're blind! All those sociology books have cut up your spirit. You talk like a mummy, a programmed mummy," Gabriel Diaz said. He took a long sip of beer. Then, almost regrettably, he put the glass down. He wished his glass were bottomless so he could relish his precious prime Belgian beer forever. At almost ten dollars a bottle, Belgian beer was his most expensive vice.
"That's not true. You're only mad at me because I was fifteen minutes late," Liz said.
"Not at all. I was enjoying my beer and meditating." A fast-paced Middle Eastern melody was playing. He drummed his fingers in time with the music.
"So your idea of a perfect society would be something along the lines of Death Wish. Charles Bronson. Taking the law into your hands."
"I only want justice."
"You're an idealist." Liz sadly shook her head. "Justice doesn't exist. But you're obsessed with it."
"For Heaven's sake, don't you feel a sense of ease, a perfect sense of meaning, every time a serial killer is fried at the chair?"
"Yes, I do, but--"
But Gabriel went on, excited, shifting in his seat and leaning forward over the table. "Let me ask you something. Let's say a serial killer is--based on some trivial technicality--set free. Everybody knows he's guilty. Everybody knows he'll kill again. Would you--if you could, if you knew you wouldn't be caught--eliminate him?"
"That's beside the point, Gabriel. That would be murder. The act of premeditated killing, whatever the reason, would turn me into a being as low as him," Liz said, lifting her glass of red wine to her lips. She was totally calm, as if she were a patient and good-willed teacher talking to araging child--an attitude of hers that sometimes drove him to the wall.
"Then archangels are murderers."
"Don't get religion into this. You don't believe in any archangels." Liz eyed him scornfully. "Human beings have made certain laws, and these laws are to be obeyed. If there weren't laws, the world would be a total chaos."
"Laws, laws, laws. You and your laws. Laws were made to favor the criminals, and you know it!" he burst out, making an impatient gesture with his hands. "Think of the good of the innocent people. Think about all the future murders you would be preventing. The hell with the laws! Justice. The good of the many. The end justifying the means."
"Oh, no, not the higher good again!"
"That's right. The higher good."
"That higher good of yours is dangerous. It's totally anarchistic. Goodness is subjective. Do you think a serial killer doesn't have his own concept of goodness? What makes you think his is wrong and ours is right? We are forever impaired by our feelings." She almost flinched, expecting another outburst from him.
But he just shrugged.
"There is an ultimate good," he simply said, perfectly convinced. He downed the rest of his beer and peered, maudlin, at the empty bottom of his glass.
The tavern was quite packed by now. With so many colleges and universities around, it was a popular place among students, especially as now on Friday nights. Gabriel loved the smell here. All around them cigarette smoke swirled to the ceiling, but in spite of this, different kinds of delicious smells permeated the air. Old wines, the sweet tang of anise, the strong aroma of Turkish coffee. Yet, there was something gloomy about the place. The dim illumination, maybe. The flickering candles on the tables, casting eerie shadows on the walls, making the faces appear pale and distorted, malevolent even. Old paintings of historic Ottoman battles hung from the walls, little figures killing each other with long and pointed spikes against dark and red-tinted desolate landscapes. He could clearly discern the little Christian bodies impaled by the stakes.
"I don't know if I should have another beer," Gabriel said. "I've already had two."
"These beers will be your downfall."
Gabriel made a face, a typical gesture of him that made her smile warmly at him. And which made him feel a pang of guilt. Poor Liz. He suspected it would be a lot better for her if they simply didn't see each other again. Or at least if they didn't see each other so often. They had been together for three years but broken up only four months ago. Love? From her part, it had been obvious. From his part, he had never been quite sure, and he figured if you're not sure, it can't be love. But they had stayed friends, which was more than fine with him. He had grown quite attached to her. In fact, he was still experiencing a bit of 'after-divorce' blues, though this feeling was nothing compared to the overwhelming sense of freedom. They had never been married, of course, but they had become so close it felt to him as if they had. From her eyes, the way they lit up every time she saw him, he could tell she still had romantic feelings for him. The main problem had always been her jealous, suspicious nature, though now that they were apart she did a good job at concealing it. "You want another sophisticated Belgian beer?" she mocked gently. "Order one. My treat."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Gabriel and Liz, his ex-girlfriend of 3 years, are sitting in a tavern one Friday night. While having a discussion on the morality of the death penalty. A woman, Kamilah, walks up to their table asking to join their conversation. Gabriel can't take his eyes off of her, he is fascinated by everything about her, including her views on the topic. After that moment, things start to get weird and Gabriel goes on the adventure of his life. Liz feels like she's losing her mind. Will Gabriel open his eyes to the real Kamilah in time? And what do these events have to do with his twin sister's baby? A little disappointed in the ending, I wanted it to go the other way, kind of. I think you'd have to read it to understand what I mean, I don't want to give away any spoilers. Overall, I really liked the story. I love the back story of the lights. An interesting twist and consequence to a normally controversial topic. This story was definitely unique, haunting... I have never read anything like it, my dreams last night were so creepy! Good and Evil are shown in such a gray light, what one knows to be right or wrong, morality is brought into question. Amazing how this author was able to really make the reader think about how some things, really aren't as black and white as we might think they are.
