with this incredible reading guide for "Girl Desecrated" written by award-winning educator and the novel's author, Cheryl R Cowtan!

This engaging, in-depth exploration into the secrets behind the text, the lore behind the legend, and the strategy behind the language will leave you in awe of the hidden messages in "Girl Desecrated".

Not only will you get a deeper understanding of this psychological thriller, you'll get an inside peek into Rachel's motivations, and a closer look at the cleverly imbedded symbols, theme and messages. 

 

You'll also learn more about the history of vampire literature, and how horror's top authors (from Anne Rice, to Stephanie Meyer, to Stephen King) flesh out their vampire characters.

But that's not all. You'll have a chance to build your skills as you learn how to read a ghost story, study how literary devices work with clear examples from the novel, and then , when you are ready, you can test your knowledge of "Girl Desecrated" by answering a number of challenging questions.

Remember Man-boy from the Albion pub? He's the janitor at the sanatorium where Rachel's  mother was receiving treatment. Yeah, right... "treatment" (wink, wink). Don't know what I'm talking about? You will, once you read the lost Man-boy chapters, also included in this enhanced reading guide.

With this book under your belt, you're sure to impress your book club with your knowledge, inside information, and examples from "Girl Desecrated", "Twilight" and other vampire novels.

Read samples from the book's chapters below.

Literary analysis looks at why an author wrote a piece and how the author writes it. Often an author makes choices in style, diction and technique to express more than what is being stated in the text. Looking deeper at a text often provides a more satisfying experience of the story.

1.        What choices does the author make to reveal William Cain or Pastor Smith’s personality through characterization techniques? Consider appearance, actions, dialogue, inner thoughts and motivations. Is William a good man? Is Pastor Smith secure in his faith?

 

2.      Figurative language includes the use of comparisons through similes and metaphors. Similes use the words “like” or “as” to compare two things to increase reader understanding. How does the simile below function in the story?

“As I looked at my little dear [Abitha], her smile slid away from her face like it was wiped by the devil’s broom.”

The files that never made it into Girl Desecrated.

When I got the janitorial job at the Homeward, I wondered why they picked me. I was the youngest person with the least experience. Now, that I know what I know, I know why they chose a wet-behind-the-ears kid. I’m the least likely to call the police. I’m the least likely to stand up and defend those they hurt, because I'm a coward. I mop the piss off the floors after the shock treatment they give the inmates. I keep my head down and my mouth shut, at least I did, before old Mrs.  Anan started talking.

I thought she was comatose. I came in to sweep the floor, the mop pivoting on the handle the only sound in the room. Most times, she’d be in the bed staring at the ceiling, the whites of her eyes glowing in the dim light. I tried not to look at those eyes rolled in her head is if stuck there from her last convulsion.

Damn creepy, her and the room. I never clean the corners of her room where the lights dim in the shadows and draw chills from my spine. Damn creepy feeling the closer I get to the corners of her room.

So, after a few weeks, just to break the silence when I was cleaning I started saying good morning, and sometimes I would talk about the weather or the news.

Imagine the jolt of surprise that one morning when she answered me back.

I didn't see her move. I just heard the words.

"Why do you work on the Sabbath?"

Cowtan had some challenges with balancing the plot between Rachel’s mental illness and the main character’s growing awareness of her inner demon

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“I didn’t want to give spoilers too soon, but then again, my editor, Dania, was insistent that I give more for the reader so they could start to guess. This was a genius suggestion that led to the third person POV chapters that take place in the 1600s.

 

Twelve years before William Cain planted his seed in the heaving, clutching beauty beneath him, Erland McNab paid for passage on a trade ship leaving the Swedish port of Stockholm. The ship was carrying timber and unfinished metals, and was bound for Scotland. After almost a year of convalescence, Erland McNab was finally healthy enough to go home.

He was travel weary, having crossed the German Ocean and half of Sweden to fulfil his destiny, but he knew it could have been worse. Many of his ancestors had tracked her further: Muscovy, Wallashia, Bavaria. No place was too far, when the threat of death hung over the entire clan. Erland knew, had he not kept to the bargain his ancestors had made with The Fergus She centuries before, a harsh punishment would have befallen them all. Sweden was not so very far to go, and lucky for him, there had been many Scottish merchants who had provided shelter and food along the way.

The one trope that is consistent in most vampire literature is the emergence of fangs. Without fangs, how can a vampire draw blood from its victims?

“At some point, Rachel had to grow fangs. I didn’t want it to be cheesy, or typical. I wanted the eruption of her new teeth to be original,” Cowtan says.

 

“Bullshit,” I took the towel from my face and pushed the word out.

Blood trickled out of the corner of my mouth and ran down my chin.

“Please leave,” I spoke through the gore.

