Title: Treading the Coffin-Shaped Boards (Traveling Toward the Present #1)
Author: E.M.G. Wixley
Mary is born into the chilling darkness of the workhouse. To cope with the harsh and hostile environment she develops inexplicable abilities. At night laying in the coffin-like bed, it is normal for her to hear the creaking floorboards, to see sinister spirits hiding in the shadows, vengeful phantoms and demons.
As a young adult Mary once again finds herself down on her luck and is forced to re-enter this most dreaded of places but this time she is accompanied by her two children. The Master of the workhouse believing her to be a bad influence and fearing she would stoke instability amongst the other inmates quickly throws her back out onto the desolate and dangerous Victorian streets without her babies.
During a chance encounter, she meets Charles owner of the Royal and manager of Drury Lane theatre. She embarks on a new career ‘treading the boards’ and is embroiled in the underbelly of Victorian life where debauchery and decadence run rife. Throughout her trials and many performances, she seeks to reunite with her lost boys. The stage is set for vengeful spirits and for a macabre chill to blow through theatreland.
Mary has an ability. She can see/communicate with spirits, both vengeful and otherwise. After a series of events, she is separated from her children. Time passes and she embarks on a new career and gets married, but she hasn’t forgotten about her children. She’ll get them back, no matter what.
I adore Victorian ghost stories, so when I saw that E.M.G. Wixley had this little gem out, I had to snap it up. This delivered everything I expected. It was suspenseful and chilling with plenty of realistic characters and situations. I loved Mary’s character. Her determination to keep going and not give up made her a fascinating MC.
The worldbuilding was particularly well done.
Recommended for fans of ghost stories/historical fiction.