My latest novel – Wrath of the Ancients – is largely set in Vienna, Austria’s imperial capital and surely one of the most beautiful and enchanting cities in the world. Its streets team with culture and its proud residents are almost fiercely protective of their enigmatic, sometimes quirky, and endlessly fascinating home, where everyone from Strauss to Klimt and Freud lived and worked.
Vienna is also home to a large number of ghosts and phantoms but today I’m taking you to the neighbouring region of Lower Austria and to the glorious Wachau valley where a castle called Schallaburg has an interesting story to tell.
Today the castle houses a museum dedicated to the history and people of the region but it was originally built in the fifteenth century in the German Renaissance style and was in the possession of the von Losenstein family until the 17th century when, until the 20th, it changed hands a number of times. It was still private property when it was confiscated by the Russians in 1945 at the time when Austria was divided up into four occupation zones by the Allies. When the occupation ended in 1955, the castle was handed over to the Austrian state and subsequently to the regional government of Lower Austria. The museum opened in 1967.
Since then, there have been many reports from employees and visitors of objects moving around of their own accord but seemingly with purpose, as if moved by some invisible hand. Other people have reported seeing footprints suddenly appear in the snow, and ghostly shapes have been known to partially manifest themselves before disappearing – a phenomenon which seems to happen quite frequently in Austrian castles.
In the Court House, many people were tortured and convicted. Undoubtedly there were miscarriages of justice and the souls of those wrongly convicted cannot find peace. One particularly cruel judge who regularly issued the death penalty is himself condemned to roam the court house to this day. Children’s voices are often heard in the cellar, but there is one unique ghost who is said to have lived here centuries ago. She is commemorated in one of the many sculptures and her distinctive features are hard to miss.
Her identity remains a mystery but her appearance does not. She is depicted as a young woman from the neck down. But her head is that of a dog and she is therefore known as the Hundefräulein (Dog Maiden). She doesn’t appear to wish anyone harm, but people are wary of seeing her as she appears when a tragic event is about to occur. When she was alive, her family kept her hidden from sight in the cellars and this may also account for the children’s voices heard there. The cellars of Schallaburg contained secret passages, linking it to the nearby castles of Sichtenberg and Soos. The girl roamed these passages, which remained her whole world until her early death. One version of the story states that she behaved so wildly, she had to be restrained with chains. Personally, I think that being born with dog-like features and hidden from sight as if she didn’t exist would be enough to make anyone feel pretty wild!
Eminent archaeologist Dr. Emeryk Quintillus has unearthed the burial chamber of Cleopatra. But this tomb raider’s obsession with the Queen of the Nile has nothing to do with preserving history. Stealing sacred and priceless relics, he murders his expedition crew, and flees—escaping the quake that swallows the site beneath the desert sands . . .
Young widow Adeline Ogilvy has accepted employment at the mansion of Dr. Quintillus, transcribing the late professor’s memoirs. Within the pages of his journals, she discovers the ravings of a madman convinced he possessed the ability to reincarnate Cleopatra. Within the walls of his home, she is assailed by unexplained phenomena: strange sounds, shadowy figures, and apparitions of hieroglyphics.
Something pursued Dr. Quintillus from Egypt. Something dark, something hungry. Something tied to the fate and future of Adeline Ogilvy . . .
Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. Cat’s novels include the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy – Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse, Saving Grace Devine and many more. She lives with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue. Cat and her family divide their time between Liverpool and a 260-year-old haunted apartment in North Wales.