A Ghost and His Gold by Roberta Eaton Cheadle
Published February 15th 2021 by TLS Books
About the Book: After Tom and Michelle Cleveland move into their recently built, modern townhouse, their housewarming party is disrupted when a drunken game with an Ouija board goes wrong and summonses a sinister poltergeist, Estelle, who died in 1904.
Estelle makes her presence known in a series of terrifying events, culminating in her attacking Tom in his sleep with a knife. But, Estelle isn’t alone. Who are the shadows lurking in the background – one in an old-fashioned slouch hat and the other, a soldier, carrying a rifle?
After discovering their house has been built on the site of one of the original farms in Irene, Michelle becomes convinced that the answer to her horrifying visions lie in the past. She must unravel the stories of the three phantoms’ lives, and the circumstances surrounding their untimely deaths during the Second Anglo Boer War, in order to understand how they are tied together and why they are trapped in the world of ghosts between life and death. As the reasons behind Estelle’s malevolent behaviour towards Tom unfold, Michelle’s marriage comes under severe pressure and both their lives are threatened.
5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
This book combines Historical Fiction with a Paranormal Story and it had me hooked. It is told in a dual-timeline, during the second Anglo-Boer war in late 1899 and early 1900s as well as in 2019, when Tom and Michelle move into their new home. I was completely pulled into both of the storylines. I had little to no knowledge of the Anglo-Boer wars and even with all the information provided in this book, I spend some time out on the internet reading even more. As with any war situation, there are horrors, mistreatment and tragedies. Roberta Cheadle describes the Scorched Earth policies of the English Military leaders, and the fact that there were even concentration camps for the women and children of the Boer people. So much research went into this historical timeline. The second storyline has ghosts and a poltergeist of people who died or experienced tragedies during these wars still trapped on earth. When Michelle and a couple of her friends play with a Quija Board, they seem to have opened a portal to these spirits. We meet the ghosts of Robert, a British Soldier, Peiter, a Boer and his daughter Estelle. Estelle did not have a happy life, between her sad and lonely home life, her mother’s treatment of her and the horrendous atrocities against females during the Boer War, she is out for revenge. It seems Tom is her target and reading about his descent into darkness is chilling. This book really surprised me. There is some Christian faith involved dealing with forgiveness and repentance, but that is a small part of the book. This story deals with war, and what happens in war that changes people forever. How anger can destroy lives and how forgiveness can set you free. I do not normally read paranormal stories, but this one was very well written and I found myself engrossed in this story. Robbie Cheadle does an amazing job melding these very different stories together into a very engaging story. I received a copy of this book in order to participate in this blog tour that I volunteered for. The rating and comments shared are my own.
Estelle van Zyl characterisation
Estelle van Zyl is the daughter of Pieter van Zyl and his first wife, Catherine, an English woman, who died giving birth to their daughter. Catherine is Pieter’s first and true love and hers is the face that haunts his dreams dominates his memories. She was gentle and beautiful, but frail, and her daughter, Estelle, is just like her.
After Catherine died, leaving Pieter alone with an infant to raise, he had married Marta, a stalwart member of the Boer community. He treat’s Marta well and with respect, but he does not love her, and she knows it.
Pieter has two daughters with Marta, Renette and Suné, both of whom he adores. Estelle is also totally devoted to her younger sisters.
Marta dislikes Estelle who is a constant reminder that she is Pieter’s second choice of life partner. Marta is also aware that Estelle is Pieter’s favourite child, and he offers her opportunities, such as learning to speak fluent English, that he does not offer to her two daughters. As a result, Marta is intensely jealous of Estelle and her dislike increases as Estelle gets older and becomes more ethereally beautiful and less like her own children.
Estelle believes Marta is her biological mother and she tries hard to please her and do all the tasks Marta sends her way to the best of her ability. It pains her deeply that Marta is hostile and unloving towards her and she doesn’t understand why. Estelle is resourceful and intelligent, but her life’s circumstances cause her to become bitter and disillusioned.
Pieter is well aware of Marta’s dislike for Estelle and the reasons for her attitude, but he does not take any steps to address the situation which becomes worse over time. Estelle is aware of her father’s limited of support of her and his weakness in defending her against Marta’s unfair demands. Pieter does try in his own unconfrontational way, but he never admonishes Marta for her meanness or instigates any discussions with her to try and remediate the situation. His small attempts to give Estelle a bit of freedom generally go against Marta’s strict beliefs about the role of Boer women in society and create a bigger problem than they solve.
