‘Tis nearly October 31st, 1888, and I am no closer to fulfilling a wish that I’ve nurtured for half of my life. One would think that I, Cherry St. Croix—well-to-do miss and accomplished collector—could have anything that I could want, yet this is simply not true.
My life would be ever so much more exciting if it were.
No, unfortunately, it seems as if I shall remain trapped here in London while all of Society flees the Season’s end, seeking refuge in their rural estates. My dear friend Teddy is one, and I just know that his family shall be attending Balmoral Castle come Halowe’en. The Viscount Armistice Helmseley III is not a man to miss an event such as the one the periodicals describe.
The clipping that describes the affair was found in one of Fanny’s old scrapbooks, still taking up a corner of the library that once belonged to my father. It says this:
As the shades of evening were closing in upon the Strath, numbers of torch-lights were observed approaching the Castle, both from the cottages on the eastern portion of the estate and also those on the west. The torches from the western side were probably the more numerous, and as the different groups gathered together the effect was very fine. Both parties met in front of the Castle, the torch-bearers numbering nearly 100.
Along with those bearing the torches were a great many people belonging to the neighbourhood. Dancing was commenced by the torch-bearers dancing a “Hulachau” in fine style to the lilting strains of Mr. Ross, the Queen’s Piper. The effect was greatly heightened by the display of bright lights of various colours from the top of the staircase of the tower. After dancing for some time the torch-bearers proceeded round the Castle in martial order, and as they were proceeding down the granite staircase at the north-west corner of the Castle the procession presented a singularly beautiful and romantic appearance.
Having made the circuit of the Castle, the remainder of the torches were thrown in a pile at the south-west corner, thus forming a large bonfire, which was speedily augmented with other combustibles until it formed a burning mass of huge proportions, round which dancing was spiritedly carried on. The scene at this juncture was one to be long remembered by those who witnessed it. The flames of the bonfire shot up to an immense height, illuminating the Castle wall with a ruddy glare, while the figures of the dancers in their agile and grotesque movements were shown to great advantage.
Her Majesty witnessed the proceedings with apparent interest for some time, and the company enjoyed themselves none the less heartily on that account. (The Times, 1877)
Can you imagine? Such festivities! Teddy has told me that they sometimes carry a witch or a warlock through the procession in brass cage on mighty gears that spin and crunch. The actor inside cackling madly all the way, until he or she is tried and sentenced in a spectacular display of theatrics.
As the fire leaps and cavorts and the dancers circle around, they burn an effigy in the witch or warlock’s likeness. Her Majesty—or perhaps His Royal Highness or any of the princesses—looks on as the festivities continue in such high spirits, and often ends with the anthem sung.
What mystery! What mystique, all for the dark spirits of Hallowe’en.
I don’t believe in magic, of course, nor in spirits from beyond the grave, but for a night—that single, delightful night—as all high-born and low bob for apples and dance and pretend to feel the chill of the ghosts...
Well, what fun! Wouldn’t you just adore to see it?
Perhaps one day. Perhaps, too, you shall join me. ‘Tis a fine time for mischief, wouldn’t you agree?
In the gleaming heights of Victorian London, a world of deception awaits an unconventional Society lady whose taste for adventure makes her a most formidable adversary…
Though Society demands that I make a good marriage, I, Cherry St. Croix, have neither the time nor the interest. I am on the trail of a murder with no victim, a mystery with no motive, and the key to an alchemical formula that could be my family’s legacy.
Yet the world is not so kind as to let me pursue simple murder and uncomplicated bounties. Above the foggy drift, an earl insists on my attention, while my friends watch my increasingly desperate attempts to remain my own woman. From the silken demands of the Midnight Menagerie—to whose dangerously seductive ringmaster I owe a debt—to the rigorous pressures of the peerage, all are conspiring to place before me a choice that will forever change my life.
Out December 26th. Pre-order it now! http://www.harpercollins.com/books/Gilded-Karina-Cooper/?isbn=9780062127662?AA=index_authorIntro_37746
After writing happily ever afters for all of her friends in school, Karina Cooper eventually grew up (sort of), went to work in the real world (kind of), where she decided that making stuff up was way more fun (true!). She writes dark and sexy paranormal romance, steampunk urban fantasy, and writes across multiple genres with mad glee. One part glamour, one part dork and all imagination, Karina is also a gamer, an airship captain’s wife, and a steampunk fashionista. She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with a husband, a menagerie, a severe coffee habit, and a passel of adopted gamer geeks. Visit her at www.karinacooper.com, because she says so.
Karina is giving away a copy of Tarnished. Open to U.S./Canada residents. Read event rules and guild lines before entering.
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