On the outskirts of London, 1855, mortician and funeral director Helena Morrigan struggles with her limited finances and the heavy burdens of her past. Desperate to secure herself, she takes up residence in an aged house closer to the graveyard, closer to the lost souls that sense her torment and are determined to take her place in the mortal world. As she tries to tame and free the ghostly figures around her, she becomes acquainted with the owners of the home, the recently orphaned siblings, Eric, Audrey and Christian Tarter. Yet, the souls she wants to save are on edge as a horrific serial killer runs rampant, giving Helena a boost in business and suspicion. Against her best efforts, Helena is suddenly thrown into a bloody mystery where new and old friendships are tested, innocents are maimed and a horrific family secret that threatens her chance at a peaceful existence and her existence itself.
PRAISE FOR HELENA
"Claire L. Smith's Helena is a sharp, poignant story that is rich in lyrical language and lush imagery. The details and setting coalesce into a Victorian tale that feels like the lovechild of Emily Bront and Mary Shelley. Readers will delight in being thrown into Helena's dark, poetic world with a witty protagonist and a cast of characters who are impossible not to fall in love with. Easily one of my favorite reads of 2020 -- a beautiful work of modern Gothic literature that is not to be missed."
-- Sara Tantlinger, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Devil's Dreamland
"A stark, gothic fairy tale for all lovers of the macabre, with language as comforting and hypnotizing as a cemetery at sundown. Helena is genuinely scary and will dance and haunt inside your darkest dreams."
-- John Palisano, Bram Stoker Award-Winning author of Ghost Heart / President, Horror Writers Association
"A hauntingly beautiful debut, Helena by Claire L. Smith invites readers into a Gothic tale of death, mourning, and ritual, one that is an absolute treat for those who like their coffins handmade and their tea with a touch of lavender and ghosts."
- Stephanie M. Wytovich, author of Mourning Jewelry and Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare