The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker
Greetings! Thank you, oh most Smexy Mandi, for hosting me, I’m so thrilled to be here! I’m giving you the super-spooky one, Mandi, because I think you can handle it.
The purpose of this Haunted tour is to celebrate the release of my Gothic Victorian fantasy debut, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, this Tour will introduce you to some of the real, documented London haunts who “ghost-star” in my book. When Professor Alexi Rychman and his Guard of spectral police make their rounds, it is to any number of London phantasms. Since these characters are familiar to The Guard, I don’t get to tell their full story in the book, here I can give them their due. Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of the novel, first in the Strangely Beautiful series!
Today’s ghostly tale is, in my opinion, the most ghastly *shudder*…
“Ghost-star” # 4 Amen Court – The Realm of the Black Dog of Newgate
Warwick Lane EC4
— At the rear of charming Amen Court stands a large, ominous wall. Behind that wall once stood the formidable, feared Newgate Prison. The small passage of “Deadman’s Walk” remains. Prisoners walked this path to execution and were buried beneath it. Newgate ghost stories abound, but the most striking and incredible is The Black Dog. The black form of a hound traverses the top of the wall, slides down and into the courtyard before vanishing, bearing with it a hideous smell and the sound of dragging footsteps. The origin of this spectral beast is said to date back to the 13th century when a famine hit London and Newgate inmates turned to cannibalism. A portly scholar was locked up on charges of sorcery and eaten by inmates. A few days later a terrifying black dog appeared, panting, with red feral eyes, blood dripping from its maw, and began ripping prisoners limb from limb in the middle of the night. Terrified inmates killed their guards and escaped, only to be hunted down, one by one, by the Black Dog until the sorcerer was avenged. The dog returned to Newgate to be seen on the eve of executions and deaths, and continues to slink along the Amen Court courtyard, the smell of death in its wake.
In my tale, The Guard wishes their problems were as simple as that terrible haunt, when in fact, it’s worse. Here’s how I refer to The Black Dog in The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker:
Elijah backed down the alley outside, staring at the demon cloud with horrified fascination as it followed, floating at the level of their heads and taking up nearly the entire width of the alley with its bulky canine body and flickering profusion of heads. It hunched forward, ready to attack.
Michael took Rebecca’s hand on one side, and Jane took the other. A powerful wind whipped around them. Josephine, having bade Miss Linden stay within, swiftly joined their ranks. She took Michael’s left hand.
“Elijah, come,” Rebecca commanded.
The beast lunged, but Withersby ducked out of the way. “Please tell me this is just the Black Dog of Newgate,” he exclaimed, joining his friends in their circle of clasped hands. London’s most gruesome tale of spectral revenge was much less horrifying than entertaining thoughts of a whole new breed.
Rebecca shook her head. “No,” she replied. “We’ve never seen this.”
The dog whipped around to face them, snarling. But as it prepared its next attack, Rebecca shouted a command in the ancient language of The Guard. The hellish thing cocked its head, opened its many maws wide and jumped—only to disperse at the last moment into a grey mist and pass through them.
At the other end of the alley the creature coalesced and hurtled off in the opposite direction. The Guard gave chase, Elijah trailing after, cleaning up any mess that might give away their battle. They all gave thanks that none of London’s passersby could see ghosts, as their spectral quarry would have caused a riot. They simply had to deal with being considered lunatics.
As they ran, Josephine sought to pinpoint Elijah’s reference. “Wait. The Black Dog … Was that the sorcerer?”
“Yes,” Rebecca answered, panting as they turned a corner. “The scholar imprisoned in Newgate centuries ago for sorcery.”
“The one where the starving inmates ate his body and then a huge, avenging black dog tore them limb from limb?”
“That would be the one. But this is not that dog.”
Michael seemed just as eager to make this beast something they knew. “What about the stench of decay that follows the Newgate dog? You smell it now, don’t you?” There was comfort in the familiar, even one of London’s most macabre specters. More importantly, the Newgate dog was something they could best. They already had.
“No,” Rebecca replied, breathless. “I smell brimstone. This is not that beast! Do you feel anything in your blood? Any of you? I feel nothing. We can’t track this, we can’t sense it …” Any further commentary was cut off as she stumbled, losing her footing on a cobblestone. Michael was quick to catch her arm. “Damnable heels,” she muttered, righting herself. “Why don’t they make a boot a woman can run in?”
“Hello, friends!” A fierce form on a black steed and trailing black robes appeared at the opposite end of the street. Staring up at the floating, shifting beast, Alexi cried, “What the hell is this?”
A snarl and a swipe knocked his hat off his head. Alexi growled right back, jumping off his horse and shrieking a curse in the ancient language of The Guard. Blue flame leaped from his hands, and it singed the spectral dog’s many noses. The blue flame streamed a circle around the shifting cur, which hunkered down opposite Alexi and seemed to be tensing its haunches. However, instead of attacking Alexi, when it found a weakness in its fiery containment the beast turned and swarmed back the way it had come, tearing off down the street in a gruesome splintering of canine forms—and through Elijah. Lord Withersby groaned and collapsed in a heap.
“Coward, face me!” Alexi cried, mounting his horse after glancing down worriedly at his unconscious friend. Elijah had been swept up into Jane’s arms, her healing powers at the ready—if she was not already too late.
Rebecca ran toward Alexi’s horse. “Alexi, don’t you dare—” But he was already after it, yelling curses and chasing the monster down the next avenue with bolts of blue fire.
— (End of Excerpt)
My research owes so much to Richard Jones (www.haunted-britain.com ) founder of the fabulous Discovery Walks of London (www.haunted-london.com ) and author of the fantastic compendium “Haunted London” and “Walking Haunted London” published by Barnes & Noble Books. Plus he’s a really nice guy, thanks Richard!!
Come visit me at www.leannareneehieber.com to find out more about The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker and follow along on the rest of the Haunted London Blog Tour! I hope you’ll pick up a copy of the book and I hope you’ll love it as much as I do! Be sure to leave a comment to be entered to win a signed copy!