Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Catherine Cavendish - Horror Writer Extraordinaire

It is always a pleasure to invite Cat Cavendish onto my blog. Her career is rushing ahead and she'll be on the best-sellers list very soon, you mark my words. I've just read her new book: Dark Avenging Angel and my review will be at the end of this blog.
In the meantime, Cat's going to tell us about a very nasty spirit called Krasue...hmmmm...you wouldn't have chosen this spirit to write about because of it's name, would you Cat? She doesn't look much like me.....

Krasue – Nocturnal, Undead Spirit

My latest novella – Dark Avenging Angel – is, as its title suggests, concerned with revenge. In this case, revenge of the most demonic kind. We’ve all heard the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for…” Jane learns the truth of this in graphic ways.

Avenging angels and demons abound in the traditions and folklore of people all over the world. A particularly gruesome-looking one originates from southeast Asia.

The Krasue (also known as Ahp in Cambodia and Kasu in Laos) manifests as a young woman with a beautiful face. Unfortunately that is all that is beautiful about her because her internal organs trail down from her neck. In short, she lacks a tangible body. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, she chooses to wander around at night.

She emits a luminescent glow, although that may be down to her preferred habitat. She is seen in marshy areas, where methane is known to emit an eerie shimmering mist, so beloved of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and put to good effect in The Hound of the Baskervilles.

The Krasue does not necessarily wander alone, as, in Thai folklore, she is often said to inhabit the same areas as Krahang – a male spirit.

You will certainly recognise Krasue when you see her. She floats above ground, her heart, stomach and other internal organs (these vary depending the account you read), trail from lengths of intestines attached to her throat or, in some accounts, complete neck. Sometimes these organs appear freshly bloodied as well as glowing. In some more modern versions of the legend, her teeth are fangs.

So where does this spirit come from and what is her purpose in eternally wandering the night? A Thai version of the story asserts that she was a Khmer princess who was burned to death for her treachery in daring to fall in love with a man of low degree. She had been promised in marriage to a Siamese nobleman following the defeat of her people in war, but she ran off with her lover rather than face marriage to a man she hated.
The pair were caught and the cuckolded husband-to-be sentenced her to death by burning. The princess persuaded a Khmer sorceress to cast a spell over her body so that it should remain unharmed by the flames. Sadly, the spell was only partially successful as it arrived too late to prevent the rest of her body from being consumed by fire. From then on, the unburned remains were doomed to live on as the Krasue ghost.

Another version of this story has it that this ghost was originally a wealthy lady who was fearful of her neck becoming sunburned. She would tie a length of black gauze around it. But an evil spirit took over and cursed her to become a Krasue. She lost all her external body below the neck. Could this have been a punishment for her vanity?

The Krasue may also have been an apprentice witch who botched up a spell and lost most of her body in the process.

Dire warnings exist. If you are a woman and commit murder or have an abortion, you are apt to become a Krasue. And if you practice any form of witchcraft, or are seen as a bit odd or eccentric, you are doomed to ultimately transform into one.

Krasue have voracious appetites. They hunt at night for blood or raw flesh. They attack cattle and chickens, and if fresh meat isn’t available, they may eat carrion. Villagers do not leave clothes out at night to dry as in the morning they may find the local Krasue has used them to wipe her bloody, gory mouth.

They also hover around the houses of pregnant women, crying out to scare the woman about to give birth. Krasue have long, proboscis-like tongues which they use to penetrate the womb and cause terrible diseases in the unborn fetus or the woman herself. They may even extract the unborn child and eat it. To prevent such attacks, many families arrange thorny branches around their houses. This seems to deter the creatures from crossing the threshold. Needless to say careful disposal of the placenta after delivery is vital and relatives will take it far away for safe, deep burial.

In versions of the story where the body of the Krasue has been separated from its head but still exists, the spirit must rejoin its own body before daybreak and live the rest of the day as an apparently normal person (albeit a very sleepy one). It hides this precious body very carefully, but if it should be found and destroyed, the head will be unable to rejoin it and will die in hideous pain. It can also be killed if its intestines are chopped off or if the body is simply hidden and it cannot find it.