When the reader first meets Estelle, she is a devious and devilish poltergeist who is determined to destroy Tom and Michelle. Estelle has become the judge and jury in deciding the fates of men she believes to be guilty of perpetuating abuse and other sins against women and she will allow nothing to stand in the way of her retribution.
Relevant extracts from A Ghost and His Gold
“His own girls were much younger with the oldest, Estelle, turning thirteen in December. She was a hard-working girl and helped her mother extensively with the housework and cooking, but she was a loner and liked to spend her spare time by herself, dreaming her strange and lonely dreams. He knew that Marta found their oldest daughter difficult to understand and the pair did not always get along well.”
“Estelle climbs up and takes her place as the driver. From his position on his horse next to the wagon, Pieter sees Marta’s annoyed glare. He knows Marta does not approve of Estelle sitting in the open on the wooden chest, driving the wagon.
Marta’s just being narrow minded. We have no sons and Estelle is capable and willing. She is good at driving too and has expressed her preference for sitting outside in the air rather than sweltering under the covering at the back. Marta will just have to learn to accept my decision.
“Put your bonnet on, Estelle,” he calls, hoping to pacify his wife. Estelle drags on the thick white ties attached to her bonnet, pulling it up over her bright hair and plunging her beautiful face into shadow. Pieter smiles at her and moves away, walking his horse slowly down the line of oxen.”
When Marta comes into the girls’ bedroom, Estelle is not asleep. Eyes wide open in the darkness, she watches the patterns of light on the walls and floor quiver and jump as the lantern moves in her mother’s shaking hand.
Mama’s scared. She’s so scared she’s shaking.
“We’re preparing to leave, Estelle,” Marta throws open the wooden shutters, flooding the room with light.
“I’ll help the children get dressed,” Estelle throws back the bed covers and swings her legs over the side of the bed. The shock of the cold floor beneath her warm feet, causes her to rise onto her toes.
Estelle has long suspected that they’ll have to leave the home she has known for the past nine years. She’s a quiet but keenly observant girl, listening carefully to the various conversations going on around her and drawing conclusions. Melting into the background with her unobtrusive manner and slight stature, she frequently overhears discussions that are not meant for her ears. It infuriates her mother, who constantly berates her for being a devious little eavesdropper.
“Stand properly, Estelle. You know I can’t stand it when you walk on your toes like that.”
“Yes, Mama. Do you know why?”
“Why we must leave so suddenly.”
“The Khakis are coming.” An expression of irritation flits across her mother’s face. “Stop asking meddlesome questions and get yourself dressed.”
Bending over the mattress on the floor that holds the sleeping forms of her two younger daughters, Marta gently shakes Suné.
“Wake up, girls, you need to get dressed and come and have your breakfast.”
Her tone is kind and loving, unlike the sharp and clipped speech she used to address Estelle.”
About the Author: Robbie Cheadle has published nine books for children and one poetry book. She has branched into writing for adults and young adults and, in order to clearly separate her children’s books from her adult books, is writing for older readers under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle.
Robbie Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate children’s picture books are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions that children can make under adult supervision. Her books for older children also incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.
Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s supernatural stories combine fabulous paranormal elements with fascinating historical facts.
Children’s picture books – available as a square book and an A5 book (co-authored with Michael Cheadle):
Sir Chocolate and the strawberry cream story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the baby cookie monster story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the sugar dough bees story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Fondant Five story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Ice Cream Rainbow Fairies story and cookbook
Middle school books:
Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town (includes five fun party cake ideas)
While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with Elsie Hancy Eaton)
Poetry book: Open a new door (co-authored with Kim Blades)
Supernatural fantasy YA novel: Through the Nethergate
Supernatural historical adult novel: A Ghost and His Gold
Horror Anthologies (edited by Dan Alatorre):
Wings & Fire
Paranormal Anthologies (edited by Kaye Lynne Booth):
Spirits of the West
Whispers of the Past
Murder mystery Anthology (edited by Stephen Bentley)
Death Among Us