Hello darling readers, I’m very thrilled to be here with Lexie today, someone very dear who has been with me since my debut novel, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, first in the Gothic, Victorian Strangely Beautiful series, burst onto the scene in 2009. I am so blessed by the support I received from bloggers and readers here, I really owe my career to all of you.
Some of you may know, the Strangely Beautiful series went out of print when the first publisher folded and it’s been a very difficult few years for me, trying to overcome that financial blow and the emotional struggle as these are the books of my heart. But the amazing Melissa Singer at Tor Books, who launched my new ETERNA FILES series (Think Victorian X-Files!), rescued Miss Percy and her series and it is back in a gorgeous new edition, revised, re-edited with new scenes and new content! Two books in one volume, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker (my review) and The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker (my review) are united in this author’s preferred edition! (The prequel, Perilous Prophecy will release in 2017, and the finale, Miss Violet and the Great War, will finally release in 2018!)
If you pre-order Strangely Beautiful before 4/26, be sure to keep your confirmation # and visit: http://leannareneebooks.blogspot.com to enter to win a $75 Gift Card to Barnes and Noble, every entrant receives a beautiful Strangely Beautiful set of postcards!
Strangely Beautiful atmosphere:
I’ve had a life-long love for the 19th century, England and ghosts. When I first set foot in London for research, I felt the history sweep over me like a strong wind. Secondly, I felt sure the city was alive not only with the pulsing energy of the living but the restless energy of the dead. Their stories called to me like sirens.
When the character of Professor Alexi Rychman and his Guard of spectral police make their rounds, they visit any number of familiar London phantasms. I wanted to include “real life” London ghosts to add local flavor to the narrative. Since these spectral characters are already quite familiar haunts to The Guard, I don’t get the opportunity to tell their full story in the book, so I wanted to share two of my favorite London ghost stories with you, with thanks to Richard Jones and his wonderful books and walking tours about Haunted London. Without further ado…
50 Berkeley Square: “The Most Haunted House in London!”
The Georgian façade of 50 Berkeley Square is plain. But inside, it’s been mayhem, perhaps since its foundations were laid in the 1700s. In the 19th century this address was considered by Charles Harper, in his 1907 publication Haunted Houses to be “the Most Haunted House in London!”
“…it seems that a Something or Other, very terrible indeed, haunts or did haunt a particular room. This unnamed Raw Head and Bloody Bones, or whatever it is, has been sufficiently awful to have cause d the death, in convulsions, of at least two fool-hardy persons who have dared to sleep in that chamber…”
There are several theories as to why the very bricks of this Georgian-style building can cause a palpable shock to the psychically adept, the most chilling is that the lunatic brother of a Mr. Du Pré was once locked up and fed through a hole in a door due to his extremely violent tendencies and his ghost remains therein. Two deaths have been attributed to the premises. A nobleman died of shock to his system soon after seeing something he couldn’t even speak to describe. Due to the reputation of a hideous entity residing within, the building could not keep tenants. Strange lights were seen in windows, disembodied screams as well as the sound of a heavy body dragged down the
staircase could be heard at night. The second death occurred when two trespassing sailors awoke to heavy footsteps. The door of the haunted room flew open and a horrific, formless mass began to overtake them. One sailor escaped and returned with a policeman, only to find his friend’s corpse impaled on the railings outside, terror on his face.
Here’s how Berkeley Square enters into Strangely Beautiful:
Entering the dank shadow of a nearby alley, Rebecca sighed.
“Fifty Berkeley Square is causing trouble again,” she remarked. As was often the
case, she was the first to feel the burning in her veins.
“The usual? Noises?”
“Yes, and moving lights. Books ejected from second-story windows, blood
dripping from their bindings. It will be rather a mess.”
Alexi sighed. “Shall we clean it up, then?”
She shook her head. “Let me handle it.”
“Rebecca, Bloody Bones is a trial. It’s not a task for you alone.”
“Alexi, please. You’ve enough to worry about,” she assured him. When he raised
an eyebrow, she asked, “You truly think I cannot arraign the subject myself?”
Alexi was silent.
“Shall we bet on the matter?”
Alexi’s lips curved. “Why, Headmistress, you surprise me. I didn’t think you a
“You press me to strange deeds, Professor.”
