Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in The Haunting Of Henderson Close by Catherine Cavendish blog tour. Like many book bloggers I’m snowed under with books waiting to be reviewed, so I haven’t been able to read the book but I must admit after reading the extract from the book (see below) I’m really intrigued and now desperate to read the whole book.
November 1st, 1891
The tall woman lifted her skirt as she crossed the filthy, narrow street. Her nose wrinkled at the stench of human waste, rotting fruit and vegetables and all manner of foul remains that sloshed their way down the gutters of the open sewer that was Henderson Close, deep in the squalid heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town. Henderson Close. The very mention of the name sent shivers down the spines of most of the woman’s acquaintances. They couldn’t understand why she did this. Helping those too feckless, in their eyes, to help themselves.
A second-floor window rattled open. “Gardyloo!” Along with everyone else in the vicinity, the woman scurried for safety, just in time before a torrent of stinking night waste splashed onto the street. The stench hit her with a renewed force that made her eyes water and her stomach heave. Breathing through her mouth, the woman hurried on. The sooner she reached her destination, the sooner she could complete her mission and return to the safety of her cosy, lavender-scented flat in the more prosperous New Town.
As she quickened her step, she passed poorly dressed humanity of all ages. Children in little more than worn-out rags, on such a cold day as this too. She pitied them their filthy bare feet, pockmarked with chilblains, and scabs that wouldn’t heal for want of a decent diet. She averted her eyes from the young girls, barely in their teens, who cradled their swollen bellies. The woman knew what went on. Some of these girls knew the fathers of their unborn babies all too well. They were closely related to them. Others wouldn’t be able to pick the right one out of a police line-up.
She passed old women with no teeth and sparse grey hair. Yet most of them were probably barely past forty. Her age in fact. With her gloved hand, she adjusted the wire-rimmed spectacles a little higher on her nose, and arrived at number seventeen.A now-familiar clutch of apprehension tugged at her and she glanced around. No, everyone on the street was going about their normal business today.
She stared up at the dilapidated tenement, nine stories high, as she had done many times before. With land at such a premium in Edinburgh’s teeming Old Town, they built upward, as high as the foundations would stand, and through lack of proper maintenance these old buildings sometimes collapsed, killing and maiming hundreds of inhabitants. Number seventeen was no better nor worse than any of its neighbours. Doors, and any remaining windows that weren’t boarded up, had once been painted in a long-forgotten colour, now chipped and flaking off, revealing the rotten wood beneath. It used to be that the richer you were, the higher up you lived. Those at the top of the building could see the sky and were furthest away from the stinking street below. But, for the past century or more, the well-to-do had moved away to the elegant streets of the Georgian New Town. No noxious odours for them.
The woman shook her head. Back to the purpose of her journey. The family she had come to see – the McDonalds –lived a wretched existence on the ground floor, barely able to afford the single room the mother, father and the youngest five bairns all shared. And the mother had another on the way. It had been like this all the years the woman had known them. Babies came. Babies died. More babies arrived. Mrs. McDonald must be in her late thirties or even older. Still they came. Her older ones were off her hands now. Her oldest.…
Well, with any luck, at least what she had brought them would ensure food in the family’s bellies for the rest of the week. That’s why she came in the morning, when she knew the man wouldn’t be there or, if he was, he’d be sleeping off the last of the previous night’s ale. Not that Mr. McDonald was such a bad sort. At least, so far as she knew, he didn’t beat his wife or the children and, when he was sober, he would do anyone a kindness, but she couldn’t take a chance on the money getting into his hands. Too much temptation.
So lost in her own thoughts was she that she was unaware of the three youths who had formed a semi-circle behind her. As she raised her hand to knock on the worm-eaten door, they grabbed her. A fourth assailant – older, in his twenties – seized her. Shards of pain shot through her shoulders. She cried out as the four of them manhandled her round the corner into an alleyway. The older one spat at her, threw her to the ground and kicked her. “Give us the money, woman!”
