'If you had not already realised it, this is a very strange house you are come to.'
The Scions of the House of Werth are all born normal. It is what happens afterwards that sets them apart.
It is not easy being the most supernatural family in England. Nell talks to the dead; Lord Werth is too often to be found out in the churchyard at the dead of night; and the less said about Lord Bedgberry, the better.
Only Miss Gussie Werth has missed out on the family curse. She sups on chocolate, not blood; she's blissfully oblivious to spectres (except for Great-Aunt Honoria, of course); and she hasn't the smallest inclination to turn into a beast upon the full moon, and go ravening about the countryside.
But there's more to the Wyrde than meets the eye. When a visit to a neighbouring family goes spectacularly, deliciously wrong, Gussie's ideas about her own nature undergo a swift and serious change.
Far from being the most ordinary of the bunch, she may just prove to be the most disastrous Werth of them all...
Refined Regency manners meet gothic comedy to delightfully absurd effect in Wyrde and Wayward, a fresh new series from the author of Modern Magick and the Malykant Mysteries.
"Totally hilarious! Terry Pratchett has been reincarnated."– Amazon review
"Add in vicious books, disembodied heads, conniving dead relatives, a terrific supporting cast and you have the recipe for a spooky, unpredictable and very original story. I loved it."– Amazon review
"A regency romp with the Adams Family! This book is an absolute laugh out loud treat! It's hard to imagine a combination of the Adams Family and a regency novel, but that's what you've got here!"– Amazon review
"A regency romp with the Adams Family! This book is an absolute laugh out loud treat! It's hard to imagine a combination of the Adams Family and a regency novel, but that's what you've got here!"aSome said that the Book was haunted by the spectres of past Werths. Some said a former Werth had become the Book; that it was, itself, the product of the self-same Wyrdings that were recorded within.
If the latter was true, Gussie reflected, whoever it had been was not best pleased about it.
Beneath the great, massed pile known as Werth Towers was a set of cellars. The upper cellars were devoted to the storage of wines, as is usual, and liberally haunted with the spectres of past relations, which is not. These did not trouble Lady Werth or Gussie overmuch; most of them were thin, faded things whom only Nell could reach. Great-Aunt Honoria, though, was a different matter.
'Watch where you are going,' she snapped, as the exploratory party reached the bottom of the cellar stairs. And, 'I heard that, Archibald!'
That would be Gussie's great-great-grandfather's youngest brother, if she did not misremember her family tree.
'Yes! Well!' barked Honoria. 'Your wife had two heads, but you don't catch me mentioning it!'
'Honoria,' murmured Lady Werth. 'Do try to act with a little decorum.'
Great-Aunt Honoria sniffed, and sailed past her ladyship down into the second level of the cellar. 'Provoking creatures,' she snarled. 'And Archie was never even handsome.'
She whisked ahead down a wide passage lit with bright, new gas lamps, unaffected by the chill — or perhaps the atmosphere — which raised the hairs on Gussie's skin. Pausing before the forbidding aspect of a huge, heavy door of solid oak, bound with black iron hinges, she bobbed up and down with impatience. 'Quickly, quickly!' she said. 'The Book!'
Lady Werth appeared serene as she approached the door, drew back the bolts, and unlocked it with an enormous iron key. But Gussie, who knew her aunt well, detected tension in the line of her jaw, and the rigidity of her posture.
Gussie was not perfectly composed herself, and suffered a racing heart and a thrill of horror as she entered the room at her aunt's side.
The Book of Werth lay on a pedestal in the centre of a stone-walled room otherwise bare, save only for the lamps set into the walls. It did not move, nor did it offer any reaction to the entrance of three visitors at all, and Gussie permitted herself the hope that it might be in one of its better moods.
'Shut the door, Gussie,' murmured her aunt, passing her the key.
'Naturally,' Gussie returned. 'What could be more sensible than to lock the three of us in with the Book?' But she obeyed, for she knew that letting the Book out could be more disastrous than locking anyone in.
Only once the door had clanged shut behind them, and the key scraped in the lock, did Lady Werth approach the pedestal. Honoria soared up into the air, affecting unconcern, but a thin trail of blood leaked from the ragged edges of her severed neck.
A droplet of it fell onto the covers of the Book.
A low snarl rolled through the room.
Undeterred, Lady Werth seized the Book, and swiftly opened it.
Gussie had seen the thing before, some once or twice, and felt no need to examine it closely now. It was a manuscript of advanced age, its pages bound some centuries before. Being as thick through as the span of Gussie's hand, it possessed plentiful space for the family records it contained: one page for every Werth who survived past their third birthday.
Lady Werth had brought a pen with her, Gussie now saw: a majestic object, made from the feather of some exotic bird in hues of crimson and gold. She dipped the tip in a pot of red ink, and began writing on a fresh page. Lizzie's entry, Gussie saw: a new gorgon among the ranks, her powers recorded for posterity.
Aunt Werth had not written more than five or six lines when the Book snarled again, and bucked, causing a red blot of ink to blossom over the page.
'Gussie,' said she, and there was winter in the word. 'Pray assist me.'
Gussie took one side of the Book and her aunt the other. Between them, they contrived to wrestle the enraged Book into submission, and Gussie held her half of the tome in place as her aunt continued, calmly, to write.
But waves of icy-cold were emanating from Lady Werth, and Gussie shivered.
'Good,' said her ladyship in due course, and turned a few pages back. Gussie tried not to notice as a slim, scaled tentacle slithered from between the pages, and coiled itself lazily around her own wrist.