Characterization: Katharine de Montacute
by Roberta Eaton Cheadle
Katharine is a young girl born in the 14th century to a wealthy family dominated by her grandfather, Sir Edward de Montacute. She is a beautiful girl and has a wonderful life with a secret admirer who she hopes to marry until her father decides to enter her into the Benedictine Priory in Bungay. She feels obligated to follow her father’s wishes and joins the Priory as a novice.
Katharine hates life in the convent as she is in love with her admirer, William, and devoted to her family. She struggles to adjust to losing them all and being compelled to devote her life to prayer and charity. She manages to make contact with William from within the convent and they make a plan for her to escape and for them to run away together. Naturally, this does not work out as intended or hoped, and it ends in the death of Katharine. Her resentment at the time of her unnatural and harsh death, enables Hugh Bigod, the black dog of Bungay, to pursue her to turn away from Heaven’s white light and remain in the Overworld as a ghost. Katharine joins the ranks of Hugh Bigod’s ghostly slaves.
Katharine meets Margaret fairly early in the book and, as a result of this meeting, reincarnates and regains her physical form.
She is an intelligent woman, but is a product of her time and is physically and emotionally submissive to firstly, her father and subsequently to William and then Hugh Bigod. Her intelligence is demonstrated when she takes the lead in explaining the situation to Margaret’s grandfather after she is kidnapped and also takes the initiative in going to fetch Father Merton when he is identified as the man who can help them with their difficult situation. She is also the incarnate that gives Margaret the information about how Hugh Bigod would possibly be overthrown.
Katharine is empathetic and feels terrible when she realises that the ambitions of the ghost to use Margaret’s powers to help them escape their eternal servitude has put her in danger. Her guilt is exposed during her conversation with Father Merton at his rectory:
“Katharine had finished speaking and was looking at him. Her lower lip trembled and tears formed in her luminous eyes. “I feel so guilty. Our desire to be free of the Master caused this.
Our servitude was our own choice. We then chose to ask Margaret for help to free our spirits and now she’s been taken.””
Katherine is gentle and maternal and she is the incarnate who chooses to stay with Margaret’s grandfather when he is shot and submitted into the hospital.
“Katharine sat on the hard hospital chair watching Grandfather as he slept. His chest rose and fell rhythmically, which made her feel encouraged despite his face, which was so white it matched the hospital linen.
Grandfather had been taken up to the operating theatre soon after their arrival at the emergency room. Katharine had told the nurse at the hospital emergency reception that her name was Margaret Turner and that she was Steve Baker’s granddaughter. In all the frenzied activity, no one had thought to ask her for any identification. They had taken her word for it.”
In “Through the Nethergate” by Roberta Eaton Cheadle, teen Margaret moves in with her grandfather after the death of her parents. In addition to the stress of getting to used living in a new place and going to a new school, Margaret has discovered that she can see ghosts and through her, they are becoming corporeal. The inn that her grandfather runs, and the castle that adjoins it, has a history that extends back to the Norman invasion. Margaret finds herself reliving the history of the dark place through visions and ghost’s tales. The ghosts have been trapped in an overworld, between living and moving on, to serve the needs of their master who appears to them in the form of a large black dog with red eyes. She finds herself a focal point for a war between heaven and hell and only she can gather the resources to make things right. However, there is always a sacrifice.
While not exactly the type of YA fiction I generally read, I did find this book interesting. The story vacillates between Margaret’s story and the grisly often unjust histories of the ghosts she comes across. Obviously, there has been a great deal of historical research poured into this story and that does add a certain depth to the storytelling. The ghosts are some of the most vibrant characters in the book. I see this book appealing to teens and young adults who enjoy a horror aspect to their fiction. For myself the amount of blood and carnage in this book is overwhelming, but I can see that being a plus for some readers. I also think the spiritual war aspect will have a certain appeal.
I received a complimentary evaluation copy of this book. All opinions and insights are my own.
About The Book:
Through the Nethergate by Roberta Eaton Cheadle
Margaret, a girl born with second sight, has the unique ability to bring ghosts trapped between Heaven and Hell back to life. When her parents die suddenly, she goes to live with her beloved grandfather, but the cellar of her grandfather’s ancient inn is haunted by an evil spirit of its own.
In the town of Bungay, a black dog wanders the streets, enslaving the ghosts of those who have died unnatural deaths. When Margaret arrives, these phantoms congregate at the inn, hoping she can free them from the clutches of Hugh Bigod, the 12th century ghost who has drawn them away from Heaven’s White Light in his canine guise.
With the help of her grandfather and the spirits she has befriended, Margaret sets out to defeat Hugh Bigod, only to discover he wants to use her for his own ends – to take over Hell itself.
About The Author:
‘I am an author who has recently branched into adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my young adult and adult writing, these will be published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first young adult supernatural novel, Through the Nethergate, has recently been published.
I have two short stories in the horror/supernatural genre included in Dark Visions, a collection of 34 short stories by 27 different authors and edited by award-winning author, Dan Alatorre as well as three short stories published in Death Among Us, a collection of murder mystery short stories by 10 different authors and edited by Stephen Bentley. These short stories are published under Robbie Cheadle.
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