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.

The Hounds of the Moon

The Bride of Evil…

A week ago, Susan Anderson had never laid eyes on handsome Stephen Branthwaite. And now she was his wife, the loving mother of his 6 year old son, and mistress of magnificent Whitehall mansion. It was a dream come true – until the nightmare began. For someone was trying to kill the child!

Suddenly the splendor of Whitehall turned black with terror. Had Susan given her heart to a killer? Would she meet the same macabre fate as the first Mrs. Branthwaite? Could she save her son from the clutches of evil when her own life had become a bonechilling race against death?

Written by Elisabeth Offut Allen, this Popular Library Edition 1974.

Three times a charm, so the saying goes, and in honour of tonight’s full moon, I thought I would  continue the month’s doggy-themed gothics with this hauntingly illustrated Queen Size Gothic.

I’ve not read Hounds of the Moon as yet – but I’ve had a quick peak through the pages and like what I see so far.

Here’s how the book starts –

“Occasionally we are told, time has a way of shaking some of its shutters loose, and if we are alert and keen-sighted enough, we may catch a glimpse through the chinks of what lies ahead.”

I like this opening line enough to want to read on and the back blurb promises ‘READING FIT FOR A QUEEN’ so I guess I  will be adding this to my ever-growing pile of gothics to get through!