Sunday, 1 November 2020

In Darkness, Shadows Breathe

Carol and Nessa are strangers but not for much longer.

In a luxury apartment and in the walls of a modern hospital, the evil that was done continues to thrive. They are in the hands of an entity that knows no boundaries and crosses dimensions - bending and twisting time itself - and where danger waits in every shadow. The battle is on for their bodies and souls and the line between reality and nightmare is hard to define.

Through it all, the words of Lydia Warren Carmody haunt them. But who was she? And why have Carol and Nessa been chosen?

The answer lies deep in the darkness…


Carol and Nessa – two strangers living widely contrasting lives in the same town. In normal circumstances their paths would never have crossed. But these circumstances are far from normal.

 Carol  Shaughnessy – orphaned and haunted since childhood by an entity whose name she has never known. Her childhood was spent moving from one foster home to another, until the horror of the last one. Now she works in a supermarket while looking after a beautiful luxury apartment. The couple who own it are in Dubai for six months and Carol can hardly believe her luck, but the block of flats overlooks the Royal and Waverley Hospital and is built on the same land formerly occupied by the Victorian Waverley Workhouse and Asylum.

 Within a day of moving in, things start to happen. Strange, unnerving events that Carol struggles to explain. A walk in the grounds of the apartment block proves anything but therapeutic as she finds herself cast back in time, seeing the world through another woman’s eyes – a wife married to a sadistic, controlling husband a century earlier, whose anger is about to overwhelm her.

 That same night, restored to herself once more, Carol finds a poem by a woman called Lydia Warren Carmody. Titled, In Darkness, Shadows Breathe, its words haunt her. She sees a face of a young girl at the window – a girl who mouths the words, “You’re next” and then vanishes into the shadows. From then on, it seems those words are destined to pursue her. She collapses at work and is hospitalized where she meets a woman who takes her through a door into another world – the world of the One and the Many.

 Nessa Tremaine – diagnosed with a rare form of cancer - undergoes extensive, life-changing surgery in the Royal and Waverley, where she soon discovers all is not as it seems. A voice summons her in the dead of night. She finds herself in the workhouse of the past and in contact with pure evil – an entity that controls its chosen servants and continues to thrive. It knows no boundaries and crosses dimensions, capable of bending time and space itself.

 Nessa and Carol are thrown together. Each needs the other, although the reason is unclear. Nessa also finds the poem In Darkness, Shadows Breathe. Like Carol, she is consumed by it. But who was Lydia Warren Carmody and why do her words haunt them? What is the significance of the young girl she, like Carol, encounters?  All Nessa has is question upon question. She must find the answers – for her and for Carol. The battle is on for their bodies and souls and the line between reality and nightmare is hard to define.


In Darkness, Shadows Breathe is out on January 19th 2021 and can be pre-ordered here:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Simon & Schuster UK

Simon & Schuster US

and in bookshops and other online outlets

Saturday, 24 October 2020

Flame Tree - Live and Spooky for Halloween




We stirred up our cauldrons, dusted off your broomsticks and lit up our Jack O'Lanterns for the first ever Flame Tree Publishing Halloween Creepy Carnival of horrific delights.


So, what happened?

Click on the links to find out:


 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Midnight in the Pentagram -

 


Stir your cauldrons...
Mount your broomsticks
Get ready to be scared...unnerved...terrified
And whatever you do
No matter what the provocation
Never
Never
Never step outside the pentagram

Halloween is upon us and your favourite writers of the horrific, supernatural, witchy and downright scary, have come together to present a hellish feast of devilish delights:

Lario Tus/Shutterstock.com
As the clock’s pendulum steadily counts down towards the midnight hour, the growing scent of brimstone hangs heavy in the air. The universal symbol of all that is evil, the pentagram, or the inverted pentacle, has been carved in the hardwood floor. Its shape is often described as the goat of lust attacking the Heavens with its horns during the witches’ sabbat. Five obsidian candles flicker as the incantations begin. Who will be summoned during this unholy evening? Will it be Baphomet? Or Belial? Maybe even Lucifer himself? The roof timbers groan. Stressed plaster drops to the floor. The demon approaches, holding its ancient grimoire filled with evil stories, written in blood…and here they are.

Authors include:

Brian Keene/ Graham Masterton/ Tim Curran/ Catherine Cavendish/ James Newman/ Todd Keisling/ Jason Parent/ Stephanie Ellis/ Chad Lutzke/ Tim Meyer/ Tony Tremblay /Laurel Hightower/ Kenneth W. Cain/ J.G. Faherty/ William Meikle/ Shannon Felton/ Owl Goingback/ Wesley Southard/ Charlotte Platt/ Cameron Ulam/ Brian Moreland/ Armand Rosamilia/ Kenneth McKinley/ Azzurra Nox/ John Quick/ Allan Leverone/ Mark Steensland/ P.D. Cacek/ Ed Erdelac/ Mark Towse/ Amanda Hard

Fer Gregory/Shutterstock.com

As for my contribution:
The Oubliette of Élie Loyd has its roots in some horrific stories of the dastardly Baron Despencer - founder of the notorious 18th century Hellfire Club, where it is said devil worship and all kinds of evil took place - and in my own visits to some of Britain's most spectacular castles, where dark deeds and foul oubliettes are to be found aplenty.

