January 18, 2017

The Phantom Bride of Marcellus: a guest post by Catherine Cavendish, author of "Linden Manor"

The Phantom Bride of Marcellus

My novella – Linden Manor – features the ghost of Lady Celia Fitzmichael, about whom a scary nursery rhyme was written. This has haunted my main character – Lesley Carpenter – since childhood. In it, Lady Celia is never mentioned by name. Instead, she is referred to as ‘The Scottish bride.’ And woe betide you if you laid eyes on her ‘blackened face’.
Writing this story inspired me to go in search of allegedly true reported sightings and tales of tragic brides who seem unable – or unwilling – to leave the place of their mortal death.
My quest has led me to all sorts of interesting stories. A number occur at the site of fatal road crashes. Here’s one from a very twisty road, aptly named 13 Curves (or Cedarvale Road to give it its proper name) in Marcellus, southwest of Syracuse in New York.

The road certainly twists and turns, and sixty years ago - so the story goes - a young ‘just married’ couple, without a care in the world, were driving along there on their wedding night, probably concentrating a little too much on the honeymoon to follow rather than the perils of the dark road ahead.
Rounding one of the bends, the car spun out of control, off the road and plunged into a nearby creek. The couple were killed instantly. What followed has been reported in many ways by many people, most of whom were previously unaware of any such sightings.
Some people report seeing a ghostly bride, covered in blood and carrying a glowing orange lantern. Others say her eyes glow as she wanders along the road, apparently searching for something or someone. Others have reported seeing the apparition standing on one of the hills along the road. At times she is reported as behaving in a reckless fashion, leaping out at unsuspecting cars and causing their drivers to swerve out of control and crash their vehicles.

She has also been reported causing accidents by suddenly manifesting herself in the driver’s rear view mirror, apparently sitting in the back seat of their cars, dressed in white, spattered with blood. When they turn around, she has gone. A variation on the story says that, in fact, she wasn’t killed that day – only her groom was. She died much later and returns to this spot, searching for her long dead husband. A common theory is that she died on Friday 13th and only returns on this date.
Whatever the truth of this story, the road is undeniably spooky at night. Its many curves require due diligence when negotiating them. This is not a road to lose concentration on, so maybe the Phantom Bride of Marcellus comes back to warn the unwary to take care, or risk suffering her fate.

Now, here’s a flavour of Linden Manor:
Have you ever been so scared your soul left your body? 

All her life, Lesley Carpenter has been haunted by a gruesome nursery rhyme—“The Scottish Bride”—sung to her by her great grandmother. To find out more about its origins, Lesley visits the mysterious Isobel Warrender, the current hereditary owner of Linden Manor, a grand house with centuries of murky history surrounding it. 

But her visit transforms into a nightmare when Lesley sees the ghost of the Scottish Bride herself. A sight that, according to the rhyme, means certain death. The secrets of the house slowly reveal themselves to Lesley - terrible secrets of murder, evil and a curse that soaks the very earth on which Linden Manor now stands. But Linden Manor has saved its most chilling secret for last. 

Linden Manor has just been reissued by Crossroad Press and is available from:
Other books by Catherine Cavendish include:

And are currently available – or soon will be – from:

Catherine Cavendish lives with a long-suffering husband and ‘trainee’ black cat in North Wales. Her home is in a building dating back to the mid-18th century, which is haunted by a friendly ghost, who announces her presence by footsteps, switching lights on and strange phenomena involving the washing machine and the TV. Cat has written a number of published horror novellas, short stories, and novels, frequently reflecting her twin loves of history and horror and often containing more than a dash of the dark and Gothic. When not slaving over a hot computer, she enjoys wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.
You can connect with her here: