I love handing the reins over to master horror author Catherine Cavendish because she brings it every single time! This is one you won’t want to miss. Okay, Cat, time to scare the hellions…
Beware the Fiendish Boggart
Boggarts. Devilish little creatures found in deep, dark woods in parts of the North of England. Their sole rajson d’etre appears to be to frighten, maim and kill humans – whom they call ‘forkypeds’.
It seems that while other, more southerly, folk cultures had their ‘house elfs’ who took care of things, homes and humans, the hardy northern folk were surrounded by much darker forces. Almost every home, it seemed, had its own boggart, out to cause mayhem and serious damage.
So what – or who – is a boggart?
In Northumbria, there is a tradition that helpful spirits such as ‘silkies’ could turn bad, and when they did, they became boggarts. In Lancashire, boggarts were mostly evil to begin with. They were said to live outdoors, in holes in the ground, lurking there to trip the unwary, or in marshes, where they would suck unfortunate travellers underground. They would abduct children, kill and eat animals, creep into a house at night and place a cold, clammy hand over the sleeping inhabitants, spreading sickness with their touch.
One famous legend tells of the infamous Grizlehurst Boggart who made his first appearance (in print at least) in 1861, when an elderly Lancashire couple related his story. He was they said, buried at a crossroads nearby, under an ash tree, together with a cockerel. Yet, even though he was buried, he still caused much trouble. They said a farmer’s wife, known to them, had experienced doors banging in her house one evening. She heard raucous laughter, saw three candles burning, with a blue light which illuminated a grotesque figure with cloven hooves and flaming red eyes, as he leaped and danced around. The following morning, she found many tracks of cloven hooves outside her farmhouse.
The couple also maintained that their own horse had been unhitched inexplicably, and their cart overturned, on more than one occasion.
Then there is the infamous boggart of Boggart Hole Clough – yes he even had a place named after him! He lived in a hole outside until one particularly cold winter when he decided to move into a nearby farmhouse. There, he proceeded to cause all kinds of mischief and malicious mayhem. He snatched the food from the children at table, dashing their bowls to the ground. He would tug curtains, and attack the children while they slept. Eventually, so harassed were the farmer and his family that they decided to move out. Unfortunately, that did no good. Once a boggart has made his home with you, he will travel with you. You’re stuck with him for life. When this became clear, the farmer and his family moved back into their old house. Naturally the boggart came too, but for some reason was never so malicious again.
|Boggart Hole Clough – geograph. org.uk|
It seems though that not all boggarts start out evil. I’ve mentioned the Northumbria ‘silkies’, but another tale – this time from Barcroft Hall, in Cliviger, near Burnley in Lancashire – tells of a boggart who started out as a helpful housekeeper. Very much on the lines of a house elf. The farmer’s wife would find all her chores done, laundry washed and ironed, floors swept. The farmer himself was grateful for the help he got bringing in the sheep on a snowy winter evening. He heard the creature’s voice, but never saw it. He was determined to rectify that and made a small hole in the ceiling of the room where the boggart performed most of his household tasks. Sure enough, his patience was rewarded by the sight of a small, wizened, barefoot old man who began to sweep the floor.
Surely his feet must be cold against the stone floor. The farmer thought so anyway and decided to make him a pair of tiny clogs and left them out for him. His son saw him pick them up and heard him call out:
“New clogs, new wood,
T’hob Thurs will ne’er again do any good!”
From then on, the era of good works was over. The boggart began to hound and hurt his family. The animals got sick, the farmer’s prize bull was somehow transported to the farmhouse roof. Household items were smashed indiscriminately. Things got so bad that this family, too, felt forced to flee. But the boggart had other ideas. “Wait there while I fetch me clogs and I’ll come with thee.”
And this is why you should never give a gift to a boggart – for they cannot harm you unless, and until, you do.
Also, never be tempted to give a boggart a name. If you do, then be prepared for the full force of the boggart’s malice to be visited upon you.
In Lancashire and Yorkshire, there are many place names associated with boggarts. In addition to Boggart Hole Clough, you can find Boggart Bridge in Burnley – another Boggart Bridge can be found in Ogden, near Halifax (West Yorkshire). Then there’s Bee Hole Boggart. Burnley also boasts Sweet Clough Boggart and Barcroft Boggart. Rochdale has Clegg Hall Boggart, and Matlock boasts Standbark Boggart. Roads on a council estate in Leeds are prefixed with Boggart. In fact the estate itself is called Boggart Hill.
