The Ghosts of Kerfol by Deborah Noyes

A classic haunted house story is given a gentle face-lift by mistress of modern horror Deborah Noyes, who, with just a few tugs and some careful reconstruction, has created a glowing new work that does tremendous tribute to the original.  Turn-of-the-century American novelist Edith Wharton wrote “Kerfol” in 1916, a short story about a controlling French lord who kept his young wife practically imprisoned within Kerfol, his forbidding Baroque mansion. He refused to allow Milady even the comfort of a pet, and because of his suspicions that she was having an affair, ruthlessly murdered each dog she tried to keep in secret. Then the lord turns up dead, seemingly mauled by a pack of dogs. Except, there are no dogs at Kerfol…none left alive, that is…First Noyes took Wharton’s story and re-imagined it from the point of view of a young maid who worked in Milady’s service, interweaving her own writing with some of Wharton’s original phrases and dialogue. Then she moves forward in time to show how future generations continue to be haunted by the ghosts of Kerfol. Right after the French Revolution, a young artist who inherits Kerfol is tormented by the beautiful image of a woman he can’t stop painting, and the pack of sad-eyed dogs who follow him everywhere yet refuse to be touched. In 1926, a spoiled flapper meets her doom when she dons Milady’s cursed sapphire necklace. In 1982, a college-aged couple on a European tour awaken the vengeful spirit of the jealous lord when they engage in an illicit tryst in his former bedchamber. Finally, in 2006, the spirits seem to settle into an uneasy rest after a deaf young gardener finds and removes the cursed necklace from the manor grounds. Or, will the restless ghosts just follow the jewels to their new home and continue to haunt the young man? Like the linked sparkling gems in Milady’s necklace, each of Noyes’s stories is a small masterpiece, gracefully strung together by interwoven themes of bitter betrayal, sweet revenge and tempting madness. This gorgeously Gothy title is a just-right read for a blustery November night—or anytime you want to give yourself a delicious shiver!

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