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The Black Garden

by John S. McFarland

Gothic historical fiction that will haunt you.

Available in paperback and on Kindle

OCTOBER 1, 2021

This book is appropriate for teenagers.

The small town of St. Odile is about to host a new visitor.

Perdita Badon-Reed has come to this place to hone her skills as a sculptress, but also to escape a life behind her, including a fiancé, that she isn't sure she wants. For a woman in 1882, this is a huge risk, but her strong will determines she must take it. She believes staying at the home of her uncle, Father Condell, and taking on a commissioned sculpture will help clear her emotions and find meaning to her need for escape.


 But all is not as it seems in this quiet community. Its secrets are dark and deep, and Perdita finds herself entangling in them. A young woman sentenced to death attaches herself to Perdita, an orphaned girl at the convent sees visions and 

illustrates them with a talent beyond her years, and a persistent strangeness hovers as to why Perdita's fiancé's sister lost her life in connection to this town. But the most mysterious of all is Orien Bastide, an extremely wealthy man who seems to be a benefactor to

St. Odile but is an enigma, nearly a legend, to the residents.


Perdita's embroilment becomes an urgency to help those around her, to find answers to perplexing questions that continue to mystify. Her persistence and strength preserve, but will they be enough to save her from an unimaginable horror waiting in the shadows?


John S. McFarland successfully weaves together history and fiction to create this gothic mystery novel, a tale with a chilling narrative sure to pique your interest while slipping beneath your skin. St. Odile will stay with you long after you've left

the confines of the pages... come and learn why.

About the Author

John S. McFarland's short stories have appeared in numerous journals, in both the mainstream and horror genres. His tales have been collected with stories by Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Bloch, and Richard Matheson. His work has been praise by such writers as T.E.D. Klein and Phillip Fracassi, and he has been called "A great, undiscovered voice in horror fiction." McFarland's story collection, The Dark Walk Forward, was published in 2020 by Dark Owl Publishing and contains stories connected to the small town of St. Odile. His young reader series about Bigfoot, Annette: A Big, Hairy Mom, is in print in three languages. The sequel to The Black Garden, The Mother of Centuries, is coming from Dark Owl Publishing in 2022.

Before the mysterious Jardin Noir, there was...
The Dark Walk Forward

"It's a really unusual and impressive collection - not only harrowing, as promised on the cover, but also frequently quite touching. ...I very much admire the elegance - at times, where appropriate, the old-fashioned elegance - of [the] writing."

~ T. E. D. Klein on The Dark Walk Forward

The Dark Walk Forward is McFarland's collection of historic gothic horror tales and was published by us in 2020. St. Odile in America is the home of more strange stories and eclectic persons beyond what Perdita experiences, civilians, ex-military, and medical personnel alike. Consider it as a companion piece to The Black Garden, detailing more of the twists and turns of the unusual and bizarre within the

nondescript and quiet town.


The collection has received accolades from colleagues and reviewers in the horror and thriller genres and consistently has five-star ratings on Amazon and Goodreads.


Publishers Weekly gave it high praise, saying,

"McFarland tempers his frights with the mercy of familial love and sympathy

for outsiders and victims. Horror readers will be riveted."


Click her to learn more and to purchase in paperback and on Kindle.

While we wait for The Black Garden to be released,

here are some of the subjects discussed and referenced in the novel.

The 19th Century American Women Artists You Don't Know, But Should

from The Huffington Post


American Women Sculptors from The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Harriet Goodhue Hosmer from National Museum of Women in the Arts


The "Ghosting" of Incest and Female Relations in Harriet Hosmer's Beatrice Cenci from MuturalArt Services, Inc.


Edmonia Lewis from the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Steamboat from National Geographic


100 Year History of the American Riverboat from Super Loopers, captainjohn.org


Steamboats of the Mississippi from Wikipedia


Steamboat Travel on the Mississippi, 1864, from The New York Times Archives.

Images (from top to bottom):

The Black Garden book cover image by M.Y. Cover Design. Cover design by Dark Owl Publishing.

Beatrice Cenci by Harriet Hosmer, 1857, image from Google Arts & Culture

Author photo by Cindy McFarland, 2020.

The Dark Walk Forward book cover by Dark Owl Publishing.

The Death of Cleopatra by Edmonia Lewis, the first professional African-American sculptor, 1876, image from Smithsonian American Art Museum

"The Female School of Art" from The Illustrated London News, 1868.

"The Nightmare" (also called "Incubus") by Henry Fuseli - wartburg.eduimage, Public Domain, WikiCommons

"'Wooding Up' on the Mississippi" by Frances Flora Bond Palmer, 1863