Boggarts answer to only one master. Owd Hob – the archetypal devil with cloven hoofs, forked tail and horns.
How can you protect yourself from a boggart invasion? The best method is to place a horseshoe over your front door and a pile of salt outside your bedroom.
And just be careful when you’re walking over the moors and marshland of Lancashire and Yorkshire. The majestic, bleak beauty of the Pennines hides many mysteries – and there may just be a boggart or two lurking, unseen, ready to pounce.
There are plenty of sinister goings-on – and a terrifying some demon – in my novella, The Devil Inside Her. This is what to expect:
When nightmares become dreams, someone must die
Haunted by the death of her husband and only child, Elinor Gentry’s recurring nightmares have left her exhausted. She’s crippled by debt, and only the remnants of her former life surround her, things she can’t bear to sell, and wouldn’t make much profit from if she did. Then, for no apparent reason, the nightmares transform into pleasant dreams. Dreams that lead her to take back control of her life.
A string of horrific and unexplained suicides–and an unnerving discovery about Elinor herself—lead her best friend to seek help from the one person who has seen all this before, and things begin to spiral out of control. Hazel Messinger knows that Elinor’s newly found wellbeing is not what it seems, and Hazel’s not about to let the demon inside remain there permanently.
You can buy The Devil Inside Her here;
About the author
Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. Cat’s novels include the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy – Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine.
Her novellas, Cold Revenge, Miss Abigail’s Room, The Demons of Cambian Street, The Devil Inside Her, and The Second Wife have now been released in new editions by Crossroad Press.
She lives with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue. Cat and her family divide their time between Liverpool and a 260-year-old haunted apartment in North Wales.
You can connect with Cat here:
Spinner of terrifying tales of ghosts and restless spirits, Catherine Cavendish has a new book of creeping dread for fans old and new. Today, I let her haunt my blog with a little something she calls, THE PEDLAR AND THE DEVIL….
I have set a large part of Waking the Ancients in Vienna, Austria where many ghosts and restless spirits walk among the verdant parks and lavish palaces. But Austrian ghosts do not confine themselves to their nation’s imperial capital. They can be found in towns, cities, villages and the depths of the countryside all over this beautiful land.
In the beautiful mountainous region of Tyrol, many legends and myths abound. One curious one involves a spectral game of bowls.
A pedlar became lost on the side of the mountain as darkness fell. Disorientated, he kept going until he came to the ancient ruined castle of Starkenberg. There, exhausted, he decided to take shelter for the night and laid down to sleep in the remains of a great hall. He slept for some hours, waking to hear the clock of a nearby village strike midnight. To his astonishment, as the last chime echoed across the rocks, twelve ghostly figures, clad in full armour, manifested in the room and proceeded to play a game of bowls – only they used skulls instead of balls.
As luck would have it, the pedlar was quite a bowls player himself. In fact he was the champion of his village. Also, being made of sterner stuff, he offered to play each of the spirits in turn. He was quite surprised when his challenge was accepted. One by one he defeated them all and quite expected to be met with anger as a result. Quite the reverse. To his astonishment, the spectral army congratulated him and gave whoops of joy. They told him that now he had beaten them, they could be released from purgatory. As soon as they said this, they vanished, leaving the pedlar alone. He looked all around, trying to discover where they had gone but to no avail. Then, ten more ghostly knights appeared, each through a different door which they locked carefully behind them. They brought the keys to the pedlar and gave them to him saying he must now determine which was the right key for each door.
All the keys and all the doors were identical – or appeared to be. The pedlar accepted the challenge and it took him quite a while but he successfully accomplished the task and the ten ghostly figures thanked him profusely, assuring him that his actions had also released them from purgatory, before they too vanished.
Things were all going a bit too well up to now and the pedlar was feeling delighted with himself. His confidence knew no bounds.
But then the devil himself appeared, in a foul temper. He castigated the pedlar for robbing him of twenty two souls and declared that his soul must be forfeit instead. The brave (or exceptionally foolhardy) pedlar argued and declared he would play the devil one game of bowls to decide whether his soul should be forever damned and belong to Lucifer, or whether he should be allowed to go free.
Once again, the pedlar triumphed and beat his evil counterpart soundly. As soon as the first cock crowed in the morning, the devil launched himself into the air with scorching sulfur breath that burned the grass where he had been. He took off, his massive wings beating the air, leaving the pedlar triumphant.
