THE WOMAN IN BLACK by M. Y. Halidom, with an Introduction by Richard Dalby. Ashcroft, BC, Canada; Ash-Tree Press; 2007. 1st edition hardcover thus.
ISBN: 978-1-55310-093-5; xvii + 164pp.
Published February 2007; Limited to 400 copies.
Jacket art by Keith Minnion.
Sir Ashley Carruthers, recently returned from the Boer War, is finding it difficult to settle into the surroundings of the country house bequeathed to him by his father. Irritated that the local 'gentry' are determined that he should be married to one of their own, settle down, and raise a family, he sets off one Sunday to visit an old friend. Finding him absent, Carruthers decides to travel on to visit other friends in a nearby village. A church bell summons him to a small country church where he decides to attend the evening service; it is during the service that he finds himself seated next to the beautiful and mysterious Woman in Black.
The vicar's strange sermon text—'I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves'—puzzles Carruthers; but more puzzling is the reaction of the vicar when his eyes fall on the face of the Woman in Black: the colour drains from his face and he collapses senseless to the floor of the pulpit.
Who is this Woman in Black? Why has she struck fear into the heart of the Reverend Jabez Waldegrave? What is her part in the sudden illness which strikes Carruthers? Why, when she is detained by the police, does she transform from a beautiful woman into an old hag? What part is played by the mysterious ring she considers so important to her?
All is revealed in the course of M. Y. Halidom's 1906 novel, now given a retrospective centenary celebration in this new edition from Ash-Tree Press.
In addition to providing mystery in his fiction, Halidom provided quite a mystery of his own, since his true identity only became known in 2005 when his grandson revealed the history of the author who was both 'M. Y. Halidom' and 'Dryasdust'.
Richard Dalby's introduction to this new edition reveals more of the life and family background of M. Y. Halidom.
Fine in fine dj.