Tag Archives: British authors

Article: The Dark Lady of Devon by Catherine Cavendish

Catherine Cavendish is one of my most loved authors and a great writer friend. She’s one of the most talented women gothic and horror writers working today and she’s extremely supportive of other authors and her writing friends. She lives in the UK and always offers me the best essays for my site featuring haunts from there (though she has featured some in the states too), which I always love. Enjoy her article today on a very interesting ghost, and check out all her gothic titles, recently re-released. Linden Manor, and some of her other books, are some of my favorite reads.

The Dark Lady of Devon

by Catherine Cavendish, author of Linden Manor


“My ladye hath a sable coach,

And horses two and four;

My ladye hath a black blood-hound

That runneth on before.

My ladye’s coach hath nodding plumes,

The driver hath no head;

My ladye is an ashen white,

As one that long is dead.”

My novella – Linden Manor – features the ghost of Lady Celia Fitzmichael, about whom a scary nursery rhyme was written, which haunted my main character, Lesley Carpenter. In it, Lady Celia is never mentioned by name. Instead, she is referred to as ‘The Scottish Bride.’ And woe betide you if you laid eyes on her ‘blackened face.’

This made me research other notable hauntings by tormented brides (and women generally) and, inevitably, my path led to Devon, home of so many wonderful hauntings and folklore. Here, I found a tale which has all the hallmarks of a Daphne du Maurier dark story (OK, I know she wrote in neighbouring Cornwall, but you get my drift.) The tale of Lady Mary Howard is a dark and tragic one. Every night, her ghostly carriage and massive black dog, regularly travel sixteen miles from Okehampton Castle to Fitzford House and back again. Each time, the purpose of their journey appears to be to transport a single blade of grass.


So who was Lady Mary? And why does she perform this repetitive ritual?

She was born Mary Fitz in 1596, only legitimate child of Sir John Fitz, a man whose inherited wealth made him too rich, too young (at age 21). He spent his money, sinking into depravity and degeneracy to Dorian Gray proportions. His wickedness eventually alienated him from the whole of Tavistock – the town near his home of Fitzford House. Then, two men were killed on the steps of his house. They included his best friend. John Fitz slid into insanity and committed suicide at the age of 30, leaving nine year old Mary alone. She was sold by King James I to the Earl of Northumberland. He married her off to his brother, Sir Allan Percy, to ensure her fortune passed to their family when Mary was just twelve years old. Her new husband was 31.


The enforced marriage was shortlived as Percy caught a chill while on a hunting trip and died in 1611. Soon after, Mary eloped with her true love, Thomas Darcy. Tragically though, he died just a few months later. Mary had yet to celebrate her sixteenth birthday, so she was technically still the Earl’s ward. He married her off to husband number three – Sir Charles Howard, fourth son of the Earl of Suffolk. They had two children who both appear to have died in infancy. Then he too succumbed and died – of unknown causes – leaving Mary a widow for the third time at the age of just 26.

By now, tongues were wagging. That’s a lot of husbands to lose in rapid succession. Had the father lived on in his daughter? After all, didn’t Sir John Fitz become mixed up in murder at one time?

By now, perhaps as a result of her experiences at the hands of unscrupulous men, Mary had learned a little about keeping her hands firmly on her own purse-strings. She was now a wealthy and desirable widow and married husband number four – Sir Richard Grenville – who no doubt thought he was onto a good thing. He soon found out his new wife wasn’t to be taken advantage of. He didn’t like it and vented his wrath cruelly on her. Mary refused to relent, and kept her money safe.


In the end, Sir Richard’s cruelty became too much for Mary and she sued for divorce, between 1631-32. From then on, a series of extraordinary events saw Sir Richard imprisoned for debt, his subsequent disappearance for seven years and terrible injustice heaped on Mary when he returned and a court ordered that he could seize Fitzford House and her possessions. When Mary eventually turned up there (she had been living in London), she found the mansion wrecked.

Her marriage to Grenville was the only one to produce children – a son, Richard, who died young, and two daughters, Elizabeth and Mary – neither of whom Mary had anything to do with as they served as a constant reminder of their father. She did keep one child with her though. Her son, George, born around 1634 and whose father is unknown (possibly Theophilus, Earl of Suffolk).


As she grew older and remained, with her son, at the restored Fitzford House, Lady Mary became noted around Tavistock for her strong will and imperious temper. When her son died unexpectedly in 1671, she never recovered and died soon after. Then the legendary hauntings began.

