Two new historical horror tales just in time for the holidays: The Witchfinder’s Apprentice and The Solstice Horror

Here is the final new release announcement for 2021. And it’s even a double new release announcement for what turned out to be a new series entitled Witchfinders.

The genesis of this series was this post by horror author Grady Hendrix at com, wherein Hendrix say that the depiction of criminal profilers in popular culture is closer to 17th century Puritan witchfinders than to actual profilers. So I thought, “Why not write a story that’s Criminal Minds, but with Puritan witch hunters?”

That story was The Witchfinder’s Apprentice and features a quartet of witchfinders that is very loosely based on the male members of the Criminal Minds team. Matthew Goodson, the titular appretice, is based of Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) and sticks closest to the character in the TV show. Gideon Jacobs is based on Jason Gideon (Mandy Patinkin) with a dash of Inigo Montaya from The Princess Bride (also played by Patinkin) thrown in. Master Caine Hopkins is based on Aaron Hotchner (Thomas Gibson) and Fear-God Moody is based on Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore), though in the case of the last three nothing except the physical description remained of the Criminal Minds characters (and in the case of Fear-God not even that, because Shemar Moore is handsome, while Fear-God is scarred), largely because the Criminal Minds characters are heroic figures, while the witchfinders are very much not.

Criminal Minds is a mystery show at heart, so I gave my witchfinders a mystery to solve and sent them to the small Massachusetts town of Redemption, which is beset by a wave of mysterious illnesses and deaths. There is a natural explanation for these illnesses and deaths, but to a witchfinder, there can only be one solution to every mystery, namely “witches did it.”

And so the witchfinders arrest two teenaged girls, including Grace Pankhurst, whose torture and impending execution plunges Matthew into a crisis of conscience and faith.

So prepare to meet…

The Witchfinder’s Apprentice
The Witchfinder's Apprentice by Cora BuhlertMassachusetts in the Year of the Lord 1695: Matthew Goodson, eighteen years of age, is apprenticed to a team of experienced witchfinders, who travel from village to village and town to town to uncover witchcraft, examine the evidence, interrogate suspects and stamp out evil.

When a wave of mysterious illnesses and deaths hits the town of Redemption, the witchfinders are called in and quickly arrest a suspect, a teenaged girl named Grace Pankhurst.

Matthew has long been having his doubts about the witchfinders and the righteousness of their mission. The interrogation of Grace brings those doubts to a flashpoint. But is Grace truly innocent or has Matthew fallen under the spell of a comely witch?

This is a historical horror story of 5500 words or approximately 20 print pages by two-time Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert.

More information
Length: 5500 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, Vivlio and XinXii.

The Witchfinder’s Apprentice came out in October, though I forgot to mention it here. It was well received and readers were asking about a sequel.

Meanwhile, I was trying to come up with an idea for my annual holiday and came up empty, because I just didn’t feel the holiday spirit and wasn’t in the mood for a fluffy Christmas romance. Instead, my brain wanted to write horror or sword and sorcery.

Since sword and sorcery tends to have prehistoric or secondary world settings, a sword and sorcery Christmas story was out. However, a holiday horror story should be possible. Matthew and Grace were also still very much on my mind, so I came up with the brilliant idea to write a historical holiday horror story as a sequel to The Witchfinder’s Apprentice.

This plan quickly ran into a problem, because it turned out that the Puritans, notorious killjoys that they are, did not celebrate Christmas and that Christmas was actually banned in Massachusetts for several years. However, there were not just Puritans (and witches) living in Massachusetts, so I could have a Christmas celebration after all and also give Matthew yet more reason to question the prejudices installed by his Puritan upbringing.

Of course, the witchfinders – now reduced to a trio – reappear as well and they’re as dogged and fanatical as ever. We do learn a bit more about Fear-God Moody – who, even though he is the executioner and torturer, is the most sympathetic of the three witchfinders – and how he came to join the witchfinders in this story.

While I was writing The Solstice Horror, I was rereading the adventures of Robert E. Howard’s Puritan avenger Solomon Kane (who is a fascinating character, about whom I should write a standalone post some time), so there is a bit of Solomon Kane in this story as well.

In The Witchfinder’s Apprentice, the only supernatural element was that some witches are real. The Solstice Horror, however, introduces a more overt supernatural element in the form of Lovecraftian monsters. For where would you find them, if not in New England?

So follow Grace and Matthew, as they face down…

The Solstice Horror
The Solstice HorrorMassachusetts in the Year of the Lord 1695: Apprentice witchfinder Matthew Goodson, and condemned witch Grace Pankhurst have been on the run from Matthew’s former masters for months now.

Shortly before Christmas, Matthew and Grace find shelter with the Whitelaw family in the town of Cold Hollow. But the witchfinders are on their trail, so Matthew and Grace have to flee again on the day of the winter solstice.

Many dangers lurk in the dense woods of Massachusetts Bay Colony. But which is the greater threat, the witchfinders or the thing from beyond that dwells in the woods and hunts on the darkest nights of the year?

This is a historical holiday horror novelette of 11100 words or approximately 40 print pages by two-time Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert.

More information.
Length: 11100 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, Vivlio and XinXii.

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