Thursday 23 June 2016

The Heartbeat Thief, A Victorian Birthday, And Mementos Mori

Today I bring you some morbid morsels from Victorian history with a guest post by Ash Krafton, and another look at her delightfully dark novel, The Heartbeat Thief (penned under A. J. Krafton). Enjoy my minions...

A Victorian Birthday and Mementos Mori

The Victorian Era is steeped in traditions. Anything that flew in the face of tradition was shunned, cursed, and outcast. Tradition provided vital foundation, the legs upon which society stood. 
Traditions embellished every moment in life. One such tradition was the celebration of birthdays. Considering this month marks the book birthday for THE HEARTBEAT THIEF, you might expect a post on birthdays. Right? Anecdotes about parties and pastries and pretty ribbons and…
…no. Just—no.
On one hand, THE HEARTBEAT THIEF *is* pretty on the outside, like a birthday party. Beautiful and beribboned and sweet as strawberries and cream. But what is a birthday if not all about victory over death? And, deep within, that is what Senza Fyne’s tale is all about.
She is, after all, the Forever Girl. Death’s Estranged. Endless. She stopped celebrating birthdays when she learned how to steal immortality. Eventually, there was only one day she marked each year: her Unbirthing Day.
So just think about all the lovely traditions she missed out on when it came to her death. The Victorians were morbidly fascinated with death and went to great lengths to mark the occasion.

Senza could not die. She denied her loved ones so many opportunities…
No one would stop the clocks or draw all the curtains, to dwell in sad, shadowy silence.
No one would post elegantly written funeral notes of invitation.
No one would stand watch over her body, every moment from death to interment (which could take three to four days to allow family to arrive).
No one would arrange flowers around her body to mask the signs of decay.
No final death portraits, with falsely life-like poses, cosmetically-created rosy cheeks, or painted pupils in propped-open eyes.

No hair trinkets. No one would trim her winter-fire red locks and weave the tresses into rings or bracelets or brooches to wear as mourning jewelry.
No one would wear mourning for her, deep black crinoline with heavy veils and dark jet jewels. Instead, those would be her own disguise, hiding the eternal freshness of her beautiful cheeks from her aging loved ones and she sneaked like a thief through the pages of time.
No drapes upon the mirrors to prevent them from enticing her soul to enter, only to become trapped for all of wretched eternity.
No black crape hung around the doorknobs to announce the tragedy of her passing, reminding callers to avoid ringing.
No elaborate funeral procession, aristocratic and stately, with plumes and pallbearers, a hearse trimmed in white to lament the passing of one so young.
No strings tied to her finger, connecting her to coffin bells above her grave. No dead-ringers, graveyard shifts, or being saved by the bell.

See what I meant when I said the Victorians were just a little on the morbid side? Bereavement, you see, was generally the order of the day, even when there was no one to bury, because life was fragile and brief and all too often lost in the blink of an eye.
Senza Fyne would not die. Mr. Knell had worked his dark spell on her and removed her from the march of time, placing her far beyond the decayed grasp of Death. Although the Ferryman would not come for her, she was forced to watch each and everyone around her succumb to the ravages of life’s bittersweet ending.
Shadows cluttered her heart, each and every day that she went forth, beautiful and young and free of what frightened her most. She could not die.
But in that, she very nearly forgot how to live.
You can read Senza Fyne’s dark tale and take that long walk with her. See what she sees, experience what she felt as she stood still, a statue in a fast-growing, fast-wilting, ever-changing garden.

This week until June 26th, THE HEARTBEAT THIEF ebook will be $0.99!

Find it at any of these retailers:

About the author: Ash Krafton
Ash Krafton writes New Adult speculative fiction under the pen name AJ Krafton. In addition to THE HEARTBEAT THIEF, Ash is also the author of a growing list of poetry, short stories, and urban fantasy novels.
Currently, she’s working on a new series, THE DEMON WHISPERER. First book, CHARM CITY, can be found on where you can read it free. Find it here: CHARM CITY on
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Ash Krafton | @ashkrafton said...

Thanks for sharing!

There were so many different traditions to explore when it comes to the dearly departed Victorian society. I've been watching Houdini & Doyle recently, and they touch on the subject extensively. Lots of seances and psychic mediums. Very interesting to see it "in action".

A. F. Stewart said...

Yes, the Victorians were very much into spiritualism, and Houdini and Doyle does play with that in an entertaining way. In real life that's actually what broke their friendship; Conan Doyle became an avid spiritualist, and Houdini actively debunked fraudulent psychics.

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