Joan Barringer was the main antagonist in the Anthony Horowitz short story Twist Cottage.
Joan Barringer was the proprietor of the titular Twist Cottage. She is enigmatic, because nobody knows of her true story other than Ben's father. Joan likes killing everyone who steps into her house and even then nobody really knows her true story.
Joan lived in Elizabethan times in the Avon district in West England.
Most witches were unmarried, but Joan was unique because she had been married. James Barringer, her husband, was an adulterer and had an affair with Rose Edlyn, the daughter of Richard Edlyn, a landowner. Joan only found about the affair at the last minute and she became extremely angry, she cursed Rose with the loss of her sight, her health, her mind, and finally her life. Richard Edlyn found out about the curse and arrested Joan. Somehow Joan escaped from prison and she made her way back home. All the villagers surrounded the house and demanded she give herself up. Joan appeared at the balcony with rope tied around her neck and attached to the window, then cried out how her husband betrayed her and that it was the beauty of young women which had made James leave her. Joan cursed all women, and any women who entered the house would die, and she jumped and committed suicide.
However, Joan returned as an evil ghost. She plagued Twist Cottage, making the atmosphere change, it would be extremely cold even in the middle of Summer. Joan's ghost could also stay invisible and manipulate objects, even in seemingly impossible ways.
The first time Joan's house was bought by a Mrs Webster, Joan's ghost killed the woman by drowning her in her bath.
Then Mr and Mrs Johnson bought the house and Mrs Johnson was pushed out the window by Joan's ghost and fell onto a garden fence spike, dying.
Dr Stainer, also a woman, was renting the house when Joan's ghost pushed a tile off the roof to kill her.
Professor Bell, also a woman, was pushed downstairs by Joan's ghost and broke her neck in the fall.
The final owner before Ben and his father was an Australian woman who died of electrocution when Joan's ghost manipulated the thermostat on the freezer.
Ben didn't know about Joan when he moved in but he knew it was haunted because the estate agents knew of all the deaths (it made the prices drop each time it was sold) and the estate agents thought no one would buy the house. Ben's father had married again, and his new wife, Louise, was horrible. She was arrogant, spoiled and a bully, and little did Ben know his father had deliberately chosen Twist Cottage because Joan's ghost would kill Louise.
Joan's ghost almost did kill Louise by drowning her in the pond but Ben saved Louise at the last moment, to the anger of his father, which made Ben wonder if his dad would've been happier without Louise.
Finally, Joan's ghost killed Louise, in the most horrible way possible, the lawn mower mashed her to a gory state. She was all thrashed up because Joan's ghost dragged the lawn mower over her body when Louise was sunbathing. Ben got suspicious afterward when his father got rich because he had taken out an insurance fee on Louise's death, and because his father hadn't been involved in the death (he was teaching to students that day) the court had to pay him.
Joan's ghost continued killing off women, because Ben found the truth about Twist Cottage in a ghost book his father kept. He learned the truth but Ben seemingly forgave his father. He never mentioned the ghost again, but Ben's father kept Twist Cottage, renting it to men with horrible wives or girlfriends, who took them there for Joan's ghost to kill.