Wednesday, February 08, 2017

The New Catherine Cavendish Collection

I am so happy to welcome Catherine Cavendish back onto my blog. She is a horror-writer extraordinaire with an enviable back-list of fiction. All available (see below). 

The Bride of Annandale

My novella – Linden Manor – features the ghost of Lady Celia Fitzmichael, about whom a scary nursery rhyme was written. This has haunted my main character – Lesley Carpenter – since childhood. 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 sparked curiosity in me to go searching for other brides who might also have decided to linger around after their deaths. My path led me to Mannsdale, Mississippi and The Chapel of the Cross. In 1852, this chapel was consecrated, built by a Mrs Johnstone, in memory of her husband who owned the Annandale Plantation. But the haunting is by neither one of this couple. It is their youngest daughter, Helen, who seems reluctant to leave.

Helen Johnstone was just sixteen years old when she met the man she would fall in love with. His name was Henry Grey Vick and he was something of a catch. Good-looking, well connected, his ancestors put the ‘Vick’ in ‘Vicksburg’. Christmas, 1855 saw their first meeting, and it was love at first sight. The young couple quickly decided they couldn’t live without each other and planned to marry.
Mrs Johnstone urged caution. She was in the process of fulfilling her late husband’s ambitions by building a grand house - Annandale. Concerned that Helen was simply too young to make such a momentous decision as marriage, she insisted the young couple wait a few years. Their love remained steadfast and, in 1859, Mrs Johnston finally gave her consent to the wedding, which would take place at the Chapel of the Cross on May 21st of that year.

Sadly, tragedy was to follow. A week before the wedding, Henry made a quick trip to New Orleans to collect his suit and a few items which would grace his new home. He decided to visit a local hostelry for a drink and ran into a former friend of his called James Stith. Sadly, the two had parted on the worst possible terms a year earlier and Henry saw no reason to rekindle their acquaintance with any kind of acknowledgement. Stith, though, had harboured a grudge all this time and it was about to boil over. He smashed his glass down on the bar and announced, loudly enough for all to hear, that he would not drink in the same establishment as Henry Grey Vick who was, he said, ‘no gentleman.’ In the South, especially at that time, there were few worse insults.
Tempers were lost, a brawl ensued, punches were thrown. In the heat of the moment, Henry challenged Stith to a duel. Honour demanded that Stith should accept the challenge. When he had calmed down, Henry remembered a vow he had made to Helen never to participate in such an ‘affair of honour’. He withdrew his challenge and apologised to Stith. Too late. Stith would not accept the retraction and held him to it.

The duel was held near Mobile, Alabama on May 17th 1859, with all due ceremony accorded to such events. The police were just in the process of moving in to stop it, when Henry fired and deliberately missed his opponent. Stith was not so magnanimous. He shot to kill – and succeeded. A single shot to the forehead and Helen’s beloved fiancé was dead.
In the confusion that followed, Stith and his seconds escaped. Stith would later join Confederate forces and be killed at Vicksburg – perhaps there is some irony in that at last.
Henry’s friends took his body back to Vicksburg, then went onto Annandale to break the terrible news to Helen. She was devastated and became hysterical. The Chapel was already decorated for their wedding. She had been so blissfully happy. Now her life was shattered.

She would not be parted from Henry and insisted his body be brought back to Annandale and buried in the Johnstone family plot in the Chapel, where he remains to this day. Helen insisted that she wished to be laid to rest next to him, when her time came.
Helen remained in her deep, dark pit of grief for many months, spending her day sitting by Henry’s grave, talking to him. Her mother became increasingly fearful for her sanity. She took her daughter to Scotland to visit her late husband’s relatives. After a year had gone by, Helen seemed sufficiently recovered to return to her home.
She eventually married a minister – George Harris – having told him that, while she would make him a good wife, she could never hope to love him as she had Henry. The couple moved away to northern Mississippi and had three children.
Helen lived on until 1916, and is not buried next to Henry. She lies instead next to her husband, but it seems this really wasn’t her wish. Over the years, there have been many reports of a beautiful young woman, dressed in nineteenth century mourning, weeping at Henry’s grave. When concerned people have approached her, she has simply vanished before their eyes.

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:
And other online retailers

Other books by Catherine Cavendish include:
And are currently available from:
and other online retailers

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:


  1. Thank you so much for hosting me today, Sue!

  2. Love this interview! Catherine is indeed a horror-writer extraordinaire.

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