In this blog I would like to go back to my horror novel ‘Retribution.’ This seems to be quite a popular novel with my viewers if my figures are anything to go by. My character profiles for this book have done a roaring trade but it seems I have been negligent in some respects. I have not touched on the group of child ghosts who play such a leading role in the storyline. It is their succession of deaths which, in turn, places Lucy O’Neill’s life in danger as the action proceeds to the modern day. So I would like to touch on the character of Charlotte who is the granddaughter of Doctor Mathewson the man who Victoria blames for the untimely deaths of her two young children even if they were struck by the deadly plague.
Charlotte is the leader of the child ghosts. This primarily comes about because she was the first of the children who was cruelly sacrificed at the hands of the evil Victoria in her ghosty guise. This occurs after Victoria seals a pact with the Devil. The fact Charlotte is the granddaughter of Doctor Mathewson gives her a degree of authority in everything that happens following her death. She is connected personally to the events which led up to Victoria’s mental breakdown and her belief that the doctor had been in league with God to bring an end to her two children’s lives. But there is more to the situation than this alone. Charlotte is a resourceful spirit. It is she who appears to Lucy a short time after the latter’s family has arrived and settled into Charlotte’s grandfather’s former home. She takes it upon herself to paint a graphic picture of what lies in store for Lucy as she communicates with the girl. The other child ghosts have their own say, but it is clear who is the boss. Indeed, the rest of the child ghosts act as if Charlotte is an adult rather than a child like themselves.
After an initial misunderstanding when Lucy thinks Charlotte and the others are playing a practical joke on her, the girl soon joins forces with the child ghosts so they can make plans to counteract Victoria’s evil menace. Early in their relations Lucy witnesses a vision in the wardrobe mirror in her room. This is a re-enactment of Charlotte’s sacrificial ceremony. She watches in horror as Charlotte is hoisted in the air by some hooded figures dressed in black and positioned over a roaring fire. Victoria then appears in her red cloak which is also hooded and, after a sinister incantation is read out by her, she plunges a knife into Charlotte’s stomach. Then, with the child still alive she is tossed into a roaring fire where her flesh is burnt from her bones. This scene is even worse for Lucy to witness as the ceremony takes place from her viewpoint in grisly close up. She can see every twitch of Charlotte’s face, every expression of horror, every horrible anticipation of what is to follow but is powerless to do anything to stop it.
Lucy tells Charlotte of all she has experienced along with other dreams and visions she has seen from Victoria’s time. Charlotte is quick to assure Lucy that everything she has seen is exactly as it happened. She has imagined nothing. Victoria really is as evil and twisted as she appears. And it is that frightening aspect of the sinister spirit which sets Lucy’s heart racing, thinking what may lie in store for her. Will she be nothing more than the next victim in Victoria’s reign of terror? When Lucy expresses her feelings on the matter Charlotte is quick to assure her that she and the rest of the child ghosts will be acting on her behalf and they will do their utmost to make sure the same fate does not come to her as happened to the rest of them. There are a few dissenting voices when she says this coming from the supporting cast of child ghosts. Tom Dawson is a particularly strong voice in all of this. He is the most recent child to have died at Victoria’s hands all of twenty-one years before which is the gap between each sacrificial ceremony as decreed by the Devil and carried out by Victoria. However, Charlotte is quick to bring a stop to these negative views. She will not hear of such talk and a hush falls upon the child ghosts once she has had her say. This astonishes Lucy. She can’t believe the power Charlotte seems to hold over the other child ghosts.
There is a scene fairly late on in the novel which Lucy witnesses in the form of a vision which she finds extremely unsettling. It is so poignant and sad as it looks ahead to Charlotte’s tragic death. To begin with it is an idyllic scene. Charlotte and her family are visiting her grandfather and are having a picnic. The weather is delightful. The sun is beating down from a cloudless blue sky. Everything is sweet and beautiful. It turns out to be a birthday celebration for Charlotte’s brother. Everyone is having a good time, but Lucy can tell a dark cloud hovers over the horizon. From the look of Charlotte, Lucy surmises this happy occasion must have taken place shortly before Victoria entered so viciously into Charlotte’s life and brutally took her life away. To Lucy’s further surprise Charlotte comes out of this happy scene and addresses her directly. She tells her that she is quite right: this celebration in the doctor’s back garden took place a matter of a few weeks before Charlotte’s grisly death. On hearing this Charlotte can’t believe how Charlotte’s life altered so dramatically in such a short space of time. She went from a happy, carefree existence to the sudden ending of her life in a mere twinkling of an eye.
Lucy could not help but wonder how badly Charlotte’s family must have been affected by her death. How could they have possibly recovered from her loss? She wondered, too, how Doctor Mathewson could have lived through such an experience. To have been accused by Victoria Marchbank for the deaths of her two children was bad enough, but to then have her enact some sort of diabolical revenge over him by killing his granddaughter must have worn heavily on the doctor. Now with Charlotte’s help and the assistance also of the rest of the child ghosts Doctor Mathewson was trying to finally bring a halt to Victoria’s sadistic run of child sacrifices. Lucy did not know if they would be able to help her when the time came and save her from Victoria’s evil hand, but she knew in Charlotte she had a spirit who had been through the same horrors she would be facing at first hand. This was a comfort and a solace to Lucy. She could only hope it would be enough to save her life.