Karen Perkins is the author of the Yorkshire Ghost Stories and the Valkyrie Series of historical nautical fiction. All of her fiction has appeared at the top of bestseller lists on both sides of the Atlantic, including the top 21 in the UK Kindle Store in 2018.
Her first Yorkshire Ghost Story – THE HAUNTING OF THORES-CROSS – won the Silver Medal for European Fiction in the prestigious 2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards in New York, whilst her Valkyrie novel, DEAD RECKONING, was long-listed in the 2011 MSLEXIA novel competition.
Originally a financial advisor, a sailing injury left Karen with a chronic pain condition which she has been battling for over twenty five years (although she did take the European ladies title despite the injury!). Writing has given her a new lease of – and purpose to – life, and she is currently working on A Question of Witchcraft – a sequel to Parliament of Rooks: Haunting Brontë Country.
To find out more about current writing projects as well as special offers and competitions, you are very welcome to join Karen in the Friends of Jennet group on Facebook. This is an exclusive group for fans of the Yorkshire Ghost Stories, and is where you can get the news first, as well as have access to early previews and chances to get your hands on new books before anyone else. Find us on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/groups/yorkshireghosts
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Parliament of Rooks: Haunting Brontë Country
Haworth, March 1838
Martha hitched up the bundle strapped to her front. Satisfied Baby John was secure, she grasped the handle and began to haul the full bucket up the well shaft.
John barely mewled in protest at the violent, rhythmic action, already used to the daily routine, and Martha pushed thoughts of the future out of her mind. Her firstborn was sickly, and she was surprised he had survived his first two months. He was unlikely to live much longer.
She stopped to rest, her body not yet fully recovered from the rigours of the birthing, then bent her back to her task once more. She had too much to do to indulge in a lengthy respite.
Once she had the water and had scrubbed their rooms clear of coal dust and soot, she’d be up to the weaver’s gallery to start on the day’s pieces.
She stopped again, took a couple of deep breaths, then coughed as fetid air filled her struggling lungs. Bracing herself, she continued her quest for water, cursing the dry February that had caused the well to run so low.
At last she could see the bucket, water slopping with each jerk of the rope. Reaching over, she grasped the handle and filled her ewers.
Adjusting Baby John once more, she bent, lifted, and embarked on the trudge homeward.
‘Blasted slaughterman!’ she cried, just catching herself as she slipped on the blood pouring down the alley past the King’s Arms and on to Main Street. She’d forgotten it was market day tomorrow. The slaughterhouse was busy today.
Another deep breath, another cough, and Martha trudged on, the bottom of her skirts soaked in blood.
She heard the snort of the horses and the trundle of cart wheels on packed but sticky earth just in time, and was already jumping out of the way before the drayman’s warning shout reached her.
‘Damn and blast thee!’ she screeched as she landed in the midden anext the King’s Arms, which stank of rotten meat and offal from the slaughterhouse next door.
She clambered back to her feet, checked Baby John was unharmed, then noticed her empty ewers lying in the muck beside her.
Covered in blood and filth she ran after the dray, cursing at the top of her voice, then stopped. That wasn’t the drayman sat atop his cart of barrels. It was a trap carrying a passenger.
She watched the carriage come to a halt by the church steps, and a jealous rage surged in the pit of her stomach as the passenger alighted.
Emily Brontë had returned to Haworth.