How does the mind work? When walking through an ancient forest It becomes an enchanted land Old stories echo with each footstep A land held by giants, Dinosaurs, mysterious tribes You hear it, feel it against your skin Sound giving sight to things long gone Is the Fey tinkering with your thoughts? Do you care that your mind is being walked through as you journey through this ancient woodland? Through a time that lingers For those lucky enough to find it Treasure it. The woodland folk Often bestow strange gifts..
“What’s your name,” I ask the old man, sitting on the park bench feeding the pigeons. I liked the look of him. Small, with a slight hunched back, snow white hair and the beginnings of a beard.
“My name, do I have a name?”
“Everything has a name.” My reply did not fuel the conversation. Something about the way he moved his hands, the way the small bag of seed did not empty, the way the trees around us held their breath. The silence and the sharp pain at the back of my head, stirring, waking something in me.
“You are Merlin.”
“Am I?” His blue eyes sparkled with the mischief of a five-year-old child. “Yes, you could be right. My memory is not as it should be these days. I have little to offer you, young man. You are wondering who you are.”
“Not true, I know who I am.”
“Do you know when you are?”
“Yes, I am here, in the park, talking to you.”
“Look around you, do you see what lies before your eyes?”
I looked and the trees parted, like an ancient curtain being pulled aside. Wondering if I had named him wrong. Could he be Moses with no sea to part? He split the trees. I saw a castle, dark jagged rocks surrounded by vast ocean. I look again at the old man. I could see a tear in his eye, the smell of apples filling the air.
He vanished. The air had taken him. It looked for all the world as if I sat there, talking to myself.
I cried out, “Merlin, where are you?”
Rushing through the trees, calling again, I heard his voice.
It started off with little lies until the rumour grew like an onion you can peel, layer by layer Still, you would not get back to the truth Swollen, bloated bodies from nights in the river Deadly nightshade found in their blood Rope marks around the neck of one body Had the sergeant scratching her head Three bodies with different methods of death The rope had been left dangling from Waterloo Bridge No other weapon had been found The body of a young girl in particular Had sergeant Rose Wilson standing verklempt, her words stolen from her By the carnage that stained her eyes…
I dress to rekindle old magic The kind where lifespans run into the hundreds I need a new future Where sky spirits dance behind the clouds Sparks fly, rising like fireworks My ruby ring flashes far into the distance Where legendary moments marked history Lives were changed, magic ruled The world seems to be covered in a soft blanket of dullness Life has become slow I am looking for that spontaneous moment That sets you on a new path Where you punch the air, scream Eureka! The Holy Grail is in sight…
Nell Ballard is a runaway. A former foster child with a dark secret she is desperately trying to keep, all Nell wants is to find a place she can belong.
So when a job comes up at Starling Villas, home to the enigmatic Robin Wilder, she seizes the opportunity with both hands.
But her new lodgings may not be the safe haven that she was hoping for. Her employer lives by a set of rigid rules and she soon sees he is hiding secrets of his own.
But is Nell’s arrival at the Villas really the coincidence it seems? After all, she knows more than most how fragile people can be – and how easily they can be to break . . .
About the Author
Sarah Hilary’s debut novel, Someone Else’s Skin, won the 2015 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and was a World Book Night selection. The Observer’s Book of the Month (‘superbly disturbing’) and a Richard and Judy Book Club bestseller, it has been published worldwide. No Other Darkness, the second in the series, was shortlisted for a Barry Award in the U.S. Her D.I. Marnie Rome series continues with Tastes Like Fear, Quieter Than Killing, Come and Find Me, and Never Be Broken. Fragile is her first standalone novel.
Reading this book, I saw the gothic shades of Rebecca that another reader mentioned and felt a connection in my heart to Jane Eyre, a beautifully illustrated book I loved, even though it gave me nightmares when I was a child.
I was fostered and it wasn’t always pleasant, so reading parts of Fragile brought back so many poignant memories, permanent reminders of the fragility of human life.
They shouldn’t have mentioned Rebecca, for all the time I was reading I expected to find traces of the old-fashioned romance that would soften the menace. There was menace all right, but it was sneaky, masquerading as something completely different.
As I gradually became immersed in this story, I identified with Nell, having been in similar circumstances. I remembered feeling lonely, invisible, and as helpless as she did, constantly wondering when life would turn in my favour.
Will Nell’s story have a happy ending, or will the raw, emotional memories persist, poisoning everything they touch?
