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Through the Nethergate by Roberta Eaton Cheadle
Margaret, a girl born with second sight, has the unique ability to bring ghosts trapped between Heaven and Hell back to life. When her parents die suddenly, she goes to live with her beloved grandfather, but the cellar of her grandfather’s ancient inn is haunted by an evil spirit of its own.
In the town of Bungay, a black dog wanders the streets, enslaving the ghosts of those who have died unnatural deaths. When Margaret arrives, these phantoms congregate at the inn, hoping she can free them from the clutches of Hugh Bigod, the 12th century ghost who has drawn them away from Heaven’s White Light in his canine guise.
With the help of her grandfather and the spirits she has befriended, Margaret sets out to defeat Hugh Bigod, only to discover he wants to use her for his own ends – to take over Hell itself.
The main ghostly characters in Through the Nethergate
One of the recent reviews for Through the Nethergate states the following:
“This book is filled with historical tidbits told through the spirits point of view that I found completely fascinating. The author seamlessly integrates religious beliefs and historical data with immersive storytelling.” – Goodreads review
The above extract encapsulates exactly what the ghosts’ stories were intended to do, which is to immerse the reader in each ghost’s history and personal circumstances, thereby, making the reader care about them and take an interest in their future. The ghost’s come from different historical periods, but all share the facts that they are English, and they died bad deaths which resulted in their turning away from Heaven’s White Light and following the Black Dog. This choice results in their becoming enslaved to the spirit of the evil Hugh Bigod, who assumes the shape of the Black Dog of Bungay.
I learned about the various ghosts that are purported to haunt the English town of Bungay, while doing some research for the fictionalized biography I wrote about my mother’s life. One of the old inns in the town is believed to be haunted by twenty ghosts. Through the Nethergate was originally going to be a book of short stories providing a fictionalized account of the deaths of each of these ghosts, but as I wrote, the story evolved into a continuous story where the ghosts all help the heroine, Margaret, to overcome their evil master, and eventually, the devil’s goal for world domination.
The first ghost Margaret meets is Lizzie Bowlyngewho died in 1590. She was a twelve-year-old servant girl who worked at the Inn. She was caught stealing a quart jug of ale from a barrel in the cellar of the original inn and, as a punishment, she was chained to the cellar walls and left to starve to death. There is a plaque in the existing inn commemorating Lizzie’s death.