Shadows of York: the inspiration behind Shadows of the Lost Child (novel)
A look at the stories and research which informed my second novel Shadows of the Lost Child. Shadows of the Lost Child is a partly historical mystery with a…
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York is a place I know very well, and it's steeped in history and legends which made it a great starting point for my story. The novel is set in Curdizan High (inspired by Bedern, York) and Curdizan Low (inspired by Hungate). Both Bedern and Hungate are very different now to how they were in the late 19th century. This picture, though, is of Stonegate.
The novel is set in two time periods - the present and the late 19th century. In the present, Aleph moves into a rented house in Curdizan High - inspired by the house in this picture. This was a very real house in Bedern, York (see the far right), but was sadly demolished in the 1890s. In the story, the house was once the Old Schoolhouse, although Aleph doesn't know that when he rents it. It might also be haunted...
In past times, Bedern used to be a desirable area with large houses and orchards, but over the years the area deteriorated, and by the late 19th century many of the lovely old houses (like 'Aleph's house') became run down and over-populated. Sadly, many were demolished and replaced by grim tenements.
There was a good sense of community in working class areas like Hungate, York (shown here, around 1907), but money was often short. Children like Tom would work or beg, and items were often pawned on Mondays to be redeemed at the end of the week when the pay came in (for those lucky enough to be in work).
Here we see Leetham's Mill on the river Foss (see also the previous image): this was a major source of employment for people living in Hungate (the inspiration for Curdizan Low). Tom's own house wasn't far from a river - not always a good thing in the hot summer months when the smells from the dung heaps on the river bank were strong!
Legend says that putting a boot in a newly constructed building is meant to bring luck. Miranda's mother keeps such a boot behind the bar in the pub (the Keepsake Arms). But then... the boot goes missing. Who has taken it and will the pub's luck vanish with it? Is the boot of greater significance? Finding the boot is one of the mysteries Tom has to solve - and he enlists the help of a friend.