One thing I love about the horror genre is how diverse it is. There are many great women writing horror fiction today, in the US and the UK. One such author lives in North Wales and has written several scary books like The Pendle Curse, Saving Grace Devine and The Devil's Serenade. I'm honored to have Catherine Cavendish back to discuss what inspired her novella Dark Avenging Angel.
Mother From Hell
by Catherine Cavendish
My novella – Dark Avenging Angel – is, as its title suggests, concerned with revenge. In this case, revenge of the most demonic kind. We’ve all heard the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for…” Jane learns the truth of this in graphic ways.
Avenging angels and demons abound in the traditions and folklore of people all over the world. One such character is a churel – a female ghost of South Asian folkore, well known in the Indian sub-continent and a pretty hellish character to boot.
There are variations on her origins. She may have died in childbirth, during menstruation, or as a result of poor care while pregnant. It is said that if a woman (especially one from the lower social classes) dies in pregnancy during the five-day Hindu Festival of Light (Diwali), she is even more likely to turn into a churel. Whichever is the cause, the churel is an angry and vengeful spirit who returns from the dead to suck the blood (and other bodily fluids) of her male relatives.
Churels are most often found in and around graveyards, abandoned battlefields, crossroads, thresholds of houses, toilets and a host of squalid locations.
They can take the form of a hideous woman with sagging breasts, backwards facing feet (toes at the back, heel at the front), long sharp teeth, a black tongue and unkempt hair. The churel frequently roams naked, and has a pot belly and claw-like hands. Some churels have unusually thick lips, or even no mouth at all. Some have pig-like features with long fangs or tusks.
A churel can also be a shapeshifter – able to transform into a beautiful young woman, in order to lure any young male relation she wants. When she has got him where she wants him, she then drains him of his virility, turning him into a prematurely aged, grey-haired old man. Once she has finished with him, she moves onto the next male relative until her vengeance is satisfied. This thirst for revenge may be so great that it involves more than her own family. She may go in search of other young men on highways, or at crossroads, where she lures them in her enchantress guise. In some stories, she will imprison her victim in a graveyard and use him - little by little - sexually and by draining his blood until he withers and dies. There is even a story of a young man who was seduced by a churel, ate the food she gave him and returned to his village the next day as an old man.
In some traditions, the churel may transform and become a servant of the goddess Kali, joining with her to feast on human flesh and blood.
So how do you prevent yourself becoming a victim of a churel? The solution is quite simple, men should treat their wives well. Look after them in pregnancy and childbirth. If that fails though - and the wife falls sick and dies, the best methods are to bury rather than cremate her body and perform certain rituals. The body may be bound. Nails and other bindings may be used to imprison the would-be churel in her grave, and the woman should be remembered - with love and honour - in songs and prayers, so that her spirit doesn’t feel forgotten or neglected.
Don’t hurt Jane. You may live to regret it.
Bullied by her abusive father, Jane always felt different. Then the lonely child found a friend in a mysterious dark lady who offers her protection—a lady she calls her “angel”. But that protection carries a terrible price, one to be paid with the souls of those Jane chooses to suffer a hideous and eternal fate.
When Jane refuses to name another victim, the angel reveals her most terrifying side. Payment must be made in full—one way or the other.
You can find Dark Avenging Angel here:
Other books by Catherine Cavendish include:
And are currently available – or soon will be – from:
Catherine Cavendish lives with a long-suffering husband and ‘trainee’ black cat in North Wales. Her home is in a building dating back to the mid-18th century, which is haunted by a friendly ghost, who announces her presence by footsteps, switching lights on and strange phenomena involving the washing machine and the TV. Cat has written a number of published horror novellas, short stories, and novels, frequently reflecting her twin loves of history and horror and often containing more than a dash of the dark and Gothic. When not slaving over a hot computer, she enjoys wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.
You can connect with Cat here: