So comes the warning from writer of spooky stories, Catherine Cavendish. Her latest novella, The Second Wife, is out today – so I asked her to come over and tell us about it. It’s not Cat’s second coming, she’s been a regular here as she’s been pretty successful in getting published over the last year. Welcome, Cat!
Buyer Beware! Your Furniture May Be Haunted!
In my latest paranormal novella, The Second Wife, my main character, Chrissie Marchant, is haunted by the unquiet spirit of her husband’s first wife. A chair and a stunning photograph of the lady in question feature strongly. But is this all pure fiction? Or should you think twice before buying that antique chest or bedroom suite? Here’s a sample of artefacts that should probably never again see the light of day…
The Haunted ‘Conjure’ Chest
Over 150 years ago, an African American slave called Hosea was ordered by his master, Jacob Cooley, to build him a chest to be used by his first-born child.
Hosea created a fine carved chest but, for some reason, it did not please his exacting master who beat him mercilessly until he lay dead.
Hosea was mourned by Cooley’s other slaves who vowed revenge on their terrible master. Together with a ‘conjure man’, they sprinkled dried owl’s blood in the chest which they then cursed. They didn’t have to wait long for their first result, as Jacob Cooley’s beloved first-born son perished in infancy.
To date, a total of 17 deaths have been attributed to this piece of antique furniture and, even though legend states that the curse was eventually removed, the present owners have stored it in the Kentucky History Museum. The only thing the chest contains is an envelope. Stuffed with owl feathers.
John is an avid collector of allegedly haunted items. One of the items in his collection is this ordinary looking, old-fashioned school desk. Nothing remarkable about it, you would think. But you wouldn’t have thought it so ordinary if you had been there on the day it was transported to John’s museum.
Its former home was a college campus, but its presence unnerved some of the students. Before it could be moved, and during John’s paranormal investigation of it, the desk suddenly slid across the floor – while someone was actually sitting in it!
The Ghostly Bedroom Suite
Not content with one piece of haunted furniture, Sarah Forbes had an entire bedroom suite that she put up for sale because it gave her the creeps. “It has been in my family for about 200 years. There are multiple spirits that come through it. They touch you, wake you and move your things. You can see faces in the wood…” As a child, she says she thought nothing of the strange figures who would mysteriously waft in and out of her bedroom at night. You can read more about her strange story at
You’ll find many more mysterious stories like this on the internet. But now, I’ve got you in the mood for ghostly tales, here’s the blurb for The Second Wife:
Emily Marchant died on Valentine’s Day. If only she’d stayed dead…
When Chrissie Marchant first sets eyes on Barton Grove, she feels as if the house doesn’t want her. But it’s her new husband’s home, so now it’s her home as well. Sumptuous and exquisitely appointed, the house is filled with treasures that had belonged to Joe’s first wife, the perfect Emily, whom the villagers still consider the real mistress of Barton Grove.
A stunning photograph of the first Mrs. Marchant hangs in the living room, an unblemished rose in her hand. There’s something unnerving and impossibly alive about that portrait, but it’s not the only piece of Emily still in the house. And as Chrissie’s marriage unravels around her, she learns that Emily never intended for Joe to take a second wife…
I’ve enjoyed Catherine Cavendish’s previous works and was eager to read her latest offering. The cover is stunning, but would the book live up to it?
Published By: Etopia Press
Published: Feb 17, 2012
ISBN # 9781937976033
Word Count: 32,154
Sometimes evil wears a beautiful face…
After her illness, the quiet backwater of Priory St Michael seemed the ideal place for Stella to recuperate. But in the peaceful little town, something evil is slumbering, waiting for its chance to possess what it desires. When Stella and her husband move into the long-empty apartment, they’re unaware of what exists in the cupboard upstairs, the entrance to an evil that will threaten both their lives…
I sometimes think as a horror writer and someone who has also watched hundreds of horror films, that maybe one becomes desensitised, unable to feel fear from a work of fiction. I’m often entertained by what I’m happy to rate as good horror, and often I’m totally disappointed. I didn’t expect to be disappointed by The Demons of Cambian Street, having already a taste for Cavendish’s genre, but a haunted flat could have been a bit, well, flat I suppose.
