Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Locus Focus: Wyndspelle

Can you imagine Peter Pan without Neverland?
Lemuel Gulliver without Lilliput and Brobdingnag?
The Pied Piper without Hamelin?

A good setting is more than just a backdrop!

Join us every Saturday as we write about our favourite settings and the books that make them come alive!

We're going Gothic in October and I found a great Gothic setting.

For the setting, I chose the manor house Wyndspelle from the Wyndspelle trilogy written by Aola Vandergriff. The trilogy includes (in chronological order) Wyndspelle, The Bell-Tower of Wyndspelle and Wyndspelle’s Child.

The setting of the novels is wonderfully intense and Gothic. The exact location of the manor house Wyndspelle is actually never revealed with exact words, but there are some hints and historical allusion that the location of the house is somewhere by the coast of the north-eastern area of America. The climate is windy, the sky mostly gray and rain is more common than the sun. The Puritan community living below Wyndspelle has many stories to tell about the house. The dark mansion is known to be the dwelling of the Devil and his minions, and also of the famous Wyndspelle witch. Years ago, the Puritan community accused a woman of being a witch and they burned her at the stake on the beach belonging to Wyndspelle. According to the legend, the witch summoned a great wave that destroyed the flames licking her body, and the great wave washed away the witch as well as her accusers into the deep, grey sea. The stake to which the witch was tied now serves its purpose in Wyndspelle as the mantelpiece above the hearth in the main parlour.

Wyndspelle itself is a character in the novel. It’s a magnificent, but grim mansion standing defiantly on a high cliff above the violent sea. The house was built over a crack above a cave that leads to the cellars of Wyndspelle. This natural phenomenon serves its purpose in creating suspense and eerie feelings. As the waves are lapping against the base of the cliff, the wind carries their sound through the cellars and this gives the appearance that the house is breathing. Seriously, the house is breathing. It is chilling every time the breathing is described, creating the illusion that the house is a living entity. The mansion is also poorly illuminated and consequently full of dark shadows cast around by the meagre light of a few candles here and there. Last but not least, Wyndspelle is a miserable house of death, almost, as almost anyone who enters it never returns out alive, but rather in a coffin.

I recommend this trilogy to fans of Gothic novels. The atmosphere created by the house is truly remarkable, and delightfully scary and Gothic.


Sullivan McPig said...

It sounds very intriguing. i'm going to investigate this series.

Enbrethiliel said...


It sounds like it hits all the right notes: a haunted house . . . some dark history . . . grey skies full of rain . . . howling wind . . . Which is why I'm doubly glad to hear that the house is like another character as well as a setting. =)

It's what someone would hope from a house like, say, Wuthering Heights--but Emily Bronte didn't quite go there.