In a nameless inn,
In a nameless village,
A nameless evil awakens.

The unspoken history of a house beset by tragedy has come alive. To defend their home, the inhabitants will have to piece together the long-dead and strange events surrounding a missing child, a bloody slaughter, and the hanging of a murderer.

They will need help.

A man rides into town: a warrior, a scholar, a philosopher, a politician. A stranger brought the curse – can a stranger be relied upon to break it?

Old Knucklebone is set in a fictional medieval era. Most of the narrative follows the perspective of Grimka, an aging hunter who fears losing his ability to provide for himself in his old age. He spends his winters lodging in an old, nondescript inn run by a widow and her young daughter. We join him as he returns to the inn after a long season abroad. He finds the atmosphere in the inn has changed, as an oppressive air of dread hangs over the house and its patrons. The change is linked to a recent visit by a strange traveler who conducted seiances in one of the rooms, awakening an evil spirit who has been kept latent for many years. Motivated by a desire to protect the widow and her daughter, Grimka finds help from a traveling knight and his squire. Together, they seek to solve the mystery that will allow them to put the dark ghost to rest, even as their efforts indirectly feed its strength.

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More About ‘Old Knucklebone’ from Author P.J. Atwater…

How did I come up with the idea for Old Knucklebone?

It might sound weird, but the idea for Old Knucklebone came from a blend of old ideas. I had already published one adventure, a sword&sorcery tale called “The Secret of the Heart-Eater,” with a crime-solving knight and his squire. That idea came to me because I like mystery stories, they’re naturally suspenseful, and I thought I would try to blend some noire elements into my sword&sorcery writing by creating a monster-hunting, crime-solving duo sort of like the Winchester brothers. So I decided to cast the same characters in their second adventure for Old Knucklebone.

For the ghostly villain, I took inspiration from modern ghost story shows like A Haunting. I pretty much took the details from an amalgam of supposedly true hauntings and transplanted them in my medieval fantasy setting. The idea was to set up a mystery where a Round-table knight type had to solve a long-forgotten murder case in order to exorcise an evil spirit. I can’t really say I had any original idea, other than blending these elements in this way.

What really took me by surprise while writing was how much I came to love the characters, and I knew I had to have strong, lovable characters if I wanted to effectively build suspense. But I took a real shine to one character in particular, so he ended up taking up a lot more of the spotlight than I had planned. If that hadn’t happened, the story would have gone a very different way. I also took a good amount of inspiration from Slavic folklore, and researched Slavic culture for many of the character names and their beliefs.

I think fans of horror who love suspense over revolting shocks will love Old Knucklebone. Now, I have no fear of the revolting, and there are, of course, shocks and dramatic moments, but Old Knucklebone aims for eeriness and suspense. It also aims to develop a rich cast of good, sympathetic characters for the reader to root for.

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