I could hear the urgency in her voice The scream for help I try to make my way towards the sound The road became steep I could see headlights in the distance Like fairy lights, merging together The bushes closed in, the way ahead Became impenetrable As if walking through a liquid nightmare It is human nature to try and help The maniac scream was beginning to sound As though someone was having more fun than they should What had started out as urgency Had become pleasurable Oh, how fickle the human mind…
When Karen and Mick Curtis attend a demonstration of clairvoyance for the first time, Karen is singled out by the medium, Rae Cordelle. Rae has a message from Karen’s son David, who passed over to the spirit world many years before. The message shocks Karen and sends her on a journey of discovery, rocking her previously happy relationship with second husband Mick, David’s stepfather.
Stevie Turner’s latest was a great escape read, and by the second page I had to find out what this psychic was going to tell Karen, and then I became absorbed and wanted to just keep reading.
Karen and Mick’s happy life was shaken and stirred after a chance outing to a clairvoyant’s public show where Medium Rae focused her attention on Karen, offering her a message from beyond from Karen’s deceased son – gone missing years before. Rae offers Karen her card, inviting her to contact Rae to learn more if she chose. What mother of a missing child wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to connect with their missing/dead child?
What Rae reveals to Karen sets the tone for the journey to seek out what happened all those years ago when David just a boy then, completely vanished – never to return. The search to find David’s never been found body ensues, and as clues develop and possible suspects for David’s death appear, a great strain weighs between Karen and Mick’s marriage.
Turner always has rich characters who draw us into her stories. I also enjoyed how the story carried through with a tiny crumb given in each chapter, leaving me anxious to turn to the next chapter while still kept wondering – Who the heck killed David – until near the very end. I also enjoyed reading in this genre, which is not a usual one for me. If you enjoy a shorter book with all the meat of a story wrapped up nicely, you will no doubt, enjoy this book!
Hoping for a message from her son David, who disappeared years ago, Karen attends a Spiritual meeting with her husband, Mick and through the medium, Karen receives a message from her son.
This message shocks her and sends her on a journey of discovery, shaking the foundations of her marriage.
Her husband Mick is not a believer in these things and aggressively refuses to believe that David blames him for his death. This was a classic misunderstanding, for Mick is David’s stepfather.
Right from the beginning, I hoped the child would be found alive.
I found myself wondering what I would do in those circumstances. The message would have to be convincing, like something no one else would know, for there are many so-called mediums out there who prey on the vulnerable.
I don’t understand what drives people to these meetings, surely it must only bring more heartache?
It was particularly distressing to witness the destruction of Karen’s marriage, although the husband’s attitude didn’t help.
The author has done a brilliant job of creating a devastating story and believable characters, sometimes a little too realistic!
The medium in this story and the story itself, are remarkable and very believable, especially the effect this discovery had on the parents of the missing child.
Finding David isn’t very long, but it certainly packs a punch…
About the Author
Stevie Turner is a British author of romantic suspense, humour, paranormal stories, and women’s fiction family dramas. She is a cancer survivor, and still lives in the same picturesque Suffolk village that she and husband Sam moved to in 1991 with their two boys. Those two boys have now grown, and she and Sam have 5 lovely grandchildren.
One of her short stories, ‘Lifting the Black Dog’, was published in ‘1000 Words or Less Flash Fiction Collection’ (2016). Her screenplay ‘For the Sake of a Child’ won a silver award in the Spring 2017 Depth of Field International Film Festival, and her novel ‘A House Without Windows’ gained interest in 2017 from De Coder Media, an independent film production company based in New York. ‘Finding David’ reached the quarter-finals of the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Competition. https://writers.coverfly.com/profile/writer-d3b3affc7-6104#accolades
To quote reader Roberta Baden-Powell, ‘I’m looking forward to reading your new book, and find your books the best so far. The style you write in has given me a new perspective and a renewed inspiration in reading once again.’
Kate Devereau wakes up in hospital in this exciting sequel to NINE LIVES, unable to speak or move after the brutal attack by her ex-husband. Her brain has shut down, refusing to acknowledge the misery of her dark and disturbing past. A past that conceals a web of painful secrets. Can she gradually piece her shattered life back together? Or will she discover that her nightmare is far from over.
Detective Inspector David Snow looked down at the unconscious woman on the hospital bed in front of him. They had done a good job of cleaning her up. She lay still, like a religious statue in a church, her pale skin the colour of finest marble, the gentle rise and fall of her chest the only sign that life still clung to her body.