Needless to say, the pedlar told anyone who was prepared to listen about his extraordinary night on the mountain. No one believed him of course, until they too trekked up to the castle…and saw the burned and withered grass, exactly as the pedlar had described it.
Waking the Ancients
Legacy In Death
University student Lizzie Charters accompanies her mentor, Dr. Emeryk Quintillus, on the archeological dig to uncover Cleopatra’s tomb. Her presence is required for a ceremony conducted by the renowned professor to resurrect Cleopatra’s spirit—inside Lizzie’s body. Quintillus’s success is short-lived, as the Queen of the Nile dies soon after inhabiting her host, leaving Lizzie’s soul adrift . . .
Paula Bancroft’s husband just leased Villa Dürnstein, an estate once owned by Dr. Quintillus. Within the mansion are several paintings and numerous volumes dedicated to Cleopatra. But the archeologist’s interest in the Egyptian empress deviated from scholarly into supernatural, infusing the very foundations of his home with his dark fanaticism. And as inexplicable manifestations rattle Paula’s senses, threatening her very sanity, she uncovers the link between the villa, Quintillus, and a woman named Lizzie Charters.
And a ritual of dark magic that will consume her soul . . .
You can find Waking the Ancients here:
About the Author:
Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. Cat’s novels include the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy – Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine. She lives with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue. Cat and her family divide their time between Liverpool and a 260-year-old haunted apartment in North Wales.
You can connect with Cat here:
We’re going to shake off our Horrortober hangover with a post from one of the best horror writers on both sides of the Atlantic. I first ‘met’ Catherine Cavendish when we were both writing for Samhain. Now we’re together again at Kensington Books. The poor woman can’t shake me. She has a new, terrifying novel out that I can’t wait to dig into. Until then, let’s take a tour of a funeral museum in beautiful Vienna. Take it away, Cat!
“Only in Vienna…”
If I had a penny for every time I have heard that expression, I would be living in splendour right now.
My latest novel – Wrath of the Ancients – is largely set in Vienna, Austria’s imperial capital and surely one of the most beautiful and enchanting cities in the world. Its streets team with culture and its proud residents are almost fiercely protective of their enigmatic, sometimes quirky, and endlessly fascinating home, where everyone from Strauss to Klimt and Freud lived and worked.
Vienna is home to well over a hundred museums. It seems there is a museum for almost anything – Chimney Sweeps, Boy Scouts, Tobacco, Trams, Undertakers, Contraception and Abortion… the list goes on and on. And that’s in addition to the wealth of art and history museums on a grand scale. One of the quirkiest – and the first of its kind anywhere in the world – is the Funeral Museum which has been relocated from the centre of Vienna to its new home in the Zentralfriedhof – Vienna’s main cemetery on the outskirts of the city.
When you enter, you are plunged into a dark, funereal atmosphere where the history of funerals and of the main funeral directors’ company in Vienna – Bestattung Wien – in particular is laid out in all its pomp and ceremony. The Viennese have always had something of a fascination with death and the quest to achieve a Schöne Leich (Literally ‘beautiful corpse’) is a passion. Most frequently that means creating the most lavish of funerals. This was especially the case in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when it seemed people vied with each other to create the most over-the-top ceremony.
Bestattung Wien pride themselves on being able to create the most unusual and individually designed funerals. So successful are they that people even come from abroad in order to have their unique vision executed. Funeral tourism! The company handles some 20,000 funerals a year, in Vienna and the surrounding area. Anything from traditional limousines, to horse-drawn vehicles, coffins made by their own coffin makers and pretty much anything your heart desires can be arranged – at a price of course. The museum features insignia, ceremonial uniforms, lanterns, a full size horse-drawn hearse containing a coffin (but minus the horses, of course!)
In a more modern vein, there is a display cabinet featuring a number of items including a small box with a tiny blue diamond. Yes, this is someone’s ashes, turned into an imitation diamond. The relative could, if they wanted, have this mounted into a piece of jewellery so they could wear their loved one around their neck, on their wrist, finger or even in a brooch worn over their heart. All this is on display at the museum, providing a unique insight into the Viennese way of death.
You will also see death masks, and a picture showing the specially designed Sitzsarg or ‘sitting-up’ coffin, based on a painting by Rene Magritte. Only one of these was ever made and it used to be on show but apparently not anymore.
