Novelist Emma Beaven grew up in a reputedly haunted house on Solomons Island in Maryland. She has been an avid reader and writer of horror since she discovered Andersen’s fairy tales as a little girl. Her love of books followed her throughout her life, as she studied English literature at University of Maryland, College Park. When she's not penning horror stories that leave readers sleeping with the light on, Emma Beaven works as a librarian for Maryland's Enoch Free Public Library, where she's surrounded by books all day. When not reading or writing, she enjoys strolling through graveyards for inspiration.
Where the Briars Sleep Excerpt
Where the Briars Sleep, published July 17, 2021 with Tangled Tree Publishing, the “edgier, darker side of Hot Tree Publishing.”
In this early nineteenth-century gothic ghost story, Rose Shedd discovers something is stalking her, something unseen and filled with rage, something that demands recompense, and Rose’s life, the life of her sister, and the remnants of her family depend on memories she has forced herself to forget.
She couldn’t imagine being alone in the dark, the wardrobe looming over her, its door creaking, hangers rattling. Anything could sneak up on you in the dark when you closed your eyes. Anything.
Arriving back at her home estate, the first thing Rose does is visit her stepsister Sarah’s grave, taking her younger sister, Maggie, along. After a forced retreat at the cousins', Rose looks forward to some normalcy and a return to routine. Not to mention the unexpected upcoming ball hosted by their elusive neighbors to introduce their son Henry, who has been away. Perhaps this mysterious Henry may become interested in Rose. Or most likely he would become her younger sister's fourth suitor and Rose would endure more “old maid” banter.
With the oppressive heat and unpredictable weather, Rose and Maggie are caught in a sudden severe thunderstorm. Maggie makes it back before the sky unleashes its fury, but Rose is caught behind. She really doesn’t mind, however, because she loves the rain and the wind and the gardens and could stay outside their stuffy mansion forever. Away from the wardrobe.
In the midst of the storm, Rose is cut by a briar and becomes caught in the mud. She sees a woman on their front porch. Maggie?
“Help me, Maggie!” But the woman is gone.
From then on, nothing and no one are as they seem in this twisted gothic Victorian ghost story. A tale of three sisters, family secrets of the darkest nature, and how our decisions have ripple effects, with themes of nature, romance, family, faith, forgiveness, consequences, and a creepy wardrobe with a door that never quite shuts that will have you sleeping with the lights on.
In the darkness, the white paint took on a deep grayish cast with a slip of nightmarish black showing through the door with the broken keyhole. The narrow strip of black taunted Rose as she approached. She stopped a foot from the wardrobe and stared, wondering if the door would suddenly swing open and the thing from her nightmares would yank its way into her world. She shuffled forward and pressed on the loose door. It made a loud creak as it shut, causing her to jump back, her breath catching in her throat. Slowly it moved out to its former position.
“Damn,” Rose muttered, reaching out again. The door bounced back slightly more before her fingers grazed it. She froze, her heart pounding, blood rushing into her head.
“Maggie?” she whispered softly. Tentatively, she poked the door. It shut this time, its creak sounding more like a moan than rusted hinges. “Maggie?” This time it was a croak. “Maggie, please.”
The door creaked again. Rose stared hard at it, sure she hadn’t pushed the door. Words started to form in her mouth, tears once again filling her eyes.
A loud creak issued from the door, and it swung open just a hair more. A ribbon slithered out through the opening.
Rose began keening, her entire body trembling, but she couldn’t bring herself to move away. Tears streamed down her face in a flood as she tried to find her voice, to shout, to scream, anything.
The ribbon dropped to the floor.
Rose stared, paralyzed.
The door shut. Loudly.
“N-No, no, no. Go away.”
“Rose.” She twisted around to see Maggie sitting up in bed, her hands clasped together over her breast. “Tell me, Rosie, what you know.”