On a bone-cold night, with Venus hanging in the sky and the moon not having yet made its appearance, a building high on a hill in Groveland sits completely dark.
Dark, but not empty.
Navigating its dusky passages, cavernous halls, and rooms cluttered with shadowy hulks of furniture, a team of investigators has come to seek out the unknown. Outfitted with cameras, voice recorders, and various types of meters, as well as metaphysical tools, they hope to connect with the dead that are believed to haunt this 100-year-old building that serves as the centerpiece of Veasey Memorial Park.
Lagniappe [lan-yap] is what we New Orleanians call a little something extra. So here’s your bit of lagniappe for the month of January:
I recently bought a favourite day-by-day calendar (one I’ve purchased in the past) for 2012 and noticed something interesting worth sharing here on the blog.
Today (17 January) is the feast day of St. Anthony, a patron of gravediggers.
Alice Earle’s Customs and Fashions in Old New England (1893) described a periodic disingenuous tidying up of Boston’s graveyards, which were generally called “burying grounds” in the United States until the 19th century: “Early graves were frequently clustered, were even crowded in irregular groups in the churchyard… In the first half of this century, a precise Superintendent of Graveyards and his army of assistants… straightened out mathematically all the old burial-places, leveled the earth, and set in trim military rows the old slate headstones, regardless of the irregular clusters of graves and their occupants. And there in Boston the falsifying old heastones still stand, fixed in new places, but marking no coffins or honored bones beneath – the only true words of their inscriptions being the opening ones, Here lies.”
I don’t want to say too much about this book since my comrades will be reading it, so I will put the rather vague review I wrote on Goodreads with the addition of the synopsis from the back of the book.
Winifred Rudge, a writer struggling to get beyond the runaway success of her mass-market astrology book, travels to London to jump-start her new novel about a woman who is being haunted by the ghost of Jack the Ripper. Upon her arrival, she finds that her step-cousin and old friend John Comestor has disappeared, and a ghostly presence seems to have taken over his home. Is the spirit Winnie’s great-great-grandfather, who, family legend claims, was Charles Dickens’s childhood inspiration for Ebenezer Scrooge? Could it be the ghostly remains of Jack the Ripper? Or a phantasm derived from a more arcane and insidious origin? Winnie begins to investigate and finds herself the unwilling audience for a drama of specters and shades—some from her family’s peculiar history and some from her own unvanquished past.
Although I never finished reading Maguire’s iconic Wicked, I saw this book while out book shopping with a friend and decided to pick it up. I have to admit, I’m glad I did, because I managed to finish the book.
Admittedly, there were some parts that were difficult to follow, which I put down to the author’s bizarre writing style. There were parts where the text was different, which took me a bit to figure out why it was done like that. It’s not often that you read a book featuring a main character who is writing a book. And of course he allows her to follow the clichéd recommendation of writing what you know.
I should warn any of you who may be interested in a story featuring the ghost of Jack the Ripper: it’s only a very minor pseudo-plot. I bought the book mainly because there was a mention of ghosts and it was set in England, but I would be lying if I said the fact that a potential ghost of Jack the Ripper didn’t appeal as well. Buy it because you like paranormal fiction, not because Jack the Ripper is mentioned in the synopsis on the back of the book like I did.