I’ve never read Edith Wharton’s ghost story Kerfol, but I may have to pick it up after reading The Ghosts of Kerfol by Deborah Noyes. Noyes’ collection of stories takes Wharton’s original story and runs with it.
In Wharton’s Kerfol, a young woman is suspected of murdering her much older (and evil) husband. The guy was found on the stairs, and he appeared to have been killed by dogs. But there were no (live) dogs at Kerfol. Every time his young wife became attached to a dog, the lord of the manor killed the dog and placed the carcass in his wife’s bed. (Nice guy, right?)
Deborah Noyes begins her collection of stories by telling the original tale from a servant girl’s point of view. The next story takes place nearly two hundred years later and involves a young artist. The next involves a party girl in the 1920’s and one of the creepiest scenes in the book. The fourth story tells of a young American couple on vacation in the 1980’s. The fifth and final story occurs in 2006 and centers on a deaf teenager who has been hired as a caretaker of Kerfol. Each story has its own connection to the old manor, and each story has a sort of understated creepiness about it. I don’t think this is blatant, in-your-face horror, but, if you happen across a really old house, the stories in this book will come back to “haunt” you, so to speak.
At first, this book reminded me of Caroline B. Cooney’s Enter Three Witches, and I think the first story in the book keeps to that idea of retelling the original story from another character’s point of view. The other stories, however, expanded on the original and kind of reminded me of movies like The Sixth Sense (which is terrifying in its own right) or The Haunting.
I really recommend The Ghosts of Kerfol to anyone who likes understated horror. There is no real gore or graphic violence in this book, but you still may feel like something is crawling up the back of your neck when you read it.