This is a fabulous story.
http://www.alibris.com/ has copies for sale (although I was lucky enough to find it at a local used bookstore). I almost passed the novel up...am glad I didn't.
The Black Dog is, imo, what a Gothic novel should be. As far as I can discover, it is Ms. Goff's one/only novel. I cannot find information about the author (possible pseudonyms, etc.).
The story unfolds in a small town in Michigan. Charlotte "Lottie" Daley -- a young schoolteacher -- moves into Mrs. Potter's boarding house after her boyfriend, Jed, obtains a teaching position for her. It is he who also suggests Mrs. Potter's boarding house, as Mrs. Potter is a medium and likely in touch with a character simply named Holme.
Jed is interested in "The Psychic Holme Family" who date from the mid-18th century in England. Every 25 years Holme shows up in the vicinity of a psychic community...accompanied by a black dog. At the same time 3 women from an English village simultaneously disappear. It is the same Holme as he born in the mid-1800s, or a generational Holme? What is his connection with the disappearance of 3 women from the village? Jed is researching a paper about Holme...or the Holme's.
Lottie poo-poo's psychism and spooks. Jed enlists her reluctant help. He encourages Lottie to attend Mrs. Potter's seances, in hopes Holme will make an appearance.
Holme does indeed make an appearance. Mrs. Potter gets an unwanted surprise -- including a voodoo doll with a bit hatpin through its heart at the landing of her stairs. Lottie is at first repelled by Holme. Jed's reaction to it all is a 180-degree change: Suddenly he's made up his mind that it's all nonsense, this current Holme is just that and likely a charlatan; Lottie should just stay away and forget the whole thing.
Lottie can't forget it all, however. Jed tries to preoccupy her time and mind...away from Mrs. Potter's fate, the tiny graveyard behind the boarding house; he takes her to a black lake which shines like a black diamond when the clouds part and sunshine streams through. The onyx lake is surrounded by forest. They frollick there on a long late summer's afternoon, make love in the sand.
And discover an old run-down mansion overlooking the lake.
Holme reacquaints himself with Lottie. He is a gentle, charismatic, extremely attractive personality. Lottie slides effortlessly into his web of mysticism and ethereal beauty. I too would be captivated and charmed by Holme. Their carefree and playful afternoon in the soft autumn rains ... enchanting.
Jed, meanwhile, seems to have abandoned Lottie. For all his fretting and dread of Holme and supposed love/concern for Lottie, he's absolutely out of the picture.
The reader can't help wondering who is the good guy and who is the bad guy at this point.
Then Lottie encounters Rosamond and Laura...[no spoilers :P ]
The story stays on track. It is eloquently and powerfully written; eerie and seductive. It is straightforward, with just enough descriptive to give the reader a clear mental picture.
The ending was clever, with a few surprising twists.
One pecularity I noticed in the story was the play of green and the play of blue. I've not known an author to use colors this way; curious. :)
Get it, read it!
Cast of Characters [as I visualized them]:
Lottie: Alexandra Moltke (age 24)
Holme: David Bowie (age 25) ... with blonde-brown hair, not the red in the story
Jed: Stephen Collins (age 27)
Mrs. Potter: Grayson Hall (age 55)
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