The Girl with The Roses: A Review
Some of the most effective ghost stories come creeping towards us from down the twisted corridors of our own dark history. The ghosts in those stories carry a certain weight with them that is undeniably effective. They appear to us with decades of amplified regret and pain, allowing them to feel like more than simple plot devices or moral judges. They become warnings, omens. They latch onto us and never quite let go. I’ve often fancied trying to write my own historical ghost story, but I’m not sure I have the right skill set for the research and writing required to create a successful one. One writer who brilliantly weaves realistic and chilling historical fiction is the wonderful K.B. Goddard.
I had the pleasure of having a story published alongside one of hers in the Shadows at the Door Anthology and I’ve also heard her work on The Wicked Library and The Lift podcasts as well. Her stories always feel to me as if they’ve been plucked from the hidden corners of our past. Her plots and characters resonate with such truth that her ghosts are given free rein to slip under your skin and make themselves comfortable there, whilst her main characters have a fragility and tenacity that always has you rooting for them.
K.B. has a new novella coming out and I’ve been lucky enough to get a sneak preview before its released. ‘The Girl with The Roses’ is a genuinely unnerving and atmospheric horror novella. The story begins in the sales room of Thornhill and Swift, where items with an unusual and unique past are sold to the highest bidder. It’s there we find a statue of a young girl holding a bouquet of roses. As with all the items that are sold there, this statue has a story to tell.
Now I don’t want to give away too much of the plot away but, suffice to say, it involves a widower who keeps to himself, a new wife, a dash of unrequited love and something sinister kept behind a locked door. Not forgetting strange dreams, local rumours and a sense of foreboding that, once begins to draw you in, never lets you relax until you reach the final page.
The characters all feel incredibly genuine. You spend the majority of your time in the company of Charlotte Salt. You follow her into the dormant home and cold heart of Mr George Avery. You watch her begin to suspect that something is not right in her newly married life; then, slowly and with a deft hand, the true intentions behind Mr Avery’s marriage proposal are revealed to you and her.
Charlotte is superb lead character. She reflects the beliefs and traditions of her own time, but she never feels constrained or bound by them. Unlike some historical fiction, there is no feeling of the author preaching to the choir using history as the springboard for their well-rehearsed sermon. Instead, this story feels grounded within its time, but it never feels as it is flagging under the weight of pretence or research. Instead, it speaks to you with an accurate tone of voice as it steers you towards scares that are so much more than simply set dressing. The haunting here serves the plot and pace of the story brilliantly, advancing Charlotte’s tale towards her impending fate.
‘The Girl with The Roses’ is a cleverly paced story and keeps you guessing right up until the end. Whilst a side plot of Charlotte’s brother and her friend trying to aid her before it’s too late is a nice way of amping up the tension from outside the events taking place within the home of Mr Avery. As for George Avery, K.B. has made sure her widower is not any sort of a cliché or caricature. His actions and attitudes are unusual and a little stark, but it all comes with the weight of a hugely believable and palpable grief.
If you like your ghosts conjured with heart and intelligence, then you’ll easily find something to love within this classical ghost story. It never drags or feels as if it’s stalling for time or page count. It’s an engaging and haunting read. I can’t wait to see what else Thornhill and Swift have to offer us. I, for one, shall definitely making another appointment for K.B. Goddard’s Haunted Auctions.
(‘The Girl with The Roses’ is available on Amazon and Kobo for pre-order now and will be released on 18th August, I've attached some links below for you. If all goes to plan, I should be interviewing K.B. Goddard in the near future about this new novella and her writing. I recommend checking out her other collections and this novella as soon as it becomes available. Not just because of my interview. You owe it to yourself to read everything she has to offer. I know I will be dipping back into her stories again very soon.)