GENRE: cosmic horror, historical fiction, mystery, romance
SETTING: a fictional Louisiana university during the 1890s
THEMES: death – love – hypocrisy – control – selfishness – rationality vs irrationality – the thin line between reason and emotion
The greatest achievement of East Bridge University has always been being responsible for training famous and reclusive composer Arthur Phineas Gregory, whose entrancing music has dazzled the world for the past fifty years. Now, he’s dead, and without an heir, and his grand estate is being searched for incomplete works and mementos that can be kept by the university in memory of their greatest student.
Instead, they find bodies. Bodies upon bodies, buried in his basement, hidden within the walls, cut up and stocked in the cellar, buried in a trail into the bayou. Arthur Gregory, it seems, was responsible for half of the missing person cases in the county in the past ten years. Arthur Gregory, it seems, hid this perfectly well from the outside world. Arthur Gregory, it seems, is now dead, and his reign of terror over the area is finished.
Except, there’s hardly grass over his grave when there’s another death. And another. And another. And student Jason Asquith is having one of his fits again, shouting and sweating in the dark with visions of something that should have been left to live locked away, so much so that his sister Daphne Asquith has to be called in to take care of him. Fellow student Vanessa Sutcliff, meanwhile, is trapped in an unwilling love triangle between the rich and popular Horace Lyndon and hyper-intelligent Callum Seaton, who both lay claim to her. Callum is determined to weaponize these recent killings towards Horace, but as he pushes the bounds of sanity he finds that he may be on the receiving end of the killer, as well. And, besides, who is this killer that strikes silently and vanishes? Who is doing all of this? Who or what is it that everyone is so desperate to control, and how long can they be restrained?
A popular and jovial rich boy who tends towards being nice to everyone, though he gets angry quickly. Views Vanessa as more of a prize.
One of the school’s top students, quiet and arrogant and sarcastic. He’s determined that Vanessa shall be his wife.
A scholar who isolates herself for long periods of time. She just wants to vibe and isn’t interested in men at all.
A charming but endlessly eccentric young man prone to “fits” of mental illness. He focuses on his studies and likes to choose when he’s bothered.
Jason’s sister, a socialite who has been “expecting to marry soon” for the past five years. She’s clever and kind but has extreme fits of rage.
A famous composer, he was a mysterious and opaque man in life. His music was renowned for having strange effects on people.
“I still remember the first thing Gregory said to me on the subject. I was about five years old, I think, my parents had taken me to one of his operas. I asked him how he might stand on such a small platform to conduct and not be afraid of falling. Had he no fear? He answered in the affirmative. He said to me, ‘now that ‘Liza’s away, I have nothing to fear but cypress.'”
Jason Asquith, chapter three
Posts on this project and on any information relating to it will be in the Cypress tag!