Here we have a devil with an insatiable hunger and a family with a deadly heritage. In the ruins of a once magnificent castle, an oubliette is ready for its next occupant...

Midnight in the Pentagram is published by Silver Shamrock publishing and available here:

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

The Witches of Belvoir Castle



My new novella – The Malan Witch – centres around a haunted cottage – possessed by two of the most evil witches you could ever (not) wish to encounter. At the time these women were alive, witch hunts were in full swing.

At Belvoir Castle, near Grantham, in Lincolnshire, in the early part of the 17th century, the Earl and Countess of Rutland employed a mother – Joan Flower - and her two daughters, Philippa and Margaret. All three were known to be well versed in the art of herbal remedies. The Rutlands were in urgent need of extra domestic help as a visit from King James I was expected. The Flower family didn’t last long there though. They were dismissed amid rumours of theft and other misdemeanours.


Almost immediately after the women left, the Earl and Countess fell ill of vomiting and convulsions. Then their children suffered similarly. Their heir – Henry – died a few weeks later and was buried on 26th September 1613. Francis also fell ill but, thankfully, their daughter, Katherine, recovered. 

By 1616, the thirst for purging witches had reached fever pitch, and nine women were hanged in Leicestershire for crimes committed involving the Black Arts. They had been accused of bewitching a young boy who subsequently died. These witches owned animals, known as ‘familiars’, said to assist them in their devil’s work, casting spells and other mischief. The Flower women also possessed a cat – called Rutterkin – who was to play a significant role in subsequent events.


The Rutlands’ second son, Francis, died and, in 1618, a full five years after Henry had passed away, the Flower women were arrested on charges relating to witchcraft in connection with his death. All protested their innocence, but were taken away to be ‘examined’. Following this, they were sent to Lincoln Gaol, where they were due to be incarcerated until their trial. On the way there, Joan Flower, who did not attend church, requested a piece of bread, in lieu of Eucharist. She said it would prove her innocence, as surely no true witch would be able to eat something so pure and holy. She took a bite, choked on it and died.

Needless to say, the women undoubtedly suffered horrific torture. That era was notorious for the creativity employed in extracting confessions from people. A visit to any crime museum will reveal implements such as the boot (which crushed feet and ankles), the scold’s bridle (complete with spikes to pierce the victim’s mouth), needles to pierce nails and pincers to pull those same nails out. Food and sleep deprivation and beatings with chains added to the sadistic and horrific menu.

Margaret Flower eventually accused her - now deceased - mother of witchcraft. Philippa admitted she was a witch – and accused her mother and Margaret. The sisters both confessed to consorting with ‘familiar spirits’ to assist them in their schemes. And this is where their mother’s cat – Rutterkin- came in. The sisters said they stole the glove of Henry, the Rutlands’ heir and gave it to Joan. She dipped it in boiling water, stroked it along Rutterkin’s back and chanted incantations which caused the boy to fall ill. To ensure the Earl and Countess couldn’t have any more children and, therefore, remained without an heir, the women had cast a spell, using feathers from the Earl’s bed and a pair of gloves which they boiled and then mixed with blood.


The two sisters also accused others of being witches. Anne Baker, Joan Willimot and Ellen Greene were arrested, ‘examined’ and then, unsurprisingly, ‘confessed’ to practicing witchcraft.

Margaret and Philippa Flower were tried and found guilty. They were hanged in Lincoln Castle on 11th March 1619.

The Earl and Countess remained convinced - to their dying days - that their eldest son had been killed by witchcraft. On their monument, as part of the inscription, are these words:


There has been recent speculation that Joan Flower and her daughters were framed by none other than the infamous George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham and favourite of King James I. The story goes that Villiers had designs on the Rutlands’ daughter, Katherine. He planned to marry her and - with both her brothers dead - inherit the title. He achieved his ambition to marry the girl on 16th May 1620, much to her father’s disapproval.

Fortunately this unpleasant and arrogant man did not achieve his ultimate ambition. He did not become the next Earl of Rutland. He died in 1628, four years before his father in law. At least some justice prevailed in this sorry saga!


'Naught remained of their bodies to be buried, for the crows took back what was theirs.’ 

An idyllic coastal cottage near a sleepy village. What could be more perfect? For Robyn Crowe, borrowing her sister’s recently renovated holiday home for the summer seems just what she needs to deal with the grief of losing her beloved husband.

But behind those pretty walls lie many secrets, and legends of a malevolent sisterhood - two witches burned for their evil centuries earlier. Once, both their vile spirits were trapped there. Now, one has been released. One who is determined to find her sister. Only Robyn stands in her way.

And the crow has returned.

You can order The Malan Witch here: