A Melancholy Event
By Dan Glaister
An eerie novel of possession and compulsion, of a young woman propelled to fulfil a macabre destiny
About the book
When Stephanie finds a hand-written story in a box of old papers, the path her life is to take becomes clear. Haunted by the true tale of a tragic ritual, she is determined to harness its ghoulish beauty for her own ends. A Melancholy Event is a story of obsession, of the choices we make and the choices that are made for us.
The novel has two protagonists: one is a girl, Stephanie, older than her years, with the ability to gather accomplices around her; the other is the true story of a fatal 19th century duel discovered by the young woman. That story from the past has its own life and exerts a power that draws the characters in this novel into its world. Gradually, Stephanie becomes consumed by the duel, a ritual that is as tragic in its inevitability as it is in its futility.
The novel’s title comes from the phrase used by a local observer to describe the duel that took place in Stroud, Gloucestershire more than 200 years ago during the Napoleonic Wars. One of the last fatal duels in England, it involved two friends and a squabble over a woman. One died, the other fled, as did the friend they had persuaded to be their second. A reward was offered but the two were never found. The duel is a largely forgotten part of local folklore, a story that inhabits and infects the landscape in A Melancholy Event.