Title: The Ghosts of Kerfol
Author: Deborah Noyes
Publication Date: 2009
Genre: Horror, Short Stories
Interest Age: 12 to 17
Lexile Level: 980
Annotation: A collection of short stories inspired by Edith Wharton’s ghost story Kerfol.
Plot Summary: A collection of five stories starting with a retelling of Kerfol, a story where a young lady murders her husband, from the perspective of the chambermaid Perrette. The following stories move from the 17th century setting forward chronologically, but remain at the haunting Kerfol estate following four unsuspecting victims where ghosts dogs and spirits haunt the estate.
Critical Evaluation: In Edith Wharton’s ghost story “Kerfol” – a young man discovers the ghost story behind Kerfol, the name of the mansion that his friend urges he buy. The tale is of the young Anne de Barrigan, a young Frenchwoman convicted of murdering her jealous husband – Yves de Cornault. Deborah Noyes takes that story and rewrites it in her first short story in the collection – “Hunger Moon”. She sets the story through the observations of the eyes of a maid that works for Anne de Barrigan before and during the night of the murder. The prominent theme of the story, fidelity and betrayal, finds it way to the other four stories of the collection. Set at Kerfol, the other stories follow a young artist on the brink of a wealthy inheritance, a party girl during the Prohibition, an American couple that seem to have lost their love for each other and a deaf gardener from a family of musicians. Each stories intertwine with other elements – not just the setting. The dead dogs, the lovely diamond and sapphire necklace, the appearances of the dead characters from the first story. Also, Deborah Noyes builds the stories on each one by adding things from the previous story. An eerie and haunting ghost story.
Author Bio: Deborah Noyes writes for children and adults and is a photographer, editor, and former zookeeper. To learn more about her books and photography, and for playlists of her favorite music, visit hauntedplaylist.blogspot.com. Ms. Noyes lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.
Tie to Curriculum Units: Literature – Edith Wharton, Short Stories, Gothic Literature
Booktalking Ideas: ghosts, murder, short stories, haunted houses
Challenge Issues: Booklist gave this short story collection a starred review and the twists on a classic short story may be a good gateway or pairing towards the original story.