The Haunting of Wicker House – Harriet Darling
“Loved it! Reminded me of a young Nancy Drew. Well written and wonderful characters. Loved the twist in the end.” – RL Smith
Orphaned 14-year-old Kaitlyn comes to live with her Great-aunt, who is being cared for by a doctor Kaitlyn doesn’t trust. She befriends four ghosts, who don’t understand why they are haunting Wicker House. They tell her the doctor’s hidden agenda: he believes there is a treasure in the house, hidden by Kaitlyn’s great-grandfather.
“The Haunting of Wicker House is a wonderful mystery/ghost story with some good twists and turns on the way to a satisfying ending. I enjoyed it so much- I read it in one sitting.” – Marta
Nearly forty-five minutes after they left the train depot, they drove through an ornate wrought iron gate set between two thick brick pillars. Frederick must have had a remote gate opener since he didn’t even slow down as they approached the gate. The driveway went on for at least a half mile, curving so she couldn’t see the house until they were almost there. When she saw they had arrived, she could only stare at the house – no, not a house, a mansion. She couldn’t believe she was going to live in something so incredible.
Frederick got out of the car and walked around to open her door. He offered his hand to help her out, then opened the trunk while Kaitlyn gazed at the house, entranced. The chauffeur led her inside a massive double door with a narrow window beside it. As she entered, she saw images of birds in the stained-glass window beside the door. Two of the birds were a peacock and a hummingbird, and Kaitlyn examined the window more closely. The sun slanting in turned the stained glass all different jewel colors – amethyst, turquoise, coral, emerald, ruby, and sapphire – and she decided she had never seen anything so beautiful.
A pretty young woman approached them, and Frederick said, “Kaitlyn, this is Patricia. She’s responsible for keeping the house fresh and sparkling. She’ll take you to your room.”
Patricia grinned at him and shook Kaitlyn’s hand, then took her suitcase from Frederick and led her to the left stairway. There were two, she noted, one on either side of the broad foyer, the name of which Kaitlyn knew from hours of watching television. As they climbed to the third level, Kaitlyn gazed entranced at the huge, sparkling chandelier suspended over the foyer from two stories above. Just about to decide she must be dreaming, she took a piece of skin between two fingers and pinched, but everything stayed just the same, so she wasn’t dreaming.
At the third floor landing, Patricia moved in front of her to a set of double doors and opened them without ceremony. The room inside was large, and as she entered, Kaitlyn saw that there were actually two rooms, not just one. She was shown into a sitting room that opened into a bedroom, with a huge bed, a walk-in closet, and a large, wonderful bathroom. The French doors on one wall of the sitting room looked out over a garden, toward some mountains in the distance.
Kaitlyn looked around the space in awe. The walls in both rooms were painted a very pleasant soft green, and the heavy drapes, open on either side of the French doors, were darker green and looked like brocade. The floor was a beautiful, shiny wood, not just covered by a carpet. Both apartments Kaitlyn had lived in had carpets in most of the rooms; she had never been in a room with such beautiful floors. Very comfortable-looking pale green chairs sat on either side of the south-facing window, and on the wall with the door was a tall empty bookcase.
“Is this my room?” she asked Patricia. The thought came that this was just a model room, something they showed off to poor relations in order to make them envious.
The woman grinned as if she completely understood the girl’s astonishment. She set the suitcase on the bed and said, “This is yours, honey, yes. Check it out. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
Kaitlyn stood in the middle of the sitting room and told herself this couldn’t possibly be happening to her. She’d never been in such a luxurious room, and had never even seen many rooms like it on TV. She turned around slowly, trying to take it all in, and wondered if it was too soon to call Myrna, her best friend. She decided it was, but knew she wasn’t going to wait too long to share this news.
She moved to the bed and opened her suitcase, first taking out her single pair of shoes besides the ones she wore, and then hanging her few clothes in the walk-in closet. It was so large she wondered if there might be an echo, if she were gutsy enough to holler. Drawers and shelves were built in at the back of the closet, and there were two rods on the left and one on the right. She thought the two rods might be for skirts and blouses, and the other rod for dresses.
She hung up her few dresses, skirts, and shirts, then put her underthings in one of the drawers and her single pair of shoes on a shelf. It still looked as empty as ever.
Then she backed out of the closet and began to fill the bookshelves; she had brought all the books she owned, and was amused to see that they only filled two shelves. Her suitcase also contained her Disney collectibles, which she had very carefully packed in newspaper so they wouldn’t break. These she unpacked carefully and set on the shelves, crumpling up the newspaper and looking around for a trash basket. She finally found one on the other side of the bed, a wicker basket with an empty liner.
Opposite her bed was an antique-looking console and, when she opened it, she found a small TV. She put the remote beside the bed and set up her laptop on the little table under the south window. She put her mother’s photograph and her diary on the bedside table, and stood back to consider how close this room came to feeling like home.
It’s just about the size of our whole apartment, she thought. What would Mom have made of this? Sighing as the thought of her mother brought back her grief, she walked over to the French doors. These opened onto a long terrace from which she could see some of the topiaries she had passed on the drive, and a circular pond. It was a gorgeous view, and Kaitlyn felt a bit better, thinking she could stand out there for hours. A small round glass-topped table and four chairs were set up on the terrace, and she walked over and sat down. Pulling her iPhone from her backpack, she pressed 2 on the speed dial and was soon connected to Myrna.
About the Author
Harriet Darling is a retired Executive Assistant, who now spends her time producing stories of all kinds. Her favorite genre is fantasy, but she also writes science fiction and thrillers, mostly for Young Adults.
She grew up in Oakland, with four younger siblings, and moved to the San Jose area when she was just beginning her teens. Her mother worked as a Psychiatric Technician at Agnews State Hospital, and her father was a physical therapist and a gourmet chef.
Several of Harriet’s short stories (The Wedding Fairy, The Power of Music, Erin’s Necklace, and The Disease) have appeared on the Aurora Wolf website, and the first two were also published in anthologies by Aurora Wolf Publishing.
Her first Young Adult novella, The Wizard’s Key, and its sequel, Adventures in Fyelda, were published by Fountain Blue Publishing.com.
The Haunting of Wicker House, a Young Adult novella, was released in October 2016, also from Fountain Blue, and a new collection of novellas and short stories will soon be released by them.
She has also published several e-books on Amazon, including Omni, An Outer Space Adventure; The Triggams: Jennifer’s Journey; Heritage; Nature’s Gory, The Alabasters & Other Stories, and The Last Dragon, a short story collection.
Her Author Page and website can be found at http://www.darlingbooks.com.
“The Haunting of Wicker House is a catchy short book written with a simple but engaging style.” – DT