Review of the Vanishment by Jonathan Aycliffe – 5 Stars

The VanishmentThe Vanishment by Jonathan Aycliffe

Genre: Horror

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book has been on my to-read pile for a long time and I don’t know what kept making me select others over it but boy do I regret that decision now. This book is brilliant. Such an enjoyable proper ghost story. Without all the gory bells and whistles that often fills this genre.

I had previously been advised to read “The Matrix” by Jonathan Aycliffe which was very good (dark, brooding, creepy) but “The Vanishment”, I think, is better.

The Vanishment tells the secret tales of two families. The story centres around the disturbing past of Petherick House and it’s the owners (past and present). Peter Clare, is the main character of the book who recounts his experience, he is a writer by profession which makes the book all the more intriguing as you question whether the events are the truth or a bit of writers flare. Peter Clare and his wife, Sarah, rent Petherick House for a couple of months to work on their writing and art, and to rebuild their strained marriage following a personal tragedy. After his wife Sarah disappears, and the police believe Peter is the culprit, Peter becomes consumed with trying to unravel the secrets of the house.

I always think it is useful to see an extract of an author’s writing and in this book there are loads of great bits to choose from but I thought this one is quite interesting as it captures a bit of the creepy brooding that appears throughout the book:

 

“That night I dreamed a very strange dream. I dreamed I was in the hallway, looking up the stairs. For some reason, I was afraid. There was something at the top of the stairs, something I did not want to see or meet. And the upper half of the staircase was in darkness. In spite of my fear, I felt myself being drawn, step by reluctant step, along the hall to the foot of the stairs.” …”

One of the things I loved about this book was the multi-timeline element. Parts of this story could be a dark historical fiction novel, Aycliffe does such a brilliant job of bringing that Victorian era through the pages.

I have been trying to think of a modern writer whose writing is similar to this, and the only one that really springs to mind is Sarah Rayne. Traditional mystery and macabre type of writing with a historic undertone. It also has a touch of Susan Hill about it.

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Review of Eight Ghosts: The English Heritage Book of New Ghost Stories – 5 Stars

Eight Ghosts: The English Heritage Book of New Ghost StoriesEight Ghosts: The English Heritage Book of New Ghost Stories by Rowan Routh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is pretty much as the cover describes, eight authors were given after hours access to eight English Heritage sites to create this new series of ghost stories. The book immediately peaked my interest, I have been an English Heritage member for many years and I am always intrigued by the histories of the properties. I also enjoy a good ghost story, so this book seemed to offer the best of both worlds.

The collection of stories is really quite interesting. Some of the authors chose a historical slant, whilst others chose a more psychological approach, and some even chose alternative histories. All in all a great variety of ghosts. The actual mixture of properties is really interesting too. I would fully recommend York Cold War Bunker to those that haven’t been, this is an easily overly looked site but so interesting with a great guided tour.ghosts-gespenter-spooky-horror-40748.jpeg

The Authors and Locations are as follows:
• Kate Clanchy, Housesteads Roman Fort
• Stuart Evers, Dover Castle
• Mark Haddon, York Cold War Bunker
• Andrew Michael Hurley, Carlisle Castle
• Sarah Perry, Audley End
• Max Porter Eltham Palace
• Kamila Shamsie, Kenilworth Castle
• Jeanette Winterson, Pendennis Castle

There were two stories that really stuck out for me. Mark Haddon’s tale at the York Cold War Bunker was really eerie and so descriptive it felt a little too real (which is only a good thing I think when it comes to ghost stories). Stuart Evers tale from Dover Castle is brilliant and had such an unexpected twist I was kicking myself that I hadn’t seen it coming. There were a couple of stories I didn’t enjoy quite so much but that is the thing about a collection it means there is a bit of something for everyone.

I must say one of my favourite things about this book is the end section entitled “A GAZETTEER OF ENGLISH HERITAGE HAUNTINGS”. This is a collection of hauntings and sightings that have been reported to staff at various locations around the country and makes for a really interesting read. Poor staff! I’m not sure many people would want to continue closing up on a dark night after hearing some of these tales, but they do make for entertaining reading.

I thought this was a great concept and hope English Heritage choose to offer more of these collections. It would be brilliant if they actually opened up late night visits to English Heritage members and invited them to do their own creative writing based on the experience, (maybe with publication of the best entries in the magazine that they send to members). I am sure many would jump at the chance.

Overall a really intriguing collection, the fact that you can visit the locations written about is the cherry on the cake.

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The Jilted Bride – #writephoto

Her veil fluttered in the breeze and she let out a wail into the dawn sky. The sun was coming and her presence would be hindered in the daylight. She prayed for winter, foggy days and dreary weather helped her stay around for longer.