The Krasue then has similar vulnerabilities to traditional vampires – and similar nocturnal habits. Interesting how similar strands of folk tradition can crop up independently all over the world.

Now, to give you a taste of Dark Avenging Angel, here’s the blurb:

Don’t hurt Jane. You may live to regret it.

Bullied by her abusive father, Jane always felt different. Then the lonely child found a friend in a mysterious dark lady who offers her protection—a lady she calls her “angel”. But that protection carries a terrible price, one to be paid with the souls of those Jane chooses to suffer a hideous and eternal fate.

When Jane refuses to name another victim, the angel reveals her most terrifying side. Payment must be made in full—one way or the other.

And here’s a brief extract:

Something had woken me from a deep sleep troubled by my recurring nightmare in which I was in a wood, being chased by some unimaginable horror. I never saw its face, assuming it even had one. But I knew if I didn’t find sanctuary, it would kill me. I had just made it into the strange little house that always appeared in the clearing, when my eyes opened and I gasped at the white, smiling face looking down at me.

That night, my angel seemed different somehow.

Oh, she looked the same. Same black cloak, but this time it shimmered and I wanted to touch it. I was sure it would feel soft as velvet under my fingers.

She put her finger to her lips and stroked my hair. Her touch was like a gentle breeze in summertime. My eyes wanted to close, but I forced them to stay open.

I knew I mustn’t speak out loud, but I could still whisper. “I wish I knew your name. Who are you? Please will you tell me?”

She continued to smile. Her lips moved, but the answering voice I heard was again in my head.

Do not be afraid, child. It is not yet time, but soon you will have the power to avenge yourself on those who have done you harm. Look for me in the shadows and I will be there, taking account.

I understood nothing of what she said. But, from somewhere, a calm I had never felt before emerged and wrapped itself around me.

I blinked in the darkness as she faded from sight.

Then I closed my eyes and slept. I never had that nightmare again after that night. But what if I’d known what was ahead for me?

Some things are better off left in the dark.

You can find Dark Avenging Angel here:

About the author:

Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Cat is now the full time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She was the 2013 joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor, which features in the anthology What Waits in the Shadows.  Her novels, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine are also published by Samhain. Her latest novella – Dark Avenging Angel – will be followed by her next novel – The Devil’s Serenade – in April 2016

You can connect with Cat here:

And here’s the trailer for Dark Avenging Angel

Thank you so much Cat!!

Here's my review of Dark Avenging Angel:

If there's one thing I enjoy about this author's books it's that her writing is just so easy to read (even the parts that make me shake in my socks). I seem to get carried along very happily in the flow of her prose. Dark Avenging Angel is a new "take" on the average angel books in that this one comes straight out of Hell.
Jane Powell starts the story as a young girl, living with her loving mother and terribly cruel, abusive, father who regularly beats her mother - often enough to put her in hospital. As a result and thanks to him Jane has a traumatic childhood. Yet a dark figure appears to her, usually at times when she's most terrified, who tells her all will well. The reason for this apparition is explained when Jane is older. Jane can "nominate" three names that the angel writes in a ledger and, in due time, the angel will reap horrifying revenge on them. Of course, her father's name is first on that list. As Jane starts working she experiences dreams that hold a message for her and, at the same time, another joins her father on the revenge list - her boss who tries to rape her. This is the time that Jane realises the angel is not out of heaven and she glimpses the horror of the eternal torture that are meted out on her tormenters.

All is explained at the end and the threads are joined up like a well woven jumper, leaving me, the reader, perfectly satisfied (if not a little shaken) with this novella that I read in one day. Definitely a page-turner from this talented writer of horror stories.


  1. Thank you so much for hosting me - and for the lovely review, Sue. No I definitely did not pick the Krasue because of her name :)

    1. My pleasure, Catherine. Glad I don't look like a spirit with my entrails hanging out :-)

    2. Most assuredly not, Sue!

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  2. I love Cat's books too Sue and I am loving all the blogs she's written for her new release. Great to see her here.

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