“Indeed. Well, then: a bottle of my favourite sherry. It shall await me at La Belle et La Bête upon your failure. I do believe Josephine keeps several in stock—perhaps for just such an occasion.”
Rebecca grimaced. “While I have every faith in my success, I do wish your tastes
were less expensive. But, a bottle of sherry it is. And now we’d best get back to Athens.”
“Should we?” he asked.
“It is the first day of class, Professor, and you have students to terrify.”
“Ah yes, so I do.”
The Man in Gray
Theater Royal, Drury Lane, WC 2
Another favorite “Ghost-star” is The Man in Grey…
Drury Lane has a veritable resident troupe of ghosts, the most famous of which is the “Man in Grey” who appears in a grey riding cloak, a white ruffed shirt a powdered wig and a three-cornered hat. He appears young, though he has a bit of a limp as he floats along. Surprisingly he’s seen during daytime hours. Like many ghosts, he has a well-practiced routine. Seen by countless stage professionals from famous actors to management, he always haunts the same course in the upper circle, crossing to vanish through a particular wall. Entire casts have seen him go by above as they’ve been rehearsing on the stage. Occasionally he will sit in his a favourite seat: end seat, fourth row at the centre of the upper circle before later vanishing through the wall.
As to this man’s identity, it isn’t known for certain. But a discovery during 1870s renovations of the theatre surely holds a key to the mystery. A skeleton was found in a recess behind the very same wall where the ghost always vanishes, his remains shrouded in gray cloth with a dagger in his ribs. It’s suspected that during the reign of Queen Anne he was murdered by a spiteful rival, caught in the middle of some actress’ love triangle, and his murdered body was stowed away in the hidden space behind the wall. He’s supposedly a good omen of a successful show, though he has been known to push actors
into their places, making him a theatrical legend and star in and of himself.
The “Man in Grey” steps onstage once more in Strangely Beautiful…
Alexi snatched the sherry from Rebecca’s hand. “Whenever you heathens can
regain a modicum of sense, it’s time for a meeting,” he stated coldly.
This quieted the group enough for him to continue.
“There now. Sanity has returned to La Belle et La Bête, but I’d best speak quickly
as I fear its presence is fleeting. But before we begin … could someone go and remind
our grey friend down the street not to push the actors into their places quite so hard?
Since the discovery of his dead body during the renovations, his ghost has become
increasingly meddlesome, causing many complaints.”
He waited a moment for one of his companions to volunteer for the routine
policing of Drury Lane’s most infamous specter but none did.
“Fine, you lazy fools, I’ll go. Considering your present behavior, I’d not trust one
of you to admonish this spiritual hooligan. Clearly, I ought to do it myself. But I warn
you: sharpen yourselves.” He turned and promptly exited, his long black cloak billowing
behind him. Throughout his exodus, a few more bars of the Fifth Symphony were
Outside, Alexi took a deep breath. Irrepressible chortles and a smattering of
“Whether ’tis nobler in the mind” could be heard erupting inside.
“Infidels,” he muttered, taking the alley toward the Theatre Royal at a purposeful
clip. “Will they forever be children?”
From the Strangely Beautiful book cover:
Originally published as two books, Strangely Beautiful unites Leanna Renee Hieber’s critically acclaimed novels in a single revised volume, restoring the author’s original vision for the work.
Miss Percy Parker is different, with her lustrous, snow-white hair, pearlescent pale skin, and uncanny ability to see and communicate with ghosts. Seeking to continue her education, Percy has come to Queen Victoria’s London, to the Athens Academy. What she will learn there will change her life forever.
Athens Academy is the citadel of The Guard, an ancient order that battles the forces of evil. The Victorian Guard, led by professor Alexi Rychman, is incomplete. They cannot defeat Jack the Ripper— who is more than the serial killer he appears to be—or the greater monster his appearance heralds.
Percy’s lifelong habit of concealment combined with Alexi’s fevered search for the Guard’s missing seventh nearly prove disastrous as ancient Greek myths begin playing out in gaslit Victorian London. Percy and her new friends and allies must overcome their preconceptions about each other and their own histories before they can set the world to rights.
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