The Tragedy at Aberystwyth Castle


The Tragedy at Aberystwyth Castle

Set in a stormy and wild coastal town in Wales, this humorous yet tragic novel follows the narrator’s recollections of childhood. While searching for subject material for a much overdue letter to his eccentric and tyrannical grandfather Gwyn, the author unearths a sinister mystery in the family. In a fusion of comic biographical writing and gothic fiction, this is a story about the permeation of loss in everyday living, and the value of reminiscence.

Price – TBC
Year – 2018

Publisher – Zarathustra Books

Buy it from Zarathustra Books





A photo of Danny’s grandfather Gwyn, 1990, whose later life formed the basis for the novel The Tragedy at Aberystwyth Castle.

Sample text from The Tragedy at Aberystwyth Castle

Sometimes, like the way in which the wind moves in an indecisive direction before a storm, we could sense a mood brewing before the tantrum began, and my grandmother Agnes, an expert in predicting Gwyn’s neurotic eruptions like a seismologist, would ensure the family were sufficiently sheltered from any emotional weather forecast. On one such occasion, when Gwyn’s nerves penetrated the atmosphere like a deadly, odourless carbon monoxide, Agnes handed him his coat and hat in a drill instructor manner and said, “Gwyn! Go and buy me some milk.”
The importance of replenishing the milk supply for a family in Wales who practically lived off tea and biscuits was a serious concern, and so Gwyn went out into the downpour down the steep, slippery Buarth Road without question, knowing full well that the locally dubbed ‘Breakneck Buarth’ had claimed the hips of many a pensioner in such weather. Striding through the horizontal rain as if embarking on a great Celtic quest, the distant figure of Gwyn flapped in the wind like the flag on top of the National Library of Wales with its whiplashing arrhythmical jolts; his jacket and tie sporadically smacking the coastal storm as if he were taming Y Ddraig Goch – The Red Dragon himself.

A photo of Danny in 1984 with his teddy Mr. Mayser. The Tragedy at Aberystwyth Castle is seen through the eyes of Danny as a child, and the teddy plays a significant role in the novel too.

With a puzzled gaze through the blurred living room window, my uncle Steve watched the poor drenched old man battle with an inside out umbrella. “But mam…” Steve said in a concerned tone similar to a person who questions whether a foreigner was sent in the right direction and whether the instructions given to the vulnerable tourist may have been the direction to certain doom, “we bought milk only this morning…” he said raising his voice over the machinegun impact of brutal rapid fire rain on the window, “the fridge is full!”
To which Agnes smugly replied, “I know! I just wanted some peace and quiet.”
On other occasions, Gwyn’s outbursts came about quite routinely, and therefore quite predictable, usually when the intense nervousness of nicotine withdrawal had possessed him after a meal or during a boring television show. Yet there were other times when the emotional storm came abruptly without warning. All of a sudden a word somebody said to Gwyn would alter his expression, like a wounded man whom some clumsy person has just thoughtlessly touched on his sore shoulder or arm. Sometimes, it wasn’t even a word, but a mere gesture or arbitrary action that would cause the nervous protruding of a vein to appear on his fuming beetroot face. He once scolded me for blowing my nose in the middle of a tissue, and insisted that the nasal mucus should rather be excreted in the corners of the tissue to save space, then folded neatly and tightly like soggy origami, and upon demonstrating this to me he exclaimed with a haughty tone like a professor having answered a challenging academic problem, “You see dear boy – now even a chronic sufferer of nasal congestion can profit from the economy of personal waste management!”

Copyright © 2018 by Danny Hahn