Also on display are reminders that medical science was not always as accurate as it is today when determining whether a person was actually dead. In the first half of the 19th century, there was a widespread fear of being buried alive so a piece of string was attached to the deceased’s finger before burial. This string led into the cemetery warden’s office so that, in the event the ‘corpse’ woke up, they would ring the bell. Sadly, this led to a great many false alarms. Decomposition, shifting earth, release of gases after death all lead to changes in the position of the body sufficient to make the bell ring. Eventually the wardens got so fed up, they ceased the practice of attaching the warning bells, but you can see them here.
Even today, if you are still concerned that you might wake up after being buried, you can specify another option to ensure this could never happen by stating in your Will that, once your death has been pronounced, a thin stiletto-like knife should be used to pierce your heart. Now there can be no mistake. In the museum, one such stiletto is displayed in all its glory, on purple velvet in a glass case. Chilling. That will cost you 300 Euros.
In the so-called Age of Enlightenment, in the 18th century, Emperor Josef II saw fit to ban all cemeteries from the centre of Vienna and introduced the ‘reusable’ coffin. This contained a retractable hatch at the bottom. The body was placed in it, lowered, and the hatch released. The corpse, wrapped only in a sack would then fall into the grave. The coffin could then be used again and again. Needless to say, this did not agree with the Viennese way of death, the ‘beautiful corpse’ and all the pomp and ceremony and was abandoned.
The museum also features a section dedicated to the burials of six famous people from the modern era– some of whom may be less familiar to non-Austrians although Falco (Rock me Amadeus) is well-remembered, as is Curd Jürgens the actor who played a Bond villain in The Spy Who Loved Me.
The Viennese dark sense of humour is also evident in the museum’s gift shop where it is possible to buy coffin shaped USB memory sticks and cigarette cases bearing the words, Rauchen sichert Arbeitsplätze (‘smoking secures jobs’).
As I said at the beginning, “Only in Vienna…”
Destiny In Death
Eminent archaeologist Dr. Emeryk Quintillus has unearthed the burial chamber of Cleopatra. But this tomb raider’s obsession with the Queen of the Nile has nothing to do with preserving history. Stealing sacred and priceless relics, he murders his expedition crew, and flees—escaping the quake that swallows the site beneath the desert sands . . .
Young widow Adeline Ogilvy has accepted employment at the mansion of Dr. Quintillus, transcribing the late professor’s memoirs. Within the pages of his journals, she discovers the ravings of a madman convinced he possessed the ability to reincarnate Cleopatra. Within the walls of his home, she is assailed by unexplained phenomena: strange sounds, shadowy figures, and apparitions of hieroglyphics.
Something pursued Dr. Quintillus from Egypt. Something dark, something hungry. Something tied to the fate and future of Adeline Ogilvy . . .
Wrath Of The Ancients
About the Author:
Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She was the joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor. Cat’s novels include the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy – Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse, Saving Grace Devine and many more. She lives with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshiped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue. Cat and her family divide their time between Liverpool and a 260-year-old haunted apartment in North Wales.
You can connect with Cat here:
A new Catherine Cavendish book always shivers me timbers. She really knows how to hit my paranormal sweet spot. To celebrate the release of her latest and greatest, Saving Grace Devine, I invited Catherine to stop by and give my Hellions some world class goosebumps. So dim the light, settle into a comfy chair and read the tale of the White Lady of Stow Lake…
In my novel, Saving Grace Devine, a young girl is drowned, but her spirit returns to haunt the lakeside where she met her untimely end. She seeks help from the living, to help her cross over to the afterlife.
From my research, it would appear that my fictional Grace is not alone. Many people have reported seeing ghosts of drowned girls and young women, who are apparently bound to the shores of the lake where they died. They all appear to be searching for something, or someone -in dire need of help from the living to help them join the world of spirit.
And not all of them are benign.
One such wraith seems to constitute a deadly reason why I, for one, would think twice before venturing on a walk around Stow Lake in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Her appearances have been frequent and well documented.
Golden Gate Park is landscaped on similar lines to New York’s Central Park. It hosts a museum, Japanese Tea Gardens, the Conservatory of Flowers, Sprekels Park and, of course, Stow Lake. It also houses a number of ghosts – and even an allegedly moving statue. But more of that later. We’re concerned now with “a thin, tall figure in white.” So said Arthur Pigeon, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle of January 6th 1908. Police had pulled him over for speeding and he told the newspaper that it had blocked his way as he drove out of the park, “…it seemed to shine. It had long, fair hair and was barefooted. I did not notice the face. I was too frightened and anxious to get away from the place.”
