My latest book: The Monster of Berkeley Square: A Ghost Story, is available to buy now from Amazon
It has been quite a while since I last updated this blog, and I have not done so for two reasons.
Firstly, I really did not feel as if I had much more to say about 1888 anymore. I had addressed most of the characters and events of the story and started to worry that to write any further would inevitably give away a little too much of the plot (including the final identity of Jack himself.)
Secondly, and more importantly, I have been working on my next book, a very different kind of tale - still set in Victorian London, but in many ways a very different world.
While 1888: A Jack the Ripper Novel is a completely stand alone book, it is still part of what I regard as a very loose series of Victorian mysteries, beginning in the winter of 1855 with The Devil's Walk to the autumn of 1888 and the Jack the Ripper Murders, stopping in between for the summer of 1880, and the terrifying haunting of a house in Berkeley Square.
There is no single storyline connecting these three tales, but some characters from each make an appearance, or are referenced across the series, in an attempt to suggest the passage of time (or perhaps, as Jim Crawford of "The Devil's Walk" would put it, "The extinction of time with every passing moment.") Think of them, if you will, as a triptych. They each stand alone as individual pieces, but together, the three compliment and add to each other.
The Monster of Berkeley Square is, like my previous two novels, based upon a true occurrence. However, unlike 1888, which was meticulously, almost obsessively devoted to capturing the minutiae of the known details of Whitechapel and its denizens, my latest effort is a much freer, brisker affair.
Those unfamiliar with the legend of 50 Berkeley Square will likely find research into the case thwarted by legions of conflicting stories of just what happened in that house, and when. Depending on the source, the supposed haunting lasted no more than a decade, others longer than a century. Some will claim that two people lost their lives to the phantom that lived within the walls of the house, others claim many more.
It is this fogginess of history which has allowed me the greatest amount of freedom as far as my writing is concerned, and as such, I believe it may prove to be my most surprising novel yet...
In writing this book I was able to introduce a completely invented family into the house, along with their staff of servants. This elegant, very ordinary household setup then became a joyful playground in which to introduce the staples that have fascinated me about the period, and have so far lasted me through three books (class inequality, exploitation of the poor, debauchery, offbeat sexuality) and to mix them with the stories of the "Most Haunted House in London" - as it came to be known.
Through the story of one family and its servants, I invited as many of the spooky tales from that household, some from the past and some from the time (1880) and even found room in this slender volume to feature a character from 1888 who really did live on Berkeley Square that year (it is testament to the unfairness of Victorian society, and the ruinous effects of gin how this character found herself in 8 short years moving from one of the most salubrious addresses in London, to the very worst.)
Berkeley Square is, just as it has always been, one of the most beautiful and moneyed areas of the city, and the house in which my story is set (number 50) is believed to be one of the oldest unchanged buildings in London. Nowadays it is one of the finest antiquarian bookshops in the world (and from my limited knowledge regarding such things, probably the most beautiful.)
The haunting, whether you choose to believe it was real, or entirely fabricated has not troubled the house in over a century, but the story of the ghosts in the attic, the tragic fates of many of its residents and the terrifying menace that was said to be enough to cause a man to lose his mind were he to set his eyes upon it, have not been so quick to leave.
The Monster of Berkeley Square: A Ghost Story is my attempt to write just that; a tale in the intoxicating spirit of Victorian ghost stories, of gas lit rooms at night, flickering candelabras, the squeak of a floorboard when nobody is there.
A story that, I hope, will give my readers just what they want from a good old fashioned ghost story - raised hairs on the back of the neck, and perhaps even a troubled night's sleep or two!
P.s. What next for Mr. Revelle-Smith? Though it is in its infancy, the fourth book is already taking shape. I don't want to give away too much, but I can say I will be completing a full cycle of seasons with a tale set in spring. It will be my first not set in Britain as well as my first outside of the Victorian era, in the first decade of the 20th century.