It is said that, at dead of night, the gates of Fitzford House creak open and a massive black hound, with flaming red eyes bounds forward. Behind it rattles a coach made of bones, driven by a headless coachman. Its single passenger is a ghostly lady. Sixteen miles up the road, the coach stops at Okehampton Castle where the dog picks a single blade of grass. Back at Fitzford House, the dog lays this carefully down on a stone. Legend has it that when all the grass has been thus transported from Okehampton Castle, Lady Mary will finally be at rest.


Now, here’s a flavour of Linden Manor:

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 has just been reissued by Crossroad Press and is available from:


Barnes and Noble


Other books by Catherine Cavendish include:


And are currently available – or soon will be – from:

Catherine Cavendish Amazon page

Catherine Cavendish Amazon page


Catherine Cavendish lives with a long-suffering husband and ‘trainee’ black cat in North Wales. Her home is in a building dating back to the mid-18th century, which is haunted by a friendly ghost, who announces her presence by footsteps, switching lights on and strange phenomena involving the washing machine and the TV. Cat has written a number of published horror novellas, short stories, and novels, frequently reflecting her twin loves of history and horror and often containing more than a dash of the dark and Gothic. When not slaving over a hot computer, she enjoys wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.

You can connect with her here:

Catherine Cavendish





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Queen of Bedlam by Laura Purcell Showcases the Women Behind George III

Queen of Bedlam

What an amazing historical fiction rendition of the story of George III from British author Laura Purcell. Her Queen of Bedlam, which was first published under a different name in England, is superb and a stand-out among the books written surrounding the various reigns of English monarchs.

The Georgian novel, of the many historical novels surrounding the life and times of Kings, Queens, and their offspring, is one I adored reading for numerous reasons. I won’t call it a Regency novel, even if she might, as I don’t want readers to get the wrong impression. It wasn’t that type of romantic book that swept you away just based on romantic intrigue or interludes alone or on the flip side made you roll your eyes. Yet, it wasn’t dark, dreary, or cumbersome either. If you like the type of people, especially women that Philippa Gregory writes of you’ll like this book, yet Purcell’s writing is MUCH better–more soft, flowing, and narrative with a strong voice. She captures each moment in time, even the sad situations, and puts it together for us into a story we’d not like to have to stop reading.

It had the perfect recipe of entertainment, offered in-depth societal and private looks at what it must have been like to be the wife or a daughter of George III, who was mad from a blood disease that seemed to cause some mental illness, and offered engaging dialogue and emotion. I really liked her characterization of his daughter, Royal. And even further, it was Charlotte’s story, not as the wife of George III even, just a side character, but as a mother who has lost children, has to manage a sick husband who she begins to fear yet loves, struggles with the chaos of the country, and juggles their 15 children. I could feel her stabilizing the castle, her family, and the monarchy structure all with a compassionate heart. It was the story of the women of his family and their roles. It was my perfect sort of British monarchy historical fiction read, as it was so easy to delve deep into from the start, causing me to read it much quickly than I read most books.

In my time garnering my history degree, and taking political science courses, the professors spent quite a bit of time on American History and British History, primarily George III’s reign of course as it had a little something to do with our own history (the American Revolution) and other pivotal points of history such as the French Revolution and defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.  I suppose for so long, as young students in America, we mostly just heard of mad King George due to his reputation. Amazingly enough, he was the longest British ruler save Victoria or Elizabeth II!!  Now, we get his tale from the side of his family, as well as having the opportunity to meet clearly his family and the strong women who stood behind him to keep the country going.

I feel Purcell was authentic in her novel, had researched so much so well, especially the women, and really took the time to construct dimensional and whole characters each with their own distinct personality that one could connect to and care for on several levels.

I am thrilled to have read this book and hope to read more books by Laura Purcell again. She has seemed to capture the voice of the Georgian Era and brought the women to life that we hear so little about so they finally get their due. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who fancies British history from this era….or the women in history who always seem to be caught up in the impulsive lives of ailing Kings.  Her writing style will make you feel as if you are gliding across pages and you’ll read more in one sitting than you had planned.

Queen of Bedlam, Synopsis~

Queen of BedlamPublication Date: June 10, 2014
Myrmidon Books Ltd
Paperback; 432p
ISBN-10: 1910183016

London, 1788. The calm order of Queen Charlotte’s court is shattered by screams. Her beloved husband, England’s King, has gone mad.