Of course, the temptation is to say the man was merely trying to avoid getting a speeding ticket. And if his had been the only report, then that could well have been the case. But it wasn’t. Over the hundred plus years since that Chronicle article, many other people have reported seeing precisely the same apparition.
So who is this mysterious ‘white lady’ of Stow Lake?
There are, as always, a number of theories. One of the more compelling is that in the late 1800s, a young woman was out, walking her baby in its pram around the lake. She became tired and sat down on a bench. Presently another lady came to join her and the two struck up a conversation. So engrossed was the young mother that she failed to notice the pram rolling away. Suddenly she realized it had gone. There was no sign of either the pram or the baby. Panic stricken, she searched high and low, asking everyone, “Have you seen my baby?” No one had. For the rest of that day, and into the night, she searched.
Finally, she realized the baby and the pram must have fallen into the lake. She jumped in and was never seen alive again.
Witnesses who report seeing her speak of a woman in a dirty white dress, sometimes soaking wet and, contrary to Arthur Pigeon’s assertion that she had fair hair, the other reports consistently state she has long, dark hair. Sometimes she is also seen on Strawberry Hill – adjacent to the lake. Her face wears an anxious expression and she has been known to approach people walking around the lake at night. She asks, “Have you seen my baby?”
As for the statue I mentioned earlier, this is called ‘Pioneer Woman and Children’. It has a reputation for moving around – and even changing shape. These phenomena always occur at night and seem directly linked to the white lady. Sometimes the statue’s face changes. Other times, it has no legs or head. Motorists have reported electrical problems. Different cars driving near the statue or lake at the same time have stalled simultaneously.
Finally, if you are brave – or foolhardy – enough, try going down to Stow Lake at night and say, “White lady, white lady, I have your baby” three times. It is said she will then manifest herself before you and ask you, “Have you seen my baby?” If you say, “yes”, she will haunt you ever after. But, if you say, “no”, she’ll kill you.
Now there’s no documented evidence of the white lady committing murder. But are you prepared to put her to the test?
Can the living help the dead…and at what cost?
When Alex Fletcher finds a painting of a drowned girl, she’s unnerved. When the girl in the painting opens her eyes, she is terrified. And when the girl appears to her as an apparition and begs her for help, Alex can’t refuse.
But as she digs further into Grace’s past, she is embroiled in supernatural forces she cannot control, and a timeslip back to 1912 brings her face to face with the man who killed Grace and the demonic spirit of his long-dead mother. With such nightmarish forces stacked against her, Alex’s options are few. Somehow she must save Grace, but to do so, she must pay an unimaginable price.
You can find Saving Grace Devine here:
And other online retailers
Other books by Catherine Cavendish include:
And are currently available – or soon will be – from:
Catherine Cavendish lives with a long-suffering husband and ‘trainee’ black cat in North Wales. Her home is in a building dating back to the mid-18th century, which is haunted by a friendly ghost, who announces her presence by footsteps, switching lights on and strange phenomena involving the washing machine and the TV. Cat has written a number of published horror novellas, short stories, and novels, frequently reflecting her twin loves of history and horror and often containing more than a dash of the dark and Gothic. When not slaving over a hot computer, she enjoys wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.
You can connect with Cat here:
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:
Howdy there, Hunter’s Hellions! I figured I had to call you all something. I think Hellions fits.
Looking back, I managed to read over 80 books last year. Any time I can get in over 75 books, I’m happy. I’m envious of folks who can speed read books yet still retain everything. I’m no tortoise, but I’m no hare, either.
Coming up with a top 10 horror books list was no easy task because I read so many damn good books. I’ve gotten pretty good at spotting a clunker from a mile off, so if I sit down to read a book, it’s usually good.
Now, some of these books didn’t come out in 2015. All that matters is that I read them in 2015. I’m hoping this can help you discover some titles you might have missed over the past couple of years. So, without further ado, here are my 10 favorite horror reads of last year (in no particular order, because I was fracturing my brain trying to do it), plus some honorable mentions…
10. THE HAUNTED by Bentley Little
Little has always been one of my favorite authors. He takes all of the everyday insanity we’ve surrounded ourselves with in America and injects it with pure evil. The Haunted is one of the best he’s written in years.
The Perry family’s new house is perfect-except for the weird behavior of the neighbors, and that odd smell coming from a dark corner in the basement. Pity no one warned the family about the house. Now it’s too late. Because the darkness at the bottom of the basement stairs is rising.
