23 December 2021

Historical Fiction Spotlight: The House in the Marsh: A medieval Christmas mystery with a ghostly twist (The Forest Lord) by Steven A. McKay


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For generations, stories have been told about the ruined old house in the marsh outside Wakefield. Stories of hidden treasure, sinister night-time cries, and ghostly figures doomed to haunt the lonely estate for all eternity as punishment for some terrible crime. This Christmas, it seems the old tales might just turn out to be true…


England, AD 1330: John Little, a bailiff living in Yorkshire, has little interest in ghost stories, having seen enough horrors among the living to bother much about the dead. The strange accounts from his fellow villagers have everyone talking though, and it’s not long before he’s asked to accompany a group of curious locals on nocturnal visits to the house in the marsh.

There are more worrying concerns in northern England however, as autumn gives way to winter and rumours of rogue bailiffs attacking, and even murdering people in their own homes, begin to circulate.

Along with his friends - ill-tempered Will Scaflock and the renowned friar, Robert Stafford - John is drawn inexorably into a dangerous adventure that will leave yet more people dead and only add to the eerie legends which will pass into English folklore for centuries to come.

Can John and his companions uncover the truth about the house in the marsh and its terrible secrets? And will they be able to forever exorcise the ghost haunting Wakefield, or will this Christmas be anything but merry?

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About the Author

Steven A. McKay was born in Scotland in 1977. He says, 'I enjoyed studying history – well, the interesting bits, not so much what they taught us in school. I decided to write my Forest Lord series after seeing a house called “Sherwood” when I was out at work one day. I’d been thinking about maybe writing a novel but couldn’t come up with a subject or a hero so, to see that house, well…It felt like a message from the gods and my rebooted Robin Hood was born. My current Warrior Druid of Britain series was similarly inspired, although this time it was the 80’s TV show “Knightmare”, and their version of Merlin that got my ideas flowing. Of course, the bearded old wizard had been done to death in fiction, so I decided to make my hero a giant young warrior-druid living in post-Roman Britain and he’s been a great character to write. I was once in a heavy metal band although I tend to just play guitar in my study these days. I’m sure the neighbours absolutely love me.' Find out more at his website https://stevenamckay.com/ and find him on Twitter @SA_McKay.

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