Sunday, October 16, 2011
Engrossed in spiritualism and Gothic novels, many Victorians, haunted by ghost, held table rapping seances. They also told ghost stores in grand style by candle and gas light as a cold wind howled outside. Among the Victorian authors who crafted classic ghost stores were M. R. James, Sheridan Le Fanu, Violet Hunt, and Henry James. The most popular ghost story from the Victorian age is A Christmas Carol with the chain rattling Jacob Marley and the spirits of Christmas past, present, and future. Most people are familiar with Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost, if not the short story itself then one of the film versions it’s been made into that are usually shown on TV around Halloween, I always loved the one with Jodi Foster. Since ghost were such an important part of the Victorian era a steam machine that captures them seemed the perfect premise for a Steampunk/romance. Walk on the wild side of Victorian London with the ghost and the ghost hunter from my new Steampunk/Romance To Love A London Ghost.
Here is the Blurb:
When Queen Victoria orders Sexton Dukenfield, premiere phantom hunter, to track down England’s missing ghost he stumbles into Ceridwen, a phantom warrior woman of an ancient Celtic tribe. Not only does he find her intriguing as a piece of the puzzle of the missing spirits, but he’s also haunted by her sultry sensuality. Though they both burn with desire, it’s difficult to quench their fiery passion since Ceridwen is so translucent. Every time Sexton touches her, his hands pass through her misty body. On a mission through the bustling narrow streets of London, to a dreary match factory, and even to the Otherworld and back, to stop a genius scientist and his phantasm debilitater machine, the ghost and the ghost hunter seek the secret to freeing the boundaries of life and death.
Sexton mimicked what he’d often seen others do, he bent his waist and went down on one knee. “Your Majesty.”
Queen Victoria nodded in acknowledgment, and as she glided forward, the hem of her skirt rustled on the floor of the small cigar-shaped airship.
“Nice rug. Persian, I’m sure. Gives a whole new meaning to a flying carpet.”
“We find it adequate.” The queen drew in a short breath. “We wanted to speak with you off the ground, so no one can eavesdrop at the door and overhear us.”
“It seems a bit drastic, but surely Your Majesty is wiser than a mere subject, such as myself.”
“Once we are in the air and out of earshot, we will tell you why you have been summoned.”
“I eagerly await your pleasure. Not that it should concern Your Majesty, but I was taken by your guards just as I was about to eat my dinner.”
“You were needed at that time, but would you care for tea?”
“No, I don’t drink anything made from water, I hear it’s quite addictive.”
“We always put a nip of Scotch in our tea.” The Queen picked up her cup and took a generous swallow.
“In that case, I will partake of a cup.” He poured the tea from the silver teapot into one of the dainty porcelain cups, tilted it to his dry lips, and tossed it down his throat. “The whiskey is a remarkable improvement.”
The Queen took a sip, and then set her cup on the gold-rimmed saucer. “We hear you have developed new scientific procedures for exorcising phantasms.”
“Those of the noble class say many things about me, but I did not know they referred to me as man of science. How complimentary.”
“Though we understand there may be some question as to how reliable you are.”
“What am I being accused of, Your Majesty?”
“We do not accuse, we are interested in your services. Do you really know how to deal with spiritual apparitions in ways others cannot? We are told you have more knowledge than the royal psychic.”
“I am no psychic, Your Majesty, I have built some equipment that serves me well on phantasm hunts.”
“They say you charge people to get rid of apparitions, but the specters remain. We are told you seek payment for work you do not provide.”
Sexton had invented equipment to detect an increase in energy, as well as a machine that detected changes in room temperature. Both phenomena indicated the possible presence of specters. This equipment helped him make a handsome living by ridding the gentry of their phantasms. He really wasn’t dishonest in his business dealings. What could he do when he found that a supposedly haunted house was in truth free of phantasms? He rid pasty-faced aristocrats of specters even when none existed. Hallucinations of the gently bred were not his problem, who was he to argue with the ghost-seeing gentry? If he didn’t make a living off of their unreasonable fears, someone else would.
“Often, Your Majesty, people say they have phantasms when it appears it’s other causes and not spirits at all. I cannot get rid of entities when there are none; still, I must be paid for my time and trouble, like any hardworking man. It is hardly my fault people are prone to see or hear things which truly are not there.”
“This may be true.” The Queen opened her fan, flapping it like a bird’s wing in front of her dour, hawk-nosed face. “We certainly believe in ghosts and have been trying to contact my Albert, but the spirits we are seeking have not responded to Mister Lee’s séances, or those of another famed paranormal expert who is new to me, John Brown.” Victoria paused and looked Sexton straight in the eyes. “Others may be very alarmed with what we have to say. It is why we would only talk to you and why we must meet in the sky. When the walls are in the clouds, people on the ground cannot listen at the doors.” With A flick of her wrist, she shut the fan. “Mister Dukenfield, the reason we called you here today is because there are reports that several of the kingdom’s most respected specters have gone missing.”
“Your majesty?” Sexton wondered if she’d put a bit too much whiskey in her tea.
“We need our ghosts. We have come to enjoy them. Theater Royal has lost the spirit in the tri-corner hat. His sightings during rehearsals always bode well. Now all the plays are failures. The Whelan estate is up in arms. Margaret Whelan, burned long ago for witchcraft, perhaps because she had great healing skills, is said to haunt her old home and none of the family has ever fallen ill since her death. She keeps them all well. Now her spirit is gone and all the Whelans are sick.” She lifted the dainty tea cup and took a sip of tea. “A Scottish clan has even approached me. They have held the family castle since the 16th century, and ever since a famous laird died in the 17th century, the clan has sought advice from his ghost, who remained there. Now with their ancestor gone, they are at a loss as to how to make important decisions for the family.” She set the teacup down with a soft clang. “Also, there is a spirit who, for over a hundred years, watched the shore and by his gestures warned fishermen and sailors of coming storms and was attributed with saving many lives. He’s gone, and that whole village fears many will be caught in sudden tempests at sea now and die. Specters are missing from my own castle. King George the third is absent from Windsor. It has been days since anyone has seen him puttering about, muttering, ‘What, what?’ We are told the staff is concerned at his sudden disappearance after all these years. It appears not seeing ghosts you often saw is more unsettling than seeing them. Mister Dukenfield, we charge you to find who has taken our specters and return these good British spirits to us.”
“It wasn’t me.” Sexton poured another cup of tea and scotch. “Why would anyone want to take the phantasms?”
“With the disappearance of King George the third, it has been put forth by my advisers, the Americans may be involved.” She took another gulp of tea. “It needs more whiskey.”
Sexton leaned back in the armchair. “If I recall, the Americans did not want George when he was alive. I believe they waged a war against him, which they won. Why would they want George now?"
“That is neither here nor there. We have called you to find out why the ghosts have vanished. The answer is in your hands now.”
To Love A London Ghost is available in paperback and eBook from Amazon and Barnes and Nobles online and in most eBook formats at most online bookstores. For more information please drop by my Website