9. VIDEO NIGHT by Adam Cesare
Oh man, this book reminded me of all the great horror flicks of the 80s. Adam is one of the best new writers out there, and Video Night is a great place to start!
Who knows more about fighting a monster invasion than a group of teenage horror fans?
Billy Rile is smart, adept at Nintendo and has a killer Hi-Fi setup. Life is good. But he has no idea that an alien life form has infected his town, a creature that overtakes and transforms its host.
8. DARKNESS RISING by Brian Moreland
Hands down the best novella of 2015. Brian Moreland always kicks ass…and I mean always. This is now my favorite of his books. Tender yet terrifying.
t’s all fun and games until…Marty Weaver, an emotionally scarred poet, has been bullied his entire life. When he drives out to the lake to tell an old friend that he’s fallen in love with a girl named Jennifer, Marty encounters three sadistic killers who have some twisted games in store for him. But Marty has dark secrets of his own buried deep inside him.
7. LITTLE GIRLS by Ron Malfi
This is classic horror in the vein of Peter Straub and Stephen King at their best. This is sure to go down as a classic. I know it’s one I’ll read again and again. I was extra proud to be his Kensington Publishing brother in 2015.
When Laurie was a little girl, she was forbidden to enter the room at the top of the stairs. It was one of many rules imposed by her cold, distant father. Now, in a final act of desperation, her father has exorcised his demons. But when Laurie returns to claim the estate with her husband and ten-year-old daughter, it’s as if the past refuses to die.
6. THE BORDER by Robert McCammon
The master returns to the genre that he defined! It doesn’t get any better than that. I’ve long said McCammon is the best who ever scribbled a tale of terror. The man hasn’t lost a step.
World Fantasy award-winning, bestselling author Robert McCammon makes a triumphant return to the epic horror and apocalyptic tone reminiscent of his books Swan Song and Stinger in this gripping new novel, The Border, a saga of an Earth devastated by a war between two marauding alien civilizations.
But it is not just the living ships of the monstrous Gorgons or the motion-blurred shock troops of the armored Cyphers that endanger the holdouts in the human bastion of Panther Ridge. The world itself has turned against the handful of survivors, as one by one they succumb to despair and suicide or, even worse, are transformed by otherworldly pollution into hideous Gray Men, cannibalistic mutants driven by insatiable hunger.
5. MR. MERCEDES & FINDERS KEEPERS by Stephen King
I got up to Maine a week after King was signing copies of Finders Keepers. My timing sucks. The first 2 books of his trilogy are as different from one another as they are engaging. I can’t wait for book 3 to come out!
In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.
In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the “perk” and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.
4. PRISONER 489 by Joe R Lansdale
Lansdale should be a household name. Every book he writes is gold. Prisoner 489 is a terrific novella that centers around one of my favorite horror tropes. I won’t spoil it for you. Get the book, now!
On an island with a prison for the most evil and powerful criminals in the world, a new prisoner is strapped to the electric chair for execution. After multiple surges of electricity and nearly knocking out power to the entire island, the prisoner is finally dead. The staff buries him in the prison graveyard with a simple marker baring three numbers: 489.
After the body is buried, a violent storm rocks the islands and a staff member goes missing. The crew rushes into the storm, searching for their lost comrade. They find that the burial site of prisoner 489 has been unearthed, and the body that was inside has gone missing.
3. LORDS OF TWILIGHT by Greg Gifune
You all know I’m a sucker for anything that deals with aliens. In fact, another alien book is part of the honorable mention crew. This is one of the most terrifying ones I’ve read in a while. Loved it.
Strange things are happening in the small, isolated town of Edgar, Maine. Mysterious lights dot the night skies. A local farmer is found dead at the summit of a hill with no evidence as to how his body got there. Livestock is disappearing, only to be discovered later, dead and mutilated with precision-like wounds. And despite the coming of an enormous winter storm, odd men identifying themselves simply as ‘federal agents’ have converged on Edgar in government vehicles as if in anticipation of some greater event.
2. JAGGER by Kristopher Rufty
Cujo on meth. That’s the best way I can describe this. Once again, Rufty populates his novel with sketchy characters doing terrible things. I couldn’t put it down.