Left alone with thirteen children and a country at war, Charlotte must fight to hold her husband’s throne in a time of revolutionary fever. But it is not just the guillotine that Charlotte fears: it is the King himself.

Her six daughters are desperate to escape their palace asylum. Their only chance lies in a good marriage, but no Prince wants the daughter of a madman. They are forced to take love wherever they can find it – with devastating consequences.

The moving true story of George III’s madness and the women whose lives it destroyed.

Buy the Book~

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Book Depository

Author Laura Purcell, Biography~

Laura Purcell AuthorLaura Purcell lives in Colchester, the oldest recorded town in England. She met her husband working in Waterstones bookshop and they share their home with several pet guinea pigs.

Laura is a member of the Historical Novel Society, The Society for Court Studies and Historic Royal Palaces. She has recently appeared on the PBS documentary The Secrets of Henry VIII’s Palace, talking about Queen Caroline’s life at Hampton Court.

Laura’s novels explore the lives of royal women during the Georgian era, who have largely been ignored by modern history. Her debut Queen Charlotte was originally self-published as God Save the King, receiving excellent reviews as an Amazon bestseller in biographical fiction.

You can find out more about Laura and read her history blog at www.laurapurcell.com.  You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/queenofbedlamtour

Tour Hashtag: #QueenofBedlamTour

Queen of Bedlam_Tour Banner_FINAL 2

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Celebrating Women Series: Elizabeth Ashworth on Alice de Lacy

Welcome to the 1oth article in the “Celebrating Women” Series for Women’s History Month! It’s the first time I’ve coordinated an author guest article series to celebrate women in history or women making history! Thank you to Elizabeth Ashworth for offering the 10th article in this series. If you’d like to continue on with the tour, which runs March 19-31, 2014, follow along each day on the main blog or head to this blog page, Women in History, which will be updated daily with the scheduled link.


Alice de Lacy – the maligned countess
by historical author Elizabeth Ashworth

Alice de Lacy, taken from Broken Arrow films blog

Alice de Lacy, taken from Broken Arrow films blog

Alice de Lacy was one of the wealthiest and most important noblewomen in England during the early 14th century. She could easily have become queen. But hardly anyone has heard of her, because she lost everything – her wealth, her titles, her status and her reputation – simply because she was a woman.

Alice de Lacy was the daughter of Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, and Margaret Longespee, Countess of Salisbury. After a childhood accident left her brother, Edmund, dead Alice became the only surviving heir of Henry and Margaret, and, as a daughter, it was important that she made a good marriage. Her father made an agreement with the king, Edward I, that Alice should be married to his nephew, Thomas. As part of the agreement, Henry gave all his lands to the king and was re-granted them for his lifetime, after which they would pass to Thomas and Alice and their heirs. It must have seemed the ideal solution to Henry. He must have hoped that Alice would bear sons who, although they would not have the de Lacy name, would carry his bloodline and his fortune into the future and be a part of the extended royal family.

However, things not go according to plan. The marriage was not a happy one. It appears that Alice and Thomas hated one another. Alice bore no children and after the death of Henry de Lacy, Thomas sent his wife to Pickering Castle to live alone whilst he fathered at least two sons with a mistress back at Pontefract Castle, which had been the de Lacy stronghold and Alice’s home.

When Thomas fell out with his cousin, Edward II, and led a rebellion he was defeated at the Battle of Boroughbridge in 1322. As a traitor, he was executed and all his lands and castles were seized by the king. Alice was made to sign over all her possessions too – even the ones she had inherited from her mother which had never belonged to Thomas. She was left with very little except a manor in Lincolnshire where she was sent to live.

Having lost her wealth and her titles, Alice also suffered the indignity of losing her reputation. Whilst her husband is never criticised for his mistresses, chroniclers and even present day historians have called Alice a ‘wanton woman’, ‘the foulest whore’, ‘disgraceful’, and ‘a woman of notoriously bad character’. The reason for this tirade against her is that she fell in love, and may have had a relationship, with her second husband, Eble le Strange, whilst Thomas was still alive.

History judges men and women very differently. Thomas, who had many mistresses, was adored as a saint after his death. Alice, who fell in love with a man she married and remained faithful to is called appalling names.

