In Romania, in the heart of the Carpathian Mountains, lies a huge castle. Once, the castle belonged to a powerful noble family--and memories of their deeds and hatred for the church linger on. Some say the castle is haunted. Others doubt any sort of haunt, but the castle has been unlucky for centuries. When a group of Americans receive invitations to visit the castle on a day trip, though, it seems like simply a fun adventure. Until, that is, some of those legends of the past begin to take on a very real, if sometimes incomplete, life.
Authors William Koonce, Eric Keith, Marcia Berneger, and Charles Mossop (under the direction of editor Lea Schizas) combine to deliver the story of the fateful visit to the castle of the one-time ruler, Lord Erdley. Each tells a different part of the story, from the viewpoints of various individuals on the tour, and each sheds a different light onto the fateful events that created those legends--and that continue to linger to affect the present day.
In 'Arminius' William Koonce tells of an assassin tasked to make a kill while in Romania. The castle of Lord Erdley seems like the perfect spot--secluded, and in a country that most of the world ignores. But plenty of pitfalls await both the assassin and his intended victim.
In 'The Mark,' Eric Keith tells of the frightful mark that the original Lord Erdely carries--and of a forgotten use of the castle in the relatively recent past--as a mental hospital. How could the ancient curse have changed mental patients, and what does this mean to the visitors?
In 'A Mother's Love,' Marcia Berneger shows us a mother and daugher on vacation as the mother attempts to deal with an inheritance back in Romania. At first, the castle seems a pleasant diversion, a chance to defuse the ongoing conflict between mother and teenage daughter. But when teen Samantha becomes fascinated by the castle, her mother fears that something dangerous might be happening.
In 'Lord Erdely's Curse' by Charles Mossop, the tragic events of centuries earlier seem doomed to play themselves out again--to the destruction of several of the castle's visitors. When storms cuts communications with the rest of the world, the howl of a wolf can be frightening indeed.
The four authors combine to sustain a strong mood of danger, adventure, and unknown possibilities. Editor Lea Schizas ensures both quality writing and a compelling world where magic touches ordinary people, and where nothing is quite what it seems. Fans of contemporary fantasy will definitely want to grab this one.