Other than the trailer park left to her by her deceased daddy, Amy’s favorite treasure is Jagger, her 180-pound bull mastiff. One day while she is away, Clayton, her best friend’s scumbag boyfriend sneaks into her yard and takes the dog. His prize fighting pit bull was killed during its last match, costing a lot of bad people a lot of money. To make up for his dog’s losses, and to save his own life, Clayton enlists the help of a medical student dropout to turn Jagger into a killing machine by pumping him full of experimental drugs and muscle enhancers. Now Jagger is a monster, a beast that can’t feel pain, with an unquenchable thirst for blood. He quickly breaks out of his pen and starts making his way home, tearing apart anyone in his path on his way to the one he feels has betrayed him the most—Amy.
- THE HUNGER SERIES by Jason Brant
I ate this trilogy up like they were White Castle and I was fresh off a 2 day bender. This is a post apocalypse world bursting with beasties that would make the walkers in The Walking Dead shit themselves, if they had working colons. I highly recommend them. The books, not the shitting zombies.
Day One: A series of terrorist attacks spread a cloud of noxious gas over highly populated areas.
Day Two: Higher brain function erodes in those exposed to the gas. Their bodies begin to distort, faces distending, skin sallowing, teeth elongating.
Day Three: The infected disappear into the shadows, fleeing the harsh daylight which has begun to sear their flesh.
Day Four: The world is DEVOURED.
And now for the honorable mentions. All of them could easily have made my top 10. It was that close! Get these books as fast as you can.
Q ISLAND by Russell James (apocalyptic goodness!)
THE PENDLE CURSE by Catherine Caendish (witches & time travel – yes!)
BLOOD AND RAIN by Glenn Rolfe (restored my faith in werewolf tales)
BEHIND THE DARKNESS by Robert Dunn (aliens done right – scary)
GOBLINS by David Bernstein (cryptids – what more can I say?)
OK, there you have it, my top 10 (really 15) horror tales for 2015. I could had added so many more, but I have to get out of the house.
Have you read any of the books I listed? What would make your top 10? What do you think I should be reading in 2016?
Keep flying the horror flag, my Hellions!
As always, I start my Horrortober reading in mid September so I can get to as many dark delicacies as possible. For those of you new to my Horrortober, it’s essentially my total immersion in all things horror from now until Halloween. During this special time, I only read horror and watch at least one horror movie a day.
Yes, there are a lot of Samhain books on here or books by authors who have published with Samhain. What can I say, they’re putting out some of the best new horror around, just like the good old days at Leisure. And yes, I have two, count ’em, two books on the list called The Deep. It’s an ambitious list this time around, but I think I’m up to the task. And of course there will be short stories, mags like Horrorhound, Rue Morgue, Fangoria and more. I’m buckling in as I write.
So, if you’re looking for some great spooky reading, come along with me…
BIGFOOT BEACH by Kristopher Rufty
A bizarre, brutal murder. A missing woman. And a giant footprint in the sand. Now, the dying beach community known as Seashell Cove finally has a hook to attract the tourists—a Bigfoot on the beach! As the summer season winds down, the tourists go home and the town begins preparing for the colder months.
Soon, more strange footprints are found, other mysterious sightings are reported. Then the deaths begin. Could there really be a Bigfoot running loose in Seashell Cove?
A tracker with a personal agenda, the local sheriff, a hero whose fifteen minutes of fame expired a long time ago, and a female reporter looking for a scoop will team up to find out for sure.
DARKNESS RISING by Brian Moreland
It’s all fun and games until…
Marty Weaver, an emotionally scarred poet, has been bullied his entire life. When he drives out to the lake to tell an old friend that he’s fallen in love with a girl named Jennifer, Marty encounters three sadistic killers who have some twisted games in store for him. But Marty has dark secrets of his own buried deep inside him. And tonight, when all the pain from the past is triggered, when those secrets are revealed, blood will flow and hell will rise.
THE DEEP by Nick Cutter
TRIBESMAN by Adam Cesare
Thirty years ago, cynical sleazeball director Tito Bronze took a tiny cast and crew to a desolate island. His goal: to exploit the local tribes, spray some guts around, cash in on the gore-spattered 80s Italian cannibal craze.
But the pissed-off spirits of the island had other ideas. And before long, guts were squirting behind the scenes, as well. While the camera kept rolling…
TRIBESMEN is Adam Cesare’s blistering tribute to Cannibal Holocaust and Lucio Fulci: a no-bullshit glimpse into grindhouse filmmaking, stuffed inside a rocket of tropical non-stop mayhem.
WE ARE MONSTERS by Brian Kirk
The Apocalypse has come to the Sugar Hill mental asylum.
