The Cooke Agency

Jesse Bullington
The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart


The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart by Jesse BullingtonIn the plague-wracked and devil-haunted darkness of Medieval Europe, an elite few enjoy opulent lives while the majority ekes out a miserable existence in abject poverty. Hungry creatures stalk the deep woods and desolate mountains, and both sea and sky teem with unspeakable horrors. For those ill-fated masses not born into wealth, life is but a vicious trial to be endured before the end of days.

Hegel and Manfried Grossbart could give a toss. Being of low birth means little, after all, when the riches of the mighty wait just inside the next crypt. The graverobbing twins know enough about crusading to realize that if one is to make a living from the dead, what better destination than the fabled tomb-cities of Egypt?

Embarking on a naïve quest for fortune, the pious yet ignoble and murderous Grossbarts attempt to keep their faith no matter the consequences. Theirs is a world both familiar and distant; a world of living saints and livelier demons, of beguiling beauties and cruel tragedies, of monsters and madmen. The Brothers Grossbart are about to discover that all legends have their truths, and worse fates than death await those who would take the red road of villainy.

Praise for Jesse Bullington’s The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart:

Shortlisted for the Morningstar Award for Best Fantasy Newcomer by The David Gemmell Legend Awards
Longlisted for the 2010 British Fantasy Award for Best Novel
An Top 10 Science Fiction & Fantasy Book of 2009
A Top Debut of 2009 and a Top 25 Fiction of 2009 selection, OF Blog of the Fallen
A Favourite Books of 2009 selection, Sci-Fi London
A Favourite Books of 2009 selection, Fantasy Book Critic

“Grimmer than the grimmest of the Grimms’ ... As the antithesis of conventional fantasy, this is a tour de force.” —Telegraph (UK)

“Fantasy debut plunges viscerally into the depths of medieval nightmare ... deeply rooted in history and folklore, the novel is both earthier and far more cynical than the original versions of Grimms’ fairy tales; it’s a perverse Dark Ages anti-Candide ... discomfiting, disgusting, and at times as grotesquely pleasurable as picking at a scab.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A blackly humorous fantasy full of monsters, demons, and witches, there’s more than enough here to engage the reader looking for that, but beneath the surface The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart is a novel of surprising complexity.” —Realms of Fantasy

“Bullington is definitely a promising new writer of the fantastic.” —Romantic Times

“Grimmer-than-Grimm ... striking and often funny.” —Publishers Weekly

“Darkly funny, profane, erudite, bawdy, and wickedly original...the debut of an amazing new talent.” —Jeff VanderMeer

The Sad Tales of the Brothers Grossbart is what would happen if the Brothers Grimm, Clive Barker, Chuck Palahniuk and Warren Ellis all came together and wrote a novel.” —Fantasy Book Critic /

“As debut novels go, this is one the best I’ve read. It is utterly absorbing and as fine a tale as you'll read this year. Jesse Bullington has a unique voice and a rare talent and his debut novel showcases both to terrific effect. Following the Brothers Grossbart will be a difficult task, of that there’s no doubt, but I'm looking forward to whatever he conjures up next with enormous anticipation.” —Sci-Fi-London

“If you want spartan description, cracking prose and a tale with the stuff of legends then this is going to be a must own. Great stuff.” —Falcata Times

“Wonderfully written, clever, funny, and ultimately, brilliantly itself. It’s a debut novel of a kind we rarely see.” —Innsmouth Free Press

“I’d have no reservations in making this one of my reads of the year.” —Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review

“This is not for the faint-hearted or the queasy—imagine Tarantino crossed with Rabelais—but Bullington refrains from moralising and presents a buboes-and-all portrait of life in the middle ages. It’s not all blood and guts…that the brothers believe they have God on their side in their crusade into the Holy Land adds a level of pertinent satire.” —Guardian (UK)

“This debut novel is kind of like the unexpurgated versions of Grimm’s fairy tales, as imagined by Chuck Palahniuk on some seriously bad drugs. Bullington clearly has a great appreciation for the rich history of folklore, and his viscerally evocative writing is excellent.… A zestfully grotesque adventure; not for the squeamish or faint of heart.” —Library Journal

“Bullington twists folktales to places they have never gone before with the strength and bravado of an author much more seasoned…I give The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart 9 out of 10 hats.” —The Mad Hatter Bookshelf & Book Review

“Bullington has created a violent, wretched and darkly humorous medieval landscape. It”s almost Tarantino-esque. But the novel’s real triumph is its monsters—a source of menace and wonder drawn from medieval bestiaries and obscure folk tales.” —The Age (Australia)

“A quite extraordinary piece… a novel of great humour, deep theology and gratuitous murder and unlike anything I’ve read before. … It has everything an enquiring, literate mind could ask for - intrigue, villains, priests, theology and religion, folklore, mythology dastardly deeds, robbery, death, mayhem. And that's just the first three chapters…” —SFRevu

The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart grabbed my attention from the first page and I had to keep reading until the final page. This is the best 2009 debut novel that I’ve read, hands down.” —OF Blog of the Fallen

“Turning heroes on their heads, Bullington has created something which is viciously amusing as much as it is striking and I for one couldn’t help but be completely blown away by it this year.” —Lateral Books

The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart is, simply put, an unforgettable read. I’ve read and reviewed thousands of fantasy novels and I have never experienced a book quite like this one.” —Paul Goat Allen, Unabashedly Bookish, Barnes & Noble

“At its best, Grossbart reads like an unholy stew of the Brothers Grimm, Don Quixote, Tom Stoppard, Sam Raimi, and Quentin Tarantino.” —Robert William Berg,

“An ultimately rich and entertaining reading experience, that is especially more impressive since it is the author’s first novel.” —Rob Bedford, San Francisco Book Review

“The scenes where the supernatural intrudes into the narrative are amongst the most gripping in the book.” —

Genre/Category: Fantasy
Setting: Europe
Period: Middle Ages

World rights, Orbit US
Audio (North America) rights, Brilliance Audio
French rights, Bibliotheque Interdite
German rights, Luebbe
Italian rights, Alberto Castelvecchi Editore
Polish rights, Wydawnictwo Mag
Russian rights, AST Publishing Group

For all other rights contact The Cooke Agency.

Jesse Bullington
Photocredit: Molly Tanzer

Jesse Bullington was born and raised in rural Pennsylvania. He received his Magna Cum Laude Bachelor degree in both History and English Literature from Florida State University.

Jesse Bullington’s website can be found at


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