Published by Crossroad Press on January 11, 2017
Genres: Dark Fiction, Fiction, Ghost, Gothic, Haunted House, Horror, Mystery, Occult & Supernatural, Paranormal, Psychological Horror, Southern Gothic, Supernatural, Thriller, witch
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Have you ever been so scared your soul left your body?
All her life, Lesley Carpenter has been haunted by a gruesome nursery rhyme—“The Scottish Bride”—sung to her by her great grandmother. To find out more about its origins, Lesley visits the mysterious Isobel Warrender, the current hereditary owner of Linden Manor, a grand house with centuries of murky history surrounding it.
But her visit transforms into a nightmare when Lesley sees the ghost of the Scottish bride herself, a sight that, according to the rhyme, means certain death. The secrets of the house slowly reveal themselves to Lesley, terrible secrets of murder, evil and a curse that soaks the very earth on which Linden Manor now stands. But Linden Manor has saved its most chilling secret for last.
LINDEN MANOR, by Catherine Cavendish, is a novella–yet it manages to pack a serious punch within that length! Leslie Carpenter is doing a college thesis on the origins of a certain “superstition” that originated locally–in her grandmother’s neighborhood–but one that no other area seemed to have any knowledge of.
“Run and hide, far and wide,
Run and hide from the Scottish Bride . . . “
Although her own mother had a falling out with her grandmother many years before–and never reconciled before the elder’s death–Leslie has nothing but fond memories of the brief time she spent there. The “source” of the legend originated in a place known to her as Linden Manor, and it is the current owner–a Ms. Isobel Warrender–that she asked for an interview.
“Linden Manor didn’t just stand on its own grounds, it imposed on them . . . “
Cavendish does a phenomenal job with the cast of characters here. I really came to believe I knew Leslie, and was able to feel the emotions coursing through her during this tale. Ms. Warrender was likewise a most complex character: “. . . She posed an enigma of contrasts . . . and that thought disturbed me more than anything I had experienced in a long time.”
However, it was Linden Manor, itself, that drew me in the most. This gothic house was endowed with a virtual life of its own, and was as much a “character” as any other.
“. . . 1574 was the estimated date of the first grand house, Raven Hall, built for Lord Jasper Fitzmichael . . . he never lived there.”
Perhaps the most integral part of this story is the magnificent, haunting mystery shrouding everything. Even as Leslie starts getting answers to her queries about the legendary “Scottish bride”, the reader can sense that there is so much more hiding in the shadows of this land’s long history.
“. . . Don’t turn your head, Lest it be said, You saw the lace, On her blackened face.”
From the large population of ravens always about, vivid dreams, and ever present feeling of being watched by unseen forces that refuse to give up their intentions, this novella takes the reader on a journey that consumes all of their senses. The author manages to take you with Leslie on her inescapable search for answers, encountering the many twists and turns alongside her. Even when I thought I knew where things were going, I was most often completely wrong.
“. . . It was enough that I felt I was going mad. I didn’t need anyone to agree with me.”
Overall, this is a novella that contained all the elements I could ask for in a Gothic Horror story. The all-consuming, brooding atmosphere that intensifies the further you go on, great, believable characters, and finally, a plot that just keeps surprising you at every turn–all combining to make LINDEN MANOR a tale that won’t soon be forgotten.
“Linden Manor isn’t like other houses.”