Spellhaven is no more, but its spirits remain.
About the Book:
Tilda Gray hates Spellhaven, the city where her husband was born, even though she has never set foot in the place, and she does not believe in the magic it’s supposed to have held. Now her husband is dead, she would rather avoid any mention of the city. But her sons, Nicholas and James, have befriended Hugo, a young boy threatened by forces none of them understand. When Hugo’s uncle and guardian, Stephen Cole, visits the Gray family to ask for help, Tilda agrees against her better judgement. Between them, as they search for ways to banish or at least help Hugo cope with the ghosts that are driving him mad, they seek out the dubious aid of the exiles from Spellhaven. In doing so they must face new dangers and unknown magic, unlike anything Tilda could have believed possible.
Print Length: 300 pages
Publication Date: April 17, 2018
Genre(s): Magical Realism, Historical Fantasy
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Read an Excerpt:
When Mrs. Gray came back into the room, two boys followed her. They were about the same height, one dark-haired and solid, the other brown-haired and bony. Both were neatly dressed in flannel shorts, shirts and ties, outfits hardly to be distinguished from their school uniform, except that their jerseys were navy instead of grey. Stephen could not tell which was which until the brown-haired boy said, ‘I’m James, Mr. Cole. I’m in the form below the others but I expect you’ll need me as well as Nick, to explain things.’
Stephen glanced at Mrs. Gray, whose smile was brief.
‘Let’s see how we get on,’ she said and sat down.
The boys ranged themselves one on either side of the fireplace and gazed at Stephen. He would have liked to stand up and roam about but he could not make himself so much at home. He concentrated on the dark-haired boy.
‘The school sent for me last week, Nicholas, because I’m Hugo’s uncle. I’d like to hear his explanation for what happened but he won’t talk to me. Do you know what he did?’
Nicholas thought this over. James said, ‘He set fire to a heap of books in the school library.’
‘So they told me. But why? What drove him to do it? Was it a dare or a quarrel with other boys?’
They looked at him steadily and said nothing.
‘I’m not trying to put the blame on anyone else, but Hugo does not strike me as a mischievous boy or a malicious one,’ Stephen said.
Nicholas looked at his brother, who said, ‘Everyone calls him Howler, not Hugo. That’s what he’s used to.’
‘He goes into rages. Sometimes he can keep the lid on but others he works himself into a fit and howls until they cart him off to the sanatorium.’
‘I didn’t know.’ The school had said the boy was subject to nervous attacks but this was worse than Stephen had realised. ‘But the fire?’
Nicholas spoke for the first time. ‘He was angry about the ghost stories.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘He didn’t want to listen when Mr. Fletcher read ghost stories to us after prep, but he wasn’t allowed to leave the room all week. He couldn’t bear any more so he tried to burn all the books with ghosts in them.’
‘It wouldn’t have worked,’ James said, ‘but being haunted makes it hard to think logically, I expect.’
Mrs. Gray’s body tightened but her voice was neutral. ‘What does that mean?’
James looked surprised. ‘It was only a little fire, Mother. But anyway, the books could have been replaced. Old boys are always giving books to the library.’
‘Not that, James.’ Stephen leaned forward. ‘Are you saying Hugo is haunted?’
‘He doesn’t like talking about it.’ James grimaced. ‘That’s why he keeps getting into trouble.’
Stephen looked across to Mrs. Gray, whose face was stiff, and then at Nicholas, who might have been listening to his brother conjugate Latin verbs. ‘Is this a joke, boys? Because I really am worried about Hugo.’
They both shook their heads. Stephen tried to think back to his own schooldays and decided that, if they had been teasing, they would have protested noisily. ‘All right, then. What makes you think he is haunted?’
James looked at Nicholas, who shrugged and said, ‘I can tell.’
‘…Spellhaven is an intriguing novel with no easy answers or way out, which means you can keep rereading it and drawing different conclusions every time. Jane is never going to be entirely happy and settled in life – but would she ever have been, even without her magical summons?
Refreshingly, it does not appear to be part of a series: that ending ambiguity is all you’re getting and it will keep buzzing at the back of your mind for days.’ ~ Ben Jeapes, author of Phoenicia’s Worlds and other SF novels, from the BSFA review
Meet the Author:
Sandra Unerman lives in London in the UK. When she retired from a career as a Government lawyer, she undertook an MA in Creative Writing at Middlesex University, specialising in science fiction and fantasy, and graduated in 2013. Since then, she has had a number of short stories published. Her latest stories are in Sword and Sorcery magazine, June 2017, and Fall into Fantasy, an anthology from Cloaked Press. She writes reviews and articles for the British Science Fiction Association and the British Fantasy Society. She is a member of London Clockhouse writers and other writing groups. Her interests include history, folklore and medieval literature.
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