Susan Boulton has lived all her life in rural Staffordshire and has a passion for the countryside, its history, its myths, and its legends, all of which influence her work. Her first novel, Oracle, is a steampunk fantasy of political intrigue. She's also published numerous short stories, including "Jac" (Dark Fiction Spotlight, 2010), "The Giving of Adela" (Tales of the Sword, edited by Dorothy Davis), and "Death Won't Be Cheated" (Malevolence: Tales from Beyond the Veil, edited by J. Scott-Marryat, 2014).
Hand of Glory was inspired by Susan's combined interests in World War I (fueled by family stories of both her grandfathers), the many historical memorials throughout local villages, and a deep appreciation of the myths, folklore, and supernatural stories of her region.
Hand of Glory: Passchendaele, 1917. Captain Giles Hardy is trapped on the wire, wounded in mind and body, convinced he should be dead. This is the beginning of his battle to come home, to bring with him and lay to rest the ghosts of the men who will never leave the fields of Flanders. Giles's fight is not only against the evil of a thief who exploits the grief of the bereaved, it is against a Hand of Glory, the mythical tool of robbers, a collector of lost souls. A new friend, Agnes Reed, and the ghost of an old one, Corporal George Adams, aid Hardy in his battle. Set in the torn fields of Flanders and a small English county town, Hand of Glory tells the story of a battle of hope against an enemy that feeds on despair.
Praise for Hand of Glory
"In Hand Of Glory, Susan Boulton deftly conjures the traumatic fragility of England in the years following the Great War, interweaving a love story and supernatural crime thriller with an unflinching appraisal of the true horrors of conflict. Recommended." —Neil Williamson, award-winning author of The Moon King.
"An intriguing story, beautifully researched with well-drawn characters and an involving central intrigue. Something a little different for the genre and all the better for it. — Jo Zebedee. author of Abendau's Heir, the inheritance trilogy and Inish Carraig.
"From the horrors of the First World War to the decadence of the Roaring Twenties, Hand of Glory is a revenge tale worthy of a Hammer Horror production. Grisly murders, creepy séances, and gaslight shenanigans, not to mention the overriding presence of a certain severed limb with an occult power from beyond the grave, are combined with a sense of mortal danger to keep the pages turning." — Mark Yon, Sffworld and book reviewer.
"A stunning and authentic tale of the supernatural, bound to give you goosebumps." — Alex Davis, author, published in Dark Horizons, The Harrow and Carillon.
Author's Note on the Historical Influences in Hand of Glory
Perhaps it was the snatches of conversations half overheard as a child that led me to study World War I poetry for my GSE exams at the age of 16. Perhaps it was the memorials in every village and town, some large bronze statues on large marble plinths. Perhaps it was a village hall in the village where I was born, built with donations and dedicated to the young men who never returned. All part of everyday life, a backdrop, yet a solid statement of grief that had stuck in every community.
However I gained an interest, it grew over the years. I knew I wanted to write a story about that time, but how? How to show the upheaval, the clash of the old and the new, the dying of old myths and the creation of new ones? Hand of Glorywas born out of this desire, and as it began to be written it merged with my love of ghost stories, old myths, and legends from my part of the world. Those beliefs, though submerged beneath the modern world, have become stronger in many ways, changing and growing with each retelling and new generation.
Such is the myth of the Hand of Glory. I needed a supernatural element to bind my story together, a reason for my "ghosts" to return, and a driving force for my antagonist. While looking through one of the many books on English myths and legends that line my bookshelves, I came across a small paragraph about the Hand of Glory, which had been donated to the Whitby Museum in 1935. The article also made reference to the Ingoldsby Legends, a series of poems and stories by Richard Harris Barham under the pseudonym of Thomas Ingoldsby. The moment I read the Nurse’s Story, I knew I had found what I was looking for.