Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Halloween Fires by Val McMurray
Title: Halloween Fires
Author: Val McMurray
Genre: Historical / Supernatural Thriller
The time: 1340
The place: Swan village, the estate of Sir Hubert Longhurst, on the
banks of the River Severn, and the city of Bristol in the south west of England.
On All Hallows Eve, a satanic mass is held in the forest across the river Severn.
A girl is sacrificed and a young boatman dies.
A suspicious priest, Father Simon, the Sheriff of Bristol and three Dominican Monks hunt the “Satanists”.
Their evil leader is the Dominus.
The Dominus is quite mad and plans revenge. The villagers will suffer.
In Bristol devil worshippers are tortured and burned.
The Dominus murders his partner and kidnaps a girl.
A black mass takes place. There is torture and death.
A battle is fought.
The Dominus flees.
The Lord of the manor holds a Manor Court to investigate the frightening events. Prisoners must be
taken to Bristol for trial by the church.
They, and a rich treasure, must be escorted to Bristol.
Satanists in Bristol, plan to fight for the treasure.
There is a battle on the road. Many are killed, the treasure is lost.
A blacksmith and a small boy assist the Sheriff in an attempt to regain it.
Perhaps Evil has been overcome; however, Devil worshippers in Bristol plan another mass.
The Sheriff is lured away.In the Glade of Stones the Devil may yet triumph.
10 Things you should know about Halloween Fires
1) Halloween Fires is my first published book.
2) I began writing it in November 2012 following some research I had made into the origins of
3) I picked the year 1340 because, during my research for a suitable period in which to tell my
story, I discovered that England had just begun to recover from a period of severe famine
which naturally caused great distress and unrest among the poor.
4) 1340 was also just three years into the Hundred Years War with the French, and this added
another dimension to the story.
5) In England at this time there was a different dialect or accent every few miles and even
people in a nearby estate spoke differently from their neighbours, therefore I decided to
write the book in the English of today. I did not want a glossary of mediaeval words at the
back of the book to which the reader had to constantly refer. I felt this would spoil the
continuity and pace of the story.
6) I was constantly researching as I went, luckily! You see, I had the victims who had been
tortured by the Dominicans, displaying bleeding wounds, only to discover several chapters
later that the Dominicans were allowed to stretch victims on the rack, press weights on the
chest to crack ribs and to burn the flesh, sealing the wound, but they were absolutely not
allowed to shed precious blood. I managed to find a way around the gaff!
7) I also forgot two prisoners entirely and again, only remembered them several chapters on,
and had to work them back into the story to explain their sudden absence!
8) At the time, death was a constant visitor in every home; hovel or castle. The people were in
a way inured to it. They mourned, of course, but loss, for example of a child, was accepted
because every woman had lost a child, more than likely more than one. It was just life. So
my characters are not unfeeling, just more used to losing people than we are today.
9) Archbishops raised armies and even led them into battle which is why Father Simon had to
re-consecrate his church without ceremony, the Archbishop was too busy!
10) There are two ‘real’ people in the book, the Constable of Bristol Castle was John Rivers and
the Abbot of St Augustine’s Abbey existed (The Abbey is no longer extant).
The book took nearly two and a half years to complete. I believe it to be an interesting story
to be read on a cold day before the fire, perhaps with a nice glass of wine. I hope you enjoy
~ Val McMurray
Meet the Author ~
As a child in England I loved to write stories. I have lived in Sydney Australia for over forty years. My children and grandchildren live close by. I worked as a trained nurse until retirement. Sadly, then, my husband needed nursing. Now I live alone and needed to follow my own interests. First a Book Club (all writers need to read), and I love it. Our discussions are lively and I have read many books that I would never have picked but for the club. It really widened my horizons. I also joined a Writers
Group in Liverpool and have found great enjoyment and satisfaction in learning from the very
different people in the group. I have been pleased to see several of my articles in print. We
contribute to Freexpression Magazine (www.freexpression.com.au), which is edited by Peter Pike.
His unfailing encouragement and that of Michael Norris, who read the first draft of this book (and
believed in it) has been the impetus needed to goad me to finish it. The research was daunting, but I
have always been interested in history, and I soon became immersed in the 14th century. How the
people lived and their deeply felt superstitions and customs held me enthralled. There are,
inevitably, mistakes. Please forgive them. I set out to write a rollicking good yarn, set in the south
west of England, I hope that you enjoy it.