He’s the hospital’s newest, and most notorious, patient—a paranoid schizophrenic who sees humanity’s dark side.
Luckily he’s in good hands. Dr. Eli Alpert has a talent for healing tortured souls. And his protégé is working on a cure for schizophrenia, a drug that returns patients to their former selves. But unforeseen side effects are starting to emerge. Forcing prior traumas to the surface. Setting inner demons free.
Monsters have been unleashed inside the Sugar Hill mental asylum. They don’t have fangs or claws. They look just like you or me.
BLOOD AND RAIN by Glenn Rolfe
The light of a full moon reveals many secrets.
Gilson Creek, Maine. A safe, rural community. Summer is here. School is out and the warm waters of Emerson Lake await. But one man’s terrible secret will unleash a nightmare straight off the silver screen.
Under the full moon, a night of terror and death re-awakens horrors long sleeping. Sheriff Joe Fischer, a man fighting for the safety of his daughter, his sanity and his community, must confront the sins of his past. Can Sheriff Fischer set Gilson Creek free from the beast hiding in its shadows, or will a small town die under a curse it can’t even comprehend?
One night can—and will—change everything.
DARK AVENGING ANGEL by Catherine Cavendish
Don’t hurt Jane. You may live to regret it.
Bullied by her abusive father, Jane always felt different. Then the lonely child found a friend in a mysterious dark lady who offers her protection—a lady she calls her “angel”. But that protection carries a terrible price, one to be paid with the souls of those Jane chooses to suffer a hideous and eternal fate.
When Jane refuses to name another victim, the angel reveals her most terrifying side. Payment must be made in full—one way or the other.
THE DEEP by Michaelbrent Collings
A woman searching for a sister lost at sea. A man bent on finding lost treasure. A mother who has lost all hope. A maniac who believes all life exists for his pleasure. The man who would keep them all safe.Together, they will all seek below the waves for treasures long buried, and riches beyond belief. But those treasures hide something. Something ancient, something dark. A creature that exists only to feed on those that would enter into its realm. A creature… of The Deep.
THE RED HIGHWAY by Robert E. Dunn
I have to admit, my fascination with witches has extended to Witchy-Poo from Bugs Bunny, Hocus Pocus and the TV show, Charmed, mostly because it had Alyssa Milano.
When it came to witches in horror fiction, I hadn’t even dipped my toes in the water until I read Brian Moreland’s THE WITCHING HOUSE, which was so good, I knew in an instant I was hooked on a sub genre. It came just in time, because I was getting pretty damn bored with vampires and zombies.
So imagine my delight when I found out that fellow Samhainer, Catherine Cavendish, came out with her own witch’s brew of horror, THE PENDLE CURSE. It only took two pages for me to realize I was in the capable hands of someone who is at the top of their game, and with that, I settled in for one of the best novels of this very young year.
Four hundred years ago, ten convicted witches were hanged on Gallows Hill. Now they are back…for vengeance.
Laura Phillips’s grief at her husband’s sudden death shows no sign of passing. Even sleep brings her no peace. She experiences vivid, disturbing dreams of a dark, brooding hill, and a man—somehow out of time—who seems to know her. She discovers that the place she has dreamed about exists. Pendle Hill. And she knows she must go there.
But as soon as she arrives, the dream becomes a nightmare. She is caught up in a web of witchcraft and evil…and a curse that will not die.
As someone who has a chronically ill wife, my biggest fear is losing her. So right away, I’m completely sympathetic to Laura, a woman trying to cope with the loss of her husband. There’s a little touch of a ghost story here, too, just enough to make you wonder what’s coming next and to feel her pain and curiosity about the strange things happening in her home.
Cavendish expertly takes us on a ride between past and present as Laura is cast under the spell of the Pendle Curse. A simple trip to get away from things and heal turns into an absolute nightmare. She does a fantastic job creating what could have been cookie cutter characters into fully fleshed out human beings with strengths and faults that make you love them one minute and hate them the next. I literally had no idea what was going to happen, and for someone who knows how the sausage is made, this is high praise indeed.
Now, the witches in The Pendle Curse aren’t sporting warts or riding around on brooms, but they are terrifying in their own right. And there’s a little something extra within these pages for fans of classic VC Andrews yarns. I’m not giving away any spoilers, because you have to get the book and read it yourself.
Catherine Cavendish is now on my top 10 list. I give it 5 out of 5 brooms!