When Claire Mallory’s father leaves, her mom moves them to a new town and into a dilapidated Victorian house.
The old house creaks and whistles, and smells well — like it’s been abandoned for years. But as the nights grow longer and the shadows take on substance, Claire wonders if the strange sounds and occurrences might be more than the house showing its age.
Just as things start to pick up in Claire’s love life, her mother becomes possessed. In an attempt to save her mother and their new home, Claire enlists the help of two boys, each of whom is interested in Claire for different reasons. As she chooses one boy over the other, something dangerous is unleashed, and the spirits make their move.
They aren’t content to moan and scream inside Claire’s house, or even control her mom. They want a taste of freedom, and she’s their key to getting it. But is Claire strong enough to fight off the evil spirits, or will they claim her and her mom before it’s all over?
Old Houses & Why They Can Be So Creepy & Fascinating
Hello and thank you for letting me take over your blog for the day! I’m super excited for the launch of A WHISPERED DARKNESS, and in that spirit the blog post is all about old houses and their appeal. Which they have a lot of, really.
I think, at least for me, old houses are interesting because they have a past. I mean, new homes are pretty and shiny and come with that new paint smell. But old houses, old houses have serious atmosphere. They can look shiny and have that new paint smell too – depends on how well they’ve been taken care of. But they don’t have the cookie cutter look. You’ve seen it. Driving through a new subdivision and realizing that all the houses are the same three patterns (or less) over and over. The only way to tell them apart is the color or the bushes out front.
Old houses have wrap around porches and weird little gingerbread cutouts in the corners that either make them look cute or like a witch with a big wart on her nose is waiting for you to come just a little. Bit. Closer. They have big trees (I’m a sucker for trees. It’s a weird fascination.) and beautiful flowers that pop out of piles of weeds where you least expect it. They watch you as you crunch up a gravel driveway, and look sad when you leave.
For me, their history is what makes them creepy and fascinating. Sometimes they come with ghost stories already built in. I live near Williamsburg, Virginia, and most of the old homes there have some sort of ghost story associated with it. Sometimes several versions of the same story. It gives your mind something to think about and a spark to fuel your imagination when you’re standing outside looking at the window where the wife fell to her doom. Or was she pushed?
Even if they don’t have a ghost story attached, you find things in old houses. You could open a floor vent and find old toy soldiers. Rip up a carpet and find the remains of a wooden floor with scuff marks or a name carved there. Attics can be filled with the leftover flotsam the last owner didn’t want to move again. There was life in the walls before you got there, and you have no idea what happened. Arguments, lovers, children, sadness, war, whatever.
Sometimes (and it might just be me, being fanciful) you can walk into an old house and you can feel the atmosphere change. Heavier or thicker. Like it’s watching you and waiting to see what you do before it makes its first move.
Maybe that doesn’t answer the question, but I think that’s what it is for me. It’s the history of the house and the way it’s been taken care of (or not) that set the tone for how you feel about them.
The house in A WHISPERED DARKNESS is inspired by three that I have seen. One is in the town I used to live in. A huge white mansion that looks gorgeous from a distance, but once you start looking a little closer you can see that the paint is peeling, the gardens are overgrown, and the windows look grimy inside and out. The second is one I passed on a road trip that was abandoned in the middle of a field. It looked like it had been stately and pretty important in its day, until someone left it to rot.
The last is a house that was being swallowed by woods and swamp outside of a nursery my mom loves in Virginia Beach. (Winesett Nursery for anyone who knows the area). It has collapsed, I think, for the most part now. It wasn’t big, and I never even tried to venture close to it, but it always left an impression. The windows were broken out and always black inside, the door hung crooked, it just seemed to be both enticing and sad and slightly sinister all that the same time. I think it’s what Claire’s house might have looked like if no one ever tried to sell it.
Have you seen old houses that made you feel that way?
Vanessa Barger was born in West Virginia, and through several moves ended up spending the majority of her life in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is a graduate of George Mason University and Old Dominion University, and has degrees in Graphic Design, a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, and a Masters in Technology Education. She has had articles published in Altered Arts Magazine, has had some artwork displayed in galleries in Ohio and online, and currently teaches engineering, practical physics, drafting and other technological things to high school students in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She is a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and the Virginia Writer’s Club. When not writing or teaching, she’s a bookaholic, movie fanatic, and loves to travel. She has one cat, who believes Vanessa lives only to open cat food cans, and can often be found baking when she should be editing.
Winner will be drawn September 26, 2014
· Four (4) winners will receive a digital copy of A Whispered Darkness by Vanessa Barger (INT)
· One (1) winner will receive a digital copy of A Whispered Darkness by Vanessa Barger AND a $10 Amazon Gift Card or B&N Gift Card – Winner’s Choice (INT)