The Ghosts of Kerfol by Deborah Noyes

The Ghosts of Kerfol is a wonderful collection of five interlocking ghost stories inspired by Edith Wharton’s ghost story Kerfol. In her classic tale of thrill and suspense, Edith Wharton narrates the story of Anne de Barrigan, who married Yves de Cornault, the lord of the Kerfol estate. As Yves de Cornault is found dead, seemingly attacked by a pack of dogs, Anne de Barrigan is sentenced of murdering her husband. But here’s the peculiar thing: there were no dogs at Kerfol the day the lord was murdered – at least no living dogs!

I must admit that I have not read Edith Wharton’s ghost story yet, but now that I’ve read and enjoyed The Ghosts of Kerfol, I want to learn more about the original Kerfol. I really absorbed every page of Deborah Noyes’s remarkable collection and I have been haunted by the characters in my sleep (I am serious – after reading some of the ghost stories, I went to sleep and dreamed of Kerfol and its dark secrets). But now let’s have a look at these powerful tales of revenge:

Hunger Moon (set in 1613) is the first ghost story and it’s my favorite one as it revolves around Anne de Barrigan and her husband Yves de Cornault. The story pays tribute to Edith Wharton’s Kerfol and it is told from Perrette’s perspective. Perrette is Anne’s new chambermaid and she witnesses all the strange and frightening events that take place at Kerfol. The young girl is a very likeable character who carefully observes the relationship between Anne and her husband Yves. Perrette immediately perceives that Anne seems very unhappy and lonely at Kerfol and that she doesn’t have any freedom, as her husband is a very ruthless and dominant man. Although he overwhelms her with the most expensive and exquisite gifts, Yves can’t fill Anne’s emptiness and make her happy. But one day, he manages to at least bring some joy to Anne by giving her a little dog. Perrette is glad to see her Milady smile and rejoice for once. However, her happiness is short-lived, as one day, her precious dog is found dead on her pillow, killed with a sapphire and diamond necklace, one of Yves’s gifts to Anne. Everyone at Kerfol supposes that Anne’s jealous husband is behind this dreadful deed. He must have learned that Anne has befriended a young nobleman named Hervé de Lanrivain and as an act of revenge, he killed Anne’s little dog. Other dogs follow, since Anne brings in a new dog every time the previous one is found dead on her pillow, killed exactly as the first dog. A year after the first dog was brought to Kerfol, Yves de Cornault is found dead on the stairs, apparently killed by a brutal pack of dogs. Anne is immediately convicted of murdering her husband, but since the judges disagree with each other, Anne is released into the care of Yves’s relatives, who imprison her in the tower of Kerfol where she dies years later. The judges failed to understand how it was possible that some savage dogs attacked the elderly lord, when there were no living dogs at Kerfol that day. Only Anne’s dead dogs were there, her beloved dogs that were strangled and buried one by one by her violent husband.

The following ghost stories These Heads Would Speak (set in 1802), The Figure Under the Sheet (set in 1926), When I Love You Best (set in 1982) and The Red of Berries (set in 2006) slip forward in time, giving the reader a glimpse into the lives of troubled characters. The stories feature a young and confused artist, a party girl who drowns her sorrows in alcohol, an unhappy young American couple and a deaf gardener who cares for the Kerfol estate. All these people have something in common, as they are plagued and haunted by the ghosts of Kerfol. Anne’s dead dogs torment and rip apart each of these souls and they don’t spare anyone, as they have come to take revenge!

The Ghosts of Kerfol is an absorbing collection of ghost stories that will make your flesh creep and that will leave you hungry for more. The talented Deborah Noyes does a great job creating a dark and sinister atmosphere by using gothic elements and she skilfully portrays a sombre world full of secrets, intrigues and mysteries. I truly loved this book and I highly recommend it to everyone who loves ghost stories and who is a fan of Gothic Literature. These haunting tales will linger in your mind for a long time and you will want to read other works by Deborah Noyes. I just wished that these ghost stories were longer and not so short because I longed for more! Luckily, the author has a promising upcoming novel, Captivity, and you can find out more about it here.

Note: The author kindly sent me a copy of her fascinating book and I would like to thank her for that!


12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lua
    Mar 21, 2010 @ 17:11:47

    I really love books that are formed by interlocking stories and the first one sounds super interesting!
    Also if there is a dog in the story- dead or alive- than it’s already one step ahead of all the other stories for me 🙂 Thank you Andreea for the great review!


  2. vivienne
    Mar 21, 2010 @ 18:40:48

    Ghost stories always hold a fascination for me and I will read any I can get my hands on. This books sounds brilliant and right up my street.


  3. Nymeth
    Mar 21, 2010 @ 19:02:49

    Like Lua, I love books of interconnected stories, so that appeals to me right away. Also, I haven’t read Edith Wharton’s ghost stories either, but they’re on the list.


  4. Aarti
    Mar 22, 2010 @ 00:33:30

    Ooh, I recently reread a bunch of Edgar Allan Poe’s short, creepy stories and so this sounds really good! I have never read ANY Edith Wharton. Tragic, I know.


    • Andreea
      Mar 22, 2010 @ 09:09:06

      Poe is one of my favorite authors and I love his creepy stories. Well, it’s not so tragical, as I have never read any Dickens for example. I guess that’s tragical for some people too:)


  5. Melody
    Mar 22, 2010 @ 02:02:42

    Ghost stories! Of course this book has to be added onto my wishlist! 😀


  6. Alice Teh
    Mar 22, 2010 @ 06:33:37

    Ooooh… this one sounds good. I’m beginning to develop a liking for ghost stories.

    I recently bought a ghost stories and they’re all about the ghosts in Alabama. Can’t wait to get started on that one. Hehe…


    • Andreea
      Mar 22, 2010 @ 09:10:43

      I have always loved ghost stories and Gothic Literature is one of my favorite genres. I am so glad that everyone is interested in Deborah’s book!


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