I’m so glad to be back with the magic and the muses here at Magical Musings, thanks my friends! Just like last year’s Strangely Beautiful Haunted London Blog tour, we’re continuing with more real ghost stories I use in the Strangely Beautiful series, continuing with the sequel in the series, THE DARKLY LUMINOUS FIGHT FOR PERSEPHONE PARKER.
About the Book: “Death-pale Percy Parker was a beacon for Fate. True love had found her, in the tempestuous form of Professor Alexi Rychman. But her mythic destiny was not complete. Foretold by ghosts with which she alone could converse; a war was coming. Victorian London would be overrun by a spectral host. Yet, within mighty Athens Academy, alongside The Guard who shielded mortals from the agents of the Underworld, she counted herself among friends. Wreathed in hallowed fire, they would stand together, no matter what dreams or nightmares—may come.”
About the Tour: I’ve had a life-long love for the 19th century, England and ghosts. London is alive with history, thriving not only with the pulsing energy of the living, but the restless energy of the dead. When the character of Professor Alexi Rychman and his Guard of spectral police make their rounds, it is to any number of real, documented, familiar London phantasms. Since these characters are familiar to The Guard, I don’t get the opportunity to tell their complete story. But these tales are too good not to tell in their full, spooky splendor… (Special thanks to London ghost and Ripper expert Richard Jones, http://haunted-london.com, whose books and tours are my go-to resource).
Today’s ghost: Sadler’s Wells Theater, Rosebury Avenue, EC1
The ghost of clown Grimaldi
The theatre, being one of the oldest in London, was founded in 1683 by Thomas Sadler. In April of 1781, Joseph Grimaldi made his theatrical debut at just three years old. His successful theatre career saw him essentially create the basis for the pantomime tradition. In an odd (and grim) last request, he asked that he be decapitated after death. Apparently, this macabre last wish was carried out, as his head has been frequently seen at the theater prior to its modern renovation and rebuilding. The white-greasepaint face and glassy eyes of Grimaldi’s disembodied head were seen many times, floating behind patrons of the old box seats.
(excerpt from The Darkly Luminous Fight For Persephone Parker)
As Rebecca had a horse brought to the Athens portico, a broad-shouldered silhouette trotted up the alley. “Hallo, my dear. Feel the Pull, do you?”
“Yes, Michael,” she replied, having hoisted herself sidesaddle onto the mare. “And while I appreciate your diligence, I believe I can disassemble these fools alone.” She grimaced. “Seems to be the night for severed heads.”
Michael chuckled. “Ah, Goldsmith and Grimaldi. Of course you can handle them. Still, I thought I would offer.”
Rebecca shrugged. “I’m only fit for my own company.”
“While I don’t agree, I do believe you must prove to yourself why we turn to you as well as Alexi. Now that he has his…preoccupations, you’ll need to step fully forward.”
She stared down at him a moment before her face softened. “You are right.”
Michael grinned. “I could smugly say ‘I know,’ but that sounds too much like Alexi and we can’t have that. I’ll just thank you for agreeing.”
“No. Thank you, my dear. I need someone to tell me sensible things,” Rebecca murmured. Then she rode off, before he could add anything else.
In transit, her horse moving at a slow plod, Rebecca heard a familiar voice call her name and the sound of running footsteps. The Pull gave The Guard a sense of one another, and of the task at hand. Michael wasn’t the only one to seek out her and her destination.
“Elijah Withersby,” Rebecca replied, halting her horse. “I can handle these heads perfectly w—”
“I d-didn’t want you to have a go of tonight’s work all alone because you thought none of us was available,” Elijah stammered.
Rebecca looked down from the saddle, offering a look of irritation that rivaled Alexi’s. She took a moment to evaluate her friend’s disheveled appearance, and with mild disgust noted his half-tucked shirttails and badly buttoned breeches.
“Why, thank you, Elijah,” Rebecca began. “How thoughtful to be available in our moment of need.”
“What can I say? I am a veritable icon of responsibility.”
“So it would seem.”
Elijah cursed as he caught the direction of Rebecca’s eyes. He had rushed out of Josephine’s amorous clutches and toward his higher calling, only to be betrayed by his pants. Josephine, at least, would remain without implication. Nor would the gaffe further tarnish his reputation, as he was erroneously assumed a libertine. Though—especially with Josephine’s pointed behaviour of late—did any of them truly believe the charade anymore? Surely The Guard had long since guessed they two knew each other in ways more intimate than friendship.
“Shall I press on to business and leave you standing there staring?” Rebecca asked, interrupting his thoughts and shooing her hand at a young spirit taking the time to levitate apples from a nearby cart, to the owner’s great dismay.
Elijah bowed. “By all means, my lady. By all means.”
“I suppose you might as well make yourself useful. Since you’re here,” she allowed.
“As you wish!” Elijah said cheerfully, and promptly wiped the minds of all those who’d seen the flying fruit. Passersby dispersed, oblivious. Disappointed, the spirit gave up and sank through the cobblestones, but not before offering the headmistress an impertinent gesture.
“Busy night,” Rebecca stated conversationally. “I was just on my way to Ye Olde Cock Tavern. Then to Sadler’s Wells.”
Elijah made a face. “Oliver Goldsmith’s head? Again? And that clown? They must have a cranial rivalry; they’re always out in tandem.”
(End of excerpt)
Leave a comment to win a signed copy of The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker, second in the Strangely Beautiful series, which will continue again with “A Christmas Carroll”(Strangely Beautiful #2.5) novella in Dorchester’s A Midwinter Fantasy anthology this October! The Darkly Luminous Haunted London Blog Tour continues all week!