Cavendish is distinctively British – it comes out clearly in her style and content, and it’s one of the things I like about her writing (it is a shame, in my opinion, that for the US market her language gets tweaked, but don’t let me make this out to be a bigger issue than it is. I just found an incongruous ‘gotten’ that leapt right out and scared the shit out of me, and I felt that in a British town, a British car might have been allowed a boot rather than something more associated here with a popular pachyderm). Her stories are of the old school such as M R James and, dare I say, Wheatley (the real one, not the current impostor!). With The Demons of Cambian Street she grows in stature to take her place in that Hall of Fame. To my surprise, this story chilled me, sending a rash of goosebumps up my arms, shrinking my scalp and releasing that cold bicycle down my spine. I’d almost forgotten how that felt.
A dream inheritance, a dark legacy, a new beginning…
When Gareth Balaam inherits Harbinger House, he thinks his problems are over. But unfortunately, they’ve only just begun. Harbinger House has a dark past. Shrouded in mystery, what may have occurred within its walls is still a matter of conjecture. The locals at the pub talk about the place in whispers. Gareth’s partner, Tim, thinks the house is haunted.
Gareth doesn’t believe in ghosts, but he does believe Tim is using the house as an excuse to not work on their relationship. Their trip to the country to bring them closer seems to be doing the opposite. Tensions and resentments flare, and through it all, someone is watching…
Luka is lonely and bored. Confined to the shadows of the house for decades, he has driven all the previous occupants insane with lust. Except the last. The one man Luka had loved had broken his heart and had left rather than lose his mind. The house stood empty, and Luka was alone. But not anymore. There’s life in the house again, two delicious lovers, two new humans to seduce. Except one refuses to play…
I’d looked forward to reading Kiran Hunter’s debut release because it’s one of those hard-to-classify cross-genre stories that always intrigue me. A good old ghost story of the M R James variety, coupled – if I can be forgiven for using the word – with a gay relationship (I avoid the use of the word romance intentionally) between two asking-to-be-smacked middle class men from the Alan Hollinghurst school. The result is a wonderfully creepy, emotionally charged, sometimes explicit, short story that positions Hunter ready to take the world of gay/mm/paranormal fiction by storm. Read it or miss out.
“Where the hell are we?”
Gareth braked hard as yet another blind bend approached. Each tight corner had him holding his breath as he anticipated a too-close encounter with a local driver hurtling the other way. He swore at the satnav, then instinctively ducked his head as the trees overshadowing the narrow road suddenly reached down even farther. Low-hanging branches tried to pluck the car from the tarmac, and rampant brambles flailed across the road as if trying to snare foolhardy travelers and drag them into their spiky embrace. For a second he wondered no traffic had actually come this way for years and nature was trying to reclaim the road.
“Not sure it’s the satnav’s fault, Gareth. You kept telling her to shut up. I think we went wrong at the junction back there.” Tim smiled at him. Gareth had bought the damn thing because it was preferable to his partner’s map reading skills, and to save the arguments. Didn’t stop Gareth from arguing with the ever-patient gadget instead, but at least it merely calmly recalculated the journey every time he ignored it, instead of throwing a terminally battered map book into the back seat and sitting in resolute silence as Tim was prone to do.
“Where in God’s name are we?” Gareth repeated through clenched teeth.
“Ask the satnav.”
“According to the satnav, this road doesn’t exist—we’re driving across a wasteland.”
“We are somewhere near Rippington.”
“And you know that how?”
“There was a sign.”