The reason I wrote my novel, Favoured Beyond Fortune, was to tell Alice de Lacy’s story and try to reclaim her reputation from historians who repeat the accusations against her without ever making a proper study of her life. Alice is a much maligned character and she deserves better.

Elizabeth Ashworth, Biography~

elizabeth ashworthElizabeth Ashworth is an author based in Lancashire. She writes fiction and non-fiction books as well as short stories and articles.

Her first historical novel The de Lacy Inheritance was published by Myrmidon Books in June 2010 and her second novel An Honourable Estate is available as an ebook and a paperback, along with its very own short prequel The Lady of Haigh.

Her third novel, By Loyalty Bound, which tells the story of the mistress of Richard III was published in July 2013 by Pen and Sword Fiction. Her fourth novel, Favoured Beyond Fortune, which tells the story of Alicia de Lacy is available now as an e-book.

You can find her on Facebook and her Twitter is @elizashworth.  Her website is: www.elizabethashworth.com.

Favoured_Beyond_Fort_Cover_for_KindleFavoured Beyond Fortune, Synopsis~

  • File Size: 676 KB
  • Print Length: 214 pages
  • Publisher: AWES Books (March 8, 2014)

‘He is rich who has that which is heart desires’

She was one of the richest noblewomen in England. But Alicia de Lacy lost everything when her husband, Thomas of Lancaster, led a rebellion against King Edward II.

Everything except the love of one man.

Read an excerpt here: http://elizabethashworth.com/novels/favoured-beyond-fortune/

See her Pinterest Board on the de Lacy family:  http://www.pinterest.com/ElizAshworth/the-history-of-the-de-lacy-family/


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Have YOU had a WHAT IF Moment? Matthew Turner Explores this Question in his Novel, Beyond Parallel #whatifmoment

Beyond-Parallel-Cover-MediumI just finished the novel Beyond Parallel by Matthew Turner, which is awesome because it launched today! I thought it was a really romantic and thought-provoking novel. In fact, it made me think without even having to try very hard to do so. It was extremely entertaining.

A concept we all most likely churn in the backs of our minds when we are in the shower, laying in bed awake at night…sometimes in our happier times and most certainly in our times of downcast….is the question of WHAT IF? WHAT IF I would have made the decision to go here instead of there, to choose to have a relationship with this person rather than that person? To take that job instead of the other offered? To move here or there?

There are many scenarios we can concoct. In this book, Turner takes on the WHAT IF question of decision-making in relationships. Many people might question if they made a right decision in choosing their life partner.  Some wonder if the “grass is greener on the other side” right? In times of true hardships, or sadness, or maybe even just boredom, we almost always wonder if we made a wrong turn on the road of life. But is that the case? Or maybe fate always has other things in mind for us.

In the book, Clark and Bella are both living life in their twenties and trying to make decisions unknowing what the future ahead of them holds. Turner tells the story from the viewpoint of them being together and also in a parallel story of if they had never met. It was a page turning festival of fun to see what would happen next in each scenario.

Turner writes simple prose with a minor number of characters, which is good because as the reader keeps switching between scenarios from chapter to chapter, it’s easier to keep everyone straight.  It’s not a heavily detailed book in setting or character development, but it does stick true to its premise which is to offer us a look into the lives of four people and their ultimate path to meeting each other. He is clear in his characters emotions and conversations, which is the premise of the book.  We see how their decisions alter their lives and also see on the parallel side what the other option would have entailed for them. It’s very interesting to take this concept and see if the “other” choice they wonder about really would have turned out any better for them.

I really enjoyed spending a few hours over my Holiday break reading this book! It was a fun detour from a lot of the heavier historical or horror reading I tend to do. If you are looking for a book to help you relax, and enjoy light romance that is not just the hot and steamy variety, then this book would be an entertaining read for you.  If you ever pondered the WHAT IF question in your relationships, I highly recommend you read this book!  In the fine tradition of British storytelling, Turners pen makes the mark.

So here is my own WHAT IF story in limited form:  I wanted to go to a certain University and study Journalism. I ended up at the one my mom said I was going to go to since she was paying. Right after college, still hanging around, I met my husband who is now my EX-husband though we did have two wonderful children together. I have been with my current partner, Tim, for almost 8 years (we met through a work partnership–again could have been another WHAT IF moment in job choice). He went to the certain University I wanted to go to at the same time I would have went there AND he studied Journalism. We do have WHAT IF moments about this because we wish we would have started our relationship earlier and not both gone through with ex-spouses what we do. I hold on to the fact that if fate would have brought us about then, I would have my two oldest amazing children. And we always say, you never know even if we were in the same classes we may not have connected at that age, it may have only been destined for an exact time and place. But I still wonder WHAT IF?

