Within the walls of Brackenby House, 5 students reside. They know the dark history of the Victorian townhouse, but it’s never really bothered them. That is until Halloween 2016, when the group attempt to recreate the notorious séance of 1876. One by one, the students find themselves haunted by the spirits that were responsible for The Suffering massacre. As each of the residents deal with the oppression their attachment causes, they find the essence of their personalities falling under attack. Before they lose themselves completely, they must find the truth about the original séance, and the ghosts that grow more violent every day. Before it’s too late…
A distant relative of famed Victorian psychic, Lucius Holgrove, Kyle is proud of his ancestor. In 1876, Lucius was unwittingly drawn into the chaos of the Suffering séance and, as the sole survivor, his ability to banish the ghosts within the walls of Brackenby House is legendary. Kyle is also proud of the fact that he and his friends can use Brackenby House as their student digs, paying peanuts in rent thanks to his descendant purchasing the property following the massacre.
An anthropology student, Kyle finds the rumours of the ghosts fascinating. He’s especially intrigued by the monster known as Po, using his thesis to try and uncover the ancient Incan giant’s secrets. It’s Kyle’s idea to host another séance, paying homage to his relative. But his blind trust in Lucius’s abilities means that he underestimates just how eager the ghosts have been to come back out to play. Thankfully, Kyle’s obsessive research gives the group some clues as to how to uncover Brackenby’s secrets, and he’s determined to make amends and defeat the spirits before his friends succumb to the ghosts.
Kyle’s best friend, the pair met through a pen-pal scheme at their schools. Emigrating to the UK from Japan, Tad is all-too-happy to accept Kyle’s offer to move into Brackenby while he completes his engineering degree. He knows his friends are envious of his male model looks, but Tad sees them as nothing but a hinderance. He’s invented a prototype for a method to turn sewage into renewable energy, and as far as he’s concerned his looks are holding him back.
Stoic and sensible, Tad calmly assesses the spiralling situation in the house, trying to ignore the strange sounds and smells that seem to escalate after the Halloween spirit session. But it isn’t long before he begins to spot the ghosts’ individual patterns. Worse still, he sees that each of his friends are being targeted by one of the spirits. And, judging by the sound of an axe slapping against an impatient hand throughout the night and the smell of rotting flesh that follows him around Brackenby House, he is connected to the ghost that frightens him the most.
Known for his quiet and brooding nature, Pete falls further into solitary when the séance leaves him with physical symptoms that he just can’t shake. He loves to hike in the mountains to clear his head, but an unrelenting spell of vertigo means that he’s stuck on low ground, confined to his bedroom most of the time. He finds it difficult to confide in his housemates – even Cassie, who has been his best friend for as long as he can remember. There is a wedge growing between him and his friends, through no fault of his own.
The footsteps that patter down Brackenby’s landing seem to stop right outside his room. And when a sudden spell of vertigo stops him in his tracks, he’s sure he can hear a sinister chuckle emanate from the stairwell. Most concerning of all, he finds himself drawn to the banister, his body lurching to the edge in an unconscious effort to throw him over. For Pete, his choices are bleak. Either stay trapped in his room or step out and fight. But there are a lot of high spaces out there. And the pattering footsteps seem to follow him, even outside of Brackenby…
Living in a house full of boys, Cassie fights hard to give a good show of herself. But her impulsive and brash personality sometimes lands her on the wrong side of people. Particularly the other women in her life. Still, she has to keep an edge about her if she’s going to successfully swim the Channel. Training is going well, despite the fact that the other girls in her swim team are forming a vicious clique against her. But she’s having bigger problems than bullies. Damp seems to follow her everywhere, with droplets of water appearing in impossible places. She smells the dank depths of the sea, even though the team are still training in the university pool.
Before long, her lone swim sessions begin to get treacherous. Unseen hands touch her under the water, preventing her from breaking the surface. Her friend, Martin, turns up at the pool, his expression trance-like. In the shadow of the sea witch, Lisa Vaughan, anything can happen in the water. And, even when Cassie stays away from the pool, Lisa’s powers may just bring the water directly to her.
With his perky nature, bouncing blond curls, and giddy personality, people could be forgiven for thinking that Lance is the extrovert member of the bunch. But crippling anxiety plagues him, meaning that all of his attempts at employment have ended in disaster. Because of this, Lance is keen to set himself up as an influencer, pulling in income from behind his laptop and phone screens. His friends know that navigating the trolls of the online world are often more challenging than anything Lance could face in an office, but he’s determined. Aside from his constant Insta posts and dreams of setting up a YouTube channel, Lance becomes more and more distracted by the scent of smoke and neighbourhood cats yowling in the grounds of Brackenby.
A dark figure hangs around the porch, its shadow visible through the hallway windows, and Lance is driven crazy when he constantly finds the spare stool pulled up to the table in the kitchen by unseen hands. His ghost is Hellfire Club member, Anthony Pile, and the more Lance learns about the club’s history, the more fearful he becomes. The club had a habit of pulling up a chair for the Devil, and the freezing cold seat of the stool means that perhaps Brackenby is getting visits from a presence even more terrifying than the ghosts themselves. And Lance is in his sights.
Join the students as they piece together the puzzle of the original Suffering séance and navigate the oppression that plagues Brackenby House. Can all of them survive The Suffering?
The Suffering published by Wicked House – coming 24th February 2023