A Centuries Old Legend – Brought to Life
A few years ago, my parents bought a trailer about 25km north of the city of Peterborough. We started spending every weekend there through the summer, a release for all of us after the work week. My partner, who grew up in Peterborough, spent the days showing me the city, introducing me to its history – and I immediately fell in love.
Peterborough is known as the most haunted city in Ontario – most of the ghosts that the city boasts are found in the Trent Severn Canal Lock, a hydraulic lift lock that was constructed over a hundred years ago. One man died during construction of the massive structure, falling into the shell of a concrete pillar – his body was eventually covered over with concrete, becoming a part of the pillar, when it became clear it would be too difficult to remove. After the structure was completed, a painter fell to his death from the very same pillar, when his scaffolding tipped. Years later, a woman threw herself from the top of the lock when her son was married against her wishes – her son followed her down five days later. All of these dead have been seen and heard by workers and visitors ever since, wandering tunnels, whispering and screaming, waiting at the tops of the pillars, and looking out over the river.
But there is one ghost haunting the lift lock that is more famous than all the others; more famous, and much, much older.
In 1840, when Peterborough was still in its infancy, a woman was accused of witchcraft. When she was found guilty, the townspeople dragged her to the top of Armour Hill. They bound her to a stake. The lit her on fire. She died less than 100km from what would become the site of the lift lock, and she has never left that spot. She has been seen in the forests, on the twisting trails, and even down at the lift lock, seeking light and sound and warmth.
She was the beginning. And from my fist steps through the tunnel under the lock, seeing the forest at Armour Hill open up before me, I have been obsessed with her.
She fascinates me.
The Witches of Armour Hill was born of that fascination. It is the story of that witch, Marion, who loved Peterborough as much as I do, and who was betrayed by its people. It is the story of her daughters and descendants, all the witches they couldn’t burn, taking the city back. It is the story of the magic that floods the forest, that even I could feel.
“Margaret May Reis knows how strange she is; people have been telling her for years. At sixteen years old, though, Maggie begins to realize that strangeness is only half the story. Maggie isn’t just strange – she’s a witch.
Sent to live with a cousin she’s never met, in a city she doesn’t remember, Maggie is sure that life as she knows it is over. It doesn’t take her long to learn that Peterborough is not at all what it seems. Her first week in the city, Maggie meets a stray cat named Elowen, who seems to appear out of thin air, and a strange girl named Rhosyn, who introduces her to a coven of witches, and assures her that life will never be the same.
The newest member of an ancient coven, Maggie discovers new friends, new powers, and a new lease on life. As she works with her young sisters to hone their magical skills, they stumble across the coven’s darkest secret, one that their governing council has kept hidden for over a century. Caught up in a conspiracy that began with the very first generations of witches, Maggie and her friends tumble down the rabbit hole, reaching blindly for the truth.
It will take three young witches to uncover the secrets that their Matriarch left behind over a century before.”
Switch is the first installment in The Witches of Armour Hill series. It’s currently available as an ebook on Amazon – paperback edition coming soon.
The second installment, Twisted, is currently in the works. Look for updates and excerpts on any of the pages below!
Alyssa Cooper is a Canadian writer with a graphic design diploma and a passion for story telling. She collects old books and antique typewriters, and has a preference for the darker side of fiction.
Alyssa is the author of three traditionally published books, Salvation, Benjamin, and Cold Breath of Life, as well as an independently produced collection called Whispers, and her first self-published novel, The Witches of Armour Hill: Switch.
She’s currently living in Kingston, Ontario with her cats, her cacti, and her personal library, while she works diligently on The Witches of Armour Hill, Book Two: Twisted.