What is your WHAT IF moment? Share if you’d like in the comment below. I’d love to hear.


I’d love to hear your story, but to enter to win for the book all you have to do is leave a comment and a way to contact  you (email prefered or email me at hookofabook(at)hotmail(dot)com) and you’ll be entered to win this new ebook!  Please enter by 11:59 p.m. EST (USA) Jan. 15, 2013. Anyone can enter. Winner will be given choice of digital copy! Happy New Year!

Beyond Parallel Synopsis~

One boy. One girl. One insignificant moment that changes their lives forever.

Bella and Clark are two young twenty-somethings, traveling and finding themselves in a chaotic and crazy world. One craves love; the other avoids it. Will they find one another, or will a single what-if moment send them down different paths?

In the same mould as Sliding Doors, Uncertainty, and Smoking/No-Smoking, Beyond Parallel flips between two parallel tales. One follows Bella and Clark as a couple, the other as if they never meet. Friendships, careers, dreams, fantasies…their lives are no different to yours or mine.

Follow the journey of two confused minds as they tackle growing up in the 21st century. High-flying careers, book tours, teaching teenagers, hipster warehouses, stories about talking whales, coffee shop hangouts, and even a despicable salesman are confronted.

Name: Beyond Parallel

Author: Matthew Turner

Word Count: 70,000

Pages: 180

Published: January 2013

Publisher: Turndog Publishing

ISBN Number: Coming Soon

Price: $2.99 (E-Book)

Contact: matt@turndogmillionaire.com l Skype: turndogmillionaire



The premise behind Beyond Parallel is spurred by my wandering mind. I’ve always fantasized about what if.

What if I had said yes instead of no…or chose one idea instead of the other…or left a little earlier, or later, or never?

Beyond Parallel clings to what if. I’m fascinated by this idea, and I feel many young people are, too. We spend our lives knowing what’s going on around us. We go to school because we have to. We have our parents to lean on. It doesn’t matter if we mess up because we’re young and we have time to fix it. But then we enter the real world. We have a responsibility, and choice, and a journey of our own to craft. Every day we’re faced with decisions, but how do we know what is and isn’t the right thing to do?

And that, in a nutshell, is a what if moment. A brief period of time where a small, insignificant decision is made, with huge repercussions potentially coming from it. These moments happen throughout our lifetime, but it’s in the world of young adult where it’s most prominent. At university…during our first job…as we travel or search or dream of something more.

Book Sample~Prequel to Beyond Parallel (get it free)

As part of the lead up to Beyond Parallel, the author, Matthew Turner, wrote a short prequel set the night before. Not only is it a story in itself, but it introduces the reader to Bella & Clark, as well as offering an insight into what to expect in Beyond Parallel.

As samples go, Tales From A Tiny Thai Table is the ideal showcase into the writing of Matthew Turner.

Download Tales From A Tiny Thai Table for FREE Here

Matthew Turner, Bio~

author-headshot-mediumMatthew Turner is a young writer from Yorkshire, England. He writes both Fiction & Non-Fiction, but his latest project is Beyond Parallel, a coming-of-age novel that focusses on two young twenty-somethings.

After years of playing with the idea of writing, he decided to take things seriously in 2010. He took his four-year old manuscript and ripped it apart; refining it, editing, and learning until the final copy was ready. That time is now!

As well as writing, Matthew acts as a consultant, speaker, and coach to fellow writers and entrepreneurs. With a passion for storytelling and creating brands with soul, he finds himself working with innovative, 21st-century minds.

You can find more information on Matthew Turner, and about Beyond Parallel too, at http://turndogmillionaire.com.

Beyond Parallel Reader Page <http://turndogmillionaire.com/beyond-parallel/>

Amazon Page <http://amzn.to/TDBcOj>

Goodreads Page <http://bit.ly/10on4tS>

What If Campaign Page <http://turndogmillionaire.com/what-if-campaign/> Beyond Parallel Launch Day/Social Sharing Page <http://turndogmillionaire.com/beyond-parallel-social-hub/>

Thanks for reading this blog!  I was given a complimentary ebook of Beyond Parallel in return for an honest review, which I’ve given. All opinions are my own.


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