After Tom and Michelle Cleveland move into their recently built, modern townhouse, their housewarming party is disrupted when a drunken game with an Ouija board goes wrong and summons a sinister poltergeist, Estelle, who died in 1904. Estelle makes her presence known in a series of terrifying events, culminating in her attacking Tom in his sleep with a knife. But, Estelle isn’t alone. Who are the shadows lurking in the background – one in an old-fashioned slouch hat and the other, a soldier, carrying a rifle? After discovering their house has been built on the site of one of the original farms in Irene, Michelle becomes convinced that the answer to her horrifying visions lie in the past. She must unravel the stories of the three phantoms’ lives, and the circumstances surrounding their untimely deaths during the Second Anglo Boer War, in order to understand how they are tied together and why they are trapped in the world of ghosts between life and death. As the reasons behind Estelle’s malevolent behavior towards Tom unfold, Michelle’s marriage comes under severe pressure and both their lives are threatened.
This is the first historical fiction by Roberta Eaton Cheadle I’ve read. It’s presented in a double timeline of one which is in 2019 with Tom and Michelle just moved into a new townhome in Irene, South Africa; and the other is between 1895 to 1902, where the three ghosts Pieter, his daughter Estella, and a British soldier Robert came from during the Second Anglo Boers War in South Africa. The chapters are intertwined with Michelle’s telling the current story, and the three ghosts tell their separate stories.
Cheadle has done extensive research of the history in this period and covers many details by dates. The stories are character-based events through their lives, interactions, and dialogue.
At the onset of the story, Michelle described her experience in the new house as seeing shadows of people who were not there. On the night of the housewarming party, Michelle entertained several friends with her gourmet cooking and tasteful home decoration. Because of playing the Ouija Board game, a ghost appeared as a spirit who moved the hands of the players to spell his name as Pieter and said that he was from that house. In the following weeks, Michelle saw and heard of two other Ghosts, Robert and Estelle. These three ghosts were lingering for over one hundred years.
Michelle wanted to write a book about the Second Anglo Boers War. She went to the library to do some research and asked about Pieter. The librarian, who was a historian, told her that Pieter knew Khakis was approaching, and he needed to leave town. Paul Kruger gave him 30,000 gold Kruger coins for his safekeeping, and he buried the gold somewhere on his farm at the location of Michelle’s home. The librarian recommended some books for her reading.
All three ghosts wanted Michelle’s attention. Pieter wanted his story told for a century, but nobody could hear him except Michelle. He told his story about the war, his injury, his given the gold Kruger coins to rehabilitate the citizens when the war was over. Robert left his diary written a century ago on her pillow, with the entries about how the British propaganda deceived the young soldiers to fight the war and that he admired the Afrikaans’ courage. Estelle intruded into her dream, screamed at her, but revealed that she was raped by a soldier and her stepmother was ashamed of her. Somehow Estelle was mad at her husband Tom and assaulted him. In the meantime, Michelle must deal with Tom’s alcoholism, which turned into something he used to mask his guilt in the past.
I thought all these three ghosts have something to do with the gold. The surprising ending reveals how the past of the three ghosts crossed and the reasons they lingered or were trapped on earth without being able to move on to the afterlife. This is an enjoyable reading.
About Roberta Eaton Cheadle
I am a South African writer specializing in historical, paranormal and horror novels and short stories. I am an avid reader in these genres and my writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, the Bronte sisters, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.
I was educated at the University of South Africa where I achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honors Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. I was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.
I have worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and have written seven publications relating to investing in Africa. I have won several awards over my twenty-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.
I have been published a number of anthologies and have two published YA books, While the Bombs Fell and Through the Nethergate. I have recently published my first adult novel called A Ghost and His Gold which is partly set in South Africa during the Second Anglo Boer War.
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