He didn’t move.

I turned and gagged into the sink.

“When yoo’re ready tae hear the truth, Ah’ll caem back,” he said, softly.

The door shut behind him, and I held back my tears and drooled my blood into the sink.

Once the bleeding slowed, I found its source. Above my incisors, slits like shark gills in my gums were oozing a mixture of blood and water. I wondered if Angus had passed on some fast-acting venereal disease through his kiss.

I patted my gums until the leeching stopped. Then I washed my face and cleaned the sink. Turning, I looked around at my empty apartment. Empty without Angus in it.

Blinking my eyes rapidly, I drew out my old friend, anger, to kill the hurt. It was like lancing a boil. Once you see the pus, you forget about the cut.

Vampire lore dates back centuries and across many cultures. As you saw in the essay “Fang is for Vampire” there are traditional vampire behaviours, and some unique vampire behaviours that didn’t always catch on with the reading public.

When creating a vampire character, the writer has to consider what has gone before and what has been unthought of. The first thing the writer has to tackle is the creation story – the explanation for the vampire.

Vampires have been presented as the undead (Bram Stroker’s Dracula 1897), as an alien species (Gustave Le Rouge’s Le prisonnier de la planète Mars 1908), and as products of disease (Richard Matheson’s I am Legend 1954). In Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall’s The Cowboy and the Vampire: A Very Unusual Romance, the bloodsuckers are alive, but die each dawn as the sun comes out.

When Cheryl was writing Girl Desecrated, she had to decide whether she was going to follow the old tropes or re-invent the vampire, or a combination. And is there such a thing as reinvention? Is there anything new left?

Atmosphere is very important. This sets the scene and you can control this. Dim the lights in the room, or if by the campfire, even better. Make sure a dim source of light is on you. Candles are excellent for atmospheric building because of their flickering. You should be the focal point or in the light, for you will be using your expressions and gestures to add to your story.

Distractions need to go. Listen. What do you hear? Get rid of ticking clocks, and ask others to shut off their cell phones. The last thing you want is a joyous ringtone launching into the most suspenseful part of your storytelling.

 

According to Alasdair Stuart, horror podcaster, storyteller MR James and Professor Frank Coffman have identified five basic elements of a good ghost story (Stuart, 2017).

Cowtan purposefully imbedded post-colonial clues into the first chapter of Rachel’s time because Girl Desecrated is about colonization—the colonization or take-over of Rachel by a stronger power, Scarlett.

Read the chapter and try to list as many references to Colonial times as you can. Then look below at this list to see how close you came.

 

Word and Terms

1.     The Title: Colonial Unrest

The first clue, of course, is in the title: “Colonial Unrest”. This term refers to any problems arising in the colonies of Britain, which could include India, Africa and/or North America, or any colony of any “Empire”. Unrest can look like political action to refuse to pay taxes, trade restrictions, harbor closings, outright attacks on people, destruction of property, etc.

The novel starts in the American colonies in the 1600s. A beautiful, dead woman, named Scarlett, is surrounded by men plotting a tree-binding ritual. You see Scarlett is evil and must be stopped from ever coming back. The tree-binding is led by a plantation slave, Ebba, who knows how to trap the woman’s dark soul. Unknown to the men, it is already too late, for the woman’s daughter, Abitha, is the mother’s vessel.

 

Flashbacks throughout the novel continue to release clues to the plot’s conflict and mystery.

During the 1600s in the Virginia Colony, not all men and women were considered equal. Cowtan alludes to this social inequality many times in her first chapter. Using quoted proof from the novel, answer the following questions.

1.        Explain the complex relationship William Cain has with Ebba.

2.      What is the difference between the men and women’s awareness of who and what Scarlett is? Why does this discrepancy exist?

3.      Why is it so important for William’s daughter to be accepted by the community?

As a young person, Cheryl ended up living in a brand-new house, built in a “natural clearing” in Fergus. The house was around the fourth or fifth home her parents had restored or built, and it was a beauty—all one level, ranch-style on 25 acres of hardwood bush.

It wasn’t until it was built that Cheryl noticed strange things happening. Someday, she’ll write the story, but for now, suffice it to say, there were a number of events that she, as a tween, could not explain: Visions of a dog walking the halls, visions of a man in a cape and top hat staring into her younger brother’s bedroom, the ghost car which would visit all of the neighbours houses, driving up the lane and then killing the headlights, only there would be no car. The ball, found in the forest, that flew through the house, and later, when the family moved, found its way back into the forest, waiting perchance, for the next owners. There was even a tale of a madman, told by the 90-year-old farmer on the hill. A madman who ran the forests and scared the community until, one day, he was found hanging from the biggest Maple tree on the Cowtan’s land.

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