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The haunting of Abercromby Square

Before I begin this week’s tale of terror, some most welcome writing news!

My publisher has chosen the winner of the Name My Book contest, and the lucky recipient of all the honors, including unlimited bragging rights, is JG Faherty with his suggestion, Valley of the Sasquatch. (I told you Severed loves titles that tell the reader what the book’s about.) Congrats, JG, and thanks to everyone who entered for their fabulous suggestions. There were some really great titles in the mix.

In other news, I have a new agent! Once burned, twice shy, as they say, but I decided it was time to put the past behind me and take a chance on another agent. Rosie Jonker from the Ann Rittenberg agency was so excited about my novel and my writing, and her enthusiasm and patience with my skepticism went a long way. I’m thrilled about working with her and Ann, and being a part of their agency.

Now, on to our regularly scheduled programming…another true ghost story by the master of Gothic horror, Catherine Cavendish.

*

In my new novel, Damned by the Ancients, a beautiful mansion in Vienna is haunted by an evil former owner. His presence infests the building, turning the magnificent into the horrific. Yet in real life, hauntings can occur anywhere – including the most stately of homes.

A lot of people unfamiliar with the city have the wrong impression of Liverpool. It is a rich vibrant city brim-full of culture and history – and more Georgian architecture than almost anywhere else in the UK. It also has some of the greatest people in the world, friendly, warm and welcoming as well as full of humour, even in the face of the worst adversities two world wars and widely fluctuating economic situations have thrown at it.

It is also one of the most haunted cities in the UK and ghosts can turn up in the most unexpected places – even in some of the most beautiful architecture, which brings us to Abercromby Square.

I know this area from my time at the University of Liverpool. Indeed, much of Square and the surrounding streets are now owned by the university, including a house formerly known as the old Bickerstaffe House. Back in 1845, this was owned by a Mr. and Mrs. Bickerstaffe, and they were about to holiday in Scotland.  They instructed the staff that, for the duration of their absence, no stranger was to be admitted to the house.

More instructions followed until, eventually, the Bickerstaffs left in a hansom cab. Mary Henessy, the youngest maid, decided not to accompany the rest of the staff, who had elected to visit a local hostelry, situated just around the corner in Mulberry Street. She stayed behind with Mr. Rumboldt, the seventy-year-old butler, in order to look after the house in everyone’s absence. It also meant she could pour herself a brandy and put her aching feet up for a change.

The rest of the staff was still out enjoying their evening off when, at 9 pm, the doorbell jangled. Mr. Rumboldt immediately went up to the Bickerstaffes’ bedroom to peer out of the window to see who it was. Mary was already at the door when Mr. Rumboldt, muttering “Oh no. It’s happening again,” appeared at the top of the stairs. “Don’t open the door!” he called, his normally calm face contorted in horror, but it was too late. Mary had already tugged open the door.

To the girl’s astonishment, a tall woman, dressed entirely in black, brushed past her and silently glided up the stairs. As she approached the top of the first flight, she cried, “The baby!”

Mary raced after her. The woman made straight for an empty bedroom and screamed, terrifying the young maid. Before Mary could get there, she heard the sound of a window being shoved open, followed by a sickening thud, as if someone had fallen to the ground outside.

Mary raced down the stairs. “Oh Mr. Rumboldt, what has she done?”

“Nothing. Calm down,” said the old butler, but he was shaking.

Mary threw open the door, expecting to see a body. There was no one there. She craned her neck to look up at the bedroom window. It was closed.

Mr .Rumboldt joined her. “That was the ghost of Mr Bickerstaffe’s first wife. Eve.” He went on to tell her that she had returned home one day to hear the sound of Henry, her baby, choking in the room which had formerly been his nursery. Sadly, by the time she got to him, he was already dead. She was so distressed she threw herself out of the window, falling to her death.

He then told her, “This has happened before. A few months before you were employed.”

Mary was ready to pack her bags that night. She had no desire to stay one minute longer in a haunted house. But, as Mr. Rumboldt would no doubt have told her, where would she go? If she left of her own accord, she would have no character (i.e. reference) for another employer and without that, she would find it nigh on impossible to secure another position. He reassured her that the apparition only appeared when the Bickerstaffes were away.

Two more years passed before Mary saw the apparition again. It was the occasions of Mr. Rumboldt’s funeral and she was alone in the house. This time she told the second Mrs. Bickerstaffe – Florence. A bad move, as Mrs. Bickerstaffe had no idea her husband had been married before,

Mary was dismissed.

Today, university staff and security officers still hear that doorbell jangle on occasions when there’s no one there. It gives the unwary quite a fright.

There are also plenty of frights in store for the Mortimer family in their gorgeous new home. Here’s what to expect from Damned by the Ancients:

Damned by the Ancients by Catherine CavendishHere’s what to expect from Damned by the Ancients:

INFINITY IN DEATH

Vienna, 1908

Gabriele Ziegler is a young art student who becomes infatuated with charismatic archeologist Dr. Emeryk Quintillus. Only too late does she realize his true designs on her. He is obsessed with resurrecting Cleopatra and has retained the famed artist Gustav Klimt to render Gabriele as the Queen of the Nile, using ashes from Cleopatra’s mummy mixed with the paint. The result is a lifelike portrait emitting an aura of unholy evil . . .

Vienna, 2018

The Mortimer family has moved into Quintillus’s former home, Villa Dürnstein. In its basement they find an original Klimt masterpiece—a portrait of Cleopatra art scholars never knew existed. But that’s not all that resides within the villa’s vault. Nine-year-old Heidi Mortimer tells her parents that a strange man lives there.

Quintillus’s desire to be with Cleopatra transcends death. His spirit will not rest until he has brought her back from the netherworld. Even if he has to sacrifice the soul of a child…

Damned by the Ancients is available from:

Amazon  Barnes and Noble  Apple Google Kobo Kensington Publishing

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, plusThe Devil’s Serenade,The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine.

Her novellas include Linden Manor, Cold Revenge, Miss Abigail’s Room, The Demons of Cambian Street, Dark Avenging Angel, The Devil Inside Her, and The Second Wife.

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:

Catherine Cavendish Facebook Twitter Goodreads

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34 Comments

  1. Congratulations on the agent and the book title!
    I would never open the door at that place.

    Reply
    • JH

      Probably a wise decision, Alex. Thanks for the kind words!

      Reply
  2. Yea, me! Glad you like it. I can’t wait to read the book!

    Reply
    • JH

      Congrats, JG! Thanks for your brilliance.

      Reply
  3. Yeh for the title, and congrats on the new agent! Wishing you lots of success with everything! 🙂

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Madeline! You rock.

      Reply
  4. Thank you so much for hosting me today, J.H. – and congratulations on the agent and the new book!

    Reply
    • JH

      You’re always welcome, Catherine–thanks for the great post, and for your kind words. You’re the best. <3

      Reply
  5. Congrats on getting an agent!

    And I find the ghost story really sad. 🙁

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Misha.

      I agree; it is pretty sad.

      Reply
  6. Congratulations on the new agent. Liverpool sounds like a great place for a haunted house style tour.
    Debbie

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Debbie. Yes, apparently there’s quite a few haunted Liverpool sites.

      Reply
  7. Grats on the new agent!
    Great write-up, Catherine. Another place for me not to visit! 😀

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Loni!

      Reply
  8. First of all congratulations on the new agent and book. I bet the agent will do well since you have more experience. Congrats to Catherine on the new book and I love black cats even if I don’t have one…yet. We do have 4 cats and a dog so the house is full with love and mayhem. That is a cool ghost story that I would love to investigate. That old picture is not of the actual housekeeper? It is just an old pic but, no matter, that would be scary. How sad that the 2nd wife took her anger out on the housekeeper by firing her, it’s not her fault.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Birgit. I’ve been trying to comment on your blog, but I’m having a lot of trouble with Blogger blogs lately. A lot of them won’t recognize my Google profile, so they eat my comments.

      Reply
  9. shiver me timbers … what a haunting! Good luck Catherine on your new book. And JH wonderful news re new agent!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Susan!

      Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Patricia!

      Reply
  10. YAY, JG!! I must admit, I liked a lot of his title ideas so I’m not surprised he won! =)

    Congratulations on the agent!! I can be quite skeptical of things myself and can only imagine that it would take the best of the best to earn your trust! Excited for you! I LOVE your writing, so of course I think it’s only a matter of time before everyone knows your name and is reading your books!

    I need to snag another Catherine Cavendish book soon, I really enjoyed the ones I purchased from Samhain and she has a knack for picking time periods and landscapes that fascinate me! =)

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Nikki! JG has been a winner in one of my naming contests before. He is a talented man. 🙂

      Catherine is such a great writer. Thanks for supporting her. And me, of course. You’re the best!

      Reply
  11. Valley of the Sasquatch is a great title for your newest book, JH! And, congrats on finding a suitable new agent. So many stories floating about strange characters ringing doorbells and messing with people’s lives and heads. Fascinating! We better keep those doors shut during Halloween…

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Liesbet! Keeping the doors shut isn’t a bad idea…but you might get egged.

      Reply
  12. Congrats on the agent and continued success! Excellent title for your next book. I’m looking forward to reading it.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Mary! I really appreciate your support and encouragement, always.

      Reply
  13. We were in Liverpool yesterday, for the first time ever! Saw the University buildings too! Coincidence? 🙂

    Reply
    • JH

      Perhaps it is fate…

      Reply
  14. Fate is one thing I believe in …

    Reply
  15. Thank you all for your kind comments. Liverpool is indeed a fascinating city, with a ton of history and more Georgian architecture than you’ll find pretty much anywhere else in the UK. But behind those elegant facades, all manner of ghostly and spectral beings may be encountered. Some friendly, some not… Either way, if you pick up any book by local author and ghosthunter Tom Slemen, you’re sure to meet a bundle of them. You can find him on Youtube as well.

    Reply
  16. You had tons of good news and a great story! Congratulations on all of it. The lady in black gave me the chills for sure.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Lee!

      Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Anna.

      Reply

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