So different to the other wrinkled and dirty body he had looked at earlier. An old tramp found dead in the hospital car park, bundled into a filthy army coat and wedged under a car. A simple case of neglect had taken on a more sinister tone when they found the tramps head cut off and shoved down the back of his trousers.
They knew little about her, and he wondered again what kind of woman she was. Now the blood and dirt had gone, she looked to be an attractive and middle-aged woman bordering on the ordinary, apart from her unruly hair, which seemed to crawl across the pillow like the roots of a willow.
Alone with the unconscious woman, Snow had an excellent opportunity to study her. In all the years since his wife’s death, he missed looking at a woman. He liked to imagine what kind of person they were. If they were kind or cruel, bossy or timid, but for once, there were no clues on this woman’s face. A slight determination in the set of her jaw gave him pause for thought.
According to Michael Barratt, the man who brought her here, her name was Kate Devereau, and she was an artist. Snow wondered if she could be the murderer, due to the amount of blood present in the cottage where Michael Barratt had found her. As an estate agent, he had been arranging to have the cottage ready for Miss Devereau to rent and had no idea why she had found it necessary to be there.
It was all a little mysterious, compounded by the fact Michael Barratt looked as though he had been barbecued. His clothes were burned black in places, apart from his jacket, which was clean and several sizes too small and most likely didn’t belong to him. The back of his head and hands were raw and blistered, suggesting there were extensive burns to his body.
The estate agent kept asking after Kate, offering no explanation for his condition. He had no answer for what had happened to her either, except to say her health had not been good for a while. If it hadn’t been for all the blood, it would seem innocent enough.
So why didn’t Snow believe him?
Given the state of him, Michael Barratt was in no position to convince David Snow of anything. He was always suspicious of everyone involved in his cases, and Snow couldn’t help but suspect Michael Barratt. The man was hiding something, for, despite his obvious devotion to the unconscious woman, something didn’t feel right. He must know more than he said.
There had to be more to this case than these two people. The death of Miss Devereau’s brother Danny had opened this case several weeks ago. Perhaps someone had an axe to grind? Someone cruel and malicious, hell-bent on exacting revenge?
Snow walked over to the window, more for a change of scenery than to escape from the body of Kate Devereau. It was getting dark outside, and the lights in the car park were coming on, one by one. With visiting time approaching, more cars were arriving, and he prayed nothing else would happen. He was tired, but not looking forward to his retirement next year. His life seemed empty now, what would it be like then? He didn’t want to retire; he liked his job. It gave him a reason to get up every morning.
The idea that this woman may never regain consciousness was unsettling. He wanted this case solved and put away as soon as possible. The doctors could find no medical reason for the coma, or so they said. They had found sedatives in her system, but they should have worn off by now. Her heart was fine and no sign of a stroke. Either she didn’t want to wake up, or she was faking.
Maybe if he pinched or touched her, took her by surprise, would she open her eyes? For whatever reason, and he couldn’t think of one, he couldn’t do it. He could hardly blame her for faking. Why weren’t there more people in her life?
He remembered one of his earlier cases, involving one Gillian Anderton and how she had completely fooled them into believing her story. If it hadn’t been for his sergeant, Jim Harris, she would still be free. Snow tended to suspect women a lot more these days, just in case.
Samantha Cameron managed Miss Devereau’s art but was only a business contact. Judging by the barbecued boyfriend, someone thought well of Kate Devereau, but how did she feel about him? So many questions, which would never be answered if she didn’t wake up.
He looked back to the bed, hoping to see her open her eyes, but nothing had changed, she hadn’t moved at all.
What kind of woman are you, Kate Devereau?
I really enjoyed writing this second book in my DI Snow series and would love to hear your comments!
In the shadow of the eternal flame, she stood Her gaze turned toward the east. I felt something in my soul unravelling My heart pounding Soft spray fell from her hair I wondered, had she been fully formed From some unseen spring Do I risk disturbing her? Would I turn to stone should she look upon me? Why would I think such a thing? I am sure one as beautiful as she Would have saved my soul from completely unravelling. When she finally looked at me I knew language would be no barrier It is the face of a goddess I see And I am undone…
For visually challenged writers, the image shows a stone stairwell with an opening obscured by a bright light.
I could see the shadow of a man In the light at the top of the stairs Calling me to him My name echoing soft inside my mind I could not move Fear held me at the bottom In the dark where I felt safe I wanted the light to go away The voice to be silent I am not ready to walk towards the light Yet my name had been called The fear surrounded me grew stronger…