She tried in vain to curl into a foetal position as the four boys threw kicks and punches. Fists slammed into her face, knocking off her glasses. Blood poured from her nose. A sickening snapping noise and screaming pain tore through her jaw. She closed her eyes and prayed for them to stop. Pain burst through her chest as her ribs cracked. She pleaded for merciful death to release her. A man’s roar. The oldest thug stamped on her hand, breaking her fingers. He tore the purse from her broken arm and made off. Hobnail boots thundered as men pursued them.
Through the red mist of her agony, the woman recognised a familiar voice. Mr. McDonald was home, sober and here to help her. She felt him kneel beside her. He cradled her head. Shetried to open her eyes but they were already swollen shut. Or the effort was simply too much. She tasted blood, felt it drip down her cheeks, mingling with the tears that cascaded down her face, and the muddy, stinking wetness of the ground beneath her face.Mr. McDonald stroked her forehead. “Oh Miss Carmichael,what have they done to ye?”
Other voices joined his. Mrs. McDonald tried to wipe the blood off with the ragged hem of her rough wool skirt. “Lord preserve us. Who would do such a thing? Miss Carmichael too. All she ever does is out of the goodness of her heart.” The voices floated to the dying woman on echoing waves through the pathways of her mind, becoming fainter and fainter. Mr. and Mrs. McDonald leaned closer as Miss Carmichael struggled to speak. It was no more than a whisper, barely possible with her fractured jaw. “I am so sorry. They took it. Every penny.” A final tear tracked its way down Miss Carmichael’s face as the darkness enveloped her for the last time.
In the shadows, a well-dressed young man moved, unnoticed by the crowd gathered over the dead woman. A smile creased his lips as he walked away.
The Haunting of Henderson Close by Catherine Cavendish
- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: FLAME TREE PRESS; New edition edition (10 Jan. 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1787581020
- ISBN-13: 978-1787581029
Buying link: Amazon UK 🇬🇧
Ghosts have always walked there. Now they’re not alone…
In the depths of Edinburgh, an evil presence is released. Hannah and her colleagues are tour guides who lead their visitors along the spooky, derelict Henderson Close, thrilling them with tales of spectres and murder. For Hannah it is her dream job, but not for long. Who is the mysterious figure that disappears around a corner? What is happening in the old print shop? And who is the little girl with no face?
The legends of Henderson Close are becoming all too real. The Auld De’il is out – and even the spirits are afraid.
ABOUT THE PUBLISHER: FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launching in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.
About the author
Hello, my name’s Catherine Cavendish and I write horror fiction – frequently with ghostly, supernatural, Gothic and haunted house themes.
Out now – from Flame Tree Press – THE HAUNTING OF HENDERSON CLOSE. Ghostly horror set in Edinburgh’s Old Town.
Available now from Kensington-Lyrical – the NEMESIS OF THE GODS trilogy: mWRATH OF THE ANCIENTS, WAKING THE ANCIENTS and DAMNED BY THE ANCIENTS – set in Egypt and Vienna and featuring the sinister Dr. Emeryk Quintillus whose obsession has stayed with him past the grave.
My novellas COLD REVENGE, MISS ABIGAIL’S ROOM, THE DEMONS OF CAMBIAN STREET, THE DEVIL INSIDE HER and THE SECOND WIFE have now been released in new editions by Crossroad Press.
My novels THE DEVIL’S SERENADE and SAVING GRACE DEVINE have also been released in new editions by Crossroad Press, as have my novel of the Lancashire Witches – THE PENDLE CURSE – and my novellas, LINDEN MANOR and DARK AVENGING ANGEL.
I live with a long-suffering husband and a delightful black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue. Who am I to argue?
When not slaving over a hot computer, I enjoy wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.
Twitter : @Cat_Cavendish
Follow the blog tour…….