The Curse of the Clodaghs

As the new visitors’ guide, Tess Connolly is a lovely addition to historic Clodagh House. Neither Richard, the new Lord Clodagh, nor the other members of the household, however, are aware that Tess is really the key element in a dangerous scheme concocted by her fiancé, Shaun Clodagh, to expose his brother’s murderer…

When it appears that Shaun, too, is dead, Tess is torn between the knowledge that this is part of the plan, and a horrible suspicion that he has unwittingly become the victim of his own ruse.

Alone on a mission that has lost its meaning, in a house full of people she doesn’t trust… Tess stands in the way of a murderer bent on total victory.

Written by Frances Cowen. First Ace printing March 1974.

Since we are now in the middle of our ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ great British summer, I thought it’d be nice to post something light and summery looking to cheer me up – and counter-balance the fact it’s been pouring with rain all day.

Curse of the Clodaghs takes place in Ireland in July and, coincidently, it is raining there too. Our heroine, Tess Connolly, has just turned up to her new job at the ‘unutterably dreary’ and storm-soaked Clodagh House. Her fiancé, Shaun Clodagh, has suspicions about the new family taking over his home and he has come up with a plan. His brother was recently drowned in a boating accident just off the coast and Shaun suspects foul play, so he decides to ‘disappear’ while faking his own death. Meanwhile, Tess takes a summer job at Clodagh House as a tour guide – using her position in the house to inveigle herself into the confidences of the new owners in order to find out the real story behind the infamous Clodagh Curse.

It is a scheme that looks good in theory but, when Shaun misses his secret rendezvous with her, Tess begins to suspect he really is dead. Grief stricken and alone, she has no idea who she can turn to for help. She decides to stick things out for the summer to see if she can solve the mystery behind these suspicious disappearances but before too long, strange accidents start to plague her…

I am irresistibly drawn to books about family curses for some reason but I have yet to read one that fully lives up to the promises hinted at within. The ancestral curse was a staple in earlier gothics and there is something about the idea of vengeful ghosts reaching out from the past, punishing the innocent for their forefather’s misdeeds, that chills the cockles of my heart.

Then there are those families so messed up, so unutterably deranged that they may as well be cursed – and these make for great gothic reading too. Dark Shadows very own Collins family or V.C Andrew’s Flowers in the Attic are good examples of this.

Alas, Curse of the Clodaghs doesn’t quite fulfil my expectations in the ‘curse’ department but it does have some nice gothic touches – with legends of sea monsters, mysterious ghostly ladies and lots of mist-laden, lush descriptions of the Irish coast. Three out of five stars.