Gareth sighed and braked hard again. The trip wasn’t going well. He had hoped the day would herald a fresh start. Fingers crossed, they’d soon be moving to a new place away from the city and he would be able to spend some time with Tim without distractions. To try to get to know each other again. A new beginning.
But even with the prospect of a change of scenery, they were still bickering.
The tiny hamlet gradually staggered into being. The scattered cottages, almost hidden in the hedgerows on each side of the road, became closer together, merging into the High Street. The small and almost imperceptibly beating heart of the community sat huddled around the small village green. The place was deserted. The only sign of life was a cat wandering, tail up, across the road. No kids playing soccer on the green—no senior citizens leaning on walls and talking about the weather.
It’s almost pretty, Tim thought. Almost, but not quite. A bit isolated. Christ knows where the nearest wine bar is. Maybe that’s a good thing? The idea of moving into the country because Gareth couldn’t keep his dick in his trousers rankled—but better that than climbing into the car in the early hours to retrieve him when he phoned from a club unable to drive or, worse than that, wondering where he was when he didn’t phone and didn’t return home, either. No temptation—and no social life…
“There’s a pub,” Gareth said, as if he’d been reading Tim’s thoughts.
“Well, it says ‘food,’ so maybe it’ll open shortly. It’s turning into a nice evening; we’ll check out the house and maybe take a walk. Kill some time before the pub opens and then get something to eat.”
“Walk where? Around the green? That should take us all of five minutes.”
“For God’s sake, Tim. At least try.”
Gareth slammed the car door shut and activated the central locking system. It was later than he’d hoped; the sun was setting, a flock of birds wheeling up into the sky before turning back on itself and settling in the trees surrounding the village church. Almost pretty, he thought, turning on his heels to take in the rest of the scene. Almost, but not quite… Good God. He cleared his throat. Tim wasn’t going to like this. “Well, there it is, I think. Somewhere in there,” he said.
“What? That?” Tim followed Gareth’s gaze across the road. “No! Look at the place!”
The gate squealed in protest, as if it hadn’t been opened for decades. The sun had almost disappeared, the tops of the trees surrounding the house now brushed with a pink glow and the garden beneath consumed by shadow.
“I suppose it could have been beautiful once upon a time. It’s a little overgrown,” Tim said.
“Adds to its charm.” Gareth hoped he sounded convincing.
“Erm, not sure charm is the word you’re after.”
“Let’s take a look. Reserve judgment until we’ve seen inside the place.”
With Tim a footstep behind, Gareth made his way up the path, negotiating crumbling concrete and easing past rampant shrubs. Beside the front door, a plaque was just visible through the ivy clinging on to the building. He pried the stubborn stems away from the wood to read the carved words beneath.
“Well, that’s reassuring, Gareth. Harbinger of doom, and all that.”
“Curious the place isn’t called that on the deeds…just 20 Willow Green.”
Gareth slid the key into the lock and turned it. There was a moment’s hesitation before the catch clicked and the door eased open an inch, as if the house wasn’t quite ready for them. He smiled at Tim and, with a dramatic flourish, gestured for him to enter first. Tim shook his head.
“After you. The place is yours.”
“Ours, Tim. It’s ours.”
The warning cry from the rusting gate ripped his senses awake, but his mind was slow to follow. All Luka was aware of at first was the agony of sound and the warm trickle of blood from his ears. His muscles stretched as he moved, tendons almost tearing from the bone as he unraveled his body from its fetal position. He wailed with the new pain—a feeble echo of the metal against metal outside. His first intake of breath rasped down his throat and burned into his lungs. He clamped his mouth shut and breathed in deeply through his nose. The house was different—the odor of dust and mold and damp was still there, but something else too. The protesting gate had heralded the arrival of new flesh. He could smell it.
A river of cold air flowed across his pain-wracked body, caressing his arms, his chest, his legs—the outside world finding a way through a crack in his prison and reawakening his nerve endings to remind him of what he had been without for so long.