Summer Vacation in the British Isles: Curfew (1993) by Philip Rickman, Ash (2012) by James Herbert, Colony (2013) by F.G. Cottam

Ash by James Herbert


Summer is the time when readers often seek out books that will take them to a location they may never have been before.  This summer, why not book a package tour with three horror novels that will take you off the beaten path of the regular tourist sights of the United Kingdom (London is so last season) and into the folklore and mysteries of ancient England, Scotland, and Wales.


Crybbe, the Welsh-English Borderlands – Curfew (1993) by Philip Rickman


Our first stop is the picturesque village of Crybbe.  Unlike many old villages, Crybbe has uprooted its ancient standing stones and gone out of its way to chase off the tourist trade.  But none of that matters to record mogul and new age guru Max Goff.  He has come to Crybbe with a plan to replace the stones and harness the village’s earth energy to create a spiritual center for new age enlightenment.  But the locals do not seem too enthused, and what is one to make of the quaint custom of a Curfew that rings out every night, uninterrupted since the 1600s.  As the standing stones are returned mysterious phenomenon began to proliferate, and it will be up to a mix of locals and visitors to stop the completion of a centuries old ritual rooted in Elizabethan witchcraft and murder.

This is a book well suited for anyone who enjoys stories of determined outsiders uncovering a town’s ghastly past secrets, students of the mystical earth energies and ley lines, and fans of folklore and legend.


Comraich Castle, Scotland – Ash (2012) by James Herbert


Our next tour takes us to the misty highlands of Scotland and the exclusive grounds of Comraich Castle.  The castle is a private institution, run by the reclusive Inner Court Financial Group, providing rehab services, a place to lie low if you are on the run, or a place to hide a family secret that might prove embarrassing to your career or business.  Recently the facility has come under assault by a number of paranormal phenomena.  Is the cause a curse laid down by the death of a vengeful Scottish Chieftain? The overwhelming sins and crimes of the Castle’s residents made manifest?  Or it is an evil far older and alien then anything known on Earth?  Renowned ghost hunter/psychic  David Ash has been engaged to investigate and lay the haunting to rest.  But battling it will require not just learning the secrets of Comraich Castle’s residents, but his own dark past as well.

This is exciting book, which reads more like a thriller with paranormal elements rather than a traditional horror novel.  It does feature some great scare scenes and some truly unique characters.  Herbert has seeded the asylum with a gallery of scandalous and mysterious figures from the United Kingdom’s recent past, as well as a few of the popular conspiracy theories about the British government, business, and the royal family.  This is a long book however, clocking in at around 700 pages.


New Hope Island, the Outer Hebrides, United Kingdom – Colony (2013) by F.G. Cottam


Our final destination is remote New Hope Island located in the storm tossed northern reaches of the Atlantic Ocean.  In the mid- 18th Century slave ship Captain Seamus Ballantine retired from the sea and established a religious colony on New Hope.  Several months later the settlers mysteriously disappeared.  The New Hope Island Mystery has fascinated the public since its occurrence, and in a desperate bid to boost his news empire’s ailing circulation numbers, Alexander McIntyre has assembled an all-star expedition that will attempt to unravel the mystery.  He has recruited a number of television presenters/celebrities, reporters, and ex-soldiers to find the definitive solution to the New Hope disappearances.  Of course said solution will be exclusive to his newspaper and presented in daily installments, plus a later television documentary.  But all is not well on New Hope, and the disappearance of a 1930s occultist, the ghostly visions of a teenage boarding school student, a haunted sea chest full of strange artifacts, and graduate student’s 1970s suicide will all play a role in the mystery.  The question will not be what caused the disappearance of the New Hope Island colonists; it will be can the McIntyre expedition avoid sharing their fate?

This is a sprawling novel that covers not only the expedition in the present day, but historical events stretching back to the 18th century.  It also travels all over the United Kingdom as well as to the shores of Africa.  The author does a great job of building a world and establishes the New Hope Colony Mystery with enough detail that one could believe it was a real historical event that fascinated generations.  This book makes it known that the events are supernatural from the first page, but plays coy with the actual solution, allowing each expert to have their own theory as to what is going on.  I was quite surprised by this book.  It is a good read, but a little slow in the beginning as it establishes the personalities and backgrounds of the expedition members.  However there are enough strange mysterious events to keep the pages turning.


Final Notes


The management would like to remind readers that all our tours are at the participants own risk, and we take no responsibility for maiming, possessions, or mysterious disappearances of tour members.  We understand there has been some concern over the disappearance of the participants in our Maine Getaway Tour, but we assure you we are making every possible effort to locate them.  Concerned relatives are encouraged to contact Alan Pangborn, Castle Rock Sheriff’s Department, Castle Rock, Maine for further information on this open investigation.

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