This is a book of ‘beasts’, an illustrated encyclopaedia of the ghosts, ghasts, boggarts, witches and other dark creatures that infest the Spook’s world. It also contains a number of short fictional pieces, including an encounter with a strangler ghost and we also learn how the Spook first met the cat-boggart which cooks, cleans and guards his Chipenden garden.
Ghasts are fragments of spirits that have been able to move on to the light only by leaving the evil part of themselves behind. Their behaviour is repetitive and compulsive, committing over and over again something they once did when they were alive. Often it is some crime such as murder but occasionally they are the victims.
The largest ghast visitation in the County takes place on *‘Hangman’s Hill’ where, after a savage battle during the Civil War, a large number of soldiers were executed. They can sometimes be seen there hanging from the trees as they slowly choke to death.
Ghasts feed upon terror. It makes them stronger. They are ranked from six to ten. Most people would be hardly aware of a ten but those of the highest rank sometimes drive people insane through fear. Sometimes they try to touch the living with their cold fingers or even squeeze the throat or press on the chest to make breathing difficult.
The house in Horshaw, where I was born, has the ghast of a miner in the cellar. As soon as their training commences, I take all my apprentices there to see if they have sufficient courage to face the dark. I also attempt from time to time to deal with ghasts myself but, so far, without success. As yet a spook can do nothing about such entities and we must continue to search for a way to get rid of them. It is fortunate that they fade slowly over time, eventually disappearing altogether.
*Note: “As a child the ghasts on that hill terrified me. I could hear them swinging on the branches and choking as they hanged. When it got really bad and I couldn’t sleep, my mam went alone up the hill and made them quiet for more than a month, something that not even a spook can do.” Apprentice Tom Ward
I’ve completed my part of the Bestiary and now it’s been handed over to Yulek Heller, who will do the illustrations. I’ve seen his early sketches and they are brilliant really bringing the lamia witches to life. In trying to complete an encyclopaedia of the Spook’s world, I came up with new ideas for future books. This world is still growing and I feel that a larger bestiary will be needed eventually.