Publisher : Independently published
Page length : 77 Pages
Genre : Ghost Fiction/Ghost Horror
Eerie, dark, and chilling... The Bookseller's Ghost is a collection of eleven, haunting, tales. Francis wanders the corridors of the Elizabethan bookshop. While the dark corners of Calvington Hall in The House On The Fens, and the ancient churchyard on Varden's hill in The Curse Of Ezekiel Marlow, have their own spirits of the dead. An archaeologist meets someone he knew long ago, but is all as it seems? Paranormal love lives on in Lost On The Moor, and Ben's Tale. As children in the reign of Queen Victoria play with Imaginary Friends. Other ghosts exist only in our memories, and the inexplicable. When the candle is burning low, the wind howling beyond the window and door, it is time to read The Bookseller's Ghost.
A Seasonal Haunting
There is a long history in the British Isles of telling stories about the supernatural at different times of the year. When the veil is believed to be thin between our world, and the place of the dead. Not only at Halloween, or the ancient Samhain. Ghost stories have also been told across the centuries during the twelve days of Christmas, from the twenty-fourth December until Twelfth Night or Epiphany. A time when families traditionally gathered together to feast through the long, winter, nights. December twenty-ninth, the Christian Feast of the Holy Innocents, is associated in particular with the macabre.
The storytellers of the Medieval era and Dark Ages sat in front of a smouldering Yule log when they spoke of creatures like the evil dragon, Grendel, in Beowulf's tale. Casting fear into the hearts of their listeners. These tales of the otherworld, and supernatural, were often based on the conflict of good and evil. A natural balance to life which was akin to light and dark, or the warmth of a Lord's Hall against the bitter cold of the winter season outside. A time when men and women followed the rhythms of nature more closely, and the cycles of the year, so as to ensure their survival.
The Spirits Who Haunt Us
Ghostly apparitions have for many years been thought to be souls of the departed. Cultural factors may however affect the context in which they are "seen." The ancient Roman celebration of the God Janus was on the first day of the new year. Wax masks of the Ancestors' faces were taken down from the walls, and worn in remembrance of the dead. Whilst the winter solstice continues to be celebrated at Yule, on or around the twentieth December. When the light returns again to the earth, and is another opportunity for the souls of those who have passed to ask the living for their blessing. This natural turning of the wheel of the seasons is believed to create a flow of supernatural energy. Even if only in our imagination, and beliefs.
My Love Of Ghost Stories
My inspiration for The Bookseller's Ghost came from this seasonal contrast between light, and dark; good, and evil. Also the Christmas stories, written by Charles Dickens (1812-1870), and those of Montague Rhodes James (1862-1936). Both of whom would often terrify their friends and family, with tales of the spectres they had created. In the case of M.R. James, these usually begin innocently enough before something truly frightening happens or is suggested to the reader. Often in the very ordinary world of academia. Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) also played a part in this, as the predecessor of the horror movie genre. Those films from the Hammer House Of Horror I watched as a teenager, starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, with the stories they told.
In The Darkest Of Places
The eleven tales in The Bookseller's Ghost have atmospheric settings. Ancient churchyards; haunted houses; the grounds of a ruined castle, and so on. Giving the imagination an opportunity to fear the worst. Old buildings often have strong personalities. A sense of those who have lived there, and the deeper emotions they felt. Such as love, or the much darker hatred. We have come to describe the apparitions in these haunted places, as ghosts. Some of whom live on in our folklore, and tradition, through the retelling of their tales.
If you enjoy a little more history in your ghost stories, then you will find it as background detail in my book. The apparition of Francis in Chapter One of The Bookseller's Ghost originates during the reign of Elizabeth 1st. Whilst Charles Darwin, and his work on the evolution of the species, is part of Imaginary Friends in the reign of Queen Victoria. A Tudor dagger is found at the site of the archaeological dig in I Remember You, with all the implications of this, and there is more.
The Bookseller’s Ghost
On a crisp morning when old Father Winter was nipping noses and fingertips until they ached, a shadow flitted across the narrow passage between the buildings. A low moan escaped its lifeless lips. Whilst a passerby assumed it must have been the wind. It had started to snow again on the roofs which sagged between the black and white timbered gables. Their ancient tiles, a reminder of another era. The people who lived in the rooms beneath, behind the herringbone of blackened wood, became the eyes which still stare through diamond window panes of Elizabethan glass. Watching. Always watching, those who are alive today.
Francis used to run past the terracotta house opposite when he was playing. Margaret lived there, and Molly thinks it is quaint. That’s all, but there’s more to a memory than that! Francis knows, as his shadow flits from room to room. Place to place, but he must always return to the hole. It’s the reason he can’t leave. Although he is curious about Molly. If her child is a boy, he will be able to run with him and play games again.
Meanwhile, Molly was in the bookshop below. With her hands around a mug of tea she wouldn’t drink. Its warmth seeping through the gloves which Beryl had made for her. She looked around the shop in dismay. Her Mother was right, even if she didn't want to admit it. This wasn’t the place for Joe and her, or the baby. The different levels of the floors in the building, especially at the top where they lived. All of it seemed so strange. The ceilings sloped in the most awkward places, as if they were deliberately holding themselves out to collide with someone's head. It probably wouldn’t have been quite so bad if the passage ways had been straight, like modern corridors. Instead of all that twisting and turning backwards when you least expected it. Molly shuddered. It was the cold in the alcove under the stairs which bothered her the most.
Beryl said that old buildings had a soul. When she passed away Molly used the money from the sale of her bungalow to buy the bookshop, ignoring her mother’s opinion. She had been desperate to have it, and regretted not going into the alcove when she walked around the building with Joe last winter. The feeling that something bad had happened there began almost immediately after they moved in. When it was too late to change her mind. They couldn’t afford the cost of another removal, even if they could find a buyer. Molly’s fingers grasped the crucifix which she wore around her neck. It had belonged to Beryl.
Sharon Bradshaw is a Historical Fiction Author, Storyteller, and Poet. She writes the 8th century Durstan series, set in the real Middle Earth we called the Dark Ages. A collection of her faerytales, based on tradition and folklore, have been published in The Woodcutter And The Faery Queen. The Bookseller's Ghost, and her other books, are available now on Amazon
Subscribers to The Storyteller’s Newsletter will receive a free short story from her every quarter. Sharon enjoys speaking about her books, and life as an Author. She is also a freelance Ghostwriter and Editor, living with her family, near Warwick Castle in the UK.