The Vanished Bride of Northfield House by Phyllis M Newman guest post/excerpt


The Vanished Bride of Northfield House written by Phyllis M Newman, publisher PageSpring Publishing is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

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England, 1922. Times are hard. Anne Chatham is a clever, modest young woman with little money, no prospects for marriage, and a never-shared secret—she can see spirits. Anne finds employment as a typist at Northfield House, the grand country manor of the Wellington family. Her employer, the wheelchair-bound Mr. Wellington, is kindly. His haughty wife is not. He has two handsome sons, the wry and dashing Thomas and the dark and somber Owen. Anne feels sure her prayers have been heard. Until the terrifying night she stumbles upon a tortured spirit roaming the dark halls of Northfield, a spirit that only she can see. In a search for answers, she finds herself drawn to Owen as they unearth a tragic story from the Wellington family’s past—a beautiful young bride gone missing on her wedding day. Then tragedy strikes again on the night of a glittering masquerade ball…

Thank you for joining my blog today Phyllis …


I began writing this tale after looking for—and not finding—an honest to goodness real ghost story. Not one where the visions and sounds experienced in the dark have a rational explanation, but a story about unexplained things that go bump in the night. My goal was to transport the reader to a place of mystery and malevolence. Also, I wanted to create a good fright without smearing blood and guts on the page or presenting the kind of mind-bending creepiness offered by Stephen King that you wish you’d never read.

As I wrote, however, it evolved into a great deal more. This novel embraces the audacity and determination required to succeed in a society that has never addressed a woman’s needs and desires, a society that is crumbling. My vulnerable yet plucky protagonist has an unusual collection of talents—from her choice of a profession, which was the exclusive domain of men at the time, to the ability to see the dead. I believe there is a place for this kind of ghost story, where the unexplained explains a lot—about ourselves. The ghost represents not only who we might have been, but the lost past.

Ultimately, The Vanished Bride of Northfield House is about belonging. My main character, Anne Chatham, is a young woman trying to survive in a rapidly changing world. An orphan who has no family or money to fall back on, she trains to operate a typewriter, the new technology of the age. She succeeds at this and sets about to support herself, an opportunity available only because the Great War has decimated the male population. She and other young women like her face a future where marriage is not a readily available option. Mired in the social and political upheaval following World War I, single women scrambled to make a life for themselves.

Anne represents the new woman. Her situation contrasts sharply with that of Lavinia Wellington, the lady of the manor, married and occupying a high social position, and her great niece Charlotte, born to wealth and privilege. In every sense, Lavinia and Charlotte represent a time no longer viable while Anne represents the future. It is a future where women take a more active role in their survival rather than depending upon a husband, father, or brother.

Arriving at her new place of employment weighted with the immense struggles of the times, Anne can empathize with the wraith that roams the halls of Northfield House, a figure that is both frightening and sympathetic. Anne sees in the spirits that she encounters regularly as beings who are lost, who don’t know where they belong, or have left behind something undone. She sees similar battles in her own life. But the specter she encounters as she takes up her position as a working woman in a grand home in the English countryside has in addition a more compelling need: revenge.

Anne learns more about herself as she endeavors to resolve the mystery presented by the malevolent ghost of the missing bride. She discovers resolve, resourcefulness, commitment, and courage.


I turned up my face to look at him. We were standing closer than propriety allowed. Owen bent nearer.
Knock. Thud. Knock. Thud. Knock. Thud.
A stab of fear nailed me where I stood. Owen wrapped a protective arm around my shoulders. I leaned into him.
“What is it?” he asked softly. “Is she here?”
“Maybe,” I whispered.
Knock. Thud. Knock. Thud. Knock. Thud.
The noises first came from directly overhead, then surrounded us, coming from the walls and the floor. The sounds of something trapped—a thing desperate and struggling—repeated every few seconds.
“Where’s it coming from?” he hissed.
“From everywhere. And nowhere.”
Owen pulled me closer. I was terrified, despite taking shelter in his arms. My shoulder pressed against his warm chest and my head tucked under his chin.
After a moment, the sound changed. I heard scratching—fingernails or claws or beaks on wood. The shadows in the corners thickened and seemed to pulsate. Or was something breathing? I felt an overwhelming sense of dread. The scratching was followed by the rustle of wings, a soft fluttering. Perhaps a bird had gotten trapped on the floor above.
Knock. Thud. Knock. Thud. Knock. Thud.
Then nothing.
I waited for the thumps and scratches to begin again, but heard only Owen’s rapid breathing.
His grip on my shoulder softened. Before we could step away from each other, I heard something else. Whispers. Not words, but sibilance. A faint weeping.
I could pretend no longer that the sounds issued from a bird or animal. I had heard crying and scratching from spirits before, but none had ever filled me with such horror.
Owen shuddered, and I tried to swallow.
My sight darted from the floors to the ceilings, from corner to corner, searching for additional signs of a spirit. I saw none. The bed, its elaborate draperies, and the pictures on the walls were all mute, but a plaintive lament—a mournful sobbing—suddenly filled the space.
When the weeping stopped, I found my hand pressed against Owen’s chest. I could feel his heart beating, hard and fast, under my palm.
“I think it’s over,” he said, releasing my shoulders.
I withdrew my hand and took a step away.

About the Author

Phyllis M. Newman is a native southerner. Born in New Orleans, she spent formative years in Florida, Iowa, Mississippi, and a dairy farm in Ross Country, Ohio. After a long career in finance and human resources at The Ohio State University, she turned her attention to writing fiction. She published a noir mystery, “Kat’s Eye” in 2015, and “The Vanished Bride of Northfield House” in 2018. Today she lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and three perpetually unimpressed cats, ghost watchers all.

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