The Master of Seacliff, by Max Pierce
An American Gothic novel reminiscent of an Agatha Christie novel -
The year is 1899, and Andrew Wyndham is twenty years old—no longer a boy, but not yet the man he longs to become. Brought up by a harsh and stingy aunt and uncle in New York City after the death of his parents, young Andrew dreams of life as an artist in Paris. He has talent enough but lacks the resources to bring his dream to fruition. When a friend arranges for him to work as tutor to the son of a wealthy patron of the arts, Andrew sees a chance to make his dream come true and boards a train heading up the Atlantic coast. His destination is the estate called Seacliff, where he’ll tutor his new charge and save his pay to make the life he dreams of possible. But danger lurks everywhere and nothing is quite as easy as it seems.
I pulled some paper out of my makeshift sketchbook and started a study of the mighty train that brought me here. Lost in thought, I had completed one drawing when a slurred voice came from my left.
“Want some advice? Get back on that train. There’s nothin’ but death and despair at Seacliff.”
A grizzled man stood at the west edge of the platform. He was short, tanned like oilpaper and wearing dried out, wrinkled clothing. Staring ahead as he limped towards me, the lenses of his glasses made his eyes look larger than normal. Without waiting for me to respond or acknowledge him, he continued, rasping.
“Take it from one who’s seen the devil’s wrath. They’ll all join Satan in hell. You too, unless you leave. Run.”
“Seacliff is my home,” I answered with false confidence. But as I turned, the stranger had evaporated.
Seacliff: A dark and brooding cliff-top mansion enshrouded in near-eternal fog, dark mystery, and suspicion—perhaps a reflection of the house’s master. An imposing Blackbeard of a man, Duncan Stewart is both feared and admired by his business associates as well as the people he calls friends. And his home, in which young Andrew must now reside, holds terrible secrets, secrets that could destroy everyone within its walls.
Available in e-book format – 452 KB
Review by Gerry Burnie
Every once in a while I get a yen to read a gothic tale—something like the compulsion for a decadent dessert—so when I came across one in the gay genre I just had to order a serving.
The Master of Seacliff by Max Pierce [Lethe Press, 2012] is a gothic novel written in the classical style, with a quintessential brooding mansion atop a seaside cliff; a cast of eccentric servants; a young innocent (male); and a darkly-handsome master with a slightly sinister reputation.
Young Andrew Wyndham, driven by his ambition to study art in Paris, takes a position as tutor to the son of a wealthy, hardnosed businessman, Duncan Stewart. He therefore travels from his modest home in Manhattan to take up residence at “Seacliff,” Stewart’s remote seaside estate on the Atlantic Coast.
His arrival is none too encouraging when the first person he encounters is a grizzled man who warns him to flee for his life—and his soul. He nonetheless carries on, and eventually hears that Duncan is rumoured to have shot his father and his father’s friend in order to gain control of the family business.
However, this is not the only mystery hanging over Seacliff Manor, for Duncan’s protégé (and secret lover), pianist Steven Charles, disappeared a year before Andrew’s arrival and his absence has cast further suspicion on Duncan. But Duncan is a man who can be disarmingly charming, as well as irascible, and so Andrew is more intrigued by him than frightened.
Other characters populate this story, as well: The dour and suspicious butler; the (gay) brother and sister who own the neighbouring estate; Duncan’s son, Timothy; and the mute son of the housekeeper’s daughter (who leaped from the cliff when she found her lover had been murdered.)
All is revealed in the end, but in the meantime it is a fun read, almost reminiscent of suspects ‘popping in and out of doors’ in an Agatha Christie novel. Highly recommended. Four bees.
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Meet the characters, settings etc., from my forthcoming novel, Coming of Age on the Trail
In an atmosphere where men were drawn together by mutual dependence and respect, Cowboys did fall in love—as Cory and Reb did. But driving skittish cattle over hundreds of miles, through terrain that could change from drought to flood in a matter of minutes, was a risky business. So what happened when a lover was killed and you couldn’t talk about it? Badger C. Clark, the iconic cowboy poet, addresses this question in “The Lost Pardner”.
- I ride alone and hate the boys I meet.
- Today, some way, their laughin’ hurts me so.
- I hate the mockin’-birds in the mesquite–
- And yet I liked ‘em just a week ago.
- I hate the steady sun that glares, and glares!
- The bird songs make me sore.
- I seem the only thing on earth that cares
- ‘Cause Al ain’t here no more!
- ‘Twas just a stumblin’ hawse, a tangled spur–
- And, when I raised him up so limp and weak,
- One look before his eyes begun to blur
- And then–the blood that wouldn’t let ‘im speak!
- And him so strong, and yet so quick he died,
- And after year on year
- When we had always trailed it side by side,
- He went–and left me here!
- We loved each other in the way men do
- And never spoke about it, Al and me,
- But we both knowed, and knowin’ it so true
- Was more than any woman’s kiss could be.
- We knowed–and if the way was smooth or rough,
- The weather shine or pour,
- While I had him the rest seemed good enough–
- But he ain’t here no more!
- What is there out beyond the last divide?
- Seems like that country must be cold and dim.
- He’d miss the sunny range he used to ride,
- And he’d miss me, the same as I do him.
- It’s no use thinkin’–all I’d think or say
- Could never make it clear.
- Out that dim trail that only leads one way
- He’s gone–and left me here!
- The range is empty and the trails are blind,
- And I don’t seem but half myself today.
- I wait to hear him ridin’ up behind
- And feel his knee rub mine the good old way
- He’s dead–and what that means no man kin tell.
- Some call it “gone before.”
- Where? I don’t know, but God! I know so well
- That he ain’t here no more!
Introducing a brand new author and her new Novel.
Altered-Revelations, by Shawnda Falls-Currie is new on the Kindle market.
Story Blurb: Abandoned by her family, Lacey is sent to a juvenile detention center known as Clear Waters. Her teen years don’t look promising until she is befriended by a mysterious stranger named Taylor, a gorgeous guy whose captivating eyes seem to stare into her soul. Convinced she is in danger at Clear Waters, Lacey joins Taylor in a daring escape. As she meets Taylor’s group of friends, she discovers that they’re more than they seem – they’ve been sent from the future to head off an evil corporate plot that will lead to a world war unless averted. With Lacey as their only hope to prevent a grim future, Taylor shows Lacey how to tap into her psychic abilities known in his time as evolved humans. Travelling with her new friends, she discovers the magic of love while she grows into the powerful warrior chosen to make the difference to the world!
Introducing Lucas Porter, pianist
Lucas was recently featured on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s “Next” series, part of a high-profile project created by the CBC Radio 2 program In Concert in which promising young classical musicians reveal their artistry.
Click here to listen, and please pass it on.
If you would like to learn more about any of my books, or to order copies, click on the specific cover below. Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears are available in both Kindle and Nook formats. Publisher’s price, $4.95.
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