About me

Hello. I write novels and screenplays and very occasionally, short stories and comic-books.


Palace of Shadows

My latest novel, Palace of Shadows, is out now.

Palace of Shadows is a standalone gothic novel set in the late Victorian period.

It’s one of the Guardian’s “Best Thrillers of the Year”, and was selected by Laura Shepherd-Robinson in the Daily Express as one of her Historical Novels of the Year. It’s also a Goldsboro Books’ “Book of the Month”, an “Editor’s Choice” in The Bookseller, and a LoveReading “Star Book” and “Pick of the Month”.


Responses to Palace of Shadows

“An absolute triumph.”
Sunday Express

Palace of Shadows moves exhilaratingly into Gothic territory.”
Financial Times

“…the image of a legion of ghosts haunting the moor is brilliant; the decision to show events only from the perspective of peripheral, unreliable characters is meticulously clever; and its jigsaw narrative is told in exquisitely executed 19th-century voices.”
The Guardian

“Beautifully crafted and delightfully creepy.”
The Bookseller

“A piercing and wholly captivating historical novel that creates the most sinister and atmospheric of gothic tones…The foreboding descent into [the house’s] depths are chilling, and yet oh-so addictive… Beautifully atmospheric and absolutely convincing.”

“Palace of Shadows is as authentically detailed as Dickens, sophisticatedly horrific as Poe, and is more than enough to give readers the chills on dark autumn nights.”
Buzz Magazine



Samuel Etherstone, a penniless artist, is adrift in London. His disturbing art is shunned by patrons and critics alike, his friend Oscar Wilde is now an exile living in Paris, and a personal tragedy has taken its toll. So when he is contacted by a mysterious heiress, Mrs Chesterfield, and asked to work on a commission for the house she is building on the desolate Smugglers’ Coast of North Yorkshire, he accepts the offer.

Staying overnight in the local village pub, Samuel is warned not to spend too much time there. He is told of the fate of the house’s original architect, Francisco Varano, chilling tales of folk driven mad by the house, of it being built on haunted land where young girls have vanished, their ghosts now calling others to their deaths…

It is only on arrival at the Chesterfield house that he learns the sinister details of Varano’s disappearance. And yet its owner keeps adding wing upon wing, and no one will tell him the reason behind her chilling obsession . . . But as Samuel delves deeper into the mysteries that swirl about the house, the nature of the project becomes terrifyingly clear.



Sunset Swing

My previous novel was Sunset Swing. It’s the final instalment in the multi-award-winning ‘City Blues Quartet’.

It won two daggers at this year’s CWA (Crime Writer Association) awards:

  • The Golden Dagger for best crime novel of the year
  • The Historical Dagger for best historical novel of the year

You can read more about it on the CWA’s website here and there’s a lovely write up in the bookseller here.

Maxim Jakubowski, chair of the Crime Writers’ Association, said: “This is a book bursting with heart, soul and spirit, at once all-encompassing and intimate, superbly paced and immaculately constructed. It’s a testimony to this book that Ray has scooped not just one, but two CWA Daggers.”

It’s also had a great response from reviewers:

  • The Times ‘Books of the Year’
  • The Financial Times ‘Books of the Year’
  • Five Star review in The Sunday Telegraph
  • The Sunday Times ‘Historical Novel of the Month’
  • The Times ‘Thriller of the Month’


Responses to Sunset Swing

“Celestin’s most dizzying accomplishment, a truly epic crime chronicle.”
Financial Times

“Sunset Swing may be an ode to the classics of hard-boiled noir, but it has more than enough rhythm of its own to take its place beside them.”
The Times

“Here ends one of the finest achievements in modern crime fiction.”
Sunday Telegraph

“A book that brilliantly combines the page-turning tension of the best crime fiction with a panoramic portrait of a city in the midst of profound social change”
Sunday Times

“Sunset Swing brings Ray Celestin’s brilliant City Blues Quartet to an end in quite some style… The best book in a quite remarkable series.”
The Quietus


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