Guest Blog: Horror Author Catherine Cavendish

Today, I’d like to welcome horror author, Catherine Cavendish, to my website to talk about revenge and to give you a preview of her new release Dark Avenging Angel. Over to Catherine!

Kuchisake-onna – The Slit Mouthed Woman

pic 1My latest novella – Dark Avenging Angel – is, as its title suggests, concerned with revenge. In this case, revenge of the most demonic kind. We’ve all heard the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for…” Jane learns the truth of this in graphic ways.

Avenging angels and demons abound in the traditions and folklore of people all over the world. From Japan comes the legend of Kuchisake-onna – The Slit Mouthed Woman.

Japan abounds with tales of avenging spirits. This one may concern a relatively recent urban legend of a spirit who was first sighted in the Nagasaki area in around 1979. The story of this hideously deformed woman – who had been mutilated by her husband – spread quickly across Japan and caused fear and panic in many towns. Police increased their patrols, teachers escorted groups of children home to ensure their safety.

But the legend didn’t stop in Japan. Before too many years had passed, it seems Kuchisake-onna (or someone very much like her) had crossed borders and turned up in South Korea. In 2004, a story emerged from there about a woman wearing a red mask, frequently seen chasing children. Then, in 2007, a coroner found some archived records from the late 1970s concerning a woman who chased small children. She was hit by a car and died soon after. The strange thing was, behind her mask, her mouth had been ripped from ear to ear – just like the Slit Mouthed Woman. Could they be all the same woman – or more than one?

pic 2The detail of the legend varies a little from place to place, but the more usual version is that a woman wearing a surgical mask will approach children walking alone at night. Many people in Japan wear such masks to prevent the spread of infection, or to ward off the worst effects of traffic pollution. But this woman will stop the child and ask, “Am I pretty?” If the child says, ‘No,” she will kill it with a pair of large scissors she always carries. If the child nods or says, “Yes”, the woman will then rip off her mask to reveal the terrible slit, which has ripped her mouth from ear to ear.

The woman then asks, “How about now?” From then on, the victim’s fate is sealed. If the child replies, “No,” she cuts it in half. If the response is “Yes,” she slits his/her mouth like hers. However much the child may try and escape her, she is impossible to run from. She simply appears in front of the hapless victim.

She isn’t completely invincible though. It is believed that a possible route to escape is to answer vaguely. When she asks her question, the child could reply “You’re so-so”, or “You’re about average”. It is even thought that Kuchisake-onna retains some good manners, so if you were confronted and told her you had a prior engagement and really can’t stop to chat now, she may excuse you. Some say that distracting her by throwing her some fruit or sweets will cause her to stop to pick them up, giving the intended victim a chance to get away. Finally, if the child turn the question back on him/herself and asks “Am I pretty?” she becomes confused and leaves.

pic 3There is an earlier version of this story which states that the woman lived hundreds of years ago and was the young wife – or concubine – of a samurai warrior. She was vain and aware of the power of her looks over men. Sadly she was also faithless. The samurai found out about her affairs and slit her mouth from ear to ear. He then taunted her. “Who will think you are beautiful now?”

So whether the Slit Mouthed Woman is a recent or more ancient manifestation – or indeed, if there have been more than one of them (as it would appear) – the message is clear, don’t allow your children to go off wandering alone at night. And beware of women in surgical masks!

pic 4Now, to give you a taste of Dark Avenging Angel, here’s the blurb:
Don’t hurt Jane. You may live to regret it. 

Bullied by her abusive father, Jane always felt different. Then the lonely child found a friend in a mysterious dark lady who offers her protection—a lady she calls her “angel”. But that protection carries a terrible price, one to be paid with the souls of those Jane chooses to suffer a hideous and eternal fate.

When Jane refuses to name another victim, the angel reveals her most terrifying side. Payment must be made in full—one way or the other.

And here’s a brief extract:

Something had woken me from a deep sleep troubled by my recurring nightmare in which I was in a wood, being chased by some unimaginable horror. I never saw its face, assuming it even had one. But I knew if I didn’t find sanctuary, it would kill me. I had just made it into the strange little house that always appeared in the clearing, when my eyes opened and I gasped at the white, smiling face looking down at me.

That night, my angel seemed different somehow.

Oh, she looked the same. Same black cloak, but this time it shimmered and I wanted to touch it. I was sure it would feel soft as velvet under my fingers.

She put her finger to her lips and stroked my hair. Her touch was like a gentle breeze in summertime. My eyes wanted to close, but I forced them to stay open.

I knew I mustn’t speak out loud, but I could still whisper. “I wish I knew your name. Who are you? Please will you tell me?”

She continued to smile. Her lips moved, but the answering voice I heard was again in my head.

Do not be afraid, child. It is not yet time, but soon you will have the power to avenge yourself on those who have done you harm. Look for me in the shadows and I will be there, taking account.

I understood nothing of what she said. But, from somewhere, a calm I had never felt before emerged and wrapped itself around me.

I blinked in the darkness as she faded from sight.

Then I closed my eyes and slept. I never had that nightmare again after that night. But what if I’d known what was ahead for me?

Some things are better off left in the dark.

You can find Dark Avenging Angel here:

Samhain Publishing

Amazon

Barnes and Noble 

Kobo

Omnilit

 

Catherine Cavendish About the author:

Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Cat is now the full time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She was the 2013 joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor, which features in the anthology What Waits in the Shadows.  Her novels, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine are also published by Samhain. Her latest novella – Dark Avenging Angel – will be followed by her next novel – The Devil’s Serenade – in April 2016

You can connect with Cat here:

Catherine Cavendish

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Tsu

 

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About Beth Kelan
Author of supernatural mysteries, dark fiction, and horror stories.

4 Responses to Guest Blog: Horror Author Catherine Cavendish

  1. Thank you so much for hosting me here today, Beth!

  2. Oooh, what a chiller. Loved the bit about taking off the mask of that woman in the 1970s. Let’s hope whoever she is, she stays well away.

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