 

Arch Image by Sue Vincent

Arch – Image by Sue Vincent

 

One of her favourite things to do was to follow one step behind a person, see if they felt her presence. Occasionally she would inhale deeply beside their ear-catching the scents of the sweet perfumes of the modern day. This often made them shudder and she could not deny the shadow of joy that gave to her wandering soul.

Occasionally she would get the chance to enact her true calling, her reason for being. She would watch the young couples strolling around the site hand in hand, or linked arm in arm, giggling merrily to themselves. She watched them captivated by their young naivety. She would watch and she would wait.

As the time approached, and the young man got down on one knee she would summon all her strength and push him over. She would whip the young woman’s scarf or hair or whatever she would grasp. As they regained composure she would scream. A high-pitched piercing scream. She enjoyed that, generally, they began to stumble and run as fast as they could. Sometimes she wondered if they heard her deep chuckling that followed but ultimately she didn’t care. She would be the only jilted bride to haunt these ruins.



My response to Sue’s wonderful photo prompt combined with the Captivating daily post. If you want to give Sue’s prompt a go too, head over to Sue’s Page Thursday Photo Prompt – Arch – and join in the prompt. KL ❤

Review of The Bell Tower By Sarah Rayne (Nell West #6) – 4 Stars

The Bell Tower: A Haunted House Mystery (Nell West/Michael Flint, #6)The Bell Tower: A Haunted House Mystery by Sarah Rayne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel continues as entry #6 in the Nell West series and we catch up with Nell and Michael a little after the events of “Deadlight Hall”. In this story, Nell returns as the primary character with Michael returning to the secondary research investigation role. I really enjoyed the author’s ability to switch back and forth making two strong protagonists, that’s strengths differ and keep the series fresh and alive. Returning to Nell’s perspective as a primary character gave this story a new refreshing take and also allowed Nell as a character to really develop more. It was also interesting that Nell’s daughter Beth featured a bit more in this story and is a little more grown up in this book. Great use of character progression.

In this story, Nell has bought the shop next door and is working on and extension. When some old plaster is removed Nell finds a hidden message on the wall referring to someone called Thaisa. This leads Neil on a chain of discovery where she uncovers a link with a village in Dorset (where her daughter is holidaying this summer), a mysterious piece of music called Thaisia’s song and a derelict bell tower with a silenced bell. The story is told from a variety of historical sources and also from the view of an old woman living the life of a recluse. She is desperate to protect her family’s secrets at all costs.

As with all Sarah Rayne books, her plotting is brilliant, she lays many, many, threads for the reader to follow and then brilliantly weaves them all together. It did take me a little longer than normal to get into this book. I think there was a little less mystery than others in this series and this was quite a dark storyline. I do like that Rayne still experiments in her writing and tries out many characters’ viewpoints.
I think Rayne has done a great job of developing Michael and Nell’s personal relationship too. For returning readers it is handled very well and the progression can be seen, but it’s also not distracting and confusing for first-time readers. For those that haven’t discovered the Nell West collection, I would suggest these novels are quite similarly written to Phil Rickman’s work; old story exposed, great characters and slightly eerie. The books are well written and well plotted and the historical details are always interesting.
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The Librarian

Layla looked around frustrated, but no-one was watching. She leant over his shoulder reading his notes. He was getting it all wrong. Groaning she swooped off and went in search of a better source for him. She knew this library inside-out and it bothered her that no-one ever listened. Blowing the dust from the bookshelf, she found the title he needed. Lifting it she made her way back to the table, dropping the book beside the lad. He would either accept her help or he wouldn’t.

Ben looked around the deserted library, he was sure he had heard someone sigh next to him but glancing up and down, no-one was there. He hunched himself back over his paper, it was incredibly tough. Minutes later, engrossed in his note-taking he jumped as a book landed heavily on the table. He spun around glancing nervously around the room, it was still empty. He stood up, packing his things hastily in his backpack, then glanced at the book “Women during the War”, it was exactly what he needed.

Library Photo courtesy of TJ Paris.png

Library Photo courtesy of TJ Paris


Originally Written in response to Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers using the above photo as prompt. Hope you enjoyed Ben’s ghostly companion. KL ❤

#Maydays Prompt – Haunting Tales

“Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as charging the catlong as I am living. You said I killed you -haunt me then. The murdered do haunt their murderers.” ― Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

For today’s #maydays prompt how about a little haunting?

Remember you can write a memory, short flash fiction, poetry or whatever may take your fancy and pingback here so that I can pop by and visit you. Don’t forget to TAG your prompt #maydays too.

Maydays logo


Some great responses to yesterday’s prompt – The Break – don’t forget to pop by for a visit:

Break the Silence – ladyleemanila

#Maydays Prompt – The Break – Grandma’s Vase | Morpethroad

What a mug | Postcard from a Pigeon

If Only They Knew – The Watching Witch #writephoto | new2writing