Catherine Cavendish is Back with The Devil’s Serenade
It’s no secret that one of my favorite horror writers is Catherine Cavendish. I’m very happy to not only announce that she has a new book, but a fantastic blog post to go with it. OK Hellions, show your support – read the article and buy the book! Keep horror alive (or at the very least, undead)!
My new novel – The Devil’s Serenade – mostly takes place in an imposing Gothic style mansion built by Victorian industrialist Nathaniel Hargest. When Maddie Chambers inherits it from her Aunt Charlotte, she soon discovers she has acquired far more than mere bricks and mortar. From the strange appearance of tree roots growing in the cellar to the manifestations, noises and a nostalgic wartime song played again and again, Maddie’s fears grow and intensify. What is going on here – and who, or what, is seemingly hell-bent on driving her insane?
Of course, my novel is just that – fiction. But, in real life, there have been numerous reports of houses cursed or possessed by demons. Sometimes these emanate from the ground on which the house was built. Other times, the builder of the house has somehow managed to impart his – or her – evil into the fabric of the place so that it becomes irrevocably woven into the walls.
Appearances can certainly be deceptive too. Take Renvyle House Hotel, situated in the glorious wilderness of Connemara in Ireland. The surrounding scenery is stunning and yet, amid all this beauty, lie tales of ghouls, ghosts and such an array of phenomena that this has to be one of the most haunted areas of Ireland.
In 1883, a family by the name of Blake first opened Renvyle as a country house. Many famous people stayed there – Winston Churchill being just one. Then, in 1917, a Dublin surgeon and poet, Dr. Oliver St John Gogarty – bought the house.
By this time, the house was gaining something of a reputation for the mysterious hauntings experienced by guests and servants alike. In particular, one of the upstairs rooms proved especially troublesome and servants refused to stay in there. They reported a dark and disturbing presence and, on one occasion, something pushed a large, heavy chest against the door.
Gogarty himself wasn’t immune. Late one night, the sound of footsteps outside his room woke him up. He lit a candle, opened the door and stepped out into the dark corridor. Suddenly, with no apparent breeze to cause it, the flame was extinguished. At the same time, a wave of exhaustion spread over Gogarty. His arms and legs felt heavy, as if he had been exercising hard. He was never able to explain this.
The Irish poet, W.B. Yeats stayed there with his wife, a renowned medium called Georgie. The three of them decided to hold a seance during which Georgie Yeats used automatic writing to attempt to communicate with any spirits present in the house. Their efforts met with success and a spirit pronounced itself unhappy with having people stay at the house. Georgie Yeats asked the spirit to reveal itself and she described what she saw. Over by the fireplace, in a misty vapour, stood a red-haired boy, according to the medium. He was pale and wore an anguished expression.
W.B. Yeats reported more unusual and inexplicable occurrences during his time at Renvyle. He said he saw sheets being pulled off beds by unseen hands. Other guests were dragged from their slumbers. Doors opened by themselves and terrible groans echoed through the house. Female guests were terrified when they saw faces watching them as they undressed.
Renvyle House has seen its fair share of violence and turmoil and was destroyed by the IRA in the 1920s. It was then rebuilt and is now a four star luxury, family-run hotel. It has won awards and is noted for the high standards of its hospitality and cuisine. It appears though that the spirits have stayed fixed to the land and have transferred themselves into the current hotel. Guests still report their sheets being tugged and female guests have caught glimpses of a man’s face watching them in the mirror as they apply their make-up. Maybe this is the spirit of a man who allegedly took his own life by strangling himself with his own bare hands. Quite a feat in itself!
Whatever the cause of the phenomena, Renvyle House Hotel certainly seems to have absorbed more than merely the beauty of its surroundings. Beneath the surface, supernatural forces appear to continue their work…
Now, to give you a taste of The Devil’s Serenade, here’s the blurb:
Maddie had forgotten that cursed summer. Now she’s about to remember…
“Madeleine Chambers of Hargest House” has a certain grandeur to it. But as Maddie enters the Gothic mansion she inherited from her aunt, she wonders if its walls remember what she’s blocked out of the summer she turned sixteen.
She’s barely settled in before a series of bizarre events drive her to question her sanity. Aunt Charlotte’s favorite song shouldn’t echo down the halls. The roots of a faraway willow shouldn’t reach into the cellar. And there definitely shouldn’t be a child skipping from room to room.
As the barriers in her mind begin to crumble, Maddie recalls the long-ago summer she looked into the face of evil. Now, she faces something worse. The mansion’s long-dead builder, who has unfinished business—and a demon that hungers for her very soul.
Here’s an extract:
A large flashlight rested on the bottom stair and I switched it on, shining it into the dark corners. There wasn’t a lot to see. A few broken bits of furniture, old fashioned kitchen chairs, some of which looked vaguely familiar, jam jars, crates that may once have held bottles of beer.
The beam caught the clump of gnarled and twisted roots that intertwined with each other, like Medusa’s snakes. I edged closer to it, my heart thumping more than it should. It was only a tree, for heaven’s sake! The nearest one was probably the willow. Surely, that was too far away? I knew little about trees, but I was pretty certain their roots couldn’t extend that far.
I examined the growth from every angle in that silent cellar. The roots were definitely spreading along the floor and, judging by the thickness and appearance of them, had been there for many years. Gray, like thick woody tendrils, they reached around six feet along and possibly four feet across at their widest point. I bent down. Close up, the smell that arose from them was cloyingly sweet. Sickeningly so. I put one hand over my nose, rested the flashlight on the steps and reached out with the fingers of my free hand to touch the nearest root. It wriggled against my palm.
I cried out, staggered backward and fell against the stairs. The flashlight clattered to the floor and went out. Only the overhead bulb provided any light, and it didn’t reach this darkest corner. Something rustled. I struggled to my feet, grabbed the torch and ran up the stairs. I slammed the door shut and locked it, leaned against it and tried to slow down my breathing. A marathon runner couldn’t have panted more.
I tapped the flashlight and it flickered into life, seemingly none the worse for its accident. I switched it off and set it on the floor by the cellar door. Whoever came to fix those roots was going to need it.
You can find The Devil’s Serenade here:
And other online retailers
About the author:
Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Cat is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She was the 2013 joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor, which features in the anthology What Waits in the Shadows. Other titles include: The Pendle Curse, Saving Grace Devine, Dark Avenging Angel, The Second Wife, Miss Abigail’s Room, The Demons of Cambian Street, The Devil Inside Her, Cold Revenge and In My Lady’s Chamber.
You can connect with Cat here:
Thank you so much for hosting me today, Hunter!
It was my pleasure. I’d read a tube of toothpaste if you wrote the copy! 🙂
I was fortunate to review THE DEVIL’S SERENADE in advance, and was very impressed. Catherine is consistently superb.
This post is fascinating!! I wish Georgie Yeats had been able to discover more about the anguished red-haired boy, I’m intrigued! [ and the man who strangled himself!]
Right on! Cat is the real deal.
Thank you, Hunter.. You’re very kind and it means a lot, coming from you
Thanks, Mallory – and thank you for the lovely review
Thank you, Mallory 😉