Calvani has a straightforward writing style with dark undertones. This is a well written novel with a solidly built plotline. In this story Calvani takes the everyday battle of good vs evil, both in the world and in an individual, and brings it forward in a big way. She also builds the world in which her characters find themselves. As a reader you can visualise each of the different scenes based on Calvani’s awesome descriptions. There is a lot of character development at the beginning of this story, so it starts out quite slow slow and was very hard to get into. That said, Calvani ends up creating some vivid individuals to carry her story forward. The very passionate characters in this novel are real and raw. Each one is unique but still easy enough to identify with. Some real dense topics get discussed in a manner that seems completely natural. Not only does this advance the plot of the story, but it really helps to develop them mentally for the readers. As a whole this was a unique novel. Although the subject matter was very interesting I found the story as a whole hard to get into. Please note that I received this novel free of charge from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Most parents usually warn their adolescent girls not to ever go home with stranger, especially not someone who one has just met in a bar. But not many parents warn their sons to be careful who they go home with. This was the intriguing part of this spell-binding, page turning psychological thriller. In addition to the chilling aspects of the book, there are also the strong underlying themes for all of us. Gabriel Diaz is not the most admired character in the story. When we first meet him in the story, he seems to be doing ordinary things—I mean what is so extraordinary about sitting in a bar with an ex-girlfriend having a drink? But as another mysterious woman, Kamilah, walks into the bar, Gabriel’s focus changes completely and he falls completely in love with her. She invites him to journey with her to Turkey and he can’t resist her invitation. But does he ever dream of being in the type of danger he gets himself into? Does Gabriel make it back home alright? Does he learn any important lessons? I don’t want to give too much of the story away. So, I will leave the reader with these questions. I found the book very intriguing and surprising. There are many unexpected twists and turns in this story—they will keep readers glued to the book until they have read it from beginning to end. Gabriel is a very unlikable character—and the way he treats Liz is deplorable. Liz is a very interesting character on her own…I just wish she wouldn’t take as much abuse from him. I didn’t really like Kamilah as a character—but that is probably what she was supposed to be portrayed as. Mayra Calvani has done a GREAT job creating this deep story. It will teach the reader quite a bit about Turkish folklore and show that perhaps we should be careful who we befriend and who we go home with. First Published on Blogcritics Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth
Dark Lullaby is an intriguing, original novel mixing Turkish folklore with the supernatural. I thought the supernatural element here was familiar, yet original at the same time, and that’s what intrigued me the most about this book. Gabriel Diaz is not the most likeable character in history. The primary reason for this is because, when we first meet him, he’s sitting in a bar having drinks with his ex-girlfriend, Liz, with whom he’s been together for a few years. Liz and Gabriel get into a lively but good-natured discussion, and then in walks Kamilah, and from that point out, Gabriel basically threats Liz like crap. He falls head over heels for the mysterious Kamilah, and even takes her home that night. They always warn girls never to go home with a stranger, but in this case, someone should’ve warned Gabriel as well. Even though at some point he gets a glimpse of Kamilah’s feet turned backward, and even though she acts strangely at times, he still continues to hang out with her. When Liz calls him to tell him she’s being tormented by something evil, he doesn’t even stop to consider it might be related to the woman he just met in the bar. Kamilah becomes his goddess, no matter how strange, jealous or demanding she may be. When he finally does get suspicious, Kamilah convinces him to join her in a journey to Turkey. While Gabriel had intended to visit his twin sister, who is in the last stages of her pregnancy, he delays the visit for a few days, and goes along on this romantic trip with Kamilah. Except that when he reaches Turkey, he find out he’s in more trouble than he originally thought. The people here seem to know who Kamilah is, and they fear her… I don’t want to give too much away about the book, or about Kamilah, but I’ll say I was genuinely surprised by the explanation behind it, and how it connected to local folklore. I also enjoyed Kamilah as a character. There were many facets about her, so she was never boring to read about. Gabriel didn’t rank highly on my favorites list though. The way he acted around Liz after he found his new girlfriend annoyed me. He wasn’t entirely unlikable, but he didn’t have enough backbone for most of the story, and I kept on wanting him to do something, anything, even just open up his eyes and see the truth in front of him. I actually liked Liz and wished she had more screen time. She probably would’ve made a more interesting protagonist than Gabriel. That aside, I really liked the plot here. Usually in supernatural thrillers, I can easily figure out what the monster is, be it a werewolf, vampire, or even something less notorious. But here, I had no clue, which added to the suspense. A delightful read if you’d like to get some chills without actually getting scared.
Dark Lullaby is a story of a beautiful young woman who is not what she appears to be. When a scientist, Gabriel, falls for her, he does not realize what she is but it soon becomes apparent she is dangerous to him and his family. This is a well-written book with lots of "gasp" moments, things you don't see coming. I would definitely recommend this for anyone who enjoys fantasy/horror genre.