Thursday, 4 April 2019

Moore bewitches Leigh-on-Sea

After my recent trip to Leigh-on-Sea finally got round to reading Syd Moore's ghost story The Drowning Pool. It's refreshing to find a novel set entirely in Leigh. Moore's story concerns a widowed teacher Sarah who is haunted by her namesake Sarah Grey, whom legend claimed was a local witch. Moore based her idea around the real-life legend of Sarah Moore the so-called sea-witch of Leigh, who died in 1867. It was claimed she could curse ships.

The novel certainly has a very strong sense of place and all the characters do very Essex things, such as drinking large amounts of wine to numb the apparitions, boozing in the Crooked Billet and going up to Hadleigh Castle. I once appeared with Syd Moore at the Essex Book Festival offering advice to local writers, and very good company she was too. She's written a number of Essex witch stories dealing with the dark history of Essex's witch hunts and she's worth reading if you like a good murder story and lashings of local history. Even if the body count